Apr 282016
 

The Naperville Liquor Commission has finally seen a liquor idea that it doesn’t like…yet. One would think, that the busiest Naperville city commission is Naperville’s liquor commission. They are still trying to figure out how to simplify the classification of liquor licenses, while they continue to entertain more proposals for new alcoholic categories.

It seems like anybody living, working, or driving thru Naperville wants a license to sell alcohol, and why not, considering Naperville’s focus is shifting from family friendly to being a destination for entertainment in the future.

Now comes the Exchange Club of Naperville requesting approval for beer hawkers at Ribfest, in an effort to reduce congestion and lines at concession stands and beer tents during the July event. The idea is to make the experience better for beer lovers. And oh yes, increasing beer sales income to help ‘benefit the children’ and local charities and groups, is also a focus. Who doesn’t want to help the children, and folks in need. Well the Naperville Liquor Commission apparently doesn’t…yet.

The commission did take a step in the direction of allowing beer hawkers when Naperville Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Steve Chirico suggested a compromise in which hawkers would be allowed to hawk soda and water. That’s one small step for water, and one giant leap for beer.

‘Cold water…get your cold water here. Who wants a cold water’.

Apr 232016
 

If you’re watching a sporting event, you typically have a team you’re pulling for, unless you’re simply a fan of the sport. You have the good guys, let’s say the Cubbies, and then you have the not-so-good guys which is anybody they are playing.

When it comes to government, it’s not as easy picking out the good guys, when they are in a pushing and shoving contest. That’s where things are at with the City of Naperville and the Naperville Township regarding Naperville’s offer to manage about 20 miles of of unincorporated township roads, thereby saving taxpayers close to $800,000.

Seems like a no-brainer, however when it comes to government, what seems like common sense is not part of the equation. Naperville city officials have been professional, cordial, and persistent in discussions with Township officials but progress is at a standstill.

The reason for the quagmire is that the decision rests solely with the Naperville Township highway commissioner, Stan Wojtasiak, who said a decision “may take a week, it may take a month, it may take a year”. Stan is not too eager to separate himself from the power or security of his position. Quickly now, name one government official who doesn’t share the same feeling.

During the recent three-hour Naperville Township meeting, which was packed with township residents, township employees, (and likely family members), along with Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, the audience had the opportunity to listen and get answers to their questions from Chirico. The audience was polled, and the vote was 46-42 not to allow Naperville’s mayor to speak or answer questions.

How could a group not even care enough to listen or get their questions answered, with the opportunity to save almost a million dollars in taxes. Well, if the meeting was packed with folks more concerned about the status quo, then it makes sense. However there were also township residents present who would benefit from savings in the form of reduced taxes, so what was up with that group.

Could it be a huge distrust towards Naperville’s city officials including the city council. Could it be the City of Naperville’s litany of issues involving the mistreatment of Naperville’s residents including the forced installation of Smart Meters on the homes of those residents, and the subsequent arrest of residents protesting the unlawful action by the City of Naperville. Could it be even more difficult now to gain the trust of township residents, with a class-action lawsuit against the City of Naperville looming on the horizon alleging fraud, at the expense of residents.

Could it be when it comes to township residents, “better the devil they know, than the devil they don’t know.”

Apr 202016
 

City officials in Naperville must enjoy making their residents jump rope, hurdle over obstacles, and dance to their music. It’s been happening for years, and the beat goes on and on.

A number of years ago, Naperville city officials wanted to address a perceived shortage of water during a hot summer, so they decided to ask/require residents to conserve water usage. Naperville residents being responsible and wanting to do the right thing obliged the city by reducing the amount of water they used. It was a very brown summer for lawns. By the time Autumn rolled around and the ‘water scare’ was over, residents were rewarded with a hefty increase on their water rates. Naperville city officials justified the huge increase by saying that due to the reduced usage of water during the summer , it resulted in less revenue for the city, hence the need to jack-up the rates. Naperville city officials have used convoluted thinking as a main pillar of strategy; when things don’t go as planned (which is often), just stick it to the residents.

It’s happening again. This time with the City of Naperville’s trash and recycling cans. There is a movement to pass an ordinance requiring the cans to be out of sight, not in front of the house, not on the side of the house, which means putting the cans in back of your house (unless it can be seen from a street), or putting the cans in your garage (which means taking your car out of the garage), or putting the cans in your house which appears to be completely acceptable to city officials.

The Naperville city council is quick on the draw when it comes to passing ordinances, but not enough thought is given to unintended consequences. In this case, the council passed an ordinance requiring city approved cans be used for trash and recycling purposes. The cans come in three sizes; huge, enormous, and humongous.

Where to put the cans has become a brain teaser for residents, even without an ordinance limiting the choices. I chose a can the size of a VW Beetle, rather than one which was the size of a Buick and would have required me to park my car in the driveway, or the street which is also a no-no covered by another ordinance.

