watchdog

Mar 282020
 

It didn’t take long for the Naperville city council to set the table for cashing-in on tax revenue from the anticipated sale of recreational marijuana within city limits. The last vote was barely being tabulated from the non-binding referendum regarding the sale of the previously illegal substance when city council members were celebrating the new revenue stream with high-fives, and I mean ‘high’.

City officials said the 3% tax must be approved by April 1st (April Fool’s Day) in order for the city to start counting the tax dollars on sales between July 1 and December 31, otherwise city officials would have to wait one more day until January 1. Keep in mind that the council wanted to approve the tax before voting to approve the sales of recreational marijuana. In other words, even though the city council originally decided by a vote of 6 to 3 to not approve the ordinance, now they have the votes to approve.

Somehow magically, at least two of the dissenting council members will switch their votes from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ to approve selling the ‘funny stuff’. They will say it was the ‘will of the people’, when most likely they wanted to approve selling it, but they didn’t want to catch grief from residents opposing it. Only mayor Steve Chirico, and council members Judy Brodhead and Theresa Sullivan originally favored the sale, while the other six said ‘no’. Now at least two more if not all will vote in favor of approving the ordinance.

Regarding the ‘will of the people’, the vote definitely was not a landslide as some defined it. In fact, it was a mere 1,884 more votes favoring the ordinance out of a city with a population of 147,000. A total of 28,968 votes were cast with 15,426 voting ‘yes’ and 13,542  voting ‘no’. The DuPage county portion of Naperville voted ‘yes’, while the Will County portion of Naperville voted ‘no’.

Interestingly, the ‘Opt-out’ group opposing the sale of recreational marijuana was truly a grass roots effort of people with smaller donations, while supporting the sale ‘Naperville for Legal Cannabis’ was a political action committee which started only last month. Naperville’s only medical dispensary is operated by GTI, and GTI’s chief compliance counsel is listed as the chairperson for the PAC. The committee’s reported contribution of $75,000 came from Vision Management Services which by stroke of coincidence shows its address as the same address for GTI’s main office.

All perfectly legal, and all proving again that it’s very difficult to win against big money.

Mar 212020
 

Naperville councilwoman Patty Gustin can’t stop saying something outrageous. This time it happened during the March 3 city council meeting when she said that fellow council members and educators, Judy Brodhead and Benny White were “promoting recreational marijuana distribution as teachers”. In fairness to Gustin, both Brodhead and White appear to favor approving recreational marijuana usage, but it has nothing to do with the fact that both are educators. It would be no different than someone saying that Gustin appears not in favor of recreational marijuana because she is a realtor.

Watch and listen as Gustin throws council members Judy Brodhead and Benny White under the bus, followed by Brodhead’s and White’s response to her comment:

Brodhead responded with a smile supported by intellectual facts, while White utilized his military background to be more direct and being ‘offended’ by Gustin’s comment.

Councilwoman Patty Gustin continues to be an equal opportunity offender.

Mar 152020
 

The Coronavirus is nothing to sneeze at. (Never end a sentence with a preposition). Political leaders are so-called leaders because they tell us what to do, while showing us something totally different.

Watch and listen as some leaders tell us what to do, while showing us how it works:

Locally, Naperville councilwoman Patty Gustin is showing very little respect for the virus, along with her own well-being. Watch Gustin’s fascination with her face as she touches it no less than 14 times over a two-minute period, for a total of 90% of the time during the two-minute segment.

It might be time for Gustin’s family, friends, and supporters to initiate an intervention with suggestions for her own well-being including:

  • Talk less
  • Velcro her hands to the dais
  • Stay home
  • Move to adjourn the meeting immediately after the pledge

Not only would it benefit Gustin, it would also benefit others sitting near her, and those who have to listen to her.

Mar 072020
 

A couple of weeks ago (February 22) Watchdog posted “First Two Naperville Council Members ‘Lose Their Seats And Stand’ ” The gist of the posting was about foolish statements made by two city council members, Patty Gustin and Patrick Kelly. It ran its course with a slightly higher than normal number of hits.

