Jan 272018
 

Have you ever noticed how ideas almost always sound good in the beginning, but then as you consider the pitfalls, ramifications, speed bumps, and unintended consequences, those great ideas aren’t as appealing. Successful businesses and families are successful because those considerations are given high priority in the decision-making process.

It doesn’t necessarily work that way in government, where the decision-making process has two components, 1) let’s do it, and 2) there is no ‘off’ position on the funding pipeline. Foolish indeed, but that’s where the State of Illinois, the City of Naperville, and Naperville’s household hazardous waste facility find themselves. The funding pipeline has been narrowed, with more narrowing likely to come. Naperville’s facility, located on Fort Hill Drive, might be forced to cut hours of operation, or close unless ‘needed’ funding can be found to keep it up and running.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) which previously funded operations, has capped the expense in 2018 to less than half what it paid in 2017. Naperville’s facility was the first to open in Illinois, followed by Rockford and Chicago. The IEPA has contracted with Naperville to pick-up, transport, and ultimately dispose of the hazardous materials that have been dropped off at the site by residents from surrounding communities, primarily in DuPage, Will, and Kane counties.

The idea of the facility sounded great, at the time, and maybe it could have been, but it hasn’t turned out that way.  I am reminded of the Universal Epitaph that could be written on all headstones in cemeteries, “At the time, I thought it was a good idea”

Jan 202018
 

In 1986, author Robert Fulghum published the book, “All I Really Need To Know, I learned In Kindergarten”. Its message was the world would be in a much better place if adults followed the same simple rules as children do; sharing, picking up after yourself, being kind to one another, etc., in other words the Golden Rule. Government has warped the meaning of the ‘Golden Rule’ to ‘he who has the gold, makes the rules’ in this case the ‘he’ is government officials.

Apparently a lot of people never read the book, and if they did, they thought the rules applied to others and not to themselves, especially when it comes to harassment and bullying, which in many ways is the same thing. People in a position of power can use that power to bully and harass others. This happens at all levels. If the #1 weed picker has authority over the #2 weed picker, #2 could be in a difficult situation; acquiesce or lose the job.

Harassment has probably existed since time began, however it has openly exploded over the last few months in entertainment, government, sports, etc. HR departments are busy trying to formulate policies to address the situation. One would think that Fulghum’s book would be sufficient, but apparently not. Do we really need to be educated on how to be kind to one another? Apparently so. Do our elected and city officials not know how to behave properly with those they supervise. If so, how do they even get elected?

The Illinois General Assembly passed a resolution in mid-November 2017, mandating the adoption of a new policy on harassment, requiring local governments to create a policy prohibiting all forms of sexual harassment by January 15. Though the City of Naperville already has a watered-down version of a policy on the books, the new mandate is more specific including the Illinois Whistleblower Act which provides protection for individuals and prohibits retaliation for presenting allegations of harassment.

Considering the wave of sexual harassment allegations recently, and the updating and expansion of harassment training, it would be prudent for Naperville city officials including city council members to avail themselves of the training as soon as possible.

If a claim against a Naperville city official is substantiated, consequences can include additional training, possible  suspension maybe without pay, and though unlikely, job termination.

Consequences against Naperville residents and taxpayers will be a guaranteed big-time settlement payout to cover inappropriate behavior by city officials.

It might be a good investment and form of insurance for the Naperville city council, if councilwoman Becky Anderson would provide other council members with a copy of Robert Fulghum’s book as a refresher.

Jan 142018
 

There hasn’t been one Naperville city council meeting this year, and the council’s pettiness is already on full display. While city council members stumble over each other for photo ops, and getting their names attached to anything and everything for voter awareness, they balk at allowing other groups and individuals the courtesy of recognition for good intentions.

Oh, they will hand out a plaque now and then at meetings, but when it comes to displaying names in public view showing appreciation for generosity, council members including John Krummen, Paul Hinterlong and Becky Obarski give a thumbs down.

Such is the case when the Naperville city council accepted a $200,000 donation from the Naperville Jaycees to help fund a Wi-Fi park next to the Naperville Municipal Center. The Jaycees donation covers about half of the projected $400,000 cost, in exchange for naming the park-project, Naperville Jaycees Smart Park, and including a plaque in public view naming current Jaycee directors and officers. Seems like a more than fair trade-off for $200,000.

Councilman Paul Hinterlong said, “You are a community service organization. It’s going on our property. I don’t want to see names on a plaque. It’s not your park, it’s a community park. You are a community partner; that’s the way it should be presented.”

What exactly does Hinterlong mean when he says, “it’s going on OUR property”. It’s not his property, it’s not the council’s property, it’s the property of the taxpayers. There Hinterlong goes again, mis-representing ownership.

While the Naperville city council nickels-and-dimes residents for all sorts of fees and fines, and squeezes hundreds if not thousands of dollars out of Naperville residents, property owners, and businesses, they have the audacity to jeopardize a $200,000 donation because of a few names on a plaque in public view.

Other lesser Jaycee requests that offended council members included:

  • Space to promote community events
  • Prominent participation in ground-breaking and ribbon cutting
  • Exclusive rights to sell brick pavers within the Smart Wi-Fi park
  • Funding opportunity for future park developments

The Jaycees would have had a much easier time obtaining city council approval if they would have offered a well-lit plaque with Naperville city council members’ names on it to be displayed in a prominent location within the park.

Jan 062018
 

The sound of cans bouncing along the roads in Naperville, are the cans that the Naperville city council kicked down the road in 2017. The city council has adopted the general policy of not making difficult decisions until a later date, thinking that more time will make the decisions easier, and typically it doesn’t. Usually it results in another kick of the can. The good aspects about not making decisions are 1) maybe the issue will take care of itself, and 2) you can’t make a wrong decision hence less chance of resurfacing at election time.

In addition to all the postponed decisions the city council will have to address, will be all the new issues coming down the road, so the city council might find itself pressed to make those delayed decisions in a timely manner to accommodate new issues.

Some of the issues the council will have to decide are some of the same topics Watchdog will be writing about; it just sort of works that way. The council provides Watchdog with material, along with a wonderful array of video clips to embed to the postings. Nothing beats hearing the council members and city officials in their own words.

Upcoming cans (issues) to be kicked down the road by the city council include in no particular order:

  • Fifth Avenue planning and development, what is it going to look like and who is going to develop it.
  • Old Nichols Library, what to do with it now that it has been given landmark status.
  • Moser Tower, fix it, band aid it, or demolish it
  • Ogden Corridor, what can be done to foster economic development, and make it more visually appealing.
  • Pet stores and puppy mills, how to accommodate pet stores while extinguishing puppy mills
  • Naperville city officials conflicts of interest
  • Wi-Fi park, to be or not to be, with or without names
  • Harassment policy, adopting a new and better version
  • Waste material facility, reduced funding may require shorter hours or closing the facility.
  • Budget cost reductions and revenue streams affecting property taxes
  • SECA grant allocations; fewer groups with more funding, or more groups with less funding.
  • IMEA (Illinois Municipal Electric Agency) and the EPA’s position affecting the city
  • Electric and water rates soaring out of control in Naperville
  • Drug drop boxes, good idea but execution may not be compliant

No doubt that the Naperville city council will have a plethora of issues to talk about, and Watchdog will have an abundance of topics to write about.

Jan 032018
 

Watchdog finished 2017 with a few answers, now Watchdog will start 2018 with a few more answers, and then the race begins this weekend with Watchdog’s posting “City of Naperville, The Year Ahead, Issues To Resolve.

How do you choose what you are going to write about?

Simply something that grabs my attention, typically from Naperville city council meetings. In the beginning I would attend meetings, but now I watch on TV and record the meetings. Sometimes I will have a number of timely topics I want to write about, and at other times, I have no idea what I am going to write about. Most of the writing happens after midnight. That either confirms or rebukes former councilman Bob Fieseler’s saying that “nothing good happens after midnight”. My best thinking time for content is in the shower. A good 10-minute shower creates the posting.

Other than embeds from the meetings, do you come up with the ‘funny’ embeds?

No, I wish I was that creative. A young fellow (Guard-dog) who is the most tech savvy person I have ever known, does that. He has a photographic memory for every movie and commercial he has ever seen, and can pull up those funny clips for the embeds.

How wide-range are your readers?

All 50-states and amazingly 138 countries out of the 195 countries that exist. Never did I ever think it would reach that level. I’m guessing most readers are former residents of Naperville, folks thinking about moving to Naperville, Watchdog-wanna-be’s in their own area, hackers (with no success), or just plain inquisitive people.

Where are most of your readers located?

In Illinois, the top five cities are:

Naperville (68%)

Chicago

Wheaton

Lisle

Aurora

and 1 reader from Mossville

In the United States the top 5 states are:

Illinois (83%)

California

Texas

New York

Florida

with the fewest from North Dakota

In the world, the top 5 countries are:

United States (94%)

Canada

United Kingdom

Brazil

Russia

and not one person from North Korea

What annoys you most about writing Watchdog?

Ending sentences with a preposition. As Winston Churchill said, “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”