Jun 292016
 

Imagine every month your checking account balance is bulging with additional income because your bank has been making deposits into it by mistake. You may know about it, or you may not, but either way the extra dollars are there and you spend it. Then suddenly, someone notices it, and the dollars stop rolling in, and your spendable income is diminished. Then to make matters worse, the bank wants those wrong deposits returned and charges you a fine for not reporting it.

That is the situation the City of Naperville has created by charging residents and businesses a monthly fee for trash pick-up, when in fact the city is not providing those services to residents and businesses who contract with a vendor other than the city vendor. The result is a class-action lawsuit against the City of Naperville.

You won’t see it on the city website, you won’t hear about it during a council meeting, you haven’t seen it in the local newspaper, and city council members are not acknowledging or explaining it. So much for transparency. That’s part of the reason for the class-action lawsuit; the City of Naperville did not give residents a fair shake to have their money returned.

Naperville city officials reported that income was less than expected for the first quarter of the 2016 fiscal year. Undoubtedly, as residents and businesses begin to question being overcharged, and the class-action moves along at the speed of pouring cold honey, the city will experience some less income. Ultimately the city will notice a big drop in income when it comes time to pay-up.

The city is partially blaming the lost income on less tax revenue from less gas consumption; it’s down about $600,000 from the same period last year. City officials said the lost revenue was exceeded by expenditures being less than budgeted. This may be true, however not one word from one city official about unfairly squeezing money out of residents and businesses for service not rendered.

The next time you see a Naperville council member, or another city official, you may want to ask them about charging residents for services not rendered. Or if you see someone from Naperville’s legal department, you might want to ask them ‘what’s up with the class-action lawsuit?’ Chances are they will respond with the answer, “which class-action lawsuit?” You can be sure if there’s one lawsuit against the City that you are not hearing or reading about, there are others.

Anybody want to talk about local government transparency? You will probably see something about that on the City of Naperville website.

Jun 252016
 

Naperville city officials really like referendums. Binding, non-binding, all kinds of referendums. If the vote doesn’t support the result that city officials want, they can simply have a do-over vote. So for Naperville city officials, what’s not to like about referendums.

The newest referendums, planned for the November election, include two regarding the Naperville Township. One will ask Naperville residents if they want an intergovernmental agreement allowing the city of Naperville to takeover maintenance of unincorporated Naperville Township roads.

The other referendum will ask Naperville residents if they believe townships within city limits should be eliminated.

Both referendums will be non-binding, which means they carry no legal weight. The purpose is to gauge the feelings of the voters. The wording of the referendum is huge, and can make all the difference in the results of the referendum. This was true, when two binding referendums were presented to the voters of Naperville in 2013. One was for district representation vs at-large representation. Voters chose district representation. Naperville city officials weren’t happy with the result, and decided to have a do-over vote. They obfuscated the wording , and voters chose at-large representation, giving city officials exactly what they wanted; no change and easier to hide-for-cover in city council elections.

The other binding referendum in 2013 was for term limits. By a landslide, voters chose term limits and city officials have not tried to overturn the vote. At least not yet.

Residents wanted a referendum regarding the installation of electric smart meters, but Naperville city officials made sure that wouldn’t happen. Residents even offered to make it non-binding, but Naperville city officials shut it down faster than turning off a light switch. The bottom line is that referendums, either binding or non-binding typically favor the desires of city officials.

Which gets us back to the referendums on the Township. If the vote is in favor of keeping things as they are, city officials won’t be happy, and they will continue to squeeze the Township into submission.

Getting voters to approve the referendums should not be difficult. Who doesn’t want smaller government and lower taxes? It should be a piece of cake for city officials. The only problem is that voters don’t trust city officials. And Naperville city officials have created that distrust.

Naperville city officials, including Naperville city council members Judith Brodhead, Paul Hinterlong, and then Smart Meter ambassador John Krummen (now on the council) said Smart Meters would be the greatest thing since sliced bread, and they are not. They said Smart Meters would save residents and businesses money, and they haven’t. Now those same council members, along with others are saying the city can save residents money regarding the Naperville Township.

Personally, I firmly believe it’s true. But I’m just one vote. Other residents subscribe to “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”. Residents to not want to be fooled again.

