Letter: Library Board Engaged in 'Shameful' Governance
Apr 07, 2016 07:41AM
● By Steven Jack
My earlier letters presented facts on incompetence, uncaring, and deceit by elected officials of the Oswego Public Library District (Library), which has added to Kendall County’s rise from 41st to 29th in highest USA property taxes, from 3,143 counties in only nine years. Let’s present more details on the Library.
The Library spent $25,000 more than the $150,000 appraisal to buy property for “maintaining and preserving the view from the thousands of square feet of windows that overlook the creek and the property.” The Library described itself as “a good neighbor” in a letter to enraged neighbors that are still waiting for many answers from its March Board meeting. It was silent about the secret court order it obtained that quashed the 1994 restricted covenant that this property “be preserved in perpetuity” (i.e. absolutely NO construction whatsoever, including parking lots). Let’s look at the “good neighbor” claim and the secret court proceedings more closely.
The Library was such a “good neighbor” to the adjacent current property owner that it: 1. Refused to discuss them purchasing the historic urban barn; Forced them to file Freedom of Information Act requests to get public information on the property purchase; Ignored requests for clarity of utility right-of-ways, even though gas, electric, and water run both ways under their properties; Nailed an eviction notice to the urban barn, demanding that renters remove their storage items—this urban barn is “eligible for landmark status” per the Oswego Historic Preservation Commission—the Library must think that means to destroy it. How would you like a “good neighbor” like that? The college student daughter of that adjacent neighbor asked the Library Board why they didn’t spend the $175,000 on buying books needed by students to lower their educational costs—she’s still waiting for an answer to that excellent question.
The secret court proceedings are another example of shameful Library governance. It might assert court cases are not secret, but when a public body goes into court, without any public notice of what and why, it’s more than fair to call it “secret”. This case was filed by the Library (‘Plaintiff”) under eminent domain, a legal concept authorizing taxing bodies to condemn property so that they can build on it. The Court found “Plaintiff has authority to exercise the right of eminent domain and the Property is subject to the exercise of such right.” The Court also ordered “By virtue of this proceeding and … all restrictions on use of the Property shall be and are released and a Declaration of Restrictive Covenant recorded July 21, 1994 as… is hereby determined to be null and void.” One does not need to be a rocket scientist to see the Library is not truthful to taxpayers, who pay the bills—they clearly have some plan other than “view”, but they choose to be untruthful.
Isn’t it time for you to start taking more of an active interest in how your tax money is being spent? My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leonard R. Wass, Oswego