D200 Artificial Turf

Opponents won the round at tonight's Woodstock School Board meeting.

Opponents won the round at tonight’s Woodstock School Board meeting.

Here’s a report from the Woodstock District 200 artificial turf School Board meeting:

The administration’s decided NOT to accept the bidding process.

There are no immediate plans to revisit it.

About 20 people spoke — all were in opposition in one form or another be it

  • the toxicity to the environment
  • safety issues for players
  • the taxes it will impose
  • the fact that its an appreciated donation but nowhere self sustaining
  • the rush to act seemed suspect

No one  spoke in favor of the artificial turf.

The artificial turf meeting crowd.

The artificial turf meeting crowd.

The reasons for not accepting the bids per the board were:

  1. The Board felt it was being rushed.
  2. Board members got unprecedented opposition to the project.
  3. The bidding procedure was improper.


D200 Artificial Turf — 13 Comments

  1. Hey Cal, I talked to two people who attended the meeting yesterday who said nobody spoke against it.

    I got an email today that said two people did speak in favor of it.

    Some of that could just be how people interpret comments.

    Whatever the case, opposition to the turf far outweighed any support it might have had.

    Woodstock residents watch out that they don’t resurrect this.

  2. The report is from the public not the school district?

    I doubt artificial turf at the old Woodstock HS is a dead issue.

    It’s a trend in the suburbs and there’s likely union labor involved to install it.

    Woodstock District 200 is another taxing district that does not videotape its board meetings and post them on the district website.

    Here is a major problem with this school board.

    “A copy of the complete board packet, including the meeting agenda, is also available for review at the District 200 Administrative Services Center and the Woodstock Public Library.”

    Many school districts post electronic board packets online before board meetings, so the public has a chance to view the documents prior to the meeting.

    Less transparent school districts post documents online before the board meetings, but do not consolidate them to a board packet.

    Even less transparent school districts only post an agenda online before board meetings, with no accompanying documentation.

    Woodstock District 200 seems to fall into that latter category.

    Not good.

    Taxpayers should insist on electronic board packets being posted online at least 48 hours prior to the board meeting, 72 hours is better.

    Woodstock District 200 is the largest tax expenditure on Woodstock property tax bills.

    Taxpayers deserve an electronic board packet prior to the board meetings so they can understand before board votes how the administration is proposing to spend taxpayer money.

  3. D200 also has a policy to limit public comment at their discretion (defined as having spoken within past 2 months).

    That was stated last night, but everyone present was allowed to speak nevertheless.

  4. What are the particulars of the public comment limitation?

    Do they ban someone from speaking an entire meeting…don’t think that’s legal.

    Do they limit the number of minutes someone from the public can speak at a meeting…some boards have a limit of the number of minutes the public can speak at a board meeting.

  5. 3 minutes, pretty standard.
    In their published policy statement they state the right to prohibit statements by any citizens who have spoken in past 2 months.

  6. That right to prohibit statements by any citizens who have spoken in the last 2 months should be abolished.

    I would ask the Better Government Association or Citizens Advocacy Center if that is even legal.

    If Woodstock taxpayers allow the school district to control their public speech by prohibiting a critic or watchdog from speaking at every meeting the residents are just asking to be taxed to oblivion.

    Now that is about control.

  7. My 2 minutes 55 second speech:

    1. With Woodstock homeowners’ property tax rates at 4.6% of total home value, the characterization of money from Woodstock City as a ‘donation’ is offensive and condescending to taxpayers. If you take money from Woodstock City for this project you are taking tax money.

    2. The property tax rate of 4.6% of total home values depresses our local economy and pressures local home values to drop further.
    Compared to the national average property tax rate of less than 1.5%, local households owning median value $166,000 homes paying 4.6% property taxes have $5000 less than average Americans per year every year to spend or to save for children’s higher educations.
    Other factors exerting downward pressure on local home values:
    A household earning Woodstock median income of $57,000 looking to purchase a median priced $166,000 home could not qualify for a conforming conventional mortgage loan, due to the startlingly high property tax rate. In America, with property tax rate of 1.5%, the borrower would qualify for that conforming loan, which requires annual debt service to not exceed 30% of income. The pool of qualified buyers for local property is low as a function of your extraordinarily high property tax rate demands.

    And, foreclosures have led to a high ratio of investor owned rental homes. Investors have no incentive to do anything other than let properties deteriorate and lose value, as this will minimize investor property tax burden. Rent can be collected either way, and demand for local trades services plummets.

