Nov 302014

Actions of the Naperville city council have caught the attention of Watchdog groups, not only in Illinois but also elsewhere. Over the last several months a group called Illinois Leaks, commonly referred to as Edgar County Watchdogs, has been observing and monitoring Naperville city officials and their dealings with residents, along with business matters in general, and they have determined that there is need for great concern. Additional information will surface in the coming months.

This should come as no surprise to anyone, other than city officials. Members of the Naperville city council along with city manager Doug Krieger have made some serious mistakes in judgment and actions, which were brought to light by the national media, including residents being arrested for protecting their homes, families, and constitutional rights.

Watch and listen to Illinois Leaks co-founder, Kirk Allen as he speaks to the council during the Public Forum portion of the city council meeting and among other comments asks council members three questions:

  • Do you agree that your oath of office is meaningless if  you don’t uphold it?
  • Do you agree that our laws are for the purpose of limiting government power?
  • Do you agree that when laws are broken, corrective action must be taken?

Mr. Allen mentioned that public trust in government is at an all-time low. This is exemplified with the following two Illinois Leaks article links:

‘City Of Naperville Uses Private Detective Agency To Investigate Citizens’

‘Naperville Hired PR Hitmen To Convince Residents That A Smart Grid Was A Good Idea’

It’s been said that 90% of a person’s or group’s problems are self-inflicted. Naperville city officials are proving that to be true.

Nov 262014

Sometimes you know it’s not going to be a good call when you look at caller ID or hear someone’s voice, and invariably you’re right. Same thing happens when you look at the ‘From’ line on an email, or go to your mailbox and look at the sender’s name, most notably when bills arrive.

When is the last time you received something in the mail from the City of Naperville and you were excited to receive it. The last time it happened to me is when I received an electric bill from the city and realized it was my neighbor’s bill mistakenly delivered to me.

The City of Naperville is not a source of good news for residents. Watch and listen to resident Sandy Glass when she addressed the Naperville city council during the Public Forum portion of the November 18th meeting as she refers to unwanted ‘Merry Christmas’ wishes from city officials.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Naperville city officials had good news for residents. Maybe a city owned vehicle with a loud speaker driving by your house and thanking you for watering your lawn on the right day at the right time. Or using the loud speaker to recognize a home owner for painting his or her house. Maybe even stopping by a lemonade stand and buying a cup of lemonade while congratulating the kids for working to earn money. Or how about surprising residents now and then with a letter in the mail thanking them for helping to make Naperville a great place to live.

Councilman Paul Hinterlong, during the same meeting, did make an effort to provide residents with a ‘Merry Christmas’ when he mentioned water rates might not increase as much as planned.

It’s almost like someone saying, that rather than hitting you in the head four times with a two-by-four, they were going to do it only twice. Now there’s a reason some joy.

In fairness to councilman Hinterlong, he did give an assist to Mother Nature, and he did add a bit of needed humor, to the meeting. Now if only we could get fewer of the typical ‘Merry Christmas’ wishes from Naperville city officials, we’d all be much happier.

Nov 232014

We’re not talking about the Illinois Lottery (You have to play to win), and we’re not talking about former Governor Blagojevich’s scheme to sell the Illinois senate seat to the highest bidder which landed him in the Greybar Hotel.

What we are talking about here, is the appearance of the ‘Grim Reaper of city officials in’ the form of citizen John Kraft when he used his three minutes of Public Forum time to ‘out’ Naperville councilmen Dave Wentz and Joe McElroy, alleging that both have been delinquent in their electric utility payments to the city, which under state law disqualifies each from serving on the city council.

Watch and listen as John Kraft states his case, followed by McElroy interacting with the speaker, while Wentz is conspicuous in his defeaning silence:

McElroy was supposedly late 6 times out of 30, and councilman Wentz totally outdid McElroy by allegedly being late 22 times out of 24. It seems like it would have been in Wentz’s benefit if he could have been late in all 24, thereby using the excuse he has been using the wrong calendars (1913 and 1914) for the last two years (plausible deny-ability).

