Apr 292018
 

Naperville city officials have a knack for getting the good folks of Naperville to buy-into an idea, but then changing the original buy-in idea. You have to give city officials a lot of credit for continuing to play games with the residents of Naperville. It’s so easy for them to tell us one thing, and then do the opposite later. It appears they must have a lot of fun doing it, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it.

This time it involves the much anticipated Smart Park which will be built adjacent to the Naperville Municipal Center. It’s being presented as a really cool place for people to use the park, including children for outdoor classroom activities.

Watch and listen as councilman Bernie White asks if any consideration has been given to possibly renting out the grounds:

That’s a good question. Let’s get it out in the open so there are no unwanted surprises, right?

Now listen to Naperville city manager Doug Krieger respond:

He said ‘that’s a new idea’, as if this hasn’t been discussed. His wording is interesting. He said, “at this time” staff wouldn’t recommend it. How does he know that, if this is a ‘new idea’? And if staff wouldn’t recommend it “at this time”, how about a week after the park opens.

He goes on to say, “the intention would be to make it available to any and all users”. The key word is ‘intention’. Intentions can cause all sorts of problems. Didn’t the good folks of Naperville hear this same thing when a different group of Naperville city officials were selling us the idea of building a new municipal center, when they said meeting rooms could be used without cost (no rental charge) to residents (taxpayers) and groups in Naperville. Then this group of city officials decided to rent meeting rooms by squeezing residents and small groups for cash.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing of Krieger would say, “Listen, we are trying to sell you something that’s not true. We can’t cover our expenses for having the park, and even if we could, we want more revenue (cash) for other unnecessary things we want. Of course we are going to rent the park and if a resident wants to see the park, they can go into the Municipal building and look out the window at the park.” The other option would be for city officials to install a toll booth for getting into the park, and then another toll both to get out of it.

Apr 212018
 

Unfortunately, so often good intentions go bad, especially if it involves government, and it looks like it could be happening again in Naperville.

The Naperville Jaycees offered a huge donation to help build a Smart Park adjacent to the Naperville Municipal Center. I’m not exactly sure what a ‘smart park’ is, but if that’s what it takes to get $200,000 from the Jaycees then I’m all for it. The definition of ‘smart’ is a quick-witted intelligence, or clean, neat, and well-dressed. So if that’s required to get into the park, I might be able to almost qualify on one of the two.

Initially the Naperville city council made the Jaycees jump through some hoops in order for council members to accept the generous gift, but ultimately the Jaycees qualified for handing over the money to city officials. When council members were shown the plans for the Smart Park in full color, the council was quite excited about the possibilities. Beautiful colors have a way of raising the excitement level.

During the last council meeting (April 17) as the plans were unveiled, with all the bells and whistles, you could feel the enthusiasm from city officials. It was almost as if they were kids, and each was being offered a cute little puppy. What kid doesn’t want a puppy. When kids learn from mom and/or dad that they have to feed it, give it water, take it out , and clean-up little surprises left on the floor, they still want the puppy. Then after they have the puppy, somehow they forgot about the responsibility that goes with it.

This almost happened during the council meeting until Naperville councilwoman Rebecca Obarski threw a bucket of cold water on the council when she asked, how is maintenance going to be paid for? The audacity of Obarski to ask such a great question during the fun and festivities. Watch and listen as she asks her question, followed by Mayor Chirico’s response, which doesn’t quite satisfy Obarski, and city manager then chimes in with a little bit of double-talk intermingled with some fuzzy math.

Good for councilwoman Obarski for asking the question, and dilly, dilly for the good folks of Naperville for having the answer on record. We’ve been down this road many times before; “don’t worry, it’s paid for”, including  hearing it when Naperville cut a horrendous deal with its provider of electric, and then we heard it when the Carillon was built, and now it’s falling apart and in desperate need of funding.

It’s never a problem, until it’s a problem. But bingo, Naperville city officials always have a Plan-B to solve financial problems.  And who better to explain Plan-B than Naperville city manager Doug Krieger:

Apr 152018
 

Things are working pretty good at the Naperville Fire Department. They receive a lot of recognition and awards. In fact, things are going so well with Naperville’s fire department, city officials are looking to see how they can change it. It’s being done in the spirit of cost effectiveness and efficiency, meaning it might be time to consolidate the number of fire department locations and trim the number of employees.

Naperville city officials have publicly said nothing about privatization of the fire department, but nor did city officials from the hundreds of other municipal fire departments throughout the country before the change became imminent. Naperville city officials should be applauded for seeking cost efficiencies but should those cost cutting measures be focused on the fire and police departments? Those are services of safety and well-being that can affect all residents and businesses in Naperville. Other than clean water and refuse pick-up, just about every service the city provides affects the good folks of Naperville to a far lesser degree than police and fire services.

Personally I can do with much less Carillon music than I can do with a lower response time from the fire department. When it’s time to review my home owner’s insurance, the insurance company wants to know the distance from my home to the closest fire station, and not whether or not I can hear the Carillon bells.

Currently Naperville’s arrival time is about six minutes about 90% of the time. Seems like a reasonable amount of time unless I’m the guy having a heart attack, or it’s my home looking like a huge Bunsen burner. Given the chance to reduce that time down to five minutes or having leaves removed from my yard by the city, I’ll go with the five minute response-time option from the fire department.

Naperville city manager Doug Krieger said that any reductions in fire department staffing to facilitate consolidation would happen via retirement and attrition. So that’s good news for job security within the fire department, but it’s not good news for the workload of those remaining, nor is it necessarily good news for the residents and businesses of Naperville depending upon quick response time in an emergency.

Many municipalities have moved to privatizing fire department services in an effort to combat unionization and the increasing costs of higher salaries, benefits, pensions, and defending lawsuits, so trying to control those expenses is understandable, but to what end? If the end is a reduction in service or positive outcomes, then even though city officials may come out ahead, it will be at the expense of the good folks of Naperville.

The good news is, if you live within the sound of the Carillon bells, and your home catches fire, you’ll be able to hear the bells a few minutes longer until a fire truck or ambulance arrives.

Apr 082018
 

It’s about time that the Naperville city council picks up the energy level a notch when announcing proclamations during city council meetings. And what’s the deal with the Mayor making other city council members state the proclamation rather than investing the time to do it himself.

For the longest of time, Mayor Chirico and his predecessor Mayor Pradel would call upon council woman Judy Brodhead to saunter down to the podium to announce the proclamation. Could it be that she was selected to make it appear that she was finally doing something constructive other than taking up space at the dais. It never seemed fair that Brodhead would be called upon to make the long trek to the podium, and then have to go all the way back to her seat.

Now we have councilman Kevin Coyne making that journey to the podium; he must have lost the coin flip. Watch and listen to Coyne as he gives it his all while announcing that April is National Fair Housing Month:

And what’s the deal with Coyne saying, during the proclamation, that he is Mayor Chirico. Are we looking at a case of identity theft?

Every council member called upon to announce a proclamation, does it as if they really don’t want to be doing it. Where is the pizzazz? Where is the energy and excitement? Why not make it not only interesting, make it memorable. Even a guy taking an order for a hamburger shows more gusto.

And enough of the “whereas”, how about making it “henceforth”. In 62 seconds, Coyne said “whereas” four times, that’s once every 15.5 seconds. And why is it ‘whereas’? Is that to mean that for April only, Naperville will be supporting and encouraging ‘Fair Housing’, and when May 1st comes along, it’s back to business as usual, and screw fair housing? So instead of “whereas” with a deadline of May 1st, change it to “henceforth”. In other words from this point forward, Naperville is supporting fair housing with no deadline. Now that’s a bold proclamation!

Some other missed opportunities by the Naperville city council for proclamations included National Oatmeal Month (January), and National Welding Month (April). Does Naperville have a problem with oatmeal and welding? October will be National Sarcastic Month. Let’s hope the Naperville city council won’t let that one slip away.

My personal favorite opportunity remaining for the city council to make an impassioned proclamation is coming this June, ‘National Fight The Filthy Fly Month’.

Why not make it memorable with pomp and circumstance like the following proclamation:

Can we get a dilly dilly from the city council.

Apr 012018
 

The first riddle I ever heard was ‘why did the idiot throw the butter out the window?’ The answer is, he wanted to see the butter fly. I know it sounds immature, but I was immature when I heard it. I must have been about five years old. Shortly afterward my dad told me the first joke I can remember. During dinner he said, ‘I went to the dentist today, and he told me that my teeth were fine, but my gums have to come out’. He thought it was funny, but I kept trying to figure out how that would work, until I finally got the joke.

I remembered the joke and riddle while I was waiting in my wife’s doctor’s office, looking out the window at Moser Tower which houses the Millennium Carillon. The Carillon is fine but the Tower is falling apart far sooner than ever expected. Deterioration and cracking has a tendency to make things fall apart.

The namesake of the tower is ‘Moser’ named in recognition of Harold and Margaret Moser’s donation/gift of $1 million towards the project. The Moser family is responsible for the development of much of Naperville. The father was Ed Moser (a doctor). He had three sons (Harold, Jim and Ed) and both Harold and Jim were very successful in business. They were visionaries who purchased a lot of land in Naperville when it was relatively inexpensive and later sold it for the development of numerous subdivisions. They made a healthy profit, but the real profit came from selling the land with the incentive for a good price if the purchaser would agree to also purchase the building materials from Moser Lumber Yard in Naperville. Shrewd indeed. Naperville began to boom. The purchasers and sellers were happy with a fair price and quality materials to insure that what was built would be built to last.

Which brings us back to Moser Tower. How ironic that it’s crumbling; built not to last. One can only imagine that Harold Moser would not be a happy guy. The City of Naperville has hired engineering consultants for a cool $148,000 (about $1 from each resident) to determine what went wrong and how to fix it. Based upon the findings, the City will decide if they want to give Moser Tower a temporary fix for big bucks, a “permanent fix” for many more bigger bucks, or just blow it up on the 4th of July and be done with it.

Both Harold and Jim were very philanthropic, and even if Moser Tower becomes cannon fodder, the Moser name will live-on in Naperville. Jim was a co-founder of the Riverwalk, the Children’s Museum which sits on the former site of  Moser Lumber Yard,  and Safety Town.

Maybe their most cherished legacy is in the form of Jim Moser’s son, Porter Moser, head coach of the Loyola Ramblers. They made it to college basketball’s Final Four. Built to last thru three-quarters of the semi-final game before falling apart in the final quarter. I guess they just don’t make things to last, like the used to.