It has been my policy to not defend myself about things I have written or said. In most cases it just gives unwarranted credibility to weak arguments. In listening to some current comments circulating in Nauvoo however, I have been forced to consider the larger group of individuals that do deserve an answer. While some people in Nauvoo have already decided that they know my motives and goals (without hearing from me), the majority of honest people in Nauvoo, are still seeking to understand. This article is for you.
Individuals continue to promote the narrative that what openNauvoo is doing is revenge for a lost election. This minimizes our true efforts, and ignores the issues that genuinely confront us, and the history of my efforts. I understand why there are those who would like this motive to dominate the discussion, since it would remove any responsibility to answer the troubling questions that persist. I have written here before some of the history of this effort, but let me summarize.
Like many people, I had passing interactions with Nauvoo City government. Going in to the office to deal with water and trash services, trying to understand various ordinances, the usual stuff. My interactions were pretty ambiguous, nothing particularly positive or negative. But in early 2016, I learned, through reviewing an upcoming City Council Agenda, that the City Council was considering a Utility Tax. The primary reason given seemed to imply it was due to local churches not paying their share of property taxes. This surprised me, so I began to research, and in the end attended the City Council Meeting. In fact, I spoke during the audience comments portion of the meeting, and explained why I did not think a utility tax was a good idea. This was well over a year ago. The recording of the meeting is available here, this was in February, 2016, long before any election talk.
I tried to explain at the time why I opposed the tax. I felt it was regressive, and attempted to explain. I was told I did not understand. I was given the opportunity to suggest an alternative, and even met with several City Council representatives. The only ones to show any interest or concern for an alternative were Clive Moon and Bev Reynolds. They visited with me privately and seemed very opposed to the tax, and I was encouraged. (It was unfortunate that in the end the vote to approve the tax was 6 in favor, with none opposed. Clive and Bev voted in favor in spite of their stated objections to the tax).
My Church has a program that encourages members to visit the homes of other members, in pairs, to help with any issues that may arise. Programs exist for both male and female members. Based on my responsibilities, I, with a companion, am often assigned widows and single mothers. It is through these visits that the real impact of taxes like the one proposed by the City at that time become most real. Many of these young mothers make a daily decision to either put a gallon of gas in the car, or buy food for their kids. Things are that tight. To them, it is not a one dollar tax, it is one more dollar they don’t have. They often already live in the least efficient home, with the highest energy bills, and aren’t in a position to spend the money needed to be more efficient. For most of us, the utility tax is minimal. But there are those among us for whom it is monumental. I opposed any tax like this.
But the response ultimately was that this had been worked on for a long time, and that again, I didn’t understand. I decided to learn. I had other interactions in the ensuing months (unfortunately the recordings for at least one of those meetings have been lost, but a review of the meeting minutes will give a little of the picture). Part of my experience in learning about what was happening in Nauvoo required submitting requests for information, (the first being on February 27, 2017), long before the election had been decided.
I began openNauvoo early in the year, prior to the election, but was encouraged by many people in Nauvoo to not make it a factor in the election, and so I waited until election night to post our first major article. I had decided that anything I learned should be available to everyone. No more secrets, and no more struggling to get information. I stated at that time, that whoever won the election, the work I had begun would continue. And so it has. It has not been easy, there has been more resistance than I expected. We still do not have all the documents requested on February 27, 2017 even though the law requires them to be provided within 5 days. We have been forced to involve the Illinois Attorney General’s Office (who do not take a case unless they feel there is a potential violation), the County Court and the Illinois State Police. None of this was expected or the result of any election.
So, to those who say my efforts are the result of “sour grapes” from a lost election, look at the facts. First, I have been involved with these issues far longer that the most recent election campaign. And secondly, I didn’t run for office, and no individual who did has any involvement with openNauvoo.
In spite of the painful process, I still believe that Nauvoo is a wonderful place, and have been encouraged by dozens and dozens of Nauvoo residents to continue our work. The meetings I have had recently with Mayor McCarty have been very encouraging. If the issues we have identified get resolved as we have discussed, I think Nauvoo will really begin to move forward. Many of you seem to agree. Hopefully the days of waiting for the Attorney General or State’s Attorney or someone else to tell us what needs to be done are becoming a thing of the past. The laws of the State of Illinois and the City of Nauvoo do a great job of protecting the Citizens, and with diligence we can do some amazing things. I am grateful to Mayor McCarty for his involvement, he has dedicated many hours in the last few weeks to our discussions, and has been very engaged in seeking solutions.
I believe it is time to move forward. There is no need to look back, and no need for revenge on anyone’s part. The past has its own place, we belong in the future.