Sep 192020

More than a half-century ago (1969),The Rolling Stone wrote “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, (but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need). That was long before Minneapolis, Portland, Kenosha, Lancaster, and Naperville, etc. Sometimes what you want, and what you need, are the same thing.

The police are under attack, which means law abiding citizens are under attack, not only by anarchists, but also the people and groups that you would think would be supporting law and order, including some governors, mayors, city councils, prosecutors, corporations, etc. who actively support de-funding the police. The police are the last organized line of defense, defending law and order, without which we disintegrate as a country. If that ‘blueline’ disappears, we are all on our own defending life and property.

If there is one expense that Naperville city officials need to support, it’s the Naperville Police Department (NPD), and the second one is the Naperville Fire Department (NFD). Simply put, without those heros we are screwed. Leaf pick-up, festivals, snow removal, fire works, bus service, and downtown street Christmas decorations become inconsequential if not meaningless.

The Naperville Police Department, under the leadership of Chief of Police Robert Marshall, has proposed in the 2021 police department budget, approval to research purchasing body cameras, to support and document police officers’ actions while answering calls and initiating arrests.

If city officials, including the Naperville city council don’t put a high priority on this, then how quickly they have forgotten the rioting this summer in downtown Naperville, which included smashed windows, looting, and injuries.

To better understand what police officers have to do, every member of the Naperville city council, including the city manager, needs to participate in the NPD’s Citizen Police Academy. They need to get an idea of what it’s like pulling a vehicle over at 2 am, or going out on a call for domestic violence, or doing the “Shoot, Don’t-Shoot drill”.

The police and fire department need the support of residents and local government officials. Yes, it’s an expense, however consider the alternative, Kenosha, Lancaster, Portland, Seattle, etc.

Sep 122020

This is a great time for Naperville city officials to deceptively slide a bad deal on Naperville residents and businesses. City officials are utilizing the “Never let a bad situation go to waste” principle. The bad situation is COVID and just about everything else going wrong in the country. The bad deal is city officials pushing Radiofrequency (RF) Smart water-meters on residents homes and Naperville businesses.

Naperville city officials did this a few years ago with electric meters. To say it was contentious is a huge understatement. City officials used force in an all-out assault on residents to install the unwanted meters on homes. Naperville moms were cuffed and arrested and tossed into the slammer. Residents formed the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group, law suits were filed against the City (Fourth Amendment violations) which resulted in huge, 6-figure financial settlements payed out by the City.  Naperville’s family-friendly image took a big hit.

The Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group of dedicated, highly educated and informed residents was committed to exposing the truth and fighting for informed consent, and trying to protect all Naperville residents in Federal Court against the city of Naperville’s attempts to force residents into submission.

Now city officials are trying to push RF digital water meters onto residents using the same lame arguments including residents being able to see how much water they are using in real time and identifying water leaks. That requires residents to watch their water meters like they watch TV; that’s not going to happen.

The city of Naperville said Smart Meters for electric would save residents money. Not one resident has saved a dime. If there is one, please let me know. This time city officials are not pushing that lie because residents will pay more. Prior to councilman John Krummen taking up space on the city council, he was a smart-meter-flag-carrying, bugle boy for electric smart meters. Now he is doing the same for smart water-meters.

Major concerns about electric utility RF Smart Meters included health risks, privacy rights issues, security breaches, and skyrocketing costs for electricity. The same concerns apply to RF smart water meters.

Smart water-meters only benefit the city, not the water customers, and smart water-meters frequently overcharge customers, sometimes into the thousands of dollars. Ask Tinley Park residents or Google “smart meters water overbilling” for thousands of examples, nationwide.

Finally, if you want to opt-out and keep your current water meter, you can do that, however the city will punish you with a monthly opt-out fee. Keep in mind that the monthly fee can and will increase until you give up and acquiesce. It’s the Golden Rule, “he who has the gold, makes the rules” and the City has the gold.

