Mar 302019

Most of our NCAA brackets are busted by now, but we still have a chance to identify four winners out of the 11 candidates running for Naperville’s city council election. There are comparisons between the NCAA tournament and the city council election. I may pick Michigan State and Auburn to win without liking them, whereas I can identify Nevada and Murray State as having winning programs without thinking they will win.

The ‘Michigan State and Auburn’ of the 11 candidates are Paul Hinterlong and Patty Gustin. They both have a great chance of winning, not because they are among the four best candidates, but because they are incumbents. It’s not easy beating an incumbent. Name recognition is like gum on your shoe on a hot August day; it’s difficult to ignore. It never seems to go away like Hinterlong, and Gustin still talks too long, too much and doesn’t know when to stop talking.

So who are the ‘Final Four’? Which candidates are Duke, Kentucky, Virginia, and Texas Tech , worthy of Watchdog endorsements. Choosing two (Duke and Virginia) was easy; Patrick Kelly and Whitney Robbins. Neither had to read their opening and closing statements, their comments and answers were clear and concise, and both appear likeable and sincere. Kelly communicates effectively and demonstrates courage, while Robbins creates an environment of trust with the ability to maximize relationships. She is the least political of the bunch but the most relatable.

The third choice for endorsement (Bruce Hanson/Kentucky) was relatively clear until he stumbled awkwardly when asked a question about evaluating the leadership of the current city council members. Rather than embracing the question with confidence, he couldn’t wait for his time to run out so he could pass the ball to the next candidate. As bad as that moment was for him, he brings a wealth of experience to the dais. Hanson becomes Kentucky with a reluctant endorsement to the Final Four.

Six candidates remain for the Final Fourth (Texas Tech) endorsement. This is where it became difficult. Joe McElroy’s unorthodox style looked appealing, but negative press quickly bumped him off the list. Theresa Sullivan’s agenda didn’t seem like a good fit with the current council. The only time Brad Miller cracked a smile was when a straight face would have worked better.

Nancy Turner teetered on the edge between being too controlled and enthusiasm-challenged. She mercifully fell off the edge when she stated her reason for running for council election was sexist-based, rather than quality-based:

Barbara O’Meara had me quickly from the beginning, assertive, strong, confident, opinionated, high energy, enthusiastic, with the ability to think critically and drive change. What’s there not to like, right? Well, there were two things. The first was like throwing a brick for a free throw:

A surcharge on lawn sprinklers! Are you kidding me.

But then she threw up an air ball with this comment:

Misinterpreting hard work, perseverance, determination, managing performance and execution, making things happen, and accomplishing goals as “white privilege” is a gross miscalculation on O’Meara’s part. She could have had the game winning shot with the fourth endorsement. Rather than taking a simple layup, she shot the wildest of air balls.

The fourth endorsement (Texas Tech) goes to Michele Hilger Clemen. She’s not flashy, but she is consistent, with the ability to demonstrate accountability and drive change. She can add to the dais by assessing situations quickly and solving problems effectively.

Watchdog’s Final Four are Patrick Kelly, Whitney Robbins, Bruce Hanson and Michele Hilger Clemen. They may or may not win, but they are winners.

Mar 272019

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it”. This is a quote from philosopher George Santayana, which was slightly changed in a 1948 speech given to the House of Commons by Winston Churchill when he said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” Then there is my version which I like the best, “Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it”. Something about the word ‘doomed’ has impact. Maybe it came from being a Cub fan for so many years.

It appears Naperville mayoral candidate Rocky Caylor never read that quote, nor does he remember 1988 Democratic Presidential candidate Gary Hart. When rumors began to circulate about Hart, he challenged the media by saying, “They should follow me around…They’ll be very bored.” The media did follow him around, and they weren’t bored. Five days after Hart issued the challenge, Hart’s candidacy crashed and burned when a picture of a boat named ‘Monkey Business’ surfaced and Gary Hart was on board. Oops. Hart went down for the count of ten.

In 2015 when Caylor was appearing before a Joliet zoning board, residents spoke in opposition to a massive trucking facility. Caylor assured residents that promises would be honored, but residents had their doubts. Caylor encouraged town folks to Google him or hire an investigator to look at what he’s done. Oops. Not wise on Caylor’s part.

Background research on a political candidate is standard operating procedure. Most of us who get hired are subject to a background check.

Caylor might be a very nice guy. In his campaign mailer, he’s smiling, holding a cute little white dog, relaxed in blue jeans, and a cool hoodie, so how could he not be a nice guy. The dog even has tags. So that makes him a responsible guy, right. And let’s face it, who among us, hasn’t been slapped with class-action law suits, and affiliations with strip clubs. And as for Caylor’s claim that he graduated from IU, maybe he confused Indiana University with Iceland University, he’s still looking for his diploma. Can’t find it, minor detail, it’s not like Caylor said he graduated from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, or North Central College.

Who doesn’t like an underdog. Incumbents typically are not underdogs. Name recognition is huge. Ask Naperville residents who the mayor is, and they will say George Pradel. It shows the power of 20 years worth of name recognition. Mayor Steve Chirico’s name recognition has had four years to develop, just as his strong track record of accomplishment has developed.

Ask Naperville residents who Richard Caylor is, and they might say ‘who’? However ask them who Rocky Caylor is and they might say ‘who’. No doubt that the name ‘Rocky’ is worth a few votes, but unfortunately for Rocky not enough to make a difference in the final vote.

If I could vote for two people for mayor of Naperville, Steve Chirico would get both votes.

Bottom line, Watchdog endorses Mayor Steve Chirico for re-election. The reasons are too many to list, so keeping it simple, Chirico has two cute little doggies, while Caylor has just one, telling me that Chirico likes dogs twice as much as Caylor, and Chirico has not been good for Naperville, he has been outstanding for Naperville.

Mar 232019

Two guys are on a safari in eastern Africa, and in the distance they see a tiger; more importantly the tiger sees them. The first guy reaches into his backpack for his running shoes and puts them on. The second guy says, ‘you’re not going to outrun that tiger’. The first guy says, ‘I don’t have to. I just have to outrun you’.

Eleven candidates are running for four open seats on the city council. It’s not important who gets the most votes other than bragging rights. What is important is who gets the 4th and 5th most votes, because 4th most will be a city council member, and 5th most will be history.

During the last three city council elections, the difference between the last candidate voted in, and the first candidate not getting elected was just a few votes. In 2013 the candidate coming in 5th place and not getting elected, lost by just 129 votes from getting elected to city council. Current councilman Kevin Coyne remembers it well, because he is the one who came in 5th place losing by just 129 votes. In 2015 the difference between last in and first out was 161 votes. And in 2017 the last person-in coming in 4th place was current councilman John Krummen with 5,193 votes, while 5th place finisher Julie Berkowicz had 5,103 votes, falling 90 votes short of getting elected to the city council.

The point is, there is little difference between last in and first out. A few more handshakes, or a few more yard signs, or a huge bump from an endorsement can make the difference.

On March 28th, Watchdog will be endorsing a mayoral candidate, followed by the endorsement of four city council candidates on March 31st. For each of the last three elections Watchdog’s readership has skyrocketed during the month of March. Elections have a way of doing that.

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.