Mar 312011

The Watchdog’s choice for Mayor is….

When all the votes were totaled and the orderly process was completed the candidate climbing the highest on the voting totem pole for Mayor of Naperville was Doug Krause by a 5% margin over incumbent mayor George Pradel ( 41% to 36%) and a convincing 18% more than mayoral candidate Councilman Kenn Miller with 23%. Now granted our sampling vote was by far, less that next Tuesday’s general election, however it’s still a window into the world of possibilities for the outcome of the April 5th election. The Watchdogs support the results of the pre-election and with that we endorse the election of Councilman Doug Krause for Mayor of Naperville.

Let’s make it perfectly clear that we know how difficult it is for a non-incumbent to be elected. It’s a challenge for anyone to get elected for anything if they have good competition, however once elected to an office it’s as difficult if not more difficult to be elected out of office. In the last Naperville Mayoral election Mayor Pradel defeated his opponent by capturing nearly 70% of the vote. So defeating Mayor Pradel would have as much chance as let’s say…..VCU getting to the Final Four and then winning the whole thing. Many think that defeating Mayor Pradel would be like VCU beating Southern Cal, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and then #1 Kansas; I mean what are the chances of that happening.

We support Doug Krause for Mayor because it’s time to pass the gavel. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not because Mayor Pradel hasn’t been a good Mayor. For the most part he has done an outstanding job with a few major stumbles along the way. But let’s face it; anyone in a position of leadership is going to have that happen. I for one am proud that the mayor of our fine city, Mayor Pradel came from the ranks of the Naperville Police Department and invested a good part of those years of service as Officer Friendly. Personally I hold in high regard anyone who has honorably served his community as a police officer. My wife’s dad was a police officer in the State of Indiana for 43 years.

So Mayor Pradel has been the right person for the right job at the right time. However now it’s a different time and the job and responsibilities have become bigger and the issues have become more complex as our city grows. And it’s because of those reasons we endorse Doug Krause for Mayor of Naperville. He understands Naperville and its issues. He has a clear vision of what needs to be addressed and he has a plan for changes necessary to take the City of Naperville to the next level. We would hope that if Doug Krause is elected the next Mayor of Naperville that he would carry the torch as well as Mayor Pradel has done over his tenure as mayor. Doug Krause is the right person, for the right job, at the right time. It’s time to pass the gavel forward.

Mar 312011

Naperville City Council’s ‘Final Four’.

The results are in for the Naperville City Council pre-election voting and when all the dust settled four candidates were selected as the top four to join the Naperville City Council. They included one incumbent (GrantWehrli) and three new members including Patty Gustin, Steve Chirico, and Charlie Schneider. The results for all 12 candidates are listed below. The number next to the candidate’s name represents the percentage of voters who included that candidate as one of their four choices.

Patty Gustin 91%
Steve Chirico 77%
Grant Wehrli 71%
Charlie Schneider 38%
Wayne Floegel 31%
Bob Fieseler 30%
John Krummen 19%
Joe McElroy 13%
Richard Furstenau 11%
Ben Gross 7%
John Adair 6%
Tiffany Stephens 6%

Thank you to all who participated with their voting preference for the Naperville City Council.

We will be posting Watchdog endorsements for the Mayor of Naperville, along with our endorsements for the four open positions in the Naperville City Council on Friday 4/1.

Mar 302011

It’s a New Day and a New Choice for Mayor of Naperville

The Watchdog voting results are in for the Naperville Mayoral race between incumbent Mayor George Pradel, and councilmen Mayoral candidates Doug Krause and Kenn Miller. By a slim margin of 5% the voters selected Doug Krause as their choice for the position of Mayor in Naperville. The voting percentage breakdown was as follows:

Doug Krause      41%

George Pradel    36%

Kenn Miller       23%

The margin of error when compared to the general election on Tuesday April 5th is 100%, however the margin of error for votes received by the Watchdog group is in this voter’s preference election is 0%. In comparison, a recently released preference listed by the Naperville Tea Patriot’s group, posted the following results when equated to percentages as follows:

Doug Krause      38%

Kenn  Miller       35%

George Pradel     27%

Obviously the most important point of interest is that in both listings, Doug Krause was the preferred choice for Mayor of Naperville.

