Mar 162019

I think I am addicted to anything and everything city council related. My life revolves around city council meetings. If it’s the first or third Tuesday nights of the month, I have to be watching it. My wife said, ‘why don’t you just record it and watch it later’. I do that. I could watch it on the city website the next day, but I don’t want to wait that long. I have to see it that night. It’s like watching ESPN’s Sport Center highlights.

However, I think I finally found something that can curb the addiction; Naperville city council candidate forums. I watched the last three, and found each to be more difficult to watch than the previous one. Too many predictable questions. Too many canned answers.

Then half-way through the final forum, a great question was asked that energized me, “How effective do you perceive the city’s current leadership to be?” Finally, this was the differentiator, this was a chance for someone to break away from the herd, this was a chance for someone to exhibit leadership with courage, to stand head and shoulders above the others. That person didn’t have to throw anybody under the bus, just simply show that leadership could be improved.

Only three (O’Meara, McElroy, and Kelly) of the 11 candidates did it. The others basically said the current leadership is fantastic. If that’s the case, why are the other 8 running for office? Is it simply to occupy one of the two open seats of departing council members. The most disappointing answer came from the first candidate, Bruce Hanson. He appeared to be uncomfortable by being put on the spot, rather than seizing the moment and embracing the question, he slithered down, not wanting to stir the pot, and took the safe road.

Watch and listen to the 11 candidates answer:

A simple yet effective answer could have been, “Current leadership has been good, in fact, very good, however if ‘better’ is possible, then ‘good’ is not enough …” and then mention a few things that could make it better, as did O’Meara and McElroy, with Kelly’s answer being the best.

Another disturbing revelation of the forums occurred during the candidate’s opening and closing statements. Of the 11 candidates, all but four had to read their prepared statements, rather than being skilled at speaking extemporaneously. The four who spoke without reading included, Whitney Robbins, Patrick Kelly, Joe McElroy, and Barbara O’Meara. Surprisingly, current council members Paul Hinterlong and Patty Gustin were among the 7 to read prepared-in-advance statements. Apparently a few years of council experience hasn’t transferred over to speaking without reading prepared statements.

Two leadership dimensions which are lacking with most members of the current city council, and with a majority of current city council candidates are demonstrating courage and driving change. Demonstrating courage requires willingness to voice unpopular opinion, approaches conflict proactively, and provides direct and action-oriented feedback to others. Current council members Kevin Coyne and John Krummen have it, along with candidates O’Meara and Kelly who seem to have it.

Driving change takes energy, perseverance, and determination with a ‘can-do attitude’, makes decisions and takes action to move ideas forward. Current council members Benny White and Coyne have it, and it appears candidates Kelly and O’Meara also have it.

No doubt the current city council is good, however with ‘better’ being possible, ‘good’ is not enough. This election is an opportunity to make it better.

The Cubs play a night game in Miami, the third Tuesday of April (city council meeting night); that may help me kick the addiction, though I doubt it. I’ll be watching the meeting after the game.

Mar 092019

Time is running out for Naperville Mayoral candidate Rocky Caylor to close the gap with Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico. With only 23 days remaining until election day (April 2), Caylor fell short in gaining ground during the two-hour candidate forum Monday March 4. If anything changed, it was that the gap widened.

When the bell rang for the forum to begin, Caylor came out strong, but within seconds his focus diverted accusing Chirico of unfairly gathering research against him, when in fact it was Caylor who released information about himself; probably not the best strategy on the challenger’s part. To Chirico’s credit he did not respond to the jab, and stayed on point.

However later in the forum, the question about researching a candidate was asked by the moderator and Chirico used it to his advantage. Watch and listen as Chirico responds:

Anything less than researching a candidate’s background would be foolish. Imagine a baseball manager not using a scouting report a before a game, or a pitcher not researching opposing batters tendencies, or not researching a cardiologist before choosing a heart surgeon.

Later in the forum, the moderator presented the candidates with a question about using tax increment financing (TIF) as a method to subsidize development:

So Caylor, if elected mayor, would not support offering a TIF, but as a business owner in Joliet, he asked for and was granted a TIF for his company.

