Friday, March 27, 2015

Loyalty Oath

The latest kerfluffle in the race for mayor is over loyalty oaths, or rather the signing of one. It appears that in the packet of papers each candidate receives is a loyalty oath, which has been included since the "Red Scare" days of the 1950s. Councilwoman Jane Adams says Mike Henry questioned if she had signed the loyalty oath (he says he did not) and she expanded on the situation in an email sent out today:

Loyalty Oaths in 2015?
In 2015 it’s hard to imagine that whether or not someone signs a Loyalty Oath is an issue in a city campaign. But just before the League of Women Voters debate began, Mike Henry came up to me, leaned very close to me, and in a low voice asked me if I had signed the loyalty oath that is included in petitions for running for public office. He had submitted a FOIA for my petitions, he said, and he didn’t see it.
I was too dumbfounded by his question to make much of a response. He turned and walked away. It was a momentary encounter. But quite disturbing. Why in the world would a Mayoral candidate challenge another Mayoral candidate about signing an obsolete and basically meaningless document?
I posted the incident on my Facebook page, where it has elicited a number of responses. Here is why I found the encounter disturbing:
I am old enough to remember when I had to sign a loyalty oath in order to work as a student worker in the cafeteria at SIU. I was about to embark as a volunteer for Freedom Summer – a project that aimed to gain voting rights and other basic civil rights for African Americans in Mississippi. At the time, many state governments, including Illinois, required all state employees to sign a loyalty oath.
In many places, organizations like the ones sponsoring Freedom Summer (NAACP, SCLC, SNCC, CORE) were considered “subversive”; in Mississippi the State Sovereignty Commission spent a lot of time and energy monitoring our activities. 
Nationally, the FBI kept files on tens of thousands of citizens who protested against the status quo, including participation in civil rights activities. Loyalty oaths could be, and were, used to threaten people’s jobs. Many academics and others – including a number who were refugees from Nazi Germany – were blacklisted. It was not a happy time for defenders of our civil liberties.
Thankfully, those days are behind us. In 1964 the U.S. Supreme Court found that Washington state’s loyalty oath was unconstitutional; as the Southern Illinoisan’s article states, Illinois’ loyalty oath was struck down by the State Supreme Court in 1969.
The Loyalty Oath that Mr. Henry questioned me about sounds increasingly archaic as the Cold War fades into history. As the Southern quotes Jackson County Clerk Larry Reinhardt, “It is a completely irrelevant form.”
If, as Mr. Henry states, the issue of whether or not I had signed the loyalty oath “had been brought to his attention by voters,” and, ”if he “didn’t think much of it after reading it,” why did he approach me in such menacing manner?
Whatever the case, this campaign is not about questioning citizens’ loyalties; it is about the future of Carbondale. As I said after the Southern Illinoisan debate ( video link here), voters have a clear choice: a “can do” attitude vs. “it can’t be done”; a primary concern for the future of the City, its residents and businesses vs. concern for the internal workings of City Hall; enlisting the energy and talents of our community to grow our economy vs. shrinking back to the “core obligations of our city government;” and developing strategic approaches to fiscal constraints vs. continually raising taxes.
My record is clear: During my four years on City Council I’ve written 166 posts (this is number 167) about issues facing the city. If you elect me Mayor, you will know where I stand on issues. And you will know that I will respond to your communications – and respond with respect, whether or not I agree with your views.
As a young woman I risked my life in Mississippi to help make the American promise of “liberty and justice for all” a living reality. There’s not a chance I’ll back down from that commitment now.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sales Tax

I see city council voted to raise sales tax by .25% to help cover the city deficit. However, half of the money is supposed to go to special projects, such as green spaces, bike trails, etc. This I have a problem. the city is running a deficit. This money should go to fill that deficit, not on special projects. $500,000 of the funds from the Saluki Way tax was supposed to go to fund green spaces and bike trail. So far. all I have seen has been some planing for a bike trail along the railroad right of way, which has not gotten much  beyond the planning stage. Get the city's books in order first, then spend money on special projects.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Brightfields Confirmed.

I saw in this morning's Southern that city council voted to issue the special uses permit to Brightfields for the installation of the solar array on the old Koppers property. When I saw the vote ran 5-2 in favor, I guessed that the 2 "no" votes were Jane Adams and Carolin Harvey and my guess proved right.

Bradshaw had already come out in favor of the project and I had heard second-hand that Jack and McDaniel had as well. Fronabarger is generally in favor of projects like this and Monty leaned toward it, with severe reservations, the last time I heard him discuss it.

Adams, however, had moved from strong support for the project to increased questioning about it as controversy and protests from those living nearby had increased. Since Harvey had remained non-committal in public regarding her stance on the development, I figured it a safe bet that they cast the two no votes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

City Council Meeting

You should attend tonight's city council meeting if you have any interest in either the Brightfield's solar project or city taxes as the council will vote on approving the special uses permit for the Koppers land on which the Brightfields project would go as well as a sales tax increase to cover the projected deficit in the budget. And, for pity's sake, if you say that the city should cut waste in order to close the budget deficit rather than raising takes, come prepared to tell the city where it should make the cuts.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Political Yard Signs

Apparently 'tis the season for political yard sign abuse. According to an email I received, the Henry campaign says over 90 of its yard signs have gone missing since their placement. The Adams and Kang campaigns have also reported signs missing or damaged, though not in such large numbers.

I also heard, (secondhand) of a landlord requiring a tenant to remove one candidate's signs from the yard, who then replaced them with signs supporting the other candidate. If true, this violated the tenant's 1st amendment rights six ways from Sunday.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Brightfield's Voting

Voting by council on the special uses permit for the Brightfield's solar array project takes place at the council meeting next Tuesday evening. In a letter to the editor, councilwoman Jessica Bradshaw says she will support the permit. I have heard second hand that council members Lance Jack and Corene McDaniels lean towards supporting it as well and I get the feeling Mayor Don Monty leans towards it as well. I have not heard how council members Jane Adams, Lee Fronabarger or Carolin Harvey will vote, but would guess that since Adams is a supporter of the Gigabit project for Carbondale, a similar forward looking project like Brightfield's would appeal to her.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Additional Taxes

Much like most people, I am not a fan of additional taxes. However, given the difficulty the city currently faces, I would not mind an increase in the sales tax, with a sunset clause, to cover the pension funding deficit. I would not want to see a tax increase to fund any additional city projects until we have current city expenditures back in balance.