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UPDATED: Did the Village Violate Its Own Meeting Room Policy?

Some Patch readers wanted to know why the Lisle Area Chamber of Commerce, a nonpartisan group, is sponsoring candidate forums for Republican candidates at Lisle Village Hall.

 

Republican candidates vying for spots on the DuPage County Board District 5 are scheduled to appear at a sponsored by the on March 7 at . This is the second Chamber-sponsored forum that excludes Democratic candidates, which raised the eyebrows of some Lisle Patch readers.

When District 2 candidates , a couple Patch commenters asked why a Chamber of Commerce was hosting an event for Republican candidates only.

Uncontested Democratic candidate Liz Chaplin confirmed on Patch she was not invited to last week's Chamber event.

Tom Althoff, president/CEO of the Lisle Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged that both events, which have been billed on the Chamber website as candidate forums, only feature Republican candidates. He said the Chamber did not extend the invitation to the District 2 and 5 Democratic candidates, Chaplin and Tony Michelassi, respectively, because both are running uncontested in the Democratic primary.

While the Chamber is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates, Althoff said the Chamber chose to conduct the forums as an informational “community service” to residents, “because there were candidates from the area, especially Lisle.”

Althoff said village staff signed off on the Chamber's use of their facilities. However, the Village's approval may have violated its own meeting room policy. 

The Village of Lisle's current meeting room policy allows certain organizations to use village space as a "limited public forum" after business hours, with the permission of the business office or village manager. Village policy also permits the use of meeting rooms for political use, provided events are "open to all candidates for a political office."

Village manager Jerry Sprecher said the Village took on some community meeting responsibilities at a time when the was remodeling. He said while the 's meeting room can accommodate a variety of uses, the Village Hall board room "gets complicated" because they require security and audiovisual staff to be present.

Civic and non-profit organizations are not charged for use of Village facilities.

Sprecher approved the Chamber's meeting room application. He said he did not consider the inclusion of the Democratic candidates to be an issue because this is a primary race, and those casting a Democratic ballot must throw their support toward the single candidates.

"If there was a contested race, I'd acknowledge the point," he said.

Althoff said the Village did not charge for the use of its audiovisual services for the candidate forums.

Sprecher said the decision to broadcast and record the forums stems from a longstanding position that it is a benefit to the community to have access to them.

 

Both races include candidates who currently serve on municipal or county boards. The District 2 race includes Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni (who also is a member of the DuPage Stormwater Commission), Lombard Trustee Zach Wilson, and Oak Brook Trustee Elaine Zannis. Mike Loftus, a Lisle resident, is a chairman of the Lisle Township Republican Organization and an acting member of DuPage County's zoning board of appeals.

District 5 Republican candidates include Lisle village Trustee Ed Young, and DuPage County Board incumbents Jim Healy and John P. Zediker.

District 5 includes portions of Aurora, Lisle, Naperville, and Warrenville. Althoff said at least six of the seven Republican candidates are expected to attendance. The forum begins at 7 p.m., and will air on Lisle’s public access channel. A recording will also be available for re-airing on Naperville Community Television, he said.

 


Karlie Baker (Editor) March 07, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I know some of my readers who have an opinion on this topic have already expressed it, but I wanted to throw out another question. With usual life scheduling conflicts and last Wednesday's sudden change in weather, there wasn't much of a crowd AT the forum. For those of you who didn't attend, do you find it helpful to have these forums available for later viewing online or by public access channel?
George P March 07, 2012 at 07:13 PM
It would have been helpful IF all the candidates were present at the forum. I chose my primary ballot based on listening to the views of ALL the candidates. I don't always chose the same party ballot in a primary - it depends on who is running.
Maria March 07, 2012 at 07:25 PM
So the VIllage provided audio/visual staff for a political event that did not include all the candidates?! Did the Village use public funds to pay the employees to run the A/V equipment for a political event, too? Did the Village use public fund to pay Lisle police for security for the political event? Has the Village ever denied another not-for-profit, non-political, organization use of this room?
Jane March 07, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Althoff himself filed as a Republican candidate for Dist 5 Forest Preserve Commissioner. Non-political, please. Who is he kidding?
Dick March 07, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Wheaton Chamber hosted Dist 4 & 6 for both Democrat and Republican candidates, even those in uncontrested primaries were invited to participate and some did participate. The video was not provided for free from a public body, but provided by a private company. The video is uploaded on the Wheaton Chamber website. LINK http://wheatonlwvil.org/forum-jan24.html The Village of Lisle should not be using public funds for political purposes. The video of a "Republican" event should not be running on Lisle's public access channel providing FREE campaign exposure to only Republican candidates. It should not be posted on the Village website.
D R March 07, 2012 at 10:04 PM
The simple fact that a sitting Village of Lisle Trustee (Ed Young) is a Republican candidate in the forum tonight for Dist 5 creates at least the appearance of a conflict of interest, a violation of campaign ethics and a question of compliance with the IL Government Ethics Act.
Lisle Watchdog March 07, 2012 at 10:15 PM
The Village of Lisle violated more than their meeting room policy. This is a clear ethics violation. Providing the room, AV support and cable access for only Republican candidates gives their "chosen" candidates free exposure to the voters while obstructing exposure for their "unchosen" candidate. Will the Chamber be hosting a forum event for the General Election that features both parties candidates? It would be a first for the Lisle Chamber..
Lisle Watchdog March 07, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Village of Lisle Code 1-18-1(D). (D) The participation in political activities prohibited under the act, by any officer or employee is hereby prohibited
Jane March 08, 2012 at 02:08 AM
I sit here watching this Dist 5 Republican forum listening to the discussion about the funding of Choose DuPage, a 501(c)3, charitable organization. Zediker, who sits on the Choose DuPage board says Choose DuPage gets $500,000 from the County, annually, and another $500,000+ annually from private sector members... yet, one look at their taxes and financial reports filed with the IL AG and I have to seriously question why they don't report that revenue to the IRS. Fiscal Year Income 2010 14,598.00 2009 32,042.00 2008 23,385.00 2007 11.800.00 2006 9,388.00 http://ag.state.il.us/PDF_IMAGES/Indexes20110309/01057988-2009.pdf
Lisle Watchdog March 08, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Village of Lisle has no ethical code that is enforceable. The Village of Lisle has no ethics officer, no ethics committee.
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