Nov 032013

Unintended consequences. Improper planning. Not thinking things through. This seems to be commonplace with government, whether it’s Federal (Obamacare), State (pensions), or local (traffic congestion). The examples are endless. Successful businesses can’t allow that to happen. That’s the difference between free enterprise business and bureaucratic government. Politicians don’t have consequences, unless they are voted out of office, or if they get caught in the chaos of their own ill-advised decisions.

This surfaced during the last Naperville city council meeting, when councilmen Doug Krause, Steve Chirico, and Paul Hinterlong questioned Naperville’s Director of Transportation, Bill Novack.

In fairness, councilman Chirico was not on the city council when initial decisions were made effecting current traffic flow, and Krause warned fellow council members of possible traffic issues which have now materialized. However council members Brodhead, Fieseler and Wehrli were directly involved with those decisions, and they all sat on their hands while Novack was left to ‘hang out and dry’ during questioning.

Washington Street is a traffic problem, now Van Buren is a problem, and these are just appetizers for the madness of the Water Street Project coming soon to a gridlock near you. The good news about Naperville’s ongoing traffic congestion, is that speeding will be eliminated, and walking will be back in style. Based on recent council decisions regarding traffic flow and congestion, the following clip could give us a glimpse of downtown Naperville in the future.

It’s possible that the only thing Bill Novack, Director of Transportation can do now, is to get out on the streets himself and direct traffic. Sometimes government titles are magically appropriate.

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:

Sep 292013

Recently Naperville made 267 proactive repairs to installed smart meters. Naperville city officials said that this type of thing is going to happen. And when it does happen, it’s not the fault of the smart meter itself, it’s because of loose connections and corrosion in customer-owned meter bases. So Naperville city officials are saying it’s the customer’s fault. It’s not the fault of the city. No, that can’t happen that the city of Naperville could be at fault. City officials including city manager Doug Krieger, supported by the city council, said it’s true so it must be true..right?

City officials have no idea why residents would be skeptical. Residents should be happy these so-called smart meters were forcefully slapped on homes and and businesses in Naperville in a very nefarious manner. Is it any wonder why Naperville residents and business owners have intense distrust for city officials. There is absolutely no amount of evidence that could be presented to Naperville city officials that would cause them even the slightest doubt to consider they made a huge mistake.

The Smart Meter project was spear-headed by city manager Doug Krieger, and council members Grant Wehrli and Bob Fieseler. In nearly every step of the ill-conceived process Naperville city officials made decisions that have been and will be detrimental to the residents and business owners of Naperville. So now the city has no choice other than to blame house fires on residents and business owners. The same thing will happen when security is breached, health issues arise, privacy is compromised, and electric rates soar. Blame it on the people.

Can anyone remember the last time a city official apologized for a blunder, let alone a huge error in judgment? Can anyone remember the last time a Naperville city official stood tall and accepted responsibility and accountability for causing inconvenience and grief to the good folks of Naperville. No, it’s much easier to simply blame it on the good folks of Naperville.

A lot happens within the inky shadows that Naperville city officials roam. Much of what is said and done is not good. And one thing we’ve yet to hear from a Naperville city official is an apology about anything.

Blame it on the homeowner.

Sep 262013

Often times we make it much too difficult to do something. We think the more elaborate we make it, the better it will be. Maybe we need to rethink how we do what we do, and make it more simple.

Take for example electing the mayor of Naperville. It won’t be long and that process will begin. Folks announce their candidacy, campaigns begin to take shape, big dollars are donated, campaign signs appear everywhere overnight, softball questions are tossed at candidates, typical sound-good answers are given, a small percentage of eligible voters vote, we watch the numbers roll in, somebody gives a concession speech, someone else claims victory, and everything goes back to the way it was before the election except for a new face at the center of the dais.

If the vote was held today, the best candidate would also be the worst candidate, since we only have one announced candidate. Councilman Steve Chirico is the only person with enough courage to raise his hand when the question “Who wants to be the next mayor of Naperville?” was asked.

Maybe there is a better way to elect the mayor. Maybe a better way to get more people involved, keep expenses low, eliminate campaign signs, and avoid concession speeches.

The city of Dorset, Minnesota has figured out how to do it, and it’s working. Residents ‘love’ their mayor, the local police fully support the mayor, and nobody is calling for the mayor to resign.

Dorset, Minnesota is a tourist type of town known for its restaurants and shopping. There are no traffic jams, no Smart Meters, and no $435,000 legal settlements from the city coffers to roughed-up citizens. No, it’s nothing like Naperville. The city of Dorset, Minnesota keeps it simple and it works.

