Oct 162016

Who doesn’t like the underdog, or the little guy? The big guy doesn’t like the little guy, and nobody is bigger than government, in this case it’s the Naperville city council. Not the entire city council, but enough to make the little guy’s life more miserable. The lone exception is Naperville city councilman John Krummen. Lately Krummen has been differentiating himself from the other eight members of the council by being a voice for reason, common sense, and the little guy.

It happened again during the last city council meeting, when the topic of discontinuing the downtown vendor program was discussed. The City has four licenses available for food vendors in the downtown area, two of which are in use; Joey’s Red Hots and John’s Rib House. The other two are available to anybody wishing to run through the gauntlet in order to qualify for one.

‘Gauntlet’ is saying it mildly, it’s more like getting unmercifully pounded by city officials who seem to enjoy dealing with food vendors as if they are human piñatas. When Joey’s Red Hots owner tried to qualify and provide his service in downtown Naperville, the Naperville city council made his life miserable by making him run over red-hot coals jut for the opportunity to sell a hotdog to someone who might want one. He had to appear numerous times in front of the council and subject himself to all sorts of unpleasant situations, including having his vendor permit yanked at anytime by the whims of the council.

Now the Naperville city council wants to discontinue the downtown vendor program, while grandfathering in Joey’s Hot Dogs and John’s Rib House. So the available two permits will disappear.

Watch and listen to the interesting exchange between councilman Krummen and city staff member Allison Laff, the planning and operations manager for the city:

So let me get this straight. Because no one else wants to subject themselves to the heavy handedness of vendor over regulation, the city wants to ‘lock out the competition’ as Krummen points out. Councilman Krummen continues by saying, “That seems completely unfair”, and he has “a problem with that”.

Good for Krummen speaking up for the little guy, and fairness, and open competition, while the rest of the city council sits on their hands saying and doing nothing.

Mayor Steve Chirico points out that DNA (Downtown Naperville Alliance) and the Naperville Chamber of Commerce are against the food vendor program. And why is that you ask? How about the root of all decisions in Naperville, money. The big guy restaurants don’t want the little guys selling hotdogs and ribs. A little guy selling a hot dog or a couple of ribs threatens the restaurants, and the Naperville city council caves in to the big guys. How pitiful is that.

If councilman John Krummen votes against discontinuing the program, his one vote won’t change the outcome, but by doing so, he will have elevated and separated himself from the herd (his peers) by having the courage to speak up for the little guy.

Oct 132016

A landlord is not what it used to be, and a recent Naperville city council decision has made it even less than what it was a month ago in Naperville. By a vote of 5 to 4, the council expanded the scope of local government when it approved a requirement that landlords accept federal housing vouchers as income when evaluating possible tenants.

Council members against the proposal included Mayor Steve Chirico, and council members Kevin Coyne, Patty Gustin and Paul Hinterlong. Those in favor of government over-reach included Judy Brodhead, John Krummen, Becky Anderson, Rebecca Obarski, and Kevin Gallaher.

A landlord by definition doesn’t exist anymore. No longer is a person who owns and rents property, the lord of his or her land, no longer does he or she have the power or authority, to be the master or ruler of the property. The government has bullied its way to becoming a partner in the ownership of the property. This is just the most recent bullying tactic by five members of the Naperville city council to over-reach by mandating rather than educating and encouraging voluntary participation of the voucher program, commonly known as Section 8 housing.

Nearly 3,000 vouchers have been issued in DuPage County, and about 2,700 are currently being used. Approximately 500 vouchers (about 18%) are being used in Naperville, while Naperville accounts for about 15% of the population of DuPage county. In other words, Naperville usage of vouchers in the county exceeds its percentage of the population. The City is doing more than its fair share of supporting the voucher program voluntarily, but that’s not good enough for the five council members who voted to in essence to expand the program in Naperville.

Five in favor and four against expanding government’s over-reach means that one council member’s ‘yes’ vote was the difference. Three of those five will be running in the next city council election. They include Brodhead, Krummen and Gallaher.

For voters looking for differentiation between candidates in the next election, this is a good benchmark to consider when it’s your turn to vote. Just as it took one ‘yes’ vote for government over-reach to occur, it may take only a few votes to defeat a candidate running for re-election. Voter over-reach can pluck a council member off the dais and replace him or her with a new council member; one who values limited government.

