Jul 302017
 

Come on in, the beach is open and the water is fine.

If U.S. Representative Peter Roskam of the 6th District is the prey, then Naperville councilwoman Becky Anderson is the latest shark to join in the feeding frenzy. Anderson announced last Thursday that she is in the race to unseat Roskam. She said she is in it to win it; well, sort of.

Anderson joins six other Democratic candidates with undoubtedly more to follow. The 6th District stretches from Crystal Lake down through West Chicago to Hinsdale. Districts are not like counties which have some semblance of recognizable shapes. Districts require a higher-degree mathematician to determine the number of square miles within a district, along with a Doctorate of Art to draw the exact district map. Part of the philosophy for politicians drawing up districts is to keep the populace guessing.

Anderson can’t lose. She either wins the election (doubtful) or she wins by staying in the Naperville city council; the district election is in 2018, and her council term ends 2019. To say she is playing it safe would be accurate. The last Naperville city council member to play it safe in an election was Grant Wehrli when he ran unopposed as a state representative.

When Anderson ran for election to the Naperville city council in 2015, she came in 4th place out of eight elected candidates. Paul Hinterlong, Patty Gustin, and Rebecca Boyd-Obarski received more votes than Anderson. Coming in 4th place in the Democratic primary won’t work for her this time. For those of you satisfied with her performance on the Naperville city council, rest assured she will be on the council at least until 2019. For the rest of us, her defeat in the primary is a mixed blessing; good news that she is not moving on to a position with more impact, but not-so-good news that she will continue her ineffective presence on the council.

Prior to being elected to the city council, Anderson was on the city’s Special Events and Cultural Amenities (SECA) Commission, which means that part of her responsibility was to select which groups, money should be given to, hence making her a perfect fit for a Democratic primary. Most likely part of her platform will be the acceleration of entitlement and pushing for sanctuary cities.

If Anderson loses in the primary (the smart money is on that happening) she will not be losing as Becky Anderson. Very cleverly, she is using the name Becky Anderson Wilkins, hence councilwoman Becky Anderson will be able to say that ‘Becky Anderson’ never lost a Democratic primary. You’ve got to hand it to her;  even she wants to distance herself from herself.

Come on in, the beach is open and the water is fine.

Jul 272017
 

What was once unusual, is now usual; another lawsuit against the City of Naperville. Attorneys at all levels of government are busy defending accusations. On the Federal level it’s Russian collusion with President Trump,  on the State level it’s politicians trying to stay out of the slammer, and on the local level city attorneys are busy justifying incompetence, the results of terrible policy, or sometimes accidents in the truest sense.

The most recent lawsuit filed against the City occurred on July 13. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the family of a 73-yearl old Naperville woman who was killed in a tragic accident on the evening of April 8 after she left a church service and was returning home.

Phyllis Manderson was driving northbound on Ogden and turned left (west) onto Feldott and her vehicle was struck by a Naperville police vehicle heading southbound at a high rate of speed estimated at 68 mph in a 40 mph zone while attempting to catch up to a driver who was allegedly looking at a cellphone.

A terrible accident indeed, but one that may have been avoidable. Supposedly the Naperville police officer had not yet engaged the squad car’s siren or emergency lights prior to impact. Had those actions taken place, it’s very possible Manderson would have noticed and then not made the turn. Witnesses supposedly told investigators from from the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office that they ‘believed’ Manderson did not yield the right-of-way to the police vehicle.

Now it goes to court, the details will be sorted out, and a ruling will be made in time. As is the case all the time with Naperville city officials, they don’t comment on details of a lawsuit that they suppossedly haven’t seen, then when it goes to court, they have no comment because it’s in litigation, and when litigation is complete they have no comment if they lose the case. If they win the case, then they are willing to tell anybody and everybody in every communication mode possible.

It’s tragic for everybody directly involved, the victim and her family, the police officer, and the officer’s family, and all those who know those involved. The definition of ‘accident’ is ‘an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury’.  This situation truly qualifies.

Jul 232017
 

It all happened this week. Bill Clinton cleared Hillary of any wrong doing, the Naperville Police Department cleared Naperville North High School police officer of any wrong doing, and OJ Simpson cleared his reputation by getting paroled. Just keep moving folks, there’s nothing to see here. If Clinton, the NPD, and OJ said it, it must be true.

