Oct 302013

Every now and then, something happens during a Naperville city council meeting and you realize that’s how government should work. It happened at the last council meeting when councilman Doug Krause questioned whether or not it was appropriate to use city assets to help another community in need, without presenting the request to other members of the council or city officials. Watch and listen as councilman Krause presents his concern, and is then responded to by councilman Dave Wentz.

So on one hand we have a city official protecting city assets (Krause) by encouraging communication, and on the other hand, we have a city official (Wentz) offering to ‘help make things happen’ by being a good neighbor to Plainfield. Both positions are commendable. Of course we want city officials who protect city assets and encourage communication, yet we also want city officials who can make timely decisions and do the right thing.

It’s been said that ‘righteousness is the mid-point between two evils’. The possible downside to Krause’s ‘more communication’ is endless talking, referring the issue to committee and tabling it. Nothing gets done. The possible downside to Wentz’s ‘do something now’ position, it might be the wrong thing to do.   Neither councilman’s position was inappropriate. In fact, both Krause and Wentz were correct in what they did, yet they did things differently.

Watch and listen as councilman Steve Chirico sums up the conundrum within a few seconds.

Common sense is often overlooked in local government decision making. Chirico didn’t over look it. He brought it to a logical conclusion.

Oct 272013

 This one was painful to watch. I’m referring to the Monday October 21 Naperville Special City Council Meeting which focused on the Financial Update – Five Year Plan.

We’ve all been in this situation at some time or another. Trying to justify that which is unjustifiable, trying to talk about something and having no clue about what we’re talking about, trying to make something sound good, that’s not good, hoping that time flies by, but it just drags on and on. This is the situation that Naperville city manager Doug Krieger found himself in; the more he talked, the less sense he made.

‘It’s not a good place to be, it’s disturbing and it’s terrible’. In fact, that’s exactly how Naperville councilman Steve Chirico described the fact that Naperville will need to borrow almost $30 million during the next five years,  to cover the cost of electric. Watch and listen as Chirico responds to comments by Finance Director Karen DeAngelis:

City manager Doug Krieger has never been accused of being accountable. He can tap-dance around issues, side-step questions, and be evasive. He employed all three tactics on this particular evening.

Watch and listen as councilman McElroy asks Krieger a simple and specific question, and after more than three minutes of rambling, Krieger still hasn’t answered the question.

This is where it really began to go sideways for Krieger as he continued to ramble. It’s apparent that Doug Krieger subscribes to the philosophy, that “if you can’t convince them with facts, then dazzle them with ‘fertilizer” Watch and listen as Naperville city manager Doug Krieger tries to dazzle the council:

It’s obvious by the questions asked, and non-verbal communication that councilmen Chirico, Krause, and McElroy can’t be fooled by Krieger. Councilman Bob Fieseler was a no-show for the meeting, and councilman Grant Wehrli sat silent as Krieger was sweating under the lights-of-questioning. This is interesting, since Fieseler was the ‘flag carrier’, and Wehrli was the ‘bugle-boy” for spearheading the so-called Smart Grid and forced installation of Smart Meters.

Watch and listen while Krieger continues to dig a hole as councilmen Krause and Chirico send a message with pin-point accurate questions.

Blaming it on Mother Nature, gravity, luck, or the designated hitter is not a sign of leadership. It’s clear that Naperville city manager Krieger was not on top of his game. The problem is that even if he was on top of his game, it’s not equal to the responsibility and accountability needed for managing the city of Naperville.

The ‘Five Year Plan’ looks like smoke and mirrors. Naperville needs a “Now Plan”, and that starts with doing what the Chicago Cubs are doing….look for a new Manager.

Oct 252013

The older you get, the more you realize that your time is running out, and the less willing you are to deal with nonsense, and allow yourself to be pushed around. When it comes to residents of Naperville, and citizens in general. Naperville city officials specialize in nonsense and pushing folks from one city department to another, from one staff member to another, and from one committee to another. City officials consider residents/citizens as pinballs, bouncing them around until they disappear.

It almost happened again at the most recent city council meeting, during the Public Forum portion of the meeting when citizen Buzz Polizzi offered the City of Naperville the opportunity to be the home of a Freedom Monument To Veterans honoring the military men and women who have given so much to defend our country. The financial cost to the city would be zero.

The person willing to do the sculpture, is one of the finest in the art. For more than a year he has been given the run-around, so he and Buzz Polizzi decided to present the opportunity directly to the city council.

Watch and listen as Buzz makes his presentation, only to be brushed-off by the Mayor and kicked over to a committee that has already “buried the opportunity in the mud for a year and a half”, and in essence “nailed the sculpture-artist to the floor”.

