Dec 312014

This posting marks Watchdog’s 304th posting. The first posting Who works for whom was January 2011. Since that time Watchdog has had readers from all 50 States, including DC, eight of the ten Canadian provinces/territories, and 109 countries. Watchdog has had visits to the site from 2,267 different internet networks. The site has been viewed world-wide in 2,510 cities, including 261 cities in Illinois.

Chances are that most folks viewing the website have either moved away from Naperville,  or are considering moving to Naperville, along with folks elsewhere who are experiencing many of same concerns that Naperville residents have had, or are currently experiencing, or anticipate experiencing in the future.

Watchdog groups throughout the United States and other countries have started. It’s safe to say, that Watchdog’s Statement, Mission, and Vision have become a reality, not only in Naperville, but numerous places where those governed are becoming more aware of those who govern them, and how they are governed.

Our Statement has not changed:

“We are seeing watchful eyes at both the national and state levels of government; however at the local levels of government this misuse or abuse of government is running unbridled. There are over 230 million personal computers in our country of over 300 million people. No newspaper has ever attained that kind of circulation. This website allows that type of watchful eye.”

Our Mission is on target:

“Our mission is to provide the electorate with additional eyes and ears to see and hear the nuances of actions and decisions of their local government, and a watchful eye on those who spend our hard earned tax dollars, while promoting awareness among citizen-voters about incompetence, waste, mismanagement and taxpayer abuse by elected officials at the local level.”

Our Vision remains clear and focused:

“Our vision is a term-limited, representative local government based on ethics, transparency, and accountability whereby elected officials respect their constituency and act on behalf of the citizens they represent”.

Watchdog says ‘Thank you’ to all of our readers, to all those who have made comments or sent emails, to all of those who work to make things better for the rest of us, and to all of those who subscribe to the idea if better is possible, then good is not enough.

Watchdog also thanks the Naperville city council, and city officials for creating a reason for this website to exist.

Watchdog wishes you and your family a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

Dec 282014

Surveys and polls are not scientific nor are they accurate, however they are interesting. Watchdog’s just completed poll is a classic example. The numbers are accurate, but how they are interpreted and how they were submitted create interesting topics of discussion.

After two separate polls, culminating into a third and final poll to determine which Naperville city council member was most deserving of a lump of coal in his Christmas stocking, the results were as follows:

  •  Steve Chirico   74%
  •  Dave Wentz     19%
  •  Joe McElroy     4%
  •  Doug Krause    3%

Hence, based on the numbers, councilman Steve Chirico was the winner of a symbolic huge lump of coal in his  Christmas stocking. Please note that I said ‘numbers’ and not actual eligible voters. Who knows who voted and where the actual votes came from for any of the candidates.

For example, if Watchdog asked the question, “Which Naperville city official deserved the best gift in his or her Christmas stocking, it would have been easy to stuff that official’s stocking with votes from supporters of that candidate. By wording the question as Watchdog did, it eliminated that possibility, however the wording would then allow a candidate to ‘stuff’ an opponent’s stocking with negative votes.

Watchdog is not saying that happened, but it was interesting that in both polls involving Chirico, a huge number of votes were submitted over a very short period of time. which seemed more than a bit unusual, especially considering it was the same number of votes over the same period of time for each of the two polls.  Watchdog could blame it on the North Korea, or on a candidate who had much to gain by a rascally, political maneuver, however we won’t do that.

Councilman Chirico took the results of the poll in stride, and he positioned it in a positive manner, as is his style, and said the last time he was given ‘coal’ around Christmas time, it worked out pretty well for him. His wife’s name was Cole, and they were married around this time of the year. He followed that by saying, “so I guess I will just have to take my lumps”.

Councilman Chirico knows, that the real-deal poll happens exactly 100 days from now, on April 7, 2015, the date of the municipal election. He just might turn that lump of coal into a diamond.

Dec 242014

It doesn’t get any more exciting than this for local fans of municipal government. The first annual Final Four competition for the dreaded huge lump of coal, in a deserving city official’s Christmas (Holiday) stocking is ready to commence. The field of four is set. Joining the winner’s (losers) of the first survey of five (councilmen Steve Chirico and Doug Krause), will be the top two vote-getters (losers) of the second survey of five which are councilmen Joe McElroy and Dave Wentz.

