Jul 282011
 

The majority of Naperville city council specializes in being penny conscious and dollar foolish. The city is swimming in debt and rather than looking for some good footing and heading to shore the Naperville city council decides to strap on lead vests to its citizens and have them swim further out by approving a $19 million bond obligation to be used in part to fund an absolutely unnecessary fiasco called the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative. The majority of the Naperville city council appear incapable of saying ‘no’ to additional expense.

It’s encouraging to see a council member (Doug Krause) come to the dais with solutions and firm positions on issues. One such issue is filling open positions with full time employees. Councilman Krause’s solution is to hire part-time employees rather than full time employees which addresses three opportunities; 1) it costs less to hire part-time (employee benefits are not offered), 2) staff employees for the City of Naperville need some help with the increasing workload, and 3) this creates a pool of talent from which to choose when the economy improves and full time positions become available.

Councilman Bob Fieseler looks at the issue from a different perspective. His answer is to continue dropping additional workloads on city employees because somehow magically the work appears to be getting completed. Look at the following videos from the July 19 Naperville city council meeting.

Therefore, the question to council member Fieseler would be “How hard can you run a horse before it drops?” Based on councilman Fieseler’s solution to the problem (make the staff work harder), here are a couple of ideas that councilman Fieseler may want to consider to demonstrate solid leadership on his part and setting a good example.

Suggestion one. The city of Naperville currently has 909 employees, which is down from its high of 1070 employees. So that’s about 85% doing 100% of the work. If councilman Fieseler volunteered to step out of the council and forfeit his salary and benefits for austerity reasons and setting a good example of fiduciary responsibility, we would have 88% of the council members doing 100% of the work. This is doable. Cities of comparable population (Dayton, Ohio, Hollywood, Florida, Ft. Collins, Colorado, and Pasadena, California) have as few as half as many council members (4) as Naperville has, and those cities are not wasting money on not-so Smart Grid Initiatives.

Suggestion two. If councilman Fieseler does not want to be the one to ‘step away’, he could volunteer another council member (or maybe two) and then take on their workload.

I’m guessing somehow magically he could get the workload done too, just as the city staff  that he referred to is getting it done. Then the question becomes, “How hard can you run a city council member before he drops

Jun 272011
 

The Naperville city council is hell-bent on pushing the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative forward and they seem to be doing it with what appears to be reckless neglect. So why the rush? Why do they want to push something through that doesn’t need to be fast tracked? There is no emergency. Things are working fine. If something does need to be done, common sense would say let’s explore our options, let’s be prudent and make sure what we are doing is the right thing. It’s almost as if some members of the Naperville city council are steering an out-of-control train loaded with their constituency and only council member Krause is trying to protect the citizens of Naperville by reaching for the brake to slow the train to a safe speed.

At nearly every city council meeting, citizens speak up requesting that the city council use their ‘collective’ heads and slow it down. Watch and listen as Naperville citizen Jeff Perkins addresses the city council regarding the $19 million general obligation bond of which $6 million is earmarked for the NSGI (Naperville Smart Grid Initiative.

Commonwealth Edison had a $63 million pilot program for the Smart Grid and their CEO stated that results showed  ‘it costs too much, we’re not sure what good it will do, we looked at most of the elements of the Smart Grid for 20 years and we’ve never been able to come up with estimates that make it pay’. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan states that the ‘results are disappointing’, and yet all but one of the Naperville city council members want to push forward and saddle our city with additional needless debt. Watch and listen to council member Kenn Miller who seems to think he knows more than Commonwealth Edison and the Attorney general on the topic.

Now watch and listen to council member Doug Krause who repeatedly speaks for the best interests of the citizens of Naperville.

 

Why the rush you ask. We can partly learn this by following the money. The Federal government, through the Department of Energy, is funding approximately half of the expense IF the city of Naperville can rush the project to get the grid in place within a three-year period. In essence, the Naperville city council ‘sold out’ and allowed itself to be ‘bought’ by the Department of Energy for half the dollars of the project if it pushed the Smart Grid Initiative through. Hence, not enough time was factored in for using prudent judgment with regard for the cost of the project, the effectiveness of the grid, and the health safety of the citizens of Naperville.

The Naperville city council is turning our city into a nanny-city by tap-dancing to the music of the Federal Government. The Naperville city council wants to tell us what we already know which is how to control our use of electric which we currently refer to as the ‘off and on’ switch.

It makes you wonder how many cities throughout the country declined to ‘sell out’ to the Department of Energy before the federal government  found an accommodating city council in Naperville.

The next time you see a Naperville city council member other than citizen-friendly Doug Krause, ask him or her “Why the rush”.