If city officials would have been thinking proactively, critically, and strategically, rather than having green cans (trash) or blue cans (recycling), they could have designed the cans in camouflage, or made them look like small buildings or big mailboxes, something, anything that would have blended into Naperville’s subdivision landscape.

If all else fails, the City could consider the following idea as a solution to all their trash can problems:

 

Apr 162016
 

Imagine you find a pot of gold, and you decide to use its value to enhance your community with cultural amenities. Then you decide to help others in need in the form of social services. Here’s the really cool part, at the end of the year, another pot of gold, this time larger, surfaces and you can do it all over again, with more money for more people, more groups, and more social amenities. Here’s the best part, it keeps happening year after year.

However here is where it begins to get trickier and trickier each year, because now you have more people and groups wanting more and more, and you want more and more gold to satisfy more and more people. Now you’re in a circle of ‘more and more’, and more people are needed to decide who to give what to, and more and more people get involved in making decisions to make more people happy, but also more people become unhappy because they are left out with nothing or little.

That is the situation that the Naperville city council finds itself in with SECA (Special Events and Cultural Amenities) funds and grants. The fund was established in 2004 as “a separate fund used solely for social and artistic events and entities providing cultural experiences for the Naperville community and visitors”. The fund is paid for by the city’s food and beverage tax which grows more and more.

This year city officials will spend about $2 million towards approximately 90 different cultural events throughout Naperville, including about $170,000 for Ribfest spear-headed by the Exchange Club of Naperville, and about $160,000 towards the Last Fling coordinated by Naperville Jaycees for a total of approximately 17% of SECA funds. The smallest requested grant is $863 by Naperville’s Heritage Society for the All Hallows’s Eve event at the Naperville Settlement.

Naperville’s Advisory Cultural Commission, consisting of nine members, reviews each groups application for SECA funds and then makes recommendations to the Naperville city council for a final decision and vote.

As the pot of gold increases each year, so does the debate by council members on who gets what. It’s sort of a mini-version of pushing and shoving on a local level, compared to Presidential candidates elbowing for delegates on the national level.

Naperville council members John Krummen and Kevin Coyne favor giving more money for fewer and larger events with possible long-term agreements, thereby short-changing or eliminating groups with smaller events.

Another example of the little guy, with a good cause, getting pushed and shoved out the door.

Apr 102016
 

Back when dirt was new, I ventured off to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, which is the largest city in the state, but comparatively speaking, small-town-like in many ways. The night before my first day of class, I set my clock-radio alarm, and the first thing I remember hearing in the morning on radio was that a run-away shopping cart in the parking lot of Hinky Dinky grocery store hit a parked car causing a dent. Wow, welcome to Iowa, where that’s the news story of the morning.

Fast forward to Naperville in April of 2016, where the top story in the local Sunday paper is the spending expenses of Naperville Township highway supervisor Stan Wojtasiak, which included, among other things,  a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and some Dunkin’ Donuts. This information was obtained through a FOIA (Freedom On Infomation Act). Talk about somebody having too much time on their hands, a FOIA for that. Apparently I am not the only one in town with ‘time on his hands’.

It was determined that during a 2 1/2 year period almost $3500 was spent on food and restaurants by Wojtasiak, That comes to $27 a week. Are you kidding me. Somebody thinks that’s over the top, and it’s considered a front page story. Other so-called outrageous expenses included $19 worth of liquor expenses at a hotel while traveling. $19 worth of liquor at a hotel in Chicago might buy one beer, however in Iowa that $19 may get you five cases of Grainbelt beer. Other so-called ‘outrageous’ expenses by the highway supervisor included $30 at a pancake house in 2013, and a $43.93 expense at Jewel Food for a summer staff cookout supplies.

When asked about his township expenses, Wojtasiak was able to address most if not all the reasons for the justified expenses, which is probably better than most of Naperville city council members could do.

The bottom line is that local government officials are trying to lean on Naperville Township highway supervisor Wojtasiak with insinuations that he is doing something unreasonable. He is, but it’s not wasting money on donuts and beer.

It’s unreasonable because Wojtasiak is wasting time (and thereby money) making a decision on the City of Naperville’s road proposal to take over services for the Naperville Township Road District for a 40 to 45% savings for taxpayers. This could lower the annual cost from about $1.9 million to a little over $1 million. It’s a no-brainer, but Wojtasiak wants to think about it, wasting more time, and more dollars.

It’s unreasonable that the system is set-up for situations like this, where the decision-maker is the only one who can make a decision to either benefit himself or benefit taxpayers.

The biggest question yet to be answered is why did he choose Pabst Blue Ribbon and donuts when he could have had Schlitz and Twinkies.

