Dec 272011

How many errors does a shortstop have to make before you consider moving him to a different position or moving him out of the organization? Maybe the team is better if they move him to third base (less fielding chances) or moving him the end of the bench (even less fielding chances). The main purpose of a shortstop is to cleanly field the ball and accurately throw it. If it is not happening, then it is time for a change. So wouldn’t the same hold true for a city manager. The purpose of a city manager is to manage the city by making sure what needs to done is being done. If its not being done then its time to find a new city manager who is up for the challenge and can get the job done. It’s as simple as that.

This could not be more evident than in the recent mismanagement by the city of Naperville with regard to the non-profit Naperville group Loaves and Fishes Community Pantry, when the city provided erroneous information in an untimely manner that resulted in the Department of Housing and Urban Development denying a request for grant funding to the tune of almost $150,000.

So what did the city of Naperville do to rectify the problem? Well first, the city admitted the mistake but this only came after it hit the airwaves and internet. So to admit the mistake is like the owner of the Titanic saying the ship sank a week after it hit the iceberg. Then the city apparently improved payroll expense by lowering the city staff headcount by one; possibly the one that was the HR sacrifice for Naperville’s mismanagement. Rather than calling the city manager on the carpet for the needless ‘screw up’, let’s ‘take out’ an hourly or lower level salaried city employee. Then the city decided to do what government considers the answer to all problems is, they threw money at the problem by approving a payment of  $148,627 of local funds (your tax dollars) to cover the loss of that amount from federal funds because someone was not overseeing the management of city business. The city is already looking at a projected fiscal year deficit of nearly $1 million and this adds another 15% of that to the deficit. When other cities such as Zion are looking for ways to save money such as selling their holiday displays for $5,000, the city of Naperville is adding tens of thousands of dollars to their (our) deficit because of city mismanagement.

Chances are if you talk to city manager Doug Krieger, he would deflect all responsibility and accountability for the error to someone or something else. Much as he will do when Smart Meters begin to have major problems. Prior to troubles surfacing, city manager Doug Krieger enjoys using the words ‘absolutely’ and ‘guarantee’ to express how confident he is that he is in absolute total control and can guarantee it,  and nothing could possibly go wrong; however after issues surface those words are absent from his vocabulary, and instead we hear something to the effect of ‘things happen’. Why the Naperville city council allows this to continue is a conundrum. Maybe it is a ‘good old boys’ mindset, maybe somebody has “something” on somebody, or maybe they just don’t have the courage to demonstrate strong leadership. Whatever the reason, the citizens of Naperville are again asked to carry a heavier financial burden due to incompetent and blatant mismanagement. City manager Doug Krieger’s mismanagement comes in the form of trusting without verifying. It’s good to trust only if one verifies.

Maybe Naperville needs a Theo Epstein to come in and clean house. Someone who can make sure that routine ground balls are fielded properly and that fans are getting their moneys-worth.

Dec 212011

December 19 marked the last Naperville city council meeting of the year, which means the council can’t do anything additional this year to intrude in citizens’ lives, and the fine citizens of Naperville can ‘ease up’ on the council until next year. Christmas and the holiday season give each side the opportunity to ‘give it a rest’; the ‘it’ being ‘muscle flexing’.

The interaction between the Naperville city council and the citizens of Naperville are similar to the game “Whack-a-mole” where a little cuddly animal pops up from a hole and then is hammered back down, only to pop up elsewhere. In this case, the little cuddly animal is a citizen of Naperville speaking to the Naperville city council, only to be hammered down, and then another citizen pops up and is hammered down.

In WWI on Christmas day in 1914, the German and British soldiers stopped fighting for the day on the Western front and talked, laughed, and sang Silent Night together. If that can happen, then the council and the citizens can also do the same….sort of for a while. At least until the next meeting on January 17 and then everybody can start ‘mixing it up’ again.

If you were to look at the Naperville city council Christmas wish list, you would see some of the following wants:

  • fewer presenters at Public forum
  • no citizen-sponsored referendum requests
  • no term limits
  • no districts
  • Smart meters on every home and business
  • No budget deficit
  • Ultimate transparence where no one can see anything
  • Fewer citizens attending council meetings
  • A compliant and docile constituency.
  • More ordinances to manipulate citizens
  • Higher taxes
  • Higher penalty fees for smart-meter dissidents.
  • Less citizen awareness

However, as the Rolling Stones said (maybe to the council) “You can’t always get what you want… get what you need.”

