The Naperville city council is very adept at appearing to listen to their constituency and then ignoring what they just heard. At times, the sound of their silence is almost deafening. It’s most evident during the Public Forum portion of the council meetings. This is the portion of the agenda when citizens who sign up prior to the meeting are allowed three minutes to present a topic and make their point. Now what’s interesting is if the topic is sensitive or something the council would rather not hear or have to deal with, the mayor will give a polite ‘thank you’ to the presenter, and the citizen retreats to their seat. It’s almost an exercise in futility for the citizen to speak in front of the council because absolutely nothing happens afterward. The Naperville city council is gifted at the art of ‘acknowledging and ignoring’ citizen comments. It’s also interesting that the keeper of the three-minute time clock cuts off speakers exactly at three minutes if the topic is ‘uncomfortable’ for the council; however if the citizen’s comments are favorable to the council, the 3-minute clock is extended. It makes you wonder if there is a silent vibrating wireless alert between the council and the timekeeper, so the timekeeper knows when to cut off the speaker. I mention ‘wireless’ because the council abundantly embraces the concept of wireless technology, especially the Naperville Smart Grid Project. For those of you not familiar with this local government project, it’s another one of those “seems like a good idea” for the Naperville city council, but not so good for the citizens of Naperville.
The Naperville city council places the needs of their constituency second to the needs of the city council. Let me give you an example. The city of Naperville will dispose of a citizens grass clippings if they bag the clippings in a special paper bag (each bag costs a couple of dollars) and affix a sticker to the bag (and the stickers cost a couple of bucks each). OK so that’s the price of doing business with the City of Naperville if a resident wants the city to haul the clippings elsewhere. Now here is the catch; if you had a few stickers left at the end of the season, the citizen could not use the sticker the following year. Citizens are required to purchase new stickers. The grass clipping stickers have an expiration date. That’s not exactly citizen-friendly.
I imagine if one of the fine citizens of Naperville presented the topic of eliminating the expiration date on grass clipping stickers to the Naperville city council, the timekeeper would ‘ring the bell’ exactly at the three-minute time limit and the mayor would politely say ‘thank you’ to the presenter and absolutely nothing would happen other than acknowledging and ignoring another Naperville citizen.