With our world on fire, the City of Naperville has picked now – a very unfortunate time – to debate abolishing our Sister Cities Commission. The Sister Cities Commission has been part of our community for over 30 years now. It has forged relationships, not to mention positive international goodwill, with the communities of Nitra, Slovakia, Patzcuaro, Mexico, and Cancun, Mexico. These relationships have been emblematic of, and in furtherance of, Naperville’s commitment to building new friendships and awareness of our great City. The work this commission does, and the relationships it forges, are a positive and bring good vibes to our world at time when our world is very much in need of good vibes.
The main argument for dissolving the Sister Cities commission appears to be to save on staff time. Seriously? We have numerous commissions and task forces (we’ll discuss task forces in a future article). Many of these groups have very limited workloads and/or are ripe for consolidation. With wars and violence breaking out around the globe, why pick the single commission that fosters international goodwill as the first to go?
A third-party foundation is not the same as a city commission. City commissioners are council approved and formal representatives of our City. A third-party charitable foundation does not carry the same weight or level of cache as does a formal City commission. Simply put, Sister City relationships mean more, and suggests a greater commitment, when it is a City commission that represents our City in the partnership.
Mayor Pradel certainly saw the value of our Sister Cities Commission as he brought up and celebrated these relationships often. Let’s keep this commission! Tweak it if need be but do not abolish it. Abolishing the Sister Cities Commission would be a terrible step backward. Lets keep it and find more fun, positive, and new means of building new friendships for our City – both in Illinois and abroad.
Watchdog takeaway: The idea of abolishing this long-standing commission is very short-sited and could not come at a worse time for either our community or for our international partners.