Nov 202016
 

Here we go again. Naperville city officials are trying to wrestle away the authority of Naperville Township highway commissioner Stan Wojtasiak. It’s like a pack of wolves trying to corner a pit bull and take away it’s stash of filet steaks; Wojtasiak won’t let loose.

In a nutshell, the filet steaks represent the budget for road maintenance services in Naperville Township. The City of Naperville says it can do it better and for less money, than the Township and Wojtasiak says ‘no way’.

The Naperville city council, is trying everything it can do from using common sense, to threatening all-out political pandemonium to get Wojtasiak to acquiesce, and he won’t have any part of it. The council has even resorted to using public embarrassment of Wojtasiak, but that doesn’t work with public officials and pit bulls. When it comes to power, money and control, that trumps everything, including the will of the people.

In the recent election, city and township residents voted overwhelmingly (almost 90%) in a non-binding referendum to have the City of Naperville do the job for less. In fairness to the Wojtasiak, the question on the referendum was so slanted towards the City, who in their right mind could vote against it. Yet a few thousand folks did vote against saving money and having their property tax reduced. It’s doubtful that Wojtasiak has that many relatives, friends, and patronage folks, wanting to keep the status quo, but it’s possible.

Both sides are using the Golden Rule, which is, he who has the gold makes the rules. The gold of course is our tax dollars. Neither side has that much interest in conserving those dollars, but at least the City is making an effort to reduce if not eliminate wasteful townships. If anyone is going to waste taxpayer dollars, it should be the City, right?

Why not just bring this charade to an end. Give him a job with the City at the Municipal Center. Give him a title, some business cards, a yearly salary (less than his current budget), and an office at the end of the corridor in the inky shadows, with no responsibility (much like he has now). Give him the title of Director for the Department Of Silly Walks.

It’s amazing to think that President-elect, Donald Trump, could get the Country back on the tracks, in less time than it takes the City of Naperville and the Township Supervisor to figure out a solution to who is in charge of wasting taxpayer dollars.

Nov 162016
 

One would think that being linked to a really bad decision, would cause someone to want to distance himself as far away as possible from the spotlight of that decision, but not so in the case of Naperville Director of Public Utilities – Electric Mark Curran. On November 4 Curran received the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA) Board Member of the year award.

In what may have been the second worst, if not worst decision, ever made by Naperville city officials, the City of Naperville contracted with IMEA in 2007 to purchase electricity as its source of electric for residents and businesses, not for one year, or 10 years, or 20 years, but for 28 years until the year 2035. The Cubs may have another 19 World Series championships by the time the long-term, outrageously iron-clad contract, with absolutely no performance provisions included, comes to an end. The horrible Iran nuclear deal on the national level is what the IMEA-Naperville deal is on the local level. Bad business. Naperville city officials should be ashamed of themselves for being so naive.

But there is Curran, the poster boy, accepting his award for his commitment to Naperville’s more than 59,000 electric accounts; a 28-year commitment for outrageous electric rates. Curran should be thanking the Naperville city council, and legal department for approving the contract. Let’s not leave out Naperville city manager Doug Krieger for over-seeing the entire debacle.

IMEA has 24 board members, with one board member (Curran) representing Naperville, though Naperville represents almost 40% of the agency’s buying power. There are 32 public electric systems as part of the purchasing consortium, with Naperville being the largest investor by far with that 40%. Naperville city officials blew it big time and the residents and businesses of Naperville are left with high electric rates that are going higher and higher.

This was followed by another hideous decision by the Naperville city council to forcefully install Smart Meters on the homes of residents and businesses with the promise that it would save users money. As of today, not one dime has been saved by anyone in Naperville. Current city council members Judith Brodhead and Paul Hinterlong were part of the council that approved the heavy-handed installation of those meters, with the blessing of Smart Meter ambassador John Krummen, whom is also on the city council now. Both Brodhead and Krummen are up for re-election next April.

In case you’re wondering what was the worst decision ever made Naperville city officials, that happened around 1970, when Naperville decided to say ‘no’ to what is now Westfield Mall in Aurora. Developers of the mall wanted the City of Naperville to approve the mall to be built on the southeast corner of Rt. 59 and Aurora Avenue. City officials voted ‘no’ because of the increased traffic. So the mall was built across the street in Aurora, resulting in the same amount of traffic, and the City of Aurora benefiting from 41 years worth of sales taxes. At least the 28 year bad deal will come to an end, but the continued loss of sales tax will go on and on.

Naperville city officials can’t seem to get it right. They vote ‘no’ when they should vote ‘yes’, and they vote ‘yes’ when they should vote ‘no’. And who remains to pick up the pieces? The good folks of Naperville, that’s who.

Nov 132016
 

Hey, call me a deplorable, but I can’t get the grin off my face. Within a matter of six days. the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, and Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. In terms of sports and politics, it doesn’t get any better than that for me.

