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Home Rule Referendum Fails After 86 Percent Vote "No"

One voter said the village's request for additional powers was "upsetting."

The home rule saga in Clarendon Hills appears to be over after a landslide vote on Tuesday's primary-ballot referendum kept the village from attaining the additional powers that have become a hot topic since the Village Board .

According to results posted on the DuPage County website, 2,005 of 2,329 voters (86.09 percent) voted against attaining home rule, while only 324 voting in favor of it (13.91 percent).

"We have our answer," village manager Randy Recklaus said Wednesday morning.

Recklaus and village staff had explained at several public meetings since approving the referendum what could be done with home rule, which allows towns to exercise some powers not otherwise granted to them by the Illinois Constitution.

Among the possible actions discussed at the informational meetings was a sales-tax increase that could be attained without a referendum. The village had earlier discussed, but then dropped, the idea of a capital improvements tax that would have raised the village's portion of residents' property tax bills by 22 percent without a referendum. Early on, staff also discussed a $10,000 demolition tax as a possible home-rule revenue raiser. That idea was similarly dropped.

Village staff maintained that there were non-tax-related benefits of home rule, as well, such as protection from unfunded state mandates and additional economic development powers. 

To show that its members were not interested in home rule simply because property taxes could be raised without referendum, the Clarendon Hills Village Board that would have, if home rule was attained, demanded a referendum for any property tax increase.

Nevertheless, members of the public—including —remained skeptical, and the vote showed as much.

Clarendon Hills resident Brian Schaffer voted against the referendum at his Prospect School polling place on Thursday.

“I think it takes a level of transparency from the government that we don’t need to take away,” he said.

At the nearby  Community Center, Brian O’Meara voiced a different opinion.

“I’m not opposed to it,” he said, noting that the village would have more flexibility with the additional powers. “I like the idea of [the village] being a little more nimble.”

O'Meara was part of a small minority Tuesday. It seems nearly everyone felt like Peggy Quinn, who along with her husband Bernie voted against home rule at Prospect because she thinks the village shouldn't be able to raise taxes without taking it to the people first.

“It’s very upsetting that they would want that power,” she said.

Recklaus said the village will not pursue home rule again in the foreseeable future.

Bill Baum March 21, 2012 at 06:40 AM
In no uncertain terms... With ‘Home Rule’ voted down, Clarendon Hills “Community” now continues on as a “Free Community” under the American Flag and not under the dictatorship of a ruling municipality! God Bless America!
Kerry Comstock March 21, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I was really bothered by the way the marketing campaign against home rule attacked the Village Board. I know each one of them as honorable volunteers with no personal gain attached to passing home rule.
Nap Pozulp March 21, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Kerry-what board members gain is power, current board members and future board members, and, as a result power is taken from the people. The board members need to be confronted as they are not sensitive to this view that 86% of our residents hold.
Kerry Comstock March 21, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Nap - I absolutley understand having opposition to Home Rule, I have a mixed view myself. But I honestly do not think the board members are on a power trip. (come on it's Clarendon Hills; not Chicago!) From my perspective; they are dedicated volunteers that want to see our village succeed and thrive. I think this debate got too personal; and that I hate to see; especially when we depend so much on volunteer service. I am astounded by how much of their time it takes to be on the village board; it surely is a thankless job.
John Czerwiec March 21, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Kerry's point is lost on those that were too easily misled by the money spenders who waged a war of misinformation to further their own agenda. Sadly the flexibility that Clarendon Hills would have gained is only possible in towns where a majority of people have a cohesive vision of how local control can be a benefit. The small-mindedness of too many folks in Clarendon Hills may result in our already less than healthy economic core resembling even more so the pathetic "central business district" of towns like Villa Park, Lombard and Lisle whose voters similarly choose to live under the thumb of the Lords of Springfield instead of granting the neighbors the authority to guide the town's future...
John Czerwiec March 22, 2012 at 04:39 PM
If some takes offense to my characterization of folks that cast votes based on falsehoods I would urge them to get involved in a actively tracking who was behind the oppostion and why. Sadly the illogic and paranoia of people whose purses are allegedly thread bare was noted by only a minority of voters. Folks that do not understand how towns like Warrenville and Winnetka have benefitted from more local control nor how the slating process is greatly improved through the selfless work of volunteers will not be happy until their property tax bills are reduced to levels that cannot sustain even minimal services. Mindless opposition to well thought out proposals will jeopardize the enviable features that make Clarendon Hills a desirable choice among home shoppers...
Bill Baum March 23, 2012 at 04:42 PM
It was disheartening to see 324 people undervalue their Constitutional rights and freedoms so easily. Essentially, with this referendum, our community was being asked to give up our voting input concerning certain village decisionmaking and to give up certain Illinois Constitutional protections. Other than this, what was the special need for the 'Municipal Home Rule' referendum on the Ballot? ... None.
Kevin Fitzpatrick March 25, 2012 at 05:53 PM
John, there are plenty of Home Rule Communities that have severe issues with their downtown business districts, as that encompasses a completely different issue of how a community adopts an area that might not have as much foot or vehicular traffic to subsidize the business district with extra shoppers. The healthy ones make a concerted effort to make their downtowns more home friendly with events and other attractions. Lombard has been an economic powerhouse for the past two decades on all of the business arteries. Calling our downtown "pathetic" is offensive. It's a constant work in progress, where people volunteer and the village works to add additional helpful funding through other measures. Elmhurst has a special taxing district for their downtown that helps immensely. Home Rule is a decision for each individual community to make. It is a covenant between a current group of residents and every future village government. People may feel uncomfortable with that. You've got really smart people working in CH. You've got smart people living there. They can have a conversation about things they want to do and pass them by referendum. If you live there, you're a fortunate guy, home rule or not.
David Equinstein August 29, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Talk about "powertrips by elected officials" the 6 Part-Time Commissioners from the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County get paid $53,500 a year plus full-time benefits and a taxpayer subsidized pension for maybe 1,000 hours a year and they just sit there! Not one of the Commissioners (Cantore District 2 was absent again) has said a word at any meetings about the FBI's investigation. Here is one of the articles http://elmhurst.patch.com/articles/fbi-investigates-dupage-forest-preserve-contracts-a19cbfe2#comments_list about the investigation that the DCFPD President Dewey Pierotti keeps saying (even yelling at citizens on 8/14) that there is no investigation.

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