Aldermania VI: Live blogging from City Hall

City Council 10/23 4:30 I’m coming to you live from the meeting room of the City of Aurora, Illinois Aldermen’s Office, where the Government Operations Committee will be discussing the parental notification ordinance and resolution, both of which were punted to the legal department three weeks ago. Corporation Counsel Alayne Weingartz entered the room a few minutes ago; she sits just in front of me and one seat to the left. Chief of Staff Bill Wiet—who has admitted having had contact with Planned Parenthood as far back as February—is here too. The Aldermen Hart-Burns, Kifowit and Garza have just arrived; Hart-Burns has begun the meeting. 4:40 p.m. I see that Alderman Schuler is here too. Today’s Beacon reports today that she’s concerned about how a parental notification ordinance would be enforced. My guess is she’s here for some traffic issue in her Ward; that’s most of what G.O. deals with. 5:10 p.m. Alderman Chris Beykirch just glanced through the window from outside. For some time the committee was discussing a traffic issue in Ward 1. Hart-Burns just noted that the next item on the agenda, #6 Discussion of the Parental Notification Ordinance, would be postponed until the BGI committee (with parental notice supporters Beykirch and Irvin) is available. They have moved on to other agenda items. G.O. Committee discusses Parental Notice Resolution5:35 p.m. The committee took a recess and have just returned to finally deal with the parental notification issue. Aldermen Christ Beykirch and Richard Irvin have just sat down at the committee table. 5:40 p.m. Apparently there are some changes to the wording of something—the ordinance? the resolution?—proposed by Alderman Irvin. The committee are seeing these changes for the first time and have paused to review them. 5:45 p.m. After offering a sort of “olive branch” about the tensions surrounding the parental notice issue, Beykirch is making the case that his resolution is all about getting the State of Illinois to do their job and enforce the 1995 parental notice act. With such an act actually being enforced, there would be no need for Aurora to have their own ordinance. Beykirch and Hart-Burns are in a little conflict over which states have parental notice acts like Illinois’. Beykirch doesn’t have a list, and Hart-Burns is upset about it. Beykirch asked her if she’s mad at him for something; she seems pretty upset. 5:50 p.m. Now Kifowit reports on what she learned from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan about why the 1995 law is stalled (having do to with judicial bypass in the circuit courts). At the start of her remarks, Kifowit noted that she was “upbraided” for wanting to do this research. There are clearly some hard feelings here. Beykirch v. WeingartzWeingartz piped up and asked why the resolution doesn’t limit itself to abortion when the 1995 law does. Irvin suggested a slight wording change that would address that problem. Weingartz is then questioned about her legal opinion. She says she has none. Kifowit motions to forward the resolution to the Committee of the Whole without recommendation (as to how the Committee of the Whole should decide). 5:55 p.m. The committee passes a motioned to hold the parental notification ordinance over for 30 days to allow the aldermen to further craft that legislation. It will come up again on December 11. Then a motion to adjourn, passed. 6:00 p.m. Alderman Hart-Burns, before leaving the room, asks me if I’m satisfied with their action and the change in the language of the resolution. I reply that not having seen it yet, I can’t really say, but it sounds okay to me. Bonnie Grabenhofer, asked the same question, objects to the lack of discussion on the merits of parental notification. Hart-Burns points out that they moved to send the resolution on without recommendation, and gives Grabenhofer instructions on how to submit any issues or questions that she thinks the Committee of the Whole should address.

