Mar 312013
 

In nine days the City of Naperville has an opportunity to move closer to having leadership. Not new leadership, just simply leadership. New leadership implies that Naperville has leadership now. They don’t. The city manager is in over his head, and the Naperville city council allows it to continue. The majority of city council is either clueless, or doesn’t have the numbers to be an effective majority.

Two years ago the voters of Naperville took a step in the right direction when they replaced two council members (Furstenau and Boyajian) with two new council members (Chirico and McElroy). This was, ‘one small step for Napervillians, not one giant leap for Naperville’. Something that Neil Armstrong may have uttered if he lived in Naperville then.

Though Chirico got off to a rocky start, and McElroy hit a couple of speed bumps, each has made the Naperville city council better than what it was, and they have solid potential to do the ‘heavy lifting’ that others are not willing to do. The problem is that the council consists of nine members, so five are needed to form a majority in order to make good things happen. Naperville is not there yet.

However, one more is leaving now (Kenn Miller), and Mayor Pradel will depart after his term is over. Kenn Miller is making a wise decision to leave on his own time frame, rather than that of the voters.

There are four council seats up for grabs. In addition to Miller’s vacant seat, three other incumbents are running including Judith Brodhead, Paul Hinterlong, and 24-year member Doug Krause.

It’s difficult to unseat an incumbent, however both Brodhead and Hinterlong have made it considerably easier. Nice people as they may be, they just don’t have what Naperville needs right now, and that’s leadership. If two council members were missing from a meeting, the two that would be most un-noticed would be Brodhead and Hinterlong. They don’t challenge their peers, they tag along with the majority, and seldom speak up for the residents. With all due respect, it’s difficult to remember an original thought or comment made by either during council meetings.

We do endorse and recommend councilman Doug Krause to retain his seat on the council. He is the only current council member to support and listen to the residents of Naperville on a consistent basis. He has the courage to challenge his peers with resident-friendly solutions, which is the reason he typically finds himself on the short-end of council votes by an 8 to 1 margin. We were disappointed in his actions on the Naperville Electoral Board, however even if he would have been on the correct side of the issues, he would still been outvoted two to one each time by the mayor and city clerk. We are also disappointed that councilman Krause has been unable to establish a citizen-friendly coalition of council members. We also realize trying to encourage one or more of eight White Sox fans to become a Cubs fan is no easy task.

We strongly recommend and endorse candidate Tom Glass for inclusion to the Napeville city council. Tom has been a strong vocal supporter of the rights of residents. He has the courage and determination to make a positive difference on the council. His leadership skills, which are desperately needed on the council include, driving change, thinking critically, communicating effectively with passion, and demonstrating both accountability and courage. Additionally he has what most Naperville city council members don’t have, and that’s the ability to build and maintain trust.

We also endorse and recommend Jo Malik for the position of city council member. Jo also has the courage to speak-up and be heard, often times being maligned and disrespected by certain current council members. She has the leadership dimension of being able to maximize relationships. She is approachable and considerate, she shows respect and values inclusion, treats people fairly, and shares a sense of purpose. She is a team player and strives for collaboration by finding common ground. Without a doubt, she also would bring to the council what is urgently missing and that is common sense.

Our final recommendation and endorsement was more difficult to choose. It came down to Bill Habel, Business Representative for IBEW 701, and attorney Kevin Coyne. Habel is currently serving on the Naperville Building Review Board, while Coyne is a Naperville Planning and Zoning commissioner.

Their participation is positive for knowledge. However, the negative is that they could be ‘too close’ to city officials. We need change, not continuation. On the upside, Coyne appears to be an assertive, no-nonsense type of person, while Habel appears to be approachable, and reasonable. On the downside, both support or would have supported the ill-advised Smart Meter fiasco, and favor an ‘at-large’ format of representation rather than the voter’s choice of district representation.

Since Brodhead and Hinterlong are known entities, either Coyne or Habel would be a better selection. However we have to tip the scale of recommendation and endorsement to Bill Habel since he conveys what is missing from the majority of the council and that is open mindedness, balance, fairness, approachability and he speaks well without a script.

Our four recommendations and endorsements, Tom Glass, Jo Malik, Doug Krause, and Bill Habel, would bring refreshing and needed qualities to the Naperville city council…genuineness and leadership.

Mar 302013
 

We have a dilemma here in Naperville. Residents like to know what the city council and city manager Doug Krieger are doing, and the city council along with Doug Krieger prefer that they not know. It makes sense to me. Residents are like parents; responsible, caring, and inquisitive. While teenagers (city officials) have difficulty with accountability and honesty.

