Oct 262014

The Naperville city council has no problem spending money, especially when it’s not their own. The problem is the money they are spending belongs to and came from the residents of Naperville. Some members of the city council are more prolific than others in spending other people’s money, with councilman Grant Wehrli being at the top of the list. Wehrli is running for a State office, so his propensity for spending should fit in quite well in Springfield.

Watch and listen as Wehrli states that $38,000 is not that big of a number.

Granted, in a city budget of millions of dollars, $38,000 might seem like a small number, but $38,000 buys a lot of pencils. Why shouldn’t every dollar be considered important. If councilman Wehrli considers it a pittance, isn’t that the message he is sending to city staff, and doesn’t that in itself cause an issue. When city employees spend a few bucks here, and a few bucks there, all those bucks begin to add up, and that’s when things begin to get out of control.

Watch and listen to Wehrli as he again points out during the same city council meeting that $38,000 is a pittance.

And how about a third time for councilman Grant Wehrli. He makes it abundantly clear that it’s only dollars.

So what’s the big deal? Well the big deal is that the good folks of Naperville need and deserve council members who consider every dollar spent as important. When the residents and businesses of Naperville earn those dollars and then turn them over to the city in the form of taxes, those hard-earned dollars need to be appreciated and spent wisely. Mr. Wehrli and other city officials need to be aware of that. Every dollar needs to be considered important. Anything less than that, is disrespectful to the voters who put them in office.

Oct 182014

I love numbers. It seems like everything I do relates to numbers. I guess how many steps it will take to get from one point to another. I guess how many Volvo’s will pass by while waiting at red light. I guess how many gallons it will take to fill my tank, and how much it will cost. I don’t guess how many Cheerios will fit onto my spoon, but I’m thinking about it. It’s not that I can’t stop guessing and counting, it’s just that I like doing it. It might seem like it would be a waste of time, but somehow it sharpens my mind, tweaks my awareness, and energizes me.

Now my new thing is counting candidates for the next Municipal election April 7, 2015. As of today, there are 20 candidates running for office (16 for city council and 4 for mayor). That’s a crowd, and as of Sunday, there are still 36 days remaining to submit papers for certification. By the last day for filing (Nov 24) the crowd may have turned into a mob; running for office will be a stampede.

There couldn’t be a better time to run for city council including mayor. All nine positions are available due to referendums in 2010 allowing for district representation and term limits. Both referendums passed by a landslide. Naperville city officials didn’t like the result of either referendum, and they were able to finagle a do-over vote for district representation, and with the help of confusing wording on the referendum, city officials hood-winked residents into approving ‘at-large’, (also known as the ‘good ole boy’) representation rather than districts. However the referendum necessitated that all city council positions this year will be up for a vote.

Term limits, though approved by a voter landslide in 2010, are still not in effect and here we are knocking on the door to 2015. Naperville city officials said they needed time to figure out how to implement term limits……five years. My first grade grandson along with a little help from a second grader could do it faster.

As of this moment, the 16 candidates running for 8 council positions have a one in two chance of making it. And the four mayoral candidates have a one in four chance of sliding in as mayor. So numbers-wise this is a great opportunity to join the stampede of candidates.

Your odds are even better considering one city council candidate filed a law suit against the city (which was later dropped by the candidate), so his chances of running on a fiscally sound platform are gone. And one mayoral candidate has already blown himself out of the water by saying, “I don’t think there’s a person on the planet that could take George Pradel’s place,” and he doesn’t think there are many ways in which Naperville needs improvement. So now your odds of becoming mayor are down to one in three. Those are better odds than Babe Ruth hitting a home run in his prime.

170 days until the election and 11 more council meetings remain for this Naperville city council. All it takes is getting one more vote than whoever comes in 9th place. The candidate finishing in 8th place takes a seat at the dais.

Oct 152014

It’s all come down to this; if you want to enjoy an evening in downtown Naperville, you will need an instruction sheet. And by ‘you’ I mean anyone who comes close to touching an adult beverage, be it a customer, an owner, a server, a bus boy, the police, the guy who delivers it on a truck, the guy who prints the menus, and all the attorneys lined up to file a suit against anybody and everybody involved with alcohol in Naperville.

That’s what the Naperville city council has accomplished with their lame effort to regulate the serving of alcohol in an attempt to regain control of downtown Naperville after midnight. What they have really done is kick the can down the road and given the problem to the next Naperville city council when chaos amps up in the spring. By that time, members of the current city council may all be all gone either by their choice, or the choice of voters who have had enough from the current council.