So for Christmas let’s look at what the Naperville city council may need as a group:

  • fewer ordinances
  • more budget constraint and expense awareness
  • more respect and courtesy extended to presenters
  • more honest communication with Naperville citizens
  • less intrusion in the lives of Naperville citizens

On an individual basis, each council member may need the following:

  • Mayor Pradel could use a ‘make over’ to look like someone else and finally get to ‘let loose’ in downtown Naperville. Acting mayoral does have its disadvantages.
  • Joe McElroy needs someone else on the council who is also open-minded so he can have someone to relate to.
  • Judy Brodhead needs saltshakers.
  • Bob Fieseler needs to read a book on how to look sincere.
  • Doug Krause needs to have his picture in GQ Magazine
  • Kenn Miller needs one more ‘n’
  • Grant Wehrli needs a good haircut and shave.
  • Paul Hinterlong needs a $100,000+ audio/visual council upgrade
  • Steve Chirico needs suit pants three inches longer

Hey, the British and Germans did it for a day on Christmas, so maybe the citizens of Naperville can get what they want and what they need.

Dec 172011

Imagine if we knew now, what we will know in the year 2033. That is only 22 years from now.  Maybe global warming would not be an issue now. Maybe we would know in which alternative fuel to invest. We would know which year the Cubs will win the World Series. We would know whether or not Smart Meters were smart or if it was one gigantic fraud perpetrated by the 2011 Naperville city council on citizens.

Chances are that the citizens of Naperville in 2033 might have no idea what transpired in 2011 with regard to Smart Meters. Most likely, they will have no idea who was on the city council and the name George Pradel might be the answer to a Naperville trivia game question. Who now can remember the names of the city council members and mayor’s name 22 years ago in 1989? All right, council member Doug Krause might remember since he was on the council in 1989, but you might be hard pressed to find a second person who could name the others.

Council members and mayors come and go, however the effects of their decisions linger. Without research, we do not remember who made the decisions or how they were made; we just know if the decisions were beneficial or classic examples of somebody’s poor judgment.

In the year 2033, if it turns out that the Smart Meter project worked, no one will really care who was responsible for making the project a reality. Sort of like the light switch; somebody invented it and all we care about is that the light goes on or off.  If Smart Meters turn out to be a colossal experiment in bad judgment, then those responsible for implementing the fiasco will most likely be long gone from the political scene and not held accountable for leading us in the wrong direction.

So where might be our nine council members in the year 2033 if a concerned citizen in the future wanted get some straight answers on the not-so Smart Meters? Let us look at our crystal ball powered by a smart meter.

Mayor George Pradel will be retired and enjoying life in a ‘smart meter free’ Naperville subdivision. It will be considered a ‘high rent’ area since most Naperville citizens would want to live there for health reasons….less RF.

Council member Bob Fieseler will be long gone from the council after being soundly defeated in a landslide vote to a write-in candidate from the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group. Unable to run for any other state office because he received no votes in the council election, he decides to cash-in his ‘Smart Meter’ company stock and move to Switzerland where he is no longer the punch line of local jokes. Having had his identity stolen, because of a breach of security with Smart Meter information, he strives to rebuild his reputation, only to find out that his reputation was not that good in the first place.

Council member Grant Wehrli will have had a successful political career after entering a 12-step recovery program to kick the habit of supporting smart meters. The voters based on his courage to admit publicly that he was wrong about smart meters will forgive him.  Once that monkey is off his back he wins the election for mayor of Naperville and serves for two weeks before realizing that because of the Smart Meter project, the city of Naperville is so deep in debt, that when the city finance director looks up, she is still looking down. He resigns as mayor and wins the election for governor of Illinois. He continues to reside in Naperville, but now living on Wehrli Road (a smart meter free road) and sets up his office at Wehrli Stadium at North Central College. His main goal is to change the name of North Central College to Wehrli University and he re-names the dorms Wehrli 1, Wehrli 2, and Wehrli 4. There is no Wehrli Dorm Three since it suffered water damage during a Smart Meter fire in the summer of 2030.

Council member Kenn Miller in an effort to distance himself from the Smart Meter debacle decides to change his name by adding one more ‘n’ to his first name and an additional ‘l’ to his last name thereby becoming Kennn Milller so when his name is goggled it won’t be associated with Smart Meters. His last official vote on the council is in favor of rezoning the southwest corner of Naper and 75th.  Upon leaving the Naperville city council and cashing in his smart meter portfolio, he opens a used-car lot on the southwest corner of Naper and 75th street (coincidence…not) and becomes the best used-car salesman in the Midwest.