And if you happen to hear the sound of ‘tap-dancing shoes’ coming down the street, chances are they belong councilmen Bob Fieseler, Kenn Miller, and Mayor Pradel.

Jun 122011
 

So what exactly is ‘it’ that the Naperville city council wants? Well ‘it’ represents anything and everything they want. If they want to delay devising a district or ward map, they delay ‘it’. If they want to add a gas tax, they do ‘it’. If they create codes like there is no end in sight, they do ‘it’. If they know no one is watching, or nobody can stop them, they take delight in ramming ‘it’ down our throats. ‘It’ makes absolutely no difference to them what’s best for the citizens of Naperville; they choose to do what’s best for them.

The most recent and ongoing ‘it’ is the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative and the instillation of wireless meters to all citizens of Naperville. Like it or not the citizens of Naperville are going to be ‘forced’ to accept these unwanted meters. The Naperville city council would take issue with the word ‘forced’ but let’s call it what it is; in this case, the ‘it’ is forced. For months, groups such as the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group have presented facts and information in front of the city council, only to be chastised, ridiculed, and ignored.

For a while, the Naperville city council was dancing around the issue and leading citizens to believe they may have a chance of stopping this run-away train. One presenter in particular (Jim Rooney in the posting titled ‘Naperville city council saved by the bell’) had the city council, all nine of them, on the ropes, when he forcefully yet respectfully presented facts and posed questions they could not answer. It was a classic example of how one person backed by the truth and courage, can make others relying on hidden agendas to cower under the glaring eyes of the public eye.

There is one Naperville city councilman (Doug Krause) who is fighting for the citizens of Naperville to be heard and get a ‘fair shake on the deal’.

He has been on the city council for longer than any of the others and he has seen many free-swinging cowboys come and go on the council and he keeps being re-elected because he takes the job of representing his constituency seriously. However, he is only one of nine council members and more times than not is outvoted on common sense issues and doing what is best for the citizens of Naperville. With regard to the other eight council members and the issue of the ‘Smart Grid’ councilmen Chirico and McElroy are so new they are still trying to remember where they sit at the dais, council member Brodhead is content reading proclamations, Miller is flying under the radar, councilman Hinterlong speaks in common sense that goes over the heads of most of his peers, Wehrli truly thinks this Smart Meter thing makes sense, Mayor Pradel is there for the ride and planning his next ribbon cutting, and then you have councilman Fieseler who has his foot on the accelerator of this initiative with no intention of looking for the brake.

Many Naperville citizens are opposed to the wireless meters because not enough thought and research has been completed to ‘sign-off’ on the installation of these meters. Many others simply prefer the continued use of wired meters. Why use wireless if wired works? What is the purpose of trying to fix something that’s not broken? The government will give all sorts of reasons why we should do it. If the government says it’s good for us, then we should take the medicine right? What could possibly go wrong?

If we use wireless, we can help control our usage of electric. Isn’t that what my ‘on and off’ switch on the wall does? How about this one; we can go online anytime of the day or middle of the night and see how much electric we are using. That sounds like a good use of time. Alternatively, how about this benefit of using the wireless meters; the city can eliminate the meter readers, that sounds like a great idea, put all of them in the unemployment line. The city has spent millions of dollars to save thousands of dollars. Now that sounds consistent with government actions including the Naperville city council.

Here is the real insult to this whole debacle. The Naperville city council wanted and considered approving a Customer Privacy and Advocacy Handbook with no input from the citizens of Naperville. So, the idea was to approve it and then let the citizens of Naperville take a look at it. This sounds a bit familiar. Haven’t we heard this government ploy recently with regard to then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s comment on the National Health Care Plan known as Obamacare.

Finally, to prove that the Naperville city council is more concerned about their needs rather than the needs of their constituency, the Smart Grid Initiative would require that each citizen-user submit their social security number and driver’s license number to the city for what they call identification purposes.

The real reason they want this information is for  collection of delinquent account purposes. So in essence, the City of Naperville is willing to risk the financial security of all of its citizens via personal identity theft, in order to make it easier for them to collect some dollars from some delinquent accounts. The City assures us that this personal information will be guarded; again what could possibly go wrong?

The “good news” from the Naperville city council is that citizens may have the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of using wireless meters. Those citizens will have to most likely cough up some additional dollars to ‘opt out’. My guess is that the City of Naperville will make “it” so financially painful to opt out, that no one will be able to afford to opt out. If the Naperville city council wants it, they take it.

May 202011
 

It’s been said that one person with courage and perseverance makes a majority, however this was not the case in Tuesday’s Naperville city council meeting when councilman Doug Krause was out voted by a margin of 8 to 1 on the issue of authorizing the city manager to recruit externally and fill one vacant transportation project manager and a public information coordinator.

