Thumbs-up: To DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith, who delivered his first public address at the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s “State of the City” event Thursday. Smith first addressed the complaints that he was delivering such a speech at a paid event, promising to make another public presentation in December. Then he ticked off the many new developments in town, including in its central business district, and talked about plans for more to come. Smith touched on some challenges facing the city, such as its lack of funds for street repairs. He also admitted that he had “done a 180” on his campaign claim that city offices were on “lockdown mode.” In all, it was a good performance from the mayor, in part because the city really does have some positive developments to tout.
Thumbs-up: To DeKalb officials working to attract a new manufacturer to the city. Officials, including State Rep. Tom Demmer, said the cities of DeKalb and Rochelle are working on pitches for a manufacturing project, which is thought to be a joint Toyota-Mazda manufacturing plant. The project could bring thousands of jobs to the area. Although there are many areas vying to host such a plant, we hope DeKalb is the successful site; failing that, a large manufacturer locating in Rochelle would probably help to boost area employment.
Thumbs-up: To a new police chief in Sycamore. The Sycamore City Council on Monday unanimously approved the appointment of Jim Winters to be the city’s top cop. Winters, a former lieutenant colonel for the Illinois State Police, joined the Sycamore Police Department last summer when he replaced former Deputy Chief Darrell Johnson, who retired after 30 years at the department. The city’s previous chief left the department under a cloud of scandal after an Elgin police officer was unarrested in a driving under the influence case earlier this year. We wish Winters good luck as he takes over permanent leadership of the department and helps the force move forward.
Thumbs-down: To the continued standoff over school funding reform in Springfield. While both parties agree on much of a plan to distribute more funds to students in lower-income districts, there are elements on which they disagree. Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto of the plan. We’ve heard nothing about any negotiated compromise this week, only that Democrats in the state Senate plan to vote on education funding Sunday. Democrats probably have the three-fifths majority they need to override the veto; in the House, which will likely take up the issue later in the week, they don’t. At this rate, it seems all but certain that local schools will not receive any state funding before they begin classes.