Mar 242018

At the time they sounded like good ideas, a Senior Task Force and an Advisory Commission on Disabilities; who wouldn’t applaud that. Well now it’s possible that some members of the Naperville city council wish they wouldn’t have to consider the wishes of each group. It would be so much easier to approve more outdoor seating areas in front of downtown businesses if they didn’t have to be mindful to the needs of disabled or senior citizens.

Both groups requested council members to reconsider the ordinance and increase the minimum sidewalk clearance width to eight feet. The concern was that by reducing the width of usable sidewalk area, it would impede folks who use wheelchairs and walkers, etc.

Watch and listen to part of the lengthy discussion that would almost be comical if it weren’t true, about how much room is necessary if two wheelchairs were coming towards each other from opposite directions, how much room would be needed to accomplish the maneuver and how the use of hands could alter equation:

Then Naperville councilman Paul Hinterlong throws a stick into the conversation:

Which then begs the question about what about a guy in an iron-lung; what is he to do? This embed is NSFW, (Not Suitable For Workplace (strong language):

Council members seem to be forgetting that the word ‘sidewalk’ is defined as a paved path for pedestrians also known as a walkway. Nowhere in the definition is the idea of how many tables and chairs can be squeezed into a limited space in order to increase business revenues and tax dollars. Simply stated, it appears the Naperville city council is determined to achieve gridlock on the streets and sidewalks of downtown Naperville.

The discussion lead to a side-topic near and dear to city officials; how much can they jack-up the permit fee for sidewalk seating. Watch and listen as Naperville councilman John Krummen uses some high-tech numerology to determine the fee should be raised from $500 to $1000:

He knows it’s “arbitrary with no math behind it”, but that’s good enough for Krummen. Suggestion: keep that in mind, when Krummen decides to run for office again. His decisions on money maters could be ‘arbitrary with no math behind it’, not exactly what tax payers, rate payers, and residents want to hear from an elected official.

Fortunately, the voice of reason (councilman Benny White) countered with some common sense:

Credit councilman Benny White with a nice defensive move that even the Loyola basketball team would be proud of.

Mar 182018

If ever there was a current Naperville city council member who exemplifies the need for term limits, it would be councilwoman Judy Brodhead. She was elected in 2009 and after nine years, she is still occupying space at the dais. If it wasn’t was for term limits, the only way to get her off the dais would be to airlift her elsewhere. It’s been said that she spends a lot of time lurking in the inky shadows at the Municipal Center, roaming the corridors.

Apparently it would benefit the residents of Naperville if she got out more often and visited the outer edge of the city, especially south Naperville, and specifically the southwest corner of the intersection of Book Road and 103rd Street where there are plans to build a subdivision consisting of 61 custom single-family homes on 32 acres of undeveloped land.

Watch and listen as Brodhead presents an unusual question to Len Monson, the attorney for Oak Hill Builders and Developers Construction about how flat is flat:

To Monson’s credit, he answers it with about as flat as flat can be. There are no mountains, no hills, no valleys or lakes, or oceans, or rivers, or forests, or glaciers. The highest peak in the area is the white line dividing the lanes of traffic on 103rd Street, making it flatter than a pancake.

During Brodhead’s long tenure on the council she has asked some puzzling questions and made some curious comments. Who can forget one of  Brodhead’s all-time favorite, profound statements, “chickens don’t bark”.

Councilwoman Brodhead might want to heed the advice of President Abraham Lincoln, or was it Mark Twain, or maybe Ray Teller (Penn and Teller), or possibly Harpo Marx who said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt”.

Mar 112018

It had to happen sooner or later, and it always seems to happen sooner. The City of Naperville needs money and they are going to get it one way or another; either higher property tax or increase in sales tax. When the dust settled at the last Naperville city council meeting, the council voted to increase the home rule sales tax from 0.5% to 0.75% for a total of 7.75%. That means the City of Naperville still has an opportunity, over time, to increase it another 92.25%, and in actuality it doesn’t have to stop there. ‘He who has the gold makes the rules, and Naperville city officials have the gold’.

The vote was 8 to 1 in favor of raising the sales tax, rather than increasing property tax. The one ‘no’ vote was councilman John Krummen, not because he didn’t want the sales tax increase, but because he preferred raising property taxes. Watch and listen as Krummen explains that he would be affected more by a property tax hike than a bump in sales tax, but he is OK with that because his assets have grown dramatically.

Well dilly dilly for Krummen. His assets are more than most of ours, he can happily afford higher property taxes, and let those less fortunate than him, especially senior citizens living on a fixed income, take a big hit. Out with the old folks and in with the millennials. Enough said for Krummen’s compassion for those of us with less.

Watch and listen to Mayor Steve Chirico’s 180 degree, opposing viewpoint to Krummen:

Either way, the good folks are going to have less money than they have now, but Krummen’s support of a property tax hike would be a mandate, no getting around it, whereas Chirico and the other seven members of the council are at least allowing folks the opportunity of choice.

I’m guessing the Founding Fathers would prefer choice over mandate.

Mar 042018

Imagine if your neighbor needed money, came to your home, requested cash, received it, and went back home. Then he did the same thing the next week with the same result. A day later, he comes back for more money, and he kept doing this daily over and over, always getting more and more money. That’s exactly what the Naperville city council is doing to the good folks of Naperville; extracting more and more money, not only for different things, but also for the same things.

It’s so easy. The city council directs the city manager to create a budget. The city manager directs city staff to come up with a budget. The inflated budget is presented to the city council. The council huffs and puffs, pontificates and bloviates, talks and talks, then votes to approve the budget; the meeting is adjourned and city officials head downtown to tip a few brews in celebratory fashion. That’s it, it is as simple as that.

Naperville city officials say ‘this is it, we’ve done it, problem solved’. But that’s not it, it’s not done, and the problem isn’t solved, because within a short period of time the problem resurfaces, more money is needed, more taxes need to be increased along with fees and utility rates. And it starts all over again.

Watch and listen to Naperville council woman Becky Obarski as she states she doesn’t think the council is walking towards a solution, “this is the third year in a row we voted to raise things, and each time we were told this is the path”.

Councilwoman Obarski continued,

Obarski appears to be the only city council member that has had this epiphany.

The Naperville city council along with other city officials don’t feel the pain; that’s the real problem. If they did, they wouldn’t be so quick to ‘knock on our doors’ looking for more handouts. Part of the solution might be that the other council members and city officials need some skin in the game; they need to feel our pain. Something, anything, to make things a little more uncomfortable for them, like sitting on tacks, pebbles in their shoes, requiring push-ups or sit-ups prior to the vote to raise taxes, fees, and rates.

I would gladly drop down and do 50 push-ups, or climb a rope to avoid more taxes. Pebbles in my shoes, why not, I could look at it as a from of acupuncture, to better my health. No doubt that fewer taxes, fees, and rate increases would improve the health for most of the good folks of Naperville.