Aldermania V! Live blogging from City Hall

Eric blogging, by photo JT Eschbach10:40 a.m. Just a heads up that I’ll be live blogging from City Hall, starting with the Government Operations Committee meeting at 4:30 at the Alderman’s Office (map), and then at the regular City Council meeting at 6:00 in the Council Chambers. This will be the fifth City Council meeting in a row at which pro-life citizens have stood up to speak on the issues. Our focus in “Round 5” will be the parental notice ordinance proposed by Rick Lawrence. Check back this afternoon at 4:30 when the live-blogging will commence.

Government Operations Committee

4:25 p.m. I’m outside on the sidewalk on Downer Place waiting to be let into the meeting. Our foes Bonnie Grabenhofer and Gay Braun are out here with me too. Roger and Elizabeth Earl have been let inside already, since they have baby Isabelle with them and it’s a little chilly out here. Should have brought Sarah with me! Alayne4:30 p.m. Waiting to get in still. Saw Corporation Counsel Alayne Weingartz coming down the block and snapped a photo of this notable public figure. When Alayne reached me she declared, “Mr. Scheidler I don’t believe I’ve given you written permission to video tape me.” I informed her that I wasn’t videotaping her, that it was just a camera. “I haven’t given you permission to take my photograph either. Just wanted to be clear on that.” I don’t know if she heard me saying the Supreme Court is pretty clear on stuff like that, too. 4:45 p.m. They’ve finally let us into the meeting room. Aldermen Lawrence, Beykirch and Irvin were raising a bit of a stink with the police about why citizens were being kept out of a public meeting despite seats being available, asking questions like who asked for the police to be outside in the first place. Next thing you know, they let us in. Right now Alderman Keith is talking about ad hoc homeowners traffic assessment groups bypassing their homeowners associations with regard to speedbumps, or something like that. 4:50 p.m. Alayne Weingartz has just left he committee table and sat down next to me in the gallery. Maybe she likes me more than I thought! 5:15 p.m. Weingartz returned to the table for a few minutes, then sat down beside me again. I observe that she is reading a Supreme Court case on parental notification. Interesting. Meanwhile Whitey Peters is here to discuss a No U-turn sign for over by the Home Depot. 5:20 p.m. I find the case Wingate is reading is Ballotti v. Baird (1979), which overturned a Massachusetts parental consent law. Not sure what parental consent (permission required) has to do with parental notice (permission not required). 5:45 p.m. We’ve finally reached item #20: “Discussion Item: Parental Notification.” Somebody just passed out a memo from Attorney General Lisa Madigan, apparently in response to the proposed ordinance. It seems nobody has seen this memo until now. Alderman Lawrence is providing and overview. He will present the current situation and what they hope to achieve with the ordinance, then Chris Beykirch will offer some remarks and finally Richard Irvin will address some of the legal challenges. Alderman Lawrence begins his presentation by thanking Beykirch and Irvin for their dedication on this issue. He notes that until the recent controversy, he wasn’t even aware that there was any medical institution that would perform medical procedures without parental notice. Lawrence says this is not about Planned Parenthood or abortion. It’s about parental responsibility for their children. Adults know the questions to ask of a medical provider, the research to do; children don’t know that. He says what he presented last week is a first draft, a beginning. Yes, there are issues to be worked out, but we have a responsibility to find a way to ensure the safety and welfare of our children:

If the state cannot get past politics for passing laws like this and hold people responsible and businesses responsible for this, then it’s our job to do it. I’m a father of 2 daughters and if someboby tells me a doctor can make a decision for my daughters over and above my wife and me, that’s a problem.

