Feb 232014

Here they go again. Naperville city officials are scrambling to make right what they made wrong. If only they could do things right initially by making the right decisions, they wouldn’t have to figure out how to undo what they did.

This time it’s the City of Naperville’s Electric Utility which is facing a gross negative cash balance to the tune of $25 million which includes $14 million currently in the red and another $11 million in a 30-day cash reserve which doesn’t exist.

Naperville residents are asking if Naperville city officials are deceitful or are they inept, or more simply stated, are they flat-out dishonest or are they blatantly incompetent. Let me say right here, that I truly do not believe that they are dishonest. By ‘they’, I mean the Naperville city council including the mayor, the city manager Doug Krieger, or even the department heads. Dishonest…no. Clearly incompetent…absolutely yes.

To be ‘dishonest’ would imply a degree of awareness, and the willingness to circumvent the truth. If they don’t have the awareness, then it’s not a matter of honesty. They are simply in over their heads, and it’s doubtful they have any idea what they’re doing.

To make matters worse for the residents of Naperville, city officials are displaying no accountability, little if any ability to manage performance, unable to manage execution, void of critical thinking, and definitely not building trust with the voters.

For a couple of years now, city manager Doug Krieger, with support from  councilmen Bob Fieseler and Grant Wehrli, have bragged about the beauty of implementing a Smart Grid to the point ‘guaranteeing’ that electric rates would not escalate above 2% this year and next year. They presented beautiful graphs, along with glossy handouts, and brought in  a legion of ‘talking heads’ to dazzle residents with non-sense about the not-so Smart Grid and forced installation of not-so Smart Meters, and how good this was going to be for everybody in Naperville. For those who stood tall to openly disagree, city officials simply had them cuffed and arrested at their homes, and hauled off to the slammer. And then pushed them into the gauntlet of the court system.

Now city officials are saying they have no choice other than to raise electric rates in Naperville well beyond the 2% originally presented to residents.

Isn’t that how it always works. Naperville city officials screw-up, then they come up with a couple of lame excuses, and then squeeze additional dollars out of Naperville residents and businesses to cover their incompetency.

Lame excuses included, unusual weather conditions, unstable energy market, sluggish economic recovery, goofy usage patterns, global warming, global cooling, global existence, all kinds of excuses from city officials.

This is then followed by brilliant insight from city manger Doug Krieger when he said, “daytime usage is always higher than night time, because that’s how people use electricity”.  That rivals councilwoman Judy Brodhead’s comment last year, when she said “chickens don’t bark”.

Krieger also said, “all I know is we have not been as vigilant in influencing decisions as we could have been”. Another classic example of Krieger not accepting accountability. He likes to say ‘we’ when things go wrong, and ‘I’ whenever it goes right, which is seldom.

Krieger was correct in one of his comments when he said “…things are going to have to change,”  It’s time for the ‘good’ members of the city council to make a change in city management, otherwise the voters will make a change in the next city council election.

(This is part one in a two-part posting on the subject of electric rates)




Feb 162014

Anybody can find themselves on the wrong side of an issue occasionally. It happens to all of us. However there are some who find themselves on the wrong side of decisions and issues quite often. When it comes to Naperville city officials, the names that keep popping up are councilmen Bob Fieseler, Grant Wehrli, and Naperville city manager Doug Krieger.

Their problem is that they can’t run from their voting record. Naperville residents problem is that they suffer from the results of Fieseler’s and Wehrli’s decisions. When you add city manager Doug Krieger’s ill-advised decisions to the mix, that  leaves the residents of Naperville behind a gigantic 8-ball.

Both Fieseler and Wehrli, along with Krieger continue to push the fingers of Naperville residents into live electrical sockets, and it doesn’t stop. It started in 2007 with the horrible decision to purchase power from the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA).  Both Fieseler and Wehrli were naive in thinking purchasing power from ‘renewable sources’ and ‘going green’ would be a better investment than using less expensive natural gas alternatives. They were oh so wrong, and now the residents of Naperville find themselves looking at higher energy rates than most other communities throughout the country.

After digging that hole, when most others would throw away their shovels, they continued to dig the hole deeper by doing a money-grab from the Department of Energy and pushing a not-so Smart Grid program at Naperville residents and forcing the installation of not-so Smart Meters on homes and businesses in Naperville. This lead to the arrests of two Naperville women for protecting their homes and families from those forced installations. The City of Naperville’s image took a major hit when the arrests were seen throughout the country as an example of ‘local government gone wild’.

Not only were councilmen Fieseler and Wehrli instrumental in fostering negative press towards Naperville, they also supported and spear-headed another ill-advised decision to choose a vendor to develop an e-portal system for the grid, that failed miserably and cost Naperville residents almost $800,000. Then to add insult to injury for residents, the city filed a lawsuit against the nearly bankrupt company which will cost residents even more money. There simply is no end to how much tax-payer money, Naperville city officials are willing to waste towards lost causes.

Chances are that if you are looking for city manager Doug Krieger, you will find him somewhere in the inky shadows of city hall, approving another expense-acquisition for more shovels. As for Fieseler and Wehrli, they are most likely at the local Home Depot or Menards in the shovel department.




