Yesterday I attended two public meetings - The Finance & Audit Committee of the McHenry County Board and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.
I try to attend at least two county meetings per month. I prefer committee meetings because there is more discussion. At County Board meetings there is very little back and forth and what is mostly heard is "yes" -during voting. The County is implementing a Wetland Restoration Fund - I support the concept. That begs the question - "why not preserve the wetlands in the first place?" According to the storm water manager - I believe that was the title of the individual presenting to the committee - a wetland can be drained if one of several conditions is met. Two conditions stood out in my mind - if the wetland is of low quality and if it is unavoidable. After hearing those reasons for draining a wetland, it occurred to me that ANY wetland can be drained. There is no effective Wetland Protection in this county. I would like to have made a "public comment" after hearing what I thought I heard, but at committee meetings public comment comes before anything is said. It comes at the beginning of the meeting. That would require a member of the public to attend two consecutive meetings - one when the topic of interest is discussed and another to actually comment on that topic. Few people have that much time nowadays.
Later that evening I attended the public comment meeting of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMap) 2040 Plan at the Woodstock Public Library. You can view the plan details at http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/default.aspx I support the plan and the fact that the entire region needs to coordinate for effective future growth. My wife used to be a city planner in Hamilton County, Ohio (Cincinnati) and became frustrated because many of her studies/plans end up unread in drawers or as very expensive door stops. It is up to the elected officials to implement these plans. Once business interests get involved, it's mostly about what they want in the short term. What's best for the residents long-term takes a back seat to corporations and special interests. I recently asked a CMap employee how they can continue to do their job when much of what they do is ignored. He compared planners to physicians and elected officials to patients. Planners give advice and it's up to the elected officials to act up that advice.