Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cookies for Cops!

Cookies for Cops!

Everybody Welcome!

Wednesday, September 2
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Liberty Park
Lewis Street

Dessert potluck to thank our DeKalb Police Officers
Sponsored by the Ward 3 Neighborhood Watches


The idea came from the following online article:

How Potlucks Help Home Values

What is CPTED?

CPTED is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. It is sorely lacking in DeKalb--the already vandalized pocket park may be a prime example of what not to do. I recently had some bushes ripped out so neighbors can see into my side yard. Additionally, unrelated to crime, I chose the placement of my gardening areas in a way that allows the mail carriers to cut through my yard. I hope they appreciate it! Anyway, back to CPTED:

Many CPTED resources come out of Canada:

CPTED defined on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Web site

Here is one excellent Web page that provides a quick overview, although the entire Web site appears unfinished:

The International CPTED Association has an office in Canada:

CPTED principles can be applied to schools, although I am afraid to ask if anyone thought about that for the new DeKalb High School:
Safe School Design

Deal Accepted

We have a temporary feeling of relief as the DeKalb City Council and the Firefighters union came to an agreement, and three laid off firefighters can be brought back.

The Fire Department should be at the top of any list, followed by Police and Water. Yet, the airport seems to be at the top of the list, with spending on it happening without anyone on the Council blinking an eye.

This blog stays up until priorities become righted.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

City Council Meeting 8/10/2009

Alderman Gallagher talks about a flyer about Fire Station #2:

I saw the full-page ad and the flyer. The flyer and ad did not say that Fire Station #2 closed. The flyer and ad were accurate. "Propaganda" is a very strong word, loaded with connotations.

Unfortunately, citizens will not have a chance to respond to anything said at the meeting until the next meeting in two weeks.

On the comments section of the "Daily Chronicle's" Web site on the article "Waste Management contract renewed" by Elena Grimm created on Monday, August 10th, 2009 and available at this link, here is a quote suggesting that citizens have a chance to speak after discussions:

katied2 wrote on August 12, 2009 2:55 p.m.
"I would also like to propose an additional suggestion, Otis, and that is for citizen comments to be added at the end of council meetings. I appreciate the opportunity to speak at the beginning; however, I think it would be beneficial for us, the people who elected these alderpeople and mayor into office, to have a chance to voice our opinions after their discussions."

The late Mayor Frank Van Buer moved citizens' comments to earlier in the meeting. That way, citizens had a chance to provide their views before aldermen took any substantive actions. Moving citizens' comments was a great idea and many of Mayor Van Buer's ideas helped resolve issues before they grew into bigger problems. Citizens do have the opportunity to speak at other times during the meeting, on specific issues on the agenda, but their comments are more or less supposed to be only about the topic at hand. Citizens should not lose the ability to speak on any topic before the Council takes action during the open citizens' comments, but at the same time, there could be a response from citizens about what happened during the meeting. For example, a clarification could have been useful about Ald. Gallagher's comments about the flyer. Additionally, clarification about the proposed pedestrian walkway using TIF money would have been helpful, too. Unfortunately, TIF money proposed for the walkway cannot simply be given to the Fire Department.

What I would like to see is the creation of a Citizen's Report near the end of the meeting, given after the Ward Reports. A citizen could summarize what happened during the meeting and respond. I think there should be one citizen selected on a rotating basis--otherwise, in the case of hot topics like the funding cuts to the human services, the meetings could drag on past midnight. I believe this would in turn:

1. Provide an incentive for aldermen to give ward reports

2. Allow citizen feedback about what happens during the meeting

3. Provide incentives for people to remain attentive during the meetings

I think there could be a fair way to select a citizen to give a Citizen's Report, perhaps drawing a name out of a hat of those present who put their names on an index card at the beginning of the meeting.

There are precedents for people responding to speeches, and I think the basic concept could be applied to the Council meetings. The most recent example that I could think of was Governor Bobby Jindal's response to a speech given by President Obama. Although I thought most of Gov. Jindal's response was more about his own state than what President Obama said, there was an opportunity for someone to respond to that speech. What I am suggesting is a little different in that the Citizen Report should be an actual response to the meeting. I know we have some great citizens who could stay on topic.

What do you think? Take the poll! Real names are not required but please keep the words used clean.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thank You

Pink bunny left at a makeshift memorial near Cole Hall
Photo taken 2/16/08 by Kay Shelton

The story of the U.S. Fire Administration report on the emergency responses came out in the Daily Chronicle. A copy of the report can be found here:

The words "thank you" seem inadequate after 2/14.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Recommended Video: How Fast Fire Spreads

There is no time to wait during a fire. This video comes recommended from a firefighter from another city:

I found this one and YouTube is filled with similar videos. It might be a good one for kids to see:

I am not sure my parents knew about the fire my little brother started in the garage when he was about eight and I was about twelve. I put it out before it spread to where the gas cans were. We were lucky kids.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Raw Videos of Fire Rescues

This is raw video of a fire rescue in Columbus, Ohio. Watch the timer on the YouTube video to see how fast fire spreads. Watch the first floor become engulfed in flames just after two minutes. There is still a woman trapped in the floor above!! She is trapped with firefighters who went to get her. The whole raw video is around EIGHT minutes. If it takes EIGHT minutes just to RESPOND, then another few minutes to act, that woman would have been DEAD. Response time is EVERYTHING.

