May 292013
 

 

The one-line joke goes like this, “I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out.” Considering tonight is game seven for the Chicago Blackhawks versus Detroit Red Wings, the over-used one-line hockey joke is timely.

It’s also timely when the city of Naperville is continuing to increase the number of liquor licenses approved at city council meetings, in light of the fact that downtown Naperville is becoming synonymous with late-night fight activities in downtown bars.

Never fear though, because city officials have figured out a way for those fight-night bars to no longer have brawls, dust-ups, and all-around mayhem flow from the confines of Naperville establishments into the streets. The solution is simple; just change the name of the bar and put a new owner in charge.

The late-night fight spot formerly known as BlackFinn will be changing its name to something more appropriate like ‘Blue Gil’, or ‘Black & Blue Eye’, and a change of ownership should fix the problem just as it did for the Chicago Cubs when ownership went from Wrigley, to the Chicago Tribune, to the Ricketts family. Three owners and no World Series since 1945, and no World Series win since 1908. Seems to have worked for all us Cubbie fans.

Changing a bar’s name and ownership at best simply moves the offenders from one establishment to another. Look at downtown Naperville’s bars as apartments in a building. When the exterminator comes to rid an apartment of pests, the pests simply go to another apartment. Continuing to add more and more liquor licenses in a confined area, simply increases the probability of more mayhem to surface.

Considering Naperville city officials haven’t seen a new liquor license application they don’t like, other solutions need to be considered. One solution could be to require all individuals to rent a city-issued hard-hat when entering the downtown area after 5pm. That’s a guaranteed money-make for the city. Another possibility would be to have armed Naperville police officers at the entrance of each bar, similar to what city officials did to residents at city council meetings when the topic of Smart Meters was on the agenda.

Who knows, maybe changing the name of a bar will work. It worked when Naperville city officials eliminated the ‘homeless’ problem by changing the name to ‘street dwellers.

May 222013
 

 

It was a very boring Naperville city council meeting last night. Nothing of any consequence really happened. That’s always good news for Naperville residents. It’s also good news for residents when meetings are canceled, which happens once or twice a year. It’s like a snow day at school for teachers and kids. There were no feisty issues. No insults hurled at residents. No council members dozing off. There were your typical proclamations read by council member Brodhead again; she seems to be the official ‘proclamation reader’. She was more prepared than last time, but still was missing some paperwork when she took her usual position at the podium. There were no shout-outs for city manager Doug Krieger to resign. Nobody got tossed out of the meeting.

They did unanimously vote to add a couple of police officers to the force. This is always good when the city continues to increase the number of liquor licenses in Naperville. It makes me wonder if liquor is served during liquor commission meetings. Chances are nobody is absent from those meetings.

The council members did have some fun last night at the expense of Naperville’s only two street vendors, Joe the hotdog guy, and John the rib guy. The Naperville city council keeps stringing these guys along. Rather than the council giving the hotdog guy and the rib guy their blessing to do business in downtown Naperville so they can make a couple of bucks, the council keeps them coming back every few months to get city approval to stay in business for a few more months. Joe probably can’t even order a six month supply of mustard, since he doesn’t know for sure if the city will allow him to stay in business. Last year the Naperville city council approved four street-food vendors to do business in the downtown area, and two must have decided it wasn’t worth doing business, if the city was going to do to them what they do to Joe the hotdog guy. All Joe wants to do is sell hotdogs, make a couple of bucks after midnight, take care of his family, and make some hotdog eaters happy. The city of Naperville rewarded Joe for his entrepreneurial spirit by ostracizing him to the outskirts of the downtown area to a location more quiet than a sleep apnea testing center.

When the meeting ended chances are some of the Naperville city council members went out to enjoy a few cold brews at a recently licensed liquor establishment, while John the rib guy headed off to work so he could make a few bucks selling ribs on a street corner until 1:30am. Joe the hot dog guy was probably hoping he could sell a couple of hotdogs and not run out of mustard.

May 202013
 

 

Illinois State Senator Dan Duffy introduced a resolution condemning Redflex Traffic Systems Inc and calling for “further investigation into a ‘scandal’ possibly involving the company and Red Light Cameras (RLCs).” Duffy’s complete statement follows at the end of this posting. The company’s business practices were recently called into question when a ‘bribery scandal’ surfaced in the media. According to Duffy, “the Chicago Tribune said that this egregious ‘scandal’ would rank among the largest in the annals” of municipal “corruption”.

This is newsworthy since the city of Naperville had contracted with Redflex Traffic Systems. Late in 2011 the Naperville city council deadlocked four-to-four on a one year contract extension. Needing a simple majority of five, the vote put an end to the use of Red Light Cameras in Naperville. While councilman Paul Hinterlong was absent for the vote, those voting in favor of keeping the relationship with Redflex included Mayor George Pradel (who announced he’s not running for re-election), a former council member, councilman Joe McElroy (who was not part of the original vote to contract with Redflex), and Naperville city council member Judy Brodhead who gave her full support to Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.

Councilman Judy Brodhead has also recently voted for Smart Meters resulting in forced installations, increased traffic congestion with the Water Street project, and increasing the number of liquor licenses in Naperville. Brodhead’s vote in favor of Red Light Cameras, and specifically Redflex Traffic Systems, begs the questions, ‘Why would you support these bad ideas?”, and “Is there something you know, that we don’t know that guides your vote?” These are reasonable questions to ask and get answers to, long before the next city council election.

State senator Dan Duffy’s announcement:

State Senator Dan Duffy has introduced Senate Resolution 314 condemning Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. and calling for further investigation into a scandal involving the company, Red Light Camera’s, and the City of Chicago.

Redflex operates red light cameras in 38 Illinois municipalities.  Since 2003 Redflex has generated more than $300 million in revenue for Chicago.  However, the company’s business practices were recently called into question when a bribery scandal emerged in the media.

The Chicago Tribune has said that this egregious scandal would rank among the largest in the annals of Chicago corruption,” said Duffy.  “We need to conduct a proper investigation into this scandal to understand the full depth of the corruption.  Red light cameras are already a subversion of due process, and now they’re contributing to the inherent culture of corruption already present in Chicago.”

A number of Redflex’s executives were implicated in a bribery scandal in which it was revealed that one of the company’s consultants had been making improper payments to a Chicago transportation official who was responsible for overseeing the awarding of contracts for the installation and operation of the controversial red light camera system.

Further investigation revealed that Redflex paid potentially $2.03 million in bribes to city officials and that the company’s president not only had knowledge of the arrangement, but had also lied to city officials about the extent of the wrongdoing.

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson has stated that the Inspector Generals office has “found lack of a basic record keeping and an alarming lack of analysis for an ongoing program that cost tens of millions of dollars a year and generates tens of millions more in revenue.”

‘My resolution calls on the Illinois Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, the States Attorneys of Cook, Lake, Kane, St. Clair, Madison, and McHenry Counties to conduct investigations into the misconduct of Redflex,” said Duffy.  “If corruption did indeed occur during the contract negotiation process between Redflex and Illinois municipalities, then this Senate Resolution demands that refunds for Red Light Camera fines be paid back to the citizens and the cameras turned off immediately.’

 

May 192013
 

 

Election day for mayor of Naperville is just 688 days from now (April 7, 2015). If the election was held today (May 19) we know who the winner would be….and we can guarantee it. Absolutely no doubt about it. You could bank on it.

Our current mayor, George Pradel, said quite some time ago that he is not running for re-election. He said it, so it must be to be true….right? As we all know, politicians are some of the most trusted people in the country. George has taken himself out of the running, and can you blame him? I mean, a person can only deal with so much ‘oxen fertilizer’, and George has been surrounded by it for years and it’s only getting deeper, to the point he is swimming in it. Chicago’s Mayor Daley decided not to run for re-election, and he left Chicago’s new Mayor Rahm Emmanuel with the gift of a horrendous parking meter contract. Mayor Pradel will leave our next mayor with a plethora of “parking meter contracts” including Smart Meters, Water Street Projects, traffic flow, and a rising number of liquor licenses resulting in occasional mayhem in downtown Naperville.

So who wants to deal with these problems and be the next mayor of Naperville? The answer is Naperville city council member Steve Chirico. How does Mayor Chirico sound? If the election was held tomorrow, the guaranteed winner would be Steve Chirico; no doubt about it. “Why?”, you ask, and the answer is simple. Councilman Steve Chirico is the only human being in the world who has publicly announced he is running for the office of mayor of Naperville. That makes him the winner at least until someone else enters the race.

