May 312017
 

Here’s the good news, there is a new bakery in town. Here’s the not-so-good news, the town isn’t Naperville, it’s Lisle. Given a choice between Naperville and Lisle, the owner chose Lisle, and she couldn’t be happier with her decision. In full disclosure, my wife and I know the owner (Darlene), She’s had years of experience honing her baking skills including most recently at Mariano’s (bakery department) on Naper Boulevard.

City officials don’t make it easy for someone to open a small business in Naperville, it takes more money, more time, more regulations, and more rope-jumping, other than that, Naperville makes it’s easy. Lisle on the other hand, made it so much easier with less fees, less time, fewer regulations, and no rope-jumping. Lisle helped by walking her through the process and being available. They made her feel wanted and valued. Lisle’s Economic Development Coordinator, Pete Kelly, exceeded her expectations, and he is doing what Lisle hired him to do, coordinating economic development for the City of Lisle. Everybody wins including the owner, the residents looking for a quality local bakery, and the City of Lisle.

The name of the bakery is ‘The Sweet Spot’ (630-357-1144), located at 6740 College Road, in the College Square Shopping Center, on the west side of College just north of Green Trails Road.  The anticipated official opening date is June 10.

One less business in Naperville is not going to hurt Naperville financially. That’s the problem; city officials don’t care. If they did, they would make it easier for small businesses to make Naperville their home. So much for that small town feeling that helped Naperville flourish.

If Naperville city officials are looking for  a great bakery, all they have to do is drive 1/4 mile east of Naperville and the ‘Sweet Spot Bakery’ in Lisle won’t let them down.

May 282017
 

A friend sent me the following video clip, and said I might find it interesting. He’s a good guy and knows a lot about Naperville, so I thought, it must be interesting.  When I opened it, I noticed it was about 15 minutes in length. My attention span is typically very short, but knowing he wouldn’t send me anything not worth watching, I waited until the end of the day, when all my daytime chores, projects, and tasks were completed, so I could give it my full attention.

The clip is about Naperville Central High School’s Distinguished Alumni Award, given to Class of 1978 graduate, Mayor Steve Chirico. It took him 39 years to finally get recognized by NCHS. It’s not that long, considering I’m still waiting for recognition from my high school, Barrington’s Class of 1963. Time is running out for me, but I still keep hoping every time the phone rings.

The Mayor is serving his first term in office (elected in 2015), after being elected as a council member in 2011. Though Watchdog did endorse Chirico’s mayoral run, Watchdog did not endorse Chirico’s council candidacy in 2011. The lack of endorsement did not stop his election. His election gave Watchdog the opportunity to be very critical of Chirico in a number of postings.

I’m not sure if Chirico began to change for the better, or if Watchdog began to learn more about the character of Chirico that caused Watchdog to change. I think, without a doubt, it’s the latter. I’ve learned that he’s focused, appreciative, and grateful. I’ve learned that he’s big enough and secure enough to admit mistakes (not easy to do), and he wishes he could occasionally have ‘do-overs’; a second chance to do it right. I don’t think we often see that, especially in politics.

The Mayor and I don’t agree on everything, but nor do my wife and I agree on everything. Mayor Pradel was good for Naperville and Mayor Steve Chirico has also been good for Naperville. I truly hope we can say the same thing for the next mayor of Naperville, whomever that might be.

When you have the time and open-mindedness to invest 15 minutes, the following video is well worth the investment of time to learn more about the person behind the title.

May 252017
 

It was a little over seven months ago when the Naperville city council began to put the squeeze on honey bees in Naperville. It all started when one resident brought her agitation about the birds and the bees and her water feeder to council chambers, and requested that something be done to solve her problem. The city council jumped at the opportunity to do what they enjoy doing; placing more restrictions on residents. When the dust settled, Naperville had a brand new shining ordinance limiting the number of bee hives a resident can have on their property. It had never been a problem in the last 186 years, going back to 1831 when Naperville was incorporated. Residents, bees, birds, water, and flowers were living with each other quite nicely.