Jun 232016
 

Thursday around the Watchdog household is the best day of the week. It doesn’t get any better than Thursdays, because that’s trash pick-up day. It’s the day I anxiously wait for, knowing that I can wheel my trash can down the driveway to the street, then sometime during the day, the contents in my trash can will magically disappear, and then the whole process starts over again for the following week.

It’s one of the few things you can bank on, or at least I thought so. June 2 was Watchdog’s scheduled pick-up day, but because of Memorial Day on Monday, trash that week was moved to Friday June 3. No problem, one day is as good as another. Friday night rolls around and my trash can is still sitting there undisturbed, along with all my neighbors cans, lined-up neatly along the curbside. I figured it must have been a busy Memorial Day week for the trash guys and they’d surely be there on Saturday.

Normally I’d hear the sounds of trucks, rolling through the neighborhood early in the morning, like German Panzer tanks in the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’. However, Saturday was eerily quiet, except for a few of my neighbors ringing my doorbell, to see if I had ‘offended’ city officials again, this time with Watchdog postings about the trash pick-up fee being increased 617%.

Over the years, occasionally our circle has been forgotten with snow plowing, leaf pick-up, street cleaning, and brush pick-up, and that was before Watchdog existed, but this was a first for trash.

I called the city Saturday morning, just to see if anyone might be around who would know what happened with trash pick-up, and as expected, nobody was there except for the one fellow who is always there. Every time I call the general number, he always answers; never takes a day off. He gave me the number to Waste Management, and to no surprise, nobody was there either. I left a message, just to see if anyone would call back sooner or later, and it was later, much later when they called mid-week.

To his credit, Dick Dublinski, Director of Public Works did return my call on Monday to let me know somebody would be out to empty the cans on Monday, and he apologized, which I told him wasn’t necessary. Mistakes happen, and if this is my biggest problem, then I’m living a good life.

I truly did not want to get the garbage truck driver in trouble, because anybody can blow by a street (circle in my case) by mistake. I’m guessing he’s a Cub fan, and simply wanted to get home sooner to catch the end of the Cub-Arizona game.

The trash business is not easy, however one thing is for sure, their business is always picking-up.

Jun 182016
 

Who doesn’t want free money. Apparently, not enough people according to two-year-term Naperville councilman John Krummen, he wants more people to come rushing through the doors at city hall like black Friday TV give-away at Walmart.

Watch and listen to Krummen during the June 7 council meeting regarding the Renewable Energy Grant that he was excited to endorse:

Krummen an engineer by day (not a train), and a money-giver at night, who claims to be detail oriented and fiscally responsible wants $450,000 dispersed and only “$118” has been claimed. He probably meant $118,000, but what’s a few zeros at end of a number when it’s free. Some city officials including Krummen have no problem magically gathering dollars and handing them out like miniature Tootsie Rolls at a parade. Simply throw it around, it’s free, who cares where it came from, it’s free.

What councilman Krummen apparently doesn’t realize is that this ‘free money’ came from somewhere, and that ‘somewhere’ was from taxpayer dollars.

One can only imagine if councilman Krummen was responsible for dispersing this ‘free’ money, it might look something like this:

That’s part of the problem with many government officials at all levels. They, including Krummen, believe that because it’s there it should be used. It makes no difference where it came from, or how it’s used, just take it and spend it. If it runs out, no problem, they’ll get more…from the taxpayers.

Councilman Krummen would fit in quite well with the State legislature. His two-year council term expires next year and he will be up for re-election. Of the nine council members elected during the last election, Krummen came in eighth, with only Kevin Gallaher having fewer votes.

His campaign song may sound something like this, it worked for Trump, but Trump wasn’t giving away other peoples money:

Jun 152016
 

Naperville has been on the map since 1831, and during those 185 years of existence, a city motto has not been part of our culture. How did Joe and John Naper miss the opportunity. Imagine what Naperville could have been, if we would have had a city motto to guide our progress.

Having a city motto did wonders for Gravity, Iowa, where the population has blossomed to 186.

welcome_sign_gravity

Of the 39 cities or villages within DuPage County, 29 have mottos or slogans, while ten, including Naperville are motto-less and slogan-less. Wouldn’t that make Naperville like a ship at sea with no destination. Naperville city officials enjoy being #1, however when it comes to city motto’s, if they choose to succumb to the pressure of adopting a motto, they would have to settle on being #30.

