Mar 302014
 

In the business world, we see it happen all the time. Someone is not getting the job done in actuality, or in perception, and the person in charge is replaced. If for no other reason, to show those remaining that the status quo is not acceptable, and that if ‘better’ is possible, then ‘good’ is not enough.  It’s all about accountability. It’s not always fair, but life is not fair. Changes have to be made and no one is irreplaceable.

This recently was seen when Chief Information Officer Beth Jacob resigned in the wake of Target’s massive security breach.  Her credentials are exemplary, and few are as good or better than Beth in her field of expertise, but when someone has to go, it’s the person who was at the helm of the ship when it went down.

It happened again just last week when security at the World Trade Center was breached twice within ten days, and the security official in charge (David Velazquez) “resigned”.  With Major League Baseball starting this month, it will happen many more times as teams get off to a slow start and replace their managers. Teams want to become better, as do corporations, and accountability, building trust, and managing performance are core values.

It doesn’t work that way with the City of Naperville’s local government. Under performers and non-performers are allowed to stay. In fact, often times with a promotion in title, salary, responsibility, or pension level. Assistant city managers can become police chiefs, finance directors can become City Managers, and the beat goes on and on.

Numerous times over the past few years, Naperville city officials have had major missteps in their ability to govern. Ill-advised decisions have affected residents, and leadership has been dismal at best.

The city of Naperville entered into a 28-year long term contract with the IMEA (Illinois Municipality Energy Association) in 2007 which was a terrible decision. It will adversely effect Naperville residents and business until the year 2035. The contract has no performance provisions, and to make matters worse the contract is basically caste in stone. Naperville city officials “got played” by downstate politicians. Where was the city attorney, when this contract was approved? The current city manager (Doug Krieger) was Naperville’s finance director at that time, but apparently didn’t forewarn decision makers about the ‘iceberg ahead’.

Now as the City Manager, all he suggests to do is drastically raise electric rates as the solution. Most likely it will be voted upon this Tuesday night by the city council. Elections are not that far ahead, and this is the type of decision that voters remember.  Until then, the city council still has an opportunity to deal with Doug Krieger as city manager. It’s time for Naperville city manager (Doug Krieger)  to follow in the footsteps of Beth Jacob, David Velazquez, Lou Piniella, Mike Quaade, and Dale Sveum, (the last three being former Chicago Cub managers). The difference between Doug Krieger and  Beth Jacob and Lou Piniella is that Beth and Lou knew what they were doing, and they were good at it, and they knew, along with their supervisors that it was time to leave.

 

 

 

 

Mar 272014
 

If there is one thing that Naperville city officials are good at, it’s being consistent. Whether it’s starting city council meetings late or making ill-advised decisions, they are consistent. Usually they only adversely affect residents and business in Naperville, however they occasionally reach well beyond the city limits.

Take for example the little township of Cottage Grove in far southern Illinois. It’s a small town of only 219 people give or take one depending if someone is born or dies that year. It’s about 30 square miles in size with a little over 100 homes. They don’t have a river walk and they don’t have bar fights in their downtown area, like Naperville, because they don’t really have a downtown area.

What they do have is a community of residents who take pride in their town, just like Naperille, and residents who will stand tall to protect their homes and families from bullying as did Naperville residents when they fought the city of Naperville over the forced installation of so-called Smart Meters.

In Cottage Grove Township, the bully is Peabody Energy, considered as one of the world’s largest coal companies, if not the largest. Peabody wants to extend the Cottage Grove strip mine (coal) and basically eliminate the town from existence, by threatening the drinking water and the town’s total environment.

Faced with losing their homes , farms, and health, from the blasting, flooding, and non-stop industrial war-zone traffic of coal operators, residents in this small southern Illinois town are taking a stand. Resident Jennifer Dumbris said, “We are going to pursue every legal means that we can, but with the control (Peabody) has over the existing system, it will be difficult, which is why we need all the support possible from the Attorney General to citizen groups across the state and nation. The very fate of our community is now on the edge.” Another resident said, “Mr. Peabody’s coal trains want to haul our community away.”

Peabody is doing to Cottage Grove Township residents, what the Naperville city officials did to Naperville residents and businesses; they are bullying to enforce an enormously flawed idea.

