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Resuming Downers Grove Township peer jury program an 'uphill battle,' supporters say

DOWNERS GROVE – Discussion of the future of Downers Grove Township’s peer jury program is not expected at the township Board of Trustees' Dec. 7 meeting because supporters of a proposal to resurrect the program did not ask that the item be included on the agenda.

Supporters “are still sifting through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) responses" from the township, said Cliff Grammich, a leader of a group that has lobbied for continuation of the peer jury program.

The township discontinued the 17-year-old program earlier this year citing funding cutbacks.

Grammich said the group is dissatisfied with the township’s response to the FOIA requests, although it did receive numerous pages of material, including correspondences between Supervisor Mark Thoman and township trustees.

“We have had to go back to the township many times because it improperly withheld items from us and has still not answered all our questions about documentation," Grammich said. "Accordingly, we did not request the township consider this issue at its Dec. 7 meeting."

He added there's no point in having the item placed on a meeting agenda "until we are convinced the township has responded to our information requests as best it could, and we can determine what the trustees considered in correspondence among themselves."

Grammich added a lack of discussion among trustees regarding discontinuation of the program is difficult to understand.

"I've never heard a reason for lack of trustee input," he said. "I've found the lack of trustee discussion for a policy decision one of the most frustrating things about this."

Thoman had no comment on the matter.

The group's proposal calls for the peer jury program to operate under the township umbrella but without township funds. Thoman has said the proposal raised "more questions than answers" and lacks safeguards against financial shortfalls and liability, does not incorporate law enforcement authority and offers no participant recourse.

Grammich said the group continues to meet to discuss its next steps and a timeline.

"We are frustrated with what we have learned in the documentation we have received to date," he said. "In light of the documentation we have received, it appears reinstating the program through the township will be an uphill battle."

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