Sep 052020

Let the fun continue, election time is getting closer. No, I’m not talking about the one in 58 days, I’m talking about the one in 212 days, the Naperville city council election, April 6, 2021. Four city council seats are up for grabs including seats currently occupied by Judy Brodhead, Kevin Coyne, John Krummen, and Benny White, with two of those four (Brodhead and Coyne) destined to become fading memories in Naperville’s history.

Coyne, determined to ignite the DuPage County Republican organization (yes, there is one) into action by announcing his candidacy for DuPage County Board in District 5. His only problem is that he is great candidate, and the great ones often get overlooked for lesser ones.

Brodhead’s expiration date of effectiveness on the council is long overdue. Her greatest contributions to the council are providing a classic example of the need for term limits, and informing residents that “dogs don’t bark”. She joined the city council back when dirt was new, occupying space since in 2009.

Benny White’s position on the council for re-election appears to be the best bet, considering his platform on leadership with diversity and inclusion. Sometimes somebody appears at the right time for the right reason, and White is that person.

If there is an incumbent candidate vulnerable for defeat, it would be John Krummen, not that Krummen hasn’t been good, but if ‘better’ is possible, then ‘good’ is not enough. Being an incumbent is a big advantage, Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky can attest to that. It doesn’t mean that Trubisky can hit the broad side of a barn, just that people know his name.

For now, council members Patty Gustin, Paul Hinterlong, Patrick Kelly, and Theresa Sullivan are safe until 2023 when their terms expire. Mitch Trubisky is safe too until the first set-of-downs (possession) ends, then it’s all about performance and results. The same needs to apply for members of the city council.

Aug 292020

Finally, another reason, three in fact, to pack the kids in the car and come to Naperville; three pot shops are on the horizon. It doesn’t get any better than that, unless of course, there were four or more. It’s probably just a matter of time. Pot shops popping up like Starbucks with drive-thru windows. What do the kids want today, maybe some yummy, gummy-peach-praline-pot-pops. Think of the possibilities.

Now that the nine-member Naperville city council has approved the addition of three recreational pot shops, three companies have submitted applications. Tentative locations include ZenLeaf at 1516 N. Naper Blvd., PDI Medical which is an affiliate of Cresco Labs doing business as Sunrise which would be located at 2740 W. 75th St. near Rt. 59, and Green Thumb Industries which already is doing business (3C Compassionate Care Centers) in northwest Naperville as the only medical cannabis dispensary located at 1700 Quincy Avenue. The location would be remodeled to accommodate both medical and recreational with the new name ‘Rise’ as in getting high.

Green Thumb Industries has the distinct advantage of already establishing a track record of doing business in Naperville. However that advantage, is also a disadvantage for the same reason; their track record, which leaves much to be desired.

Watchdog decided to ask medical-card-carrying 3-C customers how the process of obtaining medical cannabis is working with 3-C and here are some of the comments:

  • Very long wait times
  • Mistakes in the order
  • Sale prices not reflected in receipt, hence overcharged
  • Items out of stock
  • High employee turnover
  • Diminishing quality of product
  • Online ordering not efficient
  • Continuity of product, items once available, no longer available
  • Items provided substituted for items ordered
  • Twist and turn containers not opening when twisting and turning
  • Ordering off a list without seeing what you’re considering buying
  • Can’t look at the purchased items until off the property, hence if order is incorrect, it becomes, ‘he said, she said’
  • If you call, you typically get a recording, without talking to a person
  • Unable to reach person-in-charge

That is a huge list of missed opportunities for a company looking to expand in Naperville.

Aug 222020

Naperville’s last city council meeting (August 18) lasted 3 hours and 27 minutes (207 minutes) and at the 202 minute mark, Mayor Steve Chirico pitched an idea that appeared to fall flat. His idea was to start city council meetings at 6pm rather than 7pm in order to end earlier, thereby making it easier for participants and viewers to stay awake and alert. Council meetings oftentimes last late into the night, at times ending past midnight. Factor in occasional ‘closed sessions’ after regular meetings and you have some very long evenings. Watch and listen to Chirico as he makes the pitch:

Council member (Paul Hinterlong) took issue with the idea, along with councilman John Krummen’s head shake:

It doesn’t have to be a binary choice by either starting earlier or keeping it as it is. Why not simply move the meeting along more efficiently and thereby quicker. Since speakers have a 3-minute time limit, why not limit council members to 3-minutes. Also limit council members to two bites at the apple; they can only speak twice on the same issue. In essence requiring council members to express their thoughts more efficiently and concisely.

Also, too much time is wasted on unanimous decisions. If council members have done their homework ahead of time and they have a position on an agenda item, take a straw vote to see if they all agree on a position. If they do, then vote on it and be done with it.

Additionally, council members waste too much time by starting their comment with “I agree with everything that (blank) has said”. If they don’t have something new to add to the conversation, then don’t say anything.

It wouldn’t take much effort to cut meeting time in half. Council members simply need to eliminate endless pontificating. Is that asking too much?

Aug 152020

It’s been a slow process with an inevitable ending; pot stores (three) will be in family-friendly Naperville. Based on a non-binding referendum, that means about half (52%) the good folks of Naperville are happy, and the almost-other half (48%) are not quite so happy. As my ten-year old grandson would say, ‘that’s how life works’, not referring to cannibis, but more-so to baseball, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

There will be some resistance from a few council members (Gustin, Hinterlong, and Coyne) and from up to 48% of the residents, to no avail. If there is money to be made by the City from pot stores (3%), it was guaranteed to happen. The resistance will come in the form of trying to prolong the process, by requiring a conditional use permit, which would necessitate each application to appear before the City Council for approval, supposedly creating more transparency. Chances of that getting approval from the council are about 6 to 3, or 5 to 4 against it happening. But if it does, it will simply be a speedbump.

The next step is where to put the three pot shops. This is where NIMBY (not in my back yard) comes in play. This is where the fun starts. 52% want the stores, and 100% don’t want them near their abode. This is also where a dictatorship would be more efficient. Simply pick three locations and put them there.

With that in mind, Watchdog would like to recommend any three of the following locations which would be easy to remember:

  • Green Acres Drive
  • High Point Drive
  • Lazy Hallow Court
  • Look Out Court
  • Mary Lane
  • Milkweed Drive
  • Redbud Drive
  • Rolling Grove Court
  • Wehrli Road

With my favorite:

  • 420 Weed Street

Yes, I know there is no ‘Weed Street’ in Naperville yet, but this makes a great reason to have one.

Can I get an Amen!

Aug 082020

When I wake up in the morning, I start apologizing to everybody I see, knowing that there must be something I said or did that requires an apology.

When Watchdog is wrong, that means the Naperville city council is right. In this case it was about the Water Street Project. I hammered away at the project, almost relentlessly. I said the project was too big, too dense, too tall, too many bricks, and way too narrow for comfort and ease of transportation. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

One of my favorite Watchdog embeds was the following one showing what I thought would be a typical driving experience on Water street:

It turned out to be nothing like that, even though I still like the video.

A good friend of mine suggested getting together for a cup of coffee at Sparrow Coffee on Water street and walking a short distance across the street to the Jaycees Park. I pulled off Main Street to Water street and the one block drive was like being in a different world; quiet, spacious, and ample street parking. I met him at Sparrow and we walked to the park next to the Municipal Center. Again, ample seating, quiet, scenic, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

So what did I learn from this. Not that I could be wrong, I already knew that, I learned that it’s probably a good thing that I am not on the city council, making decisions on the wrong side of right. I was reminded that city council members do the best they can, when making decisions, and that’s all we can ask for from our city officials.

Aug 012020

Numbers are fun. I am a numbers guy.  If I’m not about numbers, then I’m nothing. A ‘3’ can look like a ‘7’, a ‘6’ upside down is a ‘9’, in fact the number ‘71077345’ upside down and backwards becomes ‘ShELLOIL’. Who doesn’t love numbers or is it numerals?

If anybody should be about numbers it should be Naperville city manager Doug Krieger. He should be the numbers guru at Naperville’s municipal center. He should wear a cap with a big number ‘1’ on it while roaming thru the corridors and inky shadows at city hall, so everyone knows that he is ‘The Man’ when it comes to understanding numbers.

