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Background thoughts and reflections on the upcoming Elgin OCTAVE candidate forum

11 January 2013 Chuck Keysor 42 Comments

(Note: these are the personal views and reflections of Chuck Keysor, and do not necessarilyrepresent the views of the Elgin OCTAVE.)

Hello dedicated Elginite readers. I hope that you know about the Elgin OCTAVE city council candidate forum, which will be held this Saturday beginning at 6PM at the New Covenant Fellowship Church, 865 Parkway. That is right off of Dundee Avenue, just south of the tollway (near the Church of the Brethren Headquarters). We will distribute summary spread sheets at the forum, which show the replies of all the participating candidates. You can take one home, and study it at your leisure. We will also post the results on the Elgin OCTAVE website. Hopefully you will be able to come to the forum on Saturday!

For those of you who are interested, I wanted to provide added background on this forum, and let you know some of the details of the questionnaire that we created. So I decided that the best way to do that, would be to post a new blog before the forum on Saturday. It looks like I barely made the deadline!

First, here is some important background information. For about 10 years, I moderated the Near West Neighbors Association Candidate forums. Every year, we would hold at least one forum, and in some election cycles, we would hold two forums. This generated lots of practice in how to put on a forum, and learn what makes for a good event.

I personally enjoyed the organizing activities and the little bit of showmanship involved in the role of moderating a forum. And I took some pride in going to all the other local forums to look for good ideas and creating a list of best practices. And the Near West Neighbors as a group enjoyed these forums as bonding activities.

But beyond these personal/social reasons, we saw these forums as providing several key needs:
1) An aid to voters to help them learn about the issues and the candidates
2) A way to make the candidates aware of the issues that concerned our neighborhood
3) A way to make people aware of our neighborhood group by raising our public profile
4) A means of getting some small leverage with the City

The typical forum we produced is what you can see if you go to You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CVrn7n9wGE , (You can see all of the forum by doing a search on You Tube for Elgin Candidate Forum 2009.) Almost all of the questions were taken from the audience. But the one about the troubled youth home (7 minutes into segment 4) was one that we created and crafted to raise an important issue affecting our neighborhood and the City. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxl0Id0YpWY (The results of that single question took about two years to play out, and ultimately, it resulted in a short-term resolution of that problem.)

I think it is very important for anyone interested in local elections to take some time to watch at least one or two segments of the March 2009 NWNA forum. It shows that those candidates who have the best physical bearing and stage presence are most likely to win. As is typical of these forums, nothing really substantive is said by the candidates. And some of the better answers, came from people who lost. But those same people who gave some good answers, simply lacked what I like to refer to as the “IT” factor.

Ask yourself as you watch, who had the best stage presence? Who seemed most self assured, mature and professional? If you look for those traits, I think you will pick out Prigge, Dunne and Gilliam at or near the top of this ranking. What did Gilliam, Prigge and Dunne offer that made them winners? Really nothing more than trite platitudes and pat answers. But, they had stage presence. And as I will note, there was an air in that election, of “Vote the bums out”, which loaded the deck against Walters, Figureoa and Gilliam. But of those three, who had very similar, if not identical voting records, Gilliam clearly possessed the greatest personal gravitas, and was the only incumbent to survive.

Long before that election cycle, I had worked with Rich Dunne in the Near West Neighbors Association. He was our founding president, and served two years in that role back in the late 90’s. He seemed like a nice guy, and had a nice family. He struck me as someone who was responsible, level headed and who could be trusted. So, knowing nothing else, it seemed as though he could be a good councilman.

And in the 2009 election cycle, behind the scenes, Dunne promised me that he would work to shake things up in City Hall, and to cut off the head of what he called “The Snake”. He said he would bring integrity and light to local government, and be a voice for the people. And I even imagined that if he were to be elected, that our neighborhood group might have improved responsiveness from City Hall. I was impressed, and so I volunteered a couple of cold weekends for Rich by handing out his fliers door to door, putting up signs, and spreading the word that Rich was a “good guy” who will change City Hall.

In that election cycle of 2009 there were still plenty of people who were upset with how things ran at City Hall, and who in particular, were still stinging from the building of the Rec Centre. By that time the Centre had racked up 6 years of unbroken losses, with 2008 having been extra bad, with $911,249 of red ink. Eventually, there developed an on-line mantra for all the disaffected voters, which was simply, and perhaps irrationally, “Prigge and Dunne, Prigge and Dunne.” If you want change, you have to vote for Prigge and Dunne. As a result, two of the three incumbents were tossed out on their ears.

But for all the fluff questions at forums, shallow interviews in the papers, and on-line hype, what did we really know about these candidates? Did we know if they believed in individual liberty? Did they believe that “the state” has supreme powers, and that the people are to serve the desires of the government? How should taxes be viewed? At that time, I was too green to have even considered such questions, and it seemed as though that was the case for the electorate at large.

But it wasn’t until the next couple of years after the 2009 election, that I realized that I had voted for Prigge and Dunne without knowing anything at all about what I was going to get. They drifted, shifted their alliances and tried to find themselves, without any positive outcomes being produced as a result of their having been elected. And Gilliam, who I had supported, continued on in the tradition of his established track record. But it made me realize that our elections were largely reactive,,,,,, someone screws up and makes you angry, then you vote them out, and hope for better luck with the new councilmen. As I was repeatedly disappointed by the actions of the people I had voted for in 2009, I vowed that there must be a better way to get to the heart of the candidates, and to learn BEFORE it was too late, who I should vote for.

