Jun 272011

The Naperville city council is hell-bent on pushing the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative forward and they seem to be doing it with what appears to be reckless neglect. So why the rush? Why do they want to push something through that doesn’t need to be fast tracked? There is no emergency. Things are working fine. If something does need to be done, common sense would say let’s explore our options, let’s be prudent and make sure what we are doing is the right thing. It’s almost as if some members of the Naperville city council are steering an out-of-control train loaded with their constituency and only council member Krause is trying to protect the citizens of Naperville by reaching for the brake to slow the train to a safe speed.

At nearly every city council meeting, citizens speak up requesting that the city council use their ‘collective’ heads and slow it down. Watch and listen as Naperville citizen Jeff Perkins addresses the city council regarding the $19 million general obligation bond of which $6 million is earmarked for the NSGI (Naperville Smart Grid Initiative.

Commonwealth Edison had a $63 million pilot program for the Smart Grid and their CEO stated that results showed  ‘it costs too much, we’re not sure what good it will do, we looked at most of the elements of the Smart Grid for 20 years and we’ve never been able to come up with estimates that make it pay’. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan states that the ‘results are disappointing’, and yet all but one of the Naperville city council members want to push forward and saddle our city with additional needless debt. Watch and listen to council member Kenn Miller who seems to think he knows more than Commonwealth Edison and the Attorney general on the topic.

Now watch and listen to council member Doug Krause who repeatedly speaks for the best interests of the citizens of Naperville.


Why the rush you ask. We can partly learn this by following the money. The Federal government, through the Department of Energy, is funding approximately half of the expense IF the city of Naperville can rush the project to get the grid in place within a three-year period. In essence, the Naperville city council ‘sold out’ and allowed itself to be ‘bought’ by the Department of Energy for half the dollars of the project if it pushed the Smart Grid Initiative through. Hence, not enough time was factored in for using prudent judgment with regard for the cost of the project, the effectiveness of the grid, and the health safety of the citizens of Naperville.

The Naperville city council is turning our city into a nanny-city by tap-dancing to the music of the Federal Government. The Naperville city council wants to tell us what we already know which is how to control our use of electric which we currently refer to as the ‘off and on’ switch.

It makes you wonder how many cities throughout the country declined to ‘sell out’ to the Department of Energy before the federal government  found an accommodating city council in Naperville.

The next time you see a Naperville city council member other than citizen-friendly Doug Krause, ask him or her “Why the rush”.

And if you happen to hear the sound of ‘tap-dancing shoes’ coming down the street, chances are they belong councilmen Bob Fieseler, Kenn Miller, and Mayor Pradel.

Jun 182011

Illinois State Senator Dan Duffy (R-26th District, Lake Barrington) was recently interviewed for an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  The article below describes nepotism in the Illinois state government.  The watchdog questions that since this is happening on the federal and state levels, could this be happening on the local level in Naperville.

Why do candidates run for office in the Naperville city council? Why are decisions made to spend millions of dollars for dubious projects? Why are decisions made that make absolutely no sense to those who are directly affected by those decisions? Who benefits from those ‘makes-no-sense’ decisions? The classic line from the 1976 movie “All the Presidents men” might be part of the answer to some of those questions…. “Follow the money.”


Jun 122011

So what exactly is ‘it’ that the Naperville city council wants? Well ‘it’ represents anything and everything they want. If they want to delay devising a district or ward map, they delay ‘it’. If they want to add a gas tax, they do ‘it’. If they create codes like there is no end in sight, they do ‘it’. If they know no one is watching, or nobody can stop them, they take delight in ramming ‘it’ down our throats. ‘It’ makes absolutely no difference to them what’s best for the citizens of Naperville; they choose to do what’s best for them.

The most recent and ongoing ‘it’ is the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative and the instillation of wireless meters to all citizens of Naperville. Like it or not the citizens of Naperville are going to be ‘forced’ to accept these unwanted meters. The Naperville city council would take issue with the word ‘forced’ but let’s call it what it is; in this case, the ‘it’ is forced. For months, groups such as the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group have presented facts and information in front of the city council, only to be chastised, ridiculed, and ignored.

For a while, the Naperville city council was dancing around the issue and leading citizens to believe they may have a chance of stopping this run-away train. One presenter in particular (Jim Rooney in the posting titled ‘Naperville city council saved by the bell’) had the city council, all nine of them, on the ropes, when he forcefully yet respectfully presented facts and posed questions they could not answer. It was a classic example of how one person backed by the truth and courage, can make others relying on hidden agendas to cower under the glaring eyes of the public eye.

There is one Naperville city councilman (Doug Krause) who is fighting for the citizens of Naperville to be heard and get a ‘fair shake on the deal’.

He has been on the city council for longer than any of the others and he has seen many free-swinging cowboys come and go on the council and he keeps being re-elected because he takes the job of representing his constituency seriously. However, he is only one of nine council members and more times than not is outvoted on common sense issues and doing what is best for the citizens of Naperville. With regard to the other eight council members and the issue of the ‘Smart Grid’ councilmen Chirico and McElroy are so new they are still trying to remember where they sit at the dais, council member Brodhead is content reading proclamations, Miller is flying under the radar, councilman Hinterlong speaks in common sense that goes over the heads of most of his peers, Wehrli truly thinks this Smart Meter thing makes sense, Mayor Pradel is there for the ride and planning his next ribbon cutting, and then you have councilman Fieseler who has his foot on the accelerator of this initiative with no intention of looking for the brake.