As much as Naperville city officials want to say it’s over, it’s far from over. ‘It’ being the lawsuit resulting from the suicide of 16-year old, Naperville North student, Corey Walgren. There are so many terrible facets to this story, that it has caught the attention of a country-wide audience from ‘fair and balanced’ Fox News to ‘fake news’ CNN. This is one story that both Fox and CNN can agree.

Watchdog first posted the story June 4 (From Bad, To Worse, To Tragic), with a follow-up posting June 17 calling for Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall to resign(Sometimes It’s Time To Go, Now is the Time). This past week, there was a tragic shooting in Minneapolis by a police officer, when he killed an Australian woman who had called 911 to report an assault. Within a few days the police chief resigned.

In a nutshell, young Corey Walgren meet with a high school dean of students, and high school police officer to discuss a potential serious situation. He was left alone for a brief period of time, and it was during that time that Corey left the high school, walked to downtown Naperville and took his own life by jumping from the fifth floor of a parking garage.

Now the story has gone from tragic to disgusting. Just this last Wednesday (July 19) word came out that the Naperville Police Department completed an internal investigation as did Naperville School District 203 clearing both the police officer and dean of any wrong doing, based on the ‘fact’ that both were following established rules.

That’s it. Over with. Both the NPD and District 203 absolved of any responsibility. This posting has chosen not to include the names of the police officer and high school dean, not because the names are not out in public, but because both have been through enough already. They are good people, they didn’t intend for this to happen. This is tragic for them, along with every person touched by this situation.

For the bureaucratic City of Naperville, school district, and police department, to wash their hands of any responsibility is outrageous. If ‘rules and policies’ were followed, then the rules and policies are horribly flawed and the City, school district, and NPD need to be held accountable, not the individuals following the flawed policy.

A good kid is dead. 16-years old, that’s two times an 8-year old. The NPD said the kid was never in custody, so he could have left the ‘meeting’. That’s supposed absolve them of any responsibility. Do they really think Corey knew he had that option, of course not. I’m in my 7th decade of life and I didn’t know that was an option. And if Corey knew it, or I knew it, neither of us would have abruptly walked out of the ‘meeting’, because it would have been disrespectful to the officer and the dean.

All the people involved in this tragic story are ‘losers’, they have all lost something, some far more than others, while the bureaucratic monolithic structures (City of Naperville and School District) consider themselves just like O.J. with no accountability and no responsibility.

Jul 202017
 

Until now, the State of Illinois hasn’t had a budget since 2015. Illinois was about to enter its third year without a budget, until Illinois politicians decided to borrow more money to keep Illinois afloat. That would be like an alcoholic solving his problem by drinking more alcohol.

Illinois’ time without a budget coincided with former Naperville city council member Grant Wehrli’s term in office as as a member of Illinois House of Representatives when his term began in 2015. Wehrli was an eight-year member of the Naperville city council from 2006 through 2014. Many say that when Wehrli left the council and became an Illinois House Representative that he simultaneously raised the collective average IQ of the Naperville city council while lowering the collective average IQ of Illinois House of Representatives. That may be a bit harsh, but by all accounts appears accurate.

Wehrli’s list of accomplishments as a member of the Naperville city council is short at best, and non-existent at worst and he hasn’t fared any better in Springfield. In a nutshell, is there anything more useless in Illinois politics, than Republican Grant Wehrli in Illinois’ House of Representatives. Can anyone think of one accomplishment he has achieved? Anyone? Is there anything more useless than spending gas on sending Wehrli back and forth from Naperville to Springfield?

The ‘Wehrli’ name in Naperville is well known. There is a saying that “the first generation creates it, the second generation builds it, and the third generation squanders it”.  Based on Grant Wehrli’s actions in Naperville and Springfield, he is the poster boy for ‘third generation’.

He didn’t do himself any favors, nor Republicans, or the good folks of Naperville, when he was recently admonished on the House floor for being disrespectful to House Speaker Michael Madigan. I’m not a Madigan fan, however Madigan’s position as Speaker of the House deserves proper decorum on the part of Wehrli. No one has ever accused Grant Wehrli of being cool under pressure. When problems arise, Wehrli has a gift for becoming part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

It might be time for Grant Wehrli to find something more useful to do, for himself, and the good folks of the district he is supposed to be representing, because what he is doing is surely not working.

