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Naperville City Officials Using Dirty Tricks On Residents

On the surface, everything is pristine in ‘family-friendly’ Naperville, great schools, wonderful shopping excursions, top-notch restaurants, award-winning library system, state-of-the-art athletic programs, etc. But when you get below the surface, where the drain pipes reach into the sewer systems, it gets dirty at times as in dirty tricks against residents.

Over the years there have been some major issues, most notably the forced installation of so-called Smart Meters for electric, on the homes of residents, resulting in the residents being hand-cuffed and arrested for the simple act of protecting their homes and families. It made national news and ultimately cost the City of Naperville (taxpayers) huge dollar-settlements from lawsuits.

But the one issue that still eats away at residents, involved Naperville city officials not honoring the will of the voters in a land-slide referendum to change the way residents and businesses were represented.

Until the referendum in 2010, the city council members were elected by ‘at large’ representation, making it easier for less-than-competent council members to be re-elected, meaning council members could ‘hide among the trees’ as long as they could be among the top-four vote getting candidates.

In 2010, residents overwhelmingly voted by a nearly 2:1 ratio to approve District representation (28,236 to 14,593). Each of five districts would elect a representative in addition to three council members and the mayor would serve at-large. It required a ‘yes’ vote to make that happen. The referendum read as follows: “Shall the City of Naperville elect part of the council at large and part of the council from districts with staggered four year terms and biennial elections?”

City officials weren’t happy with the vote, so they finagled a do-over vote on the issue, which was written as follows: ” Shall the City of Naperville elect the City Council at large instead of part of the council at large and part of the council from districts?” In essence a ‘yes’ vote this time meant the opposite of a ‘yes’ vote on the original referendum.

The City of Naperville’s dirty trick worked. Confound and confuse voters. No district representation. The City’s actions were despicable. The process was rigged. The City may be family friendly, but it’s not voter friendly.

8 thoughts on “Naperville City Officials Using Dirty Tricks On Residents”

  1. Not going to districts was a terrible mistake. Naperville is one of very few cities of our size that has all of its councilmen running at large. Our design leads to residents having to undertake a mass lobbying effort on every development controversy instead of having their one elected official elected to carry the flag in the hearings.

    Our design has also lead to increased partisanship. Running citywide in a City of this size requires a prospective candidate to take on a campaign that is on the scale of a Senate district or 2 chicago wards (literally). No candidate is going to be able to successfully undertake such a campaign without significant political support from partisan parties and interested stakeholders. It’s just not practical anymore for a City of our size to have these campaigns run from one end of town to the other. The district question should be revisited. Many that had a hand in undoing the district vote regret it now and would support districts now…including myself.

  2. Yes, have half the council at-large and half by districts is a good idea for many reasons most importantly it would eliminate the gross disparity that currently exist of a large majority of the current council being residents of North Naperville, with few from South Naperville.

    This has tend to produce a council that is north-side centric in it focus and policies to the disadvantage of the south-side.

    I am sure that the wording of the second referendum had something to do with this defeat. I think a bigger part of what caused the voting on this referendum to turn out like it did was the rhetoric that making this change would result in Naperville adopting a “Chicago” style council. A form of government that is inherently corrupt and would bring “Chicago” style politics and problem to Naperville.

    Of course this “fear” based campaign approach is nothing new to any of us. If people treated this type of rhetoric like the “chicken little” behavior it is, instead of giving it credibility politicians and political parties would have stopped using it long ago. But because they don’t, it works, thus rewarding this type of behavior. As they said repeatedly in business school you get the behavior you reward.

  3. First, did Kevin Coyne and Jim Haselhorst just agree on something? I Just wanted to point that out. Second, I agree with both of them and I think Naperville is ready for Districts so all parts of this town can be represented. There are many smaller cities around us that have this setup, we should do the same. You can mix in at-large spots as well and have a council that truly represents Naperville today. It’s too bad that the old guard back then focused more on tightening their grip on power than having a smart vision for the future of this city. Now is the time to change that narrow line of thinking.

  4. We were wrong to keep the outdated at-large system. Before moving to Naperville I was deputy planning director in Aurora, where we had two council members and the mayor elected at large, along with one alderman from each of six wards. It worked fine. The downside is the lack of a city manager, which makes the mayor the CEO. But that’s a different issue.

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