City Council Meeting

6:20 p.m. The City Council meeting begins. Aldermen Keith and Lawrence are absent, as is the mayor. Can you guess which one of those three I miss? The meeting begins with some Christmas activities—a special recognition of the Salvation Army’s holiday donations campaign and the presentation of “Miss Merry Christmas” and “Jack Frost” finalists to some Aurora children by the only grandparents on the Council, Whitey Peters and Scheketa Hart-Burns. Very cute. 6:30 p.m. Funny moment: Mayor Pro-Temp Bob O’Connor kneels down to get to the level of one of the little “Jack Frost” boys, and the lad kneels down too! Red light in Chicago6:50 p.m. I just spoke on an agenda item for the first time, opposing the red light cameras that the city is considering putting in. I described my own negative experience with these cameras in Chicago (another speaker ahead of me did the same). I urged the council not to approve this sort of “big brother” measure. The Council had already voted to hold over the measure for two weeks, but the two of us who had signed up were given the opportunity to speak anyway. 6:55 p.m. There are not nearly so many people here as at past meetings. That’s to be expected. It’s tiring business to sit through all this discussion of bids and timelines and what-not. But the public are still here in numbers way beyond the typical City Council meeting. I wonder if there will be any motion to limit public comment on non-agenda items to two hours, considering both the smaller number signed up and the absence of free-speech foe, Alderman Leroy Keith, who typically makes that motion. 7:05 p.m. A group of four Planned Parenthood supporters has just come in and sat down in the second row, including Bonnie Grabenhofer, the Elmhurst resident who we anticipate will again pretend to be from Aurora in order to move up the list of public speakers. 7:20 p.m. We’re hearing a whole lot about the new police station to be built on Indian Trail Road. I must say City Council is less interesting without Alderman Lawrence around. I haven’t heard the word “No” once. 7:30 p.m. I’ve just heard the first “No”. Alderman Kifowit voted against a resolution to purchase to property in the City. A brief recess, without any motion limiting the time for public comments. O’Connor notes that only 36 people have signed up to speak. Still roughly 36 more than usual! 7:45 p.m. The Council reconvenes. Aldermen Schuler and Peters have not returned. The first speaker is addressing a separate issue having to do with an unsafe intersection in his neighborhood. 7:50 p.m. John Thorne speaks first—again. Good John must have the City Clerk on speed dial! John upbraids the City Council for losing people’s trust by pushing them away. Now Bruce Sutcliffe—the champion prayer warrior of this effort—cautions the Council that they have been given authority by God, and that they must turn to Him for guidance on dealing with problems, which ultimately come down to sin: “If you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to me.” 7:55 p.m. Nancy Kletemeyer reminds the Council of the dangers of abortion on the physical, mental, and spiritual levels. She points out that parents need to be involved in these decisions as children cannot possibly understand all these risks by themselves. 8:00 p.m. I have just addressed [PDF] the First Amendment violations against pro-lifers of which the City of Aurora is guilty, focusing on three recent incidents. It seemed to me, as I spoke, that Alayne Weingartz—who I mentioned twice—was quite rankled by remarks. She should be. She has a lot to answer for. 8:05 p.m. Dale Hammond echoes some of my remarks about the police on October 27, then offers some words in support of parental notice. Then Mary Ann Vincent defends parental notice on the basis of her experience as a counselor of abortion-bound women. 8:10 p.m. Janice Kalita speaks on her experience out at Planned Parenthood and urges the Council to go out there and see how difficult it is for the pro-lifers to have a voice out there. She ends with words in support of parental notice. Now (no pun intended) Bonnie Grabenhofer is deriding our claim that parental notice is “common sense,” comparing it—I’m not making this up—to believing that the earth is flat. She insists the data says parental notice laws don’t work and endanger teens. 8:15 p.m. Diane Picciouolo speaks on the ways that she has faced difficulties as a disabled person dealing with contradictory directives, dangerous fences and such. Then Scheketa Hart-Burns asks the Chief to address the issues Diane and I raised. He gets up and says, among other things, that we were rallying without a permit. The truth is that we had gotten permission from the City, through their outside counsel, to have amplification for our speakers, without any permit requirement. The Chief: “The Aurora police department will enforce every ordinance that is on the books in Aurora.” He guarantees that there will be arrests if people don’t obey their directives. 