When Craig Mason and I started the Elgin OCTAVE in April of 2011, one of our primary desires, was to be able to hold candidate forums. The objective was to assess as early as possible, which candidates would be opposed to the abuses of government. We wanted to know which candidates felt that City Hall should NOT be all-powerful and should NOT use its powers to threaten, fine and intimidate the residents and businesses of Elgin to conform to the self-serving, crony capitalistic interests of city government (projects like Riverside Drive, Artspace, hydro electric dams, brick pavers for the entire downtown….)

We said we would need to find out which candidates believed in lower taxes and smaller government. And the point of trying to find out what we considered to be the core of each candidate, was to allow us to come up with a reasonable idea of how they would vote on taxing and spending should they be elected. Then we would work to let the Citizens of Elgin know where the candidates stood.

We felt that the most common voter desires were in line with lower tax burdens, so that if we could help the voters learn who was for lower taxes, that those candidates would have an improved chance of winning the election. If we could let people know who favored “big” government, that needs “big” taxes to pay for its “big” spending, that the average citizen would not mistakenly vote for such individuals in future city council elections. To do that, we would focus on creating candidate forums that would try to identify the likely voting patterns of the candidates.

Now, what do you do when you wind up with a candidate pool that has more than 20 people? If you have a two hour forum, and take 5 minutes for opening ceremonies and the explanation of the rules, and allow each candidate to make a 2 minute opening speech, and a 2 minute closing speech, you are suddenly left with about 35 minutes for questions and answers. One question, with a brief reply is all you have time for! Clearly the voters can not assess the core voting philosophies of anyone with one question and some pre-scripted stump speeches. If we were to throw out the closing statements, then you can ask two questions in total. Clearly not a very viable platform to meet our objectives.

A few months ago at our Elgin OCTAVE board meeting, we started to discuss what an unusual circumstance we were facing. We discussed having three forums: one for the two year cycle before the primary, and one for the 4 year people, and finally, one for the 4 year candidates and the two that made it through the two year primary. That went over like a the proverbial lead balloon, too much work, not enough time. So we at least agreed to have two forums, and to include every candidate in every forum. Very clearly, we felt that by having the first forum, we would go a long way toward establishing the dominant issues for this election cycle. So if we had the first forum, having the last one would be logical, and spread out our work load.

With that resolved, the question of mining information from the candidates was addressed through the concept of a questionnaire. The questionnaire would allow the candidates lots of time to answer, and so it would allow them to answer many more questions, which would then in turn allow us to find out lots more about the candidates, all to the benefit of the voters. Because we had been logging issues spread out over the last 4 years, there were LOTS of things to ask about, but when the idea of having 50 questions was floated, it was seen as TOO much. So being a cooperative, compromising group, we settled ultimately on having only 45 questions!

In working with Bob Gilliam on matters connected to the Elgin Business License, he told me at that time that he liked me, and would continue to get along with me, as long as he never saw me misquote him, or take his words out of context. That had some significant bearing, and knowing that we wanted to make a spread sheet that would show the responses of all the candidates to the issues, it seemed natural to move to questions that could be easily tabulated, ie Yes/No and Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree range types of questions. Such questions would eliminate the potential for misquoting anybody, or taking their comments out of context.

The last aspect of the survey to fall in place, was spurred by the City Council. This fall, they voted to hire a consultant for $288,000 to study the options for reconfiguring Elgin’s water billing structure, water rates and report on the options and fees for a storm water utility tax (aka “the Rain Tax”). I spoke to the council at the next session, and asked, “Why should you commission a study on taxing rain, without first assessing if you are even willing to tax people on their rain water?” We all know it is a STANDARD sleazy political dodge to have a study in the election year, and in the year following, to implement a new tax, and justify it based upon the study. Yet I pointed out that even without a study, John Prigge knows he doesn’t want the rain tax, and Mayor Kaptain knows he does want the rain tax. I pointed out that the study won’t tell you IF you should create a tax. That is POLICY, which only the council can decide.

In that speech, I said that the Elgin OCTAVE would work to try and cut through this issue, and MAKE Dunne and Gilliam declare their position on this tax BEFORE the election. It is the Citizen’s right to know before casting their vote. I told them that they can hide and say that they need a study. But Prigge and Kaptain have taken as stand BEFORE the study, and it is not illogical that anyone else could not figure out if they would support another new tax or not. (It should be remembered that Kaptain is not up for re-election this year, and when he ran for mayor 2 years ago, he said he would only serve one term. So one should not count his stand on this as involving any degree of courage, but his honesty is none the less worthy of note.)

The voters will know that Dunne and Gilliam have no excuse, except that they are obviously and inexcusably attempting to evade the issue. It is my belief, based upon Dunne’s and Gilliam’s unbroken record of voting to increase every tax at every opportunity, that they will vote for the “Rain Tax” if they are re-elected. And if you read any of the City documentation on the proposal, any logical individual would see that it looks like the “Rain Tax” is a done deal. But Dunne and Gilliam know that they must avoid taking a stand in support of the “Rain Tax”, because most Elginites, in my opinion, don’t want to pay for a tax on their rain, and it would cost them votes, and quite possibly the election. But when Gilliam and Dunne put serving their own needs to get re-elected above the cries of the poor people of Elgin, it is politically expedient to avoid the issue, and logical to hide behind the need for a study.

As a result, it seemed most to the point to make the questionnaire have pointed questions. So the very first question on our survey is totally pointed, and without any apology it flat out asks: “Do you support the proposed storm water utility tax, aka the “Rain Tax”?