The effective solution to the problem is simple; reduce the number of liquor licenses in the downtown area, and  cut back the hours of serving alcohol. A couple of council members approached the idea, but quickly backed off in lieu of having the next city council deal with it; clear evidence that Naperville is lacking in leadership.

There is a saying that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. When our country was founded, the topic of slavery and how to deal with it was a concern. In order to get ‘everyone’ on board with our Constitution, and solidify the framework of our country, they decided to pass the inevitable problem on to a future congress and president, and hence the seeds to the Civil War were planted.

Not that Naperville’s downtown alcohol problem equates to the Civil War, but the likelihood that things will get worse during late night Naperville rather than better appears guaranteed by this city council.

Who would have guessed that during the last Naperville city council meeting on October 7, while discussing additional regulation on the serving of alcohol, the three people who made the most sense were council members Bob Fieseler, Judith Brodhead, and city attorney Mike DiSanto. Brodhead had to get council members back on the track a few times, DiSanto had to keep them on the track, and Fieseler wondered why they were even on the track.

Councilman Bob Fieseler perfectly nailed it three times, when he first referred to a “senseless motion”:

Then when he labeled the process as “incomprehensible”:

And finally when he stated, “this whole process has become so flawed and convoluted and internally inconsistent, that I have no idea how to enforce or implement the ordinances:

An instruction sheet, for the rest of us, would be helpful.

Oct 122014

Who would have guessed that the three people who made the most sense during Tuesday night’s city council meeting would be council members Bob Fieseler, Judy Brodhead, and city attorney Mike DiSanto. As for the rest of the city officials, it was a non-stop kerfuffle of words. It happened during the portion of the meeting dealing with regulations on alcohol. Councilman Bob Fieseler sized it up perfectly when he described it as ‘incomprehensible’. Watchdog’s next posting scheduled midweek will focus on that portion of the meeting.

This posting will look a ‘Public Forum’ moment, when speaker Steven Davis addressed the Naperville city council regarding his and partner Graybar Electric’s bid for LED street lighting. The City of Naperville requested bids for the project, and their bid was the lowest qualified bid.

Watch and listen as Mr. Davis states his case to the council, followed by an understanding comment from council member (Steve Chirico), and then finished off by classic doublespeak from city manager Doug Krieger:

Does anybody have the slightest idea what city manager Doug Krieger was trying to say? That could be submitted to the Mensa Society (the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world) and most likely they’d have no idea what was just said.

So Mr. Davis , along with Graybar Electric followed the rules set by the city, came in with the lowest bid, yet the decision was tabled. It looks like city manager Krieger wanted to change the rules when the ‘game’ was over. That would be like playing a round of golf, and then afterwards announcing that high score wins. That doesn’t put the city in a good light, and it definitely erodes confidence with anyone wanting to do business with the City of Naperville.

It reminds me when the residents of Naperville voted overwhelmingly for District representation. It was a landslide, with almost 70% favoring the change to a more accountable representation. And how did the City respond to the wishes of  the huge majority; they decided to have a ‘do-over’ vote, and change the wording of the referendum to confuse the voters. It worked. Naperville city officials lost the respect of a huge segment of residents, but their desire to be respected is miniscule compared to their desire to keep their city council and officials positions.

As for Mr. Steven Davis, city manager Krieger gave him the perfunctory pat on the back, wished him luck in the future, and sent him on his way, thinking nobody would see or hear it. City councilman and mayoral candidate Steve Chirico, noticed it, I noticed it, and I’m sure anyone watching and listening to Krieger’s doublespeak also noticed it. If Krieger is going to do that type of stunt, he needs to do a better job of not making it so obvious, or the Naperville city council needs to look for his replacement.

Krieger also did not mention if he has completed his required participation in ‘harassment prevention and diversity awareness’ training. Apparently ‘transparency’ is just a empty word for city officials with no action.

Finally, there was no apology from any city official to Kim Bendis and her family, for the ‘hell’ city officials put them through with unnecessary legal bullying. (Please note the ongoing survey on the Watchdog home page).

October is ‘Bully Awareness Month’. I wonder if the Naperville city council is aware of that.