Fortunately parents can apply consequences, and residents can utilize FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. The FOIA is a nightmare for the Naperville city council and city officials. It means they have to work and they have to provide information simultaneously. Is it any wonder why they cry and whine when FOIAs are submitted.

At the last city council meeting, they did the whining and crying gig during an exchange between city council members and Naperville city clerk (Pam LaFebar). It was so well done, that it appeared rehearsed. Do you ever wonder what they do during the closed portion of the meeting prior to the open portion.

Let’s do some quick math.

According to an article in the Daily Herald from 2011 (link below), each council member is compensated approximately $23,000 per year. It could be twice that by now, but let’s go with $23K.

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110608/news/706089743/

There are two city council meetings per month (sometimes one). Let’s go with two or 24 per year. Each meeting is about 2 hours, so they make about $480 per hour which equals $8 per minute.
Council members would say they would work more than that, but then again council members say a lot of things.

So take the time they spend talking about the hassle of FOIA’s each year (20 minutes at the last meeting), X 9 council members, X $8 per minute (wages) and it equals $1,440.

The cost of a FOIA per hour is (in their own estimation) $50/hour (sounds very inefficient).

That’s approximately 29 hours they could be spending on working on FOIA requests instead of complaining about them.

It’s ironic that time after time members of the Naperville city council and city manager Doug Krieger direct citizens to file FOIA requests to obtain answers to citizens’ questions. When those citizens do as they were directed, they are accused of abuse and harassment by the Naperville city council and Doug Krieger.

Since the council refrains from acknowledging a speaker other than interrupting them to state their address, and to tell them their time is up, or the Mayor Pradel special “Thank you”, a resident’s only recourse is the FOIA if they want an answer, and Naperville residents do want answers, many answers

Mar 282013
 

The city of Naperville has spent hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars in an effort to re-establish their image, an image that has been tarnished by the actions and decisions of city management including the Naperville city council and city manager’s office. The city’s effort is not working. Residents are quickly learning that things are not ‘right’ in Naperville and they demand to know why. Residents are asking, ‘What has happened to Naperville?”

Most recently a large group of residents have focused their energy on informing all Naperville residents and others that problems exist in Naperville and action is necessary to ‘right the ship’. Leadership is void in Naperville politics, and Naperville continues to drift sideways.

We encourage you to visit www.reclaimnaperville.org to learn more about Naperville’s lack of leadership, and how Naperville residents are coming together to do what Naperville city officials can’t or won’t do, and that is to re-establish Naperville’s image by making the right decisions and taking action to get things done.

Reclaim Naperville’s ‘About Us’ page states,

ReclaimNaperville.org is a grass-roots group of concerned citizens dedicated to returning Naperville, Illinois to the people who live here.

There is no affiliation with a political party – just a set of beliefs that citizens have a right to be informed, heard and respected by their government.

Too many decisions are made by politicians doing what they think is best despite massive input from the voters to the contrary – including election referendums and petitions signed by thousands of residents.

We offer this site as a source for anyone to learn about what is really going on.

It was started to help voters become informed before casting their ballots in the April 9th 2013 Municipal Election.

Beyond that, we will continue to update the site to keep you informed with facts- collected here for you to more easily digest and make up your mind for yourself.

Ours is a beautiful city. But, all is not as it appears from the outside. Be informed. These people are spending YOUR MONEY.”

Mar 272013
 

On Friday, March 22, the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group won a ‘victory’ in Federal Court when Judge John Z. Lee allowed NSMA the opportunity to refile an amended complaint by April 5 against the city of Naperville. The judge ruled ‘without prejudice’, which opens the door for NSMA to include additional information in the suit against the city. NSMA can include the hacking of the city’s website which was down for days and was not fully restored for nearly a month, the televised arrest and viral video of two Naperville women who peacefully pleaded not to have smart meters installed on their homes, and the increasing number of cities and towns throughout the United States that are banning the installation of meters.

The judge’s ruling makes it obvious to all, other than most members of the Naperville city council, that the suit has merit. If it didn’t, the court would have dropped the suit against the city faster than councilman Bob Fieseler can ignore a resident’s email. City councilman Steve Chirico was not surprised by the action of the Federal court, and actually expected the ruling. It appears councilman Chirico might be seeing the issue of smart meters more clearly than his peers. He along with councilman Joe McElroy were not part of the vote initially authorizing meter installation. Councilman Doug Krause (also a candidate for this year’s council election) has been a strong supporter on the side of citizen’s right of choice.

The Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group consists of a large number of highly informed resident’s who are fighting for the rights of all Naperville residents to retain their analogue meters, rather than be forced by local Naperville officials to have wireless invasive devices attached to their homes.

