If you’re trying to get a straight answer from one of Naperville’s city officials, it’s not an easy task. And the master of double-talk at city hall is city manager Doug Krieger. Odds are that somewhere in his office is a 3 X 5 poster with the following words emblazoned on it, “If you can’t convince them with facts, then dazzle them with B.S.” In a recent informal survey, about half of those questioned felt that he had no idea what he was talking about, while the other half felt he was clueless. It’s no wonder that he is a good dancer, since he tap dances around a lot of issues.
If a resident calls with a question or concern, they are asked to ‘send an email’, which typically doesn’t get answered. If you call again, you may be requested to submit a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) form. When the city of Naperville’s website was hacked, and email was down for what seemed like a year, it was actually a blessing for city officials and especially the city manager’s office because they had a built in excuse why they couldn’t respond to resident’s emails. When email is up and running, city officials excel at going through email. It’s amazing how many emails the city manager’s office can delete within a few minutes. My guess is that the most often replaced key on the keyboard is the ‘delete’ key.
If calls don’t work (and they don’t), and emails don’t work (and they don’t), then a Naperville resident always has the option to step up to the podium during the Public Forum portion of the first and third Tuesdays of each month and address the council for three minutes (once the council tried to limit it to 30 seconds, but some council members found that to be pushing it a bit). The Public Forum of the meeting is typically the most entertaining portion of the evening for the folks watching, because council members look forward to it as they would a root canal.
Watch and listen as resident Jo Malik attempts to get a simple question answered. It turns into a four-on-one tag team wrestling match, when first, she gets the fuzzy math and double-talk from city manager Doug Krieger, then councilman McElroy gives her the shut-down/beat-down maneuver, followed by the city attorney’s ‘maintain decorum and control conversation’ edict, followed by the TKO from Mayor Pradel.
Residents might find it easier to be erased with the ‘delete’ key, than to be verbally pummeled by the council. That seems to be the message the council is trying to convey.