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.

  2 Responses to “Class-Action Lawsuit Against Naperville Settled”

  1. A constant thread running through all of these plus some you didn’t mention like smart meter issue is our City Manager who constantly and continually mismanages these items and issue resulting in these settlements (pun intended). Replacing him would be a huge step forward in correcting our city’s batting average.

  2. This issue actually did come up during city council discussion of whether to make trash collection part of the city property tax levy and continue only charging residents $1 for trash collection (as it had been doing for years) or pass the actual cost of trash collection on to each resident. It was a very involved discussion because by all calculations including it in the property tax levy would have meant non-residential properties, which do not use city waste collection (as per city ordinance), would have paid the lion’s share of this cost thus subsidizing residential trash collections.

    It was during this discussion that city staff mentioned the possibility that some residential properties (condos, townhouses, apartments, condition use businesses) maybe paying for trash collection by the city when in fact they have contracted this service privately. Many of these properties have HOAs that were established by the builder who also initially contracted this service and the HOA continued this practice. This whole situation was because of a breakdown in communication between the builders and the city resulting in the city billing these residents $1 month for possibly several years. And since none of these individuals had bothered to contact the city and question this $1 charge, it was understandable that the city felt part of the responsibility for this continuing so long fell on these residents.

    So, there was no attempt by the city to cover this situation up. It was openly discussed at the city council’s open session. It was shortly after this meeting that the aforementioned lawsuit was announced and the city stopped commenting publicly on the situation (standard practice for all public and private entities when being sued). As to not talking after the settlement, that is standard for all settlements (NDAs are a standard part of all settlements today). So the city is not doing anything that Donald Trump and others, private and public, have been do for decades.

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