Many Naperville citizens are opposed to the wireless meters because not enough thought and research has been completed to ‘sign-off’ on the installation of these meters. Many others simply prefer the continued use of wired meters. Why use wireless if wired works? What is the purpose of trying to fix something that’s not broken? The government will give all sorts of reasons why we should do it. If the government says it’s good for us, then we should take the medicine right? What could possibly go wrong?

If we use wireless, we can help control our usage of electric. Isn’t that what my ‘on and off’ switch on the wall does? How about this one; we can go online anytime of the day or middle of the night and see how much electric we are using. That sounds like a good use of time. Alternatively, how about this benefit of using the wireless meters; the city can eliminate the meter readers, that sounds like a great idea, put all of them in the unemployment line. The city has spent millions of dollars to save thousands of dollars. Now that sounds consistent with government actions including the Naperville city council.

Here is the real insult to this whole debacle. The Naperville city council wanted and considered approving a Customer Privacy and Advocacy Handbook with no input from the citizens of Naperville. So, the idea was to approve it and then let the citizens of Naperville take a look at it. This sounds a bit familiar. Haven’t we heard this government ploy recently with regard to then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s comment on the National Health Care Plan known as Obamacare.

Finally, to prove that the Naperville city council is more concerned about their needs rather than the needs of their constituency, the Smart Grid Initiative would require that each citizen-user submit their social security number and driver’s license number to the city for what they call identification purposes.

The real reason they want this information is for  collection of delinquent account purposes. So in essence, the City of Naperville is willing to risk the financial security of all of its citizens via personal identity theft, in order to make it easier for them to collect some dollars from some delinquent accounts. The City assures us that this personal information will be guarded; again what could possibly go wrong?

The “good news” from the Naperville city council is that citizens may have the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of using wireless meters. Those citizens will have to most likely cough up some additional dollars to ‘opt out’. My guess is that the City of Naperville will make “it” so financially painful to opt out, that no one will be able to afford to opt out. If the Naperville city council wants it, they take it.

Jun 012011

Today is June 1, and on Friday May 27 I received my City of Naperville electric and water bill. Typically, I give it a quick look to check the total and then place it in my to-do file tray so I suppose you could say that I’m remiss by not scrutinizing my bill. However, since it was the beginning of a three day Memorial Day weekend and I had time, I decided to take a close look at it. The first thing I noticed is that the due date is June 14. That means the turn-around time for paying the bill on time is 18 days rather than the 21 to 25 days we previously had to pay the bill. So be it. I realize it’s the Golden Rule, and since the city has the gold (electric and water) they make the rules and considering I like electric and water, I will pay it on time.

The next thing I noticed was a blue piece of paper inserted with my bill in the envelope. The title is ‘Naperville Connected’ (very clever) since it came with the electric bill. Recently someone won a contest for naming the communication; it was announced at a Naperville city council meeting. The insert was dated May 2011. It definitely catches the eye; a good-looking blue and the lay out was aesthetically pleasing.  The top of the front page said ‘City Welcomes New Councilmen’, and there is a big smiling picture of Mayor Pradel. Now most folks know who Mayor Pradel is and what he looks like, so I’m wondering why they didn’t simply show pictures of our ‘New Councilmen’ Joe McElroy and Steve Chirico like the caption states. Mayor Pradel is not running for re-election or at least that what he says, so why not defer to the new councilmen. We have 141,000 residents and I’m guessing 140,000 could pick the mayor out of a police line up, whereas maybe 1000 could identify our two new councilmen. Another missed opportunity by the City of Naperville.

‘Naperville Connected’ mentioned that on May 3 the Naperville City Council will recognize contest finalists and the winner for Naperville Connected naming contest. It also mentioned that on May 18 the Naperville Riverwalk Foundation and North Central College will host “Gateway to the Future”. Additionally on May 21 and May 22, ‘Civil War Days’ will take place at Naper Settlement. It also showed the City Calendar of upcoming events of interest including May 1 City Council inauguration, May 3 and 17 City Council meetings, May 4 and 18 Planning and Zoning commission meetings, May 7 Transportation Advisory Board meeting, May 9 City Council Workshop: Council Rules. This is an absolute wealth of information from the city to its residents…except for one overlooked detail. The citizens of Naperville received this communication on or about May 27, well after all these events occurred. Another classic example of the City of Naperville being so focused on ‘packaging’ that attention to detail is overlooked and the information was sent too late.

This may appear to be a minor transgression, however it does make one wonder what other aspects of local government activities is attention to detail not part of the equation. The city of Naperville lead by the Naperville city council has a habit of taking the ball down to the five-yard line and dropping it without crossing the goal line. My dad used to say, “If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right.”  The more I watch the city government fumble the ball, the more I realize how true that statement is.

In the spirit of the city of Naperville communication, I would like to invite the members of the Naperville city council and those working on the ‘Naperville Connect’ project to join the Watchdog groups for a day of fun, and good food cooked on the grill. Please RSVP which location you prefer; Lake Geneva, Wi., Lake Shore Drive in Michigan City, In., the Ledges near Ames, Iowa, or Lake Forrest, Il. Please plan to join us on Sunday May 29.