The results of the second survey are as follows:

City Official Total Votes Received (% of total)
Dave Wentz 84 (45%)
Joseph McElroy 48 (26%)
Judy Brodhead 26 (14%)
Doug Krieger 16 (9%)
Paul Hinterlong 14 (7%)

Yes, that adds to 101%, but everyone knows that when it comes to government and numbers it’s never 101% accurate.

This is what your Final Four looks like. Vote for the Naperville city council member most deserving of a huge lump of coal in his Christmas stocking based on his body of work, or lack thereof, for this year 2014.

  • Councilman David Wentz
  • Councilman Douglas Krause
  • Councilman Joseph McElroy
  • Councilman Steve Chirico

The survey will run from Christmas eve day (December 24) through  Saturday December 27. The results will be posted Sunday December 28 when the City of Naperville’s most deserving city councilman for a huge lump of coal in his stocking will be announced.

Dec 212014

In professional baseball, one hit for every three at bats will get you a multimillion dollar contract and a potential ticket into the Hall of Fame. In medical school, one correct answer out of three questions will get you into another field other than medicine. In Naperville politics, attending one city council meeting out of three will get you a pay check, benefits, and the best seat it the house at most Naperville bars.

Such is the case with Naperville city councilman Grant Wehrli who has attended only one of the last three city council meetings since being elected to the State Legislature in Illinois’ 41st District. Getting elected as a Republican in that district required very little effort on Wehrli’s part. The same type of effort Wehrli has shown by being a no-show in two of the last three city council meetings.

One would think that Wehrli would either accept the responsibility of being a Naperville council member until he is officially in his new position, or that he would graciously resign from the Naperville city council, thereby allowing another individual the opportunity to do the peoples’ work. Councilman Grant Wehrli has done neither.

Wehrli’s campaign slogan should be, “What’s In It For Wehrli”. In this situation, he can pull a quarter-year’s worth of city salary, benefits and fame, for doing nothing. Not showing up for meetings, qualifies him as poster boy for a typical government bureaucrat.

In fairness the councilman Wehrli, he has done some good by being a no-show. Meetings now start on time, or close to it, meetings don’t last as long, and things are getting done or at least brought up for a vote.

So maybe Wehrli’s absence is a blessing, similar to what the Chicago Bears might do with quarterback Jay Cutler; just pay him to go away.

Dec 182014

Watchdog readers have ‘spoken’ and they say ‘let the downtown Walgreens sell liquor’. In our survey ending Tuesday night, before the Naperville city council meeting, 288 voters (one vote per household) expressed their preference by a 52% to 48% margin (150 to 138) to allow Walgreens to ring-up adult beverages to those adults wanting to imbibe.

Within an hour after the Watchdog polling closed, the Naperville city council voted 6 -1 to deny Walgreens their request to stock and sell alcohol. The one vote favoring Walgreens was Paul Hinterlong. Councilman Bob Fieseler recused himself from the vote, and council Grant Wehrli was once again a no-show for the meeting.

Watch and listen as councilman and mayoral candidate Steve Chirico comments on another survey (electronic newspaper, the Naperville Patch) as he refers to a “landslide” 83% vote in favor of Walgreens selling liquor.

So even though both surveys pointed in favor of Walgreens, the Naperville city council voted by a landslide of 83% to deny Walgreens and voters to have what they wanted; the opportunity to purchase alcohol.

Chirico mentioned that a vote of nearly 70% or above is ‘hard to find’ and something that city officials should pay attention to. How interesting that Chirico would say that, considering that in 2010, Naperville voters were nearly 70% in favor of District/Ward representation rather than ‘at-large’ representation. Naperville city officials were so shocked and concerned about their own political futures that they finagled a do-over vote, and with some tricky referendum wording were able to confuse voters and keep the then and current ‘at-large’ format of representation.

Also in 2010, voters were able to secure a landslide vote in favor of term limits which Naperville city officials have yet to honor. Their reason was they needed time to do it. Here we are five years later and no sitting Naperville council member is subject to term limits.

In fairness to councilmen Chirico, McElroy, and Wentz, they were not on the city council when the ‘do-over vote maneuver’ was hatched somewhere near or within the inky shadows of city hall corridors.

The current Naperville city council has six meetings remaining (111 days) until the next Municipal election. Whichever council members are not re-elected will experience an immediate term limit. When that happens, those city officials might wish that the downtown Walgreens could sell liquor that night.

