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.