LOTS of citizens were really mad about the “Trash” tax which is addressed in question 2. Typically, that tax having been enacted in December 2011 as part of the “trumped up” budget crisis, would have fallen off of the radar screens by now. That is how the game is played, pass the new taxes as far away from an election cycle as you can. So, to fight that, we tried to keep this coal burning hot in the pocket books of every voter so that when they enter the voting booth on April 9th, they can remember that Gilliam and Dunne voted for this new tax, which shows up on every water bill every month as a $13.25 refuse fee. That turns into $159 per year in a brand new tax.

Question 3 is a biggie that got swept under the rug last year, video gaming. The council voted 7 to 0 to keep video gaming out of Elgin. When one considers that: 1) the rest of the cities around us have it, (or are moving towards it), 2) various businesses and organizations in Elgin are in dire financial straights and could be rescued by video gambling, 3) we have a gigantic gambling boat, the proves we are not opposed to gambling, it simply becomes clear that this issue was not fairly or completely considered. Yet the council blindly kicked the issue out the door without even thinking. Maybe all that money that the City could suck in from willing gamblers can be used to lighten the load on the rest of us cash strapped residents. (Slim chance there though, as when “big government” sucks in more money, they tend to spend it. Maybe they will throw the $$$$ to the Elgin Symphony since they are the fiscal basket case of the day.)

Here is a link to our survey. http://elginoctave.weebly.com/ Check it out and see what you think.

Some of the issues are so well known, that even without set-up, there should be no problem in answering them one way or the other. On other questions, we build in support information, figuring that some information was simply too hard to come by without filing lots of FOIAs.

If you look at question 7, you will see such a question. It is very easy and pat for the Downtown Neighborhood Association/”DNA” to say, gee, we can get funded out of a special taxing district in the downtown, and all the members of the City council just smile and nod approvingly. But did anyone do even the simplest bit of math to see how few businesses there are in downtown Elgin, and that with all the big bucks that the DNA needs to stay afloat, it would cost each downtown business over $1000 per year to pay for the DNA? How many businesses would that chase out of downtown? More brilliant rocket science…..

As you look at the survey, you will notice that there are other questions that may require more background information than is given, and the issues are a bit more remote. So please be aware that the candidates were given roughly 3 weeks to answer the survey. And when the survey was sent out, we stressed that this is not a closed book test. We even encouraged the candidates to check where ever they could, and consult with as many people as they liked. This is what they would hopefully be able to do should they get elected.

After the survey was sent, I also provided supplementary information, for example a record of all the losses incurred by the Centre since it opened, etc. If you look at question 27, it asks the candidates if they think the City’s “financial crisis” of 2011 was real or not. I sent highly annotated documents which were based on information supplied by the City to the bond rating agencies, combined with info from other FOIAs and newspaper stories. This made it clear how the City had first started with a small deficit, and in a few months ramped it up by many millions of dollars. And yet we closed out 2011 with a surplus, and not the promised deficit. But it appears quite clearly, that the City raised the specter of a financial melt-down in order to justify a massive tax increase. And when the initial figure of less than $5million didn’t seem to get the required reaction, they simply kept pumping up the numbers until almost everyone was convinced that taxes need to be raised.

Another standard dodge at election forums is to be surprised with a hot question, and then ducking it by claiming that you don’t have enough information to accurately answer. I have seen that all too often. One new member of the council, who shall remain anonymous, shortly before the election, could not comment on the Elgin Business License, because she said she didn’t know enough about it. Yet two weeks after getting into office, I talked to her, and she said the Elgin Business License would only be repealed over her dead body. So PLEASE take in mind, that those past experiences helped to guide our questionnaire. We want to deny candidates the dodge of saying that they don’t know enough to answer a question. If they don’t know enough, then they had better go investigate. After all, they had close to three weeks to complete the survey.

We have gotten criticism for having biased questions, and leading questions. But there is no reason that if someone says that they support the “Rain Tax”, they can not say so, and say so with pride. If they know we don’t like the rain tax, so what. Believe it or not, this is not about me, or the Elgin OCTAVE, this is for the voters, so that they can decide rationally who to vote for. Tell the voters we are biased, and then tell them yourself that you like the “Rain Tax”. I would guess they would simply say we are biased, and leave out the rest…..

Further, the candidates have every opportunity to come to our forum, and blast us if they want. We don’t mind, they are providing more memorable input for the voters. Our pointed questions were not in any way attempting prevent the candidate from making their case. We only wanted to make our position known on various key issues. It is part of establishing our “brand identity” as low tax, small government people.

Take a look at question 15. We have raised issues in the past, and gotten nowhere. This question is a case in point. During the trumped up “budget crisis”, we proposed that the City sell off some of its excess inventory of properties instead of raising taxes. EVERYONE on the council ridiculed this very simple and logical proposal as being absurd. So, we are re-floating something here to see if new candidates, with open/functional minds find such a simple concept worth investigating. That was another question with supplemental information. All candidates were sent detailed maps showing the location of EVERY city owned property, and a complete list of all those properties.

As to the survey and the incumbents, both Bob Gilliam and Rich Dunne have refused to come to our forum, and they have refused to answer our questionnaire. They do though, have voting records that clearly show they have voted for every opportunity to raise taxes, and that they both have tax and spend mindsets. The residents of Elgin, are by and large, poor people, with limited means to pay for the grandiose visions for Elgin which are being promoted by City Hall. This clearly puts Dunne and Gilliam at odds with the needs of most Elginites.