Apr 062016
 

Watchdog has been posting since December 2010, and this posting will be the 413th. During that time, Watchdog viewers have increased monthly along with the geographic representation. The number of emails Watchdog has received by viewers has also increased. Some of the more memorable comments received include the following:

Hey Q-Tip head, stop blaming the council for everything that doesn’t work in Naperville – Peter J.

If not the council, then who?

You come across like you know what you’re talking about, well you don’t – Mark R.

We can agree to disagree.

You are a bigger idiot than Boyajian – Jim B.

I think he had a few inches on me.

I can’t believe you keep hammering the same council members. How about some of the other fools on the council? – Phil B.

I aim for the low hanging fruit.

You’re fixated on councilman Chirico. Why must you always point out his in inadequacies. It’s time to cut him some slack – David J.

I haven’t always, I have missed a few.

Are you an idiot? – Diane F.

Typically not, but at times I qualify.

Hey stupido, do you really think you’re funny? – Frank W.

Like a clown, like I am here to amuse you.

I like reading you, but can’t you say something nice about councilwoman Brodhead? – Troy H.

Give me time, I am still thinking.

Stop blasting councilmen Fieseler and Furstenau – Connie F.

That will happen once they are off the dias.

So what if Wehrli has a road named after him. At least the traffic flows – Shelby O.

Watch out for those left hand turns.

Are you that desperate that you only pick-on Hinterlong – Joseph R.

Hinterlong would think so.

You must be related to Pradel – Dale G.

Everyone is at least everyone’s 50th cousin.

How do you explain that not one Smart Meter has exploded? – Karen V.

Given enough time, anything that can happen, will happen.

You have the nerve to point out that the second ‘N’ in Kenn Miller’s name is silent. What about the second ‘L’ in Miller – Bill J.

Good catch on your part Bill, your second ‘L’ is also silent.

Now I know why you write about city politics; it’s because you have too much time on your hands – Judy D.

Evil prevails when good people do nothing.

You and Coyne must be business partners – Marvin Z.

If so, he is my very, very silent partner.

Hey, guess you were wrong about supporting district representation – Mercedes M.

Frankly we may never know because it was never given a chance.

You go on and on about Smart Meters. Give it a rest – Silvia H.

With the increased RF, it gives me a jolt and I can’t rest.

You’re in Chirico’s pocket. You must be covered in lint – Hideki I.

He is the best dressed council member, hence it is high quality lint.

You’re not a Watchdog, you’re a lapdog – Sandy G.

I have two poodle lapdogs and it doesn’t get any better than that.

How did you get to be so ignorant?  You must be a Cub fan – Warren P.

Being a Cubs fan prepares you for the inevitability of death.

You’re a sell-out – Donald T.

Everything is negotiable.

You must be a sexist. Can’t you say something nice about Gustin, Brodhead, Anderson and Obarski? – Phyllis G.

They are Naperville’s four best female council members.

Hey knucklehead, at least Gallaher was celebrating his election at home versus spending money at a restaurant – Dick P.

Still wondering if it was pepperoni, sausage or Hawaiian pizza.

Listen buster, Krummen is not as scary as you make him out to be – Scott H.

He is better at the dias than at the podium.

All loser, all the time – Jeb K.

Really Jeb, is that the best you can do?

Apr 022016
 

It appears the City of Naperville is on a quest to change its image. Recently there has been a movement to change Naperville’s city flag, along with some talk to change its logo, and now comes a city council agenda topic for next Tuesday’s council meeting to change the City of Naperville’s Mission Statement. Who knew there was so much to dislike in Naperville.

During the past five years, there has been a not-too subtle change from being family-focused to aiming towards becoming a destination for entertainment. Naperville is attempting to still clutch to the family focus, but with the number of liquor licenses increasing in the downtown area, entertainment is the future for Naperville.

Just as President Obama campaigned to ‘fundamentally change America’, and unfortunately he has, city officials are moving to fundamentally change Naperville. This begins with a flag, a logo, and most importantly, a mission statement.

As Naperville city officials correctly point out, “a mission statement…is intended to set the tone of an organization and guide decision-making. It should clearly and concisely define the core purpose of the organization.”

Naperville’s current 39-word Mission Statement was approved in 1998 and it states:

“The mission of the government of the City of Naperville is to preserve the quality of life by providing municipal services that are responsive to the needs of the residents and businesses and are reliable, efficient and fiscally responsible”

The Naperville city council will vote next Tuesday night, to change the Mission Statement  to the following:

“To provide services that ensure a high quality of life for our residents and dynamic environment for our business community through collaboration, innovation, and sound fiscal management”

It’s not that much different than the current mission statement other than the addition of the words, ‘ensure a high quality of life’, ‘dynamic environment’, along with a couple of toss-in words of ‘collaboration’, and ‘innovation’. The key addition are the words, ‘dynamic environment’, and is there any environment more dynamic than an expanding downtown area with a booming night-life with much more boom to come.