My View: Looking at how things got done in Boone County in the last decade
MondayPosted Feb 6, 2017 at 9:49 AM Updated Feb 6, 2017 at 11:30 AM
By Pat Mattison
From where I sit, this is the way planning for the future in Boone County has progressed in the past 10 years.
In a way, bribes (I am using the word bribes here just to get your attention) aren't necessary in Boone County governments. For instance, the pattern to foster growth from any industry - nursing home or senior citizen residential center, retail shopping center, high end residential subdivision, bank, classic restaurant, Wal-Mart or chain restaurant - has been to fix up a professionally done slick brochure or the like with half truths and label it "economic development." Then you call a meeting - outline promises of jobs, property and sales tax revenues along with the attracting of newcomers and increased housing - and the likes of Growth Dimensions, the Boone County Board chairman, the Belvidere mayor and village presidents grab their rubber stamps of approval.
If any sensible citizen questioned increased traffic problems, crowded schools or environmental problems they were branded among the "good ol' boy" leaders as tree huggers, liberal elitists, "aginners" or threats to the good people of Boone County.
Almost all of the development discussion is done behind closed doors in small committee meetings, and actions are presented to whole boards without prior knowledge or review for action at their regular board meetings. Too many issues are presented as having to act immediately to meet some critical deadline, or the tremendous opportunity for the good of all will be lost.
There are even appointed paid "administrators" working for the county that arrange out-of-town dinner trips for interested board members to visit applicants.
Some of the board members vote yes because their vote would not stop the approval, and they do not want to be judged for not being informed. Or if it wasn't going to pass anyway, they didn't want to be considered "obstructionists" - or who knows what?
There are a large percentage of "go alongers" serving the various city, county and village boards in Boone County that derive their "ego satisfaction" by being on the board or council. There are even board members that take a liking to a particular applicant for a special-use permit and will make the presentation for or with them.
Debate is something that is experienced at the high school tournaments. What board member could possibly question another board member's intent? "Conflict of interest" for these board members is a concept that happens in the Chicago City Council but is unknown in the Boone County environment.
This begs the question for all Boone County voters to consider for the future. Will any bona fide business or developer really consider Boone County attractive with this kind of governmental culture? Where would another Chrysler type operation go to explore and develop its future in Boone County?
Pat Mattison is a former member of the Boone County Board.