The Naperville city council will be under intense pressure to choose the perfect city motto, because the future of the free world as we know it today, depends upon the motto selected by the Naperville city council. This is no easy task because this motto could stay with Naperville for the next 185 years, or maybe it will only stay until the next city council is elected in 2017.

There is no shortage of suggestions for Naperville’s city motto including:

  • “Naperville, the city of subdivisions”
  • “Naperville, we don’t all drive BMW’s”
  • “Naperville, we used to be family friendly’

Or Watchdog’s personal favorite,

  • “Naperville, come for the alcohol; stay for the DUI”

It’s possible the Naperville city council will decide that Naperville doesn’t need a motto; ‘we don’t need no stinkin’ city motto’.

Jun 112016
 

If you are looking for job security, a great benefit package, and a hefty salary, look no further than the City of Naperville. The City of Naperville’s Earnings Report for the year of 2015, shows 300+ city employees each receiving more than $100,000 yearly in salary. Of those 300+ employees, about 70% work in the police and fire departments, and the remaining 30% include city staff, or slightly less than 100 employees pulling in 6-figures or more in salary.

Good for the police department and fire department employees. If there are two groups that should be high on the salary totem pole, it should be the folks who race towards danger, rather than race away from it. Yes, I know some of those folks are administrative, however during their careers, many have paid their dues facing possible dangerous situations. Others in administrative positions, are responsible for making sure those on the front line have the tools and training they need to get their jobs done safely. Those are necessary salary dollars, so the rest of us can live in a safer environment.

How about that group of almost 100 employees cashing-in with salaries of over $100,000 per year, which equates to over $10 million yearly. When exactly did the term of ‘civil servant’ go out of style? I’m guessing about 50 years ago. With over 5 million people in the Chicago area, and nearly 340 million folks in the country, it would appear that there is a lot of talent city officials could tap and save a bundle on salary. To think that those 100 or so city staff folks are the best available, would be as foolish as thinking the nine members of the Naperville city council are the most talented out of 144,000 Naperville residents. Surely there are six or seven residents that would be a definite upgrade to current city council.

City officials say the reasons for high salaries include:

  • retain talent
  • decrease turnover
  • hire talent
  • it’s a ‘point of pride’

Wow, a point of pride, are you kidding me. So we want others to know we have the money (tax dollars) to overpay city employees, thereby qualifying as a “wealthy city”. Why not just add another ‘zero’ to the 6-digit salary and become the wealthiest city in the nation. What’s another ‘zero’ when it comes from the taxpayers anyway.

The real problem is not necessarily the high salaries, it’s the ‘job security’ issue. Under-performers are allowed to stay and keep under-performing. Apparently the City does not subscribe to the 10% rule, which means get-rid of 10% of the lowest performers, to then be replaced with potentially higher performers. Each year you have a new low-performing 10% group, and eventually even your lowest 10% are performing at an acceptable level. If the City of Naperville was a major league baseball team, they could be the Cubs of municipal government by following this 10% rule.

If the City truly wants a ‘point of pride’, how about being the most competent, efficient and friendliest municipal government in the mid-west as a starter.

Jun 082016
 

There are things you never want to get between including Chris Christie and a box of donuts, Blagojevich and a mirror, and the Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak and his $2,619,330 budget. If you do, there will be hell to pay at best, and going to court at the worst. It looks like the worst is scheduled to happen on June 29 at the DuPage County Courthouse. Wojtasiak appears to be “mad has hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore”.

He wants his budget, he wants it all, and he wants it now. That’s not asking for too much is it? Well the Naperville Township thinks it’s too much, so off to court they go. Wojtasiak likes things just as they were, as they have always been, and as he always wants them to be. Wojtasiak has created the perfect world for himself, great job, great salary, great benefits, great staff, great budget, and answers only to the Township Highway Commissioner which is himself. It doesn’t get any better than that.

But just when Wojtasiak has everything arranged, here comes the City of Naperville, wanting to change things, including supposedly saving Naperville taxpayers somewhere between $500,000 to $800,000. Stan had a choice to save taxpayers bundles of money, or keep his fiefdom in all its glory. He chose his fiefdom. The township decided to cut his budget by over $540,000. That’s when Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak became bent out of shape, and filed a lawsuit against Naperville Township Supervisor Rachel Ossyra and trustees Kelly Malm and Janice Anderson who voted to cut his budget.

