Jun 292019

I’m beginning to wonder if it’s me, or are members of the Naperville city council walking closer to the line of lunacy when it comes to comments during council meetings. During the June 4 city council meeting, councilman Benny White wanted to know everything that’s not going to be built on a particular property, and now during the June 18 meeting two more council members added their gems of brilliance to the proceedings.

First it was councilman John Krummen. It happened during the discussion of changing the current water meter reading method from manual to an automated system which allows residents to see their water usage in real time. In other words rather than seeing a spike in water usage when a residents gets the water bill, they can actually see it when it happens in the comfort of their homes, at the exact moment it happens.

Watch and listen to Krummen as he explains the advantage to residents for the automated real-time viewing of water usage:

Imagine a resident, with nothing better to do, than watch his or her water meter usage on line, and then all of a sudden, there it is, a water leak. What are the chances of that actually happening. It won’t be like an explosion, most leaks are gradual, that’s why they are leaks and not geysers. Does Krummen actually think there is a resident anywhere in Naperville with that much time on their hands to actually be sitting in front of their computer waiting for a leak to occur. This is Naperville, not Twodot, Montana.

And then, during the discussion on Naperville’s leaf pickup program, here comes councilman Paul Hinterlong with a mind boggling question to Dick Dublinski, Director of Public Works when he asks, when will the leaves fall:

To Dublinski’s credit, he tries to keep a straight-face, which is not easy when presented with a question like that. Dublinski’s answer did confirm that he is not a meteorologist. We can assume Dublinski was referring to WGN weatherman Tom Skilling, and not his brother Jerry who stayed at the Graybar Hotel for years with his Enron shenanigans.

In a way, you can’t fault councilman Paul Hinterlong for his desire to know when the leaves will fall. I’d like to know if my tire will ever go flat, or when the Cubs will start winning consistently. Hinterlong is a Cubs fan, so that proves he is a good guy, but come on, ‘when will the leaves fall’ , that’s above Dublinski’s pay grade.

Rather than getting an answer to that imponderable, maybe Hinterlong should be focusing on ways residents can make their leaves fall quicker, like using a leaf blower, or getting the neighbors together for an old-fashioned “tree shake”. Bigger trees require more neighbors, and more shaking.

It’s unfortunate that the July 2 city council meeting has been cancelled because of July 4th. It would have been exciting to see who will be the next council member to join the ranks of White, Krummen, and Hinterlong with another off-the-wall comment or question.

Jun 232019

For most Naperville council members, listening to residents is not a favorite part of city council meetings. It slows the process down. It’s even worse, when a knowledgeable resident shines a bright light on a topic some council members would prefer to remain in the inky shadows of the municipal center,

Enter Naperville resident Jim Hall to speak for 38-seconds, just enough time to irritate Judy Brodhead by outing her for taking a ‘second bite of the apple’, when one is sufficient. Watch and listen to Jim Hall as he questions why a council member should vote twice on the same issue; one vote as a member of a board or commission, and another vote as a member of the city council.

Council member Patrick Kelly was also mentioned, however he is new to the dais, still learning where his seat is located, and deserves a mulligan on this one. However, Brodhead knew exactly what she was doing, so it should come as no surprise to her. It’s her last term in office, so she has been pulling this stunt for quite some time.

Kudos for councilman Kevin Coyne for supporting Hall’s comment by stating his position on the matter. Brodhead, rather than remaining quiet, appeared to be irritated by Coyne’s comment.

Brodhead had the right to remain silent, but she didn’t have the ability, much like the Church Lady on  SNL’s ‘Church Chat’.

The last name city council members want to see on the “speaker’s list” is Jim Hall, which happens to be the first name Watchdog wants to see on the “speaker’s list”.

Jun 162019

Before an election, candidates tend to play it safe, and refrain from saying anything silly. Most of their positions and comments are ‘vanilla’ in nature. After the election, the winners tend to disengage the ‘think-before-you-speak’ option and make some silly comments as did re-elected councilwoman Patty Gustin during the last council meeting.

The agenda item pertained to an ordinance involving tattoo businesses. Watch and listen as Gustin shares an intense bit of wisdom from personal experience:

Wow, that clarified the issue.

Later, on the same subject, she again added a gem of wisdom:

Again, a brilliant observation by Gustin, “anybody can sue anybody for anything” including the city getting sued by anybody for anything. After the comment, council members squirmed in unison, in their seats. Just what city officials want to broadcast, ‘anybody can sue the city’.

The winning comment for the night, and maybe for the year, if not the decade, came from, of all people, councilman Benny White. Keep in mind, that since White’s election, he has been very careful not to take a misstep, by saying something foolish. However, on this night, White surpassed the demarcation line of silly and foolish, and entered the arena of idiotic and stupid when he made a request to a presenter from North Central College.

