Sep 302012

It happens all the time. A life time of accomplishment negated by one defining moment or action as in Joe Paterno at Penn State, Richard Nixon and Watergate, or Bill Buckner in Boston; bad judgment, a cover-up, or a baseball going through for an error, that’s what we remember. And the same holds true for the current and previous Naperville city councils with regard to their huge mistake in ‘forced’ installation of Smart Meters on the homes and businesses of Naperville residents and business owners.

Whatever achievements these two Naperville city councils have realized or effected, will be greatly diminished if not erased by the negative legacy they will leave behind. With regard to the Naperville city council Smart Meter fiasco, each council member’s byline could read, “At the time I thought it was a good idea”, as is the same for Paterno, Nixon, and Buckner.

The unfortunate outcome isn’t that the council erred in their decision-making, it’s what they did after they made the decision to ‘force’ Smart Meters on the residents of Naperville. As is often the case, it isn’t until after a decision is made that you know if it was a good decision or bad decision. Other than council member Doug Krause who had the courage and wisdom to change his position on the issue, the other eight council members along with Naperville city manager Doug Krieger dug their collective heels into the sand and stuck with the bad decision.

In essence, Naperville officials became a hollowed-out shell of lemmings, and they did this by renouncing science, being unaffected by facts, undeterred by fresh data, intolerant of resident resistance, demonizing the opposition, and exhibiting headstrong ignorance of reality. The Naperville city council and city manager became a monolithic, bureaucratic group practicing what is commonly referred to as ‘gangster politics’ by shutting down those who oppose them. It appears that the Naperville city council, and city officials are becoming Orwellian in nature, and moving towards a futuristic totalitarian government.

Watch and listen as Naperville residents voice their opinions to an unreceptive city council, followed by a Philadelphia Fox TV video showing exactly what the Naperville city council is unwilling to recognize.

Tom Glass

Jo Malik

Kathryn Kotecki

Glen Mendoza

Fox TV Philadelphia

Sep 262012

It’s all relative when you’re talking budget deficits of trillions of dollars for the federal government, or billions for state government, or millions for local government. In this case it’s a $3 million budget deficit for the city of Naperville, but according to Karen DeAngelis, finance director for Naperville, it’s “O.K.” which means ‘no problem’. What’s a few million dollars here and there.

That in essence crystallizes the problem with government; as long as it’s not their dollars, then it’s no problem. And it’s especially not their problem when all the city of Naperville has to do is squeeze it out of the local residents with higher taxes and fees, including a water rate increase of almost 15%, and most assuredly electric rates due to the Naperville city council Smart Meter fiasco.

It’s a ‘perfect storm’ scenario in Naperville; 1) very weak leadership at the city manager level, 2) inadequate overview by the Naperville city council, and 3) over spending by the city. The city of Naperville’s motto should be changed to “A penny saved is an oversight”

There is a portion of the city council meeting (Consent agenda) that deals with the approval of expenses. During this time, hundreds of thousands of dollars are being tossed around, and chances are that members of the council spend more time discussing the toppings on their pizza, than in reducing expenses. It appears that Naperville city officials find it much easier to extract dollars from residents rather than to question expense or creatively reduce it.

So I suggest taking a page from Naperville city council playbook and I make a motion that when Naperville residents spend more than they earn for any particular month, that they simply meander down to city hall and tap council members and the city manager for a few bucks here and there to cover their deficit. That way if a resident has a budget deficit, it’s O.K……no problem.

Sep 162012

Imagine waking up in the morning, and wondering out the front door to retrieve your daily paper. You find it under your car and glance at the headline while retreating back into your house. The headline reads that Bigfoot has been captured at the drive-up window at Chick-Filet. This follows last week’s headline that announced the Shedd Aquarium has its newest ‘resident’ in the Loch Ness Monster. The next morning you wake up to the headline, “Cubs Win the World Series”. Strange as it may seem, these are all possible. Considering that given sufficient time, anything that can happen will happen makes it even possible for the following headline, “Naperville city council comes clean with apology to residents”

Granted, this last headline seems the most outlandish of the above four, but it’s still possible. Hero’s surface daily. So why can’t a hero come from the Naperville city council or even the city manager’s office. Well….OK, it won’t happen from city manager Doug Krieger’s office, but a hero could emerge from the city council. Whichever council member it is, would be revered by Naperville residents just as the manager of the Chicago Cubs would be when they win the World Series. Those names would be etched in stone for all to see; people who did the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.

