April 02, 2019

MAR 2019 2nd Ward Update

Good evening neighbors,

The start of baseball means better weather is right around corner, and it can’t come soon enough!  I just wanted to provide you a quick 2nd Ward update (shorter than most).

 

1) Chancery Building: This issue has been in the minds of many Rockfordians since last fall and it has now made it to City Council.  I have received hundreds of pieces of correspondence: calls, email, and mail, and I’m thankful for the outreach of all concerned parties.

Last night, the measure came before City Council where it was laid over for an April 15th vote.  The purpose behind the layover is to continue discussions with aldermen, the Diocese, the City, and, maybe even Rome.  On April 15th, this item will be voted on unless 10 aldermen support laying the matter over again until a final May 6th vote.  I will be petitioning my colleagues to support one more layover as I will be out of the country on military orders during the time of the April 15th vote, and I would very much like to vote on this matter.  Ordinances state members must be physically present in order to cast a vote.

The Historic Preservation Commission (a body on which I served last year) voted to recommend landmark status to the Chancery, but the measure failed in the Codes and Regulations Committee.  The Chancery will need the support of 10 aldermen to acquire landmark status.  I support landmark status and intend to vote in favor of it on May 6th.  I have been made well aware of the arguments against landmark status, but I think it’s important to realize the City of Rockford will not force the Diocese to redevelop and transform the site, and I believe deeply in preserving our history (also as a side note, this is one of the reasons I love the homes in the 2nd Ward: all unique with character).  We don’t get a second chance at our history.  You may agree or disagree with me (my estimation is I have received around 3:2 ratio in support of landmark status), but what I have learned through this entire process is that all parties involved are motivated from a sense of deep conviction to shared values.  However this matter is concluded, I have sincerely appreciated the activism and outreach by residents across this entire city.

 

2) Great American Cleanup: Please mark your calendars for this April 27th in support of the Great American Cleanup!  It’s a wonderful day of service to your community in helping to clean up our city and our neighborhoods.  The North Highland Square Neighborhood, near the geographic center of the 2nd Ward, always has a great organization and turnout with friendly neighbors.  Consider helping out on that Saturday morning, join up with a group, or start your own event in your own neighborhood!

Please contact Pam or Frank at Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful for more information or if you have further questions (815-637-1343).

 

3) Neighborhood Safety- Private Security Cameras: I put this information out last month, too, and I wanted to follow up in support the 2nd Ward’s neighborhood associations.  If you are interested, I’d ask you contact your neighborhood association president by the end of this month so association presidents can roll their lists up to the appropriate vendor.

In light of some concerns in neighborhoods with petty property crime and a couple more violent crimes in the past few months, I wanted to make you aware of a partnership between the neighborhood associations of the 2nd Ward and a couple local security firms.  ADT and M. Spinello’s have offered bulk rates if enough residents purchase products.

Given the fact that our police officers respond to more calls per officer than any other similarly-sized municipality in our state, it is my opinion that more eyes on our neighborhoods could very likely lead to 1) deterred criminal behavior if the opportunity presented itself and 2) more apprehensions.

Please see attached for quotes from ADT and M. Spinello for possible discounts in your neighborhood.  If interested, all you would have to do is tell your neighborhood association president which items you would like and they will work together to connect to the appropriate firm (If you’re unsure who your neighborhood association president is, just ask me, and I can easily direct you!).

I think this is a significant way we might help counteract the illicit elements in all of our neighborhoods and these private cameras (the footage of which can only be shared with RPD by the consent of the owner) might even be able to help RPD connect footage of a suspicious actor or vehicle from a nearby incident.

 

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Hopefully you were able to find some time to vote today too!  For your awareness, I am still around stateside through July, so don’t hesitate to call if you need assistance with anything.  Happy to serve in any capacity!

Jon

February 28, 2019

FEB 2019 2nd Ward Update

Good evening neighbors,
 

What a winter it’s been and hopefully we’re seeing the final days of these arctic blasts.  While frustrating at many points, I’ve noticed how this winter has brought out some of the best in our neighbors, and it’s a good reminder of what makes our neighborhoods special—the helpful neighbor down the block.
 

I just wanted to touch on a few items:
 

1. Potholes: When one problem subsides, the door to another problem opens; the snow is slowly melts away, but we are left to deal with the potholes.  Public Works is prioritizing arterial streets to fill potholes, but if you see a pothole, report it!  Email me, text me, report it online, or call the Streets Division at 779-348-7260.  Public Works tries to proactively as many of the potholes as it can, but we need your help too!

This weekend, I was in every neighborhood across the 2nd Ward reporting nearly 40 potholes on our side streets.  I know Public Works takes pride in the fact that 99% of potholes are filled within one week of them being reported.

 

2. Neighborhood Association Security Camera Initiative: In light of some concerns in neighborhoods with petty property crime and a couple more violent crimes in the past few months, I wanted to make you aware of a partnership between the neighborhood associations of the 2nd Ward and a couple local security firms.  ADT and M. Spinello’s have offered bulk rates if enough residents purchase products.

Given the fact that our police officers respond to more calls per officer than any other similarly-sized municipality in our state, it is my opinion that more eyes on our neighborhoods could very likely lead to 1) deterred criminal behavior if the opportunity presented itself and 2) more apprehensions.

Please see attached for quotes from ADT and M. Spinello for possible discounts in your neighborhood.  If interested, all you would have to do is tell your neighborhood association president which items you would like and they will work together to connect to the appropriate firm (If you’re unsure who your neighborhood association president is, just ask me, and I can easily direct you!).

I think this is a significant way we might help counteract the illicit elements in all of our neighborhoods and these private cameras (the footage of which can only be shared with RPD by the consent of the owner) might even be able to help RPD connect footage of a suspicious actor or vehicle from a nearby incident.

 

3. Water Bills: Effective May 15th, the City is slightly altering how it handles billing and payments for city services.  In order to reduce overhead and administrative costs borne by the City of Rockford, the City is encouraging more residents to migrate to e-billing or in-person payments.  In conversations with neighborhood associations, I often hear appeals from residents to look for sensible approaches to diminish unnecessary costs, and this is a smart approach in the 21st century.

The City of Rockford mails out close to half a million paper bills each year, and this slight change would save about $2M per year in our local treasury.  Moreover, the City currently pays a firm to handle phone payments, and the City is billed per minute for this contracted service on behalf of residents.  The migration to e-billing continues to occur in the private sector and in municipalities.  Please see the attached FAQ document the City of Rockford released.  If you need help or have further questions, I’m more than happy to assist/answer them for you.  Please note there are still several convenient methods to pay your bill that incur no fee.

 

4. Likely Deployment to Afghanistan: You may have seen Auburn High School on the news setting up a surprise ceremony to honor veterans on our school staff on February 15th, my last day at Auburn High before I took a military leave of absence for up to 18 months.  My Illinois Army National Guard unit (1-178 IN BN) has been identified to mobilize to Afghanistan late this summer, and I have been put on ADOS (Active Duty Operational Support) orders in Chicago to help prepare the battalion for mobilization.

So how are you still on City Council, Jon?! I’ve gotten a few inquiries from residents wondering if I’m still the 2nd Ward Alderman.  I’ll certainly remain on Council while I’m still here.  Any veterans or military families know that the only constant in military life is constant change, so there is still a small chance our mission is off-ramped, but for now, I’m going week-by-week, taking orders and executing them!

If the mission is continues, it is my priority to see the 2nd Ward represented.  I’ve been in touch with our City Legal Department and the Mayor to see what possibilities there are for succession plans.  I will certainly keep you abreast of any changes that occur, and will work to ensure constituent service and representation remain a top priority during my military leave.

 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need assistance in any capacity; I'm happy to serve.

 

Best,
Jon

February 05, 2019

JAN 2019 2nd Ward Update

Good evening neighbors,

 

State of the Union night in America!  Perhaps not quite as exciting as Super Bowl Sunday a couple days back, but hey, that turned out to be a bit of a snoozer, so who knows what's in store in the nation's Capitol!

 

Here's the state of the 2nd Ward in the past month:

 

1.  Fighting the Blight: City Council approved two new measures to combat the blight in our neighborhoods: a vacant property registry and a land bank.
 

a.  Land Bank for Rockford: One of the biggest reasons I supported the home rule initiative was the opportunity to create a land bank for Rockford.  There’s no secret that absent property owners or nuisance properties stress our City’s resources.  I would say this is one of the biggest issues within our neighborhoods.  The City Council approved a measure that would allow us to utilize Belvidere’s home rule status in Boone County to grant Rockford the authority to create a land bank.

The land bank would allow the City of Rockford greater authority to clear titles to “zombie” properties, properties in legal limbo, and other vacant or abandoned properties.  The City would work in conjunction with neighborhood associations and stakeholders to return distressed properties to our City’s tax rolls.  If administered well, we’ve seen the positive effects of land banks in Detroit, for instance, and how the Motor City managed the multitude of distressed properties in their municipality (I’m aware of some of their mismanagement, but Rockford would be creating a much more focused program).  This is an exciting tool that can help further empower our neighborhoods against nuisance properties that beleaguer our community.

 

b.  Vacant Property Registry: Another tool the City Council approved recently to fight the blight was the vacant property registry.  This registry will allow the City to better track vacant and foreclosed properties.  In our recent past, the City has been overly reliant on neighborhood residents to report properties in violation of city ordinances, and the City didn’t have much more information or data readily available on these properties.  With these new tools coupled with the relatively new position of the City’s Neighborhood Stabilization Officer in the Legal Department, we are beginning to equip our local government with the tools needed to truly fight back against the blight that has crept into our neighborhoods in the wake of the housing crisis over the past decade.  The most cost-effective way to deal with vacant and foreclosed properties is to focus on improvement before further decay takes root and City demolition efforts are the only option   …leaving a vacant lot in its place.  This registry will better equip the City to connect with banks, property owners, and local stakeholders to improve our neighborhoods.
 

2.  Snow and Cold in Rockford: Risking bad luck here, I’ll say I hope we’re about done with the worst of the big snow events and dangerous cold!  I’ve been made aware of many instances of neighbors helping neighbors (even my own neighbors helping when I was away at an Army obligation!), and this spirit is what makes our neighborhoods special.

 

The Public Works “Snow Hotline” number (listed below) is a great number to keep handy during snow events if another pass is needed by plows on a particular street.  It’s also the same number the City uses for pothole reporting as we approach that famous fifth season of the Midwest!  I’ll be making my annual drive in a couple weeks here to proactively address some of the potholes that will form on our streets with the freezing and thawing that accompanies the change in seasons.

 

The number for the Public Works Streets Division for both snow and potholes is: (779) 348-7260.
 