Then all of a sudden, over the last few days, emails and comments to the posting poured in, and folks were not too-happy with Watchdog. The reasons were two-fold, 1) Watchdog was perceived as a fan of puppy mills, and 2) Watchdog was mean towards city councilwoman Patty Gustin. Surprisingly, every negative comment was from the female gender.

Some of the comments included:

  • I don’t follow this mean spirited, out of touch, out-of-context site.
  • This article is a joke.
  • You are absolutely twisting her words.
  • You think you are funny but you are not.
  • You are what’s wrong with journalism.
  • You ‘doctored’ Gustin’s comments.
  • Shame on you.
  • You sound like a paid lackey for the mayor.
  • Are you nuts?
  • Your understanding is very twisted.
  • Try to be honest the next time you create a sentence, please.
  • Why pick on Gustin?

And my personal favorite was “You are a mean person!” Wow, that one was brutal. I’ve never seen myself as a mean person. I see myself as a simple guy, sitting at a keyboard, commenting on what I hear and see during city council meetings. It’s so simple. Include a video clip or two, and bingo hit the post button, and let it roll out.

For years I typically would not reply to comments in lieu of having readers respond to each other, choosing to be the swizzle-stick rather than getting involved in a snowball fight or chair-throwing incident. However this time, I did respond to each comment which seemed to further enrage readers to the point I was looking out my window waiting for a mob of torch-wielding people carrying pitchforks and high-stepping towards my home. I was hoping that if need-be, my two poodles could help defend me.

It appears things have simmered down. however things could intensify again with two scheduled upcoming postings involving Gustin. One is about Gustin offending two council members (Brodhead and White) with a foolish remark, and the other showing Gustin having no respect for her own well-being regarding the Corona-virus.

Those two postings with video embeds are just too good to pass-up, unless another council member can do or say something even more entertaining or outrageous in the next few weeks. Gustin provides too much material. That’s what happens when someone talks too much.

Feb 292020
 

Adam Carolla was recently interviewed on The Tucker Carlson Program and he was quoted as saying, “We live in a culture where we mistake discipline and rule of law, for being mean”. He went on to say, “coaches, and teachers, and generals, and police, and the mayor, when they enforce the law, they are not being bad people, they are doing what they were elected or charged to do. That’s their job. Now they are seen as mean or bad people. The teacher that is expelling the unruly person has become the bad person”.

Rules and decorum are becoming passe. But not so, in the chambers of the Naperville city council where mayor Steve Chirico has no problem calling out rude and bad behavior. Watch and listen as Chirico ‘reads the riot act’ to an unruly member of the audience during the February 18 city council meeting:

Not only did the mayor take control of the situation, he most likely caught the attention of other council members, city staff, and those viewing the meeting. In essence, don’t mess with the mayor!

The statement, “our mayor can beat-up your mayor” definitely describes Steve Chirico, a high-school wrestling champion. It hasn’t been necessary yet, but you get the feeling that Chirico would truly enjoy doing back-flips to an offender and using any of a number of skillful moves to personally throw out someone exhibiting rude behavior.

The only question is which move would Chirico use? Would it be the:

  • Face buster
  • Choke slam
  • Head scissors take-down toss
  • Double-knee arm-breaker
  • Power slam
  • Catapult

Or my personal favorite, the 360-degree head twist.

Chances are that it won’t ever come to that, so strong words will have to suffice:

  • “We have rules and decorum here”.
  • ” You don’t just call out from your seat”
  • “You don’t do it!
  • “That’s not how it works”.

Or the mayor can take a tip from Michael Scott (Steve Carell) from ‘The Office’:

Feb 222020
 

It didn’t take long (only 49 days) for two Naperville city council members to say something foolish thereby ‘losing’ their oversized, comfy, chairs-on-wheels at the dais causing them to stand henceforth during meetings. Whether or not they will be accountable and actually do it is doubtful.

Last Naperville city council member sitting

As predicted, Patty Gustin is the first council member to say something foolish. It happened during the February 4th council meeting. Watch and listen as Gustin expresses her words-of-wisdom “we don’t sell kids in store fronts” in response to a comment by councilman John Krummen:

Gustin had the chance to throw away the shovel she used to dig her hole, but no, she had to solidify her hold on the first council member to say something foolish, by following it with another gem-of-wisdom and saying “we don’t breed people like dogs”. Also, check out the expression on council Krummen’s face at the end of his comment. It’s as if he swallowed a hair ball; he wasn’t a happy camper with Gustin.

