Mar 292015
 

Nine days and counting until the municipal election for the Naperville city council (April 7) and 35 days until the new council is sworn-in and officially in position (May 3).

It’s possible that all nine members of the city council could be new in position; either new as a council member, or new in position as mayor. Watchdog endorsed Steve Chirico for mayor a few weeks ago, and now comes Watchdog’s eight endorsements for members of the city council.

19 candidates are running for office and the top eight vote-getters will be elected to the council, with the top four serving a four-year term to the council, and the following four vote-getters serving two-year terms.

Watchdog’s endorsements, with a short comment, for four-year terms (top four vote-getters) include in alphabetical order:

Becky Anderson

Long-time downtown merchant, life long resident, very opinionated, well organized, seeks creative solutions, drives change, and manages execution.

Rebecca Boyd-Obarski

Open-minded, good listener, demonstrates accountability, communicates effectively and respectfully, organized, intelligent, well-connected, and an excellent speaker.

Bill Eagan

CFO for Hinsdale Schools, demonstrates courage, started referendum campaign for districts vs at-large representation, thinks critically, Naperville Parks Commissioner, and an outstanding communicator.

Joe McElroy

Incumbent city council member, public policy consultant, thinks critically, builds trust, open-minded, and brings high-level of common sense to the dais.

 

Watchdog’s endorsements for two-year terms (top five through eight vote-getters) include in alphabetical order:

Kevin Coyne

Attorney narrowly edged out in last election, well-organized, smart, served on Naperville commissions for eight years, reasonable, highly competent, manages execution, and respectfully drives change.

Patty Gustin

Plan Commission Chair, open-minded, maximizes relationships, good listener, consensus builder, and real estate expertise.

Robert Hajek

Focus on fiscal accountability, cautious and conservative approach, builds trust, drives change, knows how to close a deal.

Steve Peterson

Local business person, smart, successful, energetic, understands what it takes to build a business, seeks realistic solutions, manages performance, promotes fiscal responsibility.

 

City council candidates falling short of Watchdog endorsement include in alphabetical order:

Judy Brodhead

Incumbent, her contribution to city council has been immanently forgetful, basically an empty seat.

John Colletti

Willing to work 25 hours per week on the council, but what happens when 26 hours are needed. Too limiting with flexibility.

Wayne Floegel

Nice guy, easy going, but lacking necessary energy and passion.

Dick Furstenau

Professes to promote fiscal responsibility, but involved city with an expensive law suit and costing residents huge loss in tax dollars.

Kevin Gallagher

Former council member. It’s time to bring in the new, and not reach back for the past. Motivation not a strength.

Paul Hinterlong

Incumbent, conspiring against business (Uber) to keep them out of town, nice guy but doesn’t think before making foolish statements.

John Krummen

Ran twice previously resulting in being among the lowest vote-getters, ambassador for the ill-advised smart meters.

Nancy Marinello

Attorney and arbitrator for public utility board. The council needs fewer attorneys and more business representation.

H. Tom O’Hale

Objected to the Smart Meter Referendum, what more needs to be said.

Stephen Purduski

Computer engineer and democrat, score one point for, and one point against. Plans on working on city issues for a minimum of 8 hours per week which is not very reassuring.

Dave Wentz

Incumbent, attorney, never made a satisfactory explanation for tax issue, “do you know who I am” mindset not inviting.

 

This municipal election is a huge opportunity for Naperville residents and business alike to take an enormous step forward for the future of Naperville. Every vote counts.

With a new mayor in position for the first time in 20 years, he will need all the help and expertise available from the new Naperville city council to move Naperville on a steady course for success.

Mar 262015
 

Expectations can oftentimes be a big disappointment. Other times, expectations deliver as expected.

Take for example Naperville council member Judy ‘chickens don’t bark’ Brodhead. Her contributions to the workings of the Naperville city council have been immanently forgetful. Basically she has been an empty chair. Hence in her case, nothing has been expected of her, and nothing has been delivered by her, other than the the philosophical piece of wisdom from her about ‘chickens don’t bark’.

I suppose you could say that if nothing was expected from Brodhead, and nothing was delivered, then in essence, she met expectations.

Councilman Paul Hinterlong, on the other hand, has been a huge disappointment. We expected so much more from him, and somewhere after the last election when he was the leading vote getter out of 11 city council candidates, he took a left-hand,  so sharp that he began going in reverse. I guess that’s what ‘success’ can do to a politician when s/he begin reading their own press clippings.

