If you don’t know that Naperville has a test track, you’re not the only one. In fact, a lot of Naperville auto dealerships don’t know either, or more likely they don’t care enough to participate in the association of dealerships who use the test track. Why is that? That’s the question that Naperville councilwoman Becky Anderson asked Public Works Director, Dick Dublinski. Watch and listen to Dublinski’s answer, or is it an answer:
“It’s a philosophy I guess” and, “the assumption is other dealerships haven’t bought in yet”. What kind of answer is that? What is surprising is not Dublinski’s answer, but the fact that not one council member asked for some clarification. It appears that no one on the council cares enough to get an answer, and the person being asked the question skates.
It happens often with this council. Say what you will about the previous city council, and I did, one thing for sure is that council members such as Krause, McElroy, Wehrli, Boyajian Furstenau, and Fiesler didn’t hesitate to challenge double-talk. Some of them were experts in using the ploy, but none of them wanted to be taken as fools, by listening to nonsense and not challenging it.
Councilman Kevin Coyne will challenge with a ‘what are you talking about’ response, and occasionally Gallaher, Hinterlong, or Krummen, will ask a follow-up question, but for the most part, this council blends into the woodwork. Mayor Steve Chirico does a good job at keeping the peace and moving things along, but too often questions that need to be asked, are not asked, which can be interpreted as they don’t care.
$4.1 million was invested into the test track which started ten years ago and only 13 dealerships participate, according to city attorney, Mike DiSanto, however 14 are listed on the city website. The results aren’t impressive, if you break it down by the number of uses per day per dealership (3).
The test track is a classic example of how the City of Naperville operates like a government bureaucracy, because that’s exactly what it is. It works something like this. Come up with what they think is a great idea. Spend tax dollars to make it happen. Then let it marinade, with little if any follow-up and no promotion. It looks good on somebody’s end-of-the-year review. It’s called socially acceptable non-productive behavior, and nobody does it better than government.
The good news is that the nine-member city council has two successful business owners; Mayor Steve Chirico (flooring) and councilwoman Becky Anderson (bookstore). They understand profit and loss statements, the importance of watching expense, promoting and advertising, and providing outstanding service for repeat business. They are making the effort to move the city from being an inefficient bureaucracy to becoming successful business for its stockholders and customers (businesses and residents).
What we need is a city council willing to ask the difficult questions, and not willing to be taken as fools.