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.