Apr 082011

Two members of the current Naperville city council (Councilman Boyajian and Councilman Furstenau) will not be part of the new Naperville, Illinois city council which will be seated May 3, 2011. Furstenau was trounced in his re-election bid by coming in 6th place, and Boyajian chose not to run for re-election. Councilman Boyajian exercised wise judgment knowing that if he did run, his chances for re-election were about as good as Charlie Sheen being selected role-model of the year. The difference between Charlie Sheen and soon-to-be ex-councilman Boyajian is that Charlie welcomes a fair fight. Whereas Boyajian enjoys being the council bully and inflicting ‘verbal beat downs’ on Naperville Citizens who dare approach the podium during ‘Public Forum’ time; a time in which a citizen can voice his or her comments for a three minute time period, ironically the same time in a round of boxing.

Soon-to-be ex-Councilman Boyajian displays an ongoing aura of disdain and contempt wrapped in arrogance towards Naperville citizens who dare question the actions and decisions of the Naperville city council. He does this with an appearance of confidence knowing that he is literally and figuratively speaking in an elevated position, with a microphone that doesn’t have a 3-minute cut-off time, backed by an off stage time keeper that tells citizen speakers that “your time us up”, supported by 8 other council members, not one of which has the courage to reign in their peer and ask that he show respect to the speakers who are citizens of Naperville. With this type of support system Councilman Boyajian relishes in the opportunity for verbal ‘beat downs’. Without a support system it’s unlikely he would engage in a fair exchange of opinion (refer to posting ‘City Council Saved by the Bell’ when Naperville citizen Jim Rooney had the City Council down for the count of ‘nine’ before they were saved the time-keeper).

Take a look at this exchange between Boyajian and citizen JoAnne St. Ives during the Naperville city council meeting on April 6.  The hot topic of discussion is whether or not the City should move forward with their quest to install a wireless smart meter grid vs. a fiber optic cable wired solution.

Also, please note the comment below to the Watchdog website from a Naperville Citizen who attended that meeting.

”Yesterday evening I attended the Naperville City Council meeting.  I had a ringside seat to what I believe to be the best and worst of the City of Naperville city council.  Our City Council opened the meeting by recognizing those who have made a difference in our community.  Their involvement and passion is what makes our city great.  In the open forum, the issue of Wireless Smart Meters was discussed and the first few responses from Council members were respectful and professional.  Unfortunately these positive acts were overshadowed by what I would consider as unprofessionalism and bullying on the part of Councilman Boyajian.  Our residents have an opportunity to voice their comments in an open forum about issues that are important to them.  One of the women who spoke about the on-going concerns about the wireless smart meters was greeted with disdain and comments that were not rational or fact based.  There were merely his opinion and perception.  This would be acceptable, if Councilman Boyajian were involved in the process, had reviewed any of the information, or was respectful to one of the people that he ultimately represents.  Unfortunately he has been asleep in his chair (if he was even present) and has ignored the multiple attempts to meet on this subject with the key people from the organization.  I applaud those Council members who have gone out of their way to meet with the concerned citizens of Naperville to create a win/win scenario on this initiative.  Unfortunately, when you are outgunned, outclassed and at an intellectual disadvantage the rule of thumb for Councilman Boyajian is apparently to resort to bullying, cutting people off multiple times in mid-sentence as they are answering his questions and acting as if he didn’t have the time to spend on their issue.  What is most concerning is that his behavior and comments are on public television and make our city look bad.   He needs to remember that he represents us, not the other way around.”

Now the fact that soon-to-be ex-councilman Boyajian will no longer be part of the Naperville city council and will be riding off into the sun-set on his motorcycle with training wheels tightly affixed would seem to make him a non-entity and a moot point in the annuls of Naperville history. However, with Commandant Boyajian’s regime coming to an end,  the important lessons to be learned by the Naperville city council are that the citizens of Naperville have a right to respectfully voice their opinions about issues that are important to them during public forums;  council members need to respect the citizens of Naperville that they represent;  council members work for their constituency; and their positions as council members are not positions of ownership, but rather positions of stewardship.

The three-minute limit on Naperville citizens during the Public Forum is not a boxing match, it’s an opportunity for Naperville city council members to do their job, and that job is respectfully listening to their constituency

Apr 062011

Victory 2011: It’s all in the numbers.

The elections for Mayor and the Naperville City Council are over and the votes have been tallied and when all the dust settled, it was a victory for the Citizens of Naperville.

Of major importance, the two weakest and most detrimental links in the Naperville City Council (Richard Furstenau and Councilman Jim Boyajian) will no longer be part of the Naperville City Council. Councilman Richard Furstenau was soundly defeated in the field of ten candidates finishing in sixth place. Of the five candidates who finished in front of Fustenau, three were non-incumbents. In fact Furstenau came in closer to last place than he did to second place finisher non-incumbent Steve Chirico. The citizens of Naperville not only spoke loudly via the voting booth, they shouted their collective displeasure towards hypocrisy. When a councilman professes to be the voice of financial conservatism from the dais, yet in the courtroom inflicts financial discomfort to the city he represents, then those words and actions don’t match. The citizens of Naperville spoke, and their words matched their actions on Election Day.

And soon-to-be ex-councilman Furstenau still doesn’t get it; after the elections while being interviewed on Naperville’s NCTV Furstenau said, “I want to take a look at the votes and precincts and it looks to me like there were some strange things going on with the voting, but I haven’t had time to analyze all the numbers yet.” Well the good news for soon-to-be ex-councilman is that he now will have plenty of time on his hands to ‘analyze all the numbers’, and frankly there aren’t many numbers (votes he received) to analyze.

