May 262011
 

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.

  2 Responses to “Acknowledge and ignore”

  1. Watchdog

    I have been wanting to write you but stop short everytime because I do not always agree with you (my bow tie picture) but seriously I am glad someone is out there questioning the Council and bringing information to the Citizens. Everyone on the council always talks about being transparent but actions sometime say something else. So thank you for all you do for the Citizens and Naperville.

    With the new garbage contract approved last year (5 year contract) the waste stickers are the same price for all five years and came be used anytime during this contract. There is no annual increase like prior contract did incorporate and thus you could not use them in the following year.

    As for the Smart Grid, this program has taken on a life of it own, the staff and the Smart Gird Committee that meets every two weeks are operating on a timeline which is on the city’s website to start installing the 57,000 meter in the Fall of 2011.

    The concerns that the citizens are bring up have merit and should be looked into but there are not five councilmen questioning these concerns. The majority are believing that all the information coming from West Monroe Partners and the Federal Government is correct.

    Looking at the material that the ciitizens have provided do raise concerns, one example is the pilot test in 200 homes and businesses which is wireless only, is not going to be reviewed by an independent party but by West Monroe Partners would is running the program for the city. They have never installed or reviewed a test program involving smart meters. Want to guess what the results are going to be? A wired system should be done at the same time so that concerns about health, security and accuracy can be compared to make sure we are doing what is best for the citizens now and in the future.

  2. Members of our Awareness group and other residents have spoken in front of Naperville City Council every city council meeting since February 15, 2011. Numerous concerned and frustrated residents have been contacting the city and speaking at city council meetings since early 2010 regarding the various Smart Meter issues cited on this website. As of late, most of the council and the city manager, Doug Krieger, find our issues not worthy of comment. There seems to be some sort of self-imposed gag order.

    This Naperville City Council Watchdog opinion is an interesting perspective on this. To suggest that the council is actually listening may not be accurate. Witnessing in person the lack of attention that many councilpersons offer residents discussing their issues with the Smart Grid project is frustrating at best. Many don’t even look at the speakers.

    Councilman Krause made a comment in the Watch Dog’s article that explains a few things. Thank you, Councilman Krause.

    We have to assume that the city is so enamored with the $11 million US government stimulus funds received for this project that they will move forward without regard for the issues. (Oh yeah, stimulus funds – we’re paying for that too, and so is the rest of Illinois, and Indiana, and Wisconsin…) The decision-makers, by not changing course, are saying they are completely ok with robbing from Peter to pay Paul. Meanwhile, upset residents continue to attempt to ground the Council and City and utility staff, trying to incite some sense to find a better way to achieve their Smart Grid goals. Smart Meters, quite simply, are not the only solution.

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