Feb 162019

It’s not easy defeating an incumbent, even an incompetent incumbent, but it’s especially difficult to defeat a successful, competent incumbent. That’s the position Richard ‘Rocky’ Caylor finds himself in, trying to defeat Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico. If this was a fist fight, then how can you bet against a guy named ‘Rocky’ considering undefeated heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, or Rocky Balboa. But this most likely is Rocky from ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’. Caylor definitely has his work cut out for himself. Smart money would be on Chirico to blow away Rocky the challenger.

There are similarities between the candidates. Both names start with ‘C’, both own successful businesses, both live in Naperville, neither has lost a mayoral election, (first time running for Caylor), both think they can lead the city, though only Chirico has proven it.

This is Chirico’s second run for mayor. In 2015, it was a level playing field when all four candidates were running to replace retiring mayor George Pradel. Chirico won the election with 60.5% of the vote, followed by long-time mayoral-election loser Doug Krause with 29.3%, Marty Walker 7.6%, and Jim Haselhorst with 2.5% of the vote.

You have to give former councilman Doug Krause credit for coming in 2nd place in five mayoral election bids (1995, 1999, 2007, 2011, and 2015, surpassing the NFL Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy four straight Super Bowl losses. Should Caylor lose the election, he would have quite a way to go to match Krause’s record

Mayor Chirico’s campaign war chest is bulging, with well over $100,000 in contributions, and more dollars pouring in daily. As we get closer to election day, Chirico currently has enough money to buy every eligible voter a chocolate dipped Dairy Queen ice cream cone, with enough money left over to have a huge election night celebratory victory party at Hugo’s, and still have campaign funds leftover to seed his next mayoral election in 2023.

Chirico is probably very appreciative that Caylor decided to step into the ring to challenge him. What’s the fun in not having an opponent. It would be like the Cubs suiting up for a game and the Cardinals or White Sox not showing up to play, or Chirico shadow boxing in his back yard. That’s no fun.

And as for that fist fight between Rocky and Chirico, you can’t count Chirico out of that either, considering he was a Naperville High School champion wrestler; Rocky’s done once Chirico gets his hands on him.

Feb 092019

Not counting the mayoral election, there will be 11 candidates running for four open positions on the Naperville city council. That means 7 of the 11 will lose and finish sadder, poorer, and humiliated. Whomever comes in 5th place will be the best loser of the bunch.

Former ‘one-term’, Naperville councilman Dave Wentz, will not be one of the losers, nor will he be one of the winners, because he quit before he started. Many of you may remember Wentz from his now famous ‘Do you know who I am’ phrase that gave him more clout when dealing with the ‘little people’. You can’t blame Wentz for trying to elevate his importance, because he surely didn’t do it with his presence on the council.

When Wentz announced his plan to seek election this spring, he said he took a ‘brief hiatus from politics to focus more time on his family, business, and various community service projects’ which is code for ‘I lost the election and I’m bummed out’. He went on to say that he had “unfinished business” as his reason for running again,whatever that means. ‘Unfinished business’ will remain, because Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico named Wentz for an appointment to the Naper Settlement Museum board, and Wentz immediately withdrew his bid for city council. Who knew that Wentz had a passion for history; apparently Mayor Chirico knew.

It’s amazing how quickly ‘unfinished business’ becomes unimportant, and family and business become less important, when it comes to landing a spot on a museum board. Chirico did a favor for Naperville residents and businesses by redirecting Wentz’s attention from the council to the museum. It also helped Wentz by not being labeled ‘a loser’ with another city council defeat.

Another former city council member (Joe McElroy, 2011-2015) is throwing his hat into the ring for another try with city council. He also has some unfinished business to do on the council if re-elected and he’s in the race to win it. McElroy’s strength and expertise is in city planning, with a Master’s in urban planning from Michigan State in 1986. He wants to have impact with the 5th Avenue Development, the east Ogden corridor, and upcoming Route 59 subdivisions. He understands and welcomes the challenge of balancing progress and preservation with regard to developments. Having grown up on the south side of Chicago, he said it taught him the importance of strong, stable neighborhoods.