Oct 092014

The below guest posting was submitted to City Council Watchdog by Kevin from BrewerReviewer.com

The Naperville city council has been trying to determine what can be done regarding all of the liquor licenses in Naperville.  One of the proposed items is the restriction of beer size.  As a Zythologist (one who studies beer and beer making), I find the thought of craft vs. non-craft beer size restrictions as a bit of a strange argument.  The issue is that there is no exact definition of a craft beer or a craft brewery.  Typically this distinction is based upon how many barrels a brewer produces in a calendar year.  According to the Brewer’s Association, a craft brewer is considered small (producing 6 million barrels of beer or less or approximately less than 3% of annual US sales of all beer).  Additionally, the Brewer’s Association specifies that a craft brewer must also be independent and traditional.  These are vague terms with the exception of the 6 million barrels of beer or less.

Now to put this all into perspective, this means that in order for a beer to be considered craft, it must come from a craft brewery.  In order for the brewery to be considered craft, it must produce 186,000,000 gallons of beer or less per year.  Samuel Adams is the most widely known craft brewery and they proudly embrace the title of being a craft brewer.

Sam Adams - Craft Brewer

Naperville’s municipal code defines craft beer as being produced from a craft brewery that produces 2,000,000 barrels per year (62,000,000 gallons).  The issue is that this forces Naperville to police the amount of beer produced each year by every brewery around the world.

Almost any brewery can be considered a craft brewery and almost any beer can be considered craft (given the proper attorney and proper interpretation).  The problem is not craft vs. non-craft, but rather ABV (Alcohol by Volume).  Since the council is going to police how much alcohol a citizen can consume from a single serving (similar to New York’s ban on large “Sodas”), they must take ABV into consideration.  The typical spirit is 80 proof (or 40% ABV).  The average beer ABV of the over 37,000 beers on my website (brewerreviewer.com) is 6.8% ABV.  Since the council and staff are attempting to address how much is too much, perhaps they can narrow down the substitutions and exceptions based on ABV.  If a beer is over a certain ABV, then here is how much that must be poured into a single glass and how much can be left in the bottle.

During the September 16, 2014 council meeting, councilman Paul Hinterlong and Detective Mark English hit the beer size restriction on the head…what’s the point?  The restriction seems to only hurt some establishments and has no true benefit.

While Detective English makes the argument that a 12 oz beer has the same alcohol as a shot (1.5 oz) of hard liquor.  Just as hard liquor varies in alcohol concentration (typical range between 40% to 75.5% ABV), beer also has a range from 0.1% to the Netherland’s Start the Future which weighs in at a whopping 60% ABV.

After the council is done and the rules are set in place, above all enjoy your beverage responsibly.

Oct 062014

The Naperville city council meeting will be held Tuesday evening at 7:00pm in the Municipal Center at 400 South Eagle Street in Naperville.

Among other topics, the council will be discussing and likely making a decision on additional regulations on the serving of alcohol in Naperville.

We will also know whether or not any city official will apologize to Naperville resident Kim Bendis for the unnecessary legal action taken against her by Naperville city officials. Kim was absolved of any wrongdoing by a jury on Wednesday October 1. There was no announcement on the City of Naperville website.

Nor has there been any announcement during a city council meeting or on the city website as to whether or not city manager Doug Krieger has completed his required participation in ‘harassment prevention and diversity awareness’ training. This came after Krieger received a verbal reprimand following accusations by a departing Human Resource employee that he made ‘racially offensive comments’.

Naperville city officials have given the ‘talk’ of transparency, but when it comes to action, it’s anything but transparent. With candidates lining up for the municipal spring election, this would be an excellent opportunity, for a city official to step-up and make the apology to Kim Bendis and her family, and to make the announcement regarding Krieger’s training.

Let’s see what happens Tuesday night.

Oct 052014

The Naperville city council has a way of making things much more difficult than they need to be. Maybe they need to add a department that simplifies decisions and actions. It could be called the Department of Occam’s Razor, and the department head would be in charge of keeping it simple. ‘It’ being everything the city does. As referred to often by Watchdog, Occam’s Razor (a scientific and philosophic rule) states that ‘the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex”.

For example, the council has been wrestling with the over-serving  of alcohol problem in downtown Naperville for almost as long as they have had a liquor commission. Rather than keeping the solution simple, uncomplicated, and extremely enforceable, they likely will make it either miserably confusing or socially acceptable non-effective. It appears they will choose the latter.