Jump ahead to this spring, and rather than having fewer beehives and bees, there are more. With city officials attempting to placate one resident and reducing the already dwindling bee population, more residents decided to take up the productive activity of beekeeping, including at least one resident very near to the resident who presented the “problem” to the council.

Honeybees typically travel within two miles from their home, but can go up to four to six miles. It has been estimated that one out of every three bites of food is because of bees. With urban sprawl and pesticide spraying including lawn care products, the bees have been struggling to do their job, so when city officials attempted to make it even more difficult for the honey bees, some of the fine folks of Naperville have come to the rescue.

One resident added two beehives to her property and is excited to provide honey to her neighbors. Another Naperville resident added a beehive to their property for the prime purpose of Bee Venom Therapy (BVT), using the sting of a bee to reduce inflammation.

When the city council enacted the ordinance to regulate beehives and in essence reduce the number of honeybees, they didn’t anticipate the unintended benefits of increasing the overall number of beehives and honeybees. Imagine if all ordinances had unintended benefits, residents would be lined up during public forum demanding more regulations.

May 142017
 

Most Naperville city council members blend into the woodwork, but not councilman Kevin Coyne. He has been pounding the drums for improvements along Ogden Avenue, and specifically East Ogden Avenue, also known as the Ogden corridor. When driving westbound on Ogden Avenue from Lisle, it’s bleak with vacant buildings. empty store fronts, tired strip malls, and nothing that exudes any type of energy. In two words, it’s spectacularly dull.

Coyne has taken it upon himself to champion the cause for improvement. Coyne envisions new development, better and inviting lighting, attractive and colorful landscaping, appropriate updated signage, and relocation of utility poles and wires underground.

To get this accomplished, Coyne has suggested creating a special service area in which ‘corridor’ businesses pay a fee into a fund, which would reimburse the city for borrowed money fronted for the improvements. The idea would be put up for a vote of corridor-business owners requiring a majority vote to move forward.

It’s feasible, but more importantly, Coyne is trying to make something worthwhile happen. Other than mayor Chirico, and councilwoman Becky Anderson’s talk about making Naperville a ‘Welcoming City’, is any other council member ‘championing’ anything, or are they just riding along like passengers on a train.

May 112017
 

It’s that time of the year when professional sports teams draft players to strengthen their teams. The NFL just concluded their draft, which will be followed by the NBA then major league baseball (MLB). In baseball, players typically begin their careers in the minor leagues working their way up from A-ball, to Double-A, then Triple-A and a select few make it to the Big Show.

In local politics, the equivalent of the minor leagues would be positions on boards and commissions. They can provide a good foundation for understanding how municipal politics work, and provide good exposure for members considering moving up or out of politics.

The City of Naperville needs to replenish its minor league bench. Applications from residents are being accepted to fill open positions on three municipal boards and seven commissions. They include:

  • Advisory Commission on Disabilities (discrimination against individuals with disabilities)
  • Board of Fire and Police Commissioners (recruiting and selecting police officers and firefighters, and conducting disciplinary hearings and appeals)
  • Building Review Board (issues involving building codes)
  • Firefighters’ Pension Fund Board (administers the pension fund)
  • Historic Preservation Board (review appropriateness of applications for building design)
  • Housing Advisory Commission (promoting fair housing, and discouraging unethical housing practices)
  • Naperville Public Library Board of Trustees (oversee policy and budget)
  • Riverwalk Commission (guides development with Park District along with Millennium and Riverwalk Foundations)
  • Sister Cities Commission (promoting international city-to-city affiliations)
  • Special Events Cultural Amenities (SECA) Commission (advising council on culture, arts and special city events)

Interested applicants can go to www.naperville.il.us/boards to download an application. The form along with a resume can be mailed or delivered in person to the mayor’s office at the Municipal Center, 400 South Eagle Street in Naperville 60540. The form and resume can also be emailed to trotze@naperville.il.us

Additional information can also be obtained by calling the mayor’s office at 630-420-6018.

Supposedly it’s a level playing field with equal opportunity. If you are interested, there is one way to find out. Applications will continue to be accepted until all vacancies are filled.