Other opportunities for Caylor to garner voting support fell flat, partly because of ill-timed humor (using a municipal mayor’s vehicle to let people know he was driving around), to making statements that he most likely fully understood, but those listening (including myself) had no idea what he was talking about.

Rocky Caylor still has 23 days to become Rocky Balboa and win the battle, but it appears he has inflicted a TKO to himself.

Mar 022019

Soon-to-be former Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, is credited with saying, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste”, which has morphed into ‘never let a bad situation go to waste’. Emanuel said, “by that, I mean it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before”.

Most recently the ‘crisis’ or ‘bad situation’ was the shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora where five employees of the company were killed, and five Aurora police officers were wounded. Naperville dispatched 20 personnel officers to the scene of the shooting to work with Aurora officers and numerous other police officers from neighboring communities to resolve the ‘bad situation’, and resolve it they did.

Another glaring example of police officers running towards danger that  most of us are programmed to run from. The police do what most of us don’t want to do; run towards danger. It’s in their DNA, and along with intense training and the proper equipment, they can accomplish their goal of providing us with public safety.

A key component to the success of public safety is having the proper equipment. The Aurora police department, has a piece of equipment called a ‘BearCat’, which allows the Aurora PD 100% access, which in the event of an active shooter incident provides an immediate response which proved critical in the shooting at the manufacturing plant. A BearCat is an armored police vehicle or rescue vehicle used to get people who are injured or need to be recovered. The City of Naperville does not own a Bearcat.

Watch and listen to Naperville councilman John Krummen as he says:

  • Naperville’s first priority is safety for every member of the community
  • He wants to thank first responders
  • He can’t assure this type of tragedy will not happen in Naperville
  • He can assure that Naperville’s first priority is public safety
  • He can assure that “whatever comes our way we have prepared”

No doubt that Krummen’s words are very reassuring and most likely genuinely heart-felt, but words without action are like showing a hungry person a picture of food, or the White Sox executives talking about signing Manny Machado without making it happen. In one word, empty.

Councilman Krummen is not running for re-election this cycle, however council members Judy Brodhead and Paul Hinterlong, along with former councilman Joe McElroy and 8 others are running for city council. Are any of the 11 willing to make public safety priority #1, and be the point-person for pushing and helping Naperville’s police department secure it’s very own BearCat.

If public safety is truly more than just a talking point, then taking a stand to help the NPD obtain a BearCat is tangible support. When Krummen states that he can assure “whatever comes our way we have prepared” is ’empty’ unless the City has truly ‘prepared’. Securing a BearCat for the NPD is preparation. It’s preparation for the NPD to provide the best of public safety for its residents and businesses. It’s a way of saying ‘thank you’ to first responders.

“Never let a bad situation go to waste”. Better yet, never let a bad situation become worse by not having prepared for it.

Feb 232019

It seems whenever a Naperville city official, other than Mayor Steve Chirico, is needed to take a strong, assertive, stand on a controversial issue, it’s Naperville city councilman Kevin Coyne. He did it again during the February 5th city council meeting, when he in no uncertain terms called for the resignation of newly elected Democrat, Anne Stava-Murray representing the 81st District in the Illinois House.

In less than two months after being elected, Stava-Murray celebrated her victory by insulting a huge chunk of her constituency when she stood by a Facebook comment she posted responding to an individual who called Naperville residents ‘bullies and horrible people’. Stava-Murray apologized to the writer commenting ‘Naperville’s ‘history of white supremacist policies is ongoing’. Apparently Stava-Murray is determined to be a one-term elected official. Comments like that may work for politicians in California or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s, D-NY’s 14th District, but highly unlikely it will work here.

In a statement by Councilman Coyne, he said, “Her actions are the most disgusting that I have ever seen from an elected official” and that “she has made vile comments against the very people she was elected to represent.

