Apr 292015

It seems very unlikely that what happened in Ferguson (Missouri) or Baltimore could happen here in Naperville, but it could. Only a fool or maybe a city official would say it’s impossible. It wouldn’t take much. Somebody breaking the law. Then not following a police officer’s instructions. Then running. Then getting injured, shot, or dying. Then for the rent-a-mob, near-do-wells to pour into town. Then it’s Ferguson or Baltimore. There aren’t that many dots to connect for something to go terribly wrong.

The ‘then’ question would be, what would city officials do? The ‘now’ question is, do they have a plan, and more importantly do they have a policy in place.

Having a plan oftentimes becomes very fluid depending upon circumstances. That’s why Plan-B’s are more successful than Plan-A’s. But when it comes to a policy, that’s more concrete. So the real ‘now’ question is does Naperville have a policy in place to cover that type of civil unrest, or more appropriately the mob-mentality of destruction.

Just as city officials like to point out that the River Walk is the crown jewel of Naperville, those who are hell-bent on making a statement with destruction, might consider a Napeville-type of town a ‘crown jewel’ venue with the world’s eyes watching. Would city officials have the courage to take a stand, draw a line, support law-abiding citizens, and police enforcement, or would they do as the Baltimore mayor along with city officials did when they said, “Give those who wish to destroy space to do that as well”:

We don’t know what the new mayor and city council would do, but if they do what the outgoing city council did at the last city council meeting, by not enforcing the rules and being intimidated by a full crowd in council chambers, then we would have a huge problem if  Baltimore or Ferguson occurred here.

Which part of town would city officials allow to be destroyed. The west side of Washington Street, the south side of Chicago Street, the southeast corner of Chicago and Washington. What’s the policy? I’m sure business owners would like to know if their establishments are in the unprotected zones.

Being a Ferguson or Baltimore, no doubt, it’s a very unpleasant thought, but those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.

Apr 262015

The next Naperville city council has their work cut out for them. The departing city council ‘took the night off’ at last Tuesday’s city council meeting, by sitting back, letting things unravel, and kicking the proverbial can down the road.

The “can” being the topic of whether or not to adopt a resolution to support local government empowerment and reform legislation in the State legislature.

Decisiveness and courage have never been a strong points of the council and they proved it again at Mayor Pradel’s final appearance as the holder of the gavel. In fact with constant bursts of intimidation (applause) by the overflow crowd, not once was the gavel used to bring things back to order.

City council meetings have rules including:

  • Speakers are allowed three minutes to make their point. This rule was not adhered to.
  • Applause (bursts of approval or disapproval) are considered forms of intimidation, and not allowed. But it was allowed this time over and over and over again until it began to sound like an Academy Awards Ceremony.
  • The total time allowed for all speakers is limited to  30 minutes, but the council sat on their hands and allowed it to continue for closer to two hours than one hour.

The bottom line to the meeting was the Naperville city council was intimidated into doing nothing. They allowed an overflow crowd of 600+ to control that segment of the meeting, and when all was said and done, nothing was accomplished.

There may be 60,000 voters in Naperville in favor of Governor Rauner’s attempt to save the State of Illinois, but council members could only see as far as the group of 600+ in front of them.

Whether or not you’re in favor of the union’s side of the issue, or the Governor’s side will be decided in one way or another; the ship (State of Illinois) either sinks or floats.

What is rather appalling at this council’s last meeting is the double standards and double-speak they subscribe to.

When a very well-behaved group of Naperville residents (Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group) tried over and over again to stop city official’s forced installation of Smart Meters and used the public forum at city council meetings to address the same council, the council:

  • would not allow speakers to speak over three minutes. In fact, often times speakers we’re required, at the last minute, to reduce their planned and practiced 3-minute presentation, to one or two minutes.
  • would not allow anyone to show support with applause, or risk being forcefully removed by police from the council chambers.

What should have been a ‘Champagne and cookies’ night for this council’s last meeting, turned out to be a total waste of time. The topic should have never been on the agenda. It wasn’t fair to the next city council, it wasn’t fair to the residents, and it wasn’t fair to either side of the issue.

What was the purpose? What in the world were they thinking?

Apr 182015

This Tuesday’s city council meeting in Naperville, will be Mayor George Pradel’s final chance to pound the gavel. His 20 years as mayor, is a record that will not be surpassed, because term limits will take effect. The longest any Naperville mayor, including mayor-elect Steve Chirico can serve is 12 years; three terms of four years.

