Naperville Councilwoman Judy Brodhead Wrong Liaison For 5th Avenue Development

Let’s start with the conclusion and work backwards to the beginning.

  • The development of the 5th Avenue Project will happen as the Naperville city council wants it to.
  • The project will be developed by Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies.
  • It will upset a good number of residents but not enough to delay the outcome.

So what’s the problem. The Water Street Development turned out pretty good, (up to this point), in spite of much criticism from many sources including Watchdog which is why I said ‘up to this point’. Situations can change. Naperville city officials learned a lot from the Water Street dilemma, but apparently not enough to prevent the current 5th Avenue debacle.

City officials had a detailed, yet simple plan. It was probably conceived in large part by Mayor Steve Chirico. Being a successful business owner, he knows how to make things happen logically and quickly. A time-waster, Chirico is not.

The difference between getting things done in government versus getting things done in business, is that too many people/groups have to get involved, making government work at the speed of pouring cold honey from a jar. President Trump is experiencing the same slow-motion at the Federal level.

Chirico and supporters of the project are getting resistance from a vocal group of residents and from a majority of council members. They all want a say-so of what’s going on, and they feel they have been left out of the communication loop. Naperville councilman John Krummen nailed it when he said, “The city has done a very poor job on the optics.”

If finger-pointing of responsibility for communication is in order, then fingers are pointing towards Naperville councilwoman Judy Brodhead. She volunteered to be the non-voting liaison between the committee and both the city council and public. Brodhead said “things could have been done better in the way this was communicated to council members and the public”. Brodhead was the liaison, and by definition ‘liaison’ means communication or cooperation that facilitates a close working relationship between people or organizations. In other words Brodhead is holding the ‘smoking gun”. She had one job and she failed miserably.

If Brodhead pleads ‘not guilty’ to being an abject failure, her defense could be that Mayor Chirico should have prevented her from volunteering and asked someone else to step forward. The logical choice would have been councilwoman Becky Anderson who was and is the biggest critic of the process. By having Anderson as the liaison, you can be sure there would have been loud communication to all those currently feeling left out.

Anderson didn’t volunteer, nor did apparently any other member of the council except for Brodhead. If Brodhead gets any credit, it should be for the fact that she did volunteer to be the liaison, though totally ill-prepared to do so.

Watch and listen to Naperville resident Sandee Whited speak during public forum, which is followed by Brodhead’s dismissive comment to Whited when she says, “absolutely none of that is accurate”. Brodhead continues by saying, “what we probably didn’t do correctly was keeping people apprised of the schedule”. Brodhead uses the word “we” when in fact it was Brodhead’s responsibility as liaison not “we”. Brodhead concludes by saying “they are incorrect”, again showing her inability to be accountable.

If Mayor Chirico has any responsibility in the mis-communication, it’s his mis-placed trust in Brodhead’s ability to get the job done. In Brodhead’s case, it’s another classic example for the escape clause that residents have in term limits.

Show 5 Comments


  1. Bee Real

    “This is not a townhall meeting” “This is not a discussion” famous words from Naperville city council. When resident and the council do not agree, it doesn’t matter, it’s the council’s way or the highway for the citizens. They don’t have town halls, or open discussions. They don’t want the input of residence. Guess what, this is the type of council you line up to elect, this is the outcome you get.

  2. John

    BeeReal — well said and to the point . Unfortunately , it does not matter what the residents say. The council should take a course in Hearing . I always feel sad for people who step in front of the council . They hide behind the partition and I have heard the council make disrespectful remarks .
    C’est la vie .

  3. Jim Haselhorst

    I was at this council meeting and find it interesting that the video clip, were Councilwoman Brodhead accepted responsibility for not communicating events to her fellow members on the city council, is not included in this piece. Of course considering the Watchdog’s dislike for Brodhead exceeds that of any other member of city council it is hardly surprising he would try to make her the villain in this situations and quickly breeze over any responsibility that might fall on Chiro as mayor and the person that appointed her.

    It was Chiro that tried to push this through with little public or council awareness, remember ultimately he controls the part of the council agenda that this item originally appeared under and defended short-cutting the original process to eliminate the workshop and city council input.

    So while a breakdown in communications can be laid at Brodhead’s feet it can not be done without laying the blame for a breakdown in leadership at Chiro’s feet. Which is the worst and potential most harmful failure?

  4. Bee Real

    The residents of Naperville keep voting for the same council and wonder why they get the same results. Keep choosing the status quo, and you will keep getting status quo results. The council has for the most part, hive mentality. What the queen bee, Chirico, wants, the worker bees make happen. Backroom deals, interconnected pacs, they all donate to each others campaign’s and pet issues; i.e. Yes at Large, Naperville/Aurora tax group, stopping the Annexation vote, term limits. Same people, different issue, same result. Spend a bunch of money hiding behind a “Catchy” name, place yard signs, newspaper article, and dupe people into voting for what a few in power really want, more power. Keep electing the same, you will keep getting the same, period.

    • Jim Haselhorst

      You obviously were not present when the council voted to Landmark Old Nichols Library. Chiro was clearly against this and his every effort to prevent this was foiled at every turn by his fellow council members.

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