Feb 252018

I’m guessing that many of us, myself included, never heard of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Unfortunately with the horrific event in Parkland, Florida, I now know that beside having a high school named in her honor, she was an American journalist, suffrage advocate, and conservationist, passing away in 1998 and living to the ripe old age of 108, far longer than any of the students and teachers on that eventful day.

Much has been said about what to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again elsewhere like it always seems to do. Some want to use this as an opportunity to move towards erasing the Second Amendment (A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed), while others want to turn our schools into fortresses; heavily protected or impenetrable buildings. Most folks have probably gravitated to one camp or the other. That’s usually how it works nowadays.

School shootings are not new. Does anybody remember 1988 when 30-year old Laurie Dann shot and killed an 8-year old , while wounding five in Winnetka. My earliest recollection of a school shooting was in 1966 when Charles Whitman climbed to an observation deck at the University of Texas and within a 96-minute shooting spree, he had killed 17 while wounding 31 people.

In fact, the earliest recorded school shooting in ‘America’ occurred in 1764, at Enoch Brown School in Greencastle, Pennsylvania when one teacher and nine students died. If you Google ‘when did the earliest school shooting occur’, it will take you to a list from that date to Stoneman Douglas. If you scroll down it will take you 105 seconds to get to the bottom of the list. So this is not a new phenomenon. It’s been happening for a long time.

It seems like people are looking for a quick and easy answer, which typically involves throwing more money at the problem, rather than dealing with the cause. Watch and listen as Tucker Carlson , chats with Matt Bevin, the Governor of Kentucky, who some think including myself, nails the issue.

A good friend of mine, who graduated from pharmacy college the same year that I did (career number two of four for me), went on to med school. He vowed he was not going to be a ‘prescription mill’ doctor; a doctor that treats symptoms rather than causes. About ten years later we got together for dinner, and I asked him if he was able to do it. He said, ‘no’. He learned that if a patient left his office without a piece of paper (prescription), they didn’t feel like they were getting their money’s worth. Changing eating habits, or exercise, or lifestyles takes more time and is not easy.

A quick easy answer is not always the best answer, but it seems to be the answer most folks want.

Feb 172018

Who doesn’t like good Italian food, combined with live music and dancing, wrapped around a great festive time with friends? Well there are at least seven people, and they are all on the Naperville city council. And of the seven, who is the biggest curmudgeon of them all; that would have to be Naperville councilman John Krummen.

It all unfolded during the February 6 Naperville city council meeting when John Barry, owner and CEO of Star Events tried to re-open the door for approving Festa Italiana, at the Naper Settlement proposed for August 3-5. The event had been in the works for over a year, and then an unclear, cumbersome, and flawed process caused the plug to get pulled, time ran out, and the fun event disappeared into the inky shadows of the Municipal Center.

Watch and listen as Barry has his three minutes to resurrect the opportunity, and pay special attention how Krummen builds Barry’s hopes with a few words, only to be trampled within seconds as Krummen hides behind ‘process’.

Now watch and listen as the city clerk tries to clarify the processes, followed by a question from Mayor Chirico, when Krummen, again points out that he is a ‘process-guy’ only to have him conclude that it “sounds like we (the city) need to clean up some of our processes”.

So people, (residents, event planners, etc.) are held accountable to flawed processes. The amazing thing is that not only are the recipients of a fun event denied the opportunity of the event, the city and Naper Settlement also lose positive economic impact because of flawed processes.

Only two members (Mayor Chirico and council member Patty Gustin) of the nine-member council voted to reconsider the event. Gustin pointed out “As a city council, we have said to the Settlement, to do things to make the Settlement relevant, do things to increase the budget, increase revenues, and things like that, so it is not a tax burden on taxpayers, this is exactly what they are doing, and for us to deny it, is kind of like speaking out of both sides of your mouth.”

