Jan 222015
 

It’s not easy trying to start a small business in Naperville. Just ask the person who tried to get approval from city officials to become a street vendor for Italian Ice. The Naperville city council voted a resounding ‘No’ to the idea by a vote of six to two. The two who voted ‘yes’ to the upstart business were Mayor George Pradel, and city councilman and mayoral candidate Doug Krause.

Watch and listed as councilman and mayoral candidate Steve Chirico outlines the agenda topic:

One might think that Chirico being fit and trim, and the picture of good health, might be a fan of Italian Ice, and being a successful Naperville business owner himself would be in favor of free enterprise, but the following video clip implies otherwise. Watch and listen as councilmen Krause and Chirico, along with Mayor Pradel state their cases, followed by the vote:

In fairness to councilman Chirico, he has been a good advocate for vendors over the years, and he is on the board of the Downtown Naperville Alliance (DNA), which is a collection of downtown merchants. The DNA would probably prefer no street vendors, while Chirico would be OK with four vendors, but being a good representative of the business district, he wanted to strike a balance, hence keeping it at two vendors achieves that goal for now.

It’s difficult to imagine that a street vendor selling a few cups of Italian Ice would jeopardize other downtown businesses. If that’s the case, it looks like Naperville’s downtown business owners are in trouble generating a profit. Rather than saying ‘no’ to an Italian Ice street vendor, it might be more helpful for local businesses if city officials would ‘get off their backs’ with the multitude of regulations, fines, penalties, permits, mandates, and overall stifling policies.

Unfortunately city officials don’t think in that direction; they think in the direction of over-regulation. We’ve seen it recently with their posture towards Uber ride-share, and now with the concept of drones. For all of Naperville officials talk of being on the cutting edge of innovation, they continue to gravitate to the dinosaur mindset.

It’s an Italian Ice street vendor, not a nuclear reactor. Do they have any idea how much flavored ice has to be sold to cover all the regulations, taxes, insurance etc. to generate a profit.

The Naperville city council made Joey’s Redhots (hot dog street- vendor) walk over hot coals to get approval to sell a hotdog on a bun. Naperville city officials made things miserable with regulations and the fear of shutting him down every time his license came up for renewal.

Imagine if the Villa Park city council did to Portillo’s in 1963 what the Naperville city council does to upstart small businesses in Naperville. Portilllo’s started out as a street vendor, and now 50+ years later, there are 32 Chicago area cities generating immense sales tax revenues, along with other Portillo cities throughout the country doing the same.

It’s time for the Naperville city council to stop protecting special interest groups (taxi cab, restaurant association, bars, etc), and do what’s in the best interests of all Naperville businesses and residents.

Voters in downtown Naperville, might like the option of enjoying a cup of Italian ice from a street vendor, especially in an election year.

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