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.