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updated: 2/22/2013 6:35 PM

Robert Fine: Candidate Profile

Naperville Township Board (4-year Terms) (Democrat)

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  • Robert Fine, running for Naperville Township Board (4-year Terms)

      Robert Fine, running for Naperville Township Board (4-year Terms)

 

 

 

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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Naperville

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Naperville Township Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 63

Family: Married, no children

Occupation: Retired real estate attorney

Education: BA in Psychology, University of Michigan, 1970 MA in Educational Psychology, University of Michigan, 1974 JD (Law), University of Michigan, 1977

Civic involvement: Member, Board of Directors, Prescott Woods Condominium Precinct Committeeman, Precinct 27

Elected offices held: Elected Democratic Precinct Committeeman, Precinct 27

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Improving the transparency and accountability of township government

Key Issue 2

Addressing over-capacity to improve the efficiency and reach of township services

Key Issue 3

Excessive budgetary surpluses

Questions & Answers

Name the three most important goals or objectives this board should tackle in the coming term. Prioritize them, and briefly discuss why you believe each to be critical, and how the board should go about addressing them.

1. Shine a light on township government, not to showcase over-hyped virtues, but to develop an informed, involved citizenry that can make its own decisions about township government's future. Make township business as public as possible. We can dramatically expand website content by posting current board meeting minutes, budgets, financial reports, activity reports, contracts and job openings. We can also increase outgoing communications by email, fact-based newsletters and the like, keeping in mind that not all of our residents are web-savvy. I had to file a FOIA request, and appeal the Township's refusal to the Attorney General's Public Access Counselor, in order to see the Township's Annual Audit Report, a document declared public by two state statutes! Neighboring Lisle and Downers Grove Townships post their annual audit reports to their websites! Compliance with FOIA requests should be a welcome opportunity to let the community know what we do, limited only by legitimate personal privacy concerns of employees and aid recipients. Lastly, bring citizens onto advisory committees in the areas of services for seniors, veterans and youth, which the township attempts now, but with little community input, awareness of community needs or evaluation of performance. We want the citizenry looking over our shoulders. To beat up one last metaphor, township government must stop flying under everyone's radar. And we need the help of the journalism community to do that. 2. Address the township's over-capacity. The Road District budgeted $2.8M to care for 20 miles of road (maybe fewer, depending on whom you ask) and about 1,000 parkway trees. The township must work with the municipalities (Naperville, Aurora and Warrenville) to spread managerial and equipment costs over more road miles, and get this work done more efficiently. The township provides General Assistance to a handful of people and so must do a better job of getting the word out to qualified applicants that GA and other financial assistance are available, while simultaneously working with the municipalities, neighboring townships and the County to spread the administrative cost over a larger served community. 3. The township carries a budget surplus from year to year that amounts to about a year's worth of budgeted expenditures. Levies must be abated to bring these reserves down to reasonable and prudent levels, keeping in mind the limitations imposed by tax cap law on the ability to increase revenues if needed in the future. Other budgetary restraints must also be brought into play the Township's assessor is the most highly-paid in the county. Is this Township's assessment task dramatically more challenging than others?? The Highway Commissioner has a highly paid assistant and a shiny new SUV (which at least one trustee believes gets a lot of personal use), with responsibility for very little roadway. The current board says it will bring the next budget now in process in line, but why only now, when an election makes it more conspicuous than over the last 3-4 years?

In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?

State law charges townships with maintenance for roads in unincorporated areas, administration of General Assistance for the indigent and valuation of real property for property tax purposes. Until state law catches up with 21st Century urban, mostly incorporated life, townships must find ways to meet those three responsibilities in ways that improve the efficiency and reach of those services, by working with neighboring communities to share the costs of administering those programs. Because townships do not have the broad service mandates incorporated municipalities have, they have the opportunity to focus on a service niche, perhaps for seniors as the baby boomer demographic bubble works its way through, in a way that municipalities with many more balls in the air cannot. If townships cannot find a valued niche with a recognized community benefit, serving in ways for which they are uniquely qualified, they should get out of the way. That will be our challenge.

What should be the primary responsibility of township government?

Township governments can remain relevant if they can get the community involved, identify unmet needs in the community and develop focused cost-effective strategies to meet them.

In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?

The Road District can partner with neighboring municipalities, townships and the county to share equipment and services. Pruning back social services is not appropriate in these hard economic times.

What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township?

I served on the Board of Directors of my condominium during the initial transition from the developer, years ago. That required balancing a number of competing demands and leading the way as that board invented its role. I have recently returned to the Board to meet a new set of challenges presented by a maturing community. I spent many years as a lawyer working through large, complicated real estate transactions, using my analytical and people skills to anticipate problems and solve them proactively; there, too, I had to balance the competing demands of the large number of players in such transactions, in order to reach a satisfactory outcome. Lastly, I am not an entrenched politician with obligations and loyalties to anyone other than the community at large.

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