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updated: 1/4/2012 5:14 AM

Naperville board weighs putting smart meter on ballot

Critics want non-binding question before voters in March

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  • Objector William Dawe and his attorney Kevin McQuillan attend a Tuesday hearing of Naperville's Electoral Board on an objection to a referendum on proposed smart meters.

       Objector William Dawe and his attorney Kevin McQuillan attend a Tuesday hearing of Naperville's Electoral Board on an objection to a referendum on proposed smart meters.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville Mayor George Pradel on Tuesday presides over a hearing of Naperville's Electoral Board for the proposed smart meters, to monitor electrical use in the city.

       Naperville Mayor George Pradel on Tuesday presides over a hearing of Naperville's Electoral Board for the proposed smart meters, to monitor electrical use in the city.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • A hearing was held on Tuesday of Naperville's Electoral Board on the City of Naperville Referendum Objection for the proposed smart meters, to monitor electrical use in the city.

       A hearing was held on Tuesday of Naperville's Electoral Board on the City of Naperville Referendum Objection for the proposed smart meters, to monitor electrical use in the city.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • The petitioner's attorney, Doug Ibendahl, pleads his case Tuesday during a hearing of Naperville's Electoral Board on an objection to a referendum on the proposed smart meters.

       The petitioner's attorney, Doug Ibendahl, pleads his case Tuesday during a hearing of Naperville's Electoral Board on an objection to a referendum on the proposed smart meters.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Objector William Dawe's attorney, Kevin McQuillan, pleads his case Tuesday during a hearing of Naperville's Electoral Board regarding the proposed smart meters, to monitor electrical use in the city.

       Objector William Dawe's attorney, Kevin McQuillan, pleads his case Tuesday during a hearing of Naperville's Electoral Board regarding the proposed smart meters, to monitor electrical use in the city.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

The advisory referendum sought by smart meter opponents in Naperville lives to see at least six more days.

The Naperville Electoral Board -- consisting of Mayor George Pradel, Councilman Doug Krause and City Clerk Pam LaFeber -- is expected to decide Monday morning whether to allow on the March 20 ballot the nonbinding referendum question asking, "Shall the City of Naperville immediately and permanently stop the implementation of the $22 million smart meter project and dismantle all related equipment?"

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The Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group petitioned to have the question placed on the ballot in November.

The city maintains the initiative is a safe upgrade to the city's $360 million electric network to provide more efficient, cost-effective and reliable service to customers. The plan has its critics, who say they are concerned about the long-term health risks associated with the wireless RF meters and the safety concerns associated with connecting to a wireless network.

Naperville resident William Dawe filed an objection to the referendum Dec. 27, alleging the group's petition contains signatures from people living outside of Naperville and a two-part referendum question, both of which he believes make it invalid.

Attorneys from both sides spent more than two hours during the first day of the hearing Tuesday afternoon arguing whether there should even be a hearing.

Attorney Doug Ibendahl, representing the group against the smart meters, began the hearing by asking the board to immediately dismiss Dawe's challenge, calling it absurd.

"It's absurd, absolutely absurd. There's no evidence to support his claims," Ibendahl said. "The objection is full of frivolous allegations. It's a hail mary pass. It's a Hail Mary pass to try to disenfranchise good people and keep them from having a vote. There's nothing to any of this."

But Dawe's attorney, Kevin McQuillan, said he is prepared to show why several hundred of the 4,209 signatures collected need to be thrown out.

"They refuse to stipulate that there are people on these petitions who don't live in the city of Naperville. And there are people on here who are not registered voters, so it's got to be done right. You don't want to end up having the referendum go through and be invalidated," McQuillan said. "They know who the people are. Look at the petitions. They say Lisle, Aurora, unincorporated Naperville. Those should be out, but they refuse to do that."

The board dismissed one portion of Ibendahl's motion regarding whether a petitioner must live in the municipality in which petitions are circulated. McQuillan has until 5 p.m. Thursday to file a written response to the rest of the motion to dismiss.

The electoral board agreed to subpoena voting records from Will and DuPage counties and will meet at 10 a.m. Friday to decide whether McQuillan will be allowed to subpoena as many as 17 petitioners to testify. The board will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday to actually hear the case.

The installation phase of the $22 million Naperville Smart Grid Initiative is set to begin today.

Smart meter opponents have also filed a federal lawsuit last month to prevent the installation.

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