When asked, “What didn’t you accomplish the first time on the council, that you would like to accomplish this time” he mentioned, lengthen term limits for boards and commissions, strengthen landscaping regulations, and more emphasis on protecting neighborhoods.

McElroy sees the current city council as being more amiable, with the ability to work better together, and strong leadership as differing from the council on which he participated.

Joe’s hobbies include buying and selling used guitars and his quest to teach himself to play the guitar continues. A Jimi Hendrix he is not, but a wanna-be Hendrix he is. He just doesn’t wanna-be the candidate with the 5th most votes.

Feb 022019

We made it through the record-setting polar vortex, now all we have to do is make it through the thaw. Naperville city officials are hoping it takes until July to melt all the snow. The beautiful white snow has a way of making us forget what’s under the snow, things that we really don’t want to see or have to deal with. Things like weeds, chipping paint, unsealed driveways, pot holes, and leaves.

Oh yes, how soon we forget the leaves that we raked into the street. The leaves that city officials paid big-time tax dollars to remove, and for residents to dutifully transfer leaves from our yards into the street curb waiting for the guys with rakes to rearrange just prior to trucks with gigantic vacuums appearing and further re-arranging leaves evenly throughout the entire street.

The plan was for a series of three leaf-pickups followed by a street-sweeper vehicle to finish the job. The street-sweeper didn’t get the job done. In fact, the third leaf-pickup didn’t happen either for a high percentage of folks in Naperville. So what happened to the leaves in the street? Chances are good, they can be found under the snow, covering the street drains, defending the drains from melting snow, resulting in neighborhood flooding.

Naperville city official’s plan worked about as good as the Bear’s Cody Parkay’s double-doink field goal. Nobody can fault a plan that doesn’t work, unless the same plan surfaces every year with the likelihood of the same result. Chances are very good that Parkay won’t be kicking for the Bears next year. Chances are just as good that Naperville city officials will still have the same leaf-pickup plan next year.

Jan 262019

Sometimes the key to success is knowing when to give up and quit. At some point hanging in there and continuing on, makes you look like an even bigger loser. Apparently Naperville councilwomen Becky Anderson and Rebecca Boyd-Obarski reached that point when they announced they would not seek re-election to the Naperville city council. After just one term in office they are throwing in the towel rather than facing almost certain defeat in spring’s municipal election.

Neither subscribe to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous quote, “‘Tis better to have run for office and lost, than to have never run at all”, well maybe he was referring to ‘love’ rather than running for office, but you get the idea. One thing is for sure, neither Anderson or Obarski is the Rocky Balboa of politics.

Becky Anderson sealed her fate in numerous ways, but all it really took was one huge error in judgment, when she began to push the unpopular concept that Naperville needs to be a ‘welcoming’ city which is code for a ‘sanctuary’ city. That works in California, and specifically in San Francisco, but it doesn’t work in Naperville.

Anderson recently ran for the Illinois 6th House District representative in the democrat primary, and was soundly defeated coming in 4th place out of 6 candidates and garnering just 6.1% of the vote, while the winner carried 30% of the vote. Getting pounded by a 5 to 1 ratio apparently was too much for Anderson to deal with and what little wind was left in her balloon disappeared as quickly as the offending referee-official in Saints/Rams NFC championship game. Her lame-duck status on the Naperville city council is evident with her lack of involvement.

Rebecca Boyd-Obarski seemed to have a bright future as a member of the Naperville city council, even to the point that some considered her to be a future, viable mayoral candidate. Her stock value was increasing as she clearly has the willingness to speak up and respectfully challenge the majority council position on an agenda item. She admitted she didn’t have all the answers (unusual in politics) but had the open-mindedness to search for answer, she didn’t ask once and accept an answer, she would delve deeper for the right answer. Unfortunately for Obarski, her support eroded when her actions, decisions, and votes on the council didn’t always match her platform as a council-candidate; many supporters felt abandoned.