In all honesty, we had not anticipated being boycotted by any candidates. Again, out of all these city council candidate forums I have run, I have NEVER had a single candidate miss one. They have all said that they would move heaven and earth to not miss a forum. Even 4 years ago, the group AFLA, that was anti-illegal immigration, hosted a forum. All the candidates turned out, even the council candidates who were RADICALLY opposed to AFLA showed up. So I guess holding a forum on taxing and spending issues is harder to stomach when you have a 4 or 40 year record of excessive taxation and high spending.

Even incumbent Prigge is mad at us, because we are allowing candidates who did not answer our questionnaire to participate in our forum on Saturday. He claims that because he followed the rules, and took a stand, that he as a result of our trying to engage as many candidates as we can, gets reduced stage time in front of the voters at our forum. He also said that he was shocked and said that we would loose all credibility by trying to get candidates who do not attend our forum to answer the questionnaire at some later time. When of course our objective is to get as many candidate views on record as possible, so that the voters can have the best chance at making informed decisions, that is how we have to proceed.

So, it just goes to show, you can’t please everyone, but we struggle on and do the best we can to help the voters learn where the candidates stand on tax and spend issues. Can that really be so bad?

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42 Responses to “Background thoughts and reflections on the upcoming Elgin OCTAVE candidate forum”

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  1. Tim Palmer says:

    Are people going to be allowed to fill out the questionaire AFTER the forum? What sense does that make? If you can’t answer a few questions on paper what good are you to the people? We have enough chickens on the city council.

    • Chuck Keysor says:

      Hello Tim. Yes, there are a lot of “chickens” running for council, and those same chickens are now bailing out on our forum.

      So far, Gilliam, Dunne, Armstrong, McCue, Esterino and Richard have all withdrawn their previous commitment to attend. None of them had completed the questionnaires, so none of these people wanted to go on record with their positions on taxing and spending. Let that be a warning to all voters who have a concern about their future tax burdens.


      • Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:


        Are any of those people you refer to as not coming to the forum Mayor Kaptain’s neighbor?

      • paul says:

        Very simple, really.

        If a candidate REFUSES to have the courage, the integrity, the decency, the principles to face the voters at a candidate forum, NO ONE should vote for them. WHY would ANY voter vote for them?

        Prediction: Gilliam will be re-elected. He has the Black vote, the SEIU vote, the public employee vote, the public pensioner vote, the guilty white liberal vote; and now he has the ‘I’m black, I’m a victim, and am being “crucified” (his words) by Elgin OCTAVE’ vote.

    • Chuck Keysor says:

      Tim, I am assuming that when you asked about filling out the questionnaire AFTER the forum, that you were of course referring to this statement: “by trying to get candidates who do not attend our forum to answer the questionnaire at some later time. When of course our objective is to get as many candidate views on record as possible, so that the voters can have the best chance at making informed decisions, that is how we have to proceed.”

      Yes, you read this correctly. The point is, that the election is NOT done on January 12th, at the conclusion of our forum. So, if we gather the information after the forum, we would simply add it to the existing spread sheet on our Website, where it can be of use to anyone before the April 9th election.


    • paul says:

      Check the NFL playoff football schedule next time, Chuck.

      Incredible you’d schedule your forum right spot in the middle of 2 (TWO)
      NFL playoff games.

      • DVR-Queen says:

        Paul, don’t forget Miss America on ABC! Even so, over 100 people in attendance tonight… Now to catchup on NFL and Pageanst via the DVR.

        • paul says:

          The DH disagreed with your attendence figures, queen.
          Evidently I didn’t miss much if your only commentary is about watching the pageant on DVR.

          Sounds like Chuck was right. The rain tax is already a done deal for Wegman and Raushenberger. The only remaining question is how we (remaining) taxpayers will pay for it. They got my vote; NOT. Are both of them serial candidates - always running for something?

          Don’t you just love it - Gilliam playing the persecuted Black victim, victimized by that racist Elgin Octave!!! No doubt it’s worked for him his entire life.

          Prediction: Prigge might get re-elected but his margin of victory will be much less than Gilliams. And instead of one and done for Dunne he’ll carry the SEIU vote, the public employee vote, the public pensioner vote and that will be plenty enough for re-election.

          • Todd Martin says:

            I’m surprised and disappointed that you choose to characterize Gilliam’s choice to skip the Elgin OCTAVE forum as “persecuted black victim”. Nothing in his public comments have blamed Chuck Keysor or OCTAVE as being racist. Instead, Gilliam cites a difference of opinion on issues.

            How would you feel if you were in his shoes and someone says that? You really believe the longest serving Councilman in Elgin history held office by a trick? That’s insulting to Elginites. Again, it’s easy to say such things when you’re anonymous.

            I’m also disappointed that Chuck chooses to call candidates running for public office “Cowards” when he’s running a public forum. There’s a clear conflict of interest between “Moderator” and “Partisan”. There’s also a clear lack of restraint and respect which can kill any public official’s desire to engage with you in a constructive dialog.

          • Chuck Keysor says:

            Hello Todd. My use of the word coward comes from my personal side, as noted at the top of my post, I was speaking on my own behalf.

            But HONESTLY, I am not out to get any candidate to commit to MY point of view. I am NOT trying to, nor do I even want to, brow beat any candidate into taking my point of view. I simply want the candidates to commit publicly to THEIR point of view, so that the VOTERS can tell who to vote for.

            To avoid having another beauty contest, the VOTERS need to know where the candidates stand. How can the voters do that if the candidates do not identify where they stand?

            It is easy for some candidates to not take a stand on anything of significance, in part, because NO ONE historically has asked them. Or if they have been asked to take a stand, it hasn’t been about basic tax and spend issues.

