Monday, January 30, 2017

Boone County sheriff has lengthy list of public safety needs


Posted by RVPEditor / In Belvidere Daily Republican, Public Meetings

By Bob Balgemann


Boone County Sheriff Dave Ernest said the time for kicking the can down the road had come to an end.

That was done for 20 years and today, “there’s no place farther that we can kick it,” he said. “We’ve continued to cut. There are no more paper clips to cut. We’re strictly [at] personnel.”

Appearing before the county board Wednesday, Dec. 21, he provided a lengthy list of needs in public safety, from more deputies to building improvements.

The sheriff’s office is down seven deputies from 2008, he said.

“That’s a ridiculous number,” he said. “And that’s just where we were in 2008. We should have an additional 12 to 15 officers, according to most studies that have been done out there.”

At the jail, he said $325,000 was spent on overtime last year.

“It has never been properly staffed,” he said of that facility.

Then, he turned to some of the buildings in the public safety complex along Main Street, which he said were “falling apart.”

The jail, built 18 years ago, needs repairs.

The public safety building, built 40 years ago, is shared by sheriff’s deputies, Belvidere police, and the 9-1-1 dispatch center.

“We have pipes busting,” he said of that facility.

The courthouse is “embarrassing for our county,” he said. Six or seven buckets are moved around every time it rains. “Ceilings are falling down during the court process,” he added. “All citizens of Boone County should be embarrassed that this is how we run our operation. Clearly it comes down to finances.”

Despite such problems, the crime rate in the county has declined over the past 10 years. People move here because of the low crime rate. However, he cautioned that “once we lose control we will no longer live in paradise.”

Sheriff Ernest, in his first term, said he wanted people to know about those problem areas.

“They think there are cops everywhere,” he said. “We have four on the road. We have to be honest with the public.”

Concerning the upcoming referendum, he said of voters, “I think they will step up. I wish we didn’t have to do this, but I don’t see any other options at this point.”

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Ten-year historic preservation plan being drafted for Belvidere


Posted by RVPEditor / In Belvidere Daily Republican, Public Meetings

By Bob Balgemann


The Chicago-based Lakota Group will prepare a 10-year historic preservation plan for the city.

The goal of the plan is to come up with a concept that will help the city integrate preservation as an economic development and planning tool for revitalizing downtown and other traditional neighborhoods in the community.

“We have never had a historic preservation plan completed for the city,” Becky Tobin, Belvidere’s finance and budget director, said. She also is chairperson of the Belvidere City Historic Preservation Commission.

“Since 70 percent of the project is being paid for with grant money, this was the perfect time to do one. Local stakeholders and residents will be involved in the process, to come up with short and long-term preservation planning goals that will help shape the city’s future,” Tobin said. “As business owners, homeowners, or developers come to Belvidere, we want to be able to show them the vision we have for our community, and this plan will enable to help us do that.”

The city’s committee of the whole recommended approval of the 10-year plan being created in a voice vote, with one dissenting, during its Monday, Jan. 9 meeting. City council approval was expected on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Lakota has 25 years of experience in urban design, planning, landscape architect, and historic preservation. Its work will cost an estimated $29,900, with 70 percent being financed by a federal Certified Local Government Grant that is being administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Commission. The city historic preservation commission will pay the balance of 30 percent.

The plan is to be completed within one year of the contract with Lakota being executed.

Kathy Miller, when she was interim planning director for the city and Boone County, provided further details about the proposed preservation plan.

As background, she said preservation of Belvidere’s downtown and surrounding neighborhoods is a priority, as stated in the Boone County Comprehensive Plan of 2006.

The new plan will identify and assess the city’s resources and current preservation activities. Economic development through historic preservation is a goal as stated in the comprehensive plan.

Belvidere already has taken steps in that direction.

The city’s historic preservation commission annually recognizes property owners who have improved their historically significant homes and commercial buildings. Seven such awards were presented during a reception on Thursday, May 12, 2016.

Miller led a survey several years ago of two separate business districts in Belvidere, which led to them being named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Preservation proposals in the downtown will be among the strategies identified for implementation in the plan.

Belvidere has been cognizant of its historic assets for a long time.

The city has a historic district, consisting of 19 homes along West Hurlbut Street; 31 homes and buildings have been designated as Local Landmarks; and five buildings within the city have been placed on the National Register.

Currently, homes around the city’s courthouse are being surveyed as to their level of historic significance.

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White House to Dissenting U.S. Diplomats: ‘Get With the Program’ or Leave




More than 100 signatures have been gathered for a so-called dissent cable circulating within the State Department opposing President Trump’s executive order banning entry visas from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Credit Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday warned State Department officials that they should leave their jobs if they did not agree with President Trump’s agenda, an extraordinary effort to stamp out a wave of internal dissent against Mr. Trump’s temporary ban on entry visas for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Career officials at the State Department are circulating a so-called dissent cable, which says that Mr. Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s doors to more than 200 million people to weed out a handful of would-be terrorists would not make the nation safer and might instead deepen the threat.

“These career bureaucrats have a problem with it?” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters. “They should either get with the program or they can go.”