All Buzz wanted was a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, and the council couldn’t do it. Kudos for Buzz for his respectful assertiveness towards the council, and his unwillingness to ‘eat the baloney’ being dished out by the council. Buzz represents every military man and woman who has ever served our country and fought for freedom. Not one council member would speak up, other than the Mayor’s brush-off. The least the Naperville city council could do, would have been to give him a straight answer.


Oct 202013

Have you noticed how some folks have a knack for saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience. One of those people is Naperville city councilman Bob Fieseler and he did it again at the most recent Naperville city council meeting Tuesday October 15. It happened during the ‘New Business’ portion of the meeting, when out of nowhere he begins rambling about his pension, if he vests after 8 years with the city of Naperville. He does this at a time when our country, state, and city are all wrestling with unfunded pensions causing a drag on our economy.

Not only that, he continues going down the insensitive road towards others by stating his pension would cover him for a ‘free senior citizen breakfast’ in essence every morning for the rest of his life, as if this is a pittance; something to be laughed at. His comment comes on the very night that the city of Naperville is proclaiming Oct 26 – Nov. 2, as Homeless Awareness Week in Naperville. Bad timing Mr. Fieseler. But then again, Naperville city officials like to refer to the ‘homeless’ as ‘urban outdoors-men’. Naperville doesn’t have homeless folks; they have street dwellers.

Watch and listen as a portion of councilman Fieseler’s character is exposed.

With unemployment as it is, Fieseler’s comment is another reason to have him become unemployed from the city council during the next election. He would no longer need to be concerned about vesting in his city pension. He might actually need to buy his own breakfast.

Oct 142013

City officials in Naperville are doing it again. It’s called ‘socially acceptable non-productive behavior’. They appear to show interest in what resident’s want, but then they go about doing exactly what city officials want. It sounds good and looks good, however when all is said and done the benefit is realized by city officials, with very little benefit towards the residents.

City officials are creating an updated strategic plan for Naperville’s future and three priorities have been identified; 1) addressing traffic congestion, 2) making Naperville a leader in e-government, and 3) improving community education and involvement. Sounds great doesn’t it.

Let’s briefly look at them in reverse order. Naperville city officials want residents to be more involved and show more interest in what’s happening. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth of the matter is that in Naperville, residents are considered obstacles that need to be circumvented when it comes to what city officials want. This could not be more obvious than in the forced installation of smart meters on homes and businesses in Naperville. When residents spoke up during council meetings they were ridiculed and insulted by council members, both current and former. City officials used police presence as a show of intimidation towards residents who attending those city council meetings. When a petition for a non-binding referendum, signed by thousands of residents, was submitted to city officials they would not allow the question on the ballot. And when residents became more involved by speaking out against forced entry of city workers to the properties of home owners, they were arrested and cases are still pending in court.

With regard for making Naperville an e-government leader, this benefits the city far more than it benefits the residents. The less personal contact city officials and staff have with residents, the better it is for local government. It’s similar to self-checkout lanes at Jewel and Dominick’s. Jewel is discontinuing the concept, and Dominick’s is going out of business.

And as for traffic congestion in Naperville, the city wants to make it better, yet the ‘mother of all traffic congestion’ was recently approved by the city council when they voted ‘yes’ to the downtown Water Street Project. If you think things are tight in downtown Naperville now, this is nothing compared to the situation once that project gets rolling.

So city officials say they want improvement, yet their actions loudly say otherwise. If city officials truly want to improve residents’ lives in Naperville, they can begin by accepting or requiring the resignation of city manager Doug Krieger. The expiration date on his effectiveness is long overdue. Combine that with ‘turning over’ one-third of the nine members on city council, and Naperville is on it’s way to a solid strategic plan for recovery.

Oct 042013

Something very unusual happened recently within the Naperville city council. A Naperville city councilman kept his word by following through on a campaign commitment to the residents of Naperville. Relatively, recently elected councilman Dave Wentz said he would do something and he did it. This may not seem unusual, however for most Naperville city officials, this is quite out of the ordinary.

One of the planks of Wentz’s campaign was to reduce the processing time for SOA’s (Statement of Open Accounts) for simple transactions. Specifically, “the City of Naperville Finance Department announced that the projected processing time to issue real estate transfer stamps has been accelerated from 7 days to 48 hours for all single family, town-home, and condominium properties that are not foreclosures or rental properties.”

This is huge, not only because it makes the City of Naperville more efficient and business friendy to residents, but more importantly because councilman Dave Wentz took a big step in building trust with residents in displaying integrity; something that has been sorely missing by Naperville city officials.

Can anyone remember the last time council members Grant Wehrli, Bob Fieseler, or Judy Brodhead followed-through on a campaign commitment, in a manner that actually helped the residents of Naperville. The next time you see any of the three walking down the street ( surely they won’t be driving in the congested streets of downtown Naperville) you might want to ask them which campaign commitment did they fulfill. Chances are they would be hard-pressed to come up with an answer. It might sound something like this: