Naperville Smart Meter decision appealed

Updated 1/18/2012 5:10 PM

Naperville's smart meter opponents followed through on their promise to appeal a recent decision by the Naperville Electoral Board.

Doug Ibendahl, attorney for the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group, filed a motion in DuPage County Circuit Court Tuesday seeking a judge to overturn last week's ruling that kept an advisory referendum question from the city's March 20 primary ballot.


The electoral board -- consisting of Mayor George Pradel, Councilman Doug Krause and City Clerk Pam LaFeber -- unanimously ruled that petitioners did not submit enough valid signatures to attach a referendum question to the ballot.

The anti-smart meter group, which opposes the use of wireless meters to track electricity use, wants to ask voters, "Shall the City of Naperville immediately and permanently stop the implementation of the $22 million smart meter project and dismantle all related equipment?"

Resident William Dawe filed an objection to the referendum petitions on Dec. 27, alleging they contain signatures from people living outside Naperville and that the proposal contains a two-part question, both of which make it invalid.

The city maintains the smart grid initiative is a safe upgrade to its $360 million electric network to provide more efficient, cost-effective and reliable service to customers. Critics 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.

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Some words used by Ibendahl, in his filing, to describe last week's hearing before the electoral board included "erroneous," "arbitrary" and "capricious." His biggest issue is that the board never ordered a joint review of the DuPage and Will County voting records, known as a binder check, and instead reviewed them privately.

"Obviously I think this is an easy case. We'll see what happens on Tuesday but it seems pretty slam dunk to me," Ibendahl said. "The electoral board simply can't get together after the trial is over and we don't know how they did it or who did it. I've never seen anything like it. It's Kafka-esqe."

According to last Thursday's ruling, 3,758 signatures of registered voters were required. Petitioners submitted 4,199, but DuPage County records persuaded board members to disqualify 565 of them because signers were not registered voters.

City attorney Margo Ely said Ibendahl had plenty of time to view the records on his own and raise objections during the proceeding and chose not to.

"He wouldn't even agree to stipulate when the signer wrote that they lived in Plainfield. Why would we order the parties to go and do something cooperative when he wouldn't even agree that Plainfield doesn't count? He didn't call one witness or submit one affidavit to dispute the official records," Ely said. "Now he's claiming we should have ordered a binder check and he had the records overnight. He didn't dispute them. And if he thinks there's a mistake, the law gives him the right to appeal."


Dawe's attorney, Kevin McQuillan, also has filed a petition asking the court to reverse the electoral board's dismissal of two of his original four objections. He's seeking a ruling confirming his position that the referendum question is invalid because it contains multiple parts and that petition signers' addresses have been altered.

"We won the case before the electoral board without those objections but we are asking the court to also review the electoral board's dismissal to confirm our position," he said.

The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday in courtroom 2007 at the DuPage County Courthouse.

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