We received an astonishing response from our voting group which on one hand is extraordinary, yet on the other hand this voting group takes a more than active interest in following the actions of local government focusing on the decisions of the Mayor and the remainder of the Naperville City Council. If our Mayor and the Naperville City Council exhibited the same level of passion for the betterment of our city and its citizens as do the voters who responded to this pre-election vote, the need for the CityCouncilWatchdog most likely would not exist.

Thank you to all who participated in this voting preference for Mayor of Naperville.

We will be posting the Naperville City Council election results on Thursday.

Mar 252011

This is our third of a three-part series of questions and comments to the Watchdogs along with our responses. We thank you for your submissions. We encourage you to continue expressing your concerns to us, and we will reply directly via email and postings.

Q: The Naperville City Council and local government can’t be as ‘bad’ as Chicago or elsewhere; so why focus on Naperville?

(Danny H. Naperville)

A: We spotlight Naperville because most of us live in Naperville. And what has happened elsewhere can surely happen here if citizen-voters aren’t aware or don’t take action to keep their local government in check. A government free to do as they please will surely do that and those actions are political in nature oftentimes for self-preservation rather than for the betterment of their constituency.

Q: What is the motivation for your Watchdog group?

(Mary K. Minneapolis, Mn.)

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide the electorate with additional eyes and ears to see and hear the nuances of actions and decisions of their local government, and a watchful eye on those who spend our hard earned tax dollars, while promoting awareness among citizen-voters about incompetence, waste, mismanagement and taxpayer abuse by elected officials at the local level.

Our Vision

Our vision is a term-limited, representative local government based on ethics, transparency and accountability whereby elected officials respect their constituency and act on behalf of the citizens they represent.

Our Statement

We are seeing watchful eyes at both the national and state levels of government; however at the local levels of government this misuse or abuse of government is running unbridled.  There are over 230 million personal computers in our country of over 300 million people.  No newspaper has ever attained that kind of circulation.  This website allows that type of watchful eye.

Q: Do you have a “horse” in the race for Mayor or Naperville City Council?

(Philip B. Naperville)

A: No. We will be making our recommendations shortly before the election and after our survey and polling are complete There are front runners now, however much can happen between now and then that could affect our recommendations for Mayor, as we have recently seen happen with Naperville City  Council candidates.

Q: Has anyone from the Naperville City Council reached out to your Watchdog group?

(Darlene M. Naperville)

A: Yes. We have received questions or comments from 5 of the 8 Council members One Council member asked to meet informally with a Watchdog, but quickly withdrew the invitation.

Q: Have your Watchdog efforts made any change in local government or Council activities?

(Tillie B. Peoria, IL.)

A: Yes, however nowhere near the changes needed for effective Leadership. We look for changes in Leadership Dimensions along with expense control and budget awareness. Leadership Dimensions would include Thinking Critically, Driving Change, Communicating Effectively, Demonstrating Courage, Building Trust, and Demonstrating Accountability. We have seen subtle changes, however the key changes necessary will be known the day after elections are held. We also know continued reform of the Naperville City Council will be necessary with future elections and we are confident this will absolutely happen when districts are created.

Q: How difficult is it to stay objective in your dealings with the Naperville City Council?

(Mickey J. Plainfield)

A:  It’s very doable. We (the active Watchdogs) purposely refrain from informal interaction unless it’s initiated by a member from the Panel of 11. (8 Council Members, Mayor, City Manager, or City Attorney). Basically we like to take a ‘step back’ for a clearer-view. Whereas Watchdog followers and local business supporters actively encourage interaction with the Panel of 11.

Q: So if the Watchdog was a magician, which City Council members would you retain?

(Drake B. Naperville)

A: This picture will be more focused as we get closer to election. As it stands now, four of the nine elected officials would be retained. They are meeting or exceeding expectations. The positions of City Manager and City Attorney are selected for approval. If they were elected positions, we would anticipate, seeing new individuals in position. There definitely is major room for improvement.

Q: What obstacles do you find most frustrating as Watchdogs?

(Lynn C. Lisle)

A: The fact that local business, and especially new start-up businesses, are intimidated by local government and specifically the Naperville City Council. They feel they need to be subservient, in order to stay in the ‘good graces’ of those who control their destiny.