I have had so much fun watching and listening to exciting Cub games culminating in the ‘impossible’, and then following the Presidential campaign as Trump was given no chance by the media, pundits, and the political establishment, to prevail, and he prevailed. You can now call Donald Trump, ‘Mr. President-elect’. The silent majority, also known as the ‘forgotten person’ has spoken loudly at the voting booth, and is no longer ‘forgotten’.

Here’s the good news, we get to have another election in 141 days. It’s the City of Naperville municipal election with four Naperville city council positions up for grabs. Just as Trump wants to and will ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington, D.C., Naperville residents will have the opportunity to cherry-pick the weak links off the council and replace them with no-nonsense candidates who want to de-emphasize over-reach regulation.

The four current council members up for re-election include Judy Brodhead, Kevin Coyne, Kevin Gallaher, and John Krummen. They represent the four council members who had the lowest vote totals during the last election, resulting in each of the four having two-year terms, while the other four (Anderson, Gustin, Hinterlong, and Obarski) were elected to four-year terms, and will up for re-election in 2019 along with Mayor Steve Chirico.

If nothing changes between now and the April 4 election, Watchdog would be endorsing one for sure and possibly two of the four for re-election, while one is a definite go-away, and the other a likely go-away. If any of the four think they are ‘sure-things’ for re-election, they just need to watch President-elect’s inauguration on January 20, which is what Hillary Clinton will be doing; watching from afar.

Just as millions of people are not happy with politics on the national scene, resulting in the outcome, there are many Naperville residents not happy with the over-regulation of the current city council, and the rubber-stamping decisions of the majority of the Naperville city council. There are more and more groups of residents watching and listening to council meetings and they are very upset with wasteful spending, far-reaching regulation, and ill-advised decisions based on faulty information provided by non-elected city officials. Residents can’t fire non-elected city officials, but they can hold city council members accountable and ‘fire’ them through the ballot.

On a lighter note, does anyone know the last time the Cubs won the World Series? If you said 1908, that would be wrong. It was 11 days ago. Amazing and magical things can happen.

Nov 092016
 

Somebody at Starbucks on Naper at 75th street, must have really upset a Naperville city official, because that Starbucks was denied a liquor license. Every other business in Naperville requesting a liquor license seems to have no problem being allowed to sell alcohol. Makes no difference if you specialize in selling chocolate candy, or cutting hair or a soon-to-be teaching floral-arrangement business, Naperville city officials are all too eager to get the alcohol flowing out those doors.

The question is no longer, ‘why do city officials want liquor flowing throughout Naperville’, the question is why not make it available to anybody and everybody who wants a license to sell alcohol? The Naperville city council is doing it anyway. Rather than granting licenses one at a time and wasting everyone’s time with a bureaucratic process, why not simply write an ordinance allowing alcohol for all. Naperville city officials like to be trend-setters, be it good or bad trends, why not make a huge statement and say, “you want alcohol, you can have alcohol”.

Let’s finally see how many people and vehicles the City of Naperville can cram into the confined area of downtown Naperville, and how much alcohol can be sold before the saturation point is reached.

The most-recent business requesting an alcohol license is Creations by Stem, it’s a floral arrangement business wanting to serve wine and beer when teaching flower arrangement classes. I’m guessing that flowing alcohol will allow participants to better focus on creative skills. Ingesting alcohol seems to help all areas of needed focus.

The Naperville Liquor Commission recommended approval, which is now heading to the Naperville city council for the final vote to approve. More tax dollars for the City from liquor sales, more money for the City from license fees ($2,200 annually), more fines from potential candidates for DUI, more business for local attorneys, more beds filled at Edward Hospital, more business for funeral homes, casket makers, and grave diggers. Sounds terrible doesn’t it, but the trade-off is more dollars for almost everybody, and isn’t that exactly what Naperville city officials want. It must be, because they are making it happen.

It gets us back to why not allow every business or group a Class M license, which allows a business to sell alcohol as  secondary to their main business. Cut hair, sell alcohol; arrange flowers, sell alcohol; provide chocolate, sell alcohol. See how easy that is. A one-page form approved on the spot at the city clerks office. Come with a check book or cash and the license is yours. No questions asked.

The more I am thinking about this, the more I like it. How about a Class-M license for a daycare center. If parents are waiting for their kids to get out of school, sell a few drinks on the side for stressed-out parents. How about at the library. Easy to focus with a few brews. How about at the DMV while waiting in line for your number to be called for your driver’s test. Why not set up a bar at the Municipal Center (Village Hall) while folks are waiting for their 3-minutes of public forum.

We can’t leave out the Naperville council members. Maybe a couple of drinks during the council meeting will make it easier for them to listen to their peers speak endlessly about the same content over and over again, while waiting for another unanimous vote.

