Apr 252020
 

Is it really that difficult to extend an apology? Apparently it is for Naperville councilwoman Patty Gustin. Could it be she has no political aspirations? If there was ever a political candidate looking to commit political suicide, other than Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart in 1988, it’s Patty Gustin.

Gustin has been prone to digging herself into holes, and not wanting to throw away the shovel. It happened again in March when she made a ‘character attack’ against two other council members, Judy Brodhead and Benny White, during a council meeting.

During discussion, to support recreational marijuana sales in Naperville, Gustin said, “I’m kind of surprised I have two teachers sitting next to me that are promoting recreational marijuana distribution”. Both Brodhead and White were offended by her remark, and said so during the meeting. Mayor Steve Chirico met with Gustin afterward and gave her the opportunity to publicly apologize to Brodhead and White during the next meeting, but no apology was extended, leaving no choice for the mayor other than to conclude that her comments were intended and a violation of council rules.

Mayor Chirico concluded, by diagramming what an effective apology format looks like, from which we can all benefit:

  1. Express remorse
  2. Saying I’m sorry
  3. Doing so in a timely manner
  4. Taking responsibility
  5. Make amends to make things right
  6. Promise it won’t happen again

Gustin chose a different route.

Apr 182020
 

As a little boy, I remember my uncle saying ‘it’s difficult to beat the guy with the pencil’. I knew he was referring to playing cards and someone keeping score, however as I grew older I realized he was also referring to life in general, and specifically to the government. The City of Naperville has become adept at keeping big, sharpened pencils, available whenever needed.

One of those times was during the April 7 city council meeting when the city council was determined to approve the 3% taxation of recreational marijuana, even if it meant taking some shortcuts to the goal by liberally circumventing some communication to reach their desired result.

Because of Covid-19, public forum comments were submitted in writing, rather than verbalized in person. Listen as Naperville Deputy City Manager, Marcie Schatz, reads a comment from Jennifer Bruzan Taylor regarding her accusation of ‘violation of open meeting access’, followed by Naperville city attorney, Mike DiSanto using his ‘pencil’ to justify “the city is doing all it can” regarding communication to residents about meetings, which of course is not true. Also notice how Schatz stops reading the comment exactly at the 3-minute limit without reading the last few seconds of the comment.

Taylor mentioned she was a ‘litigator both at the trial and appellate level’, which is not something the council or DiSanto like to hear thinking that Taylor’s ‘pencil’ might be bigger, so it’s better to avoid the final few seconds of her comment. Supporters of the city council would argue there is a 3-minute limit, however experience has shown that the 3-minute limit is adhered to when the comment is not to the council’s liking.

The technical argument as to whether or not Naperville violated the ‘open meeting access’ is really not the issue. The issue is whether or not DiSanto is correct about “the city doing all it can” to inform residents about ‘changes’ in the meeting format, and the meeting itself. In one word, the answer is ‘No’. In three words the answer is “DiSanto is wrong”. Mr. DiSanto’s pencil needs an eraser, a big one. This is far from the first time that his ‘pencil’ fell short of reality.

What is truly amazing, is there no one on the council or at the Municipal center saying, “Hey wait a second Mike, let’s get the word out in the local newspaper (Naperville Sun), or how about Naper Notify”. Why not use a website’s readership (Watchdog or NaperChange) to publish ‘an official city announcement’. Watchdog would gladly do so, as I am sure NaperChange would also do. But to leave all those communication opportunities untapped is remiss on the part of the City. Naperville city attorney, Mike DiSanto, needs a new pencil; one that actually works.

Apr 112020
 

All nine members of the Naperville city council can’t stop. They know they shouldn’t do it, but they still keep doing it. No matter how many times they hear it, or how many times they tell others not to do it, it continues; they keep touching their faces, all nine of them.

Due to Covid-19, city council meetings are now being broadcast using the video conference platform Zoom, with all council members attending remotely, except for the mayor in council chambers. With Zoom, all council members can be seen simultaneously on a 4 by 5 grid. Additionally city manager Doug Krieger and city attorney, Mike DiSanto can be seen on the grid, with department heads joining via audio only. It’s a little like Hollywood Squares without the humor.

With all nine council members on one screen, it’s easy to see what they are doing including fumbling through papers, drinking water, looking at their phones, and touching their faces over and over and over, again and again. It was happening so often and so quickly, I was focusing on that rather than what they were saying. I record the meetings off TV, so I decided to watch the meeting again from the beginning, and note the number of face-touches and how long it would take all nine of them to accomplish the task; it took only ten minutes.

In order councilman Kevin Coyne was the first, followed by Hinterlong, Gustin, White, Sullivan, Brodhead, Krummen, Chirico and the last to do it was councilman Patrick Kelly. The biggest culprit of the night was councilman Kevin Coyne. I began to think it must be some type of secret code they were communicating with each other. I couldn’t break the code, so I concluded the entire bunch enjoyed face-touching.

With Covid-19 running rampant and Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Great Britain spending time in the ICU, my mind wondered to what happens if President Trump and Vice-President Pence become incapacitated, the thought of President Nancy Pilosi quickly got my mind back on the council meeting. But then I began to think about  what happens if all nine council members become incapacitated, is there a succession plan for back-filling the city council? Then the ice-cold chilling thought of eight of the nine getting side-lined with only one (Patty Gustin) remaining.

There are three words that should be enough motivation to get the other eight members to stop face-touching, and those three words are ‘mayor Patty Gustin’.

Apr 052020
 

It was a strange indeed to see five city council members sitting every other seat at the most recent city council meeting honoring the 6-foot rule, while the other council members dialed in from elsewhere. What seemed unusual may become the usual for a while, if not much longer.

Our daughter is experiencing Covid-19 up close and personal. She is a critical care intensivist pulmonologist in Chicago. She was in Sierra Leone with Doctors without Borders during the Ebola breakout; Covid-19 is far worse. A typical day at the hospital is from 6am til 8pm, then home doing charts til midnight day after day like Groundhog Day. The hard part, as you have heard, is the lack of supplies and equipment.

Covid-19 stands for (Co)rona (Vi)rus (D)isease-20(19). By now most of us know the symptoms, but questions about how to tell the difference between Covid-19 and the flu, a cold, strep, COPD, and allergies can be confusing.

I was a pharmacist, now retired but still licensed and registered, long before I was Watchdog. The following symptoms may help differentiate:

Covid-19

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Gradual onset (a few days to a few weeks)
  • Dry cough

COPD

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Lack of energy
  • Clearing your throat in the morning

Flu

  • Sore throat
  • Quick onset
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Dry cough

Strep

  • Painful swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Fever

Cold

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Aches and pains
  • Allergies
  • Red swollen eyes
  • Tickle in throat
  • Itchy nose and eyes

C-H-I (Chronic Human Imperfection)

  • Making mistakes
  • Not having all the answers
  • Thinking you have symptoms of every disease

OK, so the last one is not medically recognized, but it does feel real.

We will make it through this, we always have. From the time man first discovered fire and stone-throwing, he suffered from ‘Creeping Crud’, and ‘Holy Cow, What Have I Got Now’.

When we come out the other end, after all the hand-washing, the only question will be how much is our water bill.