So for both Naperville councilwoman Obarski and especially for soon-to-be ex-councilwoman Becky Anderson the motto that best fits is “Give up, it’s quicker”.

Jan 202019

Oops, Naperville city officials got caught again. This time the City of Henderson, Nevada outed Naperville city officials by threatening a trademark infringement lawsuit for using the term ‘Water Street District’ to describe the recent new development in downtown Naperville along Water Street. The City of Henderson has its own ‘Water Street District’ with the name protected by registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014.

Somebody or a bunch of ‘somebodies’ with the City of Naperville were not paying attention to detail. Is anybody in the legal department willing to stand up and take responsibility? Probably not. Maybe city attorney Michael DiSanto can shed some light on how this happened. Obviously the legal department in Henderson was paying attention.

Is it possible that the City of Henderson operates more efficiently than Naperville? It surely appears that way. Henderson has a population of approximately 300,000; about twice that of Naperville’s population of 145,000, yet while Naperville has nine city council members, Henderson needs only five to get the job done. It’s a simple matter of numbers. Henderson with twice the population and about half the council members, makes Henderson city officials four times more efficient. Attention to detail might be a municipal value, if nothing else Henderson city officials probably subscribe to theory of ‘trust but verify’.

Not one Naperville city official, including the nine members of the city council, and the legal department, said “Wow, ‘Water Street District’, what a cool name, is it trademarked? Maybe less time pounding down pancakes at Juicy O’s and more time in the office verifying trademarks and patents would be prudent for Naperville city officials and city attorney DiSanto.

Considering the fiasco of naming the ‘Water Street District’, Naperville councilman John Krummen made it crystal clear during January 15 city council meeting when he stated four times within 25 seconds that he is trying to re-brand the 5th avenue development as the “train station”

Apparently anybody living on 5th Avenue will now be living at the ‘train station’. Just when you think Naperville has solved the problem of homeless people by re-naming them as ‘street dwellers’, we’ll have a bunch of people living at the ‘train station’.

A few things we know for sure:

  • Somebody will be doing a lot of verifying when it comes to naming the Fifth Avenue Development
  • You won’t be seeing any council member wearing a ‘Water Street District’ shirt or cap
  • Naperville city officials won’t be approving a bubbly drink named ‘Naperville Coke’
Jan 122019

I learned rather early in life that I wasn’t made for hard, physical work. All it took was one long hot day of baling hay by hand in a t-shirt. Never wear a t-shirt when baling hay. It took a number of years later to realize that I wasn’t made to be a police officer. It’s dangerous, very difficult, and nowadays very unappreciated. It’s also a very necessary job. It’s that thin blue line that separates chaos from safety.

Imagine pulling a car over for a traffic stop at 2:30am, and not knowing what you will encounter. Or being called to a domestic disturbance, or a burglary, or shots fired. Police officers run towards what most of run away from.

My wife’s dad was a police officer in Muncie, Indiana for 42 years. You have to really like what you do, to do it for that long, or maybe you just do it because it becomes who you are. He could have written a book, as is the case with just about every police officer.

I, along with my wife, had the opportunity to participate in Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy, along with about 25 other folks. It’s a nine week program that flies by, along with each 3-hour class. It is without a doubt among the best 27 hours of time I have ever invested. Many communities throughout the country offer the program, which is designed to acquaint individuals with activities of their local police department. Graduates become more aware and better informed about how the police department works.

The link below will give you an overview of Naperville’s program:

More information on the Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy

The following is a week-by-week view of the program’s content:

In a nutshell, Naperville does it right. The program is not just a NPD task or a service, it’s a commitment and a passion on their part. Every aspect of Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy (NCPA), is done with respect and class. Members of the Naperville Police Department are outstanding representatives of their profession, and of the city.

