Jul 272019

Are Naperville city officials becoming more bold, by playing games with Naperville residents, or are residents becoming more bold by calling out city officials? Have you ever wondered, the order in which speakers are selected to speak during public forum, or during specific agenda items? Former mayoral candidate and Naperville resident Jim Haselhorst most likely has thoughts about both those questions.

Watch and listen to Haselhorst as he questions city staff about being first in line to sign-up to speak, but found himself buried behind numerous speakers before being granted his 3-minutes to make his presentation to the council:

He doesn’t get a straight answer other than the online registration to speak does not work, which begs the question, is Naperville’s IT department that inept, or does it only occur when it benefits city officials.

On-line registration to speak may be useless, but the three-minute time clock to cut off residents while speaking about issues that city officials might not want to hear is fully operational:

When determining whom speaks, and when, it appears that the City of Naperville employs the ‘Golden Rule’ which is he who has the gold makes the rules, and the city has the gold. According to Haselhorst it appears the method used may be orchestrated, rather than random or sequential. If that’s the case, then who is doing the orchestrating? Who is the ‘Wizard of Speakers’ sitting behind the curtain pulling the strings?

Why not keep it simple and make a rule that everyone understands; alphabetical order according to size, unless it’s a full moon, and then it’s on the count of three, the first one up to the podium gets to speak.

Jul 212019

It’s so much easier to get things decided if you’re not involving other people, unless you’re building a barn in Amish country. Maybe that’s why so many people in Naperville are feeling uninformed when it comes to projects close to their homes. City officials say they are doing their best to let residents know about issues that can have impact on a neighborhood, but the good folks of Naperville aren’t buying the rhetoric.

It makes no difference what the specific issue is, because it’s just another tree in the forest. What is important is that residents continually don’t feel informed.

Fortunately new council member Theresa Sullivan is openly questioning why so many people in Naperville are feeling uninformed. Kudos to Sullivan for being a voice for those residents.

Watch and listen to Sullivan ask the question ‘What went wrong here’, followed by some tap-dancing answers by Naperville Transportation, Engineering, and Development (TED) Director, Bill Novack, with a little coaxing by Mayor Steve Chirico:

So Mayor Chirico acknowledges that “it’s not that unusual for people to feel they haven’t been notified” which in itself verifies something is wrong with the process.

Novack states they are “constantly trying to change it”; well apparently it’s not good enough, and since better is possible, then ‘good’ is not enough.

The mayor then points out that there are minimum requirements for notification, to which Novack says “we greatly exceed the minimum requirements”. Since when does the great city of Naperville use the ‘minimum requirement’ as a benchmark of success. A patient in an intensive care unit of a hospital may have a pulse (minimum requirement for life) but that doesn’t mean the patient is well.

There was a time, not that long ago, when the city council meeting agenda was posted in the Naperville Sun newspaper, but no longer. Watchdog refers to the local newspaper as nothing more than the 10th member of the city council, since it publishes talking points by city officials. However by posting the meeting agenda, at least it gave residents the opportunity to see issues to be discussed or up for a vote. That option mysteriously disappeared from print.

Naperville city officials pride themselves in having state-of-the-art methods for getting things done, why not put a high priority on doing the same for notifying residents, or is the prevailing thought by city officials that residents are on a need-to-know basis, and they don’t need to know.

Jul 142019

Baseball’s All-Star game marks the theoretical half-way point of the baseball season, just as July 4th marks the half-way point Naperville’s city council meetings for the year. July 16 will be the first meeting of the second half of the calendar year so it might be a good time to review how Naperville’s city council meetings can be seen.

The Naperville city council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at the Naperville Municipal Center located at 400 S. Eagle Street in council chambers on the main floor. Meetings begin at 7:00PM and last about two hours. The shortest meeting I can remember lasted about 30 minutes and the longest concluded after midnight.

In contrast to former Mayor George Pradel, when meetings would begin after all the council members would come in late like it was a social gathering, Mayor Steve Chirico is punctual, getting meetings started on time, oftentimes with council members running to their seats during roll call.

Just like a ballgame, nothing beats being at the meeting in person to see the entire performance unfold. Rather than having the camera dictate what can be seen, your eyes can see what can’t be seen online or on TV, including a council member dozing off (it’s happened), council members chatting while a speaker is making a presentation, or council members on their devices checking scores, emails, or menus, again while speakers are speaking.

Meetings can also be viewed live, on TV via the government access channel, or online. You can also view previous city council meetings on the city’s website.

The City of Naperville will post the agenda for council meetings on the Thursday preceding Tuesday’s council meeting thereby giving all the opportunity to view topics to be discussed five days in advance. This Tuesday’s city council meeting is available for viewing.

What could be more fun than gathering the entire family around the TV with a big bowl of popcorn watching your elected officials talking endlessly about a topic only to have it tabled until a future meeting.

Jul 062019

A guy has an infected finger and goes to the doctor for a diagnosis. The doctor recommends surgery to remove the infected digit. The guy goes to two more doctors for a second and third opinion; both make the same prognosis. Finally, while on safari, the guy decides to visit a local witch doctor for his recommendation to see if there is any other option besides surgery. The witch doctor says, “Surgery not necessary. No need to do anything. In short time, finger will fall off all by itself”.

That’s the situation the Naperville city council finds itself with the deteriorating Moser Tower which houses the 72-bell Millennium Carillon. Naperville is in the third round of testing to determine if they want to 1) make major repairs for a big-time expense of about $3.8 million, 2) make repairs on-the-cheap to keep it standing for a few more years, or 3) demolish the 160-foot structure for about $600,000.

It seems as though the Naperville city council is suffering from paralysis through analysis, unable to make a decision thereby kicking  the can down the road. It’s cost Naperville taxpayers over $200,000 and still no decision from Naperville city officials. Maybe they should tell the testing company what conclusion they want in the report, so the testing company can submit a report that the council likes, and they can vote in favor of that direction.

Better yet, how about a binding referendum allowing voters to choose which of the three options they want. That’s much too simple, much too logical. If voters choose to demolish the money pit, what better time to do it, than the 4th of July as a rousing send off for the last Ribfest in Naperville.  Again the Naperville city council missed a golden opportunity to make it a 4th of July celebration to remember. Forget spending $600K for demolition. How much would 40 sticks of dynamite, a long fuse, and a Bic lighter cost. If they want to save the cost of the Bic lighter, they could simply use the last burning charcoal briquette from Ribfest to ignite the momentous event.

The third and final testing and assessment report, prior to the soon-to-be fourth and fifth final testing and assessment reports should be available to the Naperville city council by August. City officials can then make a decision or choose to do nothing and wait for more reports. In time Moser Tower will come down all by itself.