Not only should her chair-on-wheels be confiscated, it should be donated to a local pet store for puppies to use for fun-rides around the pet store.

Soon afterward, councilman Patrick Kelly became the second council member qualifying to lose his council chair for uttering a foolish comment. It happened when Kelly, also a member of Naperville’s Housing Advisory Commission, stated after learning Naperville needed to add a ‘fertilizer-load’ of affordable housing units, when he said “It was like, holy cow! That’s a lot of units! Where would we even put them!”

Keep in mind he is a council member; he’s a member of Naperville’s Housing Advisory Commission, and he’s shocked about the situation? Where has he been! Holy cow, what was he thinking when he said that!

Two council members already standing by mid-February. At that rate the entire council should be without chairs by Labor Day. Odds are they will be standing by the Fourth of July for more than the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

Feb 162020
 

Lately Naperville city council meetings take more time than watching a major sporting event or driving to Des Moines, Iowa. Council meetings are ending later and later, often times starting on one day and not ending until the next day. That’s asking a lot of the folks attending the meetings or remote viewing.

Mayor Steve Chirico has done a really good job starting meetings on time (7:00 PM), limiting public forum speakers to three-minutes, and resuming meetings, in a timely manner, after a brief recess. So what’s up with turning the lights out so late?

Watch and listen to Naperville councilman Kevin Coyne as he mentions the issue, followed by Chirico’s comment:

Meetings could start at noon, speakers could be limited to one-minute, short recesses could be eliminated, or allowing two or more speakers to talk at the same time would also shorten meetings and definitely be entertaining.

The real answer is less jabbering from council members, specifically council members Patty Gustin, Judy Brodhead, John Krummen, and Theresa Sullivan. They appear to have a difficult time making their point in a succinct manner, without circling around later and re-stating their same thought with slightly different wording.

If public forum speakers are required to make their point within three minutes, why can’t council members organize their thoughts prior to speaking, make their point, and be done with it. Council members Kevin Coyne and Benny White can do it, along with the mayor, so it can be accomplished.

What is maddening is when the council can deliberate endlessly, and conclude with a 9 to 0 unanimous vote. Some council members must think the more they talk, the more important their vote becomes. The next council meeting is Tuesday evening. Let’s not only listen to the content of their message, but also how long it takes them to make their point.

Feb 092020
 

If you keep kicking the can down the road, you finally reach a dead end. That’s where Naperville city officials find themselves with regard to the lack of affordable housing in Naperville. This comes as no surprise, the city council has been talking about this for years. That’s the problem, they’ve been talking without taking necessary action for years.

Twice a State of Illinois agency has cited Naperville for inadequate affordable housing, Naperville is the only city in Illinois with a population of more than 50,000 residents cited for the shortage. More than 25% of Naperville households are paying higher housing costs than federal government guidelines define as affordable which is less than 30% of household income is spent on rent or mortgage, and utilities.

This means that Naperville needs to add no less than 3,000 lower cost homes for buyers with incomes of less than $50,000, and more than 2,000 low-cost rental units for renters with incomes below $35,000, and as time goes on, it will only get worse. By the middle of the century almost 14,000 new housing units need to be added to reach a balanced housing mix of both affordable and market-rate units.

Naperville city councilman Patrick Kelly, also a member of Naperville’s Housing Advisory Commission, was flabbergasted with the thought. Astonishingly he said, “It was like, holy cow! That’ a lot of units! Where would we even put them!”

That is not what you want to hear from a sitting member of the city council, especially one sitting on the Housing Advisory Commission! Where has councilman Kelly been while this issue has been marinating and boiling over. Simply stated, it’s either a foolish statement, or Kelly is in ‘over his head’ which is a nicer way of saying he is incompetent.

Kelly’s comment would be comparable to the principal of a grade school, looking out the window of his office, on the first day of school and saying, “Holy cow, look at all those kids! Where can we put them!”