Council member Doug Krause celebrates his 41st year on the Naperville city council. He is elected mayor of Naperville and serves one term. He finds out that following an icon (Mayor Pradel) is a miserable experience and decides not to run for re-election.  He returns to his position as council member and continues to be the best-dressed council member in Naperville.

Council member Steve Chirico losses his re-election bid, even though he runs unopposed.  He becomes the first public official ever to lose an election when unopposed. He decides to choose another career that he is totally unqualified for and become a ‘Sensitivity’ counselor. He then creates a start-up business called ‘Gavels ‘R Us’ and gets a patent for an unbreakable  fifteen pound gavel; no matter how hard someone pounds it, it doesn’t break.

Council member Brodhead decides to submit her resignation; however, it is not accepted because she does so about a month after she loses her re-election bid. She takes a position as a lobbyist for the National Salt Association.

Council member Hinterlong resigns from the Naperville city council because of the lack of respect he perceives from everyone he encounters. The tipping event comes when he shows up for a council meeting and his chair is gone.

His job search results in two opportunities; 1) fixing smart meters, or 2) going door-to-door and apologizing to everyone, he encounters for voting for smart meters. He burns out quickly and decides to open a liquor store in Naperville if he can get a liquor license from the city council. Public forum speaker time has been reduced from the 3-minute time limit, down to 10 seconds and he never gets beyond giving his name and address.

Council member Joe McElroy decides to not run for re-election; not because he cannot win, on the contrary he decides to leave because he can win. While waiting days to get his Smart Meter fixed by repair person Hinterlong, he has an epiphany, and decides he wants to get into an honest line of work. He opens a ‘philosophy shop’ in downtown Naperville. He dispenses bits of wisdom and common sense. On weekends he able to charge more. He gets the ‘charge-more-on-weekends’ idea from the Smart Meter project where rates are the highest on weekends, holidays and daylight hours.

No one really knows the where about of former Naperville city manager Doug Krieger. He quietly left town in the middle of the night when the Smart Meter grid collapsed and engulfed the city in total darkness. He thought it would be an ideal time to leave. Word has it that he moved to a small town in Montana and became a flashlight salesman.

In the year 2033, the citizens of Naperville have learned to navigate throughout town without the use of reliable electric. Naperville’s new claim to fame is that it is the largest producer of candles in the world. Additionally Naperville houses the Margaret Price National Smart Meter Museum; exhibitions show obsolete and useless not-so Smart Meters from the past that at the time seemed like a good idea. The museum is named in honor of Margaret Price…. Naperville’s mayor in 1989.

Dec 102011

The Starz network is currently running a popular series titled “Boss” staring Kelsey Grammar as the mayor Tom Kane of Chicago. Someone very familiar with the workings of Chicago politics must be the technical advisor, since it is considered ‘spot on’ with the backroom dealings and power plays of the politics in Chicago. In a recent episode it was mentioned that to be politically successful in Chicago you need three things; money, muscle and to neutralize the opposition. To a much lesser degree the Naperville city council tries to use the same trifecta; money (your tax dollars), muscle (the gavel along with armed police presence at meetings, and ordinances against citizens), and neutralizing the opposition (intimidation, ridicule, and keeping voters in the dark). There are two glaring differences between politics in Chicago and politics in Naperville; 1) Naperville council members are political lightweights compared to Chicago aldermen, and 2) Naperville citizens are determined, committed, persistent, not easy to push around, and intelligent. Consider the fact that the forewoman for Blagojevich’s retrial is from Naperville.

It’s not that unusual to hear the following terms at a Naperville city council meeting: “sticking it to us, system is fraught with error, our hands are tied, concerns about what the city is doing, that’s not fair, keep the heat on, why go further in the hole with the deficit, are there any safeguards in place that can guarantee that our funds are going to where they are supposed to go, and how do we go about safe-guarding misappropriation of our money”. In fact, these terms were used in last Tuesday night’s Naperville city council meeting. You would think those words were spoken by Naperville citizens about the Naperville city council (and usually they are), except this time it was the Naperville city council members speaking those words about Chicago politics with regard to Chicago’s new water user charges that suburbs will pass-on to their residents. So in essence, there are trust concerns from Naperville politicians towards Chicago politicians. Yet the Naperville city council cannot understand why the citizens of Naperville are not trusting of their own city council. It does not take a genius to see the commonality of money, muscle and neutralizing opposition.