Peabody is supplying coal to Praire State Energy, which is in fact, largely owned by the City of Naperville.  So Naperville city officials are in partnership with Prairie State and Peabody Coal to essentially obliterate the southern Illinois town. You won’t find that on the City of Naperville’s website.

What you will find in the next couple of months will be sky-rocketing electric bills. Naperville city officials including the Naperville city council,  have been consistently on the wrong-side of right on nearly every decision dealing with the city owned electric utility.

The next time you open your refrigerator, and the little light comes on, realize that Naperville city officials are not only making you pay dearly for those watts, they are also putting a southern Illinois town out of existence.

 

Mar 232014
 

Most Naperville residents and businesses have no idea what’s about to hit them. Naperville city officials are on the verge of ‘sucker punching’ the entire city with a huge electric rate increase. This comes after Naperville city manager Doug Krieger and Naperville Public Utilities Director of Electric, Mark Curran, time and again reassured Naperville residents and businesses that things were under control with electric rates, everything was O.K, and would remain that way with zero or 2% rate increases over a five-year period. Additionally, because of a long-term contract that city officials approved in 2007 until the year 2035, Naperville residents and business would benefit enormously regarding electric rates.

As it turns out, this was nothing but smoke and mirrors, and nothing could be further from the truth. The city is $25 million in the hole and not willing to throw away the shovel. Naperville city manager’s answer is to sky-rocket the rates and ask everybody including businesses to use electric during off-peak times. That’s the extent of his creativity to addressing the problem. The City of Naperville is one of the ten largest employers in Naperville, yet nothing but silence on how the city plans to use their electric usage during off peak hours.

Unfortunately when city officials don’t exhibit strong leadership with critical thinking, demonstrating accountability and courage, communicating effectively, and managing performance, it reflects on all city officials which is unfair to those trying to do the right thing including councilmen Krause and Fieseler.

Watch and listen councilman Doug Krause as he expresses his concerns

Now watch and listen to Naperville councilman Bob Fieseler as he “tells it like it is” and is the only council member to present a ‘solution’ to ease the pain for residents and businesses. It’s a lengthy video clip, and well worth the time. Also note at the end of the clip, after Fieseler so accurately ‘nails’ it, the dead silence from the rest of the council. They’re either too embarrassed to respond, or more likely, they know he is absolutely correct and clearly understands the situation.

There is one person who is the common denominator of involvement for each mis-step in this total fiasco, and that person is Naperville councilman Grant Wehrli. He was on the council in 2007 when this terrible decision was made to contract with IMEA (Illinois Municipal Electric Agency) until the year 2035. Wehrli was there when the city did a money grab with the Federal Department of Energy for the smart grid. Wehrli was there when over 4,000 residents signed a petition, and were denied a vote for a non-binding referendum against the forced installation of Smart Meters. Wehrli was there when residents including two moms were handcuffed and arrested for protecting their homes and families from the forced meter installation. Wehrli was there as a point-person between the council, Krieger, Curran, and IMEA.

And what did Wehrli have to say during this council meeting? Watch and listen.

If you want to ask Wehrli about any of this, chances are he will want to adjourn the conversation.

Mar 162014
 

The State of Illinois has the worst funded public pensions in the United States. Fifty states, and Illinois is 50th. It’s not easy being the worst at something, however Illinois seems to excel in that accomplishment.

Is it any wonder that during an election year,  the word ‘pension’ is a buzz word, even in Naperville. City council members voted to opt out of the state’s retirement plan that would have paid an annual pension of about $2,000 per council member for life. That’s less than $20,000 per year for the entire Naperville city council.

Councilman Grant Wehrli was the bugle-boy, or point-person on this one. His timing on this is suspicious, considering he is running for a State office. I haven’t heard residents clamoring for council members to drop their pensions. There hasn’t been a petition submitted with thousands of residents’ signatures, as there was for the non-binding referendum regarding forced installation of so-called Smart Meters. Wehrli basically threw his city council peers and their pensions under the bus, so he could use this as a rallying point for his quest to be elected. He can say, “look I cleaned up the pension mess in Naperville, and I can do the same for Illinois too”.  Well, he didn’t clean up the pension mess in Naperville, and he won’t be able to do it for the State of Illinois either. It’s a pretty safe bet, that if councilman Grant Wehrli is doing something, he is doing it for himself.

