Attending a Naperville city council meeting is better than watching reality T.V. At times, it is almost like watching a train wreck; you do not want to look but you feel compelled to look because you just cannot see things like this elsewhere. If you observe city councils in other affluent cities such as Hinsdale, Lake Forest, Barrington, and Geneva, you will notice competent council members and city leaders working with their constituency, not against them. At times in Naperville, it is like reading a bad book because you know what is going to happen and it happens. It is almost embarrassing to think that if the nine members of the city council are the best we have to offer as a city, then we are all in trouble. I wouldn’t doubt that at times some members of the council are amazed that they are actually sitting at the dais.
From the ‘peanut gallery’ (those of us in the audience) looking at the council and listening to their endless banter you realize that the council is packed with a bunch of political lightweights; they would be eaten alive (politically speaking) outside of the city limits. In Naperville, they may qualify for free tickets to city events, but beyond the lot line, their title of councilperson will not buy a cup of coffee. Doug Krieger the Naperville city manager (a misnomer) is nothing more than an empty suit with the number 148,627 emblazoned on it, which represents the number of taxpayer dollars it cost Naperville citizens for mismanagement when requesting federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for Loaves and Fishes Community Pantry. Some people are fired for wasting paper clips, yet he is free to roam city hall. If the city is contractually committed to keeping him, they should give him an office with a fake window, a computer hooked-up to nowhere, and a phone connected to nothing. Let him think he is doing something worthwhile, and then cut him loose when his contract expires.
Lest you think the term ‘political lightweights’ is only a personal observation, you would be incorrect. This is the general feeling from two council members (one active and one retired) from two other cities. During the last year I have asked them to watch meetings on line and both even attended meetings (during the Furstenau/Boyajian regime) while visiting family in Naperville. It is very interesting listening to those who serve or have served on city councils elsewhere, since they know what goes on behind the scenes. That’s why you can ‘read our council’ like a bad book and know what is going to happen. The current maneuvers of the city council with regard to smart meters, fighting citizen petitions, blocking referendums, frivolous objections, procrastination, delay, and industrial-strength burdensome bureaucracy are commonplace for the Naperville city council. When city councils are unable to accomplish their objectives in a cooperative and wholesome manner with their constituency, they resort to silencing legitimate dissent, as council member Grant Wehrli would say, by “nefarious’ means.
This gets us to the rampant use of the ‘acknowledge, ignore, and deflect’ tactic that council members resort to when citizens such as Tom Glass corner them. Watch and listen, especially at the end of this video clip from the last city council meeting when Tom Glass asks legitimate and healthy questions (corners) the city attorney who chooses ‘not to speculate’ and Mayor Pradel who accuses citizen Glass of ‘interrogating’ the council.
Council members Fieseler, Chirico and city manager (misnomer) Doug Krieger are ‘artists’ at this tactic. They ‘acknowledge’ the citizen (appear to show sincerity), then they ignore the citizen (totally disregard the citizen’s concerns), and they finish it off by deflecting, sending the citizen elsewhere for answers that never come.
With all due respect to Mayor Pradel, he accuses Tom Glass of interrogation, but considering the mayor’s many years of fine service on the police force, it’s understandable that he may see all questioning as interrogation, so we have to cut him some slack on that one. I understand when a waiter at a restaurant asks Mayor Pradel if he wants rye or wheat bread, he also sees that as interrogation, so it is in his DNA. I respect his years of wisdom; however there is someone with even more knowledge and wisdom who might take Mayor Pradel by the ear out to the woodshed for a discussion or a tune-up and that would be Benjamin Franklin when he said, “The first responsibility of every citizen is to question authority”. I have the feeling that Ben Franklin would answer the question and not send the citizen elsewhere for non-existent answers.