3.  Vacant Schnucks/Hilander on Rural: The City’s Community and Economic Development department and myself have again engaged in further efforts to reach out to regional grocers about the possibility of opening/relocating to the vacant property at 1715 Rural Street.  Without getting into too much detail, grocers have continued to balk at operating out of this location.  The most common feedback from grocers: 1) not looking to expand at this time and/or 2) concerns about low traffic counts at that area of Rural Street.  This continued blight on a main corner in our neighborhoods is not acceptable and the CEDD department and I will continue to both pursue grocers as well as other options that might fit best.  As we know from other commercial vacant properties in our city, combining an unmotivated property owner with another private party to develop the best land use is a challenge, though nothing we can’t overcome with continued determination.

 

4.  Spring Creek Bike Path Feasibility: City Council voted to commission a feasibility study on the possibility of creating a bike path along Spring Creek Road.  This report was briefed to City Council on Monday, January 28th, and I’ve spoken to a couple aldermen who have expressed a cautious support for the project.  There are still many questions that need to be answered before something like this would come before committee and council for a vote.  I’ve made no secret that one of my priorities as alderman has been making our town friendlier for our pedestrians and cyclists, and I’m grateful for support from this administration as well as other aldermen.  As this project moves forth, officials both on Council and in the administration will continue to analyze if/how this can fit in our city planning.  I’ve attached the full report given to City Council for your review.
 

5.  Nixle sign up for snow emergencies: Many residents get their information on snow emergencies from the news. Some receive alerts via social media.  Others rely on neighbors.  Observing the odd/even parking during snow emergencies is critical to the effectiveness of our City’s snow plowing efforts, and to further help in communicating the status of these snow emergencies to residents, I’ve worked with the Communications Manager to expand our communications efforts to residents.  Now, residents can receive notifications of snow emergencies via text! To sign up for localized alerts (to include text messages for snow emergencies!), visit www.nixle.com (click here if you’re in 61107 or here if you’re in 61104!).
 

6.  North & South Highland Neighborhood Association Meeting with Chuck Sweeny: The North and South Highland Neighborhood Associations were treated to a visit from Mr. Chuck Sweeny, political editor for the Rockford Register Star.  Mr. Sweeny gave his take on Rockford, where it’s been and where it’s going.  He took questions from the neighbors, cracked several jokes, and shared his experiences as a resident and journalist in Rockford over the past several decades.  I share Mr. Sweeny’s optimism in the future of Rockford, and though we are all aware of the many challenges we face, we possess the capability to continue and expand upon our turnaround.

...I had a picture, but I think I accidentally deleted it...! 
 

7.  Chancery Building: I have received numerous petitions from residents all across the Diocese of Rockford and within the 2nd Ward, and to make all residents aware, City Council would be a few weeks out from voting on any measure related to this building.  The item first has to go before the Historic Preservation Commission for a recommendation, then to a committee, then to City Council.  There is still much detail that needs to be ironed out, but the history bone in me that led me to become a history teacher tells me we must be stewards of our past.  Again, we’ll all see, as a community, who might step forward with further interest, and I appreciate all the points of view I have received thus far.

 

Hoping you've had an great start to 2019.  Please let me know if there is any issue I can help with-- my cell phone is always on!  I'm honored to serve you.

 

All the best,

Jon

December 22, 2018

NOV/DEC 2nd Ward Update (Holiday Edition!)

Good afternoon neighbors,

Another year down and hopefully a prosperous 2019 is ahead.  With the short holiday month of December, I decided to combine November’s and December’s Ward Updates into a “Holiday Edition” that might be a little lengthy, but bear with me!

1. Budget: Just before Thanksgiving, the City passed it’s 2019 budget—much earlier than you might remember it passing for FY2018 (which was in March 2018 due to the home rule vote).  By law it must be passed by March 31st of the budgeted year, but I’m grateful the administration got an early start.

For FY2019, the budget is balanced with a $280K surplus being dedicated to future deficits.  The budget also includes a flat property tax levy for another year, increased pension contributions as mandated by state law, and revenue to replace our outdated police records management systems that will be implemented soon across our region via inter-governmental agreements.  With a flat property tax levy and generally rising home values across the region, hopefully you will see a declining property tax rate for your bill this year.  The City will continue to engage with the National Resource Network (grant-funded consulting firm) to solidify and develop a long-range budget to plan for projected future deficits.  I’ve said it at neighborhood meetings and I’ll say it again here—I’m grateful that city leaders of our recent past have chosen a financially responsible path.  Other municipalities like Harvey (which is on the brink of municipal bankruptcy) and Peoria (which currently must allocate 85% of property tax revenue to pension costs) have not shown the fiscal discipline that Rockford has, and this fiscal discipline is one of the chief goals of this Council and the Mayor to ensure future financial stability.

2. Capital Improvement Program: Earlier this month, City Council also passed the second-largest CIP in sales tax referendum history.  This five-year plan does a variety of things for our local infrastructure which includes the construction, improvement, and maintenance of our streets, bridges, drainage facilities, sidewalks, bike paths, alleys, among others.

The 2019 plan is $42M in sum and is funded by motor fuel taxes, sales taxes, CIP general fund revenues, and state and federal funds.  You can review the full CIP for yourself if you’d like.

Of particular note to the 2nd Ward is the $3M that is allocated to the Keith Creek Greenway starting in 2020 through 2022.  I’m hopeful our State and Federal representatives will be able to further assist the City in construction and widening of Keith Creek that will be able to further spur revitalization in the surrounding neighborhoods while protecting the area from future flood events.  I’ll be meeting with the Mayor and his team coming up to discuss further long-range plans.  This project is certainly vital to our ward and I will continue to work with the City and our state and federal representatives to see this long-term project’s success.

During the summer rains of 2018, we realized a couple events with significant rainfall which severely impacted a few blocks pretty intensely across the ward.  I had multiple meetings to discuss what could be done with our Public Works staff.  As a result of our meetings, we will now be allocating $50K per year to begin addressing some of these drainage issues.  Full non-emergency pipe replacements are prohibitively expensive (estimated around $10M to the river) to address immediately, but it’s smart policy to begin planning and preparing for these eventual replacements with ever more severe weather events taking place with greater frequency.

3. Snow: Personally, I’d prefer a white Christmas, but we got closer to a white Thanksgiving than Christmas!  We’ll certainly get more snow before season’s end, and I just wanted to highlight a couple items.

The City’s “Snow Hotline” is 779-348-7260 and is a good resource to call for information on projected plow times or to request another pass if plowing is substandard.  The City’s Facebook and Twitter pages are routinely updated with emergency weather instructions and snow emergencies.  Nixle is also a helpful alert resource.

4. Making a Comeback! Rockford has recently gained quite a few positive articles in different publications which highlight the resurgence of downtown and our ever-growing Stroll on State (see attachments with attendance figures). In last month’s Chicago Tribune, an article detailing revitalization efforts was featured in the Sunday Travel section.  It’s definitely worth a read and underscores the important gains being made in our city coupled with the understanding that we still have lots to do.

Chicago Tribune: Rockford is making a comeback — and so is the city's pride

5. Schnucks on Rural: Unfortunately, there’s no good news to share here.  I continue to be a proponent of food cooperatives, namely the non-profit Screw City Food Co-op, and encourage residents to join to hopefully realize a desired grocer in our neighborhoods.  If this can’t happen in the near future, though, I’ll be meeting with our Community and Economic Development Director to go over alternative options.  I’m deeply appreciative of this administration’s true commitment to reducing the blight of vacant commercial properties in our neighborhoods and am hopeful we can see action on this vacant commercial property sooner rather than later in a partnership with the City and the property owner.

6. Ch. 11 Amendments/Community Relations Commission: This past Monday, City Council approved an amendment to Ch. 11, City of Rockford Code of Ordinances, and created the Community Relations Commission which thereby replaced two defunct committees, the Equal Opportunity Hearing Committee and the Fair Housing Board, to review/assist with grievances, discrimination, empowerment, and outreach to our more marginalized residents.  If more people have a stake in our community and more residents are engaged in our community, we will all realize greater outcomes.

7. Crime: Over the past couple of months, the neighborhood Community Service Officers and I have connected often over activity within the neighborhoods.  I’ve also been in touch with local firms about bulk purchases of security cameras on behalf of the neighborhood associations.  Rockford Police have noted that the more eyes that are on the street, the more effective their investigations of suspicious activity can be.  As these discussions materialize, I’ll be sure to keep neighborhood associations abreast of updates.

Figures from RPD and RFD through November are attached below.

Over the holiday season, please see the linked message from RPD regarding delivered packages.

 

8. Focused Deterrence: Last week, I participated in a Focused Deterrence dinner for residents returning to our city from their prison sentence.  I shared a meal with my new friend Francisco, who earned special recognition for his progress in the Focused Deterrence program.  The program, managed by Region 1 Planning Council, concentrates on providing intense support to residents recently released from prison.  It has multiple funding sources and is largely funded through grants.  Marlana Dokken and Tretara Flowers do extraordinary work in their management of the program.  When we provide the needed support to those who want to do the work of changing their lives, our whole region benefits.  

 

I hope you and your family and friends can take a couple days over this holiday to enjoy each other's company and give back to others in the spirit of the season!  Merry Christmas and happy holidays!  Let's all look forward to a prosperous and wonderful 2019 in Rockford!

 

All the best,

Jonathan

October 30, 2018

OCT 2018 2nd Ward Update

Good evening neighbors,

 

It appears autumn is finally upon us and just in time for Halloween.  It's a great time of year to be in our area of Rockford; I think it says something very positive about our neighborhoods when children from across the city flock here to Trick or Treat.  In the Logemann home, we'll have a baby spider and Frida out and about trick-or-treating!

 

This month's update covers mostly our budget process.

 

1. NRN Report: The City of Rockford received a grant to contract with the National Resource Network, a non-profit consulting firm that works with municipalities across the nation to address budget issues.  The initial figures are pretty dire: taking no action, the City of Rockford would incur a structural deficit of $81M over the next seven years.  The Financial Task Force and City Council took some pretty robust steps in dealing with last year's $10M deficit to balance the budget, but at this point, our expenditures are continuing to outpace our revenues.

 

Some of the recommendations to City Council included: expanding the Fire Department's already lauded Mobile Integrated Health program to reduce emergency medical calls, hire civilians into RPD positions that do not require sworn officers, explore advertising and naming rights opportunities on City property, implement a vacant property registry and assess a registration fee to bring Rockford more in line with other Illinois cities, increase employee contributions to health care benefits, consider selling the City's water department, and consider regional consolidation of library services across municipalities.  These are just naming a few of the recommendations.  It's important to note that the NRN did not recommend the City enact all of these items simultaneously or even all of the items.  These are simply options to consider.  As the Administration and Council conduct further analysis of what makes sense for us as a city, we will have a clearer picture on what items to act on.

 

One of the components of the report that caught my attention was the data analysis of our City employee work load.  Compared to the rest of the mid-sized cities in Illinois, Rockford has the highest amount of officers per capita, but the least amount of officers per violent crime offense.  Rockford has the most firefighters per capita, but the least amount of firefighters per emergency call.  City Hall has one-third fewer employees than other cities' non-emergency responder personnel.  The conclusions here are crystal clear: our RPD, our RFD, and our Public Works, Economic Development, and support departments are doing outstanding work on behalf of we, the people of Rockford.

