Naperville City Council Needs Huge Chiropractic Adjustment

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.

Show 3 Comments


  1. Gerard H Schilling

    The problem starts and ends with a no bid contract to Ryan to develop the master plan. If the system is corrupt from the beginning then the final product will also be corrupted.

    Government at all levels has lost credibility with their constituents because of politicians actions not because the citizens don’t want what is best for their community.

    • Ben

      Exactly. No bid equals no confidence.

    • Jim Haselhorst

      There was a competitive process that had seven companies submit proposals. Ryan was selected. We can argue all day about whether the selection criteria were fair or biased, but then that would be just as productive as all the other “discussion” surrounding this project.

      Further, if you go back to all the proposals submitted, Ryan’s was the closest to what many people are asking for. All of the other proposals had buildings that were all 6 or more stories tall. They were all high density uses and none of them did anything to address issues like storm water, parking, traffic, pedestrian safety, etc.

      If what Ryan has proposed was not acceptable then it is reasonable to assume nothing the other companies that submitted proposals would have been acceptable.

      The problem is not with the process used to select Ryan, but with the lack of willingness to compromise and the NIMBY attitude of several neighborhood representatives involved in the design and usage process created by Ryan.

      The only path to moving the 5th Avenue Development forward is to scrape all the existing groups, committees, etc and start completely over. Start with questioning the practicality of having so many chiefs in the kitchen and to many dinners that are critics.

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