Acting city attorney, Jill Pelka-Wilger, chimed in by suggesting that Kraft file a complaint with the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office, since it’s not the City Council’s decision to unseat a council member. I had the feeling while watching the drama unfold, that Naperville councilman Bob Fieseler was ready to make a citizens-arrest and drive both McElroy and Wentz to the State’s Attorney’s office.

Citizen Kraft suggested in so many words that both McElroy and Wentz should resign on the spot,  pack up their lunch boxes, and leave. However both stayed, which made sense, since it was very cold outside.

McElroy’s 24 out of 30 equates to a success rate of 80%, or good enough for a low ‘B’ grade at any Ivy League school. Not bad. And Wentz’s 2 of 24 success rate (8%) might qualify as a back-up QB for the Bears.

It’s a good thing that I’m not a Naperville council member, since I too would have been called out by citizen Kraft. Just last month, I realized I hadn’t paid a Cook County property tax bill because the bill had been sent to a wrong address. I paid it, including the late fee, but that would have qualified me to be in Fieseler’s car along with McElroy and Wentz. Mistakes happen, but 22 out of 24, that’s a stretch even for a politician.

Nov 202014

Something was missing from last Tuesday’s Naperville city council meeting. That ‘something’ was lame duck councilman Grant Wehrli. He no sooner gets elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, and he becomes a no-show for his city council responsibilities.

When he was last elected to the Naperville city council, 11,003 residents took the time to vote for Wehrli, but he didn’t take the time to show up for the meeting. In essence he breached his contract with those who voted for him. Wehrli said during the election that he wanted to represent the residents, and 11,003 voters said “O.K, represent us”.  His contract with those voting for him was like a promise, and the nature of a promise is that it remains immune to changing circumstances. Well, so much for Wehrli’s promise to residents.

It’s possible councilman Wehrli was doing something ‘important’ and couldn’t make it to the meeting. Maybe he was meeting with lobbyists downstate, maybe he was decorating his new office, maybe he was admiring himself in the mirror. It’s also possible that he really had a legitimate reason for ‘blowing off’ the meeting. Unfortunately issues do arise, health or family-wise that need immediate attention. And if that’s the case, then we truly hope the situation is resolved. The fact of the matter is that he was a no-show. A simple communication would have been appropriate; ‘Councilman Wehrli couldn’t attend the meeting tonight because of pressing issues.’

If any the rest of us don’t show-up for work, we call the boss and inform them of the reason. It’s simply a common courtesy no matter what the reason. Councilman
Grant Wehrli has a ‘boss’; it’s the people who elected him, all 11,003 and also the other 130,000 who he supposedly represents.

When it comes to a promise, apparently councilman Wehrli is only as loyal as the options which he has available.

Nov 162014

For the last 20 years or so, my best buddy and I have been going to a high school football game every Friday night during the regular season, then every Saturday for the playoffs, finishing off with four State Championship games (12 hours outdoors) on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

He played for Lockport and I played for Barrington (back when dirt was new), so we always catch a few of their games. For the last two years we’ve focused on Naperville Central games since his son is the starting center, and I live in Naperville, so it makes sense.

When I woke up today, we still had NCHS and Barrington in the playoffs. They were two of the remaining eight teams. By the time the sun went down, so did our two teams. Barrington lost to Glenbard West, while Simeon had their way with Naperville Central. A three-quarter game would have been great, since they both lost in the final quarter. Each made a fumble that caused their seasons came to a quick end.

It won’t be long (142 days) until municipal elections (April 7). Some city council members time at the dais will come to a quick end if they’re not among the top eight vote-getters. Now twenty weeks and two days may seem like a long time, but when you consider what’s coming, it can go by quickly, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and maybe a run-off election or two. If the snow is anything like last year, as soon as we shovel 80+ inches of snow, we’ll be voting.

