Aug 282016

There must be times when Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico thinks he is dealing with a dais half-full of misfits. Of course he would never admit to it. He has too much class to do that, and the fact is that he has to work with the other eight council members. Wouldn’t it be interesting to crawl into his mind occasionally when he is driving home after a council meeting reflecting on the night’s events and the folks he had to listen to.

If it wasn’t for the ‘need’ to be politically correct, I’m sure he would have some classic comments for folks addressing the council and other council members wanting face-time during meetings. For example, during the last Naperville city council meeting, councilwoman Rebecca Boyd-Obarski brought up an idea about BASSET (Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training) in Naperville. Currently all servers of alcohol in Naperville are required to take the training, and then be re-certified (with training and education) every three years, which also is a State of Illinois requirement. Councilwoman Obarski would like to see re-certification be changed to yearly rather than every three years. Watch and listen as Obarski presents the idea:

Are you kidding me. Every year. That’s outrageous. Let’s take it a step further. Let’s do it monthly. Or better yet, why not require every server to review a one-minute Cliff Notes style video version of the training before serving any alcohol drink. I mean if a little bit of training (every three years) is good, then more training yearly has to be even better. And before serving each drink would be the best. Naperville likes to set a high bar (pun intended) when it comes to being first or the best with everything. Being the first kid on the block with a new-style Pogo stick is not always a wise idea.

This is a classic example of councilwoman Obarski’s mind-set for over-regulation. No consideration is given to unintended consequences. Fortunately for businesses and residents of Naperville, Mayor Chirico (who is also the liquor commissioner) is sitting behind the steering wheel at the dais and can tactfully lead the council in the right direction, which is exactly what he did.

How refreshing it would be, if he could occasionally say, “councilman/councilwoman, you must be nuts”. For those of us  viewing it online or live on TV, we have the luxury of not needing to be PC.

Aug 242016

In Naperville the age to purchase cigarettes is 18, while the age to sell them is 16. It seems like a disconnect, and the Naperville city council wants to rectify it by raising the age to sell to 18. Makes sense doesn’t it.

Now that the Naperville city council is back to work after having only one council meeting over a two month span of time, they are eager to taste the addiction of regulation by going all-out in considering and approving ordinances. One of the many under consideration is to increase the age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21.

Watch and listen to councilmen John Krummen and Paul Hinterlong along with Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, discuss the issue:

It looks like Krummen really doesn’t like cigarettes, in fact, he hates and despises them, and if he can make it more difficult to buy them, he’s all for it. It makes sense to me. I hate and despise garlic. If I were a councilman, I’d want to make it next to impossible, if not impossible to sell and purchase garlic in Naperville.

I get it, cigarettes are not good for your health. However garlic isn’t so healthy either. People can be sensitive to the smell and can find it difficult to digest.

Cigarettes can kill. So can garlic. Besides gastro-intestinal distress, it can cause muscle aches, and fatigue. Driving while fatigued is not so good. Garlic also lowers blood pressure. That’s not so bad, unless you’re on blood pressure meds. The additive effect can be disastrous. Some folks are allergic to garlic, causing allergies, causing possible skin rashes, causing interesting conversations while waiting in the check-out line at Mariano’s.

I am all-for regulating garlic out of existence in Naperville. If councilman John Krummen really ‘hates’ and ‘despises’ cigarettes, why not really make a difference, don’t simply raise the age limit to 21, make a statement, and support regulating cigarettes out of existence in Naperville. He’s up for re-election in 2017. This could make or break him. Why not toss in garlic at the same time. Based on that, he just may win my vote.

Aug 212016

If you want to sell a used car, slice and dice cheese with your newest slicer and dicer invention, or announce your candidacy for city council, you can do it during the Public Forum portion of the Naperville city council meeting. You’re given three minutes to sell whatever you want, while the nine-member Naperville city council hears your pitch. They may not be listening, but they do hear it.