Q: Politics is boring. How can you possibly find this stuff interesting?

(Clara G. Burr Ridge)

A: Well, you submitted a question, so it can’t be that boring. Nothing is boring if you have a passion for it, and we have a passion, not for politics, but for statesmanship. Politicians take care of their own personal needs, whereas Statesmen such as our Founding Fathers cared for the greater good of all. We agree that most residents are not interested in local government and find it boring. This mindset allows local politicians to run unbridled. Our goal is to stimulate interest and involvement from local citizen-voters.

Q: In one of your postings you suggested citizen-voters living near a Naperville City Council member see if those elected officials shoveled their sidewalks within the 48 hours grace period. Well…..did they?

(Jerry N. Naperville)

A: The majority did, however that means a few did not. And those few did vote in favor of the ordinance. So in effect the Council favored the ordinance in ‘vocal’ but not in action. We also checked with our own Watchdog group to see if we shoveled and the percentage shoveling equaled that of the Council. The only difference being that we did not vote for or against the ordinance. Of interest, we also did a spot check of homes and found the percentage of those complying was the same as the Council and the Watchdogs. Kudos go to Councilman Krause who shoveled his sidewalk so thoroughly that he was taken to the hospital after being found in a snow bank phoning for help. Some could say he exceeded expectations; however the ordinance would say that he complied. He was quoted saying “His shoveling days are done.” We’re not sure if that means that he will no longer honor the ordinance, if that means he will support the ‘small’ businessman by hiring someone to do the work. But that begs the questions will he send the shoveler a 1099 form for tax purposes.

Mar 212011

Part of the Mission Statement for City Council Watchdog is to ‘promote awareness of local issues among Naperville citizen-voters’. Occasionally we need to be ‘set straight’ by our readers. It was pointed out to us that our posting dated March 4 titled ‘Naperville City Council Saved by the Bell’ stated “All ten presenters made compelling points against continuing the Smart Grid project” which would have been correct  if we would have included “without additional research to answer very important health-safety related questions along with privacy issues. So the issue is not that they oppose the smart grid or the meters but rather they oppose the apparent lack of awareness the Naperville City Council used in making their decision to approve the project without full knowledge and satisfactory answers to citizen concerns.

Now what makes this situation all the more interesting is that it comes almost immediately after another evident fiasco involving the Naperville City Council’s ill-advised approval and implementation of the new emergency radio system. Many firefighters and police officers along with a good number of Naperville citizens including Naperville citizen Bill Eagan strongly feel the communication system is littered with fatal flaws.

City Manager Doug Krieger agreed with Eagan that the communication system “is currently not operating at an acceptable level. The safety of our public safety personnel is paramount.” So if ‘safety’ is ‘paramount’ then why was this system implemented and why is the Naperville City Council moving forward albeit in small steps with the Smart Grid initiative since there are health concerns with the project’s technology. Watch and listen to the words of Naperville citizen Jennifer Stahl when she presents the Naperville City Council and City Attorney with an interesting question regarding the Smart Grid project.

Did you notice the deafening sound of silence from the Naperville City Council and City Attorney at the end of her question, or at least the sound of no response to her query?

Getting back to the Emergency Radio System that the Naperville City Council supported and approved, consider the following perceptible fatal flaws: frequent loss of contact with first responders based on ‘dead spots’ within city limits, incoherent transmissions with the digital system and how voices are interpreted, interference with other emergency equipment within the vehicles including sirens and lights and the inability to maintain all-important contact when buildings are entered.

No wonder Naperville citizens have trust issues with the ability of their local leadership in the Naperville City Council to exercise good judgment and critical thinking when it comes to their decision-making skills and talent. Watch and listen to Naperville citizen Lisa Rooney when she accurately and respectfully addresses the Naperville City Council.

If you still have doubts as to whether or not Naperville City Council members use sound and time-tested wisdom, watch and listen to the words of Councilman Bob Fieseler when he loosely considers the comparison the wireless technology of garage door openers with the Smart Grid.

Now that thought process and wisdom might apply if and when the Naperville City Council requires and pays millions of our tax dollars for the installation of garage door openers, but to try to pass that sideways logic off to an enlightened Naperville citizenry is demeaning to the intelligence of our community.