Initially, solutions considered by city officials were so complex, it would have required an instruction sheet to be passed out to anyone considering eating a meal or having a libation when entering the city. It appears Naperville city council will choose action which is nearly the same as no action, including limiting late night entry, limiting the serving the size of beer and limiting shot service.

City council members were elected to do what is best for the residents of Naperville, not to cater to special interest groups including bar owners and the restaurant association.

Watch and listen to Naperville resident Roger McDonald as he presents an idea to the council during the last Naperville city council meeting, followed by a comment from councilman Joe McElroy.

How simple is that. Ask the residents what they want. Take a survey. Let their voices be heard. Then base the decision (solution) on the very reason city officials exist; to do what is best for the residents who elected them into office.

In the spirit of Roger McDonald’s idea, Watchdog surveyed its readers with these results:

“What should the Naperville city council do about the late night issues in downtown?

Cut back on liquor license concentration in downtown Naperville 51%
Cut back on serving alcohol by one hour 32%
Do nothing 13%
Do something else 4%
Have all staff BASSET trained 0%
Reduce the serving size of beer 0%

A few thoughts jump out with these numbers:

  • More than half of those responding (51%) believe the solution is the very thing city officials don’t want to do. (offend special interest groups and lose tax dollars)
  • No one (0%) thought that reducing the serving size of beer will do any good.
  • A high percentage (13%) believe nothing needs to be done. Watchdog thanks the high number of bar and restaurant owners, late-night revelers, special interest individuals and DUI attorneys for participating in this survey).

Watchdog acknowledges this was not a scientific survey. However, until Naperville city officials are willing to ‘ask the residents’, this survey will remain the most accurate.

Oct 022014

It was a great day for the residents of Naperville. As good of a day as it was for residents, it was as bad of a day for Naperville city officials including the Naperville city council, along with Mayor George Pradel and city manager Doug Krieger. When things are good for the residents, things are bad for city officials. Naperville city officials have created that inverse relationship.

On Wednesday, Naperville resident and mother, Kim Bendis was declared not guilty by a jury of her peers on a trumped-up charge of obstructing and resisting a peace officer. Kim Bendis is one of two Naperville moms who was cuffed and arrested for protecting her home and family from the City of Naperville’s forced installation of a so-called smart meter on her home. Naperville city officials sent installers and armed police to her residence to over-power her into submission. When she requested that they leave her property, they forcefully arrested her, and then installed the meter.

Naperville’s ill-advised actions gained national attention, most likely causing the city to drop to #33 in the rankings of most favorable cities in which to live.

Everybody knew city officials over-stepped the line of good behavior; everybody except the city officials who continued to make Kim and her husband’s life miserable by pushing the issue through the overloaded court system. City officials were doomed to lose again in court because the case was going to be decided by a fair and impartial jury of Kim’s peers. The Naperville city council doesn’t like it when a jury decides a case, they don’t like it when residents get to vote on an issue, they don’t like it when residents express their views. City officials don’t like it when they lose control. If it involves common sense, or wisdom, city officials lose.

This is the same city attorney who couldn’t get out of town fast enough when accusations were made that the City of Naperville promotes a hostile work environment. This is the same city manager (Doug Krieger) who was required to participate and complete a course in ‘sensitivity and harassment’ training. This is the same Mayor Pradel who presided over this travesty of justice by allowing the ‘cowboys’ on the city council to arrest residents. This is the same eight members of the city council who didn’t have the decency to stop bullying the Bendis family. This is the same councilwoman Judy Brodhead (the only woman on the council) who didn’t speak up in defense of Naperville women getting arrested for protecting their homes and families.

Not one council member spoke up in favor of doing the right thing. The bugle boy and the flag carrier (Grant Wehrli and Bob Fieseler) kept steam-rolling the residents. If you look up the word ‘bullying’ in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of the Naperville city council . While they were downtown pounding down some cold brews, the Bendis family was trying to defend themselves in endless court battles.

The three newest council members, Steve Chirico, Joe McElroy, and Dave Wentz, did nothing to stop the bullying. Not one stood tall and challenged the other members of the council. They allowed it to continue. Since those three were not part of the solution, that made them part of the problem.

Naperville city officials wasted tax-payer dollars in the pursuit of this sham of a court case. And they want to get re-elected, so they can do this again to other residents. If the election was held tomorrow, most likely they would all get tossed out of the council chambers. Shame on the Naperville city council, Mayor Pradel, and Doug Krieger for allowing this bullying of the Bendis family to occur.