It’s late in the game for this city council, it’s 4th and ten, and any type of fumble can make the difference between who wins and who loses. It doesn’t take much to sway a small number of votes between the person elected with the fewest votes, and the one not elected with the most. Just ask Naperville city councilman Dave Wentz who was elected with the least votes (4,475), while highest losing vote-getter (Kevin Coyne) came in with 4,346 votes. 129 votes made the difference between getting elected and not getting elected. One fumble and the season is over.

Nov 092014

We’ve all been in this situation, at one time or another. We have no idea what we’re talking about, but we try dazzle someone with double talk. It starts early in life trying to make excuses for something we did wrong. Later it happens in school, when we’re writing an essay about something to which we don’t even understand the question, let alone the answer to the question.  It again surfaces when we have to tell our boss about a major screw-up we made, or trying to explain to our wife or husband why we didn’t do what we said would do.

It happened to Naperville city manager Doug Krieger during last Tuesday’s Naperville city council meeting regarding a tax levy, when  Naperville city councilman (and mayoral candidate) Steve Chirico asked Krieger a simple and direct question about what happens if the budget is six or seven  million dollars short of funds. Watch and listen as Krieger tries to obfuscate his way through the question, followed by Chirico tactfully re-asking of the question, and finished off by city manager Doug Krieger “trying to think”

Krieger’s thought process was very similar to the following  ‘Larry, Moe, and Curly’ Three Stooges moment:

It was rather humorous, while being a bit painful, to hear Krieger stumble his way through an ‘answer’ that he should have been  prepared for. The job of a city manager is to provide meaningful information to the city council in order for the council to make wise decisions. Anything less than that is a dis-service to the council and to the residents of Naperville.

Credit has to be given to councilman Chirico for not letting Krieger’s non-answer slide through, as most council members have a tendency to do with Krieger. Chirico’s ability to do that, in large part, is due to the fact that he owns and operates a successful retail business in Naperville; he understands what it takes to succeed in business.

Which takes us to the logical conclusion. The City of Naperville needs a mayor, council members, and a city manager who understand what it takes to operate and manage a successful business, because in essence that’s exactly what the City of Naperville is. Overall, conditions in Naperville are good, however if ‘better’ is possible (and it is) , then ‘good’ is not enough. Naperville needs and deserves first-class leadership, because ‘Larry, Moe, and Curly’ aren’t getting it done.

Nov 022014

This Tuesday’s Federal and State elections may give us an idea of what will happen during next spring’s municipal election when all eight Naperville city council seats are up for grabs along with the mayor’s position.

By all indications, accounts, and polls, voters are not a happy bunch, and it’s possible that many incumbents will finish the day on the outside looking in. Could this happen in Naperville? The answer is absolutely yes.

As it stands now, of the nine Naperville city council members, four will not be on the next city council. Those four include Mayor George Pradel (retiring), Bob Fieseler (not running for re-election), Grant Wehrli (running for state representative), and either Doug Krause or Steve Chirico (both running for mayor) with one likely winning, and the other, out the door.

If Tuesday’s election is a measure of contentment for incumbents, it’s possible that up to four sitting council members could be unseated from the council. Those four include: Judith Brodhead, Paul Hinterlong, Joe McElroy, and Dave Wentz. Even if only two of the four are ousted, that means two-thirds of the Naperville city council could be new.

It appears the most vulnerable of the four include council members Brodhead and Wentz. Brodhead because of her image of being ‘an empty seat’, and Wentz because of his ‘Do you know who I am’ dealings with some local businesses. Lately Brodhead has attempted to be more noticeable, creative and independent in thought, and Wentz has toned it down a bit with his ‘I can make or break you’ attitude, however it may be too late to overcome their negative images.

Both Hinterlong and McElroy appear to be more secure in their effort for retention. Hinterlong garnered the most votes of any candidate in the last election, and McElroy fills a needed role on the council by being more common sense, open-minded, and pragmatic. Plus both have the ‘likeability’ factor.

Overall, seats on the Naperville city council are for the taking, and this is an ideal time for non-incumbents to take a seat at the dais.