Naperville City Council Paints Itself Into A Corner

It’s been said that we cause 90% of our own problems, and based on personal experience, I would agree with that. Certain things are going to happen that can’t be avoided accounting for 10% of our problems; a broken water main, cancellation of a flight, a meteor falling out of the sky into my backyard, etc. It’s the other 90% that we have a chance to minimize by planning and thinking ahead of time. My wife thinks I’m a pessimist because I tend to think about what can go wrong. I see myself as a realist by trying to avoid what can go wrong. It’s all how you look at it.

Back when dirt was new, and I was a young, I decided to paint the stairway to our finished basement. I started at the top and worked my way down to the bottom. Upon completion I stood back to admire the end result, and quickly realized that I had painted myself down to the basement with no way of getting back up until the paint dried. That was my first introduction to the 90% rule.

The Naperville city council has a tendency to paint itself into a corner, and it appears they are doing it again. This time by leading-on students from Neuqua Valley High School that changing the city flag is a good idea. Guard Dog’s earlier posting touched on the idea – It’s ok to say no.

Now it’s coming to crunch time when the Naperville city council is going to have to make a decision to either approve the idea and cost taxpayers a huge bundle of money to re-brand everything, or crush the students efforts and dreams.

On November 4, six students from Neuqua will be presenting the winning flag design at a TEDx event in Naperville. The winning design was chosen from nearly 130 entries by a public vote. Unfortunately one choice was not listed; keep the current flag. If that would have been one of the choices, the council would have had some ‘unpainted steps’ out from the corner.

As you can see from the previous posting, Naperville council members Patty Gustin and John Krummen fanned the flame of hope-eternal for the students giving them more belief that changing the city flag is doable. It’s doable if the council wants to spend tax dollars they don’t have. Remember, it was just a few months ago when the council voted to charge residents and needy groups a fee to use taxpayer funded meeting rooms throughout the city including the Municipal Center.

Does anyone on the Naperville city council have the courage to say ‘no’ to the students flag re-design and unnecessary expense. If not, then how about the next group of students from Naperville Central or North who want to present their flag re-design next year or the year after. Sooner or later, the council is going to have to say ‘no’. It might as well be sooner.

Show 4 Comments


  1. Jeff P.

    Put a donkey on the city’s flag and have done. It would accurately represent both the politics and the intelligence of this.

  2. Jim Haselhorst

    This article is a great illustration of the major problem with Naperville’s City Flag, which is simply that it employees the City’s Official Logo or Seal as part of the flag. This is also the source of great confusion, that if you change the flag then you will be re-branding the City, which is not true. The city made a major mistake when it decided to include the city seal on the city flag, a mistake other major city, which made this same mistake, have fixed.

    The reason city’s develop a brand is so businesses operating in the city can leverage this brand to draw customer to these city business rather then business that are outside the city. The largest examples being car dealerships and real estate. Presently these businesses can only use words to promote their Naperville presents, but the most effective marketing tool is imagery and the only images available all include the city seal, which is legally protected and can only be used if explicitly authorized by the city. And there in is the catch 22, the city attorneys over the years have repeatedly advised against the city granting this authority to anyone since it implies a city endorsement of that organization. This would make the city libel for that business’s action as well, which all the city’s attorneys have been and are against.

    The simplest solution for this problem is to redesign the city flag so it no longer contains the city logo or seal providing these businesses an image they can use without involving the city. The best know example of this is the City of Chicago flag. I have seen this flag on clothing everywhere I have traveled in the world, it is suppose to be the most well know city image in the world and that is how you build a brand without re-branding.

  3. Christopher Lawson

    Thanks for that “rest of the story”.

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