Mayor Pradel was not one to rely on the gavel to silence speakers, however he seems to truly enjoy ‘announcing’ proclamations. Well actually he’d run a council member up to the podium to read his proclamations.

It’s been said that on your final day of work, you can do anything you want, and that includes Mayor Pradel. He can do whatever he wants, including firing off a litany of proclamations.  Watchdog has come up with a list of ten proclamations that the mayor might want to consider announcing this Tuesday including:

  • Nickel-beer Night When You Bring A Hammer. Anybody bringing a hammer into the downtown Naperville can get as many 5-cent beers, as they want.
  • Wehrli-way Year. Re-name all the streets, avenues, and roads in Naperville Wehrli-Way for one year with option to renew the proclamation each year.
  • More Affluent Sister Cities Year. Only Sister Cities that are more affluent than Naperville can be considered.
  • Kim Bendis Proclamation. All future council members taking the oath of office will be required to say, “I will never allow a resident of Naperville to be bullied by city officials again…..never…. ever.
  • Ordinance-Variance Day. All variances are approved.
  • Hinterlong-Marshall-Uber Week. Anybody screaming the name ‘Hinterlong’ before getting into a Uber car gets a free ride paid for by the Hinterlong-for-council campaign fund; any short fall in finances would be covered by non-police-chief Bob Marshall’s double dip pension fund.
  • Ceremonial Scissors Month. All city employees needing to use a scissors are required to use a 3-foot ceremonial scissors to cut everything.
  • No Dicks On The Council Decade. No one with the name of Richard or Dick can become a member of the city council.
  • Liquor License Vending Machine Weekends. Need a liquor license for the weekend; get one from a 24-hour liquor license vending machine.
  • Water Street Project Preparedness Year. Anybody can park wherever they want, including leaving your car in the middle of the street in downtown Naperville.

This is Mayor Pradel’s final opportunity to leave a lasting legacy. 20 years makes a great celebratory cake; 10 useful proclamations makes an even better frosting.

Apr 162015

In my previous career, I was responsible for hiring executives throughout the country. Out of every 20 applicants, ten would be phone screened, four would be invited in for an interview, and one would be hired. One out of twenty (5%) was the norm.  The corporation could afford to be very selective, because they were an employer of choice by executives looking for an opportunity.

Getting hired in today’s economy is no easy task at any level including entry level jobs. For almost every available job, there are numerous candidates looking to get hired.

However there is one place where 40% of the candidates interviewing for a position get hired, and that place is the Naperville city council; 20 candidates and eight were ‘hired’ by the voters. Where else can almost half of the job seekers get hired. So getting hired is easy. Percentage-wise, it might be more difficult getting a job at McDonald’s than getting elected to the Naperville city council.

The voter turnout was ridiculously low, which usually favors incumbents, but only two of the four incumbents were elected, and one of the two (Judy Brodhead) was elected to a second-tier two year term. In fact, of the four council women elected, she came in 4th place. Not a strong showing for an incumbent. Based on the results of this election, Brodhead may be looking at her last term.

Mayor-elect Steve Chirico began campaigning almost two years before the election, which means it might be in Brodhead’s best interest to start campaigning now to retain her council seat.

There is no better place to campaign, than during city council meetings where every word and every vote is recorded for residents (voters) to hear and see.

May 5th will be the first Naperville city council meeting for the new city council members. Getting elected is easy;  getting the job done is not so easy. It’s on that date and forward, that we will begin to hear and see which council members would have been “better to remain silent, and thought a fool, than to speak out, and remove all doubt”.

Apr 122015

Naperville’s new city council members will take their oath of office on May 3. Brain teaser: Can anyone name two members of the new council? Ask the average Naperville resident, and if you do hear two names, you will probably hear the names George Pradel and Doug Krause, both of which would be wrong.

The mayor will be new in position (Steve Chirico) and six of the eight city council members will be new. It’s possible any of the eight, could not name the other seven. Chances are good, if you ask any of the six new members what they are reading, and the answer will be Robert’s Rules of Order.

The first couple of Naperville city council meetings should be quite entertaining. They will have to remember that only the first and third Tuesday nights are council meeting nights, then they will have to remember where their seats are located at the dais. Fortunately there will be a name plate in front of their seats, which will help.