Oct 092016

A paper trail is a wonderful thing. When videos are available to support a paper trail, it’s even more wonderful. However if you are a politician who’s memory doesn’t match the facts, then it’s definitely not wonderful.

Pick a politician, any politician, how about Naperville city councilman Paul Hinterlong. Watch and listen as Hinterlong tries to distance himself from a decision he supported dis-allowing a designated driving service (Booze Crews) in downtown Naperville:

Hinterlong says the issue was ‘long before his time’ on the council. Wrong. Councilman Hinterlong was elected to the Naperville City Council on April 7, 2009, a full five months before Booze Crews appeared as an agenda item for the September 15, 2009 city council meeting. Take a look at the city council meeting agenda for that evening, and specifically L-3:

Naperville City Council Meeting Agenda – September 4, 2009

Oops. Did we just hear Hinterlong publicly state he and the council would not allow for the safety of individuals. One could say that Hinterlong flat out lied about not being on the council, but that would be too harsh, let’s just say that he conveniently forgot, or that his memory is hazy, yet he continues to sit at the dais participating in decisions that effect the lives of others.

My memory is hazy at times, more-so now than 20 years ago, however I clearly remember this issue because I was the mentor of the young man trying to start/continue his designated driving service. Take a look at the young man’s letter  (L-3 above. Booze Crews Pdf) to then Mayor Pradel and the city council.

I clearly remember attending a liquor commission meeting, supporting the young man, and a colder reception anywhere at anytime, I am hard-pressed to remember. One liquor commissioner said, “We don’t have a drinking problem in Naperville”, and Mayor Pradel specifically said, “I don’t think we need a service like this”.

The young man wanted to make a presentation to the city council, but the writing was on the wall, hence the topic was moved to a later council meeting, and during that time Naperville city officials successfully regulated the designated driving service out of business in Naperville. They wanted to pigeon-hole the service as being a solicitor, require outrageous levels of insurance, add cumbersome regulations, and in essence, become a not-so-silent partner in a business, they were determined to see fail. The business never failed, because it never had the chance to start. Naperville city officials regulated it out of business.

When it comes to liquor, and over-serving,  there are a lot of people making a lot of money from taxes on liquor, to DUI attorneys, taxi companies, to morticians, and coffin makers. Some say the taxi owners own the liquor commission and city council. ‘Own’ may be too strong, maybe invested would be more appropriate. What the taxi lobby and city officials did to Booze Crews, they couldn’t do to Uber and Lyft. One can only wonder how many people could have benefited from the designated driving service, and how many lives may have been saved.

Hinterlong and a few of his council peers had a good chuckle about ‘where is that guy now’. The real question, is where are those guys now, council members Furstenau, Miller, Krause, Boyajian, Wehrli, Fieseler, and Pradel. A few lost their re-election bid, a few knew they couldn’t get re-elected, and a few moved on. Two council members remain, councilman Paul Hinterlong and councilwoman Judy Brodhead. One is on thin ice (Brodhead) and one has been exposed again for his words not matching the facts (Hinterlong).

A final thought on Hinterlong’s comment. He says it was way before his time and then he says “we wouldn’t allow it”. Now if it did pre-date his tenure, then he can’t rightfully say ‘we didn’t allow it”. If he wouldn’t allow it (included in the we), then it didn’t exactly pre-date his time on the council. Sounds like double-talk by another politician

Oct 052016

There’s another sheriff and posse in town holding the Naperville city council’s collective feet to the fire. The group’s website is Naperchange.org and part of their Mission Statement includes the following:

  • We are a grass roots organization dedicated to identifying and actively supporting candidates who will serve the residents of Naperville. We are dedicated to actively working to replace incumbent politicians who have demonstrated that they do not deserve to be re-elected.
  • We will continue to monitor our city government, and continue to actively engage and support candidates who will listen to their constituents.

The group goes on to say:

  • We expect our elected representatives to act in our best interests.
  • This council…has coalesced into a body which follows the Mayor’s lead unanimously on virtually every issue and vote. A so-called ‘pro-growth’ agenda has put business and taxes ahead of the interests of residents, yet virtually nothing has been done to generate business or improve the most neglected part of Naperville, the Ogden Avenue corridor.
  • It’s time to change. It’s time to get representatives in Naperville government who will actually represent us, the citizens who voted them in. Help make a difference. Let’s give the residents a voice.