 

Feel free to peruse the attached slide deck given to Council members and available to the public attached.

2. 2019 Budget: I was asked by WIFR what my concerns were for this 2019 budget, and I told them my concerns lied not with the upcoming year's budget, but with the one starting in 2020.  The Administration's initial proposed budget gives the City a $280K surplus for FY2019.  As was noted above, the truly tough action items to implement will begin sooner rather than later.  But let me cover some highlights from the proposed FY2019 budget.

 

Rockford homes are continuing to see increased EAV (equalized assessed valuation)--slowly but surely, and this is helping to reduce our tax rate.  For FY2019, the City's tax rate will be cut by 3.7%.  Also, there will be nearly 11 FTE (Full-time equivalency) positions cut.  I think it should be noted that the budget maintains our strength levels in RPD and RFD--crime reduction continues to be a top priority, and this budget reflects that.  In addition, this budget shows a continued commitment to our neighborhoods in the allocation of $9M more to residential demolitions of condemned properties.

 

Despite the fiscal challenges our city faces, and we are not alone as a municipality, the hard work of the Mayor's Office, City staff, and City Council have now either reduced or maintained the tax levy for six consecutive years.  The City of Rockford does have a property tax cap, and the City is refusing to collect $1.5M in additional revenue from taxpayers.  This responsible stewardship shows a commitment to the Rockford taxpayer by the City of Rockford.

 

I have already met with Public Works staff about the Capital Improvement Plan for projects around the City in the upcoming years.  Once that plan becomes more concrete after staff meets with all the aldermen, I look forward to updating you in the coming months.

 

3. Traffic Issues in the 2nd Ward: Given the similar natures of the 2nd and 3rd Wards, Alderman Chad Tuneberg and I were putting our heads together to figure out how we could best address some speeding and traffic calming issues.  We met with the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Wester Wuori, RPD Assistant Deputy Chief Ogden, and Traffic Sergeant Nicosia to try out a pilot program within the neighborhoods of our wards.  Essentially, residents of each neighborhood will connect with their neighborhood leadership to vet hot spots for speeding activity, and I will connect with neighborhood leadership to give that information to RPD so they can deploy resources to identified hotspots at peak periods.  We are seeking to reduce speeding trends, and knowing there will always be individual careless drivers among us, this underscores the importance of defensive driving when we are out and about.

 

Ald. Tuneberg, Chief Ogden, and Sergeant Nicosia all were able to attend the North Highland Square Neighborhood Association Meeting in early October where we discussed this new initiative.  I also solicited residents' opinions on traffic calming measures we can emplace on our neighborhood collector streets.  Please review the attached traffic presentation, and let me know your thoughts on further measures we can enact in our neighborhoods.

 

Also, let me know if your neighborhood would like a similar presentation at your next neighborhood association meeting.

 

4. CAD/RMS Project: At Council this upcoming Monday, we will be able to authorize our police and IT departments to begin the Computer Aided Dispatch/Record Management Systems collaboration with other law enforcement agencies across our region.  With the implementation of this new program across our region, our law enforcement agencies will be able to more effectively communicate across jurisdictions, for we know that criminals don't simply commit crimes within one jurisdiction!  This will mark the first time in over a decade that our RPD and Winnebago County Sheriff's Department will be operating on the same unified system, and as such, officers will be able to search for data without having to navigate multiple systems across multiple law enforcement agencies.  It's an example of regional cooperation that will make our officers safer and our public safer.  I'm grateful for the City of Rockford's IT Director, Glenn Trommels, for his leadership in this project.

 

5. RPD and RFD Statistics: Please find below the annual statistics from Rockford Police and Rockford Fire through September.  Also, we have now surpassed a half-year since RPD implemented ShotSpotter technology.  Please see the attached news release for an update on this technology.

 

 

6.   Vote! One last reminder to the residents of Keith Creek and Rockview neighborhoods who vote in the 2nd Ward's 1st Precinct that your polling location has changed to the Salvation Army at 500 S. Rockford Ave. due to the recent change in ownership to Tabor Lutheran Church.  Please check http://www.voterockford.com/ for any questions you might have, or, hey, even direct them my way, and I'll be sure to get them answered for you!

 

Please find time to vote early at the Rockford Board of Elections on 6th Street or vote on November 6th.  With our state and federal elections coming up, Illinois and our country depend on an informed and engaged citizenry, and I thank you for taking the time to be an active American citizen.

 

It's my honor to serve you.

 

All the best,

Jonathan

October 04, 2018

SEP 2018 2nd Ward Update

Good evening neighbors,

Probably like you, my October is going to be a little more open than I was hoping following the late-season stumble by the Cubs.  But Rockford moves on…!

1. A Land Bank in Rockford: I’m always a proponent of multi-lateral coordination and collaboration between governmental units, and I’m proud of the City of Rockford’s efforts in finding creative ways to implement municipal best practices.  One of the great benefits of being a home rule community would have been our City’s increased authority to address blighted or distressed properties; unfortunately, the home rule referendum did not pass earlier this year, and now the City has to get more creative in uncovering legal tools to fight blight in our neighborhoods.  Simply put, land banks are governmental units that focus on converting distressed properties back into a productive use.  A land bank would be a wonderful tool for our City to employ on behalf of our neighborhoods.

 

In early September, regional leaders came together to create a vision for a land bank in Rockford (Northern Illinois Land Bank), a vision dependent largely on utilizing Belvidere’s status as a home rule community already utilizing this tool.  Land Bank Attorney and expert Brent Denzin gave his analysis of this prospect, which induced in me a greater level of optimism in Rockford’s future to combat the vexing issue of blight within our neighborhoods.

Check out the Register Star’s article (linked here) from a few weeks ago.  I’m excited and will vigorously advocate for the continued progression of this regional partnership.

2. Property Crime/Drug Activity: A couple neighborhoods within the 2nd Ward have especially noticed an uptick in drug activity/property crime, and it has been brought to my attention via social media.  I shared the attached document with the North Highland Square Neighborhood Association group, and have shared it in email before.  RPD has noted that much of the recent property crimes are due to thieves taking advantage of unsecured equipment.  I completely agree that it’s unfortunate that we have to secure our own equipment on our own property, but it’s the best defense against becoming a victim of property crime.

Please also see the attached recent infographics from Rockford Police and Rockford Fire.  You’ll note violent crimes and offenses have declined, but we’re seeing a slight increase in property crimes across the city.  Property crime is often the most preventable; take a look at the attached document from the RPD and analyze your home and property for weak points.  Feel free to reach out to your neighborhood’s Community Service Officer or myself with any questions.

As far as drug activity that is seen, please be sure to report it to your Community Service Officer (find yours linked here), ROCK House Officer Eric Thurmond (eric.thurmond@rockfordil.gov, if you’re in Keith Creek or Rockview), or report it straight to the Narcotics Division (linked here).  In my conversations with our CSOs, we’re finding that neighbors are reporting to each other frequently, but not as much to authorities via proper channels who can do the work to mitigate this issue.  I appreciate those who have reached out to me self as well.  We all know how drug use has proliferated across this country, but we can surely work together to mitigate the effects on our own local neighborhoods here in Rockford.

3. Traffic Calming in Neighborhoods: Please join the North and South Highland Neighborhood Associations on Thursday, October 11th at Bethesda Church from 7pm-8:15pm to discuss our collaboration with the Rockford Police and strategies we can employ throughout the entire ward with respect to traffic calming.  If you can’t make this meeting, I’ll be sure to discuss and review the topic at other neighborhood meetings throughout the month.

Your attendance and thoughtful input are appreciated.  I will follow up in next month’s update with some of the main discussion points.  I’m hoping to gather as much input as I can in order to implement some of the strategies in the coming year.  More bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly wards and neighborhoods make for both a stronger and safer community, and I think it is something we can all get behind.  I hope to see you on Thursday, October 11th.

4. City Council- Barber-Colman and City Credit/Debt Refinancing: Barber-Colman has been in the news frequently in recent weeks, and I’m very thankful for the regional partnership, and multi-lateral collaboration between governmental units again.  When governments choose to cooperate with each other, we all reap the benefits.  As this project continues to gain further approvals from City Council, Winnebago County, and Rock Valley College (in addition to a boost from the federal government), our region should soon begin realizing the gains from construction and training.  As our economy continues to change due to the influences of technological advances, this conversion of an old factory into an advanced manufacturing training center demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships.  Already, one company providing over 200 jobs at greater than $20/hr (upwards of a $160M private investment) has expressed interest in locating to our region—the only county in Illinois where it’s looking.  Said the interested firm, “We’ve never seen anything like this for a community the size of Rockford.”  City government can’t control everything, but it can set conditions for future successes, and that is exactly what we are doing.

An issue I felt didn’t receive the attention it deserved was the recent story that Moody’s chose to maintain the City’s credit level at A2, given the City’s and City Council’s commitment to sound fiscal practices in light of significant budget challenges.  Given the pension hurdles municipalities all over the state are facing, maintaining our credit rating (instead of an expected downgrade, which happened to numerous other municipalities) was an exceptional event for the City’s treasury.  City Council also approved a bond refinancing measure on Monday which should save Rockford taxpayers around $1M annually.  I especially thank City Finance Director Carrie Hagerty for her hard and excellent work.

5. Sidewalks: In last month’s email update, I asked neighbors to notify me of sub-standard sidewalks or uneven sidewalks.  In keeping with a more pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, improving our sidewalks is a quality of life issue I will address in our neighborhoods.

If you have an uneven sidewalk (that more resembles this sidewalk shown below), please report here via the City’s Service Request Portal.  The City can easily (and cost-effectively) create an asphalt ramp so you don’t have to cut down that beloved tree that hugs the sidewalk!

 

If you have broken sidewalks near you, simply reply to this email (or to jonathan.logemann@rockfordil.gov) with a picture and location, and I can dig a little deeper to fix this issue.  You’ll probably see me out taking a look at it too.

One of the things I love about the 2nd Ward is its proximity to downtown and its general walkability.  I’ll make sure we preserve these unique qualities that we love about our neighborhoods.

Thank you to those who have already reached out!

6. Vote in the 2018 Midterms! There’s always an election going on, isn’t there!  Across America, we’ve seen record turnout recently, and an engaged citizenry, in my opinion, makes for a better country and a better community.  If you have questions about how to vote, how to register, where to register, where to vote, how to vote early, please visit www.voterockford.com/for-voters to find information relevant to your neighborhood.

***Alert! If you live in the Keith Creek or Rockview neighborhoods, your polling place has changed! With Tabor Lutheran changing ownership recently, the polling place for those in the 1st Precinct is now Salvation Army at 500 S. Rockford Ave.

 

 

Have a safe and enjoyable Halloween season!  I’ve already seen some Halloween decorations go up and am looking forward, once again, to the scores of kids coming to our doors.  The best part is getting an unsuspecting E-Rab (where my wife works) or Auburn Knight who doesn’t realize they are at a teacher’s house—it’s not as easy to “trick” a teacher!