Probably the busiest person at the dais will be city attorney Jill Pelka-Wilger as she corrects motions and procedures incorrectly stated by council members. Incumbent council members Paul Hinterlong and Judy Brodhead  have seniority, and still occasionally have to be set-straight with proper wording.

The second busiest person at the dais will be newly elected Mayor Steve Chirico who will be surrounded by 75% ‘freshmen’. Everybody has their first day on the job at sometime in their life, but six out of eight at the same time is a formula for some chaos.

Of the nine members on the council, Watchdog endorsed five. Neither Paul Hinterlong (let’s set-up Uber for failure in Naperville) or Judy Brodhead (chickens don’t bark) were endorsed, so unless something changes with either, we can expect to see the same based on the past.

The other two which were not endorsed, but could surprise Watchdog are former council member Kevin Gallagher and John Krummen. It almost appeared that Gallagher forgot it was election night when a local reporter knocked on his door for a comment.

John Krummen (Ambassador for Smart Meters) now becomes the face for the Smart Meter fiasco since most of the council members who supported the ill-advised venture have departed.

New council members Patty Gustin, Rebecca Boyd-Obarski, Becky Anderson, and Kevin Coyne should be a welcome addition to the council and help Mayor Chirico move the council in a positive direction.

The big question, is whether or not this new city council can do something the outgoing council could never seem to do; show respect for other peoples’ time by starting the meeting on time at 7:00pm sharp. We’ll have to wait 23 days to find out.

Apr 092015

Some thought it would be a landslide vote for mayoral candidate Steve Chirico, others thought it might be a horse race to the wire. If it was a horse race, then Chirico (10,671 votes) was Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes  winning by a margin of two to one over Doug Krause; (5,172 votes).

Chirico put up ‘Pradel-like’ numbers against Krause, thereby also retiring Doug Krause from the Naperville city council after more than a quarter-of-a-century of service on the council (1989 – 2015).

On May 3, when the new council takes the oath of office, Krause will officially become a footnote in Naperville politics. Krause holds a record that will be difficult to beat; five runs for mayor, and five straight second-place finishes, surpassing the Buffalo Bills four attempts to win the Super Bowl.

Mayor-elect Steve Chirico will now become the point-person centered at the dais, flanked by the city attorney and city manager, along with two incumbent council members (Brodhead and Hinterlong) and six new council members. Name tags would be suggested.

The current Naperville city council has one remaining meeting (April 21), then it will be out with the old and in with the new. Newly elected council member Kevin Gallagher is part of the new, and also part of the old, having served on the city council previously (1995-2002). What do you call a city council candidate who comes in 8th place? Yes, you call him councilman.

Given Gallagher’s 13 year absence, means we may not have seen the last of councilmen named Doug or Dick.

Apr 052015

Sometimes timing is everything. The topic of this last posting prior to the municipal election was going to focus on knowing who not to vote for, being  as important as knowing who to vote for, and specifically calling out Dick Furstenau as being the candidate not to vote for.

The posting was nearly completed, when the Chicago Tribune and Naperville Sun published two “Letters To The Editor”, April 2 and 3  from Naperville Mayor George Pradel and former Naperville city manager Peter Burchard (1998-2007) which were devoted to the same theme;  Furstenau is not good for Naperville residents. Watchdog scratched the nearly completed posting in favor of printing both ‘Letters To The Editor’ below.

Pradel: Furstenau motives ‘not good’ for Naperville residents

Before you cast your vote for any candidate, please check their background and verify their reasons for running for office and if they want to represent you or if it is something personal that they feel they can change about Naperville.

There is one candidate, Richard “Dick” Furstenau, who previously served on our City Council and was unanimously censured for this actions as a councilman. Censured means that we (the City Council) strongly disapproved of his conduct and actions as a councilman. Dick, in my opinion, is a bully and certainly is not a team player.

He filed a lawsuit against the city, which was later dismissed, but cost the taxpayers (you and me) over a $1 million to defend.

Dick had his chance to serve on the council and because of his conduct brought the position of Naperville councilman to the lowest level ever.

I want you to visit the website of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 42 for some very interesting facts. The website is http://www.factsfirst.net.

My time serving with Dick has been very trying and unpleasant at times. His motives are self-centered and not for the good of all the residents.

I pray that the wonderful candidates will be triumphant who are seeking the position of councilman for the right reasons.

Thank you for allowing me to share my concerns openly. I have never written to the editor of any newspaper in my life because I only want to say positive comments about everything and every issue.