Grant Wehrli and other Naperville city officials did nothing to prevent Police Chief Bob Marshall from collecting his $104,000 yearly pension, while also drawing his $155,000 salary. So city officials are saving $20,000 in council pensions, while losing $104,000 because city officials ‘gamed’ the residents of Naperville by creating a framework to allow Marshall to collect his police pension while working as the Chief of Police.

Here’s how they did it. Bob Marshall retired from the Naperville Police Department in 2005 and began to draw his police pension. Naperville city officials then placed him in the position of assistant city manager until May 2012 when he was appointed police chief.

Naperville city officials ‘gamed’ the system and the residents by not swearing him in again as an officer, and furthermore did not provide Marshall with a contract. So Bob Marshall is working without a contract and is not a police officer, in order to draw his police pension along with a hefty six-figure salary. All perfectly legal, and all perfectly hideous.

The bottom line is that Marshall is getting more than five-times as much pension income per year as nine council members combined would have for one year.

The next time you see Police Chief Bob Marshall, remember that he is not a police officer, and he’s working without a contract. He did it by ‘gaming’ the system and the residents. And he did it with the help of Naperville city officials.

 

 

Mar 082014
 

Naperville city officials have come up with an ingenious plan to cover the millions of dollars they wasted and squandered with their electric public utility. Not only do they want to astronomically raise the rates that residents and businesses are now paying for electric, they want change the way residents live and dictate how businesses should do business in Naperville. Simply stated, city officials want residents to do what they do now, but do it at night when electric usage is less. And the same applies to businesses.

It’s the same plan that city officials have always had, except that they want to do it now, as in immediately. They want to approve and utilize TOU (time-of-use) rates for the City’s 20 largest electric customers, and then quickly follow this will all residents and businesses.

In other words, using electric when we normally use it will now cost a premium, however if we want to use it in the middle of the night, then users would pay less.  What a brilliant idea city officials are presenting; live life at night….brilliant.

So let’s take a look at some of the Top-20 Major Employers and electric users:

* Edward Hospital

* School Districts 203 and 204

* North Central College

* BMO Harris

* Office Max (oops, they decided to leave  Naperville….maybe for better rates)

* Nicor Gas

* Kraft Foods

* Nalco

* BP

* ConAgra

* Phoenix Closures

* Tellabs

And who do we have among the Top-10 Employers and glutton of electric; well none other than the City of Naperville itself.

Watch and listen as Deputy City Manager, Marcie Schatz, presents this idea

So the city wants business and then residents to do their ‘thing’ at night, let’s say between midnight and 5am when electric rates are less. What would that look like, if business and residents started living life at night, and sleeping in the daytime when rates are higher.

We could have doctor’s appointments at 1am. Surgeries could be done at 2am. School buses could pick-up kids at midnight. Curfew for kids could be at 7am. North Central College could offer only night-time classes. Get those professors and teachers in there at 2am. My neighbor could use his electric mower at 3am. Councilmen Chirico and Fieseler could charge their EV’s at 2am when they arrive for council meetings. The entire city of Naperville could be bustling between midnight and 5am. They could build the Water Street Project during those hours. Think of the possibilities…..it’s endless.

The City of Naperville Electric’s Utility can’t tell us what our time-of-use is, as  promised, because city officials wasted almost $1 million dollars on a company to create an e-Portal system, and now that company is heading towards bankruptcy.

I guess I’ll have to use the old-fashioned method of determining my electric usage; if my lights are on, then I’m using electric.

Mar 072014
 

The residents and businesses of Naperville have been on the receiving end of a ‘crime’. It actually started  in the inky shadows of city hall’s corridors, and it culminated with the recent announcement that the Naperville Public Utility of Electric is $25 million in the red, and city officials want residents and businesses to cover the loss, and that’s the crime.

So how did Naperville go from $5 million in the black as recently as last year, to $25 million in the hole one year later. How could this happen? City officials kept reassuring residents to trust when they said electric rates would not increase over a 5-year period by more than the rate of 0%, 0%, 2%, 2%, and 2%. City manager Doug Krieger said it, the mayor said it, the city council said it, Mark Curran, the Public Utility Director of Electric said it, the talking heads (Smart Grid Ambassadors) said it. Something went terribly wrong, and residents along with Naperville business could be paying astronomical electric rates for the next 21 years, until the year 2035. That’s even longer than term limits for council members, and they haven’t even gone into effect yet.