The next city council election in 2017 will have four incumbents up for re-election with their two-year terms expiring. They include Judith Brodhead, Kevin Coyne, John Krummen and Kevin Gallaher. Their votes totals placed them 5th thru 8th in the last election, thereby limiting their terms to two years each rather than four year terms which Paul Hinterlong, Patty Gustin, Rebecca Obarski, and Becky Anderson are serving.

The more eyes and ears watching and listening to the Naperville city council, the better the opportunity to upgrade the council; out with the not-so-good council members  and in with the new and improved council members.

Watchdog encourages you to take a look at their website and support their effort to help make Naperville a better place to live and work. Watchdog firmly believes if better is possible, then good is not enough.

Oct 022016

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.

Sep 282016

Why is it that so often when someone gets elected to office, they feel the need to over regulate, micro-manage, and invade the lives of those they are supposed to serve and represent? Could it be that serving and representing residents and businesses are not high on the priority list? Could it be that their purpose is to push through a personal agenda of getting re-elected, getting more face-time on camera, or simply controlling others?

The Naperville city council has a few of these folks nesting at the dais including councilwoman Patty Gustin. Is there any Naperville council member who spends more time talking, and less time making sense, while trying to  over-regulate and micro-manage.

During the last Naperville council meeting on September 6, the topic of whether or not to approve a liquor license for the downtown Walgreen was the topic of discussion when Gustin chimed in with her bit of wisdom. Watch and listen as she offers marketing, advertising, and strategy advice to Walgreens’ leadership team:

A lot of very smart Walgreen people, invested a lot of time, a lot of energy, and a lot of money, to create a strategy, a program, and a slogan (At the corner of happy and healthy), as the cornerstone of their marketing focus. Why Gustin thinks that it should or could be set aside is a puzzle, unless of course, it’s for micro-managing and more camera face- time.

Considering Walgreens displays alcohol opposite of water, isn’t that the classic example of ‘where happy meets healthy’.

Sep 252016

I’ve been focused on losing some weight, well actually a lot of weight. I made the decision on March 11 and I’m about 50% on the way to reaching my goal. I was really doing good. In fact, I was doing so good, that I thought, why not have a couple of cookies, then a couple of days later, having a pizza seemed like a good reward for making great progress in achieving my goal. Fortunately I came to my senses, and now I’m back on the plan. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary, plus the fact that I really like setting goals and making it happen. I guess you could call that obsessive-compulsive.

The City of Naperville had the same type of epiphany when the city was having some major problems with alcohol consumption in the downtown area. Late night chaos, bedlam, and mayhem were beginning to become common occurrences, with a few situations resulting in the deaths of more than a couple folks. The city council began to tighten up loose ends, a make a concerted effort to regain control of what was becoming out of control events.

It worked for the most part. Sure there’s always going to be a couple of problems here and there, but city officials succeeded in putting pandemonium to rest in downtown Naperville.

In fact, city officials have been so successful in moving toward and reaching their goal, that they are considering opening the tap and issuing more and more liquor permits in the downtown area. Those tax dollars are very difficult to pass up, just like cookies and pizza are for me.

It’s interesting that city officials are pleased with the current state of liquor affairs in Naperville, yet now they appear to be eager to move back to the likelihood of problems surfacing and things getting out of control again. It’s almost as if AA should have a special program for local city officials to help them keep a lid on enabling the same problems from happening again.

I don’t suppose one scoop of ice cream would be so bad, would it?

Sep 222016

The City of Naperville was recently ranked by Money Magazine as the 10th best city to live in, but that didn’t carry any clout with the DuPage County Court, when they said ‘no’ to Naperville’s offer to house a traffic court in Naperville. A number of locations were submitted to DuPage County including Naperville’s Safety Town on Aurora Avenue near the Naperville Police Station.

Watch and listen to Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico as he updates the city council at the September 20 meeting:

Naperville city officials have been active in looking for better utilization of under-used city properties, while also trying to allocate tax dollars for more efficiency. Most recently, Naperville city officials offered to take over Naperville Township’s highway maintenance at for a substantial savings to taxpayers. The effort was met with intense resistance from the Township Highway Supervisor resulting in expensive court action paid by the taxpayers. The Township supervisor lost the court action, however the City of Naperville lost the opportunity to save taxpayer dollars when the township highway maintenance was transferred to Lisle Township. Another classic example of a government fiefdom (Naperville Township) grasping for control for self-preservation over the benefit of saving taxpayer dollars.

