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Urbana City Council Locks Out Citizens, Violates Open Meetings Act

Urbana citizens are upset and feeling shutout from their own government after Mayor Diane Marlin literally locked out citizens and the press from access to public meetings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 23, 2020, the Urbana City Council met at their scheduled meeting time in their usual…

Urbana Civilian Police Review Board Votes to End Mandatory Taser Camera Reviews of All Taser Displays

On September 25, 2019, the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) met (only audio recording is made available to the public) to continue the discussion of the Urbana Police Department (UPD) Taser Utilization and Taser Policy. Specifically, UPD had decided independently without consultation with CPRB to phase out the use…

Urbana, IL Mayor Diane Marlin Denies Citizen Police Complaints During COVID-19 Emergency Order

The emergency order unanimously pass by Urbana City Council on March 16th 2020 continues to come under scrutiny by citizens. We’ve just received notice that since Mayor Diane Marlin has shut down all citizen access to the services offered at the Urbana City Building, citizens now cannot submit police or…

Rantoul, IL Officer Violates COVID-19 Social Distancing Order for ‘Photo-With-Cop’ Birthday Request

On March 27th, 2020, a set of images began circulating on social media showing Rantoul Illinois Police Officer Kyle Donovan very flagrantly violating Governor Pritzker’s state-wide order on social distancing. The pictures show Donovan standing very closely to two young boys (with whom he has no relation) and placing his…

Champaign County COVID-19 Virtual Board Meeting “Utter Failure”

On March 19th, 2020, the Champaign County Board attempted to hold their first electronic board meeting in an effort to promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. District 4 County Board Member Jim McGuire called the virtual meeting an “utter failure”, and one citizen who watched the meeting described it…

Urbana Council to Cease Open Meetings During COVID-19, Despite Illinois Open Meetings Laws

On March 16, 2020, the Urbana City Council met to discuss and vote on a “Temporary Emergency Ordinance to Address the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic”. Three days before the meeting, Urbana City Attorney James Simon sent out an emergency ordinance proposal to the Urbana City Council for consideration. Simon’s proposal contained…

Chief Anthony Cobb Limits Police Services in Champaign During COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 16, 2020, Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb released a video informing the public about changes to the Police Department’s policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most notably, Champaign Police will not be taking any walk-in reports and officers will not be responding in-person to reports of crimes unless the…

Urbana Attorney James Simon Proposes Violating Open Meetings Act in Response to COVID-19

On March 13th, 2020, Urbana Illinois City Attorney James Simon sent out an emergency ordinance proposal to the Urbana City Council in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed ordinance cites the Urbana city code “Chapter 6 – CIVIL EMERGENCIES” as insufficient to address an emergency such as the COVID-19…

Champaign City Council Can Exempt Itself from Open Meetings Act, According to City Manager Dorothy David

Just hours after unanimously passing an ordinance that grants “extraordinary powers” to Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen during the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City is scrambling to explain itself to citizens and news outlets across the state of Illinois. In less than 12 hours, Champaign gained a moderate amount…

Champaign Posts False Press Release on COVID-19 Emergency Powers

Just hours after unanimously passing an ordinance that grants “extraordinary powers” to Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen, the City is making efforts to deceive citizens about what was actually voted on. The ordinance that was discussed at Friday morning’s emergency Council meeting contained a list of 30 “orders and regulations”, or…

Champaign Councilwoman Fourman Fearful Mayoral Powers During COVID-19 Pandemic Will Cause Liquor Drought

On Thursday March 12th City of Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen called for an emergency council meeting the following morning. The Council met in full attendance at 9:30am and had significant public attendance, plus at least four news agencies were present as well. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss…

The Champaign Police Review Subcommittee is Nearly Defunct

On March 11, 2020, the Champaign Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) held a meeting, but board members had virtually nothing meaningful to say. Once again, the only item discussed during the open portion of the meeting was public input on how dysfunctional and ineffective the police complaint process is for victims…

Lt. Tod Myers to City Council: We Don’t Use SWAT-Team Images for Recruiting

The City of Champaign Police Department has been struggling with declining employment numbers for years. At the 2020 March 10th Champaign City Council meeting, this issue was discussed at length during CPD’s “Police Department Update”. The Department is having trouble attracting applicants, and the primary reason cited by council members,…

Urbana Council Picks Insider William Colbrook to Replace Dean Hazen

CU-Underground recently posted an article which showed that resigning Urbana City Council Member Dean Hazen was attempting to transfer his seat to his “good friend” William Colbrook. In an email dated January 28th, 2020, Hazen assures Mayor Diane Marlin that if she would cooperate with this, “I will continue to…

Assistant City Attorney Laura Hall Violates Her Own Rules on Public Input at Meetings

