Oct 262011
 
  • With the departure of two council members and the addition of two new members, has the make-up of the city council improved?

(Jan J., Chicago)

Overall yes, however not as much as needed. Joe McElroy, who we did not endorse, has been a very pleasant, welcome, and refreshing addition. He has proven that we were wrong in not supporting his candidacy, and that the watchdog is open to learning. Steve Chirico has not delivered on his potential, indicating he may not have the potential to deliver what is necessary for Naperville citizens.

 

  • Do you think your postings regarding former council members Boyajian and Furstenau contributed in part to neither being re-elected?

(Jay L. Naperville)

Jim Boyajian chose to not run for re-election, so he was not defeated in the election. It is rather doubtful he could have been re-elected, which may have prompted him not to run. Dick Furstenau was soundly defeated in his run for re-election, however the reasons for his defeat were self-imposed and not from any one particular external force. It is difficult to unseat an incumbent, unless they themselves help in the process by their actions and decisions.

 

  • Why so much talk and emphasis on the Smart Meter issue?

(Alan S., Naperville)

It’s a classic example of “government gone wild” when elected officials get mesmerized with the opportunity of a ‘money grab’.

Basically, they made every wrong decision along the process. The Naperville city council was behind the steering wheel while the citizens of Naperville were (and still are) passengers in the ‘council bus’. We go where they take us, when in fact the bus should have been pulled over and the ‘drivers’ ticketed for DUI.

 

  • Considering that Naperville has a city manager type of government, who is making the decisions for the city; the manager, council, or mayor?

(Dave W., Kenilworth)

That is a good question Dave. In many ways, local leadership is a misnomer. The council needs to ‘rein in’ the city manager, but other than council members Krause and McElroy and occasionally Wehrli, the city manager is held unaccountable. It is almost as if they lack the courage to challenge his actions and decisions, while the city manager appears to lack the confidence to be open-minded. It would truly benefit the citizens of Naperville along with the council and even the city manager if he was challenged and held accountable.

 

  • Why haven’t we heard anything further about district representation and term limits?

(Debbie J.,  Naperville)

The Naperville city council is very comfortable letting this topic marinade as long as possible. If they can prolong it long enough, chances are no one will even remember that it was a referendum with landslide support from the citizens of Naperville. When referendums are voted in favor by 75% and 66% that is a ‘shout out’ from the citizens to the council that they want it to happen now and not later. Unfortunately, what the citizens want, and what the Naperville city council does are two different things.

 

  • California is the punch line of many jokes, yet many cities and towns in my state have halted or reversed the installation of Smart Meters. How is it that a decent-sized city in the Midwest cannot understand what we understand in California?

(Jim J.,  San Diego, Ca.)

We have three groups in Naperville. The largest group consists of citizens who do not understand or even know that an issue exists. This really is not surprising; in fact, it is this group that allows local government to run wild and unbridled in any community. The second group (Naperville Smart Meter Awareness) consists of a large group (and growing in numbers) of knowledgeable and engaged citizens who ‘get it’. The third group consists of nine council members, a group of lobbyists, an overpaid public relations company, and the partial financial backing by the Department of Energy. It is interesting that many communities nationwide have succeeded in stopping the not-so Smart Meter fiasco. Maybe those local officials are smarter than the Smart Meters.

 

  • I was born, raised in Naperville, and now live in Sydney. I enjoy keeping up with what’s going on back home and often watch the council meetings on line, and especially the Open Forum portion of the meetings. Is it my imagination, or have the councils become more combative with presenters?  Most council members seem to be unopened to differing points of view.

(Chelsea H.,  Sydney, Australia)

It’s not your imagination; we hear the same comments here. Things have improved since the last election; however, there still exists an aura of closed-mindedness among nearly half of the council members.

 

  • Whatever happened to the homeless guy?  Is the city council trying to ‘work this guy over’ or work with him?

(Joey H., Arlington Heights)

A little bit of both. He just lost a court battle, so it looks like he is heading to the “slammer” for a few months, but that’s not such a bad deal considering he will get some housing and food during the cold winter months. Naperville no longer has ‘homeless people’. They are now known as ‘street dwellers’. I guess that sounds better.

 

  • Why waste so much time fighting Smart Meters? As the saying goes, “you can’t fight city hall”, so what’s the purpose?