He says the point is to discuss this out on the open. He notes that this isn’t a stealth effort with “four months of secret meetings”—I presume a reference to how the Planned Parenthood approvals went down. If nothing else, he says, this opens an important discussion. And as to the abuse questions, he says that that’s a matter for law enforcement, that we dare not keep that hidden and send that child back into that situation (by procuring an abortion). Government Operations Comittee5:55 p.m. Chris Beykirch is now adding his own remarks. He’s addressing the problem of the recuperation of a minor from a medical procedure; will a “small minority of medical providers” be there for the minor if parents, unaware of the procedure, can’t be. I take it the “small minority” is Planned Parenthood. Beykirch notes that he is eager to review Madigan’s memo, but that it’s ultimately irrelevant because the State of Illinois has so abjectly failed to address the parental notice issue. He is now reading the “whereas”-es of a new proposed resolution for the City Council calling on the State to enact the as-yet-unenforced parental notice law, and inviting other municipalities to do the same. They’re asking for the G.O. Committee to pass this resolution on to the Committee of the Whole, which meets next Tuesday. 6:00 p.m. Alderman Richard Irvin is now addressing the legal challenges. He says that these challenges are no reason not to act on this issue. Irvin identifies three legal hurdles: (1) that Medical Practice Act, (2) the abuse of minors issue and abuse reporting and (3) the issues of judicial review, due process and enforcement. Since the proposed ordinance has nothing to do with licensing, Irvin doesn’t think that will be a big problem. The abuse issue to is one that can be dealt with. The judicial review is the most serious challenge, because the City can’t order the state circuit courts to be involved in this. But, says Irving, “We owe it to our children to find other ways to provide that protection to our children.” 6:05 p.m. Alderman Stephanie Kifowit, who is apparently acting chairman for this meeting, is now remarking. She’s punting the whole thing to the legal department, it appears. Beykirch has jumped in to ask for comment on the proposed resolution and to ask why that can’t be sent to the Committee of the Whole. Kifowit reponds that there are questions about the resolution to be answered and that this is not an action item for this meeting. Beykirch notes that acommittee just yesterday acted on a non-action item, and Lawerence reminds Kifowit that the committee has the authority to act on this. Kifowit has focused on one phrase in the resolution, that the State law was found “unenforceable in a court of law.” Lawrence says that phrase could be taken out or clarified at the Committee of the Whole. Beykirch wants to keep it. But it’s clear that Kifowit is not going to act but punt this to legal. But maybe it will be on the agenda as an action item for the next meeting. Now Irvin is calling again for the resolution to be forwarded on to the Committee, where it can be modified. But Kifowit is standing firm on not forwarding this matter to the Committee of the Whole. Now Weingartz has jumped in to ask who the counsel is who was retained by the aldermen to construct the resolution. The three aldermen have informed her that they did not receive legal advice on drafting the resolution, and procured from Weingartz assurances that no such legal advice is needed. Stephanie Kifowit and Fellow6:15 p.m. All three aldermen have appealed to Kifowit to send the item on to the Committee of the Whole, but she’s not budging. However, she says that it will be an action item at the next G.O. meeting. I am told that the fellow here talking to Kifowit after the meeting was giving her thumbs-up and thumbs-down throughout the whole meeting. I am informed he is Alex Arroyo, chairman of the Aurora Township Democrats.

City Council Meeting

6:25 p.m. The City Council meeting has begun. It will be a while before public comment begins, so I’m going to take a break from this furious blogging and and get some photographs. Channel 7 Cameraman7:05 p.m. I see that Channel 7 is here. But I only see a camera, no reporter. There’s a rumor going around that some kind of prohibition on videotaping may be forthcoming from Weingartz. It would be interesting to see Channel 7 ordered to put away their camera. 7:10 p.m. The contentious red light camera issue is punted to the November 6 City Council meeting at the recommendation of Finance Committee Chairman Bob O’Connor. 7:40 p.m. They’re motioning to shut down public comment after two hours again. And Alderman Elmore is bringing up the idea proposed last week of picking up where the list finished last week. That means it may be unlikely that I (#12 on the new list) will have a chance to speak. Aldermen opposing the public gag motion were the usual Lawrence, Kifowit and Irvin, joined this time by Hart-Burns. Good for her. Now a ten-minute recess. 7:55 p.m. We’re back. Chris Beykirch asks whether non-residents on the “old list” will come before residents on the “new list.” It seems that all Aurora residents on both lists will speak before any non-residents get to speak. But nobody in the gallery is quite sure if that is what was decided. Lawrence pipes up: “Or you could let everyone speak,” to great applause. 8:00 p.m. Leah Mitchell is the first speaker from the old list. She takes Weisner to task for issuing the occupancy permit. One comment received a gasp of horror from a small number in the crowd: “Naperville is the third best place to rasie your kids in America, and Aurora is the best place to kill them.” Then Rachel Howard presents the case in favor of a parental notice ordinance, including some stark examples of the harm that can come to teens when they are left to make such perilous decisions alone. Next speaker too. 8:15 p.m. After a couple more critique’s of the mayor and an interesting proposal by Henry Treftz that any building employing such defensive measures as bulletproof glass and infrared sensors require a special use permit, Lauren Kurek delivered the following brief and poignant remarks:

Contraceptives “the pill” . . . $30 per month Antibiotics for some STD treatments . . . $75 Abortion due to antibiotics making contraceptives absolutely worthless . . . $500 Psychiatric care due to anxiety, depression, and loss of self worth . . . $1,500 Funeral costs for unexpected teen suicide . . . $6,000 Parental Notification . . . Priceless