Asked if he was suggesting that people resign, Mr. Spicer said, “If somebody has a problem with that agenda, that does call into question whether or not they should continue in that post.”


Mr. Spicer defended the visa ban, saying its effects had been grossly exaggerated and that it symbolized Mr. Trump’s overriding goal of protecting the safety of the nation. He displayed little patience for the “dissent channel,” which the State Department has long maintained as a way for its staff to register objections over administration policies.

It was the starkest confrontation yet between the new president, who is moving swiftly to upend years of government policies, and an entrenched bureaucracy, parts of which are openly hostile to Mr. Trump’s proposals or have struggled to enforce his executive orders, which have been announced with little warning and no input from the rank and file.

Mr. Trump’s visa ban has reverberated through multiple agencies: the Defense Department, which says it hurts the military’s partners in conflict zones like Iraq; the Department of Homeland Security, whose border control agents are struggling to enforce the directive; and the Justice Department, whose lawyers are charged with defending its legality.

But Mr. Spicer’s blunt warning posed a particularly difficult choice to the more than 100 State Department officials who signaled they would sign the memo. They can sign a final version, which would be put on the desk of Rex W. Tillerson, Mr. Trump’s designated secretary of state, on his first day in office. Or they can choose not to identify themselves, and instead rely on the leak of the letter to make their point.

Under State Department rules and whistle-blower laws, it is forbidden to retaliate against any employee who follows the procedures and submits a dissent memorandum. One of the signatories, in a text message, said State Department signatories were trying to figure out what to do.


The memorandum began to take shape late last week, as word of Mr. Trump’s executive order leaked out. The sponsors quickly gathered more than 100 signatures, an unusually large number, but a draft of the memo was still being refined over the weekend.

Last summer, 51 State Department officials signed one protesting President Barack Obama’s policy in Syria, which they asserted had been “overwhelmed” by the violence there. They handed the cable to Secretary of State John Kerry.

The State Department confirmed the existence of the memo on Monday, and it affirmed the right of its staff to dissent.

“This is an important process that the acting secretary, and the department as a whole, respect and value,” said a spokesman, Mark Toner.


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The speed with which the memo was assembled and the number of signers underscore the degree to which the State Department has become the center of the resistance to Mr. Trump’s order. More broadly, it represents objections to his efforts to cut back on American participation in international organizations and to issue ultimatums to allies.

Not surprisingly, the diplomats and Civil Service officers of the State Department are among the most internationally minded in the government; they have lived around the world and devoted their careers to building alliances and promoting American values abroad.

That was reflected in parts of the draft of the dissent memo circulating in the State Department. It warned that the executive order “will increase anti-American sentiment,” and that “instead of building bridges to these societies,” it would “send the message that we consider all nationals of these countries to be an unacceptable security risk.”

Among those whose views will be changed are “current and future leaders in these societies — including those for whom this may be a tipping point towards radicalization.” It also warned of an immediate humanitarian effect on those who come “to seek medical treatment for a child with a rare heart condition, to attend a parent’s funeral.”


“We do not need to alienate entire societies to stay safe,” the memo concludes.

Overseas, Iraqi officials said they were surprised by the directive, which they learned about through the American news media; they had not been consulted first. Objections from Baghdad are notable because Iraq is a front-line partner in the campaign against the Islamic State.

And at the Pentagon, senior officials plan to send the White House a list of Iraqi citizens who have served with American forces with the recommendation that they be exempt. Officials said that the Iraqis who will be put on the Defense Department list have undergone a stringent form of vetting because

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Acting Attorney General Orders Justice Dept. Not to Defend Refugee Ban




Trump has fired the acting attorney general who ordered Justice Dept. not to defend president’s travel ban

President Trump defended his executive order on Twitter, writing that there is “nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country.” (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

By Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman January 30 at 9:28 PM

President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.

In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente told The Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.

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Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.

Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

Sean Spicer's daily briefing on Trump's travel ban, annotated

Play Video2:44

White House press secretary Sean Spicer addressed the media on Jan. 30, three days after President Trump signed an executive order halting the flow of refugees to the United States. (Video: Peter Stevenson/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful,” Yates wrote. She wrote that “for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”

Yates is a holdover from the Obama administration, but the move nonetheless marks a stunning dissent to the president’s directive from someone who would be on the front lines of implementing it.

Also Monday, State Department diplomats circulated various drafts of a memo objecting to Trump’s order, which was issued Friday. The document is destined for what’s known as the department’s Dissent Channel, which was set up during the Vietnam War as a way for diplomats to signal to senior leadership their disagreement on foreign policy decisions. More than 100 diplomats have signed the memo, which argues that the immigration ban will not deter attacks on American soil but will generate ill will toward U.S. citizens.

What will happen next is unclear. A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those who would normally defend the order under Yates’s authority can no longer do so. Yates will probably be replaced soon by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s attorney general nominee, who could be confirmed as early as Thursday or Friday. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider his nomination Tuesday, and the entire Senate must wait one day before voting.

