May 282016
 

Naperville council members have a lot of perks, some are real, and some are self-proclaimed, including a belief that what they have to say is more important than what others have to say, or that others should be castigated for expressing an opinion.

Case in point, Naperville councilman Kevin Gallaher is quickly beginning to think that a deity is an attainable position, and royalty and entitlement go with his position of council member. At the May 17 city council meeting, resident Brian Chang made a passionate and crystal clear presentation, during public forum, expressing his respectful opposition to a 22-townhome development at the southwest corner of Bauer Road and Charles Street. At the end of Mr. Chang’s presentation, Naperville council member Kevin Gallaher berated, scolded, and lambasted the Naperville resident. Watch and listen to Chang’s comments and Gallaher’s response to being offended by the comments. Don’t get hung-up in the details of Chang’s presentation; listen to his respectful style of communication that offended Gallaher.

Gallaher made no comment about the substance of Brian Chang’s comments, only that Gallaher was ‘offended’ and that he’s “not going to hear any more of it”. It reminded me of a spoiled kid on a playground that had a hissy fit and was going to take his bat and ball and go home. If you replay the last 30 seconds of the clip, you’ll notice that Gallaher leans back in his taxpayer paid chair with a look of utter indignation. Is that what we want from our elected officials?

It’s possible that Gallaher was offended by the ‘remind me not to golf with you comment’ directed towards the attorney making a presentation favoring the development. Mr. Gallaher, where is your sense of humor? It’s possible that Gallaher, himself an attorney, has heard the same comment numerous times from folks disagreeing with him. I for one would never golf with Gallaher, not because he lacks a sense of humor, and takes comments too personal, but because my definition of golfing is a good walk spoiled.

It’s also possible that Naperville councilman Kevin Gallaher is not an advocate of free speech, when the speech being given is from someone who Gallaher disagrees with.

Gallaher had the fewest votes of any council member during the last election. If he get just a few votes less in the next election, let’s say from the Bauer Road and Charles Street area, he will have more time to golf.

May 252016
 

If you thought that Naperville councilman John Krummen has seldom been one to convey passion for his position on most if not all topics of discussion, Krummen erased all doubt when he said as much during the last Naperville city council meeting. He also appointed himself as the mouthpiece for all nine members of the council when he said “we’re not supposed to be passionate”, and “we’re supposed to be neutral”. Watch and listen to Krummen’s mindset:

Just as there is “Robert’s Rules of Order”, there must also be a book floating around titled “Krummen’s Rules of Mechanical Decision Making”. If I am hearing Krummen correctly, he doesn’t have a strong sense of passion for his beliefs and opinions, and subscribes to being automaton-like in voting. In fact, why should he even vote if he is ‘supposed to be neutral’. He could simply vote ‘present’ on all council votes. There is no better way to be neutral, than to assume that posture.

Councilman Krummen has never been accused of exuding enthusiasm, which makes you wonder, what exactly does he believe in, and where is the passion to stand behind his convictions. Krummen is highly mistaken if he doesn’t believe that emotion has a central role to play in rational decision-making. Passion is a component in decision making, not the only component, but an important component. Show me an elected official without emotion, and I will show you a most-likely one term government official.

Other than councilman Kevin Gallaher, councilman Krummen garnered the least number of votes of any of the nine council members in the last city council election. Krummen, along with Gallaher, Kevin Coyne, and Judy Brodhead are serving two-year terms, rather than four year terms, ending next spring, and all four will up for re-election. Let’s see how much passion Krummen can gather for another term in the council.

May 212016
 

Naperville city officials continue to tighten the vice grips on Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak. The latest effort is the threat of a couple of non-binding referendums. One would ask voters if the city should take over maintenance of township roads which supposedly would save tax payers a bundle of money. The other referendum would ask voters if they favor doing away with the township within the city limits.

The overt issue is how much is a ‘bundle of money’. Naperville city officials say somewhere between $500,000 to $800,000, while Wojtasiak says ‘it ain’t so’, but he hasn’t presented anything showing ‘it ain’t so’.

The covert issue is that Naperville city officials want control of what they don’t control now, and Wojtasiak wants to protect his little corner of the world and rule his fiefdom with his own budget, generously paid assistant, and his really cool-looking desk.

Just as Obama and Hillary can’t get themselves to refer to ISIS as a terror organization, the Naperville city council can’t get themselves to verbalize the covert issue. Hence the council along with city manager Doug Krieger talk endlessly about why the highway commissioner isn’t going along with the plan. Apparently city councilman Kevin Coyne is playing the role of the ‘bad cop’ by taking a more firm and assertive approach to Wojtasiak, while the rest of the council plays the ‘good cop’ by fumbling around tying to be PC about wording the issue.

An unincorporated township resident (Mr. Hoffman) addressed the council and encouraged them to form a committee with the township and determine a dollar-savings amount they could agree upon. Mr. Hoffman was quickly dismissed by the Naperville city council. Apparently they would not have that kind of talk in council chambers.