Feb 142014

There they go again. Naperville city officials inviting residents into a room and then hitting them with a two by four, at least that’s what it seems like. This time they are doing it by encouraging residents to ‘go green’ and use electric vehicles, and then just when they get a few to do so, the Naperville city council slaps them by doubling the hourly rate (from 75-cents to $1.50) to utilize a charging station.

If it wouldn’t have been true, it would have been comical listening to council members discussing how much money they can squeeze out of individuals for utilizing city charging stations. Councilman Grant Wehrli was almost giddy when mentioning ‘how about $3 hour’ but councilman Steve Chirico quickly brought Wehrli back to reality by not responding to his foolish remark.

Watch and listen as councilman Grant Wehrli wants to quickly bring it to a vote, but councilman Paul Hinterlong voices some concern about having folks take advice from the council to ‘go green’ only to find out that they are being penalized by the council for doing so.

The very short meeting ended quickly after the unanimous vote. Most likely they were in a rush to get the new doubled-rate in place while they marched down in lock-step to their favorite pub for a few brews to celebrate another council victory over trusting-residents.

Feb 092014

Naperville city officials don’t like talking when they screw things up. If you ever want to end a discussion with most Naperville city council members, simply ask him or her a question about one of their many screw-ups or anything to do with his or her accountability in the matter. There is no better way to clear out a room full of Naperville city officials , than to ‘call them out’ on a bad decision. They will leave that room faster than a room gets dark after turning off the light switch.

However, to the Naperville city council’s credit they have figured out a way to avoid tripping over each other when rushing out of a room to avoid answering residents’ questions. They simply file a lawsuit, as they did against Calico Energy Inc., and then hide behind the lawsuit, saying they can’t comment on a pending lawsuit. Brilliant on their part.

Calico is the company that the City of Naperville paid almost $780,000  to develop software supporting Naperville’s ill-advised Smart Grid program and specifically the forced installation of so-called Smart Meters on homes and businesses in Naperville. The council’s decision to use Calico has been a colossal failure. Calico was in line for more than $900,000 in payments for the ePortal work, which means Naperville city officials forked over 87% of the contract’s fees ($780,000 our tax dollars) and in return got nothing more than a vendor who is on the brink of bankruptcy according to City Attorney Margo Ely.

Watch and listen to Naperville resident Mike Anderson as he states the facts and questions the city council, and listen closely to councilman Bob Fieseler’s comments at the end.

Councilman Fieseler says, “Could we have done better….who knows”. Are you kidding me, $780,000 wasted and he still doesn’t know.

He then said, “one vendor out of 15”, implying that’s not so bad. First of all we don’t know about the other 14 vendors yet, and one inept vendor (decision on the council’s part) is one too many. How about the next 15 times Fieseler applies his vehicle’s brakes, they work 14 times.

Then councilman Bob Fieseler finishes by saying, “Be careful what we say as officials, because there is a lawsuit pending”. Councilmen Fieseler was the ‘flag carrier’ and councilman Grant Wehrli was the ‘bugle boy’ for pushing the Smart Meter fiasco on the residents of Naperville, and now they both hide behind a lawsuit.

Councilman Bob Fieseler will be running for re-election to the Naperville city council, while councilman Grant Wehrli, anticipating local voter-backlash and defeat in the next council election, has decided to run for election in Illlinois’ 41st District.

Sooner or later both will have to address their part in this debacle, because sooner or later the voters will be voting.

Feb 042014

Measure twice and cut once is a rule of thumb for carpenters. No sense wasting good wood and time. Naperville city officials including the city council and city manager Doug Krieger would be wise to heed that advice. If they did, they wouldn’t be wasting more money and time. The real ‘rub’ is that it isn’t their money that’s being wasted. It’s more tax dollars from the residents of Naperville that’s being squandered by city officials.

The most recent example of fiduciary incompetence, was ‘announced’ Friday January 31 when the city of Naperville filed a lawsuit against Calico Energy Inc., Naperville’s contracted vendor to provide the ePortal website as part of the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative. Calico was contracted to provide the ePortal website for residents to view their electric usage and select from various rates including high, higher, and highest.

The lawsuit claims that Calico Energy Inc. was negligent in providing its contracted services and is therefore in breach of its contract with the city. Based on that you could say that Naperville city officials were negligent in providing a sound decision in doing business with Calico and therefore is in “breach of its contract to provide good leadership ” for the residents of Naperville.

Apparently city officials didn’t measure twice (proper research) when they cut a check for $779,550 to a company that’s on the ‘brink of bankruptcy’. That waste of money amounts to over $5 per resident or about $20 to a household of four. That may not seem like much money, but since I’m willing to pick up a quarter on the ground when I see it, you can be sure I’ll pick up a $5 dollar bill.

Naperville City Attorney Margo Ely said that filing the lawsuit “is the only responsible action to take on behalf of our ratepayers”. Actually that’s incorrect. The only responsible action to take on behalf of the ratepayers was for city officials to make the right decision in the first place; research twice and cut once.

We have a plumber on the city council (Paul Hinterlong) and he seems to be doing a good job. Maybe we need to elect a couple of skilled carpenters to the council.