Wanting to help the Naperville city council, I would like to offer up the following apology that any council member could use in order to come clean with the fine folks of our fine city. It would go something like this:

“ Folks, it’s about time that one of us on the council came clean and did the right thing for you by being honest. I’m speaking on behalf of the entire city council…well that’s not true, since I am the only one at the council meeting tonight. The courage to be honest with you is not one of our values; in fact I’m not sure we have any values, but if we did courage would not be one of them. Anyway, much of what we have done since we have been in office has not been in your best interest, and that’s only because your best interests have not been our best interests. Something had to give, so we chose us over you.

We’ve made a lot of huge mistakes and we continue to do so. That’s what politicians do, and we are good at it. We know that much if not all of our perceived success has been derived from previous Naperville city councils and administrations. If your current city council would have been decision makers in our city’s early years, we’d look like Romeoville today. Leadership is not one of our strengths, in fact, I’m hard pressed to come up with any strengths other than looking good at ribbon-cutting events, and reading proclamations during council meetings.

When I look up and down the dais during council meetings, I wonder how any of us were elected. So often when citizens are making presentations during the Public Forum, they look and sound more informed and qualified than we do.

We don’t really accomplish much, however we were able to quash the non-binding referendum on Smart Meters. We had to. Look what happened when we allowed residents to vote on term limits and ward representation. We would prefer much less resident involvement in decisions. We don’t trust that residents have our best interests in mind. The only people we trust less than Naperville residents, would be fellow council members.

Listen folks, for the most part we have no idea what we are doing, but at least we are good at that. We’re not even good at apologizing and we apologize for that.

In an effort to ‘come clean’ with the residents of Naperville, we decided to make the following statement at each city council meeting, after the Pledge of Allegiance and before Public Forum: ‘We apologize for all that we are about to say and do’.”

Sep 112012

Thomas Jefferson said that the biggest hindrance to freedom is ignorance; few if any can disagree with that. It’s also been stated that government goes wrong when the electorate won’t participate in the voting process. That makes sense; government often times gets exactly what it wants when the electorate won’t participate in the voting process. Hence government going wrong, and government getting what it wants are one in the same.

This is why the Naperville city council made a huge, industrial-strength blunder when they allowed Naperville citizens the right to vote on a referendum to establish wards (districts) for council representation, rather than keeping the at-large system currently used. The referendum was approved by a landslide; over 40,000 votes were caste with a nearly two to one ratio for approval. This is no small victory. In fact the total votes in favor of changing to wards nearly equaled the total votes received by the all four city council candidate winners combined (Wehrli, Chirico, Fieseler, and McElroy) in the last election.

The people spoke loud and clear, and Naperville officials were stunned. They simply underestimated the will of the people. Seasoned, well-informed politicians would never have let this happen, yet the Naperville city council along with city manager (Doug Krieger) were again not thinking strategically.

They were complacent, and spent too much time reading their own press clippings. Imagine what goes thru the mind of city council members when they realize their collective fiefdoms are under assault by their constituency. Chances are good that they went from sheer panic to ultimately calming down and becoming hysterical.

Most likely city officials immediately went into damage control mode in the inky shadows of city hall. First they were able to delay implementation of wards for five years, until the year 2015. Yes, you are reading that correctly….five years….2015. It took less time for the United States to win the Second World War (4 years), and less time for the North to defeat the South in the Civil War (4 years). It only took four months to write the Constitution of the United States, yet Naperville city officials succeeded in delaying implementation for five years because it was too difficult for the city council and the city manager to accomplish such a lofty endeavor. How difficult their work must be.

This should have been the first realization that city officials were not about to honor the will of the people. The second awareness should have been when city officials assigned staff to create a map of wards rather than hiring a consulting firm for hundreds of thousands of dollars to do the task, as they did when the Naperville city council hired and paid a company over a million dollars to bamboozle residents into believing that Smart Meters are the greatest thing since sliced bread. If Naperville wanted citizen involvement and wanted to provide a teachable opportunity, they could have asked each high school’s political science teacher to assign this ward-map creation as a weekend homework task and had four maps by the following Monday.

Two years of the five years have elapsed, and now there are rumblings of having a ‘do-over’ referendum election for the same thing that was decided by a landslide two years ago. What a stroke of luck for the city council that a group spontaneously surfaces wanting the same thing that the council wants. It’s important for the city council to distance itself from this group, however much can happen in the inky shadows of city hall. It’s almost like the spontaneous emergence of a lone objector to the Smart Meter referendum. Another stroke of luck for city officials.