See you around the neighborhood; it’s an honor to serve you.

Jonathan

September 06, 2018

Late Summer/August 2018 2nd Ward Update

Good evening neighbors,

It’s good to be back in Rockford and starting another school year after spending late July and early August in Fort Polk, Louisiana with the Illinois National Guard’s 33rd Brigade Combat Team.  On more than one occasion, I ran into a Rockford Police Officer or a Rockford Firefighter by happenstance—it’s good to know Rockford has great public servants acting both inside of and outside of Rockford.

1. Auburn Students Helping out in the 2nd Ward- I’d like to thank a couple Auburn High School students who helped me out with some constituent work in my absence, Debreon Leach and Aryan Arora.  Debreon graduated in May and has just started college at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, and Aryan is a junior at Auburn.  You may know Debreon from her outstanding community involvement as a teenager, including Keeping Families and Communities Together (KFACT) and her work to coordinate efforts to get clean water to Flint, Michigan.  Aryan is a growing leader on Auburn’s Speech/Debate teams who has won numerous accolades in his first two years of high school.  Both have a desire to continue public service, and I hope both come back to Rockford to serve their communities.  I hope this was a good experience for them on the functions of local government.  Perhaps they’ll serve in City Hall one day soon!

2. Neighborhood Association Meetings- Mark your calendars for neighborhood association meetings coming up in your neighborhood.  Our ward has some of the most active neighborhood associations across the city, and I appreciate the feedback at those meetings.

Palmwood: 9/6 at 6pm, First Evangelical Covenant Church
Jackson Oaks: 9/18 at 6pm, United Way Strong House at 1233 Revell Street
North Highland/South Highland Joint Meeting: 9/20 at 7pm, Bethesda Covenant Church
Keith Creek: 9/20 at 6:30pm, Redeemer Lutheran Church
Rockview: 9/27 at 6pm, District 2 Police Station

Feel free to contact me with any questions on these meetings.

3. Flooding/Ponding in Streets- The rain just won’t quit in Rockford, and this has been one of the rainiest seasons in Rockford’s recorded history.  I think we’d be foolish to believe these weather patterns won’t continue in the coming years, and as such, the City will have to work to upgrade its infrastructure in order to address the intense weather events that will most certainly continue. I’ve received numerous phone calls and emails from residents in the lower-elevated areas off Rural St., Prospect St., and 14th Street about ways to address these issues.

I’ll share this link from the City’s website about measures property owners may take, first shared back in mid-June to mitigate hardship on property owners.  I’ll continue my work in coordination with the Administration and Public Works to address capital improvements in our upcoming CIPs.  The bad news is when working to correct some of the structural oversights and planning from decades past, there aren’t really any “quick fixes.”  The good news is we can work toward improving these areas of poor drainage, and I will work toward that end.

The Capital Improvement Program plan will be developed this fall and voted on early this winter.

4. Neighborhood Health: Sidewalk Improvements- One of the things I love about the neighborhoods in the 2nd Ward is the pedestrian friendliness compared to other parts of the city.  Can we improve? Absolutely, and in my time serving as your alderman, one of my priorities is expanding the pedestrian- and bicycle-friendliness of the neighborhoods.

Throughout our Capital Improvement process, I’ll work with Public Works to improve bicycle friendliness, but I’ll need your help in identifying broken and crumbling sidewalks.  Over the next couple months, I’ll make sure to put out information, especially on social media, asking for your help in identifying some of these sub-standard sidewalks.  To save time on everybody’s end, I’d ask you snap a quick picture and send it to my City email at jonathan.logemann@rockfordil.gov (make sure to include the address!).

Let’s work to make our ward and neighborhood a better location to live, work, and play!

***Note on uneven sidewalks: These issues can be easily and cost-effectively addressed.  Utilize the City’s Service Request Portal to request a sidewalk ramp repair or email me at the above email address and I can make sure an uneven sidewalk can be addressed.

Hopefully I’ll see you at an upcoming neighborhood meeting or just around the neighborhood.

 

Never hesitate to reach out; it’s my honor to serve you as your alderman.

 

Best,

Jonathan

July 17, 2018

Mid-Summer 2018 2nd Ward Update

Greetings neighbors,

 

I hope everyone has been able to enjoy a safe and happy summer with friends and family.  It's been a busy summer for us as we welcomed our second daughter into the world early last month.  I think I always say this, but there's lots of good information in this month's update-- scroll down by topic if that's easier.

 

1. Schnucks/Screw City Food Coop: Over the past couple months, Rockfordians across the city have dealt with further closings in neighborhoods on both the east side and the west side.  Working toward addressing the vacant building at 1715 Rural Street continues to be among my top priorities in the neighborhood.  In my discussions with our City’s Director of Community and Economic Development, Mr. Franzen indicated the City is willing to aid and assist any group that comes forth with a viable plan.  Numerous resources are available for potential firms including Community Development Block Grants and the possibility of expanding the River Edge Redevelopment Zone to include the Rural Oaks Plaza.  The City of Rockford will never direct/command an entrepreneur to a location; our Economic Development team certainly guides potential entrepreneurs to a location that might best fit their business plan, but in our free market economy, the City can never order a business to a certain location.

 

I also reached out to the realtor of the property again to see if she has any new information to share.  Unfortunately, there still hasn't been much interest in the property.  To reiterate, there is no non-compete clause/restrictive covenant on the 1715 Rural Street location.  Both the Director of Community and Economic Development and the realtor of the property tell me they continue to eagerly court possible businesses, but one of the unfortunate realities is the City can't responsibly act on this private property until a group with a viable business plan comes forward.  I've never let a difficult challenge suspend action on my part, and we'll keep figuring out ways to solve this complex issue for our surrounding neighborhoods.

 

In keeping with the spirit and topic of grocery stores, the Screw City Food Coop held an informational meeting Wednesday, May 30th at DiTullio's.  I was astounded (and actually a little fearful the crowd would exceed capacity based on the Facebook event RSVPs!) at the energy that is growing around this group and this idea.  A food cooperative is essentially a member-owned food and grocery store, oftentimes with special benefits for shareholders.  With Screw City Food Coop, becoming an owner is as easy as purchasing two shares ($100/share).  Unlike the St. Louis-based Schnucks, a food cooperative can never leave our city, since folks like you and me would be the owners.  Given our city's experiences with Schnucks over the past few years, I think we have an opportunity to make sure a local grocery store here will always stay local and accountable.

 

I advocate for this group because I believe in the mission of the group, responsible business practices, and local ownership.  If supporting local farms, keeping money in the community, focusing on healthy living, creating jobs, and YOUR ownership is something you're interested in, I think you should get involved too.  You don't have to become an owner, but volunteering for the effort and even spreading the word are also very worthy and valuable activities.  Check out WIFR's story of the May 30th event as well as the Screw City Food Coop Facebook Page!

 

2. Neighborhood Summit: On June 7th, I, along with leadership from our local neighborhood associations, was able to attend the Great Neighborhoods Leadership Summit.  In the past year, you may have been to a neighborhood association meeting where, in a partnership with Transform Rockford, you conducted asset mapping of your neighborhood.  This summit detailed findings from neighborhoods across the city, resource guides, blight reduction efforts, the City Service Request portal, and the new Great Neighborhoods website.

 

Check out the website (and this video!) if you have a some time; there is some good information for your neighborhood.  Of the 13 neighborhoods across the city that have uploaded their information to the Great Neighborhoods website so far, five are neighborhoods from the 2nd Ward.  We have some of the strongest leadership across the city with our neighborhood associations, and I am grateful to partner with you.

 


 

 

3. Officer Thurmond Ride Along/Block Party: Every so often, I think it's a worthwhile practice to conduct "Ride-Alongs" with our area police officers.  It helps both the RPD and the local official cooperate and collaborate on behalf of our local neighborhoods.  On a recent ride-along with the ROCK House Officer Eric Thurmond, I was able to observe the Orton Keyes Basketball Camp that District 2 was hosting (see picture below).  Officer Thurmond and I continued on and patrolled our neighborhoods, discussing some more frequent issues.  We even took care of a couple of street issues for residents in real-time as I was notified on Facebook!  Officer Thurmond took me by a couple nuisance properties and informed me on all the steps RPD was taking to address these properties.

 

 

We have some excellent police officers working among us, and I'm always proud to be a Rockfordian when I see how dedicated they are to keeping our neighborhoods safe, especially through community engagement and community outreach.  I think the latest statistics (see attached) show that the technologies City Council has authorized and the strategies of our RPD leadership are moving us in the right direction.  More work is ahead for sure, but the collaborative approach by the City and the RPD is making Rockford a better city for all.

 

 

 


 

 

4. Flooding in the 2nd Ward: I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but Rockford experienced its rainiest month on record in June, even besting those harrowing months of September 2006 and August 2007.  In meetings with officials in the Public Works Department, they told me areas of Rockford flooded on June 18th that have never flooded before, but thankfully, Keith Creek held the line for most part.  In the past few weeks, I've visited numerous homes and basements, heard tales of heroism and neighbors helping neighbors, and even helped put a couple basements back together (not to mention my own).  Tough times indeed bring out the best in people, and I think we all can be grateful for a helpful neighbor over these past few weeks.

 

5. Stormwater Management in Rockford:  I have fielded numerous inquiries on steps our City can take to reduce our susceptibility to flood events.  I think a good first step for homeowners would be to review this webpage (https://rockfordil.gov/city-departments/public-works/engineering-division/stormwater-environmental-team/stormwater-and-your-home/) on the City’s website.  Personally, after my own review, I’ve already made a couple changes to my home; I found it to be a helpful resource.

Residents can also act to help their own neighborhoods with respect to sewer wells and inlets.  If these become clogged, residents can absolutely clean them out, or you can notify me and I can work to get City resources to clean it.  If you suspect a sewer is clogged, the City can investigate with special equipment to ensure drains are cleared of debris.  Oftentimes, as it goes with suspicious activity in neighborhoods, the best and most effective tools are the eyes and ears of neighborhood residents.


So what is the City doing about these issues?  The City allocates a couple million dollars each year in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP).  I am tracking a couple localized issues where continuous flooding persists even in smaller rain events and am working with those residents and Public Works to come up with some cost-effective solutions.  Additionally, I’ve been reaching out to our state and federal elected officials to make sure they are fully aware and can search for funding for bigger projects like the Keith Creek widening.  Rockford is not an outlier as far as flooding, and obviously some areas of our town need more urgent attention than others.  In my conversations with Public Works, they have told me, with supporting documentation, that our city is right around the middle of the pack as far as flood events across the state.  Especially through the CIP, we’ll work to improve our standing.

According to our Public Works professionals, City storm systems can withstand rain events around a “10-year” event.  The storm experienced on June 18th was roughly estimated to be around a 50-year event.  (Linked here is information on further explanation of what is meant by terms like “100-year flood)   With more intense weather events in our recent past and what is expected for the future, I’ll continue to work with Public Works and the Mayor’s Office to expand our storm system water capacity in the CIP.  Infrastructure projects are very expensive, but in collaborating with state and federal governments as well as private groups, I think we can all agree there is a need for continued infrastructure improvement in our town.

