Sep 282016
 

Why is it that so often when someone gets elected to office, they feel the need to over regulate, micro-manage, and invade the lives of those they are supposed to serve and represent? Could it be that serving and representing residents and businesses are not high on the priority list? Could it be that their purpose is to push through a personal agenda of getting re-elected, getting more face-time on camera, or simply controlling others?

The Naperville city council has a few of these folks nesting at the dais including councilwoman Patty Gustin. Is there any Naperville council member who spends more time talking, and less time making sense, while trying to  over-regulate and micro-manage.

During the last Naperville council meeting on September 6, the topic of whether or not to approve a liquor license for the downtown Walgreen was the topic of discussion when Gustin chimed in with her bit of wisdom. Watch and listen as she offers marketing, advertising, and strategy advice to Walgreens’ leadership team:

A lot of very smart Walgreen people, invested a lot of time, a lot of energy, and a lot of money, to create a strategy, a program, and a slogan (At the corner of happy and healthy), as the cornerstone of their marketing focus. Why Gustin thinks that it should or could be set aside is a puzzle, unless of course, it’s for micro-managing and more camera face- time.

Considering Walgreens displays alcohol opposite of water, isn’t that the classic example of ‘where happy meets healthy’.

Sep 252016
 

I’ve been focused on losing some weight, well actually a lot of weight. I made the decision on March 11 and I’m about 50% on the way to reaching my goal. I was really doing good. In fact, I was doing so good, that I thought, why not have a couple of cookies, then a couple of days later, having a pizza seemed like a good reward for making great progress in achieving my goal. Fortunately I came to my senses, and now I’m back on the plan. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary, plus the fact that I really like setting goals and making it happen. I guess you could call that obsessive-compulsive.

The City of Naperville had the same type of epiphany when the city was having some major problems with alcohol consumption in the downtown area. Late night chaos, bedlam, and mayhem were beginning to become common occurrences, with a few situations resulting in the deaths of more than a couple folks. The city council began to tighten up loose ends, a make a concerted effort to regain control of what was becoming out of control events.

It worked for the most part. Sure there’s always going to be a couple of problems here and there, but city officials succeeded in putting pandemonium to rest in downtown Naperville.

In fact, city officials have been so successful in moving toward and reaching their goal, that they are considering opening the tap and issuing more and more liquor permits in the downtown area. Those tax dollars are very difficult to pass up, just like cookies and pizza are for me.

It’s interesting that city officials are pleased with the current state of liquor affairs in Naperville, yet now they appear to be eager to move back to the likelihood of problems surfacing and things getting out of control again. It’s almost as if AA should have a special program for local city officials to help them keep a lid on enabling the same problems from happening again.

I don’t suppose one scoop of ice cream would be so bad, would it?

Sep 222016
 

The City of Naperville was recently ranked by Money Magazine as the 10th best city to live in, but that didn’t carry any clout with the DuPage County Court, when they said ‘no’ to Naperville’s offer to house a traffic court in Naperville. A number of locations were submitted to DuPage County including Naperville’s Safety Town on Aurora Avenue near the Naperville Police Station.

Watch and listen to Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico as he updates the city council at the September 20 meeting:

Naperville city officials have been active in looking for better utilization of under-used city properties, while also trying to allocate tax dollars for more efficiency. Most recently, Naperville city officials offered to take over Naperville Township’s highway maintenance at for a substantial savings to taxpayers. The effort was met with intense resistance from the Township Highway Supervisor resulting in expensive court action paid by the taxpayers. The Township supervisor lost the court action, however the City of Naperville lost the opportunity to save taxpayer dollars when the township highway maintenance was transferred to Lisle Township. Another classic example of a government fiefdom (Naperville Township) grasping for control for self-preservation over the benefit of saving taxpayer dollars.

Having a location for a traffic court in Naperville would be win-win-win situation for Naperville residents, the City of Naperville, and DuPage county.

  • It’s estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 people a year drive from Naperville to Wheaton for traffic court.
  • Naperville Police Officers would not need to travel to Wheaton saving time and money
  • An under-used city property could be more efficiently used
  • DuPage County could reduce the number of field courts that are in use five days a week, and the Naperville site could operate two days a week to start as a circuit court, again with the advantage of being next to a police station.
  • Positive environmental and economic impact

The number one site Naperville offered was Naperville’s Safety Town, which would still operate as it has for years in teaching and educating children in safety skills that they carry through life, including the skill of safe driving.

Wouldn’t this be a classic teaching opportunity, when kids see an unending line of traffic violators marching thru Safety Town, along with police officers, and attorneys heading to traffic court; a place where nobody wants to be. And then shortly afterward, another unending line of traffic offenders leaving court with a few dollars less, wishing they had attended Safety Town when they were kids, or if they had attended, wishing they paid more attention learning, and paid less or nothing to traffic court.

