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.