Having a location for a traffic court in Naperville would be win-win-win situation for Naperville residents, the City of Naperville, and DuPage county.

  • It’s estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 people a year drive from Naperville to Wheaton for traffic court.
  • Naperville Police Officers would not need to travel to Wheaton saving time and money
  • An under-used city property could be more efficiently used
  • DuPage County could reduce the number of field courts that are in use five days a week, and the Naperville site could operate two days a week to start as a circuit court, again with the advantage of being next to a police station.
  • Positive environmental and economic impact

The number one site Naperville offered was Naperville’s Safety Town, which would still operate as it has for years in teaching and educating children in safety skills that they carry through life, including the skill of safe driving.

Wouldn’t this be a classic teaching opportunity, when kids see an unending line of traffic violators marching thru Safety Town, along with police officers, and attorneys heading to traffic court; a place where nobody wants to be. And then shortly afterward, another unending line of traffic offenders leaving court with a few dollars less, wishing they had attended Safety Town when they were kids, or if they had attended, wishing they paid more attention learning, and paid less or nothing to traffic court.

Sep 182016

In my lifetime, I have seen four Illinois Governors (Koerner, Walker, Ryan, and Blagojevich) land in the Graybar Hotel for various indiscretions. Most recently and still a resident of the hotel is Blago(jevich). When politicians mix bad decisions with videos and tape recordings, it can result in a long reservation at the hotel. Blago’s smoking gun was a tape recording extolling his excitement when he said, “I got this thing and it’s f—— golden”, referring to the vacant Illinois senate seat resulting from Obama’s presidential election. Money and greed have a way of opening the door for problems.

The City of Naperville has it’s own ‘golden thing’, known as the SECA (Special Events Cultural and Amenities) Fund. What started out as a small source of revenue derived from a food and beverage tax, has morphed into a huge pile of money. Originally the purpose of the money was clearly defined, but as with most streams of government revenue, those clearly defined guidelines become blurry.

Fortunately for the residents and businesses of Naperville, city officials have been good stewards of those funds with checks and balances in place. The problem is that there was a time when Governors’ Koerner, Walker, Ryan and Blago were also walking the straight and narrow before veering off the road.

It’s tempting for city officials to use the SECA fund for something other than what it was intended for. The Naperville city council lives by the ‘golden rule’; he who has the gold makes the rules. In this case the ‘gold’ is the SECA fund, and the city council can and will change those rules any time they want.

Sep 152016

Here we go again. Just when you think Naperville city officials have an opportunity to make a huge statement and take an unprecedented stand on an issue, they shrink down and blend into the council chambers woodwork. This time it’s the issue of raising the legal age for tobacco usage. City officials have been flexing their muscles and touting their perceived image of being a leader among communities. An image, city officials mistakenly believe, other communities could emulate, and fall in line behind Naperville.

The Naperville city council will be presented with two options from the Naperville Liquor Commission, regarding increasing the legal age for the sale, possession, and consumption of tobacco products in Naperville from the current age of 18 to 21.

One option would be to prohibit the sale, possession and consumption of tobacco products for anyone under the age of 21, and the second option would focus only on prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

Naperville would not be the first Illinois city to pass an ordinance setting the new age limit; Chicago’s law became effective July 1 of this year. So that in itself makes Naperville a follower rather than a leader. If Naperville city officials truly want to be a leader, they could set a precedent, take a tall stand, and pass an ordinance making the sale, possession, and consumption of all tobacco products illegal, at any age, within the city limits. Or raise the age to 75 and require that both parents be present at the time of purchase.

If the idea of this watered-down age of 21 ordinance is to help people make wise decisions about their health, and the health of those around them, then why not go all-out and protect everyone’s health. If you say that people from the age of 18 to 21 are not smart enough to make good decisions, then I say there are more people between the age of 21 and Methuselah just as unenlightened. Shouldn’t those folks be protected from themselves just as well. And isn’t that what government proclaims; to know better than us, what’s best for us.

The bottom line is that Naperville city officials are willing to part with some lost tobacco tax, because they can easily make that up in fines generated from the ordinance. Ask city officials if they are willing to lose all tobacco taxes, and they will tell you they are late for lunch as they scamper out the door.

If the Naperville city council really wants to make a difference in protecting our health, they have a golden opportunity to do it and make nationwide news.