Paul has always been a likeable guy. Oftentimes he appeared that he had no idea why he was on the council, and almost apologetic at times, for making a comment, that he hadn’t made yet. He would get himself into odd, awkward situations, with his comments. I would have to listen to the comment again, to make sure, that what I thought he had said, was actually what he said. And sure enough, he really did say it. Though most of what he said was harmless, and at times innocently humorous, there began to be more and more times when his ill-advised over-confidence, gave us a huge window into what normally is hidden in the inky shadows of city hall corridors.

Councilman Hinterlong’s classic mis-speak (also known as a classic screw-up) came during a recent city council meeting when he openly tried do hatch a scheme with police manager (Bob Marshall) to take down Uber with “entrapment”.

If this is what happens under the lights and cameras for all to see, what in the world must be going on in the inky shadows of the Municipal Center.

During the most recent council meeting, Hinterlong again was eager to regulate on anything and everything including e-Cigs. Apparently he is ‘offended’ by anyone near him using the device.

If being ‘offended’ by that is grounds for ordinances and more regulation, then how about when a citizen is at Features (restaurant and bar) at a table near Hinterlong, while he is pounding down a hamburger dripping with garlic and smothered in onions, using a pickle-stained tie as his napkin; that’s offensive, so how about an ordinance against that.

There is no doubt that Hinterlong is probably a nice guy, but do we really need a council member who doesn’t think before he speaks, especially when it involves ordinances, regulation, and schemes.

With 19 candidates running for council, chances are excellent, that at least eight have the ‘thinking before speaking’ concept under control.

Mar 222015
 

When it comes to regulation, the City of Naperville has only two rules; 1) if it moves regulate it (example Uber), and 2) if it doesn’t move regulate it (example e-Cigs). City officials love to regulate anything and everything. It’s almost like a contest to see if they can find something to regulate. And the Naperville city prosecutor loves regulations and ordinances. Prosecutors love to prosecute. The more rules, and regulations, and ordinances the more citizens can be prosecuted, the more money pours into the city, the more prosecutors can be hired, and the more rules, regulations and ordinances need to be created to justify the expense of the legal department. It fits together perfectly like a huge tower of Lego  pieces.

Watch and listen to the exchange between councilman Bob Fieseler and Naperville city prosecutor Mike DiSanto regarding  implementing an ordinance against e-cigs and the foolishness of trying to enforce the ordinance:

Of course, things can also go terribly wrong when city officials and prosecutors go wild with ordinances and prosecution. Watch and listen as councilman Bob Fieseler so eloquently nails the problem of over zealous prosecution of not-well thought-out ordinances:

With Bob Fieseler choosing not to run for re-election, and the possibility that councilman Doug Krause will also necessarily depart the city council by not getting elected mayor, who will be left to speak-up as more and more regulations are piled-on residents?

There are four candidates running for the position of mayor, and 19 active candidates running for eight city council positions. All the candidates combined have a litany of issues they want to address if elected, however not one candidate has brought up the issue of over-regulation. Think about that, the one issue that can differentiate a candidate from all the others is being totally overlooked. The one issue that can benefit residents (voters) and businesses the most has not even been mumbled by a candidate.

Imagine asking residents/voters the following question: “Would you like city officials to ‘get off your back’ with less regulations and ordinances, or would you prefer they pile on more?

Isn’t it amazing that of all the candidates trying to secure your vote, not one of them has this as part of their ‘platform’. Such a simple opportunity for each candidate, yet nothing but crickets.

Mar 152015
 

When Naperville’s 2015 mayoral election began a few months ago after petitions were submitted, there were five candidates hoping to replace retiring Naperville mayor George Pradel after his 20-year reign.

One candidate (Matthew Dubiel) quickly exited after determining he did not meet the residency requirement. Living in unincorporated Naperville doesn’t work, when it comes to getting elected mayor.

Then two of the remaining four candidates each said something, that in essence eliminated themselves from serious consideration. Jim Haselhorst said, “I don’t think there’s a person on the planet that could take George Pradel’s place”, and retired fire fighter Marty Walker said, he doesn’t suppose anyone can replace George Pradel. If what they are saying is true, and they must believe it,  then neither can replace Pradel so that brings it down to a two-candidate race for mayor of Naperville, either councilmen Doug Krause or Steve Chirico.

Krause, 67, a realtor by profession has been on the council since dirt was new in 1989; that’s a total of 26 years. This is his fifth attempt to take the gavel from Pradel. Krause is going for double or nothing; he’s putting it all on the line for one roll of the dice. He either gets elected mayor, or he departs from the city council, and becomes a footnote in Naperville politics.

Chirico, 54, a life-long resident of Naperville, is a local businessman (owner of Great Western Flooring) and has been on the council for four years. Chirico is also putting it all on the line. He either becomes the mayor of Naperville, or takes his council nameplate and goes home.

Krause often finds himself on the short-end of the vote. He is quick to take the minority or opposing view point, and his position gets voted down. He has been an advocate for the residents of Naperville, and seems to relish in being a swizzle-stick at the dais. Krause likes to ‘mix it up’ wanting to drive change, but unable to build a consensus, he is left to hang-out to dry.

Chirico on the other hand, attempts to build through consensus which is a strong leadership dimension. He also seeks to drive change, but does so in a less abrasive manner. He has the temperament to ‘tell someone to go to hell’ and make them happy they are going. In politics, as in business, that’s a gift.

Should Krause get elected and possibly serve three terms until term limits force him out, he could hang on until he’s almost 80 with almost 40 years of total service in council chambers.

If Chirico wins and Krause losses the election, the real question will be, what in the world will Krause do with almost 30 years worth of those green ‘Elect Krause’ campaign yard signs. Could that be part of the reason the recycling center was located in Naperville?

Mar 102015
 

Everybody takes a turn in the barrel, and this time it was Watchdog’s turn. After writing 318 postings basically unscathed, posting #319 brought a cacophony of comments and emails questioning my mental state of mind.

To think that of all the topics and city officials covered over a five year period, it was a posting on endorsing Steve Chirico for mayor of Naperville that flooded my inbox.

The endorsement was posted shortly before midnight on Saturday. By Sunday morning through Monday, comments and emails were rolling in. For a moment I thought, maybe I was delusional when I wrote it, so I went back to read it. Afterwards I realized that I missed a couple of additional positive comments about Chirico including he is the only mayoral candidate with city council experience who has never lost a mayoral election.

Watchdog readers are a rather intelligent and interesting group of people, and I have to give them credit for some of the more creative comments and emails I received including the following:

“Your second coming of Jesus, endorsement of this spend and tax establishment guy is a disgrace.” (Buck Naper)

“At first I thought, ahh, April Fool’s Day” (Not an April Fool)

“I am surprised by your ‘gushing’ endorsement.” (Naper since 87)

“Are you sure that was coffee you were drinking” (Carl S.)

“Have you lost your senses?” (David T.)

” What were you thinking?” (Marilynne F.)

“Amazing. It’s about time you had something nice to say about a city official. I just didn’t think it would flow so freely about one person.  I didn’t think you had it in you.” (Fred H.)

“You must be related to Chirico. Check with Ancestry.com” (Phil R)

“I’m seriously shocked that you’re endorsing Steve Chirico, and with such GLOWING words! I’m stunned that you would go so far overboard in your endorsement. Your post comes off as a paid endorsement.” (Jeff)

“so called ‘Watchdog’ endorses him? Jeff got it right. How much is he paying you there ‘Watchdog”? (Joe Naper)

“What were you smoking before you wrote your post?” (Mary J.)

“You must be nuts. You’ve totally lost it.” (Rodney F.)

“I finally figured it out. Watchdog is really Steve Chirico, and the whole purpose of the blog was to get himself (Chirico) elected. Clever.” (Mercedes M.)

I have always admired the ability of those who can say so much in so few words, so here is my personal favorite:

“Naperville Watchdog turned Lap Dog!” (Brenda)

Well, no doubt the posting stirred a lot of emotion. No matter who Watchdog endorsed, chances are emails and comments would have been abundant.

Mar 072015
 

I have been watching Naperville city council meetings since 2010. That’s more than 100 meetings, and I believe without a doubt that councilman Steve Chirico is the person to lead the City of Naperville into the future.

He brings a wealth of leadership dimensions to the table  including:

  • Demonstrating accountability
  • Demonstrating courage
  • Communicating effectively
  • Managing performance
  • Thinking critically
  • Managing execution
  • Maximizing relationships
  • Driving change
  • Building trust

As a Naperville  business owner for more than 30 years, he has a keen awareness of what it takes to lead a successful business. It takes more than just turning on the light switch. While working his way through college, he started a small tile shop, which is now known as Great Western Tile Flooring; a leading specialty flooring destination. Naperville needs a mayor with keen business sense, and Steve Chirico is that person.