Greek poet Archilochus said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training”. Members of the NPD are always in training, even at 2:30 in the morning.

Jan 062019

We can thank Sir Robert Peel (1788 – 1850), considered the father of modern policing, for creating the foundation for today’s police departments. In 1829 Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force for London based at Scotland Yard. Unpopular at first, they proved very successful in reducing crime in London, and by 1857 all cities in Britain were encouraged to form their own police forces.

He kept it simple by using two principals; 1) the basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder, and 2) the ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.

Naperville’s Police Department Mission Statement:

To serve the community, while also protecting life and property.

Naperville’s Police Department Values

The pillars for which Naperville’s Mission Statement rests upon are,

  • Integrity – We are committed to actions that reflect honestly and integrity at all times
  • Employees – We are committed to working together as a team and serving the community with dignity and respect.
  • Accountability – We acknowledge, as a department and as a staff, the need to account for and accept responsibility for our actions.
  • Community Partnership – We are committed to collaborating with the entire community to build a partnership based on engagement, trust, and transparency as we carry out the great responsibility of enforcing laws and ordinances with the community, not on the community.
  • Diversity – We recognize the value of varying backgrounds, beliefs, perspectives, and experiences as being vital to our understanding and meeting the community needs.

Key Police Department Initiatives

The NPD has created numerous initiatives to strengthen its mission, all of which help the residents and businesses of Naperville including:

  • Drug Take Back Program
  • Gun Take Back Program
  • Lock It or Lose It Program
  • Safer Naper Program
  • Chat With The Chief
  • Connect For Life
  • Crisis Intervention Team
  • A.L.I.C.E. Training Program
  • De-Escalation Training Model
  • Peer Support Program
  • 21st Century Policing Model and The Five Pillars
  • Implicit/Explicit Bias Training
  • Citizen and Youth Police Academy
  • Citizens Community Radio Watch
  • Citizens Appreciate Public Safety (CAPS)
  • Police Chaplains Program and Prayer Initiative

Critical Issues Impacting Policing (2019 – 2024)

In order to stay ahead of the curve and trends, while always staying true to its mission, the NPD continues to be forward thinking regarding critical issues impacting our community, now and in the future. Four key areas identified are human resources, technology, communication, and collaboration. They include:

  • Revolution in emergency communications
  • Revolution in technology with current technological advancements occurring every 1.5 years, and moving to be instantaneous within 5 years
  • Gun violence / mass shooting / terrorism
  • Managing large-scale demonstrations
  • Opioid epidemic
  • Mental health and suicide cases
  • Crime rates & trends
  • Recruitment, hiring, retention
  • Training, leadership & employment development
  • Peer support for personnel
  • Cyber crime
  • Open data and social media communication
  • Customer expectations and needs
  • Community and police agency collaboration & partnerships
  • Intelligence led policing
  • Gold standard performance-based organizational structure
  • Legislation and unfunded mandates such as body cameras
  • Youth and senior population
  • Crime prevention programing
  • Traffic education and enforcement
  • Firearms Restraining Order Act
  • Economy and budget
  • Problem-oriented policing

One can only imagine that Sir Robert Peel would be proud to see and know what the Naperville Police Department has accomplished with the foundation that he created.

Dec 232018

There was a time when everybody in Naperville knew Robert Worthel, in fact, his name is prominently displayed just outside of the Naperville Police Department, along with the names of 11 other police department employees, including seven Naperville police officers who died while employed by the city.

Robert Worthel was the Naperville police chief in 1917. He died on September 5, 1917, in the line of duty while responding to the scene of an armed robbery. His motorcycle was struck by a motorist who turned in front of him at Washington and School streets. He was 34 and had been with the department for five years. He was survived by his wife.

Exactly 100 years later, Sargent James Galvan of the Richton Park Police Department read Chief Worthel’s story during roll call on Sept 5th, 2017 to honor him; an act of reverence and appreciation for a fellow officer.

Police officers put themselves in potentially dangerous situations on a daily basis, while protecting us. They run towards what most of us run away from. We read about and see it occasionally in media, but not nearly as often as it actually happens. FBI statistics for 2018 report that 53 law officers were killed by offenders while on duty, and an additional 51 officers died accidentally on the job. These numbers are up by 10% from 2017.

Naperville’s Riverwalk is considered to be the ‘gem of Naperville’, however there is another ‘gem of Naperville’ and it’s the Naperville Police Department. Under the leadership of Chief Robert Marshall, along with Deputy Chiefs Jason Arries, and Kathy Anderson, they have assembled an outstanding team of 271 employees including 169 sworn police officers. The Department has won numerous awards for its endeavors. While other police departments are seeing a decline of candidates for employment (unfortunately a sign of the times) Naperville is seeing an increase of candidates. With the possibility of 71 department employees being eligible for retirement shortly, high quality candidates are necessary to fill those positions.

Naperville’s police department has earned the reputation for being ‘the choice destination’ for law enforcement officers, not because of the low crime rate, but because the department “does it right”, all the way from recruiting and interviewing, to training, recognition, and opportunity. I spoke with a high ranking officer of the Hanover Park Police Department and their pool of candidates is down, not nearly enough to fill its needs. He acknowledged that the NPD is the preferred destination in the Chicago area.

While other cities are squeezing the budgets for their police departments, Naperville city officials have maintained a good budget for its police department, however if better is possible, then ‘good’ is not enough.

If I were the ‘King of Naperville’, I would make two proclamations. My second proclamation would be for the Naperville Police Department to have a new Command Vehicle. If Lombard and Glendale Heights each have one, then the NPD surely has earned one.

My first proclamation would be that the NPD should have and needs to have a Bearcat vehicle. Yes, it’s an expense but if each Naperville resident chipped in $1.75, that would be enough to make it happen. Better yet, Naperville city officials could reallocate some dollars spent on recycling and it’s leaf collection program for the purchase of a Bearcat vehicle.

The name ‘BearCat’ stands for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck. Bearcats are armored rescue vehicles with their primary use being to transport tactical (SWAT / Special Reaction Teams) officers to and from hostile situations and assist with the recovery and protection of civilians in harm’s way during terrorist threats, hostage incidents, or encounters with large gatherings of aggressors.

Police departments including Naperville’s need all the help and support they can get, because the help and support they get, is used to help and support the rest of us. Makes sense doesn’t it.

Just as Sgt. James Galvan of the Richton Park Police Department honored Naperville’s Police Chief Robert Worthel, Naperville city officials could honor Chief Worthel by naming the Bearcat “The Robert Worthel Bearcat”. That’s doing the right thing, and doing it with class.

(This is the first part of a three-part series about the Naperville Police Department. The second part will cover the NPD’s Mission Statement, its Values, Department initiatives, and critical issues. The final part will cover Naperville’s outstanding Citizen Police Academy).

Dec 152018

Nine days remaining until Christmas day, which means in ten days the garbage and recycling trucks will be in high gear gathering everything we don’t want, including boxes, boxes, and more boxes. If you are into recycling, it could be the happiest day of your year.

It’s possible your recycling bin will be jam packed with stuff. All the recyclable stuff that doesn’t fit, can go into the garbage can, or sit along side your recycling bin. You can be sure it won’t be the recycling guy taking the stuff sitting outside of the bin, it will be the garbage guy. Hopefully the garbage truck drivers are earning more than the recycling guys.

The recycling truck guys must have a better union contract, because they will not get out of their trucks to pick up a perfectly beautiful cardboard box. It’s clean, empty, has no weight, but there it sits as the recycling guy drives by smiling.

One would think that the recycling companies would be making more of an effort to capture as much recycling stuff as possible, considering the recycling industry is tanking. The culprit is China. Yes, when all else fails blame it on the Chinese.