Dec 142014

Wasting money comes natural to Naperville city officials. They’re good at it because they have had a lot of practice doing it. And why not; it’s not their money. As lame-duck councilman Grant Wehrli said recently during a council meeting, “It’s only $38,000” when referring to an expenditure. Whenever the city is short of funds, they simply extract it from the residents and businesses in Naperville.

Of course they will try to think of other ways to cover the shortfall for a few minutes, but they always go for the easy fix; just squeeze it out of of the folks who elected them.

When I’m walking down the street and notice a dime on the ground, I’ll pick it up. If I can save a few cents on the price of a gallon of gas, I’ll do it. I feel like I’ve conquered the day if I happen to find a great the price on a gallon of milk. So when I found out that the Naperville Electoral board was spending $5,951 for less than a full day of work to knock a mayoral candidate off the ballot, who had announced earlier in the week that he was withdrawing his candidacy due to the residency requirement, it caught my attention like a gallon of milk for $50.

Withdrawing his candidacy should have been enough to save the nearly $6,000 but the Naperville Electoral Board moved forward eager to waste tax payer’s money. The former candidate’s attorney offered and requested a continuance since the former candidate was on vacation with his family. The proceeding could have been stopped thereby saving additional money and time from being wasted, but Electoral Board member, and lame-duck Naperville councilman Grant Wehrli opposed the request for continuance because being on vacation is not a ‘compelling reason’ to delay. If that’s not a good reason to stop the proceeding, how about saving a good chunk of that $5,951; wouldn’t  that be a good enough reason.

So how does the City waste $5,951 in the amount of time it takes the meeting to come to order, then adjourn, everyone to leave, and then turn the lights off. Well leave it to the City of Naperville’s bureaucracy to pile on attorney’s fees, police fees, clerk’s office fees,and  legal staff fees, and this doesn’t even include the cost of coffee and donuts.

Dec 092014

Two senior writers at City Council Watchdog take different positions on the question posed in our recent poll, “Should Walgreens in Downtown Naperville be allowed to sell liquor (adult beverages)?”.  Their takes are below in this City Council Watchdog exclusive Point|Counterpoint.

Watchdog’s Take (Walgreens Should Not Be Able To Sell Liquor In The Downtown Naperville Location)

Downtown Naperville Where Chaos Meets Mayhem

Walgreens, “The Pharmacy America Trusts”, “Where Happy Meets Healthy’. Wow, it doesn’t get any better than that does it? It sounds like Utopia or Iowa. That’s where we all want to be isn’t it? And what could make the experience even better? How about being able to haul packaged liquor out to your car, and getting a cheap buzz-on before venturing a couple of blocks north to downtown Naperville where chaos meets mayhem near the corner of Chicago and Washington. No matter what direction you head towards from there you’ll find loads of people and loads of establishments more than willing to intensify the buzz with all sorts of libations.

And if by chance those establishments pull the plug on your desire to keep intensifying, you can always go back to ‘The Pharmacy America Trusts’ to get some brew-to-go and a carton of cigs before trying to find your car and venture out into the night.

Walgreens is seeking and will get Naperville city council approval to sell liquor in all but one Walgreens store in Naperville; that one store is the downtown store. Walgreens wants approval, but will not get it….yet. The Naperville city council wants to approve that store, but won’t, at least not yet anyway. Walgreens wants the profit liquor will provide, and city officials want the tax dollars that liquor sales will provide.

So why not approve it now? Well, city officials say that Walgreens is the victim of bad timing. A couple of downtown liquor-related deaths, and a lot of downtown liquor-fueled kerfuffles resulting in mayhem and chaos created the bad timing. If Walgreens suits and city officials are waiting for the right time, they might be waiting for a long time.

Watch and listen to councilman Joe McElroy, as he takes the discussion to an interesting point, when he asks the Walgreens representative about the logic of selling cigarettes where ‘happy meets healthy’ in the ‘Pharmacy America Trusts’.

Kudos to McElroy for asking the brain teaser, however take-away the ‘kudos’ for not pressing for an answer. The Walgreens suit answered with a non-answer in the spirit of Naperville city manager Doug Krieger. And yes, the topic was liquor, not cigarettes, but it would have been nice to get a straight answer. This is supposed to be where ‘happy meets healthy’, not where political double-speak meets corporate double-talk.