Isn’t it amazing that the city council can seek and pontificate the importance of the vote, and citizen awareness for the wards vs at-large, yet city officials can deny thousands of voters the opportunity to vote on a non-binding referendum for the forced installation of smart meters. So in one case (Smart Meters) citizens can’t vote. Yet in another case (wards) they want citizens to do a do-over vote. Based on that, why not do a two-out-of-three vote, or as in the World Series how about the best of seven. Shouldn’t citizens be allowed a do-over vote for council members who have been blatantly less than average in accomplishment or leadership.

I don’t have a ‘horse in the race’ regarding wards versus at-large. However I do believe in honoring the will of the people when the votes are counted. That’s the American way of doing it. Do-over votes and two-out-of-three don’t work even when it comes to replacing glaringly less than average council members. Over 40,000 votes the first time is sufficient. 4,000 signatures on petitions should have been sufficient for the Smart Meter referendum, rather than one one objector incorrectly supported by three Naperville officials. Knowing that city officials want the at-large process to continue, makes me believe wards are a better option. In Naperville a good rule-of-thumb is to find out what the Naperville city council wants and then to support the opposite view, since the opposite view is typically the will of the people.

Sep 062012

You have to give the Naperville city council along with city manager Doug Krieger a lot of credit; no amount of information about the dangers of smart meters will change their mind regarding the installation of those meters to more than 57,000 homes and businesses throughout Naperville.

They are an extraordinary confident group of politicians that will not be swayed by any amount of proof or evidence that smart meters are neither smart or safe. It makes absolutely no difference that medical, safety, and security experts disagree with the Naperville city council. It makes no difference to the council or city manager Doug Krieger that cities throughout the country are stopping the installation of ‘smart’ meters in favor of their resident’s safety. Yes, the Naperville city council and city manager Doug Krieger will not be moved by reports of smart meters overheating and catching fire in the Chicago area. Apparently from the council’s and Krieger’s point of view, it’s not that big of a deal.

Naperville has thousands of homes and businesses, so what’s a few fires here and there. Naperville has one of the finest fire departments in the Chicago area, so if and when smart meters overheat and cause smokin’ hot fires that ignite homes like Bunsen burners, it’s just more opportunities to show Naperville citizens that fire trucks really look and sound cool.

House fires have an upside; more permits will need to be issued for rebuilding, hence more dollars in the city coffers. Those dollars can then be used to fight the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group in court. That’s the group of dedicated, highly educated and informed Naperville citizens trying to protect all Naperville residents in Federal court against the city of Naperville’s attempt to forcefully install smart meters on our homes and businesses.

Naperville city officials say that the meters are safe. If J. Bruce Ismay of the White Star Line (builder of the Titanic) can say, “Even God can’t sink this ship”, then when the council and city manager say smart meters are safe, it must be true…right? City officials are eager to mention that there have been no fires associated with the installation of smart meters in Naperville (yet). It sure sounds like the Naperville city council along with city manager Doug Krieger are foolishly,  ‘smokin’ hot’ confident.

Sep 022012

Recently Money Magazine listed the top ‘Best Places’ to live, and Naperville ranked #53. That sounds good unless you are one of the 52 cities ranked better than Naperville. Additionally Naperville’s ranking is only for cities with populations between 50,000 and 300,000. If you were to include all cities of any population, Naperville most likely wouldn’t rank in the top 500.

Most concerning about Naperville’s #53 ranking is that just four years ago in 2008, Naperville ranked #3. Naperville plummeted 50 positions in that short span of time. If the trend continues, Naperville would drop off the list before the next census. The top three ‘Best Places’ to live in that population category are: 1) Carmel, In., 2) McKinney, Tx., and 3) Eden Prairie, Mn.

If you listen to Naperville city manager Doug Krieger, you would think a ranking of #53 is a wonderful accomplishment. It might be if Naperville improved its ranking from #83 to #53, or even #54 to #53, but dropping down 50 notches is another awareness that things aren’t right in Naperville. Doug Krieger’s celebration of this achievement is like being acknowledged as the tallest dwarf in Muncie, Indiana.

So what went so wrong, that Naperville went so low on that listing. One reader to our recent posting “Naperville’s population growth is stagnant”, may have found the answer with following comment:

“The city council and city manager continue to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the problems facing Naperville. Doug Krieger touted Naperville placing #53 in Money Magazine’s best cities in which to live. I’ll ask the obvious question– why did Naperville plummet from 3rd place to to 53rd. Was it the arrogant city council. The city government run for the benefit of its employees, not the taxpayers. Was it for violations of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, denying taxpayers access to the ballot box. Or is it the abundance of liquor licenses in the downtown area that has resulted in more crime and fewer families on the streets.

Whatever the reasons are, Naperville needs better leadership at the city council and city manager level. A ranking of #53 might be considered ‘good’, but if ‘better’ is possible, then ‘good’ is not good enough.