Thank you all for letting me serve as your mayor for the last 20 years.

George Pradel


Former city manager: Furstenau ‘should finish dead last’

As the former city manager and now a non-resident of Naperville I have nothing to gain by inserting my two cents into the City Council race. Only my heartfelt desire for ethical and professional government leads me to speak about the many reasons why Dick Furstenau should finish dead last in the field of candidates vying for the Naperville City Council.

First, while serving as a Naperville city councilman, Dick ran in a primary election for state senate. He lost.

A short time after his loss he sent me a letter demanding that the city of Naperville reimburse him for the cost of the election.

He blamed the city of Naperville for his election loss. I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. The City Council refused his demand for money. Dick Furstenau, a sitting councilman, sued the city. Furstenau’s demand for money from the city of Naperville was ultimately dismissed by the United States District Court but only after taxpayers paid over $1 million defending the frivolous case.

Second, Dick Furstenau, while serving as a city councilman, was arrested for misdemeanor battery against a Naperville police officer. He was not convicted. In my office in city hall, Dick demonstrated how he “barely touched” the officer when he swatted his chest with the back of his hand.

Third, in 2007, Councilman Dick Furstenau was formally reprimanded by the Naperville City Council when it publicly voted to censure him for his inappropriate behavior toward employees and actions while serving as a councilman. This unprecedented step by the City Council focused on how Dick acted contrary to his oath of office.

As city manager my goal was to work closely with the mayor, City Council, employees and the community to provide the most effective and efficient public services possible. While it is rare for a city manager to speak up, I still feel the obligation to remind those who share my principles that a wolf in sheep’s clothing wants in again.

Peter Burchard

Naperville City Manager, 1998 – 2007

Watchdog’s reasons for beginning the blog are outlined in our Statement/Mission/Vision. Dick Furstenau has violated at least one aspect of each of those platforms and for those reasons, along with those outlined by Mayor Pradel and former city manager Peter Burchard, he is not worthy of the vote. Since Watchdog began posting, Furstenau was the first ‘to go’ and needs to stay gone.

Apr 012015

A week from today, we should know the results of this year’s municipal election. With 23 candidates running, four for mayor and 19 for city council, there could be some narrow margins for those who get elected and those who don’t, and for those council members elected to four year terms, and those elected to two year terms.

Just about all the candidates have said this is a very important election, since every council position is up for grabs. Unfortunately most of the questions that were asked to candidates, were softball questions, which resulted in canned, typical, scripted, politically correct responses; no Shark Tank questions.

Fortunately enough candidate information was available to separate the top candidates, from the bottom candidates, but nobody, other than mayoral candidate Steve Chirico really separated himself from the crowd. Chirico did this by starting his campaign very early, and once started, his campaign never took the foot off the accelerator. It was a very well-run, efficient campaign with a definite purpose at each step. There didn’t appear to be any mis-steps.

Candidate campaign signs seemed to blend in together. At first there were just a few campaign signs on a street corner, and now there seems to be a forest of signs at many street corners. Enough of them, that none of them stand out, until today, when I saw a sign that really stood out.

It was at the northwest corner of Bailey and Oxford, between Naper and Washington. I did a double take when I saw it, and I thought ‘did I really just see that’. I turned around to make sure what I saw was correct, and sure enough it was. It was a professionally-done campaign sign with the name ‘Krause’ on it, and a diagonal line from lower-left to upper right was professionally drawn through the name ‘Krause’. Much like any other sign where the diagonal line means ‘no’.

I decided to park and take a picture of it for this posting, but by the time I parked and walked back to get a good picture, the sign was gone. Just like that, it had disappeared. The sign worked. It caught my attention, and obviously the attention of the person who removed it. Finally a sign that separated itself from all the others, not because it had Krause’s name on it, but because it was ‘original’, at least to my eyes.

As I drove to my destination, I tried to remember other signs or slogans that were original, and I thought of two, “I Like Ike” (President Dwight Eisenhower), and “My man Mitch” (Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, 2005 – 2013).

I thought if I ever ran for office, the first thing I would do is change my name to Ike or Mitch and plaster signs all over the place. Then after getting elected, I would change my name back to Bob.

There’s nothing catchy about ‘Bob’ other than the movie “What About Bob”, or the fact that ‘Bob’ can be spelled forward or backward and still be the same. However, if I ran against a guy named ‘Otto’, my advantage would be erased. I then reached my destination which wasn’t a sign or printing shop.