The Emergency Radio System fiasco is a $20 million debacle, followed by millions of tax-payer dollars for the Smart Grid and now, and according to Naperville Finance Director Karen DeAngelis, Naperville is projected to have a general fund deficit of $13.7 million in 2013, $16.8 million in 2014, $19.4 million in 2015, and topping out at $25.9 million in 2016; and part of the Naperville  City Council’s answer to addressing the budget deficit  is to layoff 4 police officers while millions are spent on projects that are flawed or not fully researched.

If it sounds like the Naperville City Council is out of control, then the record is being set straight.

Mar 162011

Opening and closing statements from Kenn Miller made during a public forum in Naperville, Illinois on February 24, 2011.

Candidate #3: Kenn Miller

Opening Statement:

Closing Statement:

Mar 162011

Opening and closing statements from George Pradel made during a public forum in Naperville, Illinois on February 24, 2011.

Candidate #2: George Pradel (Incumbent)

Opening Statement:

Closing Statement:

Mar 162011

Opening and closing statements from Doug Krause made during a public forum in Naperville, Illinois on February 24, 2011.

Candidate #1: Doug Krause

Opening Statement:

Closing Statement:

Mar 092011

Continuing our three part series of posting ten reader’s questions to the Watchdogs, we will also be posting more questions and answers on March 23rd. Thank you to those who have submitted questions and comments. We encourage you and others to continue to do so, and we will respond to each.

Q: Why haven’t I heard more about City Council Watchdogs?
(Mark R. Naperville)

A: We are relatively new, and rely on word-of-mouth via the Internet. We are better known now than a year ago, but not as well known as we will be a year from now.

Q: How many people are there in your Watchdog group?
(Dean M. Naperville)

A: More than a year ago, but not as many as next year. The important metric is the fact we are growing. It’s all about citizen-voter awareness. Give us one person who can make a difference versus a dozen people who are clueless.

Q: Are you funded, and if so where does your funding come from?
(Beryl B. Chicago)

A: Technically no, however we do have local business support along with individual involvement. It’s not about dollars; it’s about voter awareness and action.

Q: How has the City Council responded to your website and postings?
(Judy F. Naperville)

A: We have heard from 5 of the 8 City Council members. Two have been supportive, two have been critical, one was curious, and the other three at best are indifferent to citizen-voter concerns, or at worst are apathetic that we or their constituency exist unless it’s election time.

Q: How long do you plan to “Watchdog” the City Council and local government?
(Craig F. Naperville)

A: We will continue until the City Council and local leadership prove with their voting and actions that they have the best interests of their constituency in mind. In other words we plan to be here for a long time. The short-term goal is to weed out via election the City Council members who are out-of-touch with the needs of our citizens and local business. The long term goal is to have a competent and voter responsive panel of 11 (8 Council members, the Mayor, the City Manager, and City Attorney).

Q: Why are you so negative towards Councilman Furstenau?
(Harry B. Naperville)

A: If it seems that we are critical of Councilman Furstenau, it’s only because he has earned that distinction by his actions. He presents himself as the expense-conscious Council member who is concerned about the city budget and finances. Yet he has cost the city multiples of tens-of-thousand dollars with frivolous law suits against the City and outstanding members of the Police Department. To say his actions are egregious is an understatement. This in combination with the perception that he is absolutely clueless with regard to agenda topics at Council meetings qualifies Councilman Furstenau at best as a side-show of comedy entertainment for those who view Council meetings, and at worst an embarrassment of local leadership.

Q: Do you get your information first hand or elsewhere?
(Jean N. Naperville)

A: We attend or view City Council every-other Tuesday night meetings, and rely on verifiable information from city staff, along with first-hand citizen and local business feedback. .

Q: You talk very little about Mayor Pradel, or Councilmen Krause and Hinterlong. Why is that?
(Rich S. Naperville)

A: Mayor Pradel and Councilman Krause are both running for the office of Mayor (along with Kenn Miller). Mayor Pradel speaks more loudly with his four-foot scissors that he uses for Grand Openings, than he does at Council meetings. Maybe he’s running out of energy, or maybe he’s said all he needs to say with nothing more to be said. He seems complacent with his position as Mayor and previously the only question would be if he gets a higher percentage of votes than Mayor Daley would get in Chicago if Daley was running again. Councilman Krause is running for the office of Mayor (along with Kenn Miller), so he is measuring his words, but we expect that to change if he plans to make a serious run at Mayor Pradel. Council Hinterlong brings a lot of common sense to Council meetings, and who can be critical of common sense; in fact, that’s exactly what the Council needs…..more common sense.

