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Niles Trustees, Pass A Term Limits Law

In this Letter to the Editor, Mr. Kurfirst, discusses the recent judge's ruling which means voters will not see a referendum question on term limits for Niles officials on the November ballot.

The following Letter to the Editor expresses the opinions of the author alone; Patch merely provides a platform for writers to state their views.

  • Not surprisingly, the tactics used by the Village this time were identical to the attack on the OTB referendum: reduce it to advisory status at minimum --better yet knock it off the ballot entirely. This time they accomplished both. 

Earlier: Judge quashes referendum on term limits for Niles elected officials

  •  How the judge found the initiative question to be "advisory" is beyond me. He claimed that the petition language was appropriate to "an advisory public question," not a binding referendum, because it used terms like "question," "proposition," "shall"etc. Those words are there because we are asking citizens if they wish to put the clear and definitive new qualification for election on the November ballot. Yet the Court found our language "much too vague and ambiguous" and "sufficiently confusing." At the same time the Court suggested that we needed to deal with the problem of Trustees whose terms would be cut short were this measure implemented (there are none – something he should have known) and further stipulates that we did not address the question of when the term-limit clock starts. Of course if we added all this detail to the initiative, it would be thrown out for addressing more than a "single subject," the most popular silver bullet for stifling citizen lawmaking. All this reinforces my conclusion that Illinois, never known to be a state friendly to citizen initiatives, has an almost unreachable standard for binding referenda. This is not surprising since it reflects our statewide referenda policies which only allow for advisory votes.
  • Let's also remember that trustee term limits were among the many recommendations advanced by the Citizens Subcommittee of the Board of Ethics. This is not something Mr. Makula came up with on his own, though he did all the leg work and paid the legal bills precipitated by the Circuit Court challenge. I imagine the Village spent quite a pretty sum of taxpayer dollars trying to defeat the referendum also. 
  • What I find troubling is that when our Subcommittee mentioned term limits during our discussions with the Board of Ethics, we were told that it was a good idea but that it should be done by citizen initiative. I’m not sure that is possible anymore, given the Village’s track record at squashing any attempt at citizen lawmaking, and the high bar the Court has set for qualification as a binding referendum. 
  • However, I have heard four Trustees voice support for term limits -- Hanusiak, Lo Verde, Palicki, and even Przybylo. It’s time for them to step up to the plate and take action on this issue via a Village ordinance – preferably one that does not grandfather present trustees so they can serve additional decades. Procedures for (a) the recall of elected officials and (b) for an orderly and fair process for the replacement of trustees mid-term, including public advertisement of available positions and the establishment of procedures for a full vetting of all candidates, could also be components of a comprehensive ordinance. 

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Mr. Kurfirst is a former political science professor.

CK September 20, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Also for village politicians to take lie detector tests in a pulic meeting with the feds and citizens asking the questions. Have the politicians especially if they lived at any time in the 39th ward to SIGN a statement that relatives and precinct slaves for the politicians wont be on the payroll. Name the village plaza after Mr. Makula. Forbid elected politicians from holding big shot jobs in county and state. Immediatly kick out any trustee and mayor that gave tax money, insurance, cars computers and stuff to their favorite employees from our treasury just because they made a phone call to each other. And send the expoliticians to a training program for ethical behavier. Then send them to the you know what for premediated theft. Thats for starters.
Joe LoVerde September 20, 2012 at 04:21 PM
This issue was discussed in the board room in August of 2010 where I supported term limits well before Mr Makula got on the scene. Now in 2012 the courts have ruled the petition was found to be incorrect and it was determined to be non-binding. As I stated several months ago this issue will not go away and I am confident it will be discussed again with greater passion in the board room in the very near future.
Jac Charlier September 22, 2012 at 02:37 AM
For the record, poll each Trustee and the Mayor on their position on term limits as described by the petition and, if in agreement what specific steps they will take in the next 60, 180 and 365 days to make term limits a reality. All things can be done when the will is there...all things.
Jac Charlier September 22, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Exactly...this is true for any issue. My experience is that too often in our political system silence is mistaken for leadership and courage, when it is neither. It may be strategic and it certainly is political. Say and DO, be active...silence like a cancer grows...and causes issues to fade away.

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