    3. Debt. You have claimed net outstanding debt of $118 million, but you have structured the debt to defer much of interest payments. I believe the present value of your principal and owed, unpaid interest to be roughly $150 million dollars. Using 2013 assessed values, that debt represents an encumbrance of 6.5% of total home values. Using 2014 assessed values, because our home values have fallen again, your debt encumbrance now represents over 6.9% of our home values.
    Illinois law caps unit school debt at 4.6% of total home values. Your 6.5% or higher debt encumbrance on our homes is higher than 4.6% Illinois statutory debt caps by a frightening margin.

    Refusal to address this debt crisis exerts continued downward pressure on our home values, while the rest of America and even much of Illinois has enjoyed a property value rebound.

    4. I cannot comprehend any decision making algorithm by which you might justify inflicting an additional burden of cost and debt onto the households in this District for anything less than a dire emergency.

  8. “We do not have to listen to you.”

    Those were the words of Camille Goodwin, President of the D200 board last night when she told attendees

    “Now if you have spoken in the last two months, and I know many of you have, I’m going to ask you not to speak tonight. We do not have to listen to you.”

    The full text of her preamble is at the end of this post and is a direct quote taken from a recording and was the first item following the board’s roll call, but was not included in the posted agenda.

    How can we allow this to continue?

    Her unbridled hubris must be checked.

    We need a concerted effort to take back our local governments from such self-important ‘public servants’ such as Camille.

    If they do not respect the people they serve, then they have no business in the role. If you haven’t been to a public meeting of one of the 7,000 units of Illinois government lately, I encourage you to go and let them know that you are watching.

    It is no longer enough to vote, you need to get involved.

    God bless us all.

    (Text transcript excerpt follows)

    “We have one item our agenda this night… this evening, which is the bids for the turf project, however this is an open meeting, a regular meeting and so we do have a comment section of our meeting and I want to have that part first.

    “Before we get to that though, I would like to remind everybody of the district rules with respect to public comment. ..and actually, I have refreshed myself on that as well and they’re a little more extensive that I thought originally….and I’ve also looked at the Open Meetings Act, thank you Joe.

    “So please know our rules require that you state your name, you do not have to state your address, though we would certainly (unintelligible) …you are certainly welcome to do that.

    “You will be limited to three minutes each… approximately.

    “We’re trying to keep this in a timely meeting and keep it down.

    “Now if you have spoken in the last two months, and I know many of you have, I’m going to ask you not to speak tonight.

    “We do not have to listen to you.

    “if there is time, we may let you do that.” – Camille Goodwin, July 8, 2015

  9. I would call the Better Government Association and Citizens Advocacy Center to see what they have to say about the, you can’t speak if you have spoken the in the last 2 months board policy.

    Even if it’s legal it’s good for them to know.

    I’ve never heard of such a rule.

    Would be interested in knowing her rationale.

    She is supposed to represent the people.

    What people want that policy and why.

    How about if board members only speak once every 2 months?

    Some board members in Illinois would probably like to hide behind such a rule so don’t take that as a suggested board policy.

    Well if she doesn’t like to hear from the public too frequently, the best way to not hear from her is vote her out of office.

    When you add the huge debt to the public can speak only once every 2 months at a board meeting policy, doesn’t look good, and add that to no electronic board packet, and add that to no videotape of board meetings, doesn’t look good.

    You can write letters to the editors of the local papers, and exchange contact information with others who attend board meetings who are also upset with the status quo, and build a group of people who want change.

  10. I have been in contact with the Illinois Attorney General’s office and will be filing a formal request for review with them to try to force them to change their rules and will also file a complaint with the State’s Attorney for McHenry county.

    To be fair, she did let others speak, because she said sh ‘had time left’, but the issue is the fact that she thinks she doesn’t have to listen to us.

    We have put a group together.

    Take a look at VotersInAction.com.

    Thanks for your support and thanks to all that showed up last night.

  11. The Better Government Association (BGA) has a section of their website on the Open Meetings Act.

    The BGA also has a section of their website on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
    Which would be more aptly named the Freedom of Document Act since it’s documents that can be requested; FOIA does not require the government unit to answer questions, just produce documents.

    The BFA has a YouTube Channel including videos on the Open Meetings Act and FOIA.


    Open Meetings Act


    The BGA Citizen Watchdog Training also covers FOIA.

    There have been changes to FOIA law, so the above videos may not be 100% up to date.

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