Meet the mayor of Dorset, Minnesota, Robert “Bobby” Tufts.

Mayor Tufts keeps its honest and keeps it simple.

Now of course, in politics, there is always going to be a little negative campaigning, but nothing that Mayor Tufts can’t rise above.

Keeping it simple, and keeping it honest worked; the mayor was re-elected to a second term.

According to the mayor’s mom, the mayor’s agenda includes “raising money for the Ronald McDonald House “Charities of Red River Valley in Fargo, N.D., and a new welcome sign for Dorset.”It sounds like a town where people are truly ‘Welcome’.



Sep 222013

Let’s set the record straight, I have been a Cubs fan since dirt was new. I have seen some bad Cub baseball over the years and the last two years it’s been some of the worst. With a little more effort on their part, they could end up with close to 200 losses since 2012. I know a little bit about baseball having played semi-pro ball back when the ball was square. I learned quickly that you have to be really good to make it up to big show, and I realized just as quickly that I needed to find a different career.

I also know a little bit about leadership. It’s easy to see when it’ there, and when it isn’t. The benchmark is ‘results’. Sadly to say, Naperville city officials are sorely lacking in that all important dimension; you see it in the results.

So based on that, I wondered what would it be like if Naperville city officials had a baseball team. Which of our city officials would be best suited to play which position in the first game of a double-header. This is what it might look like.

Joe McElroy (1st base) Seems to lack a little energy, so keep him close to the dugout so he won’t have to run as much.

Judy Brodhead (Catcher) Vertically challenged, so when she’s standing she looks like she’s squatting in the catcher’s position.

Bob Fieseler (Left fielder) He’s so far out there, and so far left, that’s it’s difficult to see him.

Doug Krause (Shortstop) Wants to turn the double-play, but no one covering second base to get the job done.

Doug Krieger (Manager) It’s been said, if you can’t hit, and you can’t field, and you can’t run, you might as well be the manager to tell others how to hit, field and run.

Mayor George Pradel (Announcer) He’d be like Harry Carry; no idea what’s going on, but makes it fun to listen to him.

Margo Ely (Official scorer) Knows the rules and always favors the home team that pays her.

Grant Wehrli (Right Fielder) Keep him as far away from the action as possible, since he specializes in making errors.

Paul Hinterlong (2nd baseman) Seems to relish in being second, stumbles occasionally, an prone to getting spiked.

Steve Chirico (Starting pitcher) Good control, instills confidence, and can lead a bunch of misfits.

Dave Wentz (Center Fielder) Covers a lot of ground, and makes those around him look good.

Police Chief Bob Marshall (3rd baseman) Can handle balls hit like a bullet, and can make the hard tag when necessary.

Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis (Relief Pitcher) He can put out the fire, and keep the heat on opposing batters.

We did say it was a double-header, and considering government city officials are adverse to being overworked, what would they do in the second game. It might look something like this:

Joe McElroy  (Ticket taker) Seems like the kind of simple job Joe would excel at, and he’s good at keeping the line moving.

Judy Brodhead (Mascot) Would not need to wear a costume; she’s good to go as is.

Bob Fieseler (Parking lot attendant) He’s good at squeezing people into small places like electric vehicles.

Doug Krause (Umpire) He calls it like he sees it, and is willing to get booed when making the right decision.

Doug Krieger (Concession stand) He tells us it’s all healthy and good for us, when in fact, it’s all unhealthy and bad for us.

Mayor George Pradel (Scoreboard keeper) He might get the 6’s and 9’s confused, but he’s good with the rest of the numbers.

Margo Ely (Money counter) Somebody has to watch, count, and organize the money.

Grant Wehrli (Disgruntled overpaid bench warmer) Not a team player, likes to complain, and mistakenly considers himself  most important.

Paul Hinterlong (Usher) Offers to help you find your seat, but inevitably takes you to the wrong seat.

Steve Chirico (Grounds keeper) Who better to keep the field looking good and the lines straight, than the successful owner of a flooring company.

Dave Wentz (Ticket seller) I’d buy a used car from him, so I surely would buy a ticket from him.

Police Chief Bob Marshall (Security) He likes to station security at all the entrances/exits to intimidate well behaved fans.

Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis  (Paramedic) Nobody can perform a better Heimlich on a hotdog.

Given the choice between keeping most of these city officials in their current position of “leadership”, or starting a baseball team, I say we get the balls and bats and pick out a team name. Some of the better names are taken including, Montgomery Biscuits, Lansing Lugnuts, Toledo Mudhens, and Lehigh Iron Pigs.

How about calling the team the “Naperville Smart Meters”