Jun 282015

Some things are just not enjoyable, in fact they can be downright painful. Things like a letter from the IRS, or a dental appointment, or free tickets to a White Sox game. They can be miserable experiences.

Unfortunately the same can be said about appearing in front of the Naperville city council asking (pleading) for a variance in a code, as was the case during the June 2 council meeting when homeowner Dean Batotowski presented his request to install a pass-through circular driveway on his property. Watch and listen as he presents his idea:

Appearing in front of the council is the current day version of a public flogging. When the dust settled and the vote was taken, it wasn’t even close.

Eight votes against the homeowner, and one vote in favor (Kevin Gallaher). The homeowner simply wanted approval to improve his property allowing his family to enjoy life just a bit more without hurting anyone. None of his neighbors objected. No harm no foul, but that’s not how city officials saw it.

Move ahead to the June 16 city council meeting when the homeowner asked city council members, via email,  to reconsider his request with modifications. The homeowner simply requested the council to listen. The vote to extend the courtesy was taken requiring this time a two-thirds ‘yes’ vote to approve the motion to reconsider. One would think that a resident-friendly council would welcome the opportunity to listen to a resident with a unanimous 9-0 vote, but not so with this council. Watch and listen to the council vote on whether or not to watch and listen to the homeowner:

The vote to listen was 6 to 3 in favor. The good news is that the homeowner can present his modified request. The not-so-good news is that council members Judy Brodhead, Patty Gustin, and John Krummen didn’t have the slightest interest in listening to a resident. Apparently they think they are busy, busy people with no time to listen, but isn’t this what they signed-on for when they campaigned for council membership.

Brodhead, Gustin, and Krummen were also probably pre-occupied with their devices when former council member Bob Fieseler shared his words of advice for new council members on the day they took their oath of office. Watch and listen as eight-year council member Fieseler encouraged the new council members to “Keep the human touch” and to “go lightly”.

Apparently Brodhead, Gustin, and Krummen were too busy to listen to Fieseler. For them, the discussion is over.

Jun 212015

Some ideas seem so simple or logical. Like the guy who first invented the wheel, or the hula-hoop, or the idea of kids selling lemonade from a sidewalk stand making a few dollars. Who is going to find fault with that, other than city officials using police to shut the kids down.

Some city officials have a tendency to make things more difficult than they need to be, while other city officials employ common sense and come up with creative ideas.

Both were on display at the recent Naperville city council meeting when Mayor Steve Chirico floated the idea of creating a position of honorary mayor emeritus for former mayor George Pradel. That’s brilliant.

  • Former mayor Pradel loves to help out and attend events
  • He has the time and experience and desire to stay involved.

Who could possibly withhold support of that idea? Council members Paul Hinterlong and Rebecca Boyd-Obarski, that’s who.

Obarski is concerned about an ‘honorary’ title rather than creating a position with strings (duties) attached. It sounds like Obarski wants to make it more difficult than it needs to be. Isn’t that typically how government (city officials) tend to be; taking the simple and making it complex.

Hinterlong who voted ‘no’ along with Obarski, has reservations about council members being obligated or pressured to bestow the mayor emeritus title to mayors in the future. That’s a sad commentary about the inability of council members to vote on the merits of an issue, and being pressured to make the wrong decision, rather than simply making the appropriate decision.

If there ever was or will be a mayor of Naperville who deserves the honorary title of mayor emeritus it would be George Pradel. He served 30 years on the Naperville police force and then 20 years as mayor of Naperville. That’s a total of 50 years of service. Fifty years ago, Hinterlong was a twinkle in his daddy’s eye, and Boyd-Obarski didn’t even know what a hyphen was, and Pradel was already helping Naperville by helping people.

The council needs to invoke Occam’s Razor (keep it simple) and embrace Mayor Chirico’s idea. If Hinterlong and Obarski are still uncomfortable singling out George Pradel for this honorary position, then let’s include Mayor Joe Naper too. They both did a lot for Naperville. Pradel wants to do it; let him do it while he is still with us.

Jun 142015

It’s taken at least five years to hear these words from a Naperville city council member, but it finally happened. Can you believe that! Newly elected Naperville city councilman Kevin Coyne took a solid stand and dared to utter the words “I don’t know that we have to expand government” as the council gets closer to considering a Mandatory Crime-Free ordinance, or the licensing of landlords. City officials don’t say those words. Most city officials live to squeeze residents and business with regulations and overreach. He proceeded those words by saying, “I’d be reluctant to support this under any circumstance.”

City council meeting agendas, typically show a “Closed Session” beginning at 6pm, but next Tuesday’s closed-session meeting is scheduled to start at 5:45pm. One could surmise that the extra time is necessary for the other eight council members to drag councilman Coyne into the inky shadows of the municipal basement and ‘tune him up’, gauntlet style, so that those words are never to be spoken again.

