Mar 092011

Continuing our three part series of posting ten reader’s