Questions about Emma’s Landing, Dunkin’ Donuts, abuse of TIF Funds, Open Meeting Act Violations, ignoring Robert’s Rules, treating the Municipal Code as a list of suggestions, and many more actions of doubtful probity lurk in the shadowy back-rooms of Geneva City Hall. Fraud is too feeble a word to describe the clandestine fabrication of a fake deed land-plat to hustle through the Emma’s Landing swindle. The word fraud inadequately describes the “overlooking” by the City of the required Dunkin’ IDOT Route 38 permit. What about the $31,000 “refund” of electric hook-up fees made to the Dunkin’ developer who does not pay the property tax (in blatant violation of its contract with the City.) What about the corn-maze Special Use for Malone’s Funeral Home where illegal paved street parking encroaches on the public ROW to the sidewalk, handicapped parking encroaches, and code-mandated 2-way parking access is one-way? Much of this was fraudulently described by City Staff and accepted by the Plan Commission and City Council as “pre-existing non-conforming.” Code enforcement for public safety is a distant secondary priority when the political agenda is primary.
Above is a link to the 2021 Dunkin’ property tax bill. Note the “parcel taxes sold” red flag. Also, note that in spite of three years of tax-payer TIF investment “improvements” Dunkin’s taxes are falling. Mine aren’t. Dunkin’ paid $710,000 for the property before the “improvements.” $710,000 is about double the value of my home. The assessor has the Dunkin’ valued at $390,000, about 55% of the purchase price of the parcel in its “TIF” blighted state.
Dunkin’ is in violation of its contract with Geneva taxpayers. The City Council has a fiducial duty to move to void the contract and recover the taxpayer’s expenses in doing so.
Now the City wants to limit my access to information. They claim I am a burden. Yes, transparency can be annoying. They sent me 400 pages of redundant documents that include less than 40 unique pages, then claimed it cost the City hundreds of dollars and published their pull-a-rabbit-out-of-the-hat cost numbers to intimidate me.
“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”
Here is my appeal letter to the Illinois Attorney General.
From: Rodney B. Nelson, M.D., F.A.C.P.
May 14, 2022
To: Public Access Counselor Office of the Attorney General
500 South 2nd Street
Springfield, IL 62706
RE: Appeal of Recurrent Requester Determination
Dear P.A.C. Counselor:
The City of Geneva has designated me as a “Recurrent Requester.” To that charge, I plead nolo contendere.
The value of many items of information decays exponentially. Actions of local governments often take place within a two-to-three-week period from first appearing on the agenda to final action. This makes standard F.O.I.A. procedures of limited usefulness. The City of Geneva has declined to respond to my informal questions, choosing instead to “ghost” me. Extending the response time to three weeks would render many of my inquiries moot.
Attached is a copy of my F.O.I.A. request that triggered the City’s determination (without due process) of my restricted F.O.I.A. status. Also attached is the City’s response. The issue involved is a successful applicant to the City for public subsidies (T.I.F. and sales tax rebates, etc.) to support a new “Dunkin'” store. The City also granted a special use to the applicant. The store is about 300 feet from my home.
I noted that the approved special use plan included (among many other code violations) encroachments into the public R.O.W. of a city street (Crissey Avenue) and an Illinois state highway (Illinois Route 38). Over a year ago, under F.O.I.A., I requested a copy from I.D.O.T. of the required State of Illinois R.O.W. permit. The Dunkin’ store’s construction was essentially complete, but an I.D.O.T. Permit was required even before the construction started. I.D.O.T. informed me that it had not received an application for a permit.
I.D.O.T., under F.O.I.A. or by phone, has declined to respond to my queries about the status of the permit. In the interim, the applicant has asked for an occupancy permit. My F.O.I.A. request that triggered this appeal is “recurrent,” as indicated in the request. The problem for me is that the letter from the City to the Dunkin’ applicant with a specific list of requirements before an occupancy permit will be considered does not include a due date. So, I cannot get timely information from either I.D.O.T. or the City of Geneva without recurrent F.O.I.A. requests.
The above is background information.
My appeal to P.A.C. is based on the fact that I am the owner, proprietor, editor, and writer of a Geneva-centered news media and non-profit, scientific, and academic entity known as “genevanotes.com.”
Among the purposes of genevanotes.com is to (i) to access and disseminate information concerning news and current or passing events, (ii) for articles of opinion or features of interest to the public, and (iii) for the purpose of academic historical, scientific, or public research or education.
As such, the following Illinois Statutory provision applies: “For purposes of this definition [recurrent requester] requests made by news media and non-profit, scientific, or academic organizations shall not be considered in calculating the number of requests made in the time periods in this definition when the principal purpose of the requests is (i) to access and disseminate information concerning news and current or passing events, (ii) for articles of opinion or features of interest to the public, or (iii) for the purpose of academic, scientific, or public research or education.
I believe reading a sample of the content on my media outlet over the years will demonstrate an honest attempt to provide the information described in the above statute.
Rod’s Ramblings and Ruminations – Lore & Legend of Geneva, Fox Valley, Illinois & Beyond (genevanotes.com)
Thank you for considering my appeal.
Rodney B, Nelson, M.D., F.A.C.P., Former Major, USAF
2 thoughts on “Liberty Dies in Darkness and the City of Geneva Loves Its Dimmer Switch”
The coffee at Dunkin Donuts formerly was my favorite. The last time I had some, mere months T donut wrappers and coffee cups and napkins from littering the neighborhood? And why should such a well-estahblished enterprise need tax breaks to come to town? This inquiring mind wants to know.
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Why indeed. Because another six-figure salary and another department create more patronage leverage for the mayor? Or because the TIF slush funds are difficult for the public to monitor and provide the City Council with a tool to reward some businesses while punishing others? We have a highly-rated local family-owned donut shop a few blocks away where safe access is via a signaled intersection. A 5-5 vote with the mayor breaking the tie brought the Dunkin’ debacle. We need a new mayor much more urgently than we need a new Dunkin’.