Q. Why do you think the Naperville city council wants a ‘do over’ vote for districts, and why wouldn’t they want a ‘do over’ vote for term limits?
Ted G. (Chicago, IL)
A. With district voting, it makes each sitting council member more vulnerable for defeat. With at-large voting, a council member can get lost in the crowd and slip through for re-election. It would be like a herd of cattle; if a steer can work his way towards the front, his wayward ways have a better chance of going unnoticed. If it’s a two, three or four candidate race, then the incumbent has to be more accountable. Current Naperville city council members don’t care about term limits, since by the time any current council member is eligible to be bumped off the council it could be the year 2030 and by that time they won’t remember that they are on the council.
Q. Naperville seems to be a very affluent city. Why would they have budget problems?
Mariana B. (Ludwigshafen, Germany)
A. No community is immune to the effects of the economy, however many cities and towns throughout the country are doing what they can to curtail expense and operate more like an efficient corporation. Unfortunately, Naperville is not one of those communities. The Naperville city council seldom if ever sees an expense they don’t like. A few council members occasionally vote no on waste, but they will get voted down 8-1 or 7-2, and the waste continues.
Q. If the Naperville city council is so inept, why is it that we live in a well-respected, and highly regarded city?
Dale J. (Naperville, IL)
A. The success that Naperville has realized has come from preceding years of competent leadership, and previous city council members who were visionaries. Our current city council leaves much to be desired in terms of accountability, trust, critical thinking, driving change, and communication. There is an overall absence of enthusiasm and energy, and a severe lack of execution and oversight from the city manager. Basically Naperville is moving forward on the momentum and direction derived from former city officials. I think even the current city council would agree that if current city council is the best we can do out of a city of more than 140,000 residents, that would be a shocker.
Q. Of all the Naperville city council members, you focus the least on Kenn Miller. Why is that?
Ashley B. (Naperville, IL)
A. Of all nine city council members, Kenn Miller might be the truest politician by definition. If he has nothing constructive to say, he remains quiet. He seldom if ever joins the minority end of a vote. He is the most difficult council member to read. If he plays poker, my guess is that he could beat any of his peers.
Q. I have lived in a number of cities that have a council / city manager style of government, and the city manager takes his or her ‘marching orders’ from the local council. Yet in Naperville it appears the city manager is impervious to council direction or criticism according to the Watchdog?” Is that true and why?
Claudia P. (Barrington, IL)
A. This gets back to weak leadership. The council appears weak in demonstrating courage and managing performance. Hence the city manager seems to have free reign with few if any paradigms and limitations.
Q. Why doesn’t the local media (newspaper and TV) pick-up on some of these unpleasant issues in Naperville? If these issues exist, wouldn’t they also be all over it?
Lois G. (Lockport, IL)
A. Our issues are too ‘vanilla’ for the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune. Our local television station is more commercial in content with focus on social events and local business. The Daily Herald is more regional with less focus on Naperville. And the Naperville Sun is basically an extension of Naperville city government.
Q. Your city council can’t be too inept, if they still hold the upper hand with regard to residents efforts to thwart installation of Smart Meters. In my state, local governments are back-tracking and reversing their decision to force Smart Meter installs. The state of Maine has some crafty and ambitious politicians, yet residents are winning in court, the ballot box, and reasoning with local officials.
Davis J. (Auburn, ME)
Comment: Davis, if you had asked a question, I probably would have answered it with the second half of your above comment. The fact that you have ‘crafty and ambitious politicians’ in your local area and state means that they see the political benefit of working with residents. The fact that members of the Naperville city council are willing to ‘walk off the plank’ and sacrifice their reputation, integrity, and political careers for an unpopular and unwise cause, reflects clueless “leadership” that is simply out of touch with their constituency.
Q. I lived in Naperville for almost 20 years prior to moving to Fort Collins, and I still have family living in the downtown area. What is the reasoning behind so many ‘bar and liquor’ types of business in the downtown area? It seems like on the weekends, there are more squad cars and cabs, then there are families. When I lived there the focus was on the River Walk, small shops, and a family type of atmosphere. It’s looking more and more like Rush Street in Chicago.
Adam D. (Fort Collins, Co)
A. My family and I recently traveled for a weekend to Door County in Wisconsin. During a 96 hour period from Thursday through Sunday we did not see one police car. I asked two local government officials why that would be. Each answer was the same; they are more than careful in issuing liquor licenses, and it’s not the image they want to convey. That’s part of what makes Door County so appealing; family and good fun. Naperville has ‘sold out’ thinking that liquor equates to fun. In fact, the liquor commission, as recently as a few years ago, had the mistaken idea that “Naperville doesn’t over serve”. If they truly believe that, then there are a lot of police squad cars lined up on weekend nights giving lost motorists directions to their destinations.
Q. You continue to hammer away and pound the Naperville city council. Did you lose an election or something? I served a term on my local council in Indiana and never got a negative comment. If I had a guy like you scrutinizing my decisions, I probably would have never spoken at meetings.
Vince E. (Norridge, IL)
A. Vince, I am sure there is a reason why you served only one term. Is it possible that the voters made their only negative ‘comment’ at the ballot box during your re-election bid.
Now that you are on the other side of the dais like the rest of us, you know the importance of spending tax dollars wisely. When you’re on the council, you are spending other peoples’ money, so there are no restraints other than the ballot box. When elected city officials are dong the right thing, they like it when citizens are watching and listening. When elected city officials are clueless, they would rather have no one listening or watching.
Q. Now that you have posted more than 100 articles, have you changed your position on any council members?
Clinton M. (Northbrook, IL)
A. Yes. The ‘stock value’ of a few has increased, while a few others have decreased stock value. Council member Joe McElroy has been a pleasant addition to the council. He’s a good listener with a quiet yet confident demeanor. He is a person of few words, but meaningful words similar to the E.F. Hutton commercial ‘when Joe speaks everyone listens. He asks questions, is open to learning, relaxed and very approachable. He doesn’t need the spotlight, yet takes control when necessary as he did at the last council meeting. Council member (Grant Wehrli) has the courage to express non-popular points of view, and has the courage to respectfully challenge his peers on issues. His willingness to disagree with me on issues without being disagreeable is refreshing. Another council member (Steve Chirico), who has taken a lot of criticism in postings, was open to getting together and chatting and sharing his personal side. Most impressive was his willingness to humbly admit a couple of ‘misspeaks’ during council meetings that he would like to have back as a do-over. This simple yet all-important awareness that he made mistakes is about as refreshing as it gets when chatting with a council member. We’ve all made comments we wish we could have back, myself definitely included. We can only wish that some other council members could do that.