Think of the possibilities. Stop with the one license at-a-time. Let’s drink to that.

Nov 062016
 

Just when honeybees need all the help they can get, the Naperville city council voted 7 to 2 against the benefits they provide. The vote came as no surprise, given the council’s tendency to choose the wrong side of right on most issues of importance. Councilmen Kevin Coyne and John Krummen, both two-year council members up for re-election next spring, voted ‘no’ to the ordinance. Krummen saying, he doesn’t know what problem is trying to be fixed, and Coyne saying he doesn’t understand ‘why we’re getting into this’. He went on to correctly say, “all we are doing is adding bureaucracy”.

When the Naperville city council is given the opportunity to regulate just about anything, they jump at the chance. This time it was one resident’s objection to her bird bath being used to quench the thirst of some honey bees. You wouldn’t think much water would be consumed by a few honeybees, but apparently this resident must be living the good life, if that’s considered a problem. Ah, the life of a suburbanite in Naperville.

Leave it to the Naperville city council to rush in and save the day. It really has nothing to do with helping one resident, it’s all about the Naperville city council’s insatiable need to regulate. Regulation results in ordinances, which result in fines and fees being levied against residents, which result in more money for city officials to squander with more unwise decisions, and more lawsuits being filed against the City of Naperville.

Naperville city officials are still in court wasting our tax dollars by trying to defend the indefensible, including class-action lawsuits involving Smart Meters, and overcharging for garbage pick-up. Other class-action lawsuits against the City looming on the horizon include, faulty water meters overcharging residents, and Smart Meters not accurately reading electric usage, resulting in higher electric bills.

The hope when this city council was elected, was that they would lead and manage the City as though it was a successful business. But the addictive nature of government regulation and bureaucracy is too tempting to resist, and time and again this Naperville city council can’t contain itself from intrusion in the lives of others.

Naperville has been around since 1831, that’s 185 years and honeybees have never been a problem. Now they are a problem. The problem is not that there are too many, it’s that there are too few, and with the blessing of the city council, there will be fewer. The Naperville city council has little regard for the fact that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has recently officially classified bees as an endangered species.

Honeybee keepers who violate the new ordinance will be fined up to $500 for each offense. If anybody thinks that’s going to attract more honeybee keepers, they might want to still bet on Cleveland beating the Cubs in this year’s World Series.

Considering the financial hole that Naperville city officials have dug, it’s not too far fetched for Naperville’s honeybee keepers to be charged a tax someday for the honey their hives produce. Yes, I know it’s only a couple of bucks the City will get, but if the City is losing a couple of bucks from taxes not generated from the sale of honey in grocery stores, the City is going to want those couple of bucks.

Remember it was earlier this year when the Naperville city council voted to charge residents, and worthwhile, financially-stretched groups a fee to use meeting rooms at the Municipal Center. Give Naperville city officials an opportunity to squeeze dollars out of residents, and they will jump on it like bees on honey.

Nov 032016
 

fly-the-w

cubs-world-series-hoodie

Oct 302016
 

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.

Oct 272016
 

Just as Naperville is about to get more traffic with the opening of the Water Street Development next month, Naperville city officials are considering eliminating 1.5% of it’s downtown parking spaces by reducing on-street parking from 491 spots to 484. Seven fewer parking spots may not seem like many, but when you’re looking for just one spot to park, seven open spots would seem like a bonanza.

Reducing available parking places would be accomplished by eliminating angle parking and converting them to parallel parking on the east side of Main Street between Jackson and Jefferson avenues in addition to the area from Jefferson Street to the Van Buren Avenue parking lot entrance.

The likeliness of this happening is due to city officials’ desire to widen sidewalks to facilitate outdoor restaurant and cafe seating and adding benches making it more enticing for diners, shoppers and pedestrians. That’s all fine and dandy, but before you can dine, shop, and meander through town, you have to find a place to park.

Eliminating seven parking spots may seem insignificant, but consider this, it could reduce sales and revenue by $400,000 or more. Let’s do the math. If you consider a parking spot is desirable about 16 hours per day, and the average spot may rotate every two hours, that’s a conservative eight cars per day per spot X 7 parking spots X 365 days per year with an average conservative loss of $20 in sales and revenue which comes to about $400,000.

(8 cars   X   7 parking spots   X   365 days per year   X   $20 (conservative) spent = $408,800 per year lost)

It takes a lot of books being sold and Anderson’s book store, and hot dogs from Joey’s, and chicken wings from Ted’s Montana Grill to put a dent in $40oK+.

Could it be that city officials are getting us ready for metered parking in the not too distant future. Or could it be, that part of the master plan is, eliminating most street parking, requiring the use of parking garages, with the ultimate goal of city officials, to charge for parking in city owned garages exactly like Chicago? How does $20 for the first ten minutes sound, or $50 for anything over that for the day. The Golden Rule would apply. He who has the gold makes the rules; and the city has the gold with ordinances which gives them more gold for more ordinances.

