The Pollution Control Facility Committee of the DeKalb County Board met to formally vote to recommend the full board formally approve Waste Management of Illinois, Inc.’s siting application to expand the current landfill near Cortland.
The meeting did not go as expected. The committee did not unanimously vote to recommend approval of the siting application. One member, Ken Andersen, voted against it.
That’s not the way the game is supposed to be played here in Illinois — home of former governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.
Here are the rules:
1) Meet with the elected members and (a) find out what is important to them and (b) throw money at it. Note: It is always helpful when you can find an appointed administrator who knows the board’s priorities.
2) Hire a team of experts who have a 100% track record of testifying under oath that their client’s application meets the criteria required. Note: A highly qualified independent legal consultant hired by the board would be a former-watchdog-group-director-turned-lobbyist who will show unwavering support for the appointed administrator that knows the board’s priorities.
3) Convince the board to ignore their conscience and constituents (by issuing a gag order), because; a) its a done deal since all experts point to approval — there is no choice and b) they need the money if they have their priorities in order.
The above is not satire. It’s the rules for landfill siting applications in Illinois.
So when Ken Andersen (see video) announced that he was voting against approval of WMI’s siting application there was a vivid contrast of shock in the Gatheratorium in the Legislative Center. The packed audience (of citizens, many of whom took off from work to attend the 3:40pm meeting) broke into a rousing round of applause when Andersen announced his intention to vote and rose to a standing ovation when he finished his statement. The rest of the committee sat in stone silence, refusing to make eye contact with Andersen or the audience.
Andersen did the right thing. He did not cave in to the tremendous pressure that was being put on him. His priorities were in the right place. He represented the concerns of his constituents over the paid presentation of WMI and the transparently biased recommendations from their own appointed staff.
Already there are these criticisms of Andersen from those who are evidently comfortable with the ways politics are in Illinois:
“Andersen knew there were enough yes votes so his vote didn’t matter.”
“Andersen only voted no because he knew he’d get beat in the November elections if he didn’t.”
To the status quo: Ummm, Andersen fulfilled his core legislative responsibility — he represented his constituents (they’re the ones who live closest to the dump). Perhaps his colleagues on the board should take notice that despite the dire warnings from staff at least he wasn’t handcuffed and arrested for voting against the siting application.
His opponent in November, Mark Pietrowski, attended much of the public hearing on the siting application. He’s read more of the related back up material than most. He’s attended the rallies and town hall meetings that District 9 residents came t0. His vote, if he had one, might have shocked the status quo, too.
The game has the board playing a “quasi-judicial role” designed to take legislative duties out of the elected’s hands. It’s a defective game.
To take the legislative duties out of the elected’s hands… How defective is that? Fortunately, even in Illinois, legislators such as county board members have the authority to meet their core legislative duty of representing their constituents. The Illinois Supreme Court said so in appeals over landfill siting applications.
The boogey-man won’t get them for ignoring the profits and wishes of a corporate entity instead of the concerns of their constituents. In fact, their neighbors will respect them.
And they’re much more likely to vote for them.
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