8:20 p.m. The Chief has finished, and now Greg Guest points out the serious code violations and safety issues regarding the temporary fence erected around the vacant lot across from Planned Parenthood. He references a previous Council meeting when a business was required to erect a decorative fence at great expense. JT Eschbach8:25 p.m. Sharon Fane cites Luke in support of parental notice, the story of the finding of the boy Jesus in the temple. And now JT Eschbach, who has come dutifully to City Council meetings and is at last able to speak as an out-of-towner, compares those who oppose parental notice to those adults who help children get away with things behind their parents’ backs, like helping them get alcohol. He also turns around Grabenhofer’s comments about common sense, noting that the “common sense” that condoms would bring down teen pregnancy has been shown manifestly false. 8:30 p.m. Colleen Bergert says that parental notice isn’t even just “common sense,” it’s a “no brainer.” 8:35 p.m. Crystal Hamilton from Dekalb, who had an abortion teen, tells the Council that she would never have spoken to her parents about getting an abortion, and that she opposes parental notification as a parent of three teens. She says this is a “whole lot of silliness.” She is followed by Daniel Grob, also from Dekalb, who echoes the same view and ends by criticizing us for violating 8:40 p.m. Harvey McArthur defends Planned Parenthood’s parking spaces (one of the zoning questions to be addressed on the 28th), and then oddly suggests that Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League apparently have a problem with the Catholic Church because (he says) we oppose Catholic hospitals giving emergency contraception to rape victims. Sally Poloseue points out that there is a judicial bypass measure in the state’s parental notice law. She tells the story of a mother whose daughter had an abortion without her knowledge, who suffered serious complications requiring urgent medical attention. 8:45 p.m. Linda Colev tells her experience at the October 27 rally, when the Police Chief ordered us off the sidewalk on the east side of Oakhurst. She quotes the First Amendment, including the right to “peaceably assemble,” and objects to the continuous videotaping during the rally and the intimidating appearance of the paddy wagon. My new assistant, Matt Yonke, offers an eloquent defense of the parental notification ordinance. He tells the story of when his son Ambrose, almost one year old, was born with amniotic fluid in his lungs, how nothing else on earth mattered during those moments when the nurses were clearing his lungs so Ambrose could breathe. He calls on the Council as parents to think about what it would be like to have a child die from an abortion, haunted by the thought that had they known, they could have prevented it. 8:50 p.m. Lynn Kalita speaks in favor of parental notice as necessary to protect children’s safety. Then Patricia Thompson speaks against parental notice, accusing supporters of the ordinance of wishing to turn back the clock and make women subservient; this despite the many articulate women speaking up on the pro-life side tonight. 8:55 p.m. Jerry Kalita tells the Council the parental notice resolution is an opportunity for the city to take leadership on this issue, calling on the state to move forward and enforce this widely supported measure: “Be a model for the rest of our state to look up to.” As Jerry concludes, the pro-abortion crowd files out. 9:00 p.m. Heidi Brooker—always articular, clever and wise—says [PDF] those who oppose parental notice believe that a massive corporation profiting from abortion cares about children but their parents are thugs ready to harm them. She contrasts a 14 year-old girl who can get an abortion at the behest of her 30-year-old boyfriend with a 14-year-old boy who cannot get a vasectomy at the behest of his 30-year-old girlfriend. “Somebody at Planned Parenthood must be Catholic because they don’t do vasectomies.” 9:05 p.m. Roger Earl says what I’ve been thinking “loudly” as the pro-aborts were speaking: parental notice isn’t about “communication”, it’s about protecting children. Thank you, Roger! The point isn’t to “get parents and kids talking,” but to make sure parents know about something as important and deeply connected to their parental responsibilities as a child’s abortion. Then Elizabeth Earl, who has a great deal of experience dealing with teens, talks about how that knowledge that a parent will learn what they do can influence kids to make better decisions. She then enumerates some of the side-effects of birth control pills that parents would need to know about. 9:10 p.m. The meeting is adjourned. UPDATE 11/16: Here’s a video of Chief Powell’s response to Hart-Burns’ question about unfair treatment of pro-lifers. Note that he talks about being “in uniform” on Saturday, October 27. He wasn’t.

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