By doing so, Coyne has separated himself from the regulatory heard of council members and become a leading voice for residents. He is not just another Cheerio in a bowl of Cheerios, he is the strawberry on top. Or if you don’t like strawberries, how about a blueberry.

Last April’s municipal election had 20 candidates running for city council and four running for mayor. Few candidates (including Nancy Marinello), ran a campaign listing less regulation or less government expansion as part of their platform. Even Coyne waited to get elected, before standing tall with that comment. It will ring loud and clear with voters during the next election (in less than two years) when he likely will run against other 2-year term incumbents Brodhead, Gallaher, and Krummen. The next election is for a four year term, and Kevin Coyne clearly has an American Pharoar head start.

Jun 092015

It was just a few years ago that Naperville officials were promising residents that not-so Smart Meters would save money on their electric bills. That was part of the propaganda that officials used to push the idea. The Naperville city council along with city manager Doug Krieger pushed the idea so hard and fast, that they had to resort to handcuffing and arresting residents who dared to protect their homes and families from the forced installation of the unwanted meters.

The City of Naperville pushed so hard, that one resident was pushed into the court system. The resident, after spending emotion, money and time was found not guilty in a jury trial; the City of Naperville lost, which means Naperville tax payers lost. City officials never lose money or time personally, so they have no problem dragging residents through the court gauntlet also known as municipal bullying.

That was the previous Naperville city council, not the current one. It was also the previous Mayor, and the previous Chief City Attorney, both of whom are gone. In fact, the only current city council members remaining from the initial vote to approve the not-so Smart Meters are Judith Brodhead and Paul Hinterlong. The other seven city council members who approved the initial vote for the meters are long gone.

There is a third current Naperville city councilman who was instrumental in getting the meters approved, and that is councilman John Krummen who was one of the Naperville Smart Grid ambassadors. Those were the folks whom city officials ‘planted’ in the audience during council meetings to help push the not-so-smart meter fiasco. Who can erase the sight of Krummen slouched over the podium, addressing the city council, while taking side glances over his shoulder at the audience. If only someone would have suggested to Krummen to raise the microphone, it would be easier to erase the memories of his slouched-over presentations.

By the end of the summer, the score will be two electric rate increases and zero savings to residents.

And whatever happened to all those electric charging stations throughout Naperville that were supposed to serve all those anticipated alternative fuel vehicles? Remember those electric vehicles that council members would tool around town, for a minute or two before they would return to their gas powered sedans and SUV’s in the inky shadows of the municipal parking lot.

The only way I can get the image of Krummen slouched-over the podium off my mind, is to picture the previous council members all piling into an electric vehicle. It reminds me of when I was a little kid going to the circus and watching clowns getting into a clown car. It was really funny then. It’s sort of funny now, except that it’s the residents who are left paying for the council’s unwise decisions.

Jun 062015

Sometimes we never know what we have until we have it, and that holds true with Naperville’s six new city council members. After just three city council meetings we have learned a little bit about each that may begin to define their long-term idenity.

Mayor Steve Chirico gets meetings started on time, keeps the meetings moving, and takes charge in an assertive yet friendly manner, occasionally adding a bit of humor or wit to lighten the moment.

After the second meeting we learned that two council members, Hinterlong and Gallaher, are more than willing to vote on something they know little or nothing about (e-Cigs). We also learned the councilwomen Anderson and Gustin, are eager to the point of being in a rush to regulate without more thought or information, and councilwoman Boyd-Obarski has the ability to use faulty logic to make a decision based on an illogical conclusion.

Councilman Kevin Coyne continues to be an enigma, because every time he speaks, he makes good sense.

Incumbent council members Judith Brodhead, along with Paul Hinterlong continue to be who we thought they were.

Councilman Krummen gave a glimpse of himself when he took a hard stand against anything looking like, sounding like, or rhyming with e-Cigs. Then at the last council meeting Krummen confirmed his hard-line, hard-nose, 99% inflexibility position on the issue of sign guidelines. Watch and listen as Krummen states his position:

So he is a “firm believer in strict sign guidelines 99% of the time”, and “will vote against any sign variance”, followed by Chirico’s wit, “that’s very unfortunate for the next 99 petitioners”.

Considering that Krummen wants to be a person of his word, he will save a lot of time by not driving around looking at the next 99 petitioner’s requests for sign variances.

I had a friend who graduated pharmacy school with me (career two out of four for me) and he continued on to medical school. Upon graduation from medical school he and I went to dinner, and he said “I am not going to be one of those doctors that writes prescriptions all the time”. A number of years later, we went to dinner again, and I asked him if he was able to maintain his position on writing prescriptions. He said, “no, because he learned that if many his patients didn’t walk out of his office with a prescription in hand, they didn’t think they were getting their money’s worth”.

I guess you can call that learning on the job, or real-world situations, or the need to use common sense, that one-size doesn’t fit all, 99% of the time.