Additionally Chirico brings a strong business and local government acuity including:

  • Keen understanding of budgets and negotiations
  • Disciplined fiscal conservative
  • Focused on maintaining reasonable property taxes
  • Determination to improve economic development
  • Promoting a strong business climate

He can and will accomplish this through his ability to be a consensus builder. The ability to bring opposite sides to the table, listen, and forge agreements. This is a huge plus for the residents and businesses of Naperville.

On the personal side of councilman Chirico, other factors that will help him lead Naperville effectively and compassionately include:

  • He is a livelong resident of Naperville
  • A level-headed temperamant
  • The ability to step-back for a clearer view
  • Father of seven Naperville school graduates.

Now Chirico and I don’t agree on everything, including the ability of city manager Doug Krieger. Chirico is in his corner for now, and I believe the City of Naperville can do better with a more competent leader as city manager. Most importantly, he and I can agree to disagree respectfully.

Watchdog was very critical of Chirico when he first joined the council in 2011. In fact, Watchdog was almost relentless in criticizing Chirico. To Chirico’s credit, he reached out to me, for us to have a chance to chat over a cup of coffee. It was at that get together, that I quickly realized that he really is a quality guy with class. He said something profound, when discussing a couple of his initial missteps on he council. He said, “I blew it. I wish I could have a do-over, and do it right.” Wow, how many ‘politicians’ are willing to say that and have it be genuine. His ability to build a consensus, demonstrate courage, and build trust were evident.

He and his wife Julie, who is an absolute delight, have a blended family of seven children. He understands his priorities of being a dad, a husband, a business owner, and a leader. Steve Chirico is the complete package. He’s real, he’s sincere, and he will be an outstanding mayor for the City of Naperville.

If this is not enough, then how about this. If he ever had to go one-on-one in a wrestling match with any other mayor, my money is on Chirico. He was the Co-Captain of the Naperville Central wrestling team, where he placed 4th in the State Tournament. He was the first ever four-year varsity letterman in the NCHS wrestling program and his peers selected him as the most valuable wrestler as he was undefeated in dual meets his senior year.

What that means is that if things ever get out of control during a city council meeting, Steve Chirico will quickly regain control.

Mar 042015
 

Why is it, when a councilman is about to step down, he exhibits moments of brilliance. It happened again when Bob Fieseler, may have uttered the most intelligent string of words that he has ever spoken during a Naperville council meeting. We’ll get into that a bit later.

I first ‘met’ Bob Fieseler shortly before Watchdog started. It was during a red light camera hearing. I wanted to see how the process worked, and whether or not it was truly fair. The City of Naperville was a fine tuned bureaucratic machine with all sorts of technology to prove their case against citizens. One by one citizens were called to the front so their case could be heard, and one by one each would lose their appeal. Sometimes the camera shots were magnified to see whether or not the offender’s vehicle had crossed the white line by the slimmest of margin. Sometimes city officials looked at the video over and over to make the determination. It was like watching NFL officials reviewing a replay to make their decision. Inevitably the citizen would lose, pay the fine and then leave.

I was actually pleasantly surprised that a city official (Fieseler) would attend the proceedings. Fieseler made a good first impression. Later as I began to attend and watch city council meetings, Fieseler again made good impressions. One time during public forum, a resident was sharing her tale of woe, when Fieseler said, ‘wait a moment, I think I can help’. He left the meeting, returned a few minutes later and said ‘problem solved’. I don’t know how he solved it, and for all I know he simply stepped outside to see if his car lights were on.

Shortly after that, things began to head south for Fieseler and the Naperville city council when they resorted to heavy handed tactics to forcefully install Smart Meters on residents homes. Residents were arrested,  and their Constitutional rights were trampled. The City was sued, and taxpayers will pay dearly for stupidity on the part of Naperville city officials.

Now getting back to the last council meeting, when Fieseler spoke in favor of less regulation. An attorney who wants less regulation. How can that be? It happened during the discussion of regulating alternative nicotine products, specifically e-cigs.

Watch and listen as Bob Fieseler and City prosecutor Mike DeSanto talk about the merits/problems of regulation:

Fieseler is absolutely right on this one. Why must the City of Naperville want to regulate everything. Council member Judith Brodhead, said she didn’t know everything about e-cigs, but she was ready to regulate them. That’s a bit troublesome, and sadly, she may get re-elected.

Wouldn’t it be nice to keep Fieseler, and let Brodhead depart.