Naperville councilmen Bob Fieseler and Grant Wehrli, along with city manager Doug Krieger have spear-headed the charge for Smart Meters, which has resulted in the forced installation of unwanted meters, a Federal lawsuit, wasted dollars being spent by the city, and overwhelming negative press throughout the country about Naperville’s city officials.

It’s refreshing to see the “good guys” win one in court. It’s like watching Florida Gulf Coast win one on the court.

Mar 242013
 

You’ve heard the old saying, “It’s not easy to fight city hall”. It still applies. However now there’s another saying in Naperville, “It’s not easy to work with city hall.” Naperville city officials do not make it easy for open communication and cooperation with its residents. Typically if a resident sends an email, they don’t get a response. If they call, they don’t get a return call. If they speak during public forum at council meetings, they get rebuffed or dismissed. If they request an answer, they are directed to submit a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). If they submit a FOIA, they are ridiculed for wasting money (our own tax dollars), and wasting staff time. You get the idea.

City hall has the money (our tax dollars), the muscle (ordinances and the police), and clout (demonizing residents who disagree with city officials). While residents have only two tools to keep local officials in line; the vote and the FOIA. It’s no wonder that most city officials try to restrict residents from voting (Smart Meters). And if residents are successful in getting the opportunity to vote, and the vote doesn’t go in favor of the city council, city officials encourage a do-over vote on the same issue (District representation).

The Freedom Of Information Act allows citizens the opportunity to find out what politicians would rather they not find out. Politicians tend to get careless in their communication, be it written in email fashion, or in the inky shadows of smoke filled corridors. It’s also been said that you don’t need a good memory if what you’re saying is truthful. It’s only when one is speaking in non-truths that an impeccable memory is vital.

Watch and listen as Naperville councilman Joe McElroy mentions FOIA requests regarding Marquette Properties (developer of Water Street Project), Kathy West (local attorney for Marquette Properties), and Tim West (Naperville Sun writer and Kathy West’s spouse).

Who knows why there would be FOIA requests for those three? In fact, who would even know that FOIA requests were submitted for them? Once Joe broadcast that reality, it becomes a brain teaser. What’s the connection? Could it be that Kathy West’s law firm is located in that prime piece of Water Street property? Could it be that Tim West would like to see the Water Street Project become a reality? Could it be that Naperville city council candidates Tom Glass and Jo Malik, do not support the Waterstreet Project, Smart Meters, or the do-over vote for district representation, all things that Tim West appears to prefer. Who knows? But that’s the beauty of FOIA’s.

I do know that Kathy West is a very good and caring attorney, and she has helped many clients over the years. I also know that Tim West has been and is a journalistic fixture in the city of Naperville at the Naperville Sun. It takes a lot of straight and sideways thinking to write for more than 40 years.

Based on McElroy’s exchange with city clerk Pam LaFeber, what’s really interesting is:

  • the city ‘spends’ $50 per hour in researching FOIA requests…seems a bit outrageous and inefficient.
  • That only 150 FOIA requests have been made during the last two years, or about one every five days for a city of over 140,000 residents. Considering city officials have made so many bad decisions, one would think they’d be getting a FOIA request every hour.

Now watch and listen to Naperville councilman Grant Wehrli who is all for transparency, “but”….

Considering the massive amount of dollars wasted by the Naperville city council along with the city manager, what the city is spending on citizen FOIA requests is a bargain.

Mar 202013
 

Did anybody notice recently that the flag of the United States was flown at half-staff in Naperville?

I didn’t until a friend called me and asked “did something happen for the flag to be at half-staff?” I said, not that I know of, but I hadn’t watched the news that morning. I quickly turned Fox news on, but there was no indication anything had happened. I checked the internet, but still no mention of something happening that would justify flying the flag at half-staff. Then I called city hall to see if they might know, and the city clerk’s office said that former Naperville mayor Rybicki had passed away on March 6. He was the mayor of Naperville from 1975 – 1983 and served two terms. He was 96.

I thought to myself that his passing was unfortunate, but does that qualify to fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff? Maybe the city flag qualifies when a local politician dies, but the U.S. Flag? I’m a very curious person, so I did some quick research and unless you are reading the criteria with a very broad interpretation, this doesn’t happen for a local official. Where do you draw the line. How about a alderman, or council person, or a school board member, or some other local government official or worker. I say this with all due respect for the departed, and in this case former mayor Chester Rybicki.

Shouldn’t the United States flag fly at half-staff for events or people who are or have been on the national scene, while local officials are remembered or shown respect with the city flag at half-staff?