Watch and listen to Robert Morris University, Director of Admissions, Panoea Bakutis as she uses her three minutes to pitch the exciting news of a 50% discount:

You have to hand it to Ms. Bakutis, using the city council public forum as a marketing tool is really clever. It begs the question, ‘why isn’t this done all the time’.  Apparently, you can say whatever you want (within good taste), sell whatever you want (make sure it’s a good price), and even stand there and say nothing, as long as you don’t go over your three minutes. But wait, it gets even better. You can have others, let’s say ten, join you in pitching your product, idea, or service and each gets three minutes. That results in a 30-minute infomercial, and it costs you nothing. It doesn’t get any better than that; free advertising.

The only downside is not many people are watching and even fewer are listening. Attending a council meeting is not a ticket in high demand. Watching it live on NCTV is always an option, and viewing the council meetings on the city website, leaves much to be desired in terms of quality. Naperville city officials were excited about improvements to the city website, but viewing previous meetings online was not one of the improvements.

The key to success for speakers making a pitch during public forum is to get one or more council members to respond. Typically that doesn’t happen, but if it does, and if it results in one of those memorable moments qualifying as a Watchdog embed in a posting, you can get your infomercial out to not only Naperville, and Illinois but the entire country, other countries, and even a small island in the South Pacific. Your pitch could be a winner. The video embed could also help define a one-term council member.

Aug 132016

Be careful what you vote for, you just might get it. When the current Naperville city council was seated in 2015, there were six new members on the nine member council. The only holdovers were Paul Hinterlong and Judith Brodhead as council members, along with former council member and new Naperville mayor Steve Chirico. If you had to describe the current city council in one word, the word would be ‘boring’. If you could use two words, it would be ‘very boring’. Not that boring is bad because it isn’t. It’s just boring relative to previous members of the Naperville city council.

What happened to the good old days, when the Naperville city council had its share of characters at the dais, who were anything but boring? Council members like:

  • Dick (let’s make headlines at the Lantern) Furstenau
  • Grant (I have a road and stadium named after me) Wehrli
  • Kenn (the second ‘n’ is silent) Miller
  • Bob (let me tell you something buster) Fieseler
  • Joe (I may look disheveled, that’s because I am) McElroy
  • David (do you know who I am) Wentz
  • Doug (let’s run for mayor and lose four times) Krause
  • Jim (I have no patience for residents) Boyajian
  • and former Mayor George (I’ve been here for a long time) Pradel.

These were council members who left lasting impressions and memories in the form of Watchdog video embeds in postings. They were council members who weren’t afraid of making fools of themselves, proving it numerous times,  and they had the courage to take opposing views against common sense. They were council members who would make residents say, “what did he just say?”, while other residents would say, “that makes no sense whatsoever”.

Agree with them or not, (and usually the Watchdog didn’t), they took a stand and didn’t rubber stamp the view of the majority. As misinformed as they were, they spoke up and expressed their dissenting viewpoint. And most importantly they did not subscribe to the idea that it’s “better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt”. No, those Naperville city council members spoke out and removed all doubt.

This gets us back to the current Naperville city council. It’s basically a rubber-stamp governing body. Very little dissent, very few opposing views, circular conversations regurgitating the same thoughts. Has there ever been a group who have said so little, in so many words, taken so much time, to vote unanimously on so many issues. I think not. Boring, without a doubt.

Again, boring is not bad. I am probably the most boring person I know. I’m so boring that I have one friend, and he doesn’t even like me, he never takes my calls, and if by chance I get through, he hangs up on me. I know boring when I hear or see it. And I see it and hear it often during council meetings.

Aug 112016

The Naperville city council may need to be re-educated about conducting council meetings considering that between June 22 and August 15, a period of 55 days, there was only one Naperville city council meeting (July 19).  During that nearly eight week period of time, the city was working quite efficiently. Fewer meetings meant fewer ordinances, less regulation, fewer unwise decisions, and fewer problems. It sounds like a formula we may want to explore.

When you think about it, why do we need all those council meetings? Wouldn’t one per month be sufficient? And why do we need all those city council members? Nine seems to be redundant, when three council members would be more efficient. If council members spoke less, and residents spoke more, I think our Founding Fathers would be proud. Naperville has nine city council members, while our country had seven Founding Fathers (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Franklin and Hamilton). They built a foundation and framework for our country. One would think that if they could do that, then Naperville city officials could be more efficient and effective by streamlining their words and actions.