So who is responsible for letting this ‘crime’ happen? The list of possible culprits is lengthy, but if this was a corporation, who would be issued their walking papers?

The Naperville Public Utility of Electric is Naperville’s Titanic “even God can’t sink this ship”.  Who is Naperville’s Captain Edward Smith, Officer-in-Charge of-the-Bridge William Murdoch, and Crow’s Nest Lookout (Reginald Lee)?

They would be City Manager Doug Krieger (Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon), city councilman Grant Wehrli, and Naperville’s Director of Public Utility Electric, Mark Curran.

 

All three have been crucial moving parts of this fiasco since 2007 when Naperville entered a horrible contract with IMEA (Illinois Municipal Electric Agency) which runs through the year 2035. Krieger was the finance director, Wehrli was one of three current council members who approved the contract (along with Pradel and Krause), and Curran has been with the city since 1991, and in his current position as Public Utility Director of Electric since 2010. Curren should have seen the iceberg and warned the Captain (Krieger) of impending doom (20 + years of high electric rates). Wehrli as the council’s point person with the Smart Grid needed to asking the right people the right questions and he didn’t. Krieger did not and has not exhibited the leadership necessary to steer the ship to safety. Time and again he has failed the residents and businesses of Naperville. Residents, through the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group tried to warn them, but they would not listen. City officials simply had them arrested and thrown into the court system.

Those most responsible for the sorry state of electric rates in Naperville (Krieger, Wehrli, and Curran) most likely will be gone in short time. Wehrli is leaving the scene of the crime and running off to the state legislature, while Krieger and Curran will be working their ‘magic’ elsewhere. What will remain will be the residents, the businesses, the sky-rocketing electric rates, and a horrible contract through 2035.

Mar 032014
 

For years now, Naperville city officials have been patting each other on the back, and congratulating themselves regarding the financial soundness of their city-owned electric utility. They actually believed in their own rhetoric. Watch and listen as city manager Doug Krieger proudly waves a bogus five-year rate study, at residents thinking he could fool all the residents, all the time.

Naperville residents said, “No, you’ve got it all wrong”. Would city officials listen. Of course not, because they have all the answers. Last year the Electric Utility was $5 million in the black. Now less than 1 year later, city officials are $25 million in the red. If you listen to City Manager Doug Krieger, and look at the city website, everything seems great. But $25 million in the hole is an abysmal failure.

So now the rate study showing a 0%, 0%, 2%, 2%, and 2% increases over a five-year period was nothing more than smoke and mirrors on Krieger’s part. Increases will be closer to double-digit. Krieger’s answer, is that the last thing he wants to do is raise the rates. Watch and listen as Krieger starts dancing.

Does Krieger think he’s been a ‘good guardian’ of the electric utility and Naperville residents’ tax dollars. Here is what he says.

Here’s where it starts to get more interesting. Watch and listen to Naperville councilman Bob Fieseler as he directly confronts Krieger’s performance.

Finally a council member appears to have had enough (long overdue) of Krieger’s mis-information and lack of strong and competent leadership.

Krieger still doesn’t get it, and to the credit of Bob Fieseler he comes at Krieger again, and Krieger can’t handle the truth.

These exchanges between councilman Fieseler and Krieger may have been Fieseler’s most brilliant since he’s been on the council. Kudos for councilman Bob Fieseler for thinking, identifying, and saying, what residents have known for quite some time. Naperville city manager Doug Krieger doesn’t seem to have the foggiest idea what he is doing.

Watch and listen as Doug Krause wants to know “who’s going to pay for it?” The residents are going to pay for it. Krause knows it, the residents know it, but Public Utilities Director of Electric (Mark Curran) can’t give a straight answer.

Watch and listen to Curran along with Chief Procurment Officer Michael Bevis embarrass themselves with their lack of awareness.

Finally, watch and listen to Krieger and Naperville city councilman Grant Wehrli when they attempt to “Hijack resident participation” by moving a public meeting to the daytime so fewer residents are available to voice their opinion.

How despicable is that. Does anybody even know if Wehrli has a job, other than taking care of himself. So Wehrli wants to “game” the residents by making inconvenient to those who do have a job.

This is the same Grant Wehrli who wants to be elected to represent Illinois’ 41st District in Springfield. For what reason? To sit in the back of the room and do nothing. Considering what he has done to Naperville, maybe that’s not a bad idea.