            I have had enough interaction with the council that I have come to feel that cowardice, combined with political expediency is what makes candidates refuse to take a stand on certain issues, specifically, a hot issue such as the “Rain Tax”. It takes courage to take a political stand on an unpopular issue. And if someone won’t take a stand, when the issue is easily understood, the opposite term of courage comes to mind, and that is cowardice.

            Thank you Todd for your comments, which I appreciate. Your asking helps me to clarify my comments. Chuck

          • paul says:

            Classic Todd - refuses to engage in honest argument.

            “Nothing in his public comments have blamed Chuck Keysor or OCTAVE”

            Wrong. It is a FACT, as I have pointed out, that Gilliam refused to participate in Elgin Octave forum due to his belief that Elgin Octave forum was a “crucifixion”; as reported in the local media (DH or Courier). Gilliams words, not mine, hence quotation marks. What part of this do you NOT understand, TODD? Last I checked Gilliam is still black. Thus he is black AND he perceives himself as a victim of Elgin Octave’s attempt to crucify him.

            “That’s insulting to Elginites. ”

            No. What is insulting to Elginites is Gilliam refusing to engage in an fair and open candidate forum by claiming he would be victimized by doing so.

            “Again, it’s easy to say such things when you’re anonymous.”

            As your distortions and dishonesty so indicate.

          • Tom Sandor says:

            Chuck: I find your parsing of your personal opinions and those in your capacity as a founder of Octave to be laughable. Having watched you both before, during and after my term on the council relative to issues in Elgin, it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that Octave is jan extension of your personal opinions. To characterize Councilman Gilliam and others as cowards for not attending the forum you orchestrated is the height of hubris. One question that comes to my mine is who is Octave, who are your directors, contributors and supporters? Provide us with some names? Is Octave a registered 501(c) (4) or other type of organization required to file with the ISBE? As you have consistently required information from the City and Candidates, it is high time you and your organization provide some in return. It is only fair that you do so. I have participated in many forums as a candidate and moderator and at no time was the information related to the sponsoring organization unavailable. Candidates for public office are invited to many events and have the right to pick and choose which they attend, these are invitations, not summons.
            To demean their decision to not participate in your forum, and I characterize it as yours as the organizer, is even below your regular histrionics.

          • Chuck Keysor says:

            Hello Tom Sandor. Thanks for your comments.

            When I was the president of the Near West Neighbors Association, which is part of the time you were on the council, I think it is entirely fair of me to say that any perception I presented to the council was significantly different than my present roll. For the 7 years that I was the NWNA president, I was entirely beholding to the City. Like every other neighborhood group, we were holding our hands out to the City, hoping for money to help paint the bridge over W. Chicago Street, or to rent a bobcat to clean up the abandoned UP train station site on S. Crystal Street, or to get restitution workers from the City to help us cut down trees of heaven and pick-up trash or to get improved fire protection, or to get improved police protection. So in that role, I was never critical of the City, as you can naturally understand. And I tried to work behind the scenes to keep a low profile whenever I could.

            And if I had a problem in our neighborhood, such as dog attacks, or prostitutes or vacant/derelict properties, or crimes by kids from a local group home, I would also approach the City carefully, knowing that I needed their help. I was always complimented by City Staff and council members, for being patient, polite, and significantly, for offering possible solutions. So if you did not like me at that time, which was your right, it was not for any fair or logical reason.

            Today, if someone on the council doesn’t like me, I have simply come to expect that. The majority of the council wants to tax and spend to excess, and I speak out against what they seem to take as some divine right. I am no longer trying to get something for my neighborhood, so I am able to speak freely.

            Concerning your other comments, I would offer that perhaps the biggest, most widely attended candidate forum I have seen, was conducted by AFLA. I do not find any congruence between the things you said OCTAVE should do and what AFLA offered. They were a loose group of individuals without legal standing, but they had issues and they took it upon themselves to effectively advocate for their views. You do not need a legal structure to raise issues. This is AMERICA.

            A big difference though, is that AFLA represented an issue that is complex and totally beyond my comprehension for its enormity. When Craig Mason and I formed OCTAVE, we made a point that we will have NOTHING to do with immigration, abortion, gay rights, or any other what I will loosely call social issues. We are only going to look at fiscal matters. We wanted nothing to distract the public from our desire to speak out against excess taxes, excess spending and the the infringement of personal liberty.

            The Elgin Business License, our key first point, followed by the City Owned Fire Alarm Monopoly, rolled our key issues together. And yet despite our goal to stick to non-partisan fiscal matters, we find that we are more disliked in some quarters than those who push all the issues we sought to avoid.

            Does everyone in the Elgin OCTAVE reflect my views? Let me ask you a question. Do left wing liberals join the Libertarian party? Do plumbers join electrical contractors unions? Well, of course not. It is only logical and natural that anyone who would be connected with the Elgin OCTAVE would be opposed to high taxes, excess spending, etc. That is simply how everyone in any society associates.

            Thanks for your comments, Chuck

          • One Vote says:

            Sandor never could understand community political action. Not as a councilman and not as a radio star.
            He appears offended when anyone attempts to give input to our elected leaders.
            Even in an election cycle, we are expected to kiss the ring.
            I suppose he expects the candidates to only attend the forums where their friends ask softball questions. But does that mean if Gilliam attends the LWV forum he’s a flaming liberal who agrees with the Occupy movement?
            (Well, maybe he does, but lots of conservatives have participated and they certainly have little in common with LWV.)

      • Dottie says:

        You know the church has other activities ..you schedule around their schedule ..not football

  2. Cruex says:

    I have a prediction!! Steve Knight will not attend your forum. Kaptain will not allow him to. The orders will be given today and he will stay away.