Watch and listen to councilman Coyne as he states Stava-Murray:

  • Took rhetoric to a new low
  • Stated Naperville is a racist city further suggesting that Naperville has leanings toward white supremacy
  • Continues to echo dangerous comments
  • Alienated herself from both sides of the aisle
  • Leveled the worst of insults against the very people in her very own district
  • Has no chance that she will effectively represent our community
  • And it’s clear that Stava-Murray should resign

Stava-Murray made her situation even worse, when rather than throwing the shovel away after digging herself into a hole, she doubled down and continued digging a deeper hole by saying that Coyne can not ‘shame and blame’ her for his ‘own political gain’. She continued, ‘I am the elected official and you need to get over the fact that we’re more Democrat than Republican now’.

Stava-Murray announced plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2020 against Dick Durbin. Representative today, Senator in 2020, and why not President in 2024. Let her keep her shovel.

Feb 162019

It’s not easy defeating an incumbent, even an incompetent incumbent, but it’s especially difficult to defeat a successful, competent incumbent. That’s the position Richard ‘Rocky’ Caylor finds himself in, trying to defeat Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico. If this was a fist fight, then how can you bet against a guy named ‘Rocky’ considering undefeated heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, or Rocky Balboa. But this most likely is Rocky from ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’. Caylor definitely has his work cut out for himself. Smart money would be on Chirico to blow away Rocky the challenger.

There are similarities between the candidates. Both names start with ‘C’, both own successful businesses, both live in Naperville, neither has lost a mayoral election, (first time running for Caylor), both think they can lead the city, though only Chirico has proven it.

This is Chirico’s second run for mayor. In 2015, it was a level playing field when all four candidates were running to replace retiring mayor George Pradel. Chirico won the election with 60.5% of the vote, followed by long-time mayoral-election loser Doug Krause with 29.3%, Marty Walker 7.6%, and Jim Haselhorst with 2.5% of the vote.

You have to give former councilman Doug Krause credit for coming in 2nd place in five mayoral election bids (1995, 1999, 2007, 2011, and 2015, surpassing the NFL Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy four straight Super Bowl losses. Should Caylor lose the election, he would have quite a way to go to match Krause’s record

Mayor Chirico’s campaign war chest is bulging, with well over $100,000 in contributions, and more dollars pouring in daily. As we get closer to election day, Chirico currently has enough money to buy every eligible voter a chocolate dipped Dairy Queen ice cream cone, with enough money left over to have a huge election night celebratory victory party at Hugo’s, and still have campaign funds leftover to seed his next mayoral election in 2023.

Chirico is probably very appreciative that Caylor decided to step into the ring to challenge him. What’s the fun in not having an opponent. It would be like the Cubs suiting up for a game and the Cardinals or White Sox not showing up to play, or Chirico shadow boxing in his back yard. That’s no fun.

And as for that fist fight between Rocky and Chirico, you can’t count Chirico out of that either, considering he was a Naperville High School champion wrestler; Rocky’s done once Chirico gets his hands on him.

Feb 092019

Not counting the mayoral election, there will be 11 candidates running for four open positions on the Naperville city council. That means 7 of the 11 will lose and finish sadder, poorer, and humiliated. Whomever comes in 5th place will be the best loser of the bunch.

Former ‘one-term’, Naperville councilman Dave Wentz, will not be one of the losers, nor will he be one of the winners, because he quit before he started. Many of you may remember Wentz from his now famous ‘Do you know who I am’ phrase that gave him more clout when dealing with the ‘little people’. You can’t blame Wentz for trying to elevate his importance, because he surely didn’t do it with his presence on the council.

When Wentz announced his plan to seek election this spring, he said he took a ‘brief hiatus from politics to focus more time on his family, business, and various community service projects’ which is code for ‘I lost the election and I’m bummed out’. He went on to say that he had “unfinished business” as his reason for running again,whatever that means. ‘Unfinished business’ will remain, because Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico named Wentz for an appointment to the Naper Settlement Museum board, and Wentz immediately withdrew his bid for city council. Who knew that Wentz had a passion for history; apparently Mayor Chirico knew.

It’s amazing how quickly ‘unfinished business’ becomes unimportant, and family and business become less important, when it comes to landing a spot on a museum board. Chirico did a favor for Naperville residents and businesses by redirecting Wentz’s attention from the council to the museum. It also helped Wentz by not being labeled ‘a loser’ with another city council defeat.