A spokeswoman for Sessions declined to comment. A White House spokeswoman did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

White House domestic policy adviser Stephen Miller said on MSNBC that Yates’s decision was “a further demonstration of how politicized our legal system has become.”

“It’s sad that our politics have become so politicized that you have people refusing to enforce our laws,” Miller said.

A Justice Department official familiar with the matter said Yates felt she was in an “impossible situation” and had been struggling with what to do about a measure she did not consider lawful. A Justice official confirmed over the weekend that the department’s office of legal counsel had been asked to review the measure to determine if it was “on its face lawful and properly drafted.”

In her memo, though, Yates said her role was broader. She wrote that an office of legal counsel review does “not address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just,” nor does it “take account of statements made by an administration or its surrogates close in time to the issuance of an Executive Order that may bear on the order’s purpose.”

That could be a reference to Trump’s campaign trail comments about a “Muslim ban” or the recent assertion by Trump surrogate Rudolph W. Giuliani that the president had asked him “the right way to do it legally.”

Yates’s memo came as civil rights lawyers and others across the country increased the pressure on Trump on Monday to dial back the ban — filing or threatening to file legal challenges to the executive order as they worked to determine if people were still being improperly denied entry or detained.

The defiant legal conclusion from the country’s top law enforcement official will surely boost their arguments. Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who worked on one of the legal challenges, said, “It sends a very strong message that there’s something very wrong with the Muslim ban.”

Just days after stepping down from office, former president Barack Obama weighed in through a spokesman, seeming to back those demonstrating against Trump’s decree and declaring his opposition to “discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

Obama said that he was “heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country” — an apparent reference to protests at airports nationwide. He also disputed Trump’s claim that his ban was based on Obama administration decisions.

Separately, more than 100 former Cabinet secretaries and senior national security and military officials from the Obama, George W. Bush and other administrations called on the current and acting heads of the Departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security to dial back enforcement of the order.

But George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration, said Yates’s memo was a “foolish, naked political move by what appears to be an ambitious holdover official” that would only create “unnecessary disorder.”

“She has to be asked to resign immediately,” Terwilliger said. “Look, the executive branch of our government is unitary. There’s only one boss, and that boss has spoken. If some subordinate official thinks that his direction is illegal, than the choice is to resign.”

Even as Yates issued her memo, civil rights advocates said they still had significant questions about how the executive order was being enforced and even who it might be affecting.

A lawsuit in Virginia claimed that dozens of people may have been forced to give up their green cards by Customs and Border Protection agents, though that figure could not immediately be substantiated. Lawyers in Los Angeles said they had received similar reports, though they were still exploring them.

Lawyers were also working to determine if anyone might still be in custody.

The ACLU’s Gelernt said that lawyers were “having trouble independently verifying anything because the government will not provide full access to all the detainees.” Of particular concern, he said, was that the government had not turned over a list of detainees, as it had been ordered to do by a federal judge in New York. He said lawyers might be back in federal court in the next day or so to forcibly get access to it.

The ACLU’s suit in New York is perhaps the most significant of a growing number of legal challenges to the order. The Council on American-Islamic Relations also filed a sweeping challenge Monday, alleging that the order is meant “to initiate the mass expulsion of immigrant and non-immigrant Muslims lawfully residing in the United States.” The lawsuit lists 27 plaintiffs, many of them lawful permanent residents and refugees who allege that Trump’s order will deny them citizenship or prevent them from traveling abroad and returning home. Lawyers with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project filed a similar challenge in Washington state.

Bob Ferguson, Washington state’s attorney general, said Monday that he, too, plans to file a federal lawsuit seeking an immediate halt to the order’s implementation — making him the first state official to do so. That lawsuit has the support of Microsoft and Amazon, two companies based in Washington state. (Amazon owner Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post in his personal capacity and has voiced Amazon’s opposition to the order personally).

The White House, meanwhile, continued to defend Trump’s executive order. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that one lawsuit “doesn’t make any sense” and sought to minimize the action as simply subjecting 109 people to more rigorous screening.

According to State Department statistics, about 90,000 people received nonimmigrant or immigrant visas in fiscal year 2015 from the seven countries affected by Trump’s executive order.

[Some international passengers entering the U.S. more easily, but members of Congress say they’re still not getting answers]

Ed O’Keefe, Rachel Weiner, Ellen Nakashima, Juliet Eilperin, John Wagner and Carol Morello contributed to this report.

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Acting Attorney General Orders Justice Dept. Not to Defend Refugee Ban




Sally Q. Yates, the acting attorney general, during a news conference in June. Credit Pete Marovich/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, ordered the Justice Department on Monday not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration in court.



OPEN Document

Document: Letter From Sally Yates

“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Ms. Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

The decision is largely symbolic — Mr. Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is likely to be confirmed soon — but it highlights the deep divide at the Justice Department and elsewhere in the government over Mr. Trump’s order.


Mr. Trump has the authority to fire Ms. Yates, but as the top Senate-confirmed official at the Justice Department, she is the only one authorized to sign foreign surveillance warrants, an essential function at the department.

“For as long as I am the acting attorney general, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so,” she wrote.

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