Good Old Boys Club In Naperville Part Two

It’s not just ‘boys’, and it’s not really ‘old’ and it’s definitely not ‘good’, but it is a club, that likes to recycle former city officials and bring them back into the fold at the expense of inviting new people to participate in local government.

It happened recently when long-time Naperville city council member Judy Brodhead was termed out of office May 2nd and shown the front door out of the Municipal Center only to be reappear June 16th (44 days later) at the back door as a member of SECA, the Special Events Cultural Amenities Commission. Brodhead was the first city council member to experience the wrath of voters when they overwhelmingly approved a term limits referendum by a landslide. Brodhead is like gum on your shoes on a hot August day; you simply can’t get rid of her.

Naperville has 11 boards, 9 commissions, and 2 task forces. When an opening occurs the mayor selects appointees to fill the vacancies, which must be approved by the city council. Typically it’s a smooth, quick process, little if any discussion on the appointees, and the result is rubber-stamped. However this time, to the credit of four members of the city council (Paul Hinterlong, Jennifer Taylor, Paul Leong, and Patty Gustin)  there was a lively discussion on approving Brodhead, resulting on a split 4 to 4 vote with the deciding vote to approve made by Mayor Steve Chirico. In essence he approved his own appointee.

After the meeting Brodhead said, “It was just very disappointing to see that kind of unnecessary division”.  As is typical with Brodhead, if anything involving her doesn’t go her way, or involves discussion, she sees it as ‘disappointing’ and ‘unnecessary’.

Why Mayor Chirico wanted to appoint Brodhead to the SECA Commission is puzzling, other than the possibility that Brodhead brings years of out-dated experience, hence what can she possibly offer, other than more of the same-old same. The mayor missed an opportunity to bring in a fresh perspective by appointing someone new.

And why the SECA commission? If he wanted to give her something to keep her busy, there were seven other open vacancies to fill including:

  • Advisory Commission on Disabilities
  • Building Review Board
  • Historic Preservation Commission
  • Naper Settlement Museum Board
  • Naperville Public Library Board of Trustees
  • Sister Cities Commission
  • Transportation Advisory Board

And why did Brodhead want a seat on SECA vs one of the other seven? Could it be because SECA is responsible for pushing a lot of dollars to many different groups.

Brodhead is ‘just’ one of nine voting members of the commission, however she does come with a huge shovel, capable of pushing a lot of dollars in directions she would like it to go.

Show 5 Comments


  1. Jim Haselhorst

    What is being marginalized in all this discussion is that these are all advisory board. They do not make the final decision on what will happen, but only advise city council and the Mayor on what to do.

    In the specific case of the SECA Commission the City Council has consistently not approved the budget this commission recommended, but instead approved a budget basically put together and decided on by city council in a few minutes of a council meeting. So while some might claim this commission has control of a large amount of city money (just under $2 Million)the reality is it is and always has been the city council that truly controls this money.

    Also SECA Commission meetings are open to the public with unlimited comment opportunities for anyone that wants to speak at them, which makes the idea that this commission is somehow limited in it opportunities to new ideas and “fresh blood” only from its nine commissioners the most irrational and ludicrous belief since the belief the world is flat.

    This has nothing to do with any of these commissions or boards needing new blood and everything to do with a small group of current and former city council members working to craft the narrative/discussion for the issues in the next mayoral election (i.e. they want to attack Chirico as being a “good old boy” that practices cronyism and bad judgement).

    • watchdog

      Jim are you saying you don’t believe the world is flat? That seems a bit closed minded. Jim, Watchdog said nothing about the mayor practicing “cronyism and bad judgement”, those words came from you. Yes the mayor submitted Brodhead’s name as an appointee and yes, he was the deciding vote for confirmation, so it could be said that he more than influenced the process, just as Brodhead can more than influence the other members of the commission, since by extension the mayor hand-picked Brodhead over more qualified candidates.

      • Jim Haselhorst

        What were the names of these more qualified candidates? What metric did you use to determine they were more qualified?

        And I did not says you or anyone is currently saying the mayor was practicing “cronyism and bad judgement”. I said the group of current and former city council members involved in this incident are doing it primarily to attack the mayor in preparation for the upcoming election and that I would not be surprise if they describe Chirico’s appointee of Brodhead using these terms in the next election.

        • watchdog

          One metric did it Jim, there are 144,500 people in Naperville. If Brodhead is the best there is, then we are all in trouble.

  2. Jim Haselhorst

    First off who says all the members on these boards and committees are the best Naperville has to offer? Of that 144,500 people in Naperville only a very small percentage care enough to even vote in city elections. If they don’t care enough to vote what makes you think they would care enough to volunteer to donate their time to serve on any city board or committee?

    The sad truth is the majority of Naperville’s best simply are not engage in local government or even charities to make this kind of commitment. So no one is claiming that the people making up these boards and committees are the best Naperville has to offer, simply the best of those that are willing to serve. This is supported by the fact that rarely are there any boards or committees that don’t have a vacancy waiting for a qualified volunteer at any given time. Just look on the city website right now and you will find one or more that has at least one vacancy.

    And notice the operative word is not best but qualified volunteer. If the city council placed the requirement as only the best in Naperville none of these boards or committees would have enough people on them to function. Yes, that is sad, but it is a reality.

    Finally, your comment did not answer either of my questions. Again what were the names of these better qualified candidates? And what metric (not opinion) was used as a standard by which each of these candidates qualifications were judged and measured?

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