Another former city council member (Joe McElroy, 2011-2015) is throwing his hat into the ring for another try with city council. He also has some unfinished business to do on the council if re-elected and he’s in the race to win it. McElroy’s strength and expertise is in city planning, with a Master’s in urban planning from Michigan State in 1986. He wants to have impact with the 5th Avenue Development, the east Ogden corridor, and upcoming Route 59 subdivisions. He understands and welcomes the challenge of balancing progress and preservation with regard to developments. Having grown up on the south side of Chicago, he said it taught him the importance of strong, stable neighborhoods.

When asked, “What didn’t you accomplish the first time on the council, that you would like to accomplish this time” he mentioned, lengthen term limits for boards and commissions, strengthen landscaping regulations, and more emphasis on protecting neighborhoods.

McElroy sees the current city council as being more amiable, with the ability to work better together, and strong leadership as differing from the council on which he participated.

Joe’s hobbies include buying and selling used guitars and his quest to teach himself to play the guitar continues. A Jimi Hendrix he is not, but a wanna-be Hendrix he is. He just doesn’t wanna-be the candidate with the 5th most votes.

Feb 022019

We made it through the record-setting polar vortex, now all we have to do is make it through the thaw. Naperville city officials are hoping it takes until July to melt all the snow. The beautiful white snow has a way of making us forget what’s under the snow, things that we really don’t want to see or have to deal with. Things like weeds, chipping paint, unsealed driveways, pot holes, and leaves.

Oh yes, how soon we forget the leaves that we raked into the street. The leaves that city officials paid big-time tax dollars to remove, and for residents to dutifully transfer leaves from our yards into the street curb waiting for the guys with rakes to rearrange just prior to trucks with gigantic vacuums appearing and further re-arranging leaves evenly throughout the entire street.

The plan was for a series of three leaf-pickups followed by a street-sweeper vehicle to finish the job. The street-sweeper didn’t get the job done. In fact, the third leaf-pickup didn’t happen either for a high percentage of folks in Naperville. So what happened to the leaves in the street? Chances are good, they can be found under the snow, covering the street drains, defending the drains from melting snow, resulting in neighborhood flooding.

Naperville city official’s plan worked about as good as the Bear’s Cody Parkay’s double-doink field goal. Nobody can fault a plan that doesn’t work, unless the same plan surfaces every year with the likelihood of the same result. Chances are very good that Parkay won’t be kicking for the Bears next year. Chances are just as good that Naperville city officials will still have the same leaf-pickup plan next year.

Jan 262019

Sometimes the key to success is knowing when to give up and quit. At some point hanging in there and continuing on, makes you look like an even bigger loser. Apparently Naperville councilwomen Becky Anderson and Rebecca Boyd-Obarski reached that point when they announced they would not seek re-election to the Naperville city council. After just one term in office they are throwing in the towel rather than facing almost certain defeat in spring’s municipal election.

Neither subscribe to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous quote, “‘Tis better to have run for office and lost, than to have never run at all”, well maybe he was referring to ‘love’ rather than running for office, but you get the idea. One thing is for sure, neither Anderson or Obarski is the Rocky Balboa of politics.

Becky Anderson sealed her fate in numerous ways, but all it really took was one huge error in judgment, when she began to push the unpopular concept that Naperville needs to be a ‘welcoming’ city which is code for a ‘sanctuary’ city. That works in California, and specifically in San Francisco, but it doesn’t work in Naperville.

Anderson recently ran for the Illinois 6th House District representative in the democrat primary, and was soundly defeated coming in 4th place out of 6 candidates and garnering just 6.1% of the vote, while the winner carried 30% of the vote. Getting pounded by a 5 to 1 ratio apparently was too much for Anderson to deal with and what little wind was left in her balloon disappeared as quickly as the offending referee-official in Saints/Rams NFC championship game. Her lame-duck status on the Naperville city council is evident with her lack of involvement.