Jul 162017
 

If the City of Naperville legal department was a Major League Baseball team, or an NFL team, they would be the Philadelphia Phillies or the Chicago Bears; they don’t win very often. It’s not necessarily the legal department’s fault because by the time they get a case to defend, Naperville city officials have typically lost the case through their action or inaction.

It happened again with a class-action lawsuit against the City which was recently settled. It involved the City of Naperville charging residents and business for services which the City did not render. Watchdog initially posted the article titled “Naperville charging for services not provided” on  (12-13-15) when the City was caught red-handed with their hand in the cookie jar, by charging for refuse pick-up, when in fact those residents and businesses had contracted with a separate vendor for the service, and were not using the city’s vendor.

Watchdog again posted “City of Naperville Slapped with Class-Action Lawsuit” on (5-14-16) when the City was slapped with the class-action lawsuit after attempting to cover-up their dirty deed. Rather than owning-up and taking responsibility for the ‘scam’ they attempted to obfuscate the situation which resulted in the lawsuit. The lawsuit did not have to happen if city officials would have played it straight, but in their effort to save a few bucks they decided to foolishly allow it to go to court, resulting in a seven-figure settlement (if you count the two zeros behind the decimal point).

Again, it’s not Naperville city officials money (it’s the taxpayers) so they don’t mind squandering it. How many times have we heard Naperville city council members refer to multiple-numbers of thousands as a “small amount”.

Watchdog’s third posting about the class-action “Naperville Overcharging for Trash Pick-up Results in Lost Revenue” came on (6-29-16). Naperville city officials have a formula they use for avoiding answering questions. First when word of their misdeed comes out, they answer by saying they have no comment because they have not seen the complaint. Then when it gets to court, they say, they have no comment because it’s in litigation. Then when the case is finalized, they say they have no comment because they are restricted in commenting by agreement in the settlement. If that formula doesn’t work, then city officials refer to Rule #1 which is ‘deny, deny, deny’.

A few years ago, the City of Naperville had a hiring freeze and reduced the number of city employees by not back-filling open positions. The one department which was least effected was the legal department, and in fact experienced an increase in people-power (pre-PC was known as manpower). It appears city officials would prefer dealing with problems after they are out-of-control by giving it to the legal department, rather than dealing with the problem while it’s still solve-able. The thought must be that there’s no sense in having city attorneys sitting around doing nothing. Another example of socially acceptable non-productive behavior on the part of city officials.

Maybe it’s time for the City to hire one really quality person who can review issues before they become out-of-control fires. Someone with common sense. Someone who sees the value in saving or spending a dollar early, rather than wasting thousands later.

Jul 132017
 

It doesn’t seem like Naperville’s recycling program is working as good as it could. When the program was first rolled out by the city, it looked really impressive. Residents were given the choice of three sizes (96-gallon, 64-gallon, and 32-gallon) beautiful blue rolling recycling carts. I think I chose the 64-gallon size, I really don’t remember. I didn’t want to use the cart for recycling, I simply wanted it to store items like baseball bats, small shovels and rakes, basketballs, footballs, etc. It gets the job done and it’s the perfect size sitting in my garage, next to my gigantic rolling green garbage can.

I mentioned in a previous post a few years ago, that I am not a recycling kind of guy. If I thought it really worked, I might give it a second thought, but I think it falls under the heading of socially acceptable non-productive behavior.

The flyers announcing the recycling specifics were bold and colorful with all sorts of cool pictures of stuff that qualified as being recyclable including:

  • Aluminum and steel cans, and lids
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Plastic bottles and jugs
  • Dry food boxes
  • Cartons and juice boxes
  • Newspapers, magazines, catalogs, phone books, computer paper and my favorite, junk mail
  • Flattened cardboard including pizza boxes

My favorite day of the week is Thursday; that’s garbage day at the Watchdog household. I pride myself in shoving as much stuff as I can find into my garbage can, rolling it down to the curb late at night, and hearing the garbage truck roll by late morning to make the contents magically disappear, and then the process starts over again.