(Dick P., Naperville)

Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying. “The first responsibility of every citizen is to question authority.”

During the Revolutionary War, only 20% of the colonists favored splitting from the mother country of England. Approximately 20,000 colonists died fighting for our freedom.

And finally, “First they came…” is a famous statement attributed to pastor Martin Niemoller about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then the came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

‘Fighting’ for what’s right is the right thing to do.

 

Oct 202011
 

The Naperville city council takes a lot of ‘heat’ and rightfully so, however they are citizens as are the rest of us. The only two differences are that they sit on the elected side of the dais, while the ‘common folk’ sit on the other side, and they have the absolute power to make our lives more pleasant or more miserable with the decisions they make. No matter what decisions they make, there will be some unhappy people; they can’t keep everybody happy and frankly, that’s not what they were elected to do. Their basic job is to make Naperville a better place to live for its residents.

They take a lot of criticism from all areas including citizens of Naperville, local newspapers, and even occasionally from the City Council Watchdog…..well, OK maybe more than occasionally. Yet to their credit, not one council member has ever disrespectfully criticized me. I have briefly chatted with all but two, and emails have been exchanged between most council members and me. There obviously has been disagreement, but none has been disagreeable. In fact, one council member (Grant Wehrli) has been quite humorous, at times, in his disagreement with me. He doesn’t hold any punches, he tells it as he sees it and I respect that. He also has a very real and personable side, which you don’t necessarily see at council meetings. He’s not there to win friends, he’s there to get the job done and how can you not respect that commitment.

Most if not all have full time jobs and other than the mayor, the council members receive a part-time salary and some perks for their efforts. How many of us would really want to sit on their side of the dais and deal with what they have to deal with; apparently not many considering that out of a city population of about 141,000 only three ran for mayor, and 12 ran for the three open council seats. You look at the nine council members and ask yourself is this the best that Naperville can do, and the answer is apparently yes. Getting elected to the council is not an easy task, especially if you’re not an incumbent, yet this is exactly what Joe McElroy and Steve Chirico did, so that’s a major accomplishment.

The Naperville city council has to deal with many boring issues including the following at the last city council meeting:

  • Valet parking transfer zones
  • Sign compliance
  • Amplifier permit for the Turkey Trot
  • Storm water variance
  • 30-foot building setback line
  • Electronic message boards
  • How many live chickens can a resident have running around his yard

In addition, of course there are some high-energy issues such as:

  • Smart meters
  • Emergency radio systems
  • Term limits
  • District representation

Those always elevate the adrenalin, and liven-up an audience.

Some of the better moments during council meetings occur during the Public Forum portion of the meeting. This is when residents get to march up to the podium and express their feelings and thoughts for three minutes. Now that may not seem like enough time, however let’s face it, the council has to draw a line, otherwise most residents could talk for 30 minutes and we’d never get done with the meeting. A few months ago, one resident was upset because he saw a fire truck idling at local grocery store while a couple of firefighters were quickly gathering groceries for the fire station; he thought that was a waste of taxpayer money. The council politely listened, while I’m thinking ‘give me a break, it’s less than a mile from the station to the store, they need to have nourishment at the station, they risk their lives for us, it’s cool seeing a fire truck, and it gives residents a chance to say ‘thank you’ to the firefighters while they shop….what’s the harm’. Then the council has to listen to the same resident complain about a motorcycle cop, parking his cycle on the sidewalk while he uses his radar looking for speeders. Again the council respectfully listens and thanks the speaker for his comments, rather than saying what I would say which is “Don’t speed and you won’t get a ticket, and what do you want, the police officer to park his bike in the street and risk an accident….give me a break” That’s why I would not make a good council member. I’m sure members of our council often times want to make blunt comments, but usually choose to take the high road, so you have to give them credit for that.

As promised in last week’s posting we wanted to focus on what council members were doing right during this week’s meeting by selecting the top five and then choosing the council member most likely to be re-elected based on Tuesday’s ‘doing-it-right’ results. The nine-member council made this more challenging to do since three of the nine (Fieseler, Hinterlong, and Miller) were not present for the meeting, though council member Miller did appear near the conclusion.