Like him or not, you have to give councilman Chirico credit for being the first person to announce his candidacy. There may be, and likely will be, others to follow, however being a follower is easy. Chirico had the courage to be the first. Maybe he’s the most confident, maybe he’s the most over-confident, or maybe he’s the most foolish, but one thing is for sure…he is the most proactive. That gives him a talking-point (being proactive) that other ‘wanna-be’s’ won’t have. Additionally, “Mayor Chirico” has proven he can use a gavel to throw a resident out of a city council meeting faster than a city of Naperville employee with police escort can forcefully slap a unwanted Smart Meter on a resident’s home.

May 162013
 

What do John Kerry (former Presidential candidate ) and Naperville councilman Grant Wehrli have in common? They both voted ‘yes’ on an issue, and then later, wanted to change that vote to ‘no’. In Kerry’s situation, he had more time to consider his vote, and then changed his vote to ‘no’.

Wehrli on the other hand wanted to change his ‘yes’ vote, about eight minutes later, to a ‘no’ vote, but it was too late.

The issue was whether or not to approve an additional liquor license in Naperville. Watch and listen as councilman Wehrli explains his support of adding another liquor license.

Now watch and listen as the Naperville city council votes on the issue.

After the vote, Naperville councilman Paul Hinterlong, talks about traffic and police presence in the downtown area where the additional license will be utilized.

Now watch and listen to Naperville councilman Grant Wehrli, less than eight minutes after voting ‘yes’ to the liquor license, regretting his ‘yes’ vote and wanting (too late) to change it to ‘no’

Kudos for Wehrli seeing the folly in his original ‘yes’ vote to add yet another liquor establishment to the downtown Naperville area, however why is it that councilman Hinterlong had to ‘turn the light on’, so that Wehrli could see what’s happening to the downtown Naperville area. Shouldn’t Wehrli be wise enough, and smart enough to know what Hinterlong knows.

How many liquor-serving joints does downtown Naperville really need? I guess the answer to that question is how many police officers and squad cars can the city of Naperville stuff into the downtown area, in order to be ahead of the liquor-curve, resulting in brawls, injuries, fights, and arrests.

As Paul Harvey would say, “and now for the rest of the story”. Less than 100 hours after approving another liquor license for Naperville, six people were arrested and one employee was injured after a brawl broke out at about 1am on Sunday. Naperville police were summoned to a popular downtown bar to quell a fight on the third floor of the liquor-licensed establishment. Though numerous folks were involved in the dust-up when mayhem broke loose, it appears the liquor license hanging on the wall was not damaged.

May 132013
 

Apparently Naperville council member Judy Brodhead has never heard the Boy Scout motto. If she had, then she would have been more prepared during the last Naperville city council meeting on May 7.

Her job that evening was to read four proclamations signed by Mayor George Pradel. It’s a long walk for the mayor from his position in the middle of the dais to the podium, so he likes to have council members saunter towards the podium and do it for him. Council member Brodhead sits towards the end of the dais, so it’s an easy walk for her, plus she seems to enjoy reading proclamations; the only problem is that she isn’t always prepared.

The third proclamation of the evening was to recognize Naperville Planning and Transportation Team Leader Karyn Robles (Rob’-less), however as you can see and hear from the video clip below, council member Brodhead had to ask the recipient of the proclamation how to pronounce her name.

You would think Brodhead would know how to pronounce Karyn’s name in advance since she is a city staff team member, or at least turn off the mic to confirm the pronunciation.

Then to add an exclamation mark to Brodhead’s unpreparedness, prior to her fourth and final proclamation of the evening, she didn’t have the proclamation (paper) to read and had to retrieve it from another city official.

Suggestion to council member Brodhead….follow the Boy Scout Motto and ‘Be Prepared’

The second proclamation of the evening (recognizing the Chorus of Dupage) was also interesting. As the chorus sings “I’m Proud to be an American”, watch the reaction of council members Chirico who seems uninspired, Wehrli who appears bored and then reading, Pradel, who might be counting the days until retirement, and new council member David Wentz who is the first councilman to give the Chorus of Dupage a standing ovation, which was then sluggishly followed by the rest of the council.