8:20 p.m. John Zahm responds to Mayor Weisner’s attempt at the last City Council meeting to deflect responsibility for his unilateral decision to grant Planned Parenthood’s occupancy permit by reference to his experience in the Peace Corps and raising a disabled child. He talked about how his own parents had similar experiences, but that fostered a deep respect for all life. 8:25 p.m. Youth for Truth President Sean Grismer suggests to Mayor Weisner that if he can’t answer the criticisms of the citizens of Aurora, it will be hard for him to face the judgment of God. Focusing on the Aurora’s youth, he says, “If you want us to make the right decisions, you guys better start making the right decisions.” 8:30 p.m. Phil Howard breaks the ice by welcoming back Alderman Saville—due to illness, he has been away during our City Council visits until now—and by cracking a joke about the City’s refuse program. He goes on to support parental notice, and ends with the proposal that parking be free on City Council night by way of a “color code” password delivered to citizens at the meetings. Laughs and applause. City Council8:35 p.m. Lisa Koepele: “Alderman Lawrence, you’re the man!” Lisa goes on to talk about how the movement opposing Planned Parenthood has transformed so many, drawing us out of our comfort zone, increasing our dedication to prayer, inspiring us to help Planned Parenthood clients with medical care and generally becoming much more involved in our community. 8:40 p.m. Rebekah Christenson, a pastor’s wife, describes how she got a call from a teen girl needing someone to talk to. She knew even before meeting with the girl what it would be about. The girl said she was pregnant. She told the girl she had to tell her parents. The girl didn’t want to, but she did. Bekah has continued to counsel the whole family towards healing. Bekah concludes: “Pouring yourself into someone else and helping your fellow man brings healing, not secrets and lies that destroy families.” I observe that Channel 7 has left. So too has the reporter from the Chicago Tribune. Apparently Andre Salles form the Aurora Beacon News has left too. 8:45 p.m. Ann Canning: “Why aren’t more of you upset about this? We judge by your body language, and most of you look bored.” Ann talks about “common sense,” both in terms of the deceit practiced upon the city by Planned Parenthood and the parental notice issue. 8:50 p.m. Now Jerry Nickels presents the remarks of a professional grief counselor that abortion is one of the hardest types of grief to overcome, with severe depression, insomnia, flashbacks brought on by all manner of triggers such as hearing the sound of a vacuum cleaner—and suicide. 8:55 p.m. Andrea Heeg, a realtor and stellar FVFAPP volunteer, remarks on how being the abortion capital of the country is bad for property values in Aurora. I tell you what: live blogging a meeting like this gets pretty exhausting; I can’t quite keep up with the pace, so the best I can do is a few notes on speakers whose remarks stand out for whatever reason. Somewhat random since I might be putting in a photo or typing up the last talk and miss something good. To get it all, you have to come to the meeting! Time to stretch my legs! Ann and Joe Scheidler9:05 p.m. It looks like maybe they’ve moved on to the “new list.” By the way, my folks, Ann and Joe Scheidler are here. 9:10 p.m. Dale Hammond: “For the sake of the safety of our children, Mr. Mayor, tear down that building.” Cheers. 9:15 p.m. Luis Vasquez is the first person to speak out against the parental notice ordinance. He says that if his sixteen year old sister got pregnant and had to inform his parents that she was seeking an abortion, they might even physically abuse her. To which, one might suggest that DCFS be contacted immediately. 9:20 p.m. After John Thorn’s exhortation to the Council to to the right thing, Bonnie Grabenhofer speaks out against the parental notice ordinance, calling on Lawrence and company to withdraw it. The two other pro-aborts in the audience clap. By the way, that Alex Arroyo fellow who was consulting with Kifowit and apparently coaching her during the G.O. Committee meeting is sitting with a little group of Planned Parenthood supporters. But this time around I don’t see any of those pink shirts. Alayne9:35 p.m. I just delivered my remarks about taking care of my daughter Liza when she had a bone tumor that had to be removed. I passed out a picture of Liza and her sister Sarah from a recent apple orchard outing. My new assistant Matt Yonke took a photo of my friend Alayne Weingartz while I spoke. Bruce Sutcliff prays: “We will not move from that sidewalk, Father, come hell or high water” Karen Nickels tells of a woman who had an abortion who came up to her on the sidewalk outside the now-closed abortion facility on the West side: “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. Why didn’t you stop me. Why didn’t someone stop me. . . . No, I chose it myself.” 9:40 p.m. Elizabeth Earl cites—yes, with sources—the suicide rate of teens who have had abortions and such, followed by numerous cases of teen girls who died from abortion. She’s followed by her husband Roger who first speaks out in favor of parental notice and then clarifies for the mayor the difference between judging actions (“You lied to us”) versus the person (“You’re a liar“). 9:50 p.m. Vernon Cupes: “If the Founding Fathers had thrown up their hands and said, ‘It’s the law,’ we wouldn’t be free today.” 9: 55 p.m. Charles Chat: “We’ve just learned that before us is a legislative body,” apparently in reference to the Council’s irrelevance in the Planned Parenthood controversy. He goes on: “I want to thank those of you who have brought forward this parental notice ordinance.” Charles goes on to criticize the mayor’s action in issuing the occupancy permit and concludes by reminding the mayor that on September 11 he promised that everyone would be allowed to speak after the investigation had concluded. He asks when that will be. 10:00 p.m. Alderman Lawrence thanks everyone for supporting parental notice. He regrets that the resolution proposed to urge the State of Illinois to implement parental notice was not passed out of committee, and urges the Council to bring it forward to a vote. Lawrence also calls on the zoning board to address the appeal raised by FVFAPP regarding the occupancy permit. The meeting ends.

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