 

  • Hence, Hinterlong did not make the Top-Five; so we missed his typical common-sense approach to issues and his friendly calm demeanor.
  • Miller also missed out, however the fact that he came to the meeting after attending a business meeting is commendable. Many elected officials would not have even bothered to show-up but Miller did. In addition, he looked refreshed and apologized for being late. Even after a full day, he looked energized and ready to rock-‘n-roll. Council member Kenn Miller has his critics, as we all do, however he really does try to do the right thing, and represents Naperville in a positive manner.
  • Council member Brodhead missed the Top-Five, though she did add some good humor to the evening with her comments.
  • Chirico also did not crack the Top-Five list, however his wife attended and he always seems to be more ‘user friendly’ in her presence. So kudos for Chirico showing his ‘approachable’ style.

Now for the Top-Five:

# 5    Council member Grant Wehrli did not want to delay a resolution approving employee benefit changes; he wanted to “move it along”. Like it or not, he is an ‘action’ type of leader and he wants to make things happen.

# 4    Council member Bob Fieseler. He was not at the meeting, and that is exactly why he made the Top-Five list. Sometimes less is better, and in this case, a no-show is a good-show. (Again, I am looking for the positives)

# 3   Council member Doug Krause. If there is one person who really speaks for the citizens of Naperville by his actions on the council, it is Doug Krause. It takes courage to be the lone voice on the council supporting citizen issues and he occasionally takes ‘heat’ from other council members for doing so. Tuesday evening he supported the citizen-side of the Smart Meter issue, he favored a signage issue for a business in these difficult economic times, he voted ‘No’ on the AT&T wireless issue, and with regard to the ‘chicken’ issue, he supported ‘doing nothing’ which is sometimes better than ‘doing something’ with regards to additional citizen regulation.

# 2   Council member Joe McElroy speaks softly, using few words, makes a lot of sense, is always respectful, and you feel compelled to listen to him for those reasons. Regarding a signage ordinance variance, he said ‘you either have the ordinance, or you don’t’. He also voted ‘no’ to the AT&T request to install wireless equipment, and he asked the speakers which cities did not approve the AT&T request.

# 1 is Mayor Pradel. He started the meeting on time, and he displays empathy, care, and concern for the citizens of Naperville. He attempts to keep the meeting moving, and seldom uses the gavel. He truly is the face of Naperville and treats people at all socio-economic levels with respect and courtesy. To be a police officer for so many years, including being Officer Friendly means he had to maintain law and order in a dangerous profession, while still being a genuine nice guy.

The goal was to select the council member most likely to be re-elected, and considering Mayor Pradel has indicated he will not run for re-election, that means council member Joe McElroy is the one most likely to be re-elected.

How does Mayor Krause sound?

Oct 132011
 

A number of times I have attended Naperville city council meetings wanting to find something good to write about, however there is just so much not to like that it always trumps everything else. However, I am determined to focus on the positive during the next council meeting October 18. It’s probably the ideal time to do it since in the very near future the council will be dealing with term limits and district representation and there will be much not to like about those proceedings. The Naperville city council has a way of falling on the wrong side of an issue, when it comes to benefiting the citizens of Naperville. We have just recently experienced this with the ‘not-so’ Smart Meter debacle. Now do not get me wrong, this fiasco is not finished yet, and it will not be for quite some time. The Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group is a determined and committed assemblage of citizens with a level of perseverance beyond that of any of the crowd on the city council. I would imagine city manager Doug Krieger and the entire Naperville city council (excluding Doug Krause) are already working on an exit strategy or litany of excuses when the not-so Smart Meter project begins to unravel and go bad. Some will have been voted out of office, others will decide to leave the council, and some retired, while others including Doug Krieger will have taken their ‘dog and pony’ show to some other unsuspecting city. Isn’t this how it usually turns out; the citizens are left ‘holding the bag’, trying to pick up the pieces created by bad decisions and poor judgment of local officials.

Again, this next meeting is the ideal opportunity to find something uplifting about each member of the council. Yes, that is a lofty challenge considering that the only council member speaking on behalf of the citizen is council member Doug Krause. It is almost as if all the others realize they cannot be the first best council member, so they might as well be the first worst of the rest; at least that way they can be first at something. There seems to be a direct correlation to the proximity to the gavel and the use of common sense. The closer a council member is to the gavel, the less common sense they use. Take for example former council member Richard Furstenau. Now that he is on the citizen side of the dais, he seems to be making much more sense than he did when he was a council member. The reverse holds true for council member Chirico. When he was running for office, he appeared to be a reasonable human being, but now that he is on the other side of the dais and closer to the gavel, he has become out-of-control and departed from using common sense. It might be wise for Mayor Pradel to attach the gavel to the table with a chain, much as a bank does with a pen at the teller’s window. It seems to work in Pradel’s hand in a way that it does not work in Chirico or Wehrli’s hands.