One final suggestion of mine is to possibly look into flood insurance (linked here).  Most of the 2nd Ward is in Flood Zone X, but the areas in and around Keith Creek are at a higher risk of flooding.  This, of course, is an individual decision each homeowner will need to make for themselves based on what’s best for their household.  It's important to keep in mind that throughout the span of a 30-year mortgage, if a resident lives within a 100-year flood zone, there is a 1 in 4 chance the home will experience significant flood damage.  Flooding is 27 times more likely to occur than a fire over the course of a 30-year mortgage as well.  Again, I'll be sure to work with the City and Public Works toward further flood mitigation for our neighborhoods.

 

 

6. Mayor's Office on Domestic Violence: Family Justice Center: On Thursday, the Mayor's Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention and the 17th Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence Coordinated Court hosted a community forum at the District 3 Police Headquarters.  I have appreciated the Mayor's leadership and commitment to action on this issue that deeply impacts our city and far too many of us in our personal lives.  Thirty-four percent of calls for service to the RPD are for domestic-related incidents, and if you know any police officers, I'm sure they will tell you these types of calls can quickly escalate to become the most dangerous types of calls for service they receive.  In my meeting with Jennifer Cacciapaglia, the Director of the program in the Mayor's Office, she shocked me with a statistic that research conducted internally by RPD showed that 75% of juveniles arrested in the past two years were either witness to or victims of domestic violence.  This is an issue that indeed touches all of us, and as Judge Rosemary Collins said, "If we don't deal with this problem now, we will deal with this problem later."  In other words, if our city won't address the issue of domestic violence today, our city will certainly deal with the effects of untreated trauma in our citizens in the years to come.

 

In order for our city to move forward with this project, a Family Justice Center is the next step.  As the Mayor said, currently, if someone was the victim of domestic abuse, they would need to travel to 20 different locations in Rockford and tell their traumatic stories multiple times to multiple people.  A Family Justice Center, the likes of which are being used in Milwaukee, provides one location for survivors to get the services they need and the support necessary in some of the most harrowing times of their lives.  This IS the best practice across the nation, and I'm proud our city is taking the steps necessary to address this pox on our community.

 

Currently, officials are crafting what Rockford's Family Justice Center would all entail and searching for funding for this Family Justice Center.  This certainly is no cure all, but it's yet another example of Rockford taking a big step in the right direction.

 

7. RVC Highway Construction Program: RVC has been in touch with the City about offering a Highway Construction Careers Training Program (HCCTP), an apprenticeship readiness program funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

HCCTP is completely free to participants and aims to prepare aspiring construction workers in the skilled trades by providing 14 weeks of classroom, safety, and hands-on training. IDOT created this program with the goal to increase access to construction jobs/opportunities for marginalized and disadvantaged individuals while promoting career pathways in the trades. All costs are covered, including school supplies, steel-toed boots, tool buckets, and an hourly stipend for participants.

For further information or if you know of a great candidate, please visit:  https://www.rockvalleycollege.edu/Community/CCE/HCCTP.cfm

 

 

 

I suppose I could write shorter updates, but as the saying goes, once I get going, I get too lazy to quit!  Never hesitate to reach out; know I will always do everything in my power to advocate for the residents of the 2nd Ward.  It's my honor to serve you.

 

 

Best,

Jonathan

May 25, 2018

MAY 2018 City Council/2nd Ward Update

Greetings neighbors,

It looks like the weather has finally turned and we can start to enjoy summer!  Grab an iced tea for this update—it’s a long one!

1. Screw City Food Co-op/Vacant Schnucks at 1715 Rural Street: For those of us interested in a local grocery option that WE control, let’s put our money where our mouth is!


Join Susan Wheeler, founder of the Screw City Food Co-op, and myself at another wonderful locally-owned market, DiTullio's Italian Market & Cafe, on Wednesday evening, May 30th. Make a night of it by placing your order by 5:30pm (in consideration of employees at DiTullio’s who are off the clock at 6pm). Anthony DiTullio is graciously keeping his café open for another hour to facilitate this community discussion, which will occur from 6pm-7pm.


In the wake of more Schnucks closings around the city, learn how the Screw City Food Co-op works and what we can do to support a Rockford option that doesn’t answer to headquarters in St. Louis, but only to us- neighbors, residents, shareholders. A Rockford option for Rockfordians.Please see the event linkedhere.
 

2. Slow Down, Kids Matter Yard Sign: Over the past few weeks, I reached out to neighbors about a “Slow Down, Kids Matter” yard sign for their yards.  Based on conversations with other aldermen, I figured I’d get around 15 requests.  So far, I have delivered over 70 yard signs around the war, and I still have to get more!  I love the activism and the engagement in the neighborhoods of the 2nd Ward, and I’m happy to help out where I can.

If you or a neighbor would like a yard sign, let me know and I can easily drop one off!

3. Traffic Calming and the Traffic Commission: On the other hand, I know as well as anybody that a yard sign will not, on its own, solve the issue of speeding cars in our neighborhoods.  I’ve had many more fruitful conversations with residents about what we can do about speeding in our neighborhoods since I’ve been delivering the Slow Down, Kids Matter yard signs.

Some of the ideas that have been discussed with residents include bicycle striping, speed bumps, traffic roundabouts, and a possibility of increased signage where appropriate (which would have to be approved by the Traffic Commission).  Speed bumps are very costly (around $10,000 per bump as they are very labor-intensive projects) and, of course, they would force every vehicle to slow down—even our police and fire vehicles.  Speed bumps may likely prove a nuisance during snow events during the winter as well.

Bicycle striping could decrease speeds around neighborhoods.  I’m a very active proponent for improving bicycle transportation in Rockford, and increased bicycle striping on some of our wider neighborhood roads would lead to lower speeds by constricting the roadway.  The main reason why people speed on a street like Crosby, for example, is that the street is so wide with little on street parking; people generally travel as fast as their comfort level allows.

We have also discussed traffic roundabouts on neighborhood streets.  I’ll be keeping a close eye on how a roundabout experiment plays out at Brendenwood and Chelsea in the nearby 3rd Ward.  At wider neighborhood intersections, smaller traffic roundabouts could work well and would also beautify the neighborhood.  I know some neighborhoods on Chicago’s near West Side have tried them out with general success.

I would very much appreciate the thoughtful input of neighbors with respect to traffic calming.

Finally, I have gotten a couple requests for stop signs and stop lights recently.  These are items that are voted on and debated by the City’s Traffic Commission (linked here) and later approved or denied by City Council at large.  Any resident can make a request of the Traffic Commission.  As always, please let me know if you have questions or if I can help in any way.

 

4. Neighborhood Standards Process: Last fall, City Council passed an ordinance intended to support neighborhood beatification that would lower the tall grass and weeds threshold from a maximum of 10” down to 8”.  Any resident can report nuisance properties in violation our tall grass and weeds ordinance (or any other property ordinance violation) on the City’s Service Request Portal (linked here).

Typically, once a property in violation of city ordinance is reported to Neighborhood Standards, the grass will be cut no later than 10-12 days from the time of the initial report.  Excessive garbage is typically cleaned up in about 2-3 weeks (if not sooner), and parking on grass usually takes a little over a month due to the code hearing process.

Once a property is reported to Neighborhood Standards, a code enforcement official will visit the property to determine if the property is in compliance with City ordinance.  If found in violation, a letter is sent to the property owner with action requested within 2-3 days.  If the case is still unresolved, a contractor will be hired out to mow the lawn or clean the garbage, and a fine will be levied against the property owner.  This is a busy time of year for Neighborhood Standards, but I am always impressed with the work they do in maintaining a quality of life for Rockfordians.

 

5. Interest-Free Lead Service Line Replacement Program: One measure approved by City Council that might not have made the headline news over the past month is the City’s Lead Service Line Replacement program which provides an interest-free loan to residents interested in replacing a lead service water line.  As the neighborhoods of the 2nd Ward make up one of the older parts of the City, this may be of interest to some residents.

The City’s Water Department will notify residents if there is a lead service line between their property and the water main.  Once notified, residents will have options to replace their private service line out of their own pocket, replace the line with City financing with a no-interest loan, or take no action.  If you’d like to be proactive and test your water for free, please call the City’s Water Division at 779-348-7151.  More information can be found linked here.  Water Superintendent Kyle Saunders is an excellent advocate for water quality for our residents, and I’m glad we have a talent like him at City Hall.

 

6. Block Parties: I put this information out last month as well, but neighborhood block parties are a wonderful way to meet neighbors you wouldn’t perhaps otherwise meet and build the sense of community that is so important to the strength of a neighborhood.  If interested in hosting a block party for your block, just fill out the attached form, and get in touch via phone or email with me and I can take it from there.

A block party is a great way to kick off the summer!

 

7. Memorial Day: Just a couple general notes on Memorial Day activities here- I’m hoping to see you at the Memorial Day Parade in downtown Rockford on Monday morning!  Please take heed of the traffic pattern changes that will briefly occur during the morning hours.  Also, please note garbage pick-up will be moved back a day due to the Memorial Day holiday.

I hope you’ll take some time to reflect with your loved ones on the incredible sacrifices made by our American servicemembers since 1776 in defense of our freedoms and in support of the ideals of this great nation.  We might also take a moment to again remember the legacy of Officer Jamie Cox, our fallen Rockford Police Officer and American Soldier, D/1-178 INF, combat veteran of OEF 2008-09.

 

Never hesitate to reach out for any questions about our City government; it is my honor to serve you.

All the best,

Jon

April 30, 2018

APRIL 2018 City Council/2nd Ward Update

Greetings neighbors,

 

It seems we turned the corner away from winter and heavy into spring- finally!  I hope you've been able to enjoy the warmer weather and maybe start some spring planting.  Lots of good tidbits for the 2nd Ward:

 

1. Neighborhood Block Parties: I've already received a couple requests for neighbors to host block parties this year, and I'm hoping to receive more throughout the summer.  Neighborhood block parties are an excellent way to meet your neighbors and develop relationships with them.  These kid-friendly gatherings encourage the type of relationship building that is critical to the strength of any neighborhood.  Consider hosting a block party for your block this summer.  I've attached the form below, and I am always happy to do everything I can to make the process as easy as possible for you.

 

2. Solar Power in Rockford: I am very pleased the City is partnering with Trajectory Energy to improve under-utilized City property on the our Northwest Side.  This plan passed the Planning & Development Committee and will very likely pass City Council in the coming week. 

 

The City will lease the land to Trajectory Energy and they will also pay property tax for any increment in assessed value on the property due to their improvements.  There is an estimated 20-30 construction jobs that will be added due to this project as well.  Of important note as well is the realization of lower energy costs for residents who opt-in, with special consideration given to low-income residents.

 

This project better postures our area to be in compliance with the State's Future Energy Jobs Act where 25% of energy from public utilities is mandated to come from renewable resources by 2025.