Just weeks after Champaign City Assistant Attorney Kathryn Cataldo sent out a warning letter about interacting with citizens at public meetings, Assistant City Attorney Laura Hall is already breaking the rules. The letter, which was sent by Hall’s subordinate to all of Champaign’s boards, commission, and subcommittees, advises board members…

Urbana Council Member Dean Hazen Attempts to Transfer Elected Position

CU-Underground is in receipt of some concerning emails between Urbana City Council Member Dean Hazen and Mayor Diane Marlin. In the correspondence, Hazen attempts to directly transfer his own elected Council seat to William Colbrook, a fellow law-enforcement officer, an action which is a clear violation of Illinois State law.…

Champaign Assistant Attorney Kathryn Cataldo Warns Volunteer Board Members Not to Interact With the Public

Champaign, IL Assistant City Attorney Kathryn Cataldo (photo credit: ILDocs.com) CU-Underground is in receipt of a concerning memo which was sent to all of the Champaign Citizens who volunteer their time to work on various boards and subcommittees of the City of Champaign. Targeted boards include the Board of Trustees…

Urbana Police Search Citizens’ Mailboxes “All the Time”

The body camera footage from a recent Urbana Police complaint revealed a rather disturbing act by Officer Collin DeDecker. After a hit & run incident, DeDecker went door-to-door in an effort to identify a vehicle owner. DeDecker was then seen opening and searching inside of a resident’s mailbox without permission.…

Attorney General to City Clerk Charlie Smyth: Urbana is Violating Public Records Laws

We have obtained a copy of a letter from the Illinois Attorney General which indicates that the City of Urbana is in violation of public records laws. The letter, addressed to Urbana City Clerk Charlie Smyth, says that records were improperly withheld by the Smyth’s office in a recent Freedom…

Champaign City Council: Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

City Council study session on January 28, 2020 covered two main topics- City of Champaign’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and the review of Boards and Commissions. The CAFR, commonly known as “the audit” presents the financial operations and financial position of the city for fiscal year ended June 30,…

City of Champaign Employee Compensation: slicing the pie

During the Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) Meeting in August 2019, Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb evaded answering questions from board members. His excuse? It was above his pay grade. This prompted us to identify the Top 10 highest paid public officials in Champaign County. The ten highest paid public officials…

Champaign City Council: January 21, 2020

The January 21, 2020, City Council meeting kicked off with a special recognition session for two firefighters that were recently promoted. Greg Elliot, who has been with the Champaign Fire Department for 10 years was promoted to Fire Engineer. Jeff Jones, with 35 years of firefighting under his belt (21…

Attorney General Orders Human Resources Director Todd Rent to Stop Violating Public Records Laws

We have obtained a copy of a letter from the Illinois Attorney General which indicates that the City of Urbana is in violation of public records laws. The letter, addressed to Urbana Human Resources Director Todd Edmund Rent, says that Rent improperly withheld records in a recent Freedom of Information…

Citizens to Champaign Police Review Board: Complaint Process is Broken

On May 8th 2019, several citizens attended the Champaign Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) meeting to voice their grievances with the Champaign Police Department’s handling of citizen complaints. The CPD has had a complaint procedure for decades, but due to repeated issues with officer misconduct and corruption within Champaign’s department, the…

Top 10 Highest Paid Public Officials in Champaign County

Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb was in the hot seat during a recent Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) Meeting. Board members were trying to get straight answers from him, but he evaded answering by saying it was above his paygrade. This prompted us to look into how much local government officials…

Champaign City Council: January 14, 2020

On January 14, 2020, City Council met for a study session regarding Champaign City Code, Chapter 24: Special Events Ordinance. Deputy City Manager, Matt Roeschley, walked City Council members through the proposed amendments to the ordinance initially discussed in April 2019. During the prior study session, council discussed city policy…

Chief Cobb Gives Smart Ass Response to Citizen Review Board Recommendations

At the January 8th, 2020 Champaign Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) meeting, board members spent some time discussing the suggested changes to the police complaint process, a discussion that has been simmering for at least the past year. The ordinance which created the CRS in 2017 specifically tasks the 5 member…

Chief Cobb Completely Unprepared and Out of Touch at Citizen Review Board Meeting

On August 8th 2019, a special meeting of the Champaign Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) was convened with one specific agenda item: open discussion with Chief Cobb about the CRS’s recommendations for changes to the police complaint process. The Champaign Police Department has long been regarded as corrupt, racist, and violent,…

Champaign City Council: January 7, 2020

The first City Council meeting of 2020 started with City of Champaign Township Supervisor Andy Quarnstrom announcing the hire of two new personnel. The first hire, U of I social worker intern will mainly assist with the Emergency Rent Assistance Program. Their second hire is a Program Director for Prosperity…

Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) Meets to Review Police Department Taser Usage

On July 24, 2019, the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) meeting took place after a series of cancelled and rescheduled meetings since October 24, 2018. The meeting started with a staff report by Urbana Community Relations Specialist, Preston James. Since the last meeting, the city has received 4 citizen…

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