No less than three times, during the 40-minute council discussion, Krummen mentioned that he is a ‘process guy’; maybe he needs to change and amend his comment by saying he is an ‘effective-process guy’. In essence, Krummen, through the council’s vote, was saying to the fine folks of Naperville, “You get nothing. You lose. Good day sir!”

Feb 112018

It’s been said that money can’t make you happy, but if it does, then Ray McGury, the executive director of the Naperville Park District has to be the happiest guy in Naperville. Does anybody get paid more for doing less? I don’t think so, but I am open for nominations.

Consider this, the entire Naperville city council’s base compensation, including the mayor, totals $125,000 per year; $12,500 per council member X 8, plus $25,000 for the mayor. McGury’s base compensation is almost $208,000 per year. Additionally McGury receives $10,000 per year in deferred compensation, along with over $7,000 for auto allowance. That is an obscene base compensation package for someone who’s biggest decision is where to install a park bench and what color it will be.

McGury has been the park district executive director for nearly 10 years. Prior to that, he was the Bolingbrook Chief of Police from 2005 through 2008. It was during this period of time of his leadership that Drew Peterson was employed and receiving paychecks while Peterson’s fourth wife disappeared October of 2007, and has never been found. Peterson was subsequently found guilty for the death of his third wife and is serving a lengthy stay at the Graybar Hotel.

McGury understandably thought it would be a good idea to depart from his Bolingbrook position, and miraculously landed with the Naperville Park District. The board of the park district must have thought that McGury was the Messiah of Parks because they started him with a can’t-say-no compensation package, that has been escalating each and every year.

The Naperville Park District has a $39.6 million budget with an expected $43.5 million in revenues, yet the park district has inflicted an escalation in program fees and a property tax hike, in essence a sucker-punch to the residents of Naperville. How many families and kids won’t be able to utilize the park district programs because of fee increases, a portion of which, is earmarked to keep McGury employed.

McGury said, the increased fees are needed “so we can then allocate that money elsewhere for other things in the community”. By ‘other things’, that would include McGury’s compensation.

McGury also stated, “I remain honored to have the opportunity to lead a district that enriches the quality of life of residents”. By that comment, he is likely referring to ‘enriching the quality of his own life’. McGury also said that he was reluctant to discuss his compensation. Everything considered, that’s understandable.

McGury isn’t the culprit, it’s the Naperville Park District board members. If they are willing to over-compensate him, why shouldn’t he accept what they are offering. Wouldn’t most of us reading this do the same thing.

Getting back to the budget, the Naperville Park District appropriates a surplus over the budget to deal with unexpected expenses. Things come up like the time McGury was offered a position in a neighboring community. McGury mentioned it to the board, and bingo, another hefty compensation increase was thrown at McGury to stay, and he stayed. McGury is not the culprit.

McGury invested 21 years with the Naperville Police Department (prior to Bolingbrook) and attained the position of captain. He served and sacrificed, and for that I am grateful.

Naperville families are probably grateful too. But Naperville families do not need a property tax hike, and escalating park district program fees by the park district board.

Feb 042018

In case you haven’t heard it, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. That means you are likely in one of three groups; watching it, no interest in it, or boycotting watching the NFL for patriotic reasons.

Over recent years, the Naperville city council has had a few members trying to throw their weight around as a show of intimidation. One literally did throw his weight around when he was accused of trying ‘rough up’ or tune-up, one of Naperville’s finest police officers. Not a wise move on the councilman’s part.

A few other council members have resorted to interacting with some good folks of Naperville with the following comments:

  • “do you know who I am”
  • “I could make it easy or difficult for you”
  • “apparently you have no idea who you are talking to”
  • “I’m on the council, so that makes me right, and you wrong”

Those ‘few’ council members are no longer on the council.

Naperville doesn’t have a “Hall of Shame” for council members, but a town in Michigan does, and a councilman became a nominee for induction.

So Ed has been on the council since 1984, that’s 34 years; a prime example why Naperville’s term limits is truly a thing of beauty.

That calls for a little music.