Additionally maybe our city council members need a catchy moniker; others in politics have them such as Blago (former Governor Blagojevich), Tricky Dick (Richard Nixon), and Fast Eddy (Alderman Ed Vrdolyak). Our Naperville city council from left to right would be:

  • Joe ‘speak softly’ McElroy
  • Judy ‘let’s talk salt’ Brodhead
  • Bob ‘the meter czar’ Fieseler
  • Doug ‘citizen’ Krause
  • Mayor George ‘the circus master’ Pradel
  • Kenn ‘let’s make a deal’ Miller
  • Grant ‘dismiss the citizen’ Wehrli
  • Paul ‘lean forward’ Hinterlong
  • Steve ‘pound the gavel’ Chirico (also known as the Commandant)

And let’s not forget city manager Doug ‘I’m not making any sense’ Krieger.

So here is the opportunity….next Tuesday five council members will be recognized for doing something good, or kind, or with class, or witty, or using common sense, or creative, or expense conscious, or citizen-friendly, or courageous, or wise, or something you do not normally see a council member do. From that group of five, one will be selected as ‘Council Member most likely to be re-elected’. There has to be something positive that happens.

Oct 052011
 

The Tuesday night Naperville city council meeting proved again how inept they are as a governing body. Mayor Pradel displayed his wisdom by not attending the meeting. Chances are when he does attend a meeting, he looks to his left, and then he looks to his right and he must wonder how did these people get elected to office. Other than Councilman Doug Krause who is a strong voice for the citizens of Naperville, and councilman Joe McElroy who demonstrates a real sense of sincerity, the rest of them are a very sorry bunch. I would imagine any political science class in the county would benefit immensely from having a course focusing on the incompetent useless, bungling, heavy-handedness of the Naperville city council.

Tonight’s meeting drew a large group of law abiding, engaged, concerned and knowledgeable citizens. This is the very type of people that the city council does not want to see or hear. This was quite evident by the fact that the Naperville city council had armed police officers at each entry/exit door with police patrol cars stationed outside in no parking zones.  The reason for the large turnout of informed and involved citizens was the following agenda item:

“Pass the ordinance amending Title 8 (Public Utilities), Chapter 1 (electricity), Article A (General Provisions and Article C (Electric Services Rates) of the Naperville Municipal Code establishing a Non-wireless Meter Alternative (NWMA) option under the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative (NSGI). (First reading 9/21/11, N2)”

Simply stated, this is nothing more than a ‘smart meter’ ‘work-around’ so the Naperville city council can punish citizens by inflicting an exorbitant financial penalty on those who do not want wireless not-so-smart meters.

The Naperville city council violated one of its own ordinances regarding public urination. Basically, the Naperville city council urinated on the citizens of Naperville and then told the citizens it was raining. The vote was a given; seven in favor of ‘sticking it’ to the citizens, one in favor of the citizens (Krause), and one wisely elsewhere for the evening. From the day the Naperville city council did a money grab from the Department of Energy, the passage of the ordinance was inevitable. Warning: never get between a Naperville city council member and any type of dollar-entitlement”

Only two things could have prevented the passage of this ordinance; 1) having a city council election this week, and 2) The Department of Common Sense offering a larger ‘money grab’ to the council. Even if Jesus Christ had spoken to the Naperville city council tonight, it would not have made a difference.

Seventeen speakers ‘tried’ to address the council tonight in opposition to the (not-so) smart meter ordinance. Typically, speakers are allowed 3 minutes to speak, however tonight the council tried to limit it to 90 seconds. That did not go over very well. The council realizing it would not look good on Youtube decided to allow 3 minutes. That was big of them. All of the speakers did a good job making their points, however you could feel 7 members of the council along with city manager Doug Krieger praying for it to come to an end. Watch and listen to two speakers (Jennifer Stahl and Dave Bendis) drive home their points.