Rebecca Boyd-Obarski seemed to have a bright future as a member of the Naperville city council, even to the point that some considered her to be a future, viable mayoral candidate. Her stock value was increasing as she clearly has the willingness to speak up and respectfully challenge the majority council position on an agenda item. She admitted she didn’t have all the answers (unusual in politics) but had the open-mindedness to search for answer, she didn’t ask once and accept an answer, she would delve deeper for the right answer. Unfortunately for Obarski, her support eroded when her actions, decisions, and votes on the council didn’t always match her platform as a council-candidate; many supporters felt abandoned.

So for both Naperville councilwoman Obarski and especially for soon-to-be ex-councilwoman Becky Anderson the motto that best fits is “Give up, it’s quicker”.

Jan 202019

Oops, Naperville city officials got caught again. This time the City of Henderson, Nevada outed Naperville city officials by threatening a trademark infringement lawsuit for using the term ‘Water Street District’ to describe the recent new development in downtown Naperville along Water Street. The City of Henderson has its own ‘Water Street District’ with the name protected by registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014.

Somebody or a bunch of ‘somebodies’ with the City of Naperville were not paying attention to detail. Is anybody in the legal department willing to stand up and take responsibility? Probably not. Maybe city attorney Michael DiSanto can shed some light on how this happened. Obviously the legal department in Henderson was paying attention.

Is it possible that the City of Henderson operates more efficiently than Naperville? It surely appears that way. Henderson has a population of approximately 300,000; about twice that of Naperville’s population of 145,000, yet while Naperville has nine city council members, Henderson needs only five to get the job done. It’s a simple matter of numbers. Henderson with twice the population and about half the council members, makes Henderson city officials four times more efficient. Attention to detail might be a municipal value, if nothing else Henderson city officials probably subscribe to theory of ‘trust but verify’.

Not one Naperville city official, including the nine members of the city council, and the legal department, said “Wow, ‘Water Street District’, what a cool name, is it trademarked? Maybe less time pounding down pancakes at Juicy O’s and more time in the office verifying trademarks and patents would be prudent for Naperville city officials and city attorney DiSanto.

Considering the fiasco of naming the ‘Water Street District’, Naperville councilman John Krummen made it crystal clear during January 15 city council meeting when he stated four times within 25 seconds that he is trying to re-brand the 5th avenue development as the “train station”

Apparently anybody living on 5th Avenue will now be living at the ‘train station’. Just when you think Naperville has solved the problem of homeless people by re-naming them as ‘street dwellers’, we’ll have a bunch of people living at the ‘train station’.

A few things we know for sure:

  • Somebody will be doing a lot of verifying when it comes to naming the Fifth Avenue Development
  • You won’t be seeing any council member wearing a ‘Water Street District’ shirt or cap
  • Naperville city officials won’t be approving a bubbly drink named ‘Naperville Coke’
Jan 122019

I learned rather early in life that I wasn’t made for hard, physical work. All it took was one long hot day of baling hay by hand in a t-shirt. Never wear a t-shirt when baling hay. It took a number of years later to realize that I wasn’t made to be a police officer. It’s dangerous, very difficult, and nowadays very unappreciated. It’s also a very necessary job. It’s that thin blue line that separates chaos from safety.

Imagine pulling a car over for a traffic stop at 2:30am, and not knowing what you will encounter. Or being called to a domestic disturbance, or a burglary, or shots fired. Police officers run towards what most of run away from.

My wife’s dad was a police officer in Muncie, Indiana for 42 years. You have to really like what you do, to do it for that long, or maybe you just do it because it becomes who you are. He could have written a book, as is the case with just about every police officer.

I, along with my wife, had the opportunity to participate in Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy, along with about 25 other folks. It’s a nine week program that flies by, along with each 3-hour class. It is without a doubt among the best 27 hours of time I have ever invested. Many communities throughout the country offer the program, which is designed to acquaint individuals with activities of their local police department. Graduates become more aware and better informed about how the police department works.

The link below will give you an overview of Naperville’s program:

More information on the Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy

The following is a week-by-week view of the program’s content:

In a nutshell, Naperville does it right. The program is not just a NPD task or a service, it’s a commitment and a passion on their part. Every aspect of Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy (NCPA), is done with respect and class. Members of the Naperville Police Department are outstanding representatives of their profession, and of the city.

Greek poet Archilochus said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training”. Members of the NPD are always in training, even at 2:30 in the morning.