Naperville city officials are always saying something. Here are some recent comments from city officials:
- “Naperville city officials have ID’d clogged drains as a major cause of roadway flooding.”
- “City officials are aware that there is a second-hand market for commuter parking permits.”
- “City officials would not comment on cases pending litigation.”
- “City officials are looking for ways to cut expense.”
- “City officials are more than confident that electric rates will go down.”
- “Naperville homeowners are likely to see the city portion of next year’s tax bill increase for the first time in at least three years, city officials said.”
Who are these city officials, and exactly what is a Naperville city official?
I called the municipal center trying to get an answer, and no one seems to know. I started with the HR (Human Resource) department and nobody could define or explain what a city official is. I then spoke with the city clerk’s office, and again nobody had the foggiest idea. I figured the legal department would have to know, but again no success in getting an answer. In fact, the person I spoke to communicated with me as though I was looking for the legal department’s Holly Grail.
According to Google, by definition, a city official is someone who holds a position of authority. OK, so what does authority imply? Someone who gives orders or makes decisions.
About a month ago, I had to go to the Municipal Center to pick up some information and as I walked into the building, I heard a city worker (repairman) say, “Hey Jim, hand me that Phillips screwdriver.” That qualifies as giving an order, so would he be a city official? While I was in the building, two city staff employees were apparently leaving the building for lunch, and one said to the other, “Let’s go to Panera”. That qualifies as making a decision, so is that a city official?
I also spoke on the phone with the city manager’s office in seek of an answer to my question. She said an elected position is a city official. That sounded reasonable, until I asked her about the city manager, “He’s not elected, so does that mean he is not a city official?” I think she was done playing mental gymnastics with me, so the call respectfully ended.
I tried the city clerk’s office one more time, and asked if city officials are responsible for buying things and she said ‘yes’ until I asked about the person in charge of buying paper clips and rubber bands. Is that person a city official? She said not really.
I made one final effort to get an answer, and called HR again. I said, “If I wanted to send Christmas cards to city officials, to whom would I address them ?” The question was met with a long pause, and she said, “how about I find out and call you back?”. To which I responded, “No that’s O.K., but thank you, I doubt they would read them.”
Actually, city government is not the one that came up with the designation “city official” it was the media, local papers, radio, TV, etc. So I am not surprised no one in city government could answer your question. If you want an answer to the question who is “city official” you need to contact the source (newspaper, radio, etc) that used this designation. But be prepare to not get much of an answer from them either since they all seem to use the term differently and inconsistently.
Most of the time “city official” is used when the source is a city press release. These press releases do not have any city employee’s name on them just “The City of Naperville”.