I met a firefighter from another city at the White Sox game who knew what happened in DeKalb. He recommended that I find the video on YouTube.

I took the CTA Red Line to the White Sox game. Guess where the Chicago State Street station is--right next door to Holy Name Cathedral. I was not even looking for a reminder of fires but one just appeared. Holy Name Cathedral reopens today after a roof fire from the winter. Like thousands of others, I saw live footage of the fire on TV. The Chicago Fire Department saved it:

What Staffing Cuts Do

Firefighter Close Calls Web Site

Scroll down to see the people killed in a fire in Marion, Ohio due to personnel shortages. The title is: Few Firefighters on Hand to Respond to Fatal Marion Blaze Marion's Department Shrinking by Attrition and begins with: "Marion, OH - A family's terror and city budget cuts caused delays and confusion as a blaze spread through an apartment building, killing a baby and her toddler brother Friday in Marion."

Also please see PAWLENTY DERAILS ST. PAUL ICE RINK POLICE, FIREFIGHTERS DESERVE PRIORITY HE SCOLDS CITY IN HIS VETO which begins with: "Saint Paul, MN - Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty Scolded St. Paul Mayor Coleman after vetoing a bill that put a hockey rink over public safety."

Does any part of that story sound familiar to the City of DeKalb? Tax Increment Funding projects like the skating rink and the bricks in the streets divert money away from other taxing bodies. If TIF projects functioned properly, there would be a return on the investment with higher EAV and sales taxes. People shop when businesses offer good products and services that they want to purchase. What kind of goods and services can be found by a street paved with bricks?

Edited Video from Columbus, Ohio

Firefighters in Columbus, Ohio face layoffs. Edited video of a rescue illustrate how important response time is to saving lives:

"Engine 1, help me commander. We have a victim on the second floor."

The Past

Some folks say that what happened in the past affects how people think in the present. This is my story:

When I was a little kid, my great-grandmother's beautiful farmhouse built by hand by her husband and his brothers burned. One could go into the cellar and see the shovel marks in foundation. When I was growing up, visiting this house was such a treat. My great-grandmother sewed and filled her house with her crafts. The fire started on her stove while she was trying to can vegetables from her garden. She got out alive, with holes in her dress burned by sparks. I was there with relatives to help clean up, and salvage anything we could find, which was almost nothing. It is not something I will forget. My great-grandmother spent some time in the hospital a few months later, which we thought might have been stress, related to the fire. She lost almost everything, almost did not make it out, and the insurance company became a hassle. She moved into an apartment, which was life changing for her.

Once in a while, I give presentations to local history groups and libraries about how to preserve scrapbook items and family pictures. What upset family members the most about my great-grandmother's house burning was the loss of family pictures. One can buy another couch but one cannot buy another picture. For anyone reading this, please work with your relatives to make copies of pictures. The best way to preserve family photos is to have other copies at someone else's house, in case one house burns.

I also made a 911 call about a multi-vehicle pile up on I-39 near the bridge over the Illinois River on December 26, 2007. The accident killed three people. It looked bad and I told the dispatcher to "roll everybody." I saw the driver of the truck with his shirt burned off, crawling in the median, dazed, an image I could not forget. A motorist got to him first. The people in the overturned SUV were moving, and other motorists got to them. I saw two cars that were beyond recognition and the other semi-truck had flames at least three stories high, with a black smoke. That must have been the load of potatoes. I got myself and my car out of the way when emergency vehicles arrived. I could still see the smoke in the air as far away as the Mendota exit and before I got to DeKalb, I saw traffic helicopters flying in from Chicago.

I hate fire.

I rode in two ambulances. Once in 2000, I had a reaction to medication, something that had an ingredient called phenylpropanolamine (PPA) which the FDA soon yanked off the market, which was too late for me. The Genoa-Kirkland Rescue Squad came after I became dizzy. I do not know how high my blood pressure got but when they took my vitals, one of them said I was coming with them. The ER gave me medication to get the blood pressure down, hooked me up to EKG, and sent me for a CAT scan of my brain. I think they were worried that I was going to have a stroke, too. They kept me on a heart monitor as well and a blood pressure cuff that took it, I think about once every five minutes.

On June 20th, 2009, I woke up early in the morning in pain. While trying to wait for my doctor's office to open to get an appointment, the real pain hit around 7:00 a.m. or so After I got up off the floor, I called 911 and asked to be taken to the hospital. Two paramedics from the DeKalb Fire Department came to get me. I found out that gallstones can become life threatening if they go into the wrong place, like a duct. There is a pancreatic enzyme called lipase. The level is supposed to be under 200. Mine was over 11,000. I found out later that I almost got transferred out to another hospital. Another gallstone cannot try to wreak havoc with my pancreas anymore because now I have no gallbladder.

I know from experience that response time means everything.