It was good to see new councilman Wentz take the lead by doing the ‘right thing’.

If there is a group in Naperville who could most benefit from the words of “Proud to be an American”, it just might be the Naperville city council. They just need to ‘be prepared’ and pay attention.

 

May 072013
 

 

The day we have all been patiently waiting for has finally arrived in Naperville. It’s the day (May 7, 2013) that the Naperville city council is officially proclaiming, (during tonight’s city council meeting) , as International Barbershop Harmony Day in Naperville. I for one say it’s about time. I’m not sure sure how many barber shops we have in Naperville, or how many barbershop quartets we have, but one thing is for sure…there will be some kind of partying going on in downtown Naperville tonight.

And that’s perfect timing, at tonight’s meeting, for the Naperville city council to add another liquor license in Naperville and raise the number from 18 to 19 in order to accommodate another eating/drinking establishment. Wouldn’t it be just easier to stop the game playing with liquor licenses in Naperville and just approve it for a limit of 100 licenses. That should cover the topic for the next few years in Naperville before they need to raise the limit again. The Naperville city council chose the direction our city will take, by approving the Water Street Project. We will no longer be a quaint family friendly city as we get bigger and bigger and more congested. We’ll need every one of those 100 liquor licenses.

Now that we have finally recognized Barbershop Harmony Day, isn’t it about time we make that proclamation by the Naperville city council for ‘Naperville Resident Appreciation Day’. Let’s celebrate all those FOIA-submitters (including councilman Grant Wehrli). Inquiring minds want to know, and the residents of Naperville really want to know what goes on in the inky shadows of city hall. In fact, rather than reading the proclamation honoring FOIA-ing residents, how about the city council sing it in Barbershop Harmony style. It would go viral on YouTube. And politicians love publicity.

 

May 052013
 

 

It’s time to give recognition when recognition is due, and the residents of Naperville deserve a standing ovation from Naperville city officials, specifically with regard to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA). As the name implies, this act allows citizens the opportunity to request information from the government, in this case locally, that is considered public information. It’s a simple process. The citizen fills out a form, sends it in, and the city provides the information to the citizen. Everybody’s happy.

The resident learns more about the workings of government, and the local government gets the satisfaction of providing information to its residents. Thomas Jefferson would be proud that democracy is working.

However most folks don’t really care what’s happening in local politics and local officials really enjoy this type of constituency. Deal-making in the inky shadows of Naperville’s city hall corridors is much easier with an uninformed citizenry.

For quite some time, Naperville city officials have been whining, ‘crying’, and complaining about citizens exercising their right to FOIA the city for info. Even Naperville city councilman Grant Wehrli wants to submit a FOIA to see which citizens have submitted FOIA requests, once he figures out how to submit a FOIA. Apparently city officials feel the city has been ‘over-FOIA-ed’ by its residents.

We contacted a number of cities in Illinois with comparable populations to Naperville (including Aurora, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield), and as few outside of Illinois including Dayton, Ohio, Hollywood, Florida, and Pasadena, California to see how many FOIA requests they processed from the beginning of 2013 thru the end of April. Other than Rockford, each city had the information readily available, and each city processed more FOIA requests than Naperville. So why is the city of Naperville complaining about FOIA-overload? If anything, it appears the city of Naperville needs more FOIAs submitted from citizens.

The city of Rockford, makes Naperville city staff look great in comparison. Naperville city staff had the information within minutes, while it took five phone calls to Rockford over a five day period, we were switched to two different departments and spoke with four different people. Finally, Kevon Hayes in IT seemed delighted to let me know that I needed to submit a FOIA to find out how many FOIA’s were processed. I wanted to ask him why I needed to submit a FOIA for such a simple request, but I had the feeling he was going to ask me to submit another FOIA to get that answer. Obviously, Rockford has their own bureaucratic problems. Sounds like a great opportunity for a Watchdog in Rockford.

