May 182019

Two friends are driving in opposite directions along a road when they each pass a billboard about the same time. The next day, they meet to play golf and they mention seeing each other the previous day on the road as they passed the billboard. One said the billboard was blue, while the other said it was yellow. Each thinking the other guy was wrong, decided to place a friendly wager, and drove to the billboard. Sure enough it was blue, but then they looked on the other side and it was yellow. Depending upon their perspective, which way they were coming from, they were both right. It happens in politics all the time.

Recently, a reader (BDWeiser, 45-year resident) replied to a Watchdog posting, which was then replied to by another reader (Jim Haselhorst, former Naperville mayoral candidate). Both see things, and mayor Steve Chirico’s leadership from a different perspective. The topics included:

  • Winefest
  • Jaycee Wi-Fi Smart Park
  • Chriskindle Market
  • Old Nichols Library
  • 5th Avenue Development
  • Ribfest
  • SECA funds
  • Last Fling
  • Family members

It all depends upon which side of the ‘billboard’ one is looking towards. The bottom line is that it is possible to disagree with being disagreeable.

Here is a link to the comments  Feel free to join the conversation.

May 122019

Last Tuesday had to be very exciting for Naperville’s two new council members, Patrick Kelly and Theresa Sullivan. It was officially their first council meeting. As always, Mayor Steve Chirico gets meetings started on time. There is no dilly-dallying around on his part. He’s got places to go, people to see, and things to do. No sense keeping people waiting in council chambers.

At 7:00pm sharp, roll call begins and when council member names are called they reciprocate with ‘here or present’. Uh oh, there is one missing. Where is new council member Theresa Sullivan? She is nowhere to be seen. How can that be. Her first official ‘coming out’ opportunity, and she blows it off? Maybe she forgot it was meeting night? Maybe she realized the work load was too much and she resigned. Maybe, just maybe she was at the Cubs game.

Surely she’ll get there before the Pledge of Allegiance? No, she was a no-show for that too. Could it be that council woman Theresa Sullivan is a disciple of Colin Kaepernick and she was ‘taking a knee’ in council chambers?

After the pledge she finally surfaced as she raced to be seated. Fortunately she sits on the end of the dais, and didn’t have to stumble her way towards the middle of the group.

In all fairness to new council member Sullivan, she may have had a compelling reason to be late other than finishing the last bite of a huge burrito, and if that’s the case then Watchdog, truly hopes all is well with the Sullivan household.

One thing is for sure, Sullivan now knows that Mayor Steve Chirico starts meetings on time and he has been doing that since he was elected mayor. There was a time prior to Mayor Chirico when meetings would consistently start five to ten minutes late, and council members would come in sauntering as if they were attending a cocktail party, with little or no regard for people waiting in council chambers. No longer does that happen. If a council member is not ready to get started on time, then it’s on them. Chirico runs the council meetings and the city as though it was a successful business because that’s exactly what it is.

Legendary and successful Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi lived and coached in a disciplined manner and required the same from his players. One of his rules for practice was, “If you are on time, you’re late”. In other words, get there early and be ready. Punctuality is respect for other peoples’ time. Let’s see if Sullivan is ready to do the peoples’ work.

May 042019

Getting elected can be the easy job; knowing what you’re doing can be a totally different story. When the next Naperville city council meeting convenes this Tuesday May 7, two new, shiny council members, without dents (Theresa Sullivan and Patrick Kelly) will be sitting at the dais. They will have accomplished their goal of getting elected. Their next goal will be remembering where they sit at the dais, followed by learning Naperville’s version of Robert’s Rules Of Order. That can be tricky.

If Sullivan and Kelly think they have all the answers, they will be in for a rude awakening, as some former members of the city council have experienced. Some council members have admitted to not having all the answers, but their willingness to learn (Rebecca Boyd-Obarski) was refreshing. Others have learned by listening and observing (Kevin Coyne and Benny White), while others (last name rhymes with ‘Gustin’) could have benefited from the quote, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.” That quote is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, or maybe it was Vinnie Goombotz.

Looking at the numbers:

Naperville city council members are paid $12,500 per year. Council members can work as little as they want (former council woman Becky Anderson), or as much as they need to get the job done properly (Paul Hinterlong).

An average Tuesday night city council meeting can last about two hours, with two meetings per month, minus about four meetings per year cancelled for holidays is 20 meetings per year totaling 40 hours which equates to $300 per hour. However most council members pack in the hours taking pride in getting the job done right. 20 hours per week is about 1,000 hours per year, which equates to $12.50 per hour. Compare that to a Wal-mart greeter making $13 per hour.

If a council member is elected to a 3-term limit (Paul Hinterlong and Judy Brodhead) that’s 12 years at $12,500 per year for a total of $150,000. Compare that to Philadelphia Philly baseball player Bryce Harper who just signed a 13-year contract for $330 million; Harper makes more money sleeping 8 hours per night for one week than Hinterlong and Brodhead make over a 12-year period as Naperville city council members. Granted, Hinterlong and Brodhead can’t hit the long ball, well, maybe Hinterlong can, but Brodhead is more of a bunting-move-them-along slap hitter.

Naperville council members are not in it for the money. Both Kelly and Sullivan may be surprised with the number of hours necessary to get the job done right. Neither will have alienated any residents/voters until they make their first council vote, then the irate phone calls and emails will begin to trickle in until it becomes a flood.

Another frustration they likely will experience is social media, mis-information. A classic example is tax, the city council has actually maintained or reduced the tax rate, while the school districts and park district have jacked up the tax. If you take a close look at your tax bill, you will see where those tax dollars are going, but most folks get upset with city officials, and specifically the city council regarding taxes.

Glossy mailers with cool pictures, beautiful colors, and lofty stated goals can help a candidate get elected, but it’s those same stated goals not achieved that can unseat a council member in the next election.