And why in the world would Walgreens and city officials prefer to have a pharmacist on duty when liquor is available for sale? Maybe it’s so the pharmacist can slide a case of beer and a carton of cigarettes through the prescription pick-up window. Pharmacists are required by law to provide counseling when dispensing, so the questions would be ‘do you want a six-pack or case’, and ‘do you prefer regular or menthol’ ?

Guard Dog’s Take (Walgreens Should Be Able To Sell Adult Beverages In The Downtown Naperville Location)

In Naperville, Favoritism Doesn’t End At The Corner of Happy & Healthy

Walgreens is looking to the Naperville city council to assist with giving the people what they want.  The people have asked that the nation’s largest drugstore chain sell adult beverages.  While in normal situations, this would not be an issue, but the Naperville city council has put alcohol on their to-don’t list and they are pushing back on Walgreens and are trying to prohibit the sale of alcohol in the downtown location (on the corner of Aurora and Main).

It seems that the Naperville City Council favors certain businesses over others.  The Lantern, Twisted Olive and Tasting deVine are all located in the downtown area and all offer packaged liquor for purchase and consumption elsewhere.  It wasn’t too long ago that The Lantern had a tax issue and was on the verge of having their state issued liquor license revoked due to tax issues.

Additionally McDonalds was too successful of a business model to be on the corner of Washington and Hillside (former Citgo location).  Now that the council shot down the McDonalds, it looks as if the site will be used for a Dunkin’ Donuts.  Both McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts serve food but apparently the city council was not pleased with the McDonalds business model.  The McDonalds block could have also been because Burger King is just down the road.  I am not sure who owns the Burger King but the city (along with North Central College) own the desolate plot of land next door.  Perhaps allowing McDonalds would have affected sales at the Burger King and was blocked.  Using this same thought process, would allowing Walgreens to see liquor affect the sales of The Lantern, Twisted Olive or Tasting deVine.

Not liking a business model is made plain by councilman Joseph McElroy when he pushes the Walgreens representative to see if perhaps Walgreens would consider no longer selling tobacco products then the council would allow liquor sales (video below).

While the council cannot control everything, they can certainly try.  Give the people what they want.  If people don’t want liquor sales at the Walgreens downtown location, then the people will place their votes by not buying the adult beverages.  After all, cash is king.

When anyone can walk into Chipottle, Noodles & Company or any number of “Restaurants” in the downtown area why should Walgreens be singled out and not allowed to give the people what they want?  It all reminds me of the unnecessary panic spurned by this 1936 film.

That’s the guard dog’s take…and have a perfect day.

Dec 072014

With only seven Naperville city council meetings remaining (121 days) until the Municipal election, council and mayoral candidates are beginning to position themselves, not only on the ballot, but also in their differing views of Naperville’s legislative action plan.

During last Tuesday night’s council meeting, it came down to needs vs wants. Mayoral candidate Doug Krause focusing on needs, while mayoral candidate Steve Chirico focused not only on needs but also on ‘wants’. One of those ‘wants’ is the possible Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert venue northwest of Naperville and Warrenville roads on land owned by Alcatel/Lucent.

Watch and listen as Naperville councilman Steve Chirico outlines his vision of a legislative action plan for Naperville:

This was followed by councilman Doug Krause’s priority list of needs for Naperville’s legislative plan:

So which mayoral candidate is right, and which mayoral candidate is more right than the other on this topic? Krause says let’s focus on less with a better chance of getting some funding, while Chirico says let’s focus on more with a better chance of getting more funding. I’m a numbers guy, and the chance to get more, sounds better than the chance to get less. And just as it’s the State Assembly’s responsibility to take care of the State, it’s the responsibility of the Naperville city council to take care of the city and its residents, hence Chirico trumps Krause on this issue.

Just because the City asks for funding doesn’t mean they will get it, however if they don’t ask for it, they are guaranteed not to get it. Even a one in a million chance is better than no chance.

The State of Illinois is in financial trouble, there is no debating that. Hence common sense would say, let’s ask for nothing. But common sense never seems to enter the equation when it comes to politics and money. It’s been said that the State of Illinois slogan should be, “He who has little should have less, and that which he has shall be taken away”. If the City of Naperville (residents) have more, they have a better chance of keeping some of it.