Naperville’s Director of Public Works In Over His Head

It might be time for Naperville’s Director of Public Works (Dick Dublinski) to take a long vacation or find another line of work. During the November 21 city council meeting he was questioned by Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico regarding the city’s autumn leaf-pick-up program. Dublinski had just completed a short presentation about the program indicating that he had a long list of tasks yet to complete in addition to leaf pick-up.

Watch and listen as Mayor Chirico makes a few comments about his observations of the current process and asks Dublinski if a report could be made about any other options:

Watch and listen as Dublinski responds to the mayor:

So Dublinski has been to many conferences and no machine exists than can get the job done. Is it possible that Dublinski has been to the wrong conferences? Is it possible that Dublinski is overwhelmed with his workload? It appeared that way when he listed his yet-to-complete tasks. Is it possible that Dublinski is simply burned out? Most of us have had that at one time or another; it’s understandable. But to say there is no other option, implies resignation to defeat.

What does the City of Chattanooga (population 177,000) know about leaf pick-up that Naperville doesn’t know? The answer is a different option for picking up leaves.

It appears Chattanooga’s process has many advantages:

  • Fewer people involved in the process
  • Leaves are picked-up and not simply redistributed on the street
  • Leaves don’t need to be raked into the street for pick-up, hence no drain blockage. Leaves can be raked in the area between the sidewalk and curb for pick up.
  • No need for a street sweeper

The Director of Naperville’s Public Works might be good at what he does, but if better is possible, then good is not enough. Mayors and council members come and go through elections and term limits, but department heads linger like gum on your shoe on a hot August day.

Naperville has had problems not only with the Department of Public Works but also the Departments of Public Utility –  Electric (Mark Currran) and the Department of Public Utilities – Water (Jim Holzapfel). Just as teams and corporations need to occasionally change coaches or managers for improvement, so should municipalities. If that doesn’t work, then it’s time to change the team’s general manager. In Naperville, that would be City Manager Doug Krieger.

Naperville’s non-elected leadership team needs to replace complacency with a good dose of creativity and energy. Chattanooga is serious about collecting leaves.

Show 4 Comments


  1. Jim Haselhorst

    The problem with this small, more flexible, less labor intensive system that is not mentioned is that it is easily plugged up by small branches, which the hybrid and maple trees in Naperville drop a lot of. To implement a system like this in Naperville would require all residents to make sure there are no branches (even small ones) mixed in with the leaves, otherwise the operators of this system will spend most of their time unplugging it.

  2. mike

    Start with the General Manager, Krieger.

  3. John

    We promote people to a level of incompetency. We also do not challenge people to do better and hide behind excuses . This whole situation reflects on the leadership of our city council where some members hide to appease the mayor and not the voters .
    It is business as usual .

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