Now before you think I am ‘anti-mayor’, I’m not. In fact, I played the part of former mayor Grush in Naperville’s Sesquicentennial play in 1981. I also played the part of John Naper (Joe’s brother) in the same play, so I like the Naper brothers and Naperville.

To make it more confusing, while some U.S. Flags were flying at half-staff in Naperville, others remained at full staff, so apparently, the word didn’t get out. I contacted the Naperville city clerk’s office for clarification on who approved the half-staff flag and what specific regulation allowed it to happen. They couldn’t answer the question, and referred me to the mayor’s office. They also couldn’t answer the question, and referred me to the city attorney’s office. I called and had to leave a message on voice mail. That was no surprise since the city of Naperville finds itself getting sued quite often lately. The legal department must be very busy, and will only get busier unless new leadership prevails in the upcoming council elections.

I did get a call and an answer a few days later from the Naperville legal department. To their credit they did confirm that authorizing the flag to be flown at half-staff was ‘outside the parameters’ of the U.S. Flag Code, “only the President of the United States, your state’s Governor, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia can order the US flag lowered to half-staff.” If everyone were to half-staff the US flag at will, the symbolic value of that honor would be lost.

Nobody knows who authorized the U.S. Flag to be incorrectly flown at half-staff. It’s amazing how quiet it becomes in the offices, corridors, and inky shadows of city hall when it comes to accountability.

The city of Naperville has a very good legal department. If the mayor, city manager, and Naperville city council utilized that resource more effectively before acting on their own, they would undoubtedly save the city and residents money and time. The legal department would then have time to answer the phone rather than trying to undue and the wrong-doing by city officials.

Mar 162013
 

We just can’t seem to get enough of Carol Phillips. Every time she gets in front of the Naperville city council, it’s a combination of a stand-up comedy routine based on fact that deserves a standing ovation.

Her style makes you want to listen, and reminds me of a wise school principal reprimanding a class full of hooligans.

If the entire Naperville city council along with the city manager and city attorney were to debate Carol Phillips, I would gather as much money as I could and put it on Carol Phillips to win by a knockout. If the entire Naperville city council were to be replaced by Carol Phillips, Naperville would be a much more pleasant place to live.

Watch and listen to Carol Phillips as she recaps the recent PURPA (Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act) meeting to the city council and then sternly censures their actions and behavior.

Carol Phillips on the problems with PURPA

She hits the Naperville city council with a Top-Ten list consisting of:

  • The meeting is three years too late
  • Not a good time of day for a meeting
  • Even the council didn’t show up
  • Meeting was ‘run’ by a clerk
  • Residents were ‘given a lecture’
  • By a person (Mark Curran) who read from a manual
  • Giving information from 1976
  • Speaking for 1 ½ hours
  • He cleared out the auditorium
  • She’s not buying what the Naperville city council is pushing.

In less than 100 seconds, Carol Phillips made more points than the Naperville city council can make in 100 minutes of endless chatter.

At the end of her presentation, she deserved a standing ovation from all nine city council members along with the Naperville city manager. They could have done it, if they weren’t slouching in their seats looking for cover.

Mar 142013
 

Have you ever noticed that when government thinks something is a good idea, generally it’s not; at least not for the citizens. In the recent Naperville Satisfaction Survey, residents said there number one issue about city officials is that they haven’t addressed Naperville’s traffic problem. No matter where you are going, north, south, east, or west, traffic in Naperville can be miserable.

Less than one week after the survey was made public, the Naperville city council approved the massive high density Water Street Project for downtown Naperville. This is a 2.4 acre piece of land just south of the DuPage River and west of main street; basically a stone’s throw from city hall. It will contain a 166-room hotel, more than 70,000 square feet of of commercial space, and a 524-space parking deck.

With it comes a huge traffic dilemma, but city officials say not to worry, they’ll figure something out, sooner or later, sometime, maybe, could be, possibly.

It sounds eerily similar to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s directive to ‘pass the (ObamaCare) bill’ so we can see what’s in it’.

Hey it worked on the Federal level, so no wonder the city council thinks it will work in Naperville too.

The Water Street project undoubtedly will create a lot of winners including:

  • Current business’s in that area will reap a huge profit in selling their property to the developer
  • The developer will ‘make out like a bandit’ legally.
  • Bars will have more potential drinkers, hence an increase in fines, lawyer fees, insurance claims, hospital admissions, funerals, and cemetery plots.
  • And council members have the opportunity to ‘make out’ even better than the developer.

