Council makes no changes in city policy toward Scott Huber
By Dan Cassidy email@example.com February 15, 2011 11:46PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
In the end, the City Council decided to do nothing.
On Tuesday night, the council voted unanimously to not change any policies concerning the situation surrounding Scott Huber. Until last year, Huber lived on the sidewalks in downtown Naperville until a new ordinance prohibited camping downtown.
A doctor later petitioned for a change in the ordinance restricting where Huber is allowed to stay.
The council has discussed a few options to deal with the issue, including expanding the ordinance which prohibits camping downtown to cover the entire city or having a special “free speech zone” for protesters which would be designed to lessen the impact on local businesses.
Another option was brought up by City Council members Robert Fieseler and Doug Krause. Fieseler had mentioned an ordinance passed in 1996 that might be applicable.
The ordinance reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to cause, create or maintain any obstruction on any street, alley, sidewalk, parkway or other public way, except as may be specifically authorized by ordinance or by the director of the Department of Public Works when necessary in any emergency or in connection with any lawful construction, repair or removal work.”
In an e-mail, Krause said the ordinance should be enforced.
“After reading this existing ordinance, why are we not using it to enforce current events? It is applicable to the entire city and it’s the law,” he wrote. Fieseler said he just wanted the matter decided.
“We’re three years into this saga,” he said. “It’s really giving me a headache ... let’s not continue to parse words. Let’s put an end to the madness.”
However, the city’s legal staff had concerns about the ordinance already on the books, saying it was somewhat vague and therefore not effective to use in the situation.
The measures were being considered because of requests by Dr. Kathy Borchardt. She pressed criminal charges against Huber in February 2010, alleging Huber chased her into her office, threatened her and subsequently displayed a sign and posted online comments questioning her ethics.
She said the council should pass rules “to protect all Naperville businesses from these types of protest.”
The camping ordinance in Naperville prevents sleeping and storing personal property in an area bounded roughly by Eagle Street to the west, Benton Avenue to the north, Ellsworth Street to the east and Aurora Avenue to the south. Huber’s presence at the parking garage near the intersection of Washington Street and Chicago Avenue was an impetus for the ordinance.
There has been discussion that making the ordinance apply to the entire city would be one way of dealing with the issue.
The idea of setting up a “free speech zone” was designed to allow for protests while not allowing them to disrupt businesses. However, the city’s legal staff has said that creating such a zone could be challenged in court.
Councilwoman Judith Brodhead said all the options seemed “problematic.”
Councilman Kenn Miller agreed, calling the entire situation “unfortunate.”
“I’m not sure what changes we can make” that would be enforceable, he said.
The council then voted unanimously to do nothing on the matter at this time.