China has been the world leader for buying recyclables, but that pipeline is diminishing, due to China’s new anti-pollution program. Unless the recycling materials (plastic, metals, and paper) are 99.5% pure, China is not buying. That percentage exceeds the U.S. standard of 97% free of contamination (food, foam cups, etc). Since China is not buying, we are stuck with our own impure recyclables. Now rather than getting paid for recyclable material, we have to pay to get rid of it. That is not a long term good plan.

Even when recycling was ‘profitable’, the general population was not on board with the concept, with the National average of 35%. Naperville had the highest rate among Illinois largest cities, at 30%, but is was still well below the National average. If only those recycling-truck drivers would get out of their trucks and pickup a box here and there, Naperville could have exceeded the National average.

As it has turned out, maybe it’s just as good that the recycling guys drive by smiling without picking up big, beautiful, sturdy boxes sitting at curbside, because now we don’t have to pay to get rid of the stuff. The garbage guys can take it and fill up the landfills. Isn’t that what a landfill is for, to fill it.

If we want to save even more money, why not have the garbage guys pick up the recycling bins, and toss them into the landfill; bingo, another problem solved. Solving problems is not that difficult.

Dec 092018

The definition of ‘serendipity’ is ‘the occurrence and development of events by chance in a beneficial way’, or simply stated ‘a stroke of luck’. Naperville city officials might want to consider establishing a new Department of Serendipity within city government.

Naperville city officials are on roll of good luck. Earlier in the year, they called for resident-volunteers to create a group called ‘Drain Defenders’ to help unclog street drains of leaves and debris. When rain, a snowstorm, and ice hit Naperville November 25, it covered piles of leaves on about 40% of Naperville’s streets. Snowplows then pushed piles of leaves around many of which found their way to covering street drains. Bingo, Drain Defenders to the rescue.

Depending upon how many residents volunteered, Naperville has either an army of Drain Defenders (which is what is needed especially now) or if just a few folks volunteered, making the ‘army’ more like a gang. Either way, one Drain Defender is better than none.

During that same weather event, traffic signals became covered with ice and snow making it nearly impossible to see the stop-and-go lights. A few accidents occurred in Naperville, fortunately with no serious injuries. Apparently the problem was another ‘Trifecta of Nature’, 1) blowing snow, 2) it was wet and icy, and 3) newly installed LED traffic signal lights throughout Naperville don’t heat up enough to melt snow and ice.

Here comes the serendipity part, why not have city officials reach out for a new opportunity; a resident-volunteer group called ‘Traffic Signal Light Defenders’. Just like Drain Defenders, people can volunteer to clear off traffic signal lights. The city issued the first 100 Drain Defenders with a rake, a shovel, and a nifty orange vest, they could do the same with Traffic Signal Light Defenders by issuing an inexpensive tall ladder, an ice scrapper, a huge can of Rain-X, and florescent orange vest.

Naperville city officials have always wanted residents to be more involved with city government, this would help achieve that goal. The ultimate goal could be to have every Naperville resident volunteer to do something, in essence cutting expenses and lowering the budget. It would almost be like a colony of bees with everybody doing something.

There is no end to what Naperville’s Department of Serendipity, headed by its Director, could ask volunteer-residents to defend for including:

  1. Road-kill collector
  2. Street sweeping
  3. Code enforcement (neighbors not shoveling sidewalks)
  4. Mowing city property
  5. Changing street light bulbs
  6. Tax collector
  7. Court jester, during city council meetings
  8. City council member
  9. Timekeeper…residents can tell speakers when their 3 minutes are up during public forum. Better than paying the current time keeper.
  10. BS detector…they can Google every ‘fact’ the council states, if it doesn’t pass muster, an emoji of shame is shown over the person who made the fake statement.

To think it all started with Drain Defenders. Well, it actually started with Naperville city officials not having a better, well-thought-out plan for removing leaves from city streets.