Q: Has the City staff contacted you about their concerns?
(Starlynn S Rockford, Illinois)

A: Yes. We anticipated they would be reluctant to communicate with us since their jobs are dependent upon not only getting some results, but also keeping their ‘bosses’ happy. Certain members of the City Council have a tendency to hammer away at city staff as if they were human piñatas.

Q: Does the local paper (Naperville Sun) see you as competition, or as a partner in their journalistic efforts?
(Phryne J. Des Moines, Iowa)

A: ‘Doubtful’ to the first part of your question, and ‘no’ to the second part. Our local paper is the Naperville Sun, and they are struggling as are most newspapers nationwide. They have gone from publishing six days-a-week to 3 days weekly. Their slant on local government issues is bland; focusing more on the ‘who and what’, rather than the ‘why’. With that approach the local paper has been complacent with local government, which is probably a dream-come-true for the City Council.

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Mar 042011

If the open forum portion of the Naperville City Council meeting held March 1, 2011 would have been a heavy weight boxing match, it would have been a victory by TKO for the Naperville Citizens who oppose the Smart Grid project.

The only thing that saved the Naperville City Council from utter defeat and embarrassment was the “bell”; the three minute limitation rule which allows a citizen to state his or her case within three minutes. The City Council has a time keeper to “ring the bell” on a citizen’s presentation, thereby shutting him down and giving the Council a chance to regain their composure after getting pummeled with facts and outstanding questions that they can’t seem answer with confidence.

Typically citizens approach the podium with ‘hat in hand’ hoping not to get verbally pounded the Panel of 11 (8 Council members, the Mayor, City Manager, and City Attorney). So often presenters become human piñata’s for the Council, but not this night. All ten presenters made compelling points against continuing the Smart Grid project which is becoming a fiasco.

The most convincing, forceful, persuasive, and gripping presentation of the evening came for Naperville Citizen James Rooney, who in just a matter of a few minutes presented his credentials, facts, and pin-point questions to the Council. You could almost see the Council members shrinking in their seats, beads of sweet appearing on their foreheads, and looking elsewhere to others on the Panel of 11 and staff members for relief. It finally came from the time keeper, but not before Council members were back peddling and deflecting. Given another few minutes, the Naperville City Council would not lost by a TKO, they would have lost been a convincing knock out. Take a look at the interaction between Naperville citizen James Rooney and the Naperville City Council.

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This was followed by outstanding presentations again from Naperville citizens David Bendis and Lisa Rooney.

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The final exclamation point to the Citizens’ domination of the City Council came from Naperville Citizen Kim Bendis. Take note that at the end of her excellent presentation, when spontaneous applause respectfully erupts, Mayor pro tem Grant Wehrli loses his composure when he has to resort to pounding his gavel and nearly shouting that the citizens were utilizing “a method of intimidation” to those who may be “advocates of the Smart Grid”.
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Well excuse us Councilman Wehrli, but of the last 23 citizens to express their opinion about the Smart Grid, not one citizen has spoken in favor of the project. If this was such a phenomenal concept, why would the Naperville City Council have to spend thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars on PR firms especially when it was reported November 23, 2010 that Councilman Fieseler stated “Saying the Smart Grid shouldn’t be in Naperville is like saying the City shouldn’t use the Internet. We’re not going to try to change people’s minds.” This came at the same time that City Manager Doug Krieger said, “The issues are not with technology, because the technology works.” It appears Doug Krieger must have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, because we didn’t know he was an expert on the topic.

That’s part of what make this whole debacle a fiasco. The Citizens of Naperville hear the technology works and the project is proudly moving forward. Then we hear that they are still investigating, and it may not move forward. We are getting different stories from the Naperville City Council not only from different people, but from the same people.

Maybe they have come to realize that their legacy hangs on this decision, and no matter which way they go, they lose. Either they stop the project and look like fools who have wasted taxpayer money, or they move forward with the project and look like industrial strength fools when it unravels down the road.