Sep 182016
 

In my lifetime, I have seen four Illinois Governors (Koerner, Walker, Ryan, and Blagojevich) land in the Graybar Hotel for various indiscretions. Most recently and still a resident of the hotel is Blago(jevich). When politicians mix bad decisions with videos and tape recordings, it can result in a long reservation at the hotel. Blago’s smoking gun was a tape recording extolling his excitement when he said, “I got this thing and it’s f—— golden”, referring to the vacant Illinois senate seat resulting from Obama’s presidential election. Money and greed have a way of opening the door for problems.

The City of Naperville has it’s own ‘golden thing’, known as the SECA (Special Events Cultural and Amenities) Fund. What started out as a small source of revenue derived from a food and beverage tax, has morphed into a huge pile of money. Originally the purpose of the money was clearly defined, but as with most streams of government revenue, those clearly defined guidelines become blurry.

Fortunately for the residents and businesses of Naperville, city officials have been good stewards of those funds with checks and balances in place. The problem is that there was a time when Governors’ Koerner, Walker, Ryan and Blago were also walking the straight and narrow before veering off the road.

It’s tempting for city officials to use the SECA fund for something other than what it was intended for. The Naperville city council lives by the ‘golden rule’; he who has the gold makes the rules. In this case the ‘gold’ is the SECA fund, and the city council can and will change those rules any time they want.

Sep 152016
 

Here we go again. Just when you think Naperville city officials have an opportunity to make a huge statement and take an unprecedented stand on an issue, they shrink down and blend into the council chambers woodwork. This time it’s the issue of raising the legal age for tobacco usage. City officials have been flexing their muscles and touting their perceived image of being a leader among communities. An image, city officials mistakenly believe, other communities could emulate, and fall in line behind Naperville.

The Naperville city council will be presented with two options from the Naperville Liquor Commission, regarding increasing the legal age for the sale, possession, and consumption of tobacco products in Naperville from the current age of 18 to 21.

One option would be to prohibit the sale, possession and consumption of tobacco products for anyone under the age of 21, and the second option would focus only on prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

Naperville would not be the first Illinois city to pass an ordinance setting the new age limit; Chicago’s law became effective July 1 of this year. So that in itself makes Naperville a follower rather than a leader. If Naperville city officials truly want to be a leader, they could set a precedent, take a tall stand, and pass an ordinance making the sale, possession, and consumption of all tobacco products illegal, at any age, within the city limits. Or raise the age to 75 and require that both parents be present at the time of purchase.

If the idea of this watered-down age of 21 ordinance is to help people make wise decisions about their health, and the health of those around them, then why not go all-out and protect everyone’s health. If you say that people from the age of 18 to 21 are not smart enough to make good decisions, then I say there are more people between the age of 21 and Methuselah just as unenlightened. Shouldn’t those folks be protected from themselves just as well. And isn’t that what government proclaims; to know better than us, what’s best for us.

The bottom line is that Naperville city officials are willing to part with some lost tobacco tax, because they can easily make that up in fines generated from the ordinance. Ask city officials if they are willing to lose all tobacco taxes, and they will tell you they are late for lunch as they scamper out the door.

If the Naperville city council really wants to make a difference in protecting our health, they have a golden opportunity to do it and make nationwide news.

Sep 112016
 

It wasn’t that long ago, when chaos, bedlam, and mayhem were breaking out in downtown Naperville on weekend nights. An abundance of liquor-providing establishments along with over-serving have a way of resulting in pandemonium at best and a few deaths at worst occurring in beautiful downtown Naperville on warm summer nights.

The Naperville city council at that time saw very few, if any, liquor license permit requests it didn’t like.  It wasn’t until a few liquor-fueled deaths occurred, that the city council started feeling the heat, and began to make some changes with regard to liquor in the downtown area.

Among those changes, was to deny Walgreens a liquor license to sell alcohol in it’s downtown location, specifically to curtail the availability of liquor to the late night crowd. It may have been part of the solution, or it may have been just coincidence that problems began to lessen. It’s also possible that alcohol-fueled problems still occur in the downtown area, but they are reported less. No doubt that city officials began to tire, trying to explain why nothing of any consequence was being done to address the problem. It’s amazing how quickly a couple of deaths occurring, will catch the attention of city officials.

When the Naperville city council approved the Water Street Project, it ‘officially’ announced the shift of Naperville changing it’s image from being family friendly to becoming a destination for entertainment. During the last city council meeting, council members approved the increase of five more liquor licenses in the Water Street project.

