Attention to detail

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.

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