Most of my neighbors have recycling carts. They have to store them outside because there’s no room in their garages. I’ve noticed that some of my neighbors can’t fit huge boxes into their recycling carts, so they leave them neatly at curbside, and the recycling guy empties their cans but leaves the boxes. One neighbor had a box spring and mattress delivered in boxes. He tried bending the boxes and shoving them in his recycling can with no success. He then tried cutting the boxes into small pieces with a razor blade box opener and shoving them into the can, with a little more success, but still had to leave 75% of the cardboard at the curb. The recycling guy doesn’t want to leave the friendly confines of his truck to take the cardboard neatly piled up at the curb.

When the garbage guy rolls through, he jumps out of his truck, and tosses the cardboard boxes into the garbage truck bin, and leaves. I’m hoping the garbage truck guy earns more than the recycling guy because he works more and takes what the recycling guy won’t take.

If recycling pays off for the city, then leaving boxes at curbside is costing the city money. Hence the program is not working as good as it could. Yes, I am not doing my part, I get it, but neither is the recycling guy and he’s getting paid to do his job which includes taking cardboard boxes. How difficult is that to do.

The good news is that my recycling cart looks as good as new, and I know exactly where my baseball bats and basketballs are located.

Jul 092017
 

Everybody is replaceable, some less so than others. Mayors come and go, council members are here today and gone tomorrow, and Watchdogs can disappear as quickly as they surface; hard to admit but true. What makes some people more difficult to replace is their knowledge about a particular obscure topic.

Take for example Naper Settlement curator, Bryan Ogg. He is the ‘Google’ of Naperville history. He knows it, he understands it, he loves it; you could say he devours it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In short, he is a gift to the City of Naperville and its residents. But now for some strange reason, Naper Settlement’s President and CEO Rena Tamayo-Calabrese, considers Ogg the ‘former’ curator of the Settlement, which came as an apparent surprise to Ogg.

In a nutshell Rena Tamayo-Calabrese said the Ogg resigned from his position as curator, and Ogg said he absolutely did not resign, but that he was fired. Looks like somebody is not being totally truthful, or has mis-interpreted words and actions.

Both sides of the issue have enlisted the help of legal counsel to help sort out the details. This seems like it would be a very simple issue to resolve. Either Ogg has submitted a formal written resignation, which the Naper Settlement can present as proof, with the resignation being accepted, meaning that Ogg has become part of Naperville history himself. Or there is no written proof that he resigned, meaning that Tamayo-Calabrese and the Naper Settlement folks have some explaining to do.

Within the issue is a book that Ogg wanted to co-author about the history of Naperville. Obviously he is the person who is most qualified to it, but apparently higher pay-grade folks at Naper Settlement, including Tamayo-Calabrese, weren’t too excited about the idea, and allegedly  gave Ogg the choice to co-author the book and lose his job, or forget the book and keep his job. That’s one of the details that has be sorted out. If that is true, and we don’t know yet. that would qualify as violating Ogg’s First Amendment rights (a huge no-no), and leading to wrongful termination (another big no-no).

Naperville city officials say, ‘hey, we’re not involved in this’. It’s probably a good thing to say, since they are involved as defendants in numerous self-inflicted lawsuits costing Naperville residents (taxpayers) bundles of money. As you read this, city officials are busy bundling enormous bags of money (taxpayer dollars) to settle a class-action lawsuit involving charging residents for services not rendered. That will be the topic of Watchdog’s July 16 posting.

Though city officials like to say they are not ‘involved’ in the Naper Settlement / Bryan Ogg kerfuffle, they actually are. City officials provide SECA funds to the Settlement, just as they do to the Carillon. So when the Naperville city council is tossing (our) money around willy-nilly to groups with outstretched arms, and those groups get themselves in ‘lack-of-leadership’ troubles, then city officials are involved, whether they like it or not.

Jul 052017
 

Woe is the Naperville city council. They have a self-made dilemma. Either honor a long-time standing agreement, or unceremoniously toss it away, in exchange for more tax dollars. What will the politicians do? Any bets?

The problem started around 1898 when college professor and businessman James Nichols donated $10,000 to Naperville to start a library. He wanted kids to have what he didn’t have when he was young; the opportunity to access books. Little did he know then, that his gesture would cause a problem in 21st century Naperville. I suppose you could say he caused the problem. If it wasn’t for James Nichols, none of this would be happening.

The building housing the library at 110 S. Washington is a magnificent building, though the library moved to its current location on Jefferson Street in 1986. The city sold the building to a Lutheran Church over 20 years ago with the stipulation that all future owners would maintain the building’s facade and front vestibule. The church moved north in Naperville and the old library building was purchased by a new owner and developer.

The developer wants to ‘convert’ the building with restaurants and shops on the main level, offices on the second floor, and condominiums on the top two floors. Here comes the catch, the owner/developer wants to tear down, as in demolish, the old building, but keep as much of the facade and vestibule as possible.

Naperville residents are very effective in gathering signatures on petitions for all sorts of actions. It this case,  Naperville residents Barbara Hower and Charles Wilkens signed an online petition, along with well over one-thousand other individuals, to request approval to designate the building a local landmark, giving it historical significance. Very clever move by the residents.

The Historic Preservation Commission of Naperville will review the request, and then make a recommendation to the city council for action or inaction. If it’s recommended by the commission, and the council approves it, any changes to the old library building would have to be approved. This wouldn’t necessarily excite the new owner, and the idea itself could be demolished, leaving the old building an old empty unoccupied building.

Additionally, if landmark status is denied, it can be presented again one year later per city of Naperville rules. Hence the city council has a self-made dilemma. Enter Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico cleverly side-stepping the issue by saying since it’s private property, the owner should have the say-so. If the owner is O.K. with the resolution,  so is the mayor. If the owner is not O.K. with the resolution, then Chirico is not O.K. with it.

When the dust finally sets on this dilemma, you can be pretty sure the city will have another source of tax-dollar income, a couple more liquor licenses will have been issued, and somewhere within the new development the old library facade and vestibule will live on, probably in one of the bars or washrooms.

All of this dilemma, just because Nichols wanted the kids to have access to books.

Jul 012017
 

Naperville is in a tight retail sales race with Schaumburg, and  Naperville finds itself in second place among Chicago area suburbs. Second place does not sit well with Naperville city officials, which, in part, is due to Naperville not having a regional shopping center as Schaumburg does.

Without the sales and tax revenue from a huge shopping mall, Naperville has to make up the difference from somewhere, and that ‘somewhere’ opportunity comes from the category of restaurants and bars. Considering Naperville’s surge in sales and tax revenue from restaurants and especially liquor within the last decade, it’s just a matter of time before Naperville can claim to be the liquor capital of the Chicago suburbs.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder the mayor of Naperville Steve Chirico (also the liquor commissioner) requested and received the green light to add two seats to the liquor commission, increasing the total of members from seven to nine.  According to Chirico, he wanted the increase to ‘add more viewpoints’. If adding two creates more perspective which makes it better, it would seem that adding four more would make it twice as good, and adding another 20 would make the perspective crystal clear.

Considering liquor consumption in Naperville is increasing, a nine-member liquor commission has never been this large before, and it may never be this small again with increasing emphasis on adding liquor licenses in Naperville. If city officials can think of more ways to add liquor license categories, the sky is the limit for sales and tax revenue. Walmart’s unwritten motto is “you make it, we’ll sell it. Naperville’s motto could be “your brew it or distill it, we’ll sell and consume it”.

Naperville city council’s latest effort to overtake Schaumburg is an ordinance change allowing downtown sidewalk businesses to sell alcoholic drinks. Naperville’s creeping ordinance allows five downtown restaurants/bars to obtain a permit to sell liquor in front of their establishments. The ‘creeping’ factor means in time the five-limit will change to ten, which will change into 25, and then 50, and well, you get the idea.

Voting against allowing businesses to sell sidewalk-alcoholic drinks were council members Paul Hinterlong, Patty Gustin, and Rebecca Obarski. The vote was 5 to 3 in favor of the ordinance change, with Becky Anderson not present.

One of the stipulations is that it will be the restaurants and bars responsibility to make sure pedestrians have five feet of sidewalk space available for passage. In addition to all the equipment police officers need to do their job, they will now need a handy-dandy tape measure.

Imagine trying to navigate, with your children while carrying shopping bags, through downtown Naperville, or someone using a walker next to a family member attempting safe passage around plates of chicken wings and beers, or worse yet, someone in a wheel chair trying to avoid rolling off the curb into oncoming traffic. Personal injury attorneys are celebrating.

Naperville city officials are determined to be number one. If they can’t overtake Schaumburg this year in liquor sales and tax revenue, they definitely can do it with the number of attorneys on staff defending law suits.