While the City of Naperville would be careful in selecting the wording for the referendum, the Naperville Township would be busy doing the same thing by having its own referendum for township residents. Las Vegas odds would probably predict that township residents would vote to keep things as they are. Naperville councilman John Krummen said that trust appears to be an issue with township residents and Naperville city officials.

No matter how the referendums turn out, it’s meaningless, since they are non-binding. And if the City of Naperville, referendum did not provide the results that city officials want, they could have a do-over vote like they did with district representation. Just keep voting until city officials get what they want.

May 142016
 

It didn’t have to happen, but it happened. The City of Naperville got called out in the form of a class-action lawsuit filed by Larry Drury, a high-powered Chicago attorney who most recently took down Tinley Park in another class-action lawsuit involving faulty water meters.

The lawsuit against the City alleges that Naperville charges and collects refuse fees from persons and entities that is included on their utility bills, however said persons and entities do not contract with the City for their refuse disposal and do not receive curb side service, as they privately contract and pay for their refuse disposal.

In other words, the City of Naperville is charging and collecting money for services they do not provide. Reprehensible, repugnant, disgraceful…absolutely, without a doubt.

Hence the City of Naperville is being sued for:

  • Breach of Contract
  • Common Law Fraud
  • Violation of City of Naperville Municipal Code
  • Unjust Enrichment
  • Statutory Fraud

Serious allegations, yes indeed. Is the case against the City solid? Absolutely.The kicker is that the City had every opportunity to avoid being a pinata in the legal system. But they chose to do nothing to rectify the situation, and in fact, made it worse by trying cover it up. Inexcusable.

The dirty deed is one thing, but where most folks make the big mistake, and dig the hole deeper, is trying to cover it up.

A little background. The Naperville city council increased the charge for trash pick-up by 617%. Watchdog reported this in an article dated 10-18-15. If anything is going to catch the attention of somebody, it’s a 617% increase for a line item on their utility bill. A Watchdog reader checked their utility bill, and sure enough, there was the huge increase. The next day the Watchdog reader left for work in the morning and noticed that the name of the company on the dumpster, was not the name of the company Naperville contracts for trash pick-up. Later that week, the resident called a few apartment and condominium complexes to see who they use for trash removal, and found out they don’t use the City of Naperville’s vendor for the service.

The resident called the city about being charged for a service not received, and was told that nobody else had called to question the charge, so the resident must be wrong. However the charge on the resident’s bill mysteriously disappeared. The resident asked if the City was going to announce this to the public so others could receive a refund, and the answer was that an announcement would be made in ‘Naperville Connected’, a flier that is sent with the utility bill via USPS mail. Not all utility payers receive this communication, because many residents pay on line, hence they would never see the announcement.

A few months passed, and the following appeared in Naperville Connected:

Did you know? Your utility bill is also how the City bills for garbage and recycling services. As the amount charged for these services has recently changed, this is a good time to review your bill’s details and make sure charges accurately reflect services received. If you have any questions about an amount or item on your utility bill, please contact the Finance Department at 630-420-6059

It was at this point that the City of Naperville’s attempted ‘cover up’ was exposed and legal representation for the resident solidified. It is outrageous and dispicable for city officials to think that this paragraph qualifies as a clear announcement that residents had been charged for services not rendered.

The dirty deed of charging residents for a service not rendered could have been considered a mistake under the umbrella of incompetence, but to not clearly announce it to residents and businesses via the city website, or a billboard, or during a council meeting, or in a letter or email, or through the local newspaper (Naperville Sun), or the local government TV channel is shameful by Naperville city officials.

President Nixon was forced to resign, not because of the Watergate break-in, but because of the cover up. Bill Clinton was impeached not because of the affair with Monica Lewinsky, but because of the cover up. Blagoivich is in the slammer because of the cover up. It’s not the deed, it’s the cover up that makes a bad situation toxic.

Nine members on the city council, a city manager, a legal department, a department head, and not one person recognized the problem and had the courage to do the right thing, and make a clear announcement to remedy the injustice. Absolutely shameful.

Is it any wonder why the residents of the Naperville Township are leery about entering into a relationship with Naperville city officials.

Nine members on the Naperville city council who briefly considered and discussed an ordinance to raise trash pick up fees by 617%, voted ‘yes’ to do it, then adjourned to Peanuts in downtown Naperville to pound down a few brews, but not one of them considered the ramifications of what they are voting on. Shameful indeed.

May 122016
 

Bees are becoming fewer and fewer in numbers, and it appears that Naperville council members Paul Hinterlong and Becky Anderson want to speed the process. All it took was one email from a resident to councilwoman Anderson. Watch and listen as Anderson begins to stir the cauldron:

OK, so there are seven beehives on a resident’s property. Is it possible that the bee-hive resident has been there longer than the bee-hive complainer? And what about the size of the beehives. Seven beehives the size of a golf ball, would be less threatening than one beehive the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

Watch and listen as councilman Hinterlong enters the tag-team push for more possible regulation.