The first two judges (Paul Fullerton and Robert Gibson) assigned to hear the case on June 29 had to recuse themselves because trustee Janice Anderson worked on their election campaigns. Additionally the attorneys (Rick Tarulis and Steve Adams) representing each side worked together as partners in the same Naperville law firm for almost 20 years. It’s as if it’s one big happy family where everybody knows each other. They could all meet at the township office, pile into a van, and carpool to court. The attorneys make money, the court makes money, the plaintiff and defendants pay nothing for the suit, and the taxpayers are left to pay all the expenses. Isn’t that how it always works in local government.

Good reasons to abolish township governments and think twice when voting in the next Naperville city council election.

Jun 042016
 

Here’s a tip, if you want Naperville councilman Paul Hinterlong to support your endeavor, no matter what it is, be the last person to talk to him, prior to his vote.  Apparently he is like a ping pong ball, getting batted back and forth over the net, until the last paddle determines who wins. Hinterlong said as much during the May 17 Naperville council meeting, when he was trying to decide whether or not to support a 22-unit development on the north side of town.

Hinterlong said, “I agree with everything said up here, both positive and negative.” Think about that. That’s not easy to do, but Hinterlong did it. He then said, “Like everyone else, I’ve tetter-tautered on this (issue) since day one.” So let me get this straight, “everyone” has vacillated on this issue. That’s not easy to do either.

Now here is where it really gets good. Hinterlong continues by saying, “my biggest mistake was that I met with many of you”. Uh-oh, information overload for Hinterlong by listening to the residents. Considering that’s his ‘biggest mistake’, he may never listen to residents again.

Then he finishes by saying, “I agreed with everything you (the residents) had to say, then I met with the developer and his attorney…”, that’s when the teeter-tauter effect played out, and Hinterlong changed his mind and decided to support the development, even though he “agreed with everything (the residents had to say.”

Watch and listen to Hinterlong’s own words:

Wow, just like that he switched his position and the game was over, just like a football game, when the weaker team kicks a chip-shot field goal to win the game. If only the other team could get one more chance to score a winning TD.

One can only imagine, that when Hinterlong votes for President, he’ll choose the last candidate’s poster that he sees before casting his vote.

Jun 012016
 

Why is it that when Naperville city council members apologize for something, they don’t need to do it, but when they need to apologize for something, they won’t do it.

It happened again during the last Naperville city council meeting (May 17) when councilman Paul Hinterlong apologized for supporting a 22-unit development at Bauer Road and Charles Street. Hinterlong said he “doesn’t like the barracks look”, but he supported the project. He also said that changing it would create “difficulties being able to market these units”. Since when is “marketing” a project the responsibility or concern of Naperville council members.

When Mariano’s opened its new store at 75th Street and Naper Boulevard, was “marketing it” the responsibility of the council, or is it Mariano’s responsibility? Is the council now choosing ‘winners’ and ‘losers’? Apparently that’s now part of the decision-making equation for city officials because isn’t that what they did when they said ‘no’ to McDonald’s at Hillside and Aurora avenue, because of noise and traffic congestion, yet they said ‘yes’ to Dunkin Donuts / 31-Flavors at that same location. I don’t suppose that had anything to do with the long standing Burger King just north of that location. Is it possible that somebody ‘important’ on the council knows somebody ‘important’ at Burger King, hence quarter-pounder was pounded out of that location.

Councilman Hinterlong continued his ‘apology’ speech when he said, “I tried my best to do this over again, but I fell short and I apologize. I’ll be supporting this tonight”.

Watch and listen to Hinterlong in his own words:

What exactly is he apologizing for? It’s his job to make a decision, not to apologize for it. If he has to apologize for his decision supporting the project, then don’t vote to approve it. Simple isn’t it.

If councilman Hinterlong wants to apologize for something, how about a few of these:

  • apologize for making most comments sound like questions
  • apologize for wasting staff’s time for researching useless information
  • apologize for getting the most votes of any council member during the last election, especially when half of the council members can run circles around Hinterlong, and half of the other half, can walk circles around him.

Hinterlong apologizing prior to making a decision, appears counter-productive. Hinterlong apologizing after making a decision appears like he made the wrong decision. Maybe his best decision is to vote ‘present’, then he’ll never need to apologize.