Jan 282011
 

Slip sliding away.

Is it any wonder why in the short span of a couple of years Naperville has gone from being ranked the second best city to live in the United States, to being ranked the second best city to live within a 10 mile radius of  City Hall. We are now # 2 behind Bolingbrook. Now there was a time that being # 2 was so good that it became an advertising bonanza when Avis was # 2 behind Hertz. The Avis motto was ‘we try harder’. Being # 2 is not something Naperville should aspire to, unless of course, we become # 3.

So how did we become # 2 to Bolingbrook. Well simply stated we became # 2 the same way we could become # 1; and that’s with local leadership.

Let me give you three recent and classic examples of how our City Council’s Leadership team has created a mind-set that fosters mediocrity.

First the City Council recently debated the topic of employee compensation and considered performance-based pay as an option; basically the better the performance the better the compensation. Councilman Kenn Miller said, “If you are, say, an average performer, you’re not going to get all your at-risk (performance based) pay.”  Now Councilman Miller you’ve got to be kidding; why would a #1 city want to keep an employee who is deemed ‘average’. Turn your T.V on or listen to your radio, we have major unemployment in this country and this is an ideal time to upgrade the quality of our city staff. We don’t need to settle for average. Apparently you have never heard the slogan, ‘if better is possible then good is not enough’ and you’re not even talking about ‘good’, you are talking about ‘average’. To make this mind-set even more egregious, Kenn Miller is a candidate for Mayor of our fine city.

The second example also comes from the same meeting when some council members conceded that a morale quandary existed among city employees founded by a two-year pay freeze. Council member Judith Brodhead said, “If you have a couple of years where you’re not giving out any pay raises, just what is the reward for doing a fabulous job? What can you do to reward a really, really good employee if you don’t plan on compensating them?” Another classic example of a council member’s answer to solving a problem…….just throw more money at it.    Well Council member Brodhead, let me give you 1,002 ways to reward employees. First get a copy of the book “1,001 ways to Reward Employees” by Bob Nelson, Stephen Schudlich, and Ken Blanchard and read it from cover to cover. Then remind them of the number 1,002 way to reward employees; they have a job and they are not in the unemployment line. Harsh as that may sound, it’s reality. Just as there is “no crying in baseball”, there is “no whining when you’re employed”.

And the final example of fostering a climate to achieve mediocrity came during the State of the City speech when City Manager Doug Krieger made a presentation on city economics, and proudly stated “We get 1% of every purchase made within the city limits. While this may seem like just a sliver, you people buy a lot of stuff”. So basically the city is getting 1% ‘of the action’. Isn’t this the same mind-set that the Federal government is trying to eliminate when in the biggest one-day takedown of one of its biggest competitors;  they recently arrested more than 100 members of the five New York crime families: the Gambinos, Genoveses, Bonnanos, Luccheses and Colombos? Weren’t they also getting ‘a piece of the action’ The only thing more unusual than the City Manager proudly stating that the City is getting a 1% piece of the action, would have been if he got a standing ovation from those the City is squeezing for that 1%.

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