It isn’t often that you hear city officials suggest eliminating half of the city council in order to save money and become more of a deliberative body by demanding more accountability, but that’s exactly what happened earlier this month. In fact, the mayor floated the idea two and a half years ago. He said, “do you know what everybody said to me? Cut the City Council in half”. He went on to say, “you think the city council is to the city’s budget what people think foreign aid is to the the federal budget”. One city official said, “when it comes to how we deliver services, the city council should be on the table as well. I don’t think anything should be a sacred cow.”
I’m guessing you thought you would never hear those words from Naperville officials, and if so, you are exactly right, because those words were spoken by Chicago aldermen Brendan Reilly (42nd), and Ameya Pawar (47th) along with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Amazing isn’t it, that Chicago politicians would consider what no Naperville official would have the courage to discuss. If you ever want to clear out a room full of Naperville officials faster than the speed of light, just voice the idea of reducing the size of city council.
One Naperville city council member (who’s name rhymes with Grant Wehrli) said, ‘we can’t reduce the size of the city council, only the Illinois General Assembly can do that”. What he failed to mention is that voters can do it in the form of a binding referendum. Unfortunately, we’ve seen how the Naperville Electoral Board squashes referendums, that they don’t like.
Naperville is obese with city council members; nine in total. Take a look at the following chart comparing the successful cities of Seattle, Phoenix, and San Diego to that of Naperville.
Seattle has more than four times the population of Naperville, yet has the same number of council members (9). Phoenix has ten times the population of Naperville with the same number of council members (9). And San Diego has nine times the population of Naperville with eight council members.
Naperville doesn’t need nine council members; five would be more than enough. Is it any wonder why the Naperville city council has had only one council meeting during a 60 day period of time. Could it be that they are under-worked and overpaid. Could it be that their accountability towards residents is diverted to city staff employees.
Who would have guessed, that Naperville residents could only wish to have city officials like Chicago.