Observe any Naperville city council meeting and the reasons for mistrust are glaring. It is actually surprising that the Naperville city council wanted to spend thousands of dollars to upgrade their audio-visual quality. It is not surprising that they wanted to spend thousands of dollars; it is surprising that they wanted others to see and hear more clearly, what they are saying. It is clearly recorded for the world to see. You would think based on their comments and actions, they would be wiser to dim the lights and muffle the sound.

Listen and watch as council member Kenn Miller emphatically state that “it won’t happen” with regard to Smart Meters not being intrusive.

Then we have Naperville citizen Amber Schoedel asking a very valid question about who from the city will be responsible when things go wrong with the ‘Smart’ meters.

When is the last time you heard of a politician being speechless; not able to utter one word? How about 11 politicians and government “leaders” including eight council members, one mayor, one city manager and a city attorney unable or unwilling to answer a simple question. Watch and listen as Naperville citizen Jo Malik ‘freezes’ all 11 with one simple question.

And as citizen, Glen Mendoza presents a straightforward simple solution.

Finally, we have council member Kenn Miller again flaunting his close-mindedness; he appears determined not to let any facts alter his bureaucratic, monolith mindset. This is the same Kenn Miller who ran for mayor and likely will do so again, so keep this in mind the next time you vote.

The Naperville city council may have the money, and they may have some muscle, but they are definitely not neutralizing the opposition.

Dec 052011

It’s funny how Karma works. Whether you believe it exists or not, it can catch you by surprise; sort of like emphysema. Take for example Chevrolet’s recent announcement that if you are concerned that your new Chevrolet Volt will catch fire, they will go as far as to buy it back. This comes after safety investigations continue on the electric car, which has caught fire following test crashes. A buy-back seems rather drastic until you consider that GM has sold only about 6,000 Volts; that is nothing compared to the 52,000 Smart Meters that the Naperville city council will install in Naperville against the wishes of Naperville citizens.  GM executives continue to insist that the Volts are safe, very similar to the Naperville city council insisting that Smart Meters are safe.

GM spokesperson Greg Martin said that once GM’s engineering team and federal safety officials figure out the cause of the fires, they should be able to do something about it. In other words, they have no idea what the problem is. Very similar to Naperville city manager Doug Krieger having no idea that federal funds to help the needy in Naperville would be withheld due to lack of oversight by the person in charge of overseeing. The GM spokesperson went on to say that “Volt owners are the least likely people to complain about the car because they want this kind of technology; they’ve been waiting for it.” So let me get this straight; they want this technology so much that it’s OK if they catch fire. Again similar to the Naperville city council being hell-bent on installing Smart Meters and that citizen concerns are unimportant.

Now we are getting closer to the Karma piece. On October 11, Naperville Mayor George Pradel, on behalf of the city, enthusiastically accepted a Chevy Volt electric vehicle from a local dealer. Just like a kid with a new toy, he took a ceremonial drive around the Naperville Auto Test Track to publicly demonstrate how cool it was to have an electric car, very similar to Naperville city council members publicly demonstrating how safe Smart Meters are.  When they finally got him off the track, it was decided that the Mayor would drive the electric car for a period of time and then city council members would each tool around town for their fun time. It was considered a great way to bridge the coolness of electric cars and the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative (NSGI). Now comes the Karma, you have a group of clueless and tyrannical politicians, driving an electric car that occasionally catches fire promoting not-so Smart Meters; it is almost like a perfect storm.

Chances are if you see the city’s Volt parked in the lower level of the Municipal Center parking deck, you will know that somewhere near there will be a city council member dragging a fire extinguisher around when it is his or her turn to drive it for the day. Just as the city council is making it mandatory that citizens have Smart Meters attached to their homes, maybe the citizens of Naperville should make it mandatory that the council members be required to all pile into the volt (like a clown car) when going out to lunch together. The only question would be who is going to carry the extinguisher.

Dec 022011

“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny”

—–     Thomas Jefferson     —–

“All progress requires change, but not all change is progress.”

—–     Coach John Wooden, UCLA     —–

Combine those two quotes with efforts of Naperville citizens to stop the encroachment of  the Naperville city council’s mandate to install Smart Meters on residents homes and you have a classic example of tyranny vs liberty.  The following link provides more information.