Getting back to Naperville, it sounds like the city of Naperville’s problem is not that there are too many FOIA requests, but that there are too few. There is a remedy. I suggest the city of Naperville has a ‘Resident Appreciation Day’, similar to ‘Fan Appreciation Day’ at baseball games. Councilman Grant Wehrli can determine from his FOIA request, which citizens have submitted the most FOIA’s and then Mayor Pradel can proclaim a Fan Appreciation Day, and read the proclamation at the next City Council Meeting. The city could then hire a Public Relations company to determine the best way for residents to be educated on the process of submitting FOIA requests. There’s no reason why Naperville can’t surpass other Illinois cities in the number of FOIAs processed. Who knows, maybe we could even surpass Rockford, if only somebody in Rockford new how many FOIA’s they processed.

 

May 032013
 

From Cicero, to Robbins, to North Chicago, to Dixon, to Crestwood, to………is it possible….Naperville?

The latest involves Crestwood Police Chief Theresa Neubauer, formerly the head of the village water department, who was convicted Monday of 11 counts of lying repeatedly to state regulators regarding the safety and contamination of Crestwood’s water supply.

City officials in Crestwood, Illinois were probably just as confident as Naperville’s city manager Doug Krieger in guaranteeing the residents have nothing to be concerned about. The link below will show there is much to be concerned about.

Southtown Star Article

City officials in more and more municipalities are being held personally accountable and responsible for the economic, privacy, safety, and health effects of their decisions on the residents of their communities. No longer can a department head say they were just following orders. No longer can a mayor or city council member say they didn’t know, especially when an avalanche of information is presented to them indicating their position on an issue is detrimental to the health their constituency.

Naperville city officials have tied their reputation, political, and personal future to the effects of Smart Meters on the residents of Naperville. Of the nine current Naperville city council members, only councilman Doug Krause has withdrawn his support of Smart Meter installation. Two councilmen were not part of the original vote to install smart meters (Joe McElroy and Steve Chirico), however neither has joined Krause in opposing the installation. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Naperville city manager Doug Krieger, along with council members Bob Fieseler and Grant Wehrli have been the ‘flag carriers’ and spear-headed the ‘battle-cry’ for Smart Meters. Though Fieseler has a well-written article presenting some concerns about smart meters, and Wehrli has tried to camouflage himself as just one one of the good-ole-boys, and not really a point-person in pushing smart meters, they have made their positions on the issue abundantly clear to the residents of Naperville.

Basically Krieger, Fieseler, and Wehrli have shackled themselves to the rhetoric of the Department of Energy along with a multimillion dollar grant, and literally shoved Smart Meters on the homes and businesses in Naperville.

Whether or not the hiring of additional city attorneys, along with the ‘crying’ and whining of city officials concerning residents utilizing their right to submit FOIA’s has anything to do with events to come, remains to be seen.

 

May 022013
 

 

The City of Naperville has found another way to spend tax payer dollars….hire more city attorneys.

That can only mean any one or more of the following:

  • City officials anticipate more law suits filed against the city
  • City officials aren’t confident in their recent decisions

  • The current group of city attorneys are slightly incompetent or working at half-speed

  • Somebody knows somebody who knows somebody

  • More extended family members (attorneys) need to be on the payroll

  • More resident-unfriendly ordinances means more litigation

  • City officials have an abundance of tax-payer dollars to burn

Naperville (population 142,000) currently has five full-time attorneys and one part-time attorney in the legal department. They have the green light to hire one more full-time attorney, and one more part-time attorney bringing the total to the equivalent of 7 full time attorneys. Compare this to Aurora (population 198,000) which has three city attorneys, Rockford (population 153,000) which has five city attorneys, and Joliet (population 148,000) with four city attorneys. So why is it that other cities with more population need fewer attorneys working for their cities? Additionally both Springfield (with five) and Peoria (with 4 attorneys working for the city) have a higher resident-to-attorney ratio than Naperville.

The flip side of this conundrum is that maybe Naperville actually needs many more city attorneys than they have. Naperville city officials need all the legal help and advise they can get. It’s much wiser for city officials to pay bundles of tax-payer dollars to a gaggle of city attorneys, than to continue to make poor decisions resulting in more law suits against the city, and losing those suits in court.

‘Actuarially’ speaking, it might be a good idea for each council member (and the city manager) to have his or her own city attorney, pulling double-duty by also acting as a chauffeur and thereby providing advice to council members at all times. My guess is that the first piece of advice each city attorney / chauffeur would have for their council member would be, ‘dump’ the electric vehicle fiasco.