Some could consider the first step of the plan (converting angle parking to parallel) as prejudiced towards younger and older drivers. Younger drivers because learning how to parallel park is no longer mandatory in high school driver’s education, and the State no longer tests for it. Older drivers because it’s not so easy turning your head like an owl to get into and out of parallel parking spots.

Or maybe the real answer is the simplest; the city wants to corner the market on valet parking.

Oct 232016
 

It’s been said that one vote can make a difference in an election, and that must be exactly what Naperville councilwoman Becky Anderson is banking on, if and when she runs for re-election. Here is how the story unfolded during the October 18 Naperville city council meeting.

Anderson was contacted by one resident (Joyce Brown) concerning bee hives in her neighbor’s yard. Did I mention it was one resident? Good for Ms. Brown for raising the concern to Anderson, but here is where it took a sharp left turn. Anderson thought it was worthy to be brought up for discussion at the council meeting, rather than steering the resident to a more appropriate venue, like the neighbor, or the Home Owners Association.  Council members don’t like to deliver difficult messages, especially when it’s one-on-one. Combine this with Naperville city council member’s eagerness to regulate any topic that can come to mind. The council subscribes to the theory, that states what good is a council, if not to regulate everything.

Watch and listen as resident Joyce Brown states her position:

So the issue wasn’t safety, it was concern for the birds and bees cohabiting. Apparently the birds don’t want to come abound the bird bath with bees present, and the bees don’t know how to swim in it. Doesn’t seem to be a problem in nature. But in this one bird bath, it’s a problem.

A number of folks spoke in support of bees. In fact, there were 42 minutes of support. Then another 20 minutes of discussion among council members. Almost one-third of the meeting was invested in this topic.

In the council’s excitement to pound the gavel of regulation, they were stumped when bee expert Ed Bell asked the council a question they could not answer. The question was, “what color is a honey bee?” Nobody could answer it. At least a couple of brave souls on the council made an effort to earn points with a correct answer, but no luck. It’s interesting that most don’t know the answer, but most are more than eager to regulate bee hives.

Finally a couple of council members decided to take the lead and inject some common sense into the discussion. Watch and listen to Naperville councilman Kevin Coyne as he reviews the proceedings:

How refreshing to hear a council member make sense.

This was followed by more refreshment when councilman John Krummen asked a great question:

Exactly. What problem are they being asked to solve? Good for Krummen to ask the obvious.

The problem is not the bees, and it’s not resident Joyce Brown. In fact, I applaud her for getting a council member to bite on the topic. The problem is Anderson for trying to turn a non-issue, into an issue, and for not re-directing the resident to a more worthy venue; if not the Home owners association, then how about Judge Judy.

Bees do so much good to benefit mankind, including providing great excuses for men.

And women.

And occasionally, bees can add fun and excitement.

And what was the answer to the question of the color of a honey bee? Honey bees are usually golden yellow with brown bands. Though some have predominantly black bodies, almost all honey bees have varying dark-to-light striations. If the council has an insatiable need to regulate bee hives, it would be a good idea to know a little bit about who they are, and what they do. Maybe if that happened, the need to regulate them would disappear. Probably not.

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” -Albert Einstein
Oct 212016
 

Let the fun begin. For those of you who enjoy congestion, traffic jams, and searching for a parking spot, your time has arrived. Naperville’s Water Street District’s first store is opening officially on November 7.  Southern Tide, a clothing store based in South Carolina, will be followed by the opening of the Hotel Indigo by the beginning of December.

The development, which was approved nearly two years ago, is a 300,000 square-foot project, slightly less than three acres in size, bounded by the DuPage River to the north, Aurora Avenue to the south, between Main Street and Webster Street. It’s a short walking distance to the Naperville Municipal Center, which will make it convenient for members of the Naperville city council on those snowy nights after meetings, or after a night of celebrating in one of Naperville’s many liquor-licensed establishments in downtown Naperville. The only question is, which council member will be the first to have the need.

The approval of the development by the city council marked the shift from Naperville focusing on being a family friendly city, to becoming a destination for entertainment. With that shift, comes increased traffic, higher density, and more challenges for parking.

Naperville city officials have a tendency to make decisions which create unintended consequences including the forced installation of Smart Meters, and the 635% increase in refuse pick-up fees resulting in a class action law suit against the city. Some decisions cause intended consequences including an unending stream of liquor licenses being issued, and all the problems associated with the abundance of alcohol in a relatively small area. The Water Street Development will bring with it, both types of consequences, most noticeably traffic congestion and parking problems.

It’s probably just a matter of time before Water Street’s first store, Southern Tide clothing, comes before the city council requesting a liquor license. Let the fun begin.