Additionally, the council wants to revisit Walgreens request for a liquor license permit for it’s downtown store. Six of the nine members of the council are new since the original request was denied. The thought is that with the Water Street Project nearing completion, it would make it convenient for hotel guests to wander over to Walgreens to pick up an assortment of alcohol-laced products, or maybe just a 6-pack of Schlitz.

And what about the late night crowd that city officials were concerned about when the permit was first denied? Watch and listen as Mayor Steve Chirico, councilwoman Judy Brodhead, and Naperville Police Detective Dan Riggs jump into the conversation  as Brodhead wants to know if the downtown drinking problem still exists:

Does anybody really believe the problem doesn’t still exist? Does anybody really believe that city officials wouldn’t want the additional tax revenues from another liquor license? City officials want to appear as though they are seriously weighing the pros and cons of approving and issuing a liquor license to Walgreens. Let’s see, additional tax revenue and the probability of more liquor fueled problems, or reverting back to being family-friendly. That train left the station. Issue the license, stop pretending that tax revenue doesn’t trump safety, and get ready to issue a liquor license when “Jone’s BBQ Chicken Shack, and Foot Massage’ appear in front of the dais for his liquor license.

Sep 042016
 

Typically I am never at a shortage of topics to write about. Often times I will have three or four postings already written just waiting to be posted. I am a big fan of timing and action, planning ahead and knowing the posting dates (Sunday and Thursday) and knowing the topics and titles. Then it’s just a matter of composing the thoughts in some logical order and this generally occurs when I’m in the shower. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have no distractions or because of the beads of water thumping on my head, but by the time I dry off, I’m eager to pound the keyboard. From start to finish, it may take an hour too complete the posting.

The best material always comes from the Naperville city council meetings in the form of embeds, so the order of the postings will shift. Watching and listening to council members in their own words is worth far more than any comments I can add. My comments are in black and white, while the embeds add the color and flavor.

This time however, I had no idea what to write about. It’s Labor Day weekend, the Last Fling is in full throttle, the Presidential campaign is in the final turn, the Cubs are on fire, football is just getting started, school began recently, and well, you get the idea. So much is happening, who is going to read a Watchdog posting this weekend.

All week, I thought I would write a posting about Harry Potter night in downtown Naperville and how council woman Becky Anderson (owner of Anderson’s Book Store) was full of joy and a big winner ($$$) with the help of the local newspaper, local television channel, and indirectly (or maybe directly) got the council to approve the event and expense, while no one even knows the name of the manager of Barnes and Noble book store.

Then I thought another posting on the soon-to-be new City of Naperville flag might be interesting. What happens next year when Naperville Central students want to change the city flag and improve what the Neuqua Valley students did, but then in two years Naperville North students will want to change it again. Does anybody have any idea how expensive it is to change the city flag and everything that goes with it from business cards to painting water towers. And if expense is no issue, then why are city officials charging residents a fee to use Municipal meeting rooms.

Then I thought about writing a posting about Smart Meters (electrical) starting fires on the homes of residents throughout the country. And what about Naperville’s SECA funds; money here, money there, money everywhere being used for all sorts of things.

That’s when I decided to take a shower, and listen to the Cubs game. No distractions, no creative thinking, nothing but water beads pounding on my head.

Sep 012016
 

When Naperville approved the Water Street Project, a huge development in downtown Naperville, it signaled the move from Naperville being known as family friendly, to the new era of making Naperville a destination of entertainment. Two things that Naperville does not have a shortage of, are restaurants and liquor licenses, both of which are essential for entertainment.

One of many fine eateries in Naperville is Sullivan’s Steakhouse located at the northeast corner of Chicago and Main Street. One amenity you won’t find at Sullivan’s is outdoor seating, at least for now, and it appears that Naperville councilman, John Krummen, wants to keep it that way. It’s not that he doesn’t like outdoor seating, it’s that he doesn’t like the idea of showing favoritism for one restaurant over others.

Watch and listen as councilman Krummen respectfully disagrees with City of Naperville attorney to the liquor commission, Kavita Athanikar regarding issuing a temporary permit for outdoor seating:

Krummen showcases that construction is a choice, not a hardship, and therefore it would be unfair to allow one restaurant outdoor seating while denying other restaurants the same request. That makes good sense to me. It may not be common sense, but keeping a level playing field does keep it fair.

The other concern, is that when construction is complete, Sullivan’s most likely will request to keep the outdoor seating since they already have it. In other words, Sullivan’s could do what government typically does; ‘incremental creep’, small steps that lead to unfavorable results. That location is not conducive for outdoor seating, pedestrians, and traffic.

If the issue comes up for a vote, and if Krummen is the only council member to vote against outdoor seating, chances are good that when you go to Sullivan’s for dinner you’ll find Krummen waiting in line for a seat, while his council peers are enjoying their meal while seated either inside or outside.