Nov 232019

Naperville’s 2020 budget proposal ($491.7 million) will be about 9% higher than the 2019 budget ($451.4 million). With a $40 million increase in spending, city staff projects the property tax rate will be flat keeping the city property tax bills about the same as this year.

Among a number of planned improvements and services for residents, the Naperville Fire Department requested about $3.5 million for an ambulance, three new vehicles, a pumper truck, and self-contained breathing apparatus equipment.

The Naperville Police Department has two wish items on the 2020 budget; 1) the addition of four new police officers, and 2) a $315,000 armored vehicle (Bearcat) used in SWAT events. Watchdog has long advocated for the NPD to have a Bearcat.

While it’s nice to have an expanded leaf collection program and more salt for winter, and it’s fun to have automated meter reading, and it’s really cool to have three new IT people running around the Municipal Center, the safety and security of our city is paramount, and this happens when our police and fire departments have the equipment they need to get the job done.

OK, the Washington Street bridge replacement project is important, but if I had to, I could find another route from my home to the Dairy Queen. However if one night my chimney looks like a Bunsen burner and I need the NFD pronto, or my house is surrounded by spooky looking people, I’m not calling Ghost Busters, I am calling 911 for ‘Naperville’s finest’ to arrive in a Bearcat.

A ‘tip of the cap’ to council members John Krummen, Pat Kelly, Patty Gustin, Paul Hinterlong, and mayor Steve Chirico for giving a big ‘thank you’ to the Naperville Fire Department during the last city council meeting:

I too participated in a Naperville Citizen Fire Academy this last summer, and it was no ‘day at the beach’; what they do is not hard work, it’s very hard work. It took me 15 minutes just to put on the protective gear. Putting the boots on turned into a wrestling match.

My wife and I also participated in Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy. We had a deep appreciation and gratefulness for what police officers do before we began the course, and an even greater appreciation and gratefulness by the end of the course.

The Naperville city council has the opportunity to show support for the police and fire departments by approving their requests. If there ever was a reason for a unanimous 9 to 0 vote, supporting the NPD and NFD is it.

Nov 172019

Imagine you and your family want to build a new home on a very nice piece of property. You have a very good home builder and all you need to do is let the builder know what you want the house to look like. You and your family start discussing what you would like, then you ask your extended family and relatives for their ideas, then you ask your friends for their suggestions, and then you include the neighbors, co-workers, mailman, and the guy working in the produce department for his ideas. Then after more than two years of talking and more than 60 meetings you find yourself back at the drawing board, having accomplished next to nothing in that time. That’s exactly where the Naperville city council finds itself with the Fifth Avenue Development project.

So what’s the problem? The problem is every member of the Naperville city council not including the mayor; all eight of them. That begs the question ‘why’? The answer is simple. They have no backbone, no spine, they need a huge chiropractic adjustment. The only person wanting and working to move forward is the mayor, Steve Chirico. The rest of them appear incapable of making a decision in fear that someone won’t like it. They can’t even decide to agree to disagree.

Watch and listen as mayor Chirico asks a simple question “can I see seven hands in the air, of people who are willing to give and take, to get this thing done, show compromise and understand that we are not all going to get what we want, but at the end, it’s the best thing for the community. Do we have seven people committed to doing that?”

Getting a response, or a yes, or a raised hand was like pulling teeth. It was a simple question with nothing to fear. Councilman Pat Kelly couldn’t get his hand up as if it was gravity challenged. It wasn’t until he was concerned somebody might see it on video, that he made a weak effort to commit to work together for the city.

Shortly afterwards, mayor Chirico displayed a brilliant strategic move to individually and consecutively, corner and ‘take down’ three council members Theresa Sullivan, Patty Gustin, and Pat Kelly (three sticks in the mud) and get them to publicly commit to moving forward, rather than dragging their heals and sitting on their hands doing nothing. Sullivan was hung-up with ‘process’, Gustin with apartments, and Kelly with ego.

Chirico asked Kelly, “if the city council supported everything on your plan, and if Ryan Companies agreed, are you going to vote ‘yes’ (to moving forward)? If you’re not willing to commit to to getting to ‘yes’ and we only have six votes, there is no reason to move forward.”

Before continuing with more endless talking, the ‘gang of 8’ council members might want to consider watching and listening to a TED Talk, “The Paradox of Choice” with Barry Schwartz. It’s easier than getting a huge chiropractic adjustment.

Nov 092019

What do the Chicago Bears, Houston Astros and Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico have in common? They all have lost four in a row. The Bears have lost their last four games, the Houston Astros lost their last four home World Series games, and Mayor Chirico has been on the losing end of his last four big city council votes including Old Nichols Library, Fifth Avenue Development, Selling recreational marijuana in Naperville, and the wording for the non-binding referendum re: selling recreational marijuana. You could say he’s on a roll, downhill and increasing speed. To say he needs a winner is an understatement.

He appears to be taking it in stride, yet there was a nine-second ‘moment’ during the October 15 meeting immediately after his fourth defeat (wording for non-binding marijuana referendum) when you could hear the  following:

So exactly what was the mayor feeling? It could have been exasperation, a feeling of irritation or annoyance. Or more likely it was resignation, the acceptance of something undesirable or inevitable. He gave it his best shot with his best swing, but the ball landed on the warning track, a few feet short of a winning home run, and the game was over. One more biscuit for breakfast, one more favorable vote, and the losing streak would have been over.

Maybe like Bear and Astro fans, the mayor can hope for a better result in the next game. Sooner or later it has to happen. It did for the Cubs in 2016. The difference is Mayor Chirico doesn’t have 108 years to make it happen.

Nov 032019

The Naperville city council voted to deny the sale of recreational marijuana, however they kept the door open by supporting a non-binding referendum allowing residents to vote their preference. All that was necessary was to choose the wording for the referendum.

When the Naperville city council is given the choice to obfuscate voters or enlighten them, they chose the former. It happened again during the October 15 city council meeting when council members, chose a more wordy form of a non-binding referendum regarding the sale of recreational marijuana in Naperville.

Occam’s Razor is a scientific and philosophic rule which states, “The simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex”, in other words ‘keep it simple’. Lawyer’s can’t keep it simple; it’s not in their DNA. Councilman Patrick Kelly, an attorney, was one of the five favoring a 32-word version of the non-binding referendum rather than Patty Gustin’s 16-word version or Mayor Steve Chirico’s 21-word version which were voted down.

Watch and listen as Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico states his 21-word simple version:

“Shall the City of Naperville, in light of the state legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis, allow its sale within Naperville’s jurisdiction”.

Followed by council member Patty Gustin’s 16-word version:

“Shall the City of Naperville allow the sale of recreational adult-use cannabis within its jurisdiction”.

Finally councilman and attorney Patrick Kelly presents the 32-word lengthy version selected for the referendum:

“Shall the City of Naperville, in light of State legislation legalizing the possession, consumption, and sale of recreational adult-use cannabis, allow the sale of recreational adult-use cannabis within its jurisdiction”.

Considering the Pledge of Allegiance has 31 words, and the Bill of Rights (First ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution) has 5 amendments with fewer than 32 words, the city council surely could have approved a referendum more concise that the one they approved. Rather than trying to impress residents with how clever they can be with word construction, why not focus on the audience, the residents of Naperville, and keep the wording simple. Occam would have been proud.