Naperville Finance Director Karen DeAngelis forecast that the municipal deficit will approach $700,000 for the 2011/2012 year, and could reach $26 million by the year 2016. This is diametrically opposed to Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger’s comment that he is “confident” the 2012 fiscal year budget will be balanced. Somebody has this one wrong. If this were a horse race, I would put my money on the finance director that she has it right.

This is serious folks. These are not idle words; they are solemn words of warning. Yet the Naperville city council repeatedly appears to ignore the ominous ‘iceberg’ that lies ahead.

Some may argue that the council is composed of optimists or romanticists thinking that things will be OK in the near future. Maybe the Naperville city slogan should be “What could possibly go wrong” though I am not sure that would parallel their ‘oath’ to practice fiduciary responsibility. Maybe that’s the problem; eight of the Naperville city council members think they are practicing, while one (Councilman Doug Kruase) knows this is the real thing. This is not dress rehearsal, this is show time. It’s time to turn the wheel to avoid the iceberg and continue to cut expenses when and where they can.

To make the situation even more dire is the fact that state officials are talking about reducing or eliminating the local share of state income tax revenue it collects and shares with local municipalities including Naperville. Leaders from municipalities throughout Illinois have been to Springfield to voice their opposition and lobby for their cities to receive their fare share of those funds. When we contacted the mayor’s office to see what Naperville has done to ‘fight’ for those dollars, the answer was ‘we sent a letter’. Are you kidding me, the City of Naperville spent 44 cents and sent a letter. I suppose that’s an example of being expense conscious, but that’s like the owners of the Titanic not spending a couple of bucks for a set of binoculars.

Councilman Krause has it right. Watch and listen to his comment regarding his quest and awareness for cutting expense.

Newly elected Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel presented a four-point litmus test to the Chicago city council regarding the city budget and expense.

  • Can we afford it?
  • Is it worth it?
  • Do we need it?
  • Can we do it better?

Councilman Krause gets it. Maybe the other eight members of the Naperville city council need to either listen to their big city brother 35 miles to the east of Naperville or listen to Councilman Krause a few seats to the right of Mayor Pradel.

?

Mar 312011
 

The Watchdog’s choice for Mayor is….

When all the votes were totaled and the orderly process was completed the candidate climbing the highest on the voting totem pole for Mayor of Naperville was Doug Krause by a 5% margin over incumbent mayor George Pradel ( 41% to 36%) and a convincing 18% more than mayoral candidate Councilman Kenn Miller with 23%. Now granted our sampling vote was by far, less that next Tuesday’s general election, however it’s still a window into the world of possibilities for the outcome of the April 5th election. The Watchdogs support the results of the pre-election and with that we endorse the election of Councilman Doug Krause for Mayor of Naperville.

Let’s make it perfectly clear that we know how difficult it is for a non-incumbent to be elected. It’s a challenge for anyone to get elected for anything if they have good competition, however once elected to an office it’s as difficult if not more difficult to be elected out of office. In the last Naperville Mayoral election Mayor Pradel defeated his opponent by capturing nearly 70% of the vote. So defeating Mayor Pradel would have as much chance as let’s say…..VCU getting to the Final Four and then winning the whole thing. Many think that defeating Mayor Pradel would be like VCU beating Southern Cal, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and then #1 Kansas; I mean what are the chances of that happening.

We support Doug Krause for Mayor because it’s time to pass the gavel. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not because Mayor Pradel hasn’t been a good Mayor. For the most part he has done an outstanding job with a few major stumbles along the way. But let’s face it; anyone in a position of leadership is going to have that happen. I for one am proud that the mayor of our fine city, Mayor Pradel came from the ranks of the Naperville Police Department and invested a good part of those years of service as Officer Friendly. Personally I hold in high regard anyone who has honorably served his community as a police officer. My wife’s dad was a police officer in the State of Indiana for 43 years.

So Mayor Pradel has been the right person for the right job at the right time. However now it’s a different time and the job and responsibilities have become bigger and the issues have become more complex as our city grows. And it’s because of those reasons we endorse Doug Krause for Mayor of Naperville. He understands Naperville and its issues. He has a clear vision of what needs to be addressed and he has a plan for changes necessary to take the City of Naperville to the next level. We would hope that if Doug Krause is elected the next Mayor of Naperville that he would carry the torch as well as Mayor Pradel has done over his tenure as mayor. Doug Krause is the right person, for the right job, at the right time. It’s time to pass the gavel forward.

Mar 162011
 

Opening and closing statements from Doug Krause made during a public forum in Naperville, Illinois on February 24, 2011.

Candidate #1: Doug Krause
www.krauseformayor.com

Opening Statement:

Closing Statement: