Referendums, mandates and landslides

It’s been 100 days since the November 2, 2010 elections when two referendums were overwhelming approved by Naperville citizens; one for term limits for city council members and the Mayor, and the other for ward representation. Has anybody heard anything or seen anything come out of the City Council, local government, or local newspaper regarding this powerful statement from the voters. If anything is happening, it’s moving along at the speed of almost standing still. And if anything is being said, it’s with the sound of deafening silence.

Now consider the fact that the ward or geographic representation referendum passed with an astounding 66% mandate. We are not talking about a slim margin; we are talking about two out of every three voters want local representation and they want it now, not when we are closer to the year 2020 than 2010 when it was voted for by the citizens.

This 66% mandate was surpassed by the 72% landslide vote in favor of the referendum for term limits; nearly three out of every four voters want term limits, and again they want it now rather than years down the road. Isn’t it interesting how the City Council can invest so much time and show the appearance of effort in listening to one local business person regarding a turf war with a homeless guy. The City Council will jump on that topic like ‘white on rice’, but when it comes to a 66% mandate and a 72% landslide, that lingers on and on.

This is an absolute classic example of local leadership not listening to their constituency. It’s almost a misnomer by referring to the City Council, Mayor, and City Manager as local leadership. Let’s call them what they are………politicians; it’s as simple as that.

Leaders lead, they make things happen, the respond to what is needed for those they lead in a timely manner. Politicians are self serving; get in office, and stay in office.

So how did this delay in term limits and local representation happen? Well, to do this let’s start with the Naperville Voter Education League. Bill Eagan was one for the driving forces behind the effort to have Naperville voters decide on term limits and a district or ward type of format. The City Council had to approve including the referendums on the ballot, which of course they did. They probably didn’t like the idea, however how bad would it look for them if they didn’t allow it. The last thing a politician needs is to ‘look bad’. So there they were on the ballot. Did the City Council members believe the referendums would pass? It’s more than doubtful and here’s the proof in Council Furstenau’s words soon after referendum results had started coming in on voting night, , “There is no question that this has caused all kind of concern in the last two hours with the councilmen, and the city (staff), and the City Manager. There’s going to be a lot of chaos.”. So apparently there was no plan in effect if the voters voted in favor of the referendums. This lack of a plan comes as no surprise.  Leaders would have had a plan; however politicians look for excuses to delay the wishes of the voters.

The politicians found their excuse in the court system. Without boring you with the details, the excuse is they don’t have enough time to prepare for term limits and local representation for the 2011 election, but they may have time to prepare a plan by the 2015 election; if not that one, then maybe the one after that one in 2019.

Now here is where it really goes sideways; the staff is waiting for the City Council to give them direction, and the City Council is waiting for the staff to prepare information for considering a direction. In other words, nothing is getting done in a timely fashion.

And if it is getting done, you don’t see it on Tuesday night Council Meeting agendas, and you don’t see in the local newspaper. But if you want to get a blow by blow account of the ongoing battle for turf between a homeless guy and a business person, then it’s available.

If term limits for council members would have started with the 2011 election, the soonest a sitting council member could be subject to a limit would have been 2023. By waiting till 2015 or 2019 that pushes those limit dates to 2027 or 2031. Now we’re beginning to get to numbers similar to the Cubs winning the World Series.

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