    • Chuck Keysor says:

      Cruex, you are correct! The following people did not complete their surveys and did not show up at our forum: Steve Knight, Bob Gilliam, Rich Dunne, Tom Armstrong, Jerri McCue and Grace Richard.

      We had two candidates who did complete their questionnaires who did not show up. Daniel Schultz told me from the first time we communicated, that he had a difficult work schedule and may not be able to attend. Then on Thursday, I had a message from the wife of Chindavanh Keomuongchanh saying that “Chin” had a medical emergency and would not be able to attend. I did offer that if someone wished to read a speech for “Chin”, that they would be welcome to participate in the forum. But it turned out that was not possible.

      Steve Knight sent me an email this morning (1/12/13) to say that he would not attend our biased forum. Tonight after the forum, I sent him this message:

      “Hello Steve. We had a good turn out tonight. We had two official counters . Including the 13 candidates who showed up, one counted 100, and the other counted 101.

      If you check with anyone who attended, I am sure they will tell you that the forum was open and totally fair. We had no applause (until the forum was over), and the questions were very open ended. Two candidates even supported the “rain tax”, and no one hissed, booed, or even so much as groaned.

      Here are the 4 questions we asked:

      1) Taxes: Of the City’s taxes that are of interest to you, which would you change, which would you leave alone and why?

      2) Expenditures: Of the City’s expenditures which are of interest to you, which would you change, which would you leave alone and why?

      3) Business: What has the City done to affect Elgin’s business community, both positive and negative? What would you change to improve Elgin’s business environment?

      4) Does Elgin have an image problem? If so, what if anything could or should be done about it?

      So I do not know how anyone could claim, as did Bob Gilliam, that this was going to be a Crucifixion of those opposed to the limited tax and spend agenda of the OCTAVE. The facts have proven that Bob, and everyone who followed his lead in boycotting our forum were wrong.

      Not only did all of the no-shows waste a perfectly good opportunity to present their views and meet the voters, but they also allowed those who showed up to get a head start in this race. And worst of all, the no-shows missed the fabulous home made chocolate chip cookies that Chris Missele brought!”


      • ElginSpirit says:

        For those that “Tweet” or just want an easy way to read the conversation - last night’s #Elgin2013 City Council Candidate Live Tweet is archived via ElginSpirit.com || @ElginSpirit


      • Gibster says:

        Hi Chuck,

        There was a public note posted on Facebook and Mr. Knight’s website the morning of the forum. It seems he was not the only candidate confused about the rules and being allowed to speak as an Introduction and/or Closing in the survey was not complete. http://knight4elgin.com/my-blog.html

        The night of the event, Tom McCarthy was told he could not speak on his own intro/closing as he did not complete the form. This appears to be a mis-communication amoung some candidates before and during the event. Although others have publicly ridiculed OCTAVE and motives (thus they declined), it may be a bit more obvious why some chose not to attend or did not understand the format. (After all you did you best with 22-possible Candidates needing fair time to share views)

        Overall the night was run well, smoothly and everyone behaved with interest, insight and well manners. I’m looking forward to the next forum for the 2-year seats Feb. 24th and hoping folks will take advantage of early voting for the primary (Feb 11-22) and also show up on Feb. 26th.

        • Chuck Keysor says:

          Thank you Gibster for your kind comments.

          Yes, we did have some confusion about the rules as you noted. We had in all honesty not even imagined that people would refuse to answer our entire survey, though we did expect that some people would not answer various of the questions. So we had not made any rules to cover this situation.

          Upon my return from my 3 week vacation, I got to discuss this situation with our board last Thursday night. We had 3 candidates express to us that they would be upset if we let people who did not complete the survey participate in the forum. The clearest call of this group was that anyone not responding to the survey, should be totally barred from our forum. And on the other hand, some of the people who did not complete the survey had already publicly criticized us, and it appeared as though those who had not replied to our survey were all in the same camp as the public critics.

          So, we had to decide how to deal with the candidates who did not send us their surveys (we sent two follow-up requests to those who had failed to respond). We tried to strike a middle ground, with the obvious fact that it would be most logical that since it looked as though we would get people mad, no matter what we did, that we should favor those who had taken a stand on the issues and completed our survey. Our middle ground then, was that on Thursday night, we decided to let people who had not replied in any way to our survey, answer questions at our forum, but not allow them to make a speech.

          We announced our position on Friday, and in fact, those who had not replied to our survey, and who had not already declined to participate, all notified us that they would not attend the forum.

          So for the record all of these following people originally confirmed that they WOULD participate in our forum, but ultimately declined: Gilliam, Dunne, Armstrong, Mitch Esterino, Steve Knight, Jerri McCue and Grace Richard

          Gilliam, Dunne, Armstrong withdrew AFTER we sent the questionnaire, with Gilliam being the first. Gilliam actually called me the very morning that the questionnaires were sent out, saying he would not answer the questionnaire, and that he would not attend our forum. But, he was very polite and professional about it. And I respect the fact that he gave me the courtesy of letting me know. (I had to pin down Dunne and Armstrong at last week’s council meeting in order to find out what their status was.)

          The rest withdrew after we said only those who had responded in any fashion to the survey could make a 2 minute closing speech.

          So, we regret this problem with the rule change. But we can only ask for some understanding, as this was part of a learning curve. IF we do another forum with a questionnaire, we will make the requirements clear.