Councilman Jim Boyajian chose not to run for re-election, which is without a doubt the best decision he has made while being a member of the Naperville City Council. We anticipate one of  soon-to-be ex-councilman Boyajian first tasks will be to follow in the footsteps of the tinman in the Wizard of Oz by looking for a ‘heart’. No longer will the Naperville staff at City Hall have to be subjected to verbal ‘beat downs’ during council meetings.

Two of our four endorsements for Naperville City Council were successful; first place finisher incumbent Grant Wehrli, and second place finisher Steve Chirico. Our top choice for Naperville City Council was Patty Gustin who finished fifth just a few hundred votes behind non-incumbent Joe McElroy who finished fourth. The top four vote getters will join the ‘new’ Naperville City Council.

Fortunately for Councilman Bob Fieseler, Naperville has yet to establish districts or wards, because if Naperville did have ‘the will of the people’ in place by having districts for this election he would also be an ex-councilman if he went one-on-one with newly elected Steve Chirico. So the fact that Bob Fieseler was trounced by a non-incumbent doesn’t speak well for Councilman Fieseler’s election results.

Though we did not endorse Mayor George Pradel, it was absolutely no surprise that he was re-elected for a fifth term over our endorsement and second-place finisher Doug Krause. What is interesting is that Mayor Pradel did not win with 70% of the vote as he did in the last election; this time he clocked in with 65% of the vote which is still a mandate, but he was less successful in this election. This may be due to a number or reasons including, 1) Naperville’s decline in the rankings of most favorable cities to live in, 2) Naperville’s decrease in population (this is never a good thing), 3) major budget problems, 4) citizen-voter dissatisfaction with the liquor commission decisions which is headed by Mayor Pradel, and 5) support of the Smart Grid.

It’s all in the numbers, and by any measure Naperville Election 2011 was a victory for the Citizens of Naperville.

Jan 252011

Something new and something old.

Now here is something new and something old at the same time. The January 18th meeting of the City Council could have surprised all in attendance by starting on time for the first time since… who can remember when it started on time or if it has ever started on time with this current City Council. There are 11 people on the panel including 8 council members, the Mayor, the City Attorney and the City Manager. Out of 11 people there was only one ready to get the party started on time, and that one person was Councilman Grant Wehrli. There he was, seated by 7:00 and ready to rock-‘n-roll and do the people’s business; however he had no one with which to council. One by one the others came strolling in by leisurely walking to their assigned seats. It’s almost as if they think it’s stylish to come in late. Now I suppose you could say there was one other Council member who was not late, and that was Council member Judy Brodhead. She finally solved her problem of being late by not being at the meeting. Now there’s a clever solution to the punctuality-challenged Council member.

Now there was something that was new to the point of being refreshing, and that was the fact that the meeting lasted about 1 ¾ hours……wow that’s almost a record setting pace considering some of the meeting marathons have lasted up to five hours. If it wasn’t for Councilman Furstenau’s lack of focus punctuated with occasional whining about not being listened to, or wanting to switch his vote from a ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ simply because he couldn’t get his way with the other council members, it could have been a record setting meeting in terms of shortest duration.

Sometimes you get the feeling that the other 7 Council members are delighted that Councilman Furstenau sits among them, because he makes the other 7 look really competent. As long as Richard is there, then the others can’t possibly look that bad.

You almost hope that Councilman Furstenau is not preparing for the meeting for more than 4 minutes, because if he is, then he is truly wasting his time.

Here are just a couple of examples. During one of his meltdowns he chastises his fellow councilmen, panel members, and those in attendance by raising his voice and saying “I only raise my voice because I never get a chance to speak without somebody saying something, and I’m about tired of that. I don’t care who it’s coming from.”. Now I ask you, my fellow citizens, is this the ‘voice’ of leadership that we seek from our elected officials, or is that the whining and crying of  someone who is clueless in leadership ability. The other instance occurred after a vote had been taken, and the Council was ready to move to the next topic on the agenda, and Councilman Furstenau wanted to go back and ask more questions about what he had already voted ‘yes’ to. Councilman Boyajian said, “Mr. Mayor, since we have already voted on that, I suggest the Councilman take that off line.”  So basically Councilman Furstenau voted ‘yes’ to something he didn’t fully understand. Now here comes the interesting part of the verbal exchange. Councilman Furstenau says “I’ll tell you what; I am going to change my vote on the whole thing.” So now he wants to vote ‘no’ for something he still doesn’t understand. So apparently Mr. Furstenau never heard the saying that when you dig yourself into a hole, the first thing you need to do is throw away the shovel. Councilman Grant Wehrli brought the voice of reason to the conversation by saying “I understand you overlooked something, I get that,  bring it up under New Business, that’s why we have Robert’s Rules of Order. Right now we’re in the middle of an agenda and because you had an epiphany that you missed something, the whole meeting doesn’t come to a grinding halt. We move on.” Kudos for Councilman Wehrli for taking a stand to keep the line moving. You would think that Councilman Furstenau would throw away the shovel at this point, but oh think again, he continues to dig his hole deeper by saying “ You know what Mr. Wehrli, we’ll move on, but I’ll remember that. I’m through with this kind of stuff.” We could only wish that Councilman Furstenau would be ‘through with that kind of stuff’, but at last sighting he was still carrying that shovel.