However the numbers guy appeared to be befuddled and bewildered for a moment at the recent Naperville city council meeting. It happened while the council was discussing hiring a person for a diversity staff position, and how long it might take to have the person in position. Watch and listen as mayor Steve Chirico tries to get an answer:

The beauty of the Zoom platform is that you can see other council members (Hinterlong, Sullivan, Kelly, and Brodhead) get a chuckle with the mathematical moment. So 90-days would ‘be aggressive’ (a challenge) but 60-days would be reasonable (a piece of cake). And Krieger got confused with 60 days compared to two months. Let’s face it, that can happen to anybody. It would be like 60-minutes vs. one hour, or seven days vs one week.

If anybody on the council is trying to figure out what to get Krieger for his birthday, a calendar might be a good option.

Jul 252020

Tuesday’s city council meeting marked over a month since the last city council meeting June 16. That results in a lot of built-up words council members needed to release into the atmosphere by bloviating, and they did, over five hours using the Zoom platform.

Zoom is a fun toy to use, it’s like a box of chocolates, ‘you never know what you’re going to get’. Inevitably there are always surprises with technical issues. That’s part of what makes Zoom fun for the viewers, but not necessarily  for the participants. Zoom definitely makes it easier to see individual council members and notice whatever goofy things are occurring, so for pure entertainment Zoom is the way to go.

Most council members have tried using different backgrounds, some with success, some with not, and some don’t seem to care. A few have tried different camera angles. Some of those who really need to change the angles or distance, including Paul Hinterlong Judy Brodhead, John Krummen, and Kevin Coyne seem oblivious to the opportunity. It’s also possible that they are so secure with themselves and confident, that they just don’t care.

The two council members who seem to have navigated good looks are mayor Steve Chirico and councilwoman Theresa Sullivan. Chirico has the advantage of good lighting in his office and keeping the flag in full view. Sullivan nailed the look right from the beginning and continues to use it better than any council member.

Council meetings have been void of any kids crying in the background, nobody walking in view of the camera, no pizza sauce dripping on shirt, and no obscenities being mumbled in the background. However there was a moment when a council member either stepped on a duck, or their doorbell is quite an attention grabber. It happened while councilwoman Judy Brodhead was bloviating. Watch and more importantly listen for the moment:

It could have been the doorbell, but unlikely after 10PM at night. That leaves ‘stepping on a duck’ being most likely. The question is who did it? The likely culprits would be Brodhead since she was the one talking, or it could have been the mayor since his office is near to the DuPage river where ducks roam freely. The least likely would be Sullivan, however since she is the least likely, it would give her the best cover.

Bottom line, is that only one person knows, which means we will never know for sure. I wonder if Menard’s sells a doorbell with that ring tone.

Jul 182020

The definition of fiasco is a thing that is a complete failure, especially in a ludicrous or humiliating way. That clearly describes Naperville’s Fifth Avenue Development situation. The development has been on Naperville city officials wish list for years, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the project was kicked into high gear, when Ryan Cos. outlined a baseline starting point and plan. That’s when things began head south and the wheels came off the wagon.

What happened was too many cooks in the kitchen and too many customers in the restaurant yelling for too many different ingredients including building heights, parking, density, etc. resulting in chaos. City officials called for a timeout while everyone went to a neutral safe corner.

Naperville city councilman Kevin Coyne suggested putting the issue up for a simple non-binding referendum, but that logical thought quickly got shot down by a majority of council members, showing that a majority of council members can’t handle too much information, especially if it comes from the public.

Coyne nailed it when he said, “failure in this process has not been the residents or Ryan Cos., it has been us for failing to lead, for failing to give specific direction as to what we are looking for..” Coyne was being humble because he has been attempting to push forward along with Mayor Chirico, however the other seven council members have been stuck in the mud.

Councilwoman Judy Brodhead said it’s unlikely the city needs more parking that it currently has now. She has this brilliant ability to look one week into the future and base her decisions on that.

Mayor Chirico said that considering the referendum didn’t have support, it sounds like a workshop is in order.

That’s the ticket. Let’s get more cooks into the kitchen. That should do it.