          Again, thank you Gibster for your positive comments, and I am glad that you were able to attend our forum and do your tweeting! Chuck

          • Chuck Keysor says:

            PS: Upon re-reading, I may not have made this 100% clear. Our only issue was with candidates who had not answered the survey in any way, shape or form.

            We allowed unanswered questions, and we had two candidates who emailed copies of the surveys to us, with comments. One of those two candidates emailed his survey answers and comments to all the candidates, and expressed his opinions, some of which were very unfavorable to our questionnaire and motives. But THAT was OK, and we accepted that, and he fully participated in our forum. Chuck

  3. One Vote says:

    This is an interesting strategy. Pick and choose the forums you will attend.
    Of course, a rational person will point out that the questions are the same for all. If a candidate’s position is indefensible…
    The other candidates should use non-attendance in their campaign literature. If they don’t, Octave needs to buy some ad space and call out these cowards a few days before the election. The most reliable voters are the elderly, and they still take the newspapers.
    Blast Gilliam and Dunne for being unwilling to face the music.

    • Tim Palmer says:

      I’m with you One Vote. Anyone who has been on the city council for as long as Gilliam has been should not be afraid of anything or anybody! And if Dunne wants to run from his record let him run. They both have a lot to be ashamed of. They owe it to the city to show up unless they have a good excuse. The new people like Kaptain’s neighbor and his bike dude just lost their chance. If cruex is right they can blame their butt-whooping on Kaptain and his advice. I’m sick of cowards in politics.

    • Chuck Keysor says:

      Rick, when will you post your photos of the forum? OOOPS, I forgot, you use real film, so I suppose it takes a while to get them printed…… Chuck

      • RS says:

        yeah it takes a while to get them developed too. i develop myself so it’s not efficient to do 1 roll at a time. with color film i do 6 rolls at a time. so i’ve got some more film to shoot before i can develop the roll in the point and shoot. in the rangefinder i shot a roll of kodak tri-x (black and white), and i only need to shoot one more roll before i can develop that one. i have about 20 rolls of undeveloped b&w film but they are different emulsions with different developing times. i need at least 3 rolls of the same b&w emulsion before i develop a batch.

    • One Vote says:

      Thanks for the link. An interesting comment there by TopCat defending the no-show candidates.
      What I found humorous was TopCat’s endorsement of the League of Women Voters forum. LWV has a strong agenda, mostly liberal. They are pro-amnesty and pro-abortion. And they are very green.
      And they aren’t afraid to steer the questions toward that agenda.
      Anyone who thinks LWV is fair and balanced has blinders on.
      As for OCTAVE’s “agenda,” I’m thinking the city’s finances ought to be near the top of everyone’s list. If Gilliam and Dunne think pensions and taxes are some radical topics they don’t deserve to be in office. Period.

      • paul says:

        “LWV has a strong agenda, mostly liberal. ”

        That is putting very mildly. Mostly socialist/communist.

        League of Women Voters of the Elgin Area
        Sigi Psimenos President;
        Secretary, ECN; Co-Chair, Elgin Climate Change Organization

        >>On 10/18/2011 9:11 AM, Sandra Kaptain wrote:

        ———- Forwarded message ———-
        From: Mary Shesgreen
        We will Occupy Elgin this Saturday, October 22nd from 1:00 PM till 2:00 PM on the Kimball Street Bridge. This follows the successful launch of “Occupy Elgin which was initiated last Saturday by Sigi Psimenos. We will stand up against Corporate Greed and Corporate Rule.<<

  4. Chuck Keysor says:

    I took the liberty of pasting copies of some posts I’d like to have in this thread. Chuck

    January 12, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Well with all the candidates running for City Council I am able to lower that number by 3. Gilliam, Dunne and Armstrong. As for Gilliam, been on the council to long and basically lives in Arizona, that is a no brainier. Dunne has been a great disappointment, running as a conservative and voting as a liberal. Armstrong has shown me that he will side with his North east neighbors. Also all three are not going to be open enough to attend OCTAVE’s candidate forum.
    January 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Congrats to the Elgin Octave you did a wonderful job very professional putting together an impressive Candidates forum for the upcoming Elgin city council. you presented thoughtful questions no gotcha questions and I was impressed with all candidates however, disappointed with so many incumbent members absence I would have liked to have been able to compare their answers to those of new candidates vying for a chance to represent the citizens of this community I look forward to a full slate of candidates at some point in the process. Thank you Elgin Octave Good Job

    • Chuck Keysor says:

      Thank you Bennie for your kind words. I was of course happy that you were able to attend.

      Beyond the great work by the candidates, it was uplifting for me to be able to look out across the audience and see so many people riveted to the candidates, as they hung on every word.

      Thanks, Chuck

  5. Grimm says:

    Hello Chuck, was any parts or all of this filmed as in the past, it would be interesting to watch? Paul, as usuall you ramble on and change perception as recently pointed out by others. Tom Sander, you bring out some valid issues with octave, however a forum is a forum for voters to watch and perceive what the candidates will do under pressure or their perception of issues. This does not take place when one is not present. All the candidates need to defend their positions to all of us. So far, this election has not impressed or sparked my interest. The real problem is lack of advertising of this website! I must have told 35 to 50 voters, not residents in recent years of this blog and I usually get a response of whats that? I then have to explaine it and defend it so they themselves can view the issues at hand. It’s usually the same group of voters on here and all of you expend a lot of energy without the benefit of several reading it. R.S. you need to advertise more!

    • Chuck Keysor says:

      Hello Grimm.
      1) Yes, we video recorded the event. It is our hope that the video links to YouTube will be up by the end of this weekend. We of course want to have as many voters see the forum as is possible.

