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The news is almost completely dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are very few positives that can be highlighted regarding the crisis, but perhaps those objecting to development of the Northpoint intermodal project can take some solace from Mondays announcement. The public hearing on the pre-annexation of the 1260-acre project has been postponed until further notice. Seems the best efforts of many people to delay the vote had unanticipated outside help. This project has been on a fast track for, what appears to be, no visible reason. Why the rush? That’s the question. According to the pre-annexation agreement, several things must be accomplished before any dirt is turned over. A bridge over the Des Plaines River must be built. Even though it has been approved and preliminary plans to proceed with construction have been made, it’s possibly two or more years away from completion. The project’s main concept is that of a closed loop facility with only two places to enter and exit. The promised bridge is one of them.
Tuesday, March 17 is primary election day in Illinois. Early voting began this last Monday. Voters in Will County should have received a sample ballot for both the Democratic and the Republican Primary races. You have to pick one or the other and declare the party ballot you wish to use for your vote. Other than the presidential race, there are not many races providing an array of selections. As of this week the Democratic Party has four choices for President: in ballot order, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard. There are four other races on the ballot that are contested. The contest for the 11th Congressional District is between Bill Foster and Rachel Ventura. The 49th State Senate race is between Meg Loughran Cappel, Larry Hug and Michael Crowner. The Will County Board Chief Executive contest is between Jennifer Bertino-Tarant and Nick Palmer. The Coroner race is between Laurie Summers and Sean Talbot.
Curious. That’s another word for peculiar. Odd, strange and unusual are also words that are derivative meanings of “curious.” What am I talking about? Leadership at City Hall. The City of Joliet continues its administration without a fulltime, permanent City Manager. The current part-time, Interim City Manager Steve Jones, who is also a non-resident, has a new status. Beginning March 1, according to Jones’ new arrangement with the City of Joliet, he is an independent contractor under the terms and conditions of an Employee Leasing Agreement with GovTempsUSA, LLC. The compensation payable to the leasing company is $135.10 per hour. The Assigned Employee, Steven Jones, will be paid only for hours worked. The maximum number of hours that can be invoiced is 40 per week. It is unclear if that means there is no 24/7 on the job or if he has to show up for 40 hours per week. It is also unclear who determines the number of hours actually worked. Jones?
The first order of business for the City Council meeting this week was a proclamation recognizing the work of the Environmental Commission. The Proclamation stated in part the Commission “exceeded expectations and provided for a thorough, unbiased and transparent study process for the benefit of all City of Joliet water customers and potential regional water partners.” As a member of the Environmental Commission, I can confirm that is a true statement. That objective guided the study from the beginning. The fact that Lake Michigan was the final choice for Joliet’s alternative water source should come as no surprise. Approximately 83 percent of communities in the Chicago region, which includes seven counties, use Lake Michigan as their drinking water supply. The Great Lakes Region contains more than 20 percent of the world’s surface drinking water.
To budget or not to budget was the question at Tuesday’s Joliet City Council meeting. Since the decision was not made this week, the Council will meet again next Thursday. The budget vote requires at least five votes to pass. The vote was four to four on Tuesday. Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, and Council Members Larry Hug, Terry Morris and Jan Quillman objected to several tax and fee increases contained in the budget. The four also opposed a bond issue included in the budget for a $6.5 million renovation of the downtown library. Council members Pat Mudron, Sherri Reardon, Don Dickenson and Mike Turk voted for the budget. One of the major points of disagreement is whether the $11 million deficit projected by Interim City Manager Jones will actually materialize when final revenues for the 2019 budget are realized probably sometime in February or March next year.