It’s been said that ‘politics is the first refuge for scoundrels’. It’s also been said one person with drive, passion, and perseverance, can make a difference. Depending upon which category you consider yourself in, this could be your opportunity.

May 072017
 

2010 seems like a long time ago. President Obama had been in office for only two years, the Cubs had yet to hit the skids with record setting losing seasons, and Osama bin Ladin was watching reruns of the Gong Show. 2010 was the year that Naperville residents voted by a landslide in favor of term limits for city council members. It definitely caught Naperville city officials by surprise, as did the referendum in favor, also by a landslide, of district representation over at-large representation.

Stunned by the results, Naperville city officials were able to have a do-over vote on the ‘representation’ issue. Simply by changing the wording of the referendum, city officials were able to confuse voters just enough to reverse the results of the first vote, thereby keeping at-large representation.

Naperville city officials were able to slow down the implementation of term limits by saying they didn’t have enough time to get their ‘ducks in a row’, hence delaying the first effect or casualty of term limits until 2021. Depending upon your position on councilwoman Judy Brodhead, she is either the first effect or casualty of the landslide vote. Hence the bad news or the good news is that she is out in 2021. That’s a full 12 years after she was first elected. That’s only one month less than the longest serving President of the United States (Franklin D. Roosevelt).

The 22nd Amendment passed by congress in 1947 and ratified by the States in 1951 set two terms (8 years) as the limit for Presidents. If eight years is enough for the President, then it’s surely enough for a Naperville council member.

Councilwoman Brodhead is not a proponent of council term limits, meaning if it wasn’t for the term-limit referendum passing in 2010, she could have been on the council long after the Buffalo Bills won a Super Bowl.

Brodhead being elected for another four years said she won’t need to take into consideration how the next election will be affected by how she votes. “Since I am not running again, that’s not something I have to ponder”. She went on to say “but I try to vote my conscience on every issue”.

‘Trying’ to vote her conscience, is not the same thing as ‘voting her conscience’. There is a difference between trying to lose weight, and losing weight, or trying to exercise, and exercising.

Naperville voters didn’t try to vote for term limits, they did so in an absolute landslide.

May 042017
 

The Naperville city council came close to breaking its own record for their shortest meeting last Tuesday night, when it adjourned just 31 minutes after starting. If it wasn’t for some proclamations at the beginning of the meeting, and the swearing-in of councilwoman Judy Brodhead to another term on the council, the meeting could have concluded in 15 minutes; not even enough time for the small crowd to get seated.

The other three recently elected council members (Coyne, Krummen, and White) were sworn-in on Sunday April 30. Brodhead waited until the council meeting. Some folks thought she didn’t want to share the spotlight, by being one of four. I don’t think that was the case. Tuesday night council meetings garner more viewers, than inauguration meetings.

Watch and listen as Brodhead takes her oath of office:

It was the fourth time she has been sworn into office. When voters approved a referendum a few years ago for city council member term limits, Judy Brodhead was a ‘poster child’ for why term limits are necessary. She was not about to leave on her own accord. Apparently the only way to remove her from council chambers is either forcefully or via term limits. Applying term limits on her is much more tasteful. The City of Naperville doesn’t need a United Airlines form of removal.

Brodhead said, “I try not to create a little speech that makes people cry because that usually happens when I create a speech”. I think she was looking for a little chuckle, but it didn’t happen, sort of like when Jeb Bush was looking for hand and it didn’t come.

As I listened to Brodhead she did accomplish bringing a tear to my eye when I realized that I’d have to sit through another four years of listening to someone pontificate while having only one original thought verbalized over 16 years, “Chickens don’t bark”. No doubt that she nailed that one as an original thought.

Brodhead went on to say, “I plan to enjoy every moment of it (her final term)” How refreshing it would have been if she would have said, “I plan on working hard and smart representing the residents of Naperville”. That requires work and listening, while “enjoying every moment” sounds more like fun.

She concluded by saying, “How lucky I am”. Brodhead and Watchdog can finally agree on something; how ‘lucky’ she was being listed first on the ballot.