When the Naperville city council approves an ordinance, it often times has more words than any amendment in the Bill of Rights. In fact, there are more words in Naperville’s liquor ordinances than there are in the Constitution of the United States.

The Naperville city council is in a power struggle with a Naperville Township supervisor to reduce the inefficiency and redundancy of government. It’s a good idea. It would also be a good idea to do the same within the City of Naperville.

Aug 072016

Well, here they go again, Naperville city officials want to go into partnership with another company, Trillium, a private compressed natural gas (CNG) provider. The Naperville city council will be considering throwing in $300,000 to the $2 million cost for construction for a CNG station to be built near Jefferson and Ogden on city owned property near the Naperville Test Track. The property would be leased to Trillium in a ten-year contract.

Naperville’s portion will come from Chicago’s Drive Clean Station Grant Program, which Naperville city officials see as free money, but as we know, it’s not free money. It comes from somewhere, and that ‘somewhere’ is us, the taxpayers.

Naperville city officials have tried previously to go into ‘partnership’ with various groups for ventures which have proven to be a total disaster for residents and businesses including the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency. Electric rates in Naperville have skyrocketed, with no end in sight, and apparently no way to get out of the contract that the Naperville city council so abundantly and mistakenly approved.

The problem with Naperville city officials is that they often don’t think things through and don’t consider unintended consequences.  They chase the “free money”, vote ‘yes’ on an issue, and then wonder later how they got duped. The problem then becomes the residents’ problem. As Naperville City Manager, Doug Krieger, arrogantly stated, “when you dig a financial hole, the way to fix it, is with more cash, and the way you get more cash is from the rate payers”:

Naperville Public Works Director, Dick Dublinski said the station would provide fuel for 25% of the City’s fleet of about 500 trucks which would be converted to operate on CNG. This is not an inexpensive process. If it’s such a great idea, why not convert the entire fleet? The answer might be ‘wiggle room’. If the City is going to make another mistake, they want it to be a 25% mistake, rather than the 100% mistake that IMEA has turned out to be.

Supporters for CNG state the following supposed advantages:

  • Cleaner and cheaper fuel than gas or diesel
  • Relatively abundant compared to fossil fuels
  • Easier to transport and store
  • Less harmful to the environment

Critics of CNG, state the following as some of the disadvantages:

  • CNG vehicles cost more than the gas or diesel versions of the same vehicle
  • CNG vehicles have a shorter range than gas or diesel vehicles
  • The fuel economy of CNG vehicles is lower than gas or diesel counterparts
  • CNG requires more space in the engine cylinder, thereby reducing the amount of air in the engine, resulting in reduced power
  • Converting gas or diesel vehicles into CNG vehicles is expensive, negating any fuel savings.

Dublinski referring that CNG is better for the environment, said “That’s what we do in Naperville.”  The same can be said for ‘not thinking things through’.

Aug 042016

More and more blue lights are being turned on throughout the country, as a show of support for police officers nationwide. No one knows for sure when the idea began. One story is that Dolly Craig had the idea in 1989 when her son-in-law Dan Gleason was killed in the line of duty with the Philadelphia Police Department in 1986, followed by her daughter’s death (Dan’s wife) in an auto accident in 1989. Another story is that former Charles City, Iowa police officer Brian Ward, heard about a Houston, Texas police officer being gunned down, also in the line of duty, decided to illuminate his porch with a blue light, as a show of support for police officers nationwide.

Dolly Craig is long gone, and Brian Ward has moved on, but their legacy lives on, in the form of respect and support by honoring police officers for doing their job of keeping law and order, serving and protecting,and allowing the rest of us to live our lives in a safer environment. A blue light is also a remembrance of those who have died in the line of duty, acting as our protection and shield.

A simple idea, a blue light, and an impactful show of being forever grateful. Naperville city officials might want to consider this as they contemplate Naperville’s future streetscape. In the meantime, a blue light at  the municipal center, would be a thoughtful start.