Hinterlong acknowledges that ‘the number of bees are dwindling, and that’s a huge concern’. Now he wants to know ‘what their purpose is’. Couldn’t he find that out by a simple Google search showing how bees benefit people:

  • They produce honey
  • They pollinate our food

Or what about other favorite purposes of bees:

  • They contribute to global economy
  • They can predict storms
  • They produce a wax as a sealant for candle making

And if you really want to get down to it:

  • They (along with birds) teach youngsters about reproduction

Why have staff take hours of time to research something that takes 2 minutes to Google and find the answer.

The longer Hinterlong remains on the council, the more he begins to resemble a former council member whose name rhymes with Furstenau, by asking staff to waste time by researching meaninglessness information.

Remember, Bees are one of Oprah’s favorite things, shouldn’t that be good enough for the Naperville city council.

Bees

 

May 082016
 

Formerly family friendly Naperville continues to be not so friendly to its residents, as Naperville city officials and the Naperville Township highway commissioner continue to huff and puff, flex muscles, and threaten each other with hostile takeovers, no-shows during meetings, and endless delays on decisions.

It seems like all levels of government are moving from chaos, to mayhem, to bedlam, to pandemonium. Establishment Republicans won’t support presidential candidate Trump, Illinois governor Rauner and Michael Madigan are locked in budget death spiral, and Naperville city and township officials are fighting over maintenance control of 20 miles of roads.

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said the city should consider a forced annexation (hostile takeover) of unincorporated Naperville Township if Township commissioner Stan Wojtasiak doesn’t accept the proposal that the City take control of township roads for maintenance purposes, thereby saving tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes. According to state rules, if the City can annex township property, the City can maintain township roads. It would be a slam-dunk.

Naperville city officials say the savings are accurate, while the township highway commissioner is disputing the savings. Part of the problem is that township residents are skeptical of Naperville city officials’ fuzzy math. And city officials have no one to blame on that issue, other than themselves.

When Naperville city officials were using forced installation of electric smart meters on homes and businesses in Naperville, they were touting the virtues of the meters including the idea that residents would save money on their electric bills. There hasn’t been a single dime’s worth of savings off any electric bill in Naperville. Not one word from any Naperville city official addressing the situation.

The real question would be, why are Naperville city officials so hellbent on supposedly helping residents save money on property taxes, when their primary goal is to typically separate residents from their hard-earned money.

The real problem again, is that residents and businesses are stuck in the middle between the City of Naperville officials (being less than honest), and Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Wojtasiak being more concerned about his job security than any savings that residents may realize on their property taxes.

May 052016
 

Some things seem to defy logic. Hillary Clinton hasn’t been indicted for her email issue, the Chicago White Sox have been winning, and Naperville Township’s highway commissioner (Stan Wojtasiak) hasn’t agreed to save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Naperville city officials have offered Wojtasiak an opportunity to make local government more efficient by streamlining expenses without sacrificing services, and Wojtasiak continues to delay approval and implementation of the plan.

City officials have addressed his concerns, and acquiesced to his requests, yet Wojtasiak balks at every step of the process. It’s obvious that the township highway commissioner has no intention of signing any agreement, which in essence would save thousands of taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes .

This is a classic example of what is wrong with government at every level; the needs of one or a few, trump the needs of thousands.

Naperville city officials have made every effort to satisfy Wojtasiak with major concessions including matching current levels of service and maintaining an administrative assistant to the tune of approximately $80K per year including benefits. There have even been some offsets including street lights, but Wojtasiak’s response has been the sound of crickets. City officials have invited Wojtasiak to meet with the council, but again, nothing but the sounds of silence.

It’s possible that highway commissioner Wojtasiak is holding out for an agreement which would double his salary, cut is limited workload in half, and increase his vacation time to 50 weeks per year.

The bottom line, if push comes to shove, Wojtasiak is on the wrong side of right, and Naperville city officials have available options which could vaporize the highway commissioner’s authority, and leave him on the outside looking in. City officials don’t want to go that route, however, considering the benefits of helping thousands save money on their property taxes, vaporizing Wojtasiak’s perceived authority is very doable and becomes quite attractive to taxpayers.

There is one other nuclear option to quickly resolve the issue. Mayor Steve Chirico was a Naperville Central high school wrestling champion. Considering Wojtasiak is not that interested in talking, maybe he’d be willing to meet Chirico on the mat, with the winner taking all.

May 012016
 

Naperville city officials really want to take over maintenance of 20 miles of Naperville Township roads as negotiations continue between the city officials and Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak. The gap for an agreement gets shorter and shorter as Naperville city officials continue to give-in more and more to Township ‘demands’.

To make the agreement sweeter for the Township, the City of Naperville said it would continue brush and leaf collections at the current schedule for unincorporated residents. Naperville city manager Doug Krieger, using fuzzy math, said “we believe that annual savings in the neighborhood of $800,000 still holds true”.

The City is holding the line on not continuing free distribution of mulch to township residents, and only plowing snow when there are two inches or more on the streets. Currently the Township plows at a one inch threshold.

Somehow Naperville city officials continue to acquiesce with continued services, yet still maintain an $800,000 savings to tax payers. At this rate of negotiation, township residents will continue to get all the services they were getting before including free mulch and snow-plowing at the one inch level, and taxpayers will magically save $800,000.

The only issue remaining to decide will be who is going to measure one inch of snow.