      2) Also, Grimm, if I can reword your comment to Tom filtering through my perspective, the forum is about the voters, it is not about the OCTAVE. We got candidates upset, because we attempted to get specific answers from the candidates that are “hot buttons” in the area of taxing and spending.

      3) Your comment about the Elginite is 100% correct. I have made suggestions to the site operator, that he needs to advertise this site somehow. I want as many people to be able to read what Tom Sandor, and everybody else has to say. To that end, when I spoke to the council last week to remind people about our forum, I also put in a plug for the Elginite, saying what it does, and what a great service it provides by being able to serve as an open platform for the exchange of views on local politics.

      When I think of the little blogs that followed the Daily Herald stories, with often 30 or 50 replies, before they crashed that little party with their pay-wall, there are a lot of people out there who have opinions, and are interested in other people’s opinions. Somehow they need to learn of this site.

      Oh, I also plugged the Elginite at Saturday’s forum, figuring that there would be a lot of people in that audience that would like the Elginite. A couple of people asked me about it afterwards.

      Work on this, think about this, and post some ideas of how the traffic can be boosted on the Elginite!

      Thanks, Chuck

  6. Chuck Keysor says:

    Hello to everyone interested in our candidate survey results! If you go to our new website, http://elginoctave.weebly.com/ you can look at, and I think, download a copy of the candidate survey summary.

    The font is small! BUT, there is a magnifying glass on the lower left of the page. Use that and you can see what you need to see.

    Also, when we have the YouTube videos of the forum in place, you will be able to link to those through our website. And, you will of course be able to find them on YouTube if you do a search for Elgin OCTAVE candidate forum 2013. I’ll post an announcement on the Elginite, in this thread when the videos are available for viewing.

    Thanks, Chuck

  7. Cruex says:

    Mr Sandor is right on this one. A forum invite is not a summons. It’s a chance to meet the public and be available to them during a campaign for an office that Gilliam seems to feel he is all too entitled to. Apparently he thinks he can just mail in his candidacy from Arizona.

  8. Tim Palmer says:

    Thanks to the Elgin OCTAVE people. Will this be on You Tube? You just weeded out the weak candidates with your forum. If Dunne and Gilliam can’t face their record that’s ok with me. The mayor’s neighbor and the green dude must be following orders and the others must believe they don’t need votes.

  9. Chuck Keysor says:

    You are welcome Tim! Yes, the video of the forum will be posted on YouTube. I have been told that the forum should be posted on You Tube by the end of this coming Sunday. I’ll post something here to let everyone know. Thanks, Chuck

  10. Cruex says:

    The word coward IS an appropriate word to use for the people who refused to attend a public forum. If these folks told Octave they would be there and they break their word with no sound excuse, they are a coward who cannot keep a commitment. If the public thought the questions were biased they would not attend or would have walked out and the forum would be cancelled. I read there were 100 people there. That which means the public was braver than the coward candidates who stiffed them.

    So let’s look onto the next forum with this knowledge of who is afraid of the public and who isn’t.

  11. Chuck Keysor says:

    Hey everybody I’ve got great news! The video of last Saturday’s Elgin OCTAVE candidate forum is now ON-LINE! (Our webmaster/guru is really a blessing. Thank you Julie for turning this around so fast!)

    The full video is in 4 parts and can be accessed through our new website which is http://elginoctave.weebly.com/video.html See/hear for yourself what the participating candidates had to say. You will also be able to see for yourselves that our detractors claims were unfounded.

    I would again invite everyone to look at our candidate survey which preceded the forum, and which seemed to create such controversy by those candidates who refused to commit to their stands. See the survey here: http://elginoctave.weebly.com/ As you look this over, try to make note of the questions you find to be the most important.

    The following candidates did not complete their surveys and did not show up at our forum: Steve Knight, Bob Gilliam, Rich Dunne, Tom Armstrong, Jerri McCue and Grace Richard. If you are given the chance, please ask these 6 candidates where they stand on the survey questions you found to be most important. Then, do us all a favor, and come back to the Elginite, and post what you were told. You would be doing everyone a service by helping to nail down the views of these above listed candidates.

    Thanks everyone!, Chuck

  12. Chuck Keysor says:

    PS: You can also see the Elgin OCTAVE candidate forum of 1/12/13 by going directly to You Tube and doing a search on “elgin octave candidate forum”.

    • Chuck Keysor says:


      1) The full video of the 1/12/13 Elgin OCTAVE Candidate Forum (in 4 parts) is now available at http://elginoctave.weebly.com/video.html

      2) You can also see the video of our candidate forum of 1/12/13 by going directly to You Tube and doing a search on “elgin octave candidate forum”.

      3) The responses to the questionnaire have been up since Saturday at our secondary sight at http://elginoctave.weebly.com/ Note, there is a magnifying glass in the lower left. Use that PLEASE!

      Thanks, Chuck

      • Chuck Keysor says:

        PS: I thought I would repost the announcement that our video is up, with the hope that someone may notice the second announcement if they missed the first one.

        In marketing 101 and sales 101, they told me that repetition is a key to success. Perhaps those of you who are up on “social media” can “Tweet” all your friends and invite them to watch the forum.

        So far, part one of the forum has been viewed by 34 people. Chuck

  13. Chuck Keysor says:

    OK, there should still be some vitality left in this thread!

    How about people commenting on what they saw of the candidates at the 1/12/13 Elgin OCTAVE candidate forum. Who did the best? Was anyone able to rule out any candidates based on what they saw? Does anyone have interesting observations on what the candidates said?

    Thanks, Chuck