In time the project will be completed, the developer will be long gone, the property sellers will be elsewhere, the council members will be an obscure memory, but the horrendous traffic will endure.

Watch and listen as councilman Joe McElroy squeezes Naperville Director of Transportation Bill Novak for a straight answer regarding the project’s resulting traffic problem.

OK Bill, so what you are finally saying is that this is going to be a huge problem, so let’s make it happen sooner. Has anyone thought of just avoiding the problem, so that it doesn’t happen?

Now watch and listen to councilman Doug Krause, who voted against the project, as he spotlights the traffic nightmare.

The point councilman Doug Krause is trying to make, that his fellow council members can’t seem to understand, can be summed up with the following video.

Combine this with Naperville’s quest for electric vehicles running around downtown and you have a ‘made for Naperville’ movie.  And when you look up the definition of the word ‘chaos’ in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of the traffic flow in downtown Naperville.  Just in time for another Naperville Satisfaction Survey.

Mar 092013
 

Imagine playing a game of baseball, but your opponent changes the rules so that they can choose who will win and what the final score will be. Your opponent can also insure they will win by using their team members to be the umpire and the official scorer. They begin the game after the 9th inning and play the  game backwards towards the first inning. Additionally your opponent can make your team play short-handed by disallowing some of your best players from playing. Well, that’s how Naperville city officials play baseball, and it’s also how they govern the city of Naperville; they stack the deck.

Most recently this occurred during the city of Naperville PURPA (Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act) hearings when the public hearing officer (a Naperville city attorney) ruled on a motion by another Naperville city attorney to deny the Naperville Smart Meter Association an opportunity to express their position on federal energy standards.

It sounds like a boring topic and it is, except for the fact that it negatively affects all Naperville residents and businesses. To make it even more boring, the city’s position was read by the director of Naperville Department Public Utility, Mark Curran. If anybody could clear out a room of people as soon as he begins speaking, it would be Mr. Curran. Watch and listen as he presents a dry topic and makes it even more dry by reading it.

If this would have been a baseball game, the game would have been called due to lethargy, but the team in charge of the results made it continue.

Watch and listen to Naperville resident Julie Klepczarek, as she points out, the meeting is ‘three years too late’ and challenges the city to do the right thing.

Now watch and listen to long-time Naperville resident Jerry Schilling as he presents an overview of ‘wrong doing’ by Naperville city  officials regarding the forced installation of smart meters.

Finally, watch and listen to Naperville resident Michael Anderson, as he attempts to do the impossible by requesting  Naperville city officials incorporate common sense into their governing style.

The game (hearing) ended as it began, with the outcome and the score known; a classic stacked deck.

Mar 032013
 

All too often we see arrogance and ‘me first’ attitudes daily throughout our lives. It may be difficult to specifically define, but when you see it, you know exactly what it is. You see it when you’re merging lanes, standing in line, walking towards an entrance, or attending a sporting event. We are surrounded by it. So it’s no surprise when we see it happening by our local government officials. What is amazing is when they openly display it during city council meetings and the cameras are running.

When you contrast the ‘me first’ attitude and behavior with someone who is actually trying to do the ‘right thing’ in looking for solutions, it makes the bad-attitude person look all the more worse; very much like a ‘Goofus and Gallant’ comparison.

Take for example the most recent Naperville city council meeting when ‘Gallant’ in the form of councilman Doug Krause presents an option (solution) to the ongoing contentious battle of forced installation of smart meters on the homes of residents who don’t want them.

Watch and listen as Krause presents a solution, and councilman Wehrli is offended that Krause didn’t come to him first to discuss it.

So rather than highlighting the possible solution, Wehrli highlights the negative and his own needs. Apparently what’s most important to Wehrli, is that councilman Krause works his way through the cold corridors of city hall and towards the inky shadows of Wehrli’s office to discuss the issue.

Then he really emphasizes his ‘me first’ attitude when he immediately starts talking about the inconvenience he has while waiting to turn left on a green-arrow turn signal. Watch and listen to Wehrli as he addresses is own need.

In just a short period of time Wehrli has managed to discount a possible solution to a major issue and put his own personal need above those of 143,000 residents.

Now watch and listen to Director of Transportation, Bill Novak as he tactfully and succinctly explains why the green arrow is necessary.

It’s necessary to protect the residents and all the kids using the bike-way.

Let’s see if councilman Wehrli ‘gets it’ or if he still thinks his need to make a quick left, most likely to get the last glazed donut at Dunkin’ Donuts, is more important than the safety of residents.

Grant still doesn’t get it. But he undoubtedly has something in common with Kayne West.

Oh Grant, you always know what to say, it’s just not always the right thing to say.