When John Acardo was campaigning for the DeKalb County clerk & recorder position last year, he spoke of modernizing the office and using technology to build efficiencies and save money.
One look at his office’s new website – www.dekalbclerk.com – is all you need to see that Acardo is living up to his campaign promise.
“People want their government at their fingertips,” Acardo said this week.
Indeed, a lot of DeKalb County government is now a fingertip push of your computer’s mouse away, as the county clerk’s website features online forms, the fees for services and data explaining the office’s services and how to use them.
Public record, election and government nerds could spend hours on Acardo’s website poring through various documents, election schedules, etc.
And this is just the beginning.
At the end of the month, testing will begin on the platform developed to make land records searchable. Acardo is working with the assessor’s office and Treasurer Mark Todd to make the clerk’s website a one-stop shop for property records.
The office also is working with the group Catalyst, which partners with www.ancestry.com to get genealogical records online. Users would be able to search for free, and they could pay for any record they might want.
Acardo said Cook and Kankakee counties already are doing this and have seen a 40 percent increase in genealogical revenue. In his 2012 budget request narrative, which you can read on the website, Acardo estimated that such a service would net an additional $4,500 in revenue annually for DeKalb County.
Acardo and his staff also are in the process of digitizing 110,000 vital records – birth certificates, marriage records, death records, etc. Doing so will cut the wait for someone coming to the office to get a copy of one these records from 20 minutes to five minutes.
Acardo’s office has done all this while reducing the office’s budget. According to his 2012 budget narrative, the clerk and recorder’s office proposed budget is nearly 3 percent less than what was requested for 2011. These online efficiencies, combined with staff attrition and cost training, have saved the office money.
And more efficiency in the office gives the staff more time to spend on other projects geared toward increasing transparency and efficiency.
Kudos to Acardo on the advancements made in the office.
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In January 2010, John Farrell – then-DeKalb County state’s attorney – said talks with Enbridge Energy – which was deemed responsible for the collapse of the Keslinger Road bridge between South First Street and Anderland Road – about paying for a new bridge were in “very serious latter-stage discussions.”
On Thursday, the eve of the three-year anniversary of the bridge collapse, Clay Campbell – the current DeKalb County state’s attorney – said of talks with Enbridge: “We are very close to either reaching some sort of settlement or filing a lawsuit.”
Wow. In 19 months, we’ve gone from “very” serious discussions to “very” close to a settlement or lawsuit. Now, that’s progress.
The county, of course, would like to avoid a lawsuit to avoid the expense of one. That, of course, plays into Enbridge’s hands. The company is basically calling the county’s bluff, letting this drag on knowing that the last thing the county wants to do is go to court.
Three years. Still no bridge. Still no closer to a new bridge. Government at work.
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Kudos to those of you who attended Friday’s Illinois Tollway Authority public meeting about the proposed 87.5 percent increase in tolls to help fund a $12 billion construction project.
Know this, however. These meetings are purely for show. The tollway board does not answer to you. It isn’t elected by you. The members are appointed. So, there is no fear of consequence for anything it does.
Get ready to pay more on those Illinois toll roads that weren’t supposed to be toll roads anymore.
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I see the Borders signage is still up at Northland Plaza.
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The prep football season starts Friday. Among the games on tap is DeKalb’s first game on its new field at the new high school. The Barbs play Ottawa, and kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Can’t make it to the game? No problem. You can watch that game and all of DeKalb’s home football games this season live at Daily-Chronicle.com.
We have formed what we hope will be a successful partnership with the school. It will enable us to stream DeKalb’s home football games on our website. We also will be carrying the Castle Challenge game against Sycamore on Sept. 9.
The broadcasts will be produced by DHS students, and we hope that streaming the games on Daily-Chronicle.com will offer the students a tremendous amount of exposure and recognition.
Who knows? Maybe the next Howard Cosell will be in the booth.
• Jason Schaumburg is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DC_Editor and interact with him at the From the Editor’s Desk Facebook page.