There is a way that councilman Patrick Kelly can try to redeem himself and solve two major Naperville issues at the same time; the issues of affordable housing and the Fifth Avenue Development. Simply suggest building a 20-story low-income housing project on the property and bingo, both issues solved. Now all he has to do is get four other council members to buy-in to the idea, and push it through without public input.

Feb 012020
 

Naperville city officials like to think that everybody wants to live and work in Naperville. That’s what they tell us. Naperville is #1 in every category, and if not #1, then somewhere in the Top-100. If there is a staff opening in the Municipal Center, all they need to do is post an opening, and bingo the position will be filled before the day ends. Apparently that may not be so true anymore, if it ever was.

City officials announced that effective immediately, city employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, and a revised time-off policy allows city staff to accrue sick days annually up to a maximum of 12 weeks for employees hired after 2011. Officials said offering these upscale benefits will “keep city benefits competitive”. The word ‘competitive’ is an understatement, since no other suburban municipality has paid parental leave. The idea is to increase retention and use the inflated benefit as a recruiting tool.

As is usually the case with government, their first solution to a concern or problem is to throw money at it, and walk away thinking it’s solved. It’s always easy to throw money at something, when the money doesn’t belong to the one throwing the money. The kicker is that there is always someone down the block offering a dollar-an-hour more, and now you have to throw more money at it to keep it ‘competitive’.

I’m happy that city staff will get a financial benefit, however it takes more than money to maintain or increase retention. Surveys have proven that employees want to feel valued and appreciated. This is where city officials including department heads are falling short. It doesn’t take much for a city official or supervisor to express appreciation to an employee for a job well done, or being an important part of the team. This is a top-down opportunity for the mayor, the city council, city manager, and department heads, to acknowledge jobs well done by city staff and express genuine appreciation for their efforts and results. It takes so little time to help employees feel valued.

Jan 262020
 

Even without knowing what year or month it is, it’s easy to know when re-election time is near; it’s when politicians surface from the inky shadows. Such is the case with former Naperville city councilman, and current District 41 State Rep Grant Wehrli.

Wehrli ‘served’ on the Naperville city council from 2005 – 2014. To say he ‘served’ is a misnomer, it’s more like he was served. Wehrli has seldom been accused of helping the average person on the street, unless there is something in it for him. You could say that’s the typical prototype of a politician, however Wehrli has taken it to a new level. It’s difficult for the average voter to come up with something that Wehrli has initiated and accomplished that has helped his constituency.

Wehrli’s lack of accomplishment as a State rep makes him ripe for defeat in the November general election which is why Democrats feel confident in Wehrli getting his walking papers out of Springfield. Wehrli specializes in winning elections without an opponent, but such is not the case in Wehrli’s next campaign.

Wehrli is the assistant minority leader in the House which is something akin to being the assistant manager in a hardware store, the difference being the guy in the hardware store has an upward career path with opportunity.

In 2018 Wehrli’s opponent was Democratic challenger Val Montgomery. It was determined that Montgomery would not be eligible to serve if she won the election because she didn’t live in the district, which prompted a jovial celebration by Wehrli before the election. In essence Wehrli had no opponent, however even considering that, he barely squeeked out a victory by a 52 to 48 percent vote tally, a mere margin of victory of 1,908 votes in a Statewide election. That’s less than Naperville city councilman Paul Hinterlong’s margin of victory over nine of ten city council candidates in his last election.

Wehrli’s profession is listed as ‘city councilman’ so he specializes in living off the taxpayer. With his annual rep salary of $67,836 and a per diem of $111 per day, tax payers have little if anything to show for Wehrli’s time in Springfield. His campaign contributions show a high percentage from liquor commissioners, a liquor distributor and a sizeable contribution from a Naperville pet store; less for puppies and more for Wehrli.

The only good thing about Wehrli in Springfield, means less time for him in Naperville. Based on that theory, if he were to run for election in the Pitcairn Islands (South Pacific), I would gladly throw in a dollar for his campaign. Watchdog has readers in the Pitcairn Islands so it’s likely he wouldn’t win that election either, but it’s worth the dollar.