Council member Steve Chirico must have drawn the short straw because he had to cover for an absent Mayor Pradel. It’s interesting how a council member sits in for the mayor and then gets fixated on the gavel. In fact, Chirico was so fixated on the gavel that on two separate instances he had young women “kicked out” of the meeting by armed police. You could actually see Chirico beaming with pleasure with his newfound power through the gavel. The last time we saw ‘gavel mania’ was when council member Wehrli covered for the mayor and did the gavel-pounding thing. Threatening citizens with expulsion must truly be a council member’s dream.

It’s a shame that citizens do not have the same opportunity to gavel council members out of the meeting. There would have been plenty of opportunities for that to happen Tuesday night. By the time the meeting was over there would have been only two council members at the dais; Krause and McElroy.

Let’s look at how each of the other six council members along with city manager Doug Krieger would have been escorted out of the building.

Krieger would have been gaveled out by using the word ‘absolutely’ too often, as when he is absolutely positive he is right about everything.

Wehrli would be escorted out by one of Naperville’s finest for being arrogant and dismissive of citizens.

Hinterlong would be removed by three officers; one for not knowing that generally the cost-of-living in New England is more than in Naperville, one for supporting a $190,000 expense for audio / visual upgrade for city council chambers so he doesn’t have to be inconvenienced by leaning forward towards the microphone, and one for wanting the city council shenanigans to be seen and heard better by others throughout the world on the internet. You would think the council would want as few people as possible to see and hear what they do. This is the goal of their transparency.

Brodhead would be kicked out immediately after reading another proclamation, since that seems to be her only reason for appearing at meetings. Her council seat would be better served if it were empty during meetings; we are tired about hearing how salt and smart meters are comparable.

Fieseler would be swiftly escorted out of the chambers for too much tap-dancing without a violin.

Chirico would have to be physically removed by two officers; one for losing control of the meeting tonight and broadcasting his lack of leadership skills, and the other for patronizing citizens by telling them ‘it was good to hear from them’ after kicking a couple of law-abiding well-intentioned citizens out of the meeting. Have you noticed how he is heavy-handed against the female gender, yet shortens in stature when dealing with those of his own gender?

Miller would be briskly taken away for expressing too many non-truths. You can always tell when council member Miller is speaking non-truths…his lips are moving. We may be wrong on this one; however, we know how unlikely that is.

The bottom line is that the Naperville city council won the vote on this one over the citizens of Naperville. However, when the real vote comes at election time, the citizens of Naperville will prevail, and those council members will be sitting with us on our side of the dais. Just ask ex-councilman Furstenau. I wonder if they will be given 90 seconds to talk.

Oct 012011
 

Just three nights ago, (Wednesday) baseball had what many consider the most exciting evening of baseball ever. The entire regular season came down to crunch time; two games were decided in the final three minutes when Boston lost to Baltimore, while Tampa Bay bested the New York Yankees.  That’s saying a lot since they have been playing baseball for over 130 years and more than 200,000 games have been played.

This coming Tuesday night (October 4 at 7pm) it’s crunch time again, except this time the crunching will occur during the city council meeting at City Hall (400 S. Eagle St. in Naperville). This is when a council meeting agenda item will focus on the $24.95/month penalty (punishment) for a “work around” “smart” meter.

Over the last many months, more citizens have spoken to oppose the installation of smart meters, than have been in favor of the installation. As more and more citizens learn more and more about the “not-so” smart meters the greater the opposition has become. Theoretically, if 50,004 people opposed the meters (or penalty fees) and five were in favor of installing the meters, or punishment fees, they would be installed against the will of the majority and penalty fees would apply. The reason being that all the council needs are five votes of nine to approve it. And from the moment the city council did a money grab from the Department of Energy to finance half the expense of the ‘smart’ meter project, 8 members (not including Doug Krause) of the city council have been close-minded and in a frantic rush to push the project through. This is a further validation how eight seemingly rational council members can become mere puppets of the Federal Government when the puppet strings are made of dollars. Naperville city council’s version of “Dancing with the Stars” is called “Dancing for Dollars”, and wow can they dance. City manager Doug Krieger and council members Fieseler, Wehrli and Brodhead provide some of the ‘finer’ dance moves.

We encourage you to attend the meeting to let your presence be seen, and your words be heard. As you enter city hall, if you should hear the sound of tap-dancing shoes moving fast and loud, you will know that city manager Krieger and councilman Fieseler are in the building.

For more information on ‘smart’ meters, you can refer to the links below.