The agenda item had to do with the rezoning of property from Little Friends to North Central College (NCC). There were concerns from residents and some council members as to what the college was going to do with the property. NCC did not want to commit to any specific plan until they knew rezoning would occur. It turned into a tug-of-war between ‘tell us the plan’ before we approve rezoning, vs. “approve the rezoning before we tell you the plan”, at which point council Benny White came up with this brilliant request to the NCC presenter:

Imagine what is running thru the mind of the NCC presenter when he hears the request, “what are you not going to be putting there”. He’s probably thinking, “are you kidding me”.

It might be too harsh to say that White’s comment and request was idiotic and stupid, but I can’t think of two better words. I’m sure when the list of things not going to be put there is submitted to the council, it could be rather extensive. It would probably include:

  • No explosive testing
  • No uranium-enrichment facility
  • No heliport
  • No theme park
  • No airport runway
  • No hazmat storage facility
  • No ribfest parking lot
  • No beehives the size of Buicks
  • No Walmart
  • No puppy mill
  • No drive-in movie theatre
  • No kissing booth (maybe)

The list could be endless. However if White wants the list, that is what he shall get. Local officials always get what they want. What they don’t want is an unending list of video clips showing silly (and yes stupid) things they have done or said.

Jun 082019

Lawmakers in Springfield are giddy, with their decision to legalize recreational marijuana sales in Illinois. They couldn’t be happier, tripping over each other to get their pictures taken after the vote to free the weed and plant the seed. But now Naperville city officials could be a buzzkill as they consider whether or not the Naperville city council  will opt out approving the retail sales of cannabis.

Naperville city council members Kevin Coyne and Patty Gustin hosted a panel discussion regarding the burning issue. Coyne and Gustin are the ‘odd couple’; one is focused, the other one is discombobulated. The ‘focused’ one’s last name rhymes with ‘coin’ as in quarter, as in ‘quarter-ounce’. The panel discussion was titled, ‘It’s not your mama’s marijuana’. Apparently Coyne’s and Gustin’s mamas were a lot different than my mama. Any money left over in the Watchdog household after paying bills was used for food, and a 10-cent double-stick popsicle on Saturdays.

It’s possible that city officials could give a thumbs-down to selling Ganja in Naperville, which means that folks would have to drive a short distance to a neighboring town to get their fix, but that wouldn’t be a problem for the good folks of Naperville, since a hefty number already do that to buy gas, since Naperville city officials jacked up the sales tax on fuel a few years ago. Family-friendly Napervillians could go for a family outing to the next town over, for a fill-up on gas while stopping for a fill-up of recreational weed. Whatever money saved could be used towards the kids tuition.

However, if city officials decide to allow the sale of marijuana in Naperville, that could be the answer to all the empty store fronts. Think of the possibilities. Naperville city officials would no longer have to be concerned about a string of car washes along Ogden Avenue. It might be a good time to invest in Bic lighters.

Jun 012019

It’s amazing that one day a person can be sitting at home watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island, and then a short time later get elected to the city council with a small plurality of a small percentage of registered voters, and find themselves sitting at the dais making voting decisions for hundreds of thousands of dollars effecting Naperville’s population of over 147,000 residents. It’s a little scary when you think about it. Fortunately, five competent council members can trump four incompetents.

The good news is that the Naperville city council is a competent bunch, and far better than recent councils. However do they really know what they are voting for, and more accurately, do they truly understand what each city department does and how it works. Have any of them taken the time to learn the workings of each department.

In one of my previous careers, the CEO of a very successful retail company started out stocking shelves. At a very young age he wanted to understand how each department in the store worked and how it all came together under one roof. He volunteered to come in on his day off and help in each department; merchandising, hard lines, soft lines, health and beauty, grocery, electronics security, management, etc. He worked his way up to become a store team leader, district manger, regional manager, V.P., President, and ultimately Chairman and CEO. He was an outstanding leader because at each level he learned all he could which enabled him to understand how all the dots connected which provided him with a sound foundation to make wise decisions.

It took time to do that, and council members don’t stay around long enough to follow the same path, however they can be in office for four or eight years. Why not invest one day working with each department head, and one day working in the field to get a real taste for what it’s like including:

  • City Manager
  • City Clerk
  • Finance
  • HR
  • Legal
  • Public Utility – Electric
  • Public Utility – Water
  • Public Works
  • TED (Transportation, Engineering, Development)
  • Fire Department
  • Police Department

Council members can look at it as CE (Continuing Education). Many professions require CE to keep current. Shouldn’t council members be current in understanding how their decisions impact the residents of Naperville and city workers. Watchdog suggests Naperville city council members begin with Naperville’s Police Academy (18 hours), and Naperville’s Fire Academy (12 hours). It would also be a show of support for members the Police and Fire Departments, along with other city departments. Council members wouldn’t be ‘spending’ time learning, they would be investing time understanding.