 

Across numerous spheres, our own Rust Belt city, Rockford, is becoming a leader in revitalization in a post-industrial economy.  With projects that expand solar power and invest in renewable energies, Rockford is not only acting as a better steward of our environment, but the cost-savings gap between fossil fuels and renewable energy has virtually been eliminated.  As these technologies develop, Rockford must continue to invest in energy that saves both taxpayer and environmental resources.

 

3. LimeBikes: Like me, you've probably been seeing more and more of those green "LimeBikes" around our neighborhoods and downtown.  I'm happy to see many are taking an interest in this program, yet I am also aware they have caused some irritations in the city.

 

If you see a damaged or misused LimeBike sitting around the neighborhood, the company has a team in our vicinity that can address the issue.  Please report the issue to customer service at support@limebike.com, call/text 1-888-LIME-345, or notify through the phone app.  I think we can all agree that courtesy in deciding where to park the bike when finished is of benefit to all neighbors.  I think it's also important to note that, unlike bike-sharing programs in other cities (like Chicago, for example), this program does not cost a dime to taxpayers.

 

To ride the bikes, all you need to do is download the app, set up an account on your phone, and take a picture of the code with the app.  I've ridden one already and the process is incredibly easy!  Make it a point to explore downtown and the river this summer on a LimeBike!

 

4. Neighborhood Clean-ups and Earth Day: My deep appreciation and thanks to all who helped facilitate or participated in any Earth Day/Great American Clean-ups across our neighborhoods over the past two weekends.  I hosted an event on Earth Day weekend and I know neighborhood associations from Keith Creek up to North Highland were active in promoting clean-ups for their neighborhoods this past weekend.

 

It's important to maintain the cleanliness of our neighborhoods and arterial roads for both residents and visitors alike.  It says something about us as a city when we have so many volunteers over the past two weekends giving up time on a weekend to help our city.

 

Couldn't make it out these past couple weekends? No worries!  Be sure to pick up that extra pop can you see when you're out for a walk!

 

 

5. Vacant Schnucks/Hilander Building on Rural: With Home Rule efforts completed, I want to now turn my attention on progress with the vacant property at 1715 Rural Street.  In the past couple of months, I have met with multiple developers, a food co-op group, connected again with the realtor of the property, and met with City staff from the Economic Development team at City Hall.  I'm also in the process of trying to set up an informational forum for neighbors interested in the Screw City Food Co-op which has expressed possible future interest in the building.

 

Very little interest has been noted by grocers within the past year.  Because of the low profit margins in the grocery industry, grocers are notorious for conducting extensive market research before they commit to a location.  I've received feedback that perhaps the building could be re-purposed into a multi-use space with a smaller grocer utilizing part of the space and retail utilizing the adjacent space.  Other groups have noted the unwieldy design and setback of the property and suggest that it may have to be razed in order to court further interest from developers.

 

Various groups have various visions for the property.  Most residents would appreciate a grocer in the property, but I think all residents would appreciate the vacant eyesore being transformed into an anchor that could bolster the Rural Oaks vicinity, which would certainly improve outcomes in the surrounding neighborhoods.  Getting developers thinking about the property and considering the opportunities that could exist there is a progress from the status quo.  I will be sure to keep you informed of any developments.  Again, this effort is going to have my full attention in the months ahead.  I'm hopeful we will have good news sooner rather than later.

 

6. RockStat: For those interested, I've also attached the most recent RockStat slide deck which details progress in our City departments.

 

As always, if you ever have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out.

 

Best,

Jon

March 31, 2018

MARCH 2018 City Council/2nd Ward Update

Greetings neighbors,

 

With the snow season passed and as we near the end of "Pothole Season" (call 779-348-7260 if you see one!), I'm sure we'll all be looking forward to fairer weather ahead.  Fairer weather also means an increased workload for the City's Neighborhood Standards Division.  Please see this website as a helpful resource to consider as we enter the spring season.

 

Some of the chief topics across Rockford in the past month of March:

 

1. Home Rule- For the majority of us in the 2nd Ward, the Home Rule vote did not go as we wanted, but I think most of us are happy the vote has passed.  In reviewing the voting data for the 2nd Ward, we voted in favor of the referendum by a 54-46 margin.  The measure faced massive opposition in South Side and West Side wards in the city.  The Register Star's Jeff Kolkey wrote an interesting article that broke down the vote across the city.

 

I've already received a couple inquiries on when Home Rule may be up for referendum again, and the answer to that question is about two years.  Per state statute, a home rule question may be not be put before voters more than once in any 23-month period.  Given the positive campaign run by Rockford Home Rule and the success of the campaign when compared to just over a decade ago when the idea was last seriously floated, I'm hopeful we can continue to see more momentum in favor a tool which would bring more control and accountability to Rockford.  For now though, we'll let the measure rest.

 

2. Finalized 2018 Budget- Per state law, each municipality needs to have a balanced budget in place by March 31st for a fiscal year.  A balanced budget was passed on Monday.  If you remember back to the fall, the City initially faced a projected $5 million deficit, then it grew to $7 million, then the State of Illinois charged municipalities a 2% fee to recoop their own tax receivables, which in turn grew our municipal deficit by another $2.4 million, for a grand total of $10.2 million.

 

Laudatory work followed by our City staff, the Financial Task Force, the Mayoral administration, and the Council to shrink that deficit to just $3 million through consolidation, cooperation, cuts, and finding efficiencies.  Home rule would have given the City authority to find that revenue without a utility tax, but as we know, the home rule referendum failed, and without that tool, the City has very limited options when it comes to finding new revenue.

 

I've gotten a few questions from constituents on cuts at City Hall.  City Hall has been slashed over the past decade.  Ten years ago, there were nine lawyers working at City Legal; today there are five.  Public Works, for example, has been cut by 25% in the past decade while still managing growing service demands.  There are many individuals working multiple jobs at City Hall on behalf of our residents.  We'll work to find inefficiencies where we can and correct them, but the truth is if we cut City Hall much more, services to residents will begin to considerably decline, especially when one considers the fact that 86% of the City's budget is appropriated to public safety (RPD, RFD) and public works.  I received another excellent question at a recent neighborhood meeting: Why is the City contributing funds toward projects like Amerock when we have such budget issues?  Projects like the Amerock hotel are funded via the Redevelopment Fund, which is a 1% tax on qualifying food, beverage, and alcohol receipts, and this revenue can only be used on redevelopment projects.  The City's General Fund is not used to fund these projects.

 

3. Utility Tax- In the absence of Home Rule authority, the Financial Task Force (comprised of business and labor leaders from across the city) recommended the imposition of a utility tax.  In order to balance the City's budget, City leaders were forced to pass a utility tax on Monday.  Like was noted earlier, with home rule authority, measures were put in place where City Council could have closed a $10.2 million deficit without raising property taxes or enacting a utility tax.  Without the home rule authority, the City couldn't diversify revenue streams, and utility tax was passed to balance the remainder of the deficit.  Rockford, unfortunately, now joins the list of regional communities that already collect utility taxes, including Loves Park, Machesney Park, and Belvidere.

 

4. City Department Performances- Please take a look at the attached PowerPoint on the "RockStat" data (or at https://rockfordil.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/jan-feb-rockstat.pdf) which tracks how our departments are operating.  RockStat is a monthly meeting where department heads review data they have collected and look for possible problems or inefficiencies and celebrate achievements on behalf of residents.  There is a lot of good work taking place in this city.  Of particular note are the significant reductions in property crime and violent crime across the city.  As the leadership in our public safety departments continue to employ best practices, we will hopefully see this welcomed trend continue.  Our Fire and EMS crews have had to respond to more fires in Jan/Feb 2018, but EMS teams have reduced hospital re-admissions by 50%, a notable achievement.

 

Public Works has also repaired 96% of potholes within 10 days of the hole being reported.  I can personally attest to this; the potholes I reported were patched up pretty quick!  If you see a pothole into the spring months, please call 779-348-7260.  Fine work by our human services department has also kept the veteran homeless rate in the City at functional zero since October 2015.

 

5. Tree Replacement Program- Consider helping Rockford re-forest the Forest City! Please see the following link (https://rockfordil.gov/city-departments/public-works/street-division/forestry/tree-replacement-program/) which details our City's Tree Replacement Program.  In the wake of the Emerald Ash Boar crisis that killed many of our trees, the Public Works Department is hoping more residents take advantage of a free tree planting service in the street terraces of a property (between the sidewalk and the street).  Most plantings take place either in the spring or the fall.  If interested in a new tree that would help to reforest the Forest City, please call 779-348-7260 between the hours of 7am-3:30pm, Monday-Friday.

 

Please don't hesitate if I can be of any assistance answering any questions or connecting you with City services.

 

Happy Easter to all,

Jonathan

March 06, 2018

FEB 2018 City Council Update; Dare Mighty Things for Home Rule on March 20th!

Greetings friends,

 

The past few weeks and the next couple have been and will continue to be extraordinarily busy with the Home Rule vote and 2018 primary elections occurring in two weeks, on Tuesday, March 20th.  I'm sure you, like me (as well as City coffers!) are happy the snow season is mostly over.  I wanted to share some highlights over the past month:

1. Home Rule: I am a very active proponent of restoring Home Rule authority to Rockford.  You may have seen me out and about the past few weekends canvassing the ward on behalf of the Home Rule campaign (and perhaps knocked on your door yet again!).  I'm sure you've seen plenty on social media and in the newspaper either for or against the measure.

 

First, I'll give you my "quick and dirty" again: With home rule authority, Rockford can effectively do anything not expressly prohibited by state statute, but without home rule authority, the City can only do what Springfield says we can do.  My reasons for believing in this measure so deeply that I've been giving up weekends with family in order to advocate door to door in the 2nd Ward: 1) home rule can diminish our reliance on property taxes to fund local government, 2) the City can take a more proactive approach in dealing with blighted properties in the form of a land bank, which has proven so critical to diminished blight in Detroit over the past decade, and 3) I believe deeply in local businesses for local work, and I support a local preference ordinance for the neighbors who have taken a chance to launch a business.  Not only is it, well, neighborly, but it's also sound economic policy when you consider how many local dollars remain when local business is patronized!

 

Second, if you're yet undecided, consider attending a Home Rule forum!  In recent months in the 2nd Ward, Mayor McNamara has already spoken to the South Highland Neighborhood Association and the Keith Creek Neighborhood Association.  There are two forums remaining that are hosted by the League of Women Voters: 1) Weds, March 7 at 7pm at Rockford University's Regents Hall, and 2) Sat, March 10th from 10am-12pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church

 

Third, I've been very disappointed in the campaign run by the faceless operation against Home Rule.  I remind students at Auburn daily (ask them, they'll most certainly tell you I do!)- the company we keep speaks volumes about us.  When you judge who supports home rule (Rockford Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Transform Rockford, Winnebago County Health Department, Northwestern Illinois Building & Trades, Rockford Register Star, among others) against the organizations who oppose it (Rockford Area Realtors, Rockford Apartment Association), which body has broader diversity of interest in the betterment of Rockford for all residents?  Softball question.  Yet, just today I received a mailer at my own home paid for by the Realtors in Opposition to Home Rule (a committee who lists their address from Springfield, IL) which makes an outright lie against proposed taxation methodology.  The blank check yard signs are another outright lie against the self-limiting ordinances I have voted for on City Council floor (which have been approved by Council).  I've been disheartened by some of the malicious actors pumping false information to intentionally and willfully scare voters.  It comes down to: Rockford or Springfield? I'll take Rockford every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

 

Fourth, I'll make my final pitch- I didn't run for alderman just to see continued status quo in Rockford.  I want movement toward true positive action in our city with the tools to fight the good fight on behalf of my neighbors.  I want our history of dashed opportunities to end on March 20th.  I'm a history teacher by trade, and you're not getting away from here without incorporating one note from history-- as my favorite President, Theodore Roosevelt, was known to say, "Dare mighty things!"  We can begin the honest work of taking back authority from Springfield once we approve Home Rule.  In true American spirit, the spirit of self-governance, I appreciate your vote on March 20th.

 

2. RMTD: I opposed a 20% subsidy reduction to the Rockford Mass Transit District, a reduction which failed in front of City Council by a 9-5 vote.  Our City subsidy has a match from the State, so a $300K cut from the City would ultimately result in at least a $500K cut to our bus services.  Like most departments and agencies in Rockford, RMTD will very likely experience a cut for the fiscal year, but given the high match provided by the State, I would not support such a draconian 20% subsidy cut in a single year on behalf of our residents who rely on the mass transportation for appointments, work, and school across the city.

 

3. Bicycles: In the course of the last year, I have met multiple times with leaders of I Bike Rockford, a bicycle advocacy group in town, and I have learned much from their expertise.  Rockford's own Region 1 Planning Council hosted a "Bicycle and Pedestrian Friendly Community" forum on Wednesday, February 28th at Veterans Memorial Hall.  As a deep believer and strong advocate in a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly city, stay posted for updates on future plans between Public Works and the Planning Council with input from local advocacy groups such as I Bike Rockford.  Please take a look at the presentation at your convenience.

 

LimeBike also presented at the forum, and I'm excited to soon see a bike sharing program in Rockford, at no cost to the taxpayer.  Just as we appreciate when our police officers can patrol our neighborhoods out of their cars, we should also appreciate residents who take in the beauty of our neighborhoods out of their cars.  A more bike- and pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is a stronger neighborhood.

 

4. Budget: By the end of the month, City Council will need to put forth a balanced budget for the fiscal year.  The final round of cuts from the Financial Task Force were approved at City Council last night.  City staff, the Mayor's Office, and aldermen are still working to close the gap as not all of the recommendations put forth by the Financial Task Force could close the City's deficit.  I'll have further details to share once the remaining wrinkles in the budget are ironed out over the course of the next month.

 

5. 2017 Department Data: Please find the 2017 Department Data Infographics attached.  These provide great snapshots into the progress of the City's three main departments: Police, Fire, and Public Works.  See a pothole? Call 779-348-7260.  Thank you for your help in the 2nd Ward!

 

As always, never hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns.

 

Best,

Jon

February 04, 2018

JAN 2018 City Council Update

Greetings neighbors,

 

I'm hoping 2018 has looked kindly upon you so far.  In the aftermath of the Super Bowl, we know 2018 likely won't look kindly on the Bears, but I'm hoping to not rub too many folks the wrong way when I say I'm just glad the Packers weren't in the Super Bowl this year!

 

As I'm sure you're well aware, there are a number of issues that not only City Council will soon be addressing, but also the citizens of Rockford.

 

1. City of Rockford Budget FY2018- Aldermen continue to find ways to find savings in the City's budget in order to limit the effect the $10.2 million deficit will have on City taxpayers.  Many of these measures (that I will outline) need home rule authority in order to implement.  As a member of the Finance & Personnel committee, I have been impressed with the work of business and labor leaders across the City in offering suggestions for cost savings.  Recently, the Finance & Personnel Committee has approved the following cost-savings measures: creating a foreclosure and vacant property registry that would better allow the City to track and oversee potential nuisance properties, assessing a property standards inspection fee after structures have been cited for code violations,  as well as expanding the capacity of City employees to plow streets in the event of a snow emergency, and funding vital public works projects from other City revenues (e.g.- utilizing the tourism fund surpluses for special events or CIP funds for pothole improvements).

 

As the Finance & Personnel Committee continues to make recommendations to the full City Council, I realize how important home rule status is to the way our City could operate.  Not only are some of the cost-saving recommendations contingent upon home rule authority being granted by Rockford citizens on March 20th, but one of the main reasons our City's bond rating was downgraded in 2017 was because of our lack of home rule status.  City Finance Director Carrie Eklund has informed City Council that Rockford could save $100,000 annually if we simply paid 0.15% less in interest costs as result of improved bond ratings from having home rule authority.  Home rule authority would better allow the City of Rockford to address the deficit with minimal impact to the property owner in Rockford.  Just as the oft-cited "household budget" analogy goes, I want the City of Rockford to be able to flexibly manage itself like a household can.

 

2. Home Rule- I am a proponent of home rule, and I hopeful that we will have many citizens making informed decisions on March 20th.  A list of debates and informational forums can be found here.  The topic is nuanced and arcane, but deeply important to the way we can govern ourselves.  As your elected representative of the 2nd Ward, I am honored to have your trust to act on your behalf, and I hope I have continued to earn it from you.  I am hopeful that you will again vote for to empower local representation over Springfield on March 20th.  As a veteran history teacher, I know that the idea of America was founded on local democratic representation, and the American citizen has aspired to govern as locally as possible since 1776.

 

More specifically, one of the greatest frustrations I have had as alderman has been telling constituents, "We can't act to address this issue, because the City of Rockford doesn't have adequate authority with respect to the issue."  Home Rule would allow greater flexibility in deploying public safety officials where the need is greatest, as it would also allow for greater local control of nuisance properties, problem tenants, graffiti regulations, and licensing and regulations that protect businesses and consumers.  I have seen the deleterious effects vacant or abandoned properties have on cities in the Rust Belt and in our own city.  Also, with Home Rule, we have the opportunity to create a land bank that would allow us to proactively address potential nuisance properties before they get to that stage.

 

I am also greatly irritated when the City is obligated to award bids to out-of-town or out-of-state bidders since without Home Rule, we cannot give preference to local contractors. When we employ local contractors and businesses, more dollars stay in our city- just ask Winnebago Buy Local!  

 

If you want to help the Home Rule effort to give Rockford more tools to address our own issues, let me know, and I can make sure to connect you! 

 

Essentially, I support Home Rule because I think it empowers our citizens and our City to act on behalf of our citizens.  I want to see a better managed government for its citizens.

 

3. Americana Music Series at the Coronado: As a member and City Council liaison of the Historic Preservation Commission of Rockford, I am thrilled with the positive momentum of Rockford's very own Coronado theater.  At last month's meeting, members were taken on a tour of the theater by Executive Director of Friends of Coronado, Beth Howard.

 

I was excited to learn about four upcoming shows at the Coronado that are unique to Rockford-- The Coronado is promoting shows where the performer and the audience are on stage together, and seating is limited to 300 people-- an intimate environment indeed.  One performer Dan McMahon, a legend-in-the-making will take part in this series.  The first of these shows will feature Ryley Walker on February 23rd at 8:00 PM.  I think it's worth noting that one of Ryley's biggest fans is Robert Plant, lead singer for Led Zeppelin!

 

With our proximity to downtown, when the Coronado and downtown thrive, our neighborhoods can better reap the benefits.  I'm hoping you might find time to support the Coronado and their efforts to bring great entertainment to our city!

 

4. Citizens Police Academy, Spring Registration: I was happy to address the last graduating class of the Citizens Police Academy of Fall 2017, and I wanted to be sure 2nd Ward residents knew of a Spring 2018 opportunity to enroll in the Citizens Police Academy and learn new skills!  Please see the attached flyer for more information.

 

I'm happy you made it to the end with me.  If you're thinking what students at Auburn High School say to me daily, it's, "Mr. Logemann, you talk too much!"

 

Let me know if I can help in any way!

 

Best,

Jon

December 23, 2017

NOV/DEC 2017 City Council Update

Greetings neighbors,

 

I hope you are able to find some time to rest and recuperate in the midst of friends and family at some point over these last weeks of 2017.

 

With the shorter December month, I figured I would fold November's update into December.  No shortage of material though!

 

1. Home Rule: Back in the early part of this month, city alderman voted 12-1 to place the home rule initiative on the primary ballot on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.  I have already received a few phone calls on the matter, and I've told every single person that they have just as much influence over the vote as I do in this referendum.  I support this initiative for a couple basic reasons: 1) it shifts the tax burden away from property owners in a time where we want to incentivize home ownership in our city, and 2) it would allow the City a greater capacity to address nuisance properties and absent landlords in our city.  The land bank concept that has proven successful in so many other municipalities (notably Detroit) in combating dilapidated property is another example of something achievable only under home rule status in Illinois.  It brings me great frustration when the City can't act on behalf of its people because of state statute, and this is one way for citizens to have broader control over what goes on in their city.  Put simply, home rule would allow the City to act in any manner not specifically prohibited by state statute, but without it (as is currently), the City can only do what is expressly permitted under state statute.  It's certainly no cure-all, but it would allow city government more flexibility to act in response to local problems.  

 

I urge each citizen to do their homework, to attend neighborhood forums, and to make an informed decision on this important initiative.  Third Ward Alderman Chad Tuneberg and I are already planning a forum early in 2018 to address questions citizens have on this issue.  On January 11th at 7pm at Bethesda Covenant Church, Mayor McNamara will be addressing the matter at a Highland Neighborhood Meeting.  Allowing local governments broader flexibility to responsibly govern themselves as opposed to a more distant state or federal government, I've always felt, is one of the fundamental cornerstones of our American republic.

 

2. City Budget: City Council was briefed on the final recommendations from the City's Financial Task Force comprised of leaders in the business and labor community in Rockford.  With the City facing a $10.2 million deficit and one-time fixes (such as surplus transfers) depleted, structural changes to the budget will be necessary.  Some of the 75 recommendations brought before City Council are included in the attached PowerPoint from the City.  The task force was unable to fully close the City's budget deficit, but also suggested that home rule would give the City "the ability to prioritize services and responsibly fund them."  In the event home rule is not passed by Rockford voters, the task force also suggested implementing a utility tax (as Rockford is one of the few larger communities in the state that has not).

 

I'd appreciate your thoughtful input with regards to the budget, if inclined.  I've appreciated the teamwork, so far, of leaders across the city in addressing this issue to minimize the negative impact it has on Rockfordians.  Now it's up to the Council and the Administration to pass the budget in early 2018.

 

3. City Council Business: With some discussion among aldermen about when it becomes smart public policy to lower the amount of fines for properties (with the end goal being the property becoming owner-occupied again), City Council adopted a Building and Sanitation Code Hearing Fine Reduction Policy.  Based on the expertise of our City's legal and Code Enforcement Division who deal with these matters daily, fines reductions would be based on an objective fine schedule.  The City's Capital Improvement Plan is also set to be approved in early January.  As a staunch proponent of creating a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly city given our proximity to downtown, I'll continue to advocate for more striping and bike routes in our ward and in our city so that we all can better and more safely enjoy our city.

 

4. Massage Establishment Ordinance:  This ordinance passed on November 20th, giving the City broader oversight powers as they relate to massage establishments.  This issue has been on the radar in the 2nd Ward, and I wish to thank the 10-15 residents who showed up to the walk-through of the Sanford Therapeutic and the Neighborhood Summit where Legal Director Nick Meyer (as well as Alderman Tuneberg and Alderman Beach) told neighborhood residents more about the ordinance and how that would affect local massage establishments.

 

5. Snow Emergency Reminders: With only one significant snow event so far this season, I think it's important to ensure proper information on snow emergencies is disseminated.  When there is a snow event, be sure to monitor the local media and your local social media accounts (I find it's easiest to follow the City of Rockford on Facebook and Twitter) to find out if an event is declared a snow emergency.  If there is a snow emergency, plowing and/or salting will quickly begin depending on the severity of the storm.  If there is an odd calendar day, park on the odd side of the street, and when there is an even day, park on the even side of the street.  Odd/even rules are still to be followed even on residential streets that normally permit "one-side" parking only.

 

If there are streets that have been poorly completed, please notify me.

 

6. Safety Reminders: In recalling a particularly high amount of property crimes that occurred last winter in our neighborhoods, I think it's useful to remind homeowners to take every precaution possible in hardening their homes as crime targets, thereby decreasing the crimes of opportunity.  I've had many conversations with residents across the ward, in homes and in neighborhood meetings, about the benefits of motion lights and security cameras.  Even personally, I had to equip my vehicle with a remote starter to ensure the vehicle's security as I warmed it up on cold winter mornings.  I've noted some neighbors have experienced package theft on their porches, and this has become an increasing trend nationally as well; it's amazing what a simple security camera can do to better secure one's home and possessions.  To be sure, nothing beats quality neighbors, so if you're traveling for the holidays let them know when you'll be out of town.  We can learn a lot from one of my favorite holiday movies- Home Alone!  I have also attached a flyer disseminated by the Rockford Police Department on safety tips homeowners can take to protect themselves from becoming victims of crime.

 

In addition to keeping your loved ones close this holiday season, please remember to also keep in your hearts the neediest of our community.  I want to thank our city's finest for coming through for some of my students at Auburn High School.  A student let me know she kept leaving her work at home because she didn't have a backpack, so that night I sent one text to our ROCK House Officer on 15th Street, Officer Eric Thurmond, and the very next day he showed up with backpacks for some of the neediest in our community.  To improve a community, it takes a whole lot good folks doing good things for their neighbors.  I'm happy we can call Officer Thurmond our neighbor!

 

I'm looking forward to a tough, but productive 2018 in partnership with you.

 

Merry Christmas and all the best in 2018,

Jon

November 13, 2017

OCT 2017 City Council Update

Check out my October 2017 City Council Update!

October 13, 2017

Rockford massage parlor reopens, gets condemned again

October 08, 2017

AUG/SEPT 2017: City Council Update

​Click the link for my July 2017 City Council Update!

September 30, 2017

​Rockford massage parlor owner and residents off to rocky start

September 27, 2017

City takes action after neighbors raise concerns over questionable massage parlor

July 30, 2017

July 2017: City Council Update

Click the link for my July 2017 City Council Update!

July 19, 2017

Aldermen work to find a buyer for the vacant Schnucks building on Rural Street

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- After sitting vacant for more than three years Rockford aldermen are working to find a buyer for the old Schnucks building on Rural Street.

The more than 30,000 square foot building located in the 1700 block of Rural Street is located in Alderman Logemann's ward.

While campaigning he said filling the empty store was one of the top concerns he heard about from people who lived nearby.

Logemann believes the high cost of the property was one of the reasons it was hard to attract a buyer. He says the price of the building has since come down to just under $1 million.

Logemann says the city has two prospective buyers it plans to meet with in the next few weeks. The 2nd Ward Alderman hopes to see action with the building within the next six months.

June 29, 2017

June 2017: City Council Update

Click the link for my June 2017 City Council update!

March 26, 2017

Incumbent Jamie Getchius attempts to remain 2nd Ward alderman in race with Jonathan Logemann

Name: Jonathan Klarer Logemann

Age: 30

Occupation: Business and discipline teacher, Auburn High School; Infantry officer, Illinois Army National Guard

Platform: On behalf of the 2nd Ward, I seek to leverage the practices that have proven successful in cities similar to Rockford. Many cities have gotten ahead of their crime issues, while Rockford hasn’t; let’s implement strategies that worked for them. Many cities have realized a more robust economy where Rockford hasn’t; let’s implement strategies that worked for them. I seek to be active in planning pro-growth policies benefiting our regional economy — our businesses and our workers.

How will you accomplish your platform? Throwing more money at our issues has not proven to solve them. Our council needs new and fresh ideas that both protect the taxpayer and promote growth. Incentivizing citizens through tax rebates to rehabilitate vacant structures or to purchase home security cameras are two very cost-effective ways that crime was mitigated in Gary (IN) and Baltimore. A Georgia program (Georgia Work$) sought to retrain workers who had endured long-term unemployment in order to improve the skillsets of local workers and realize a more productive workforce. We will further empower organizations like Alignment Rockford who seek to coordinate local resources for our young adults so they can become productive workers and entrepreneurs in our city. Investing in wireless technology (as in Chattanooga) across our city presents the opportunity to court businesses to Rockford, and more businesses for us means lower taxes for us. Cities and states are the laboratories of democracy in our country — let’s find and implement the successful experiments from other cities to build a stronger Rockford.

How would you prioritize spending the city’s Redevelopment Fund and Infrastructure Fund? Studies and research across the U.S. definitively show that cities with a dynamic downtown are more economically stable and vibrant. By seeking to revitalize blighted parts of our city, we will be one step closer to attaining the vitality that once dwelled in our downtown and in our neighborhoods. We can choose to ignore dilapidated property or bring it back to life through private funding — I’ll always choose bringing Rockford back to life. Rehabilitating old structures is a very cost-effective method in bringing a certain vivacity back in our city. Vacant structures diminish the value of our property owners’ holdings. Through tax incentives for the doers and the makers of our town, we can cost-effectively utilize Rockford’s Redevelopment and Infrastructure Fund to reduce blight and make Rockford a better place to work and play for our residents.

February 27, 2017

Three Rockford teachers vie for seats on City Council

February 24, 2017

Crime a top concern for Rockford's 2nd ward alderman candidates

February 23, 2017

This Week in Rockford with Jonathan K. Logemann

December 16, 2016

Auburn Teacher to Run for 2nd Ward Alderman

ROCKFORD - Auburn High School teacher and coach Jonathan Logemann recently submitted his petitions to run for alderman of Rockford's 2nd Ward.

The teacher collected more than 500 signatures during the past two months in the Keith Creek and Highland neighborhoods. As alderman, Logemann will focus on crime, job growth and constituent services. Another of his priorities is to take decisive action in the vacant Schnucks grocery store at Rural Oaks.

He has taught high school history courses in Chicago and business courses at Auburn. He is currently the grassroots political activist for the Rockford Education Association and has coached basketball at Kennedy Middle School and baseball at Auburn High School. Logemann is part of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in the Illinois Army National Guards. He has a master's degree in public policy and administration from Northwestern University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Logemann and his wife, Sarah, an East High School teacher, have one daughter.

The Democratic primary election for city races will be held Feb. 28, with the general election on April 4.

August 09, 2016

REA Meets with NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss

From REA Facebook Page:

NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss addressed the AR Council meeting talking about the need to create relationships with all our new teachers. She then met with members of the Solidarity Committee and talked about the plan for talking with all new teachers at New Teacher Orientation training.

December 09, 2015

Rally for Fairness, AFSCME

Jonathan shows support of AFSCME on behalf of the Rockford Education Association at the AFSCME Rally for Fairness on December 9, 2015.

To be called teacher is indeed one of the greatest compliments one could ever receive. I am a teacher. I am a public servant.  You and I are the very fabric and framework of our community.  I’ve taught public school on the south side of Chicago, the west side of Chicago, and now on the west side of Rockford at Auburn High School.  Our work represents a passion to serve those whom others won’t and go where other can’t.

We are union. And that stands for something remarkable- we stand for justice. We stand for fairness.  We stand for a basic principle popularized over a century years ago that the worker who spends their days engaged in meaningful, American work will not be plagued by poverty.  We stand by the belief that an economically just society better serves the doer, the maker, the fixer, the very engine of our economy and society.

And so we stand here today in opposition to a Governor who has failed to govern, a leader who has failed to lead.  As a union teacher, I am tasked with educating the good children from Rockford’s largely impoverished west side.  Because of the Governor’s incapacity to govern, across Rockford, we have had 120 early childhood students who could have started school in August, but now won’t be starting until at least January.  The Governor is failing his constituents and ever worse, he is failing his moral compact with Illinois.  The cuts he has effectively enacted have created crises for our region’s families and have imperiled our most disadvantaged friends.  We are their voice.  Our union is their empowerment.  The union, more than any organization, is voice of the people, the strength of the fighter.

The governor and his wealthy contributors, 3 or 4, have demonized you and demonized ‘union.’ Let us not forget that it is the union that has kept our elderly from desperate poverty.  It is the union that has provided many unemployed the insurance to plan for their family’s next meals.  It is the union that has made good, American work safer, and it is the union that has paved the way into the middle class for the vast majority of us here, myself included.  In these times especially, my friends, let us wear union with pride and understand the solemn dignity that is ours when we act as that unmistakable moral force—that the union is indeed the true voice of the American people.

July 12, 2015

Rockford Register Star: The death penalty is still bad policy

State Rep. John Cabello erred in his July 7 column that Illinois must reinstate the death penalty. First, as the death penalty was abolished in 2011, the burden of proof lies with Cabello to provide research-backed arguments and compelling reasoning to support his persuasions. “Providing justice” for families is nothing more than a thinly veiled euphemism for “vengeance.”

Second, we know the death penalty fails to adequately deter violent crime. How precisely is guaranteed life imprisonment an ineffective punishment? We also know the death penalty is an exceedingly costly mechanism to deal with violent criminals. One of America’s most heinous current prisoners, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, will likely spend decades appealing his federal death sentence before he is executed, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Boston Globe — and that’s merely to appeal the case.

Finally, when Cabello inanely asserts, “Heinous murders have become an everyday way of life,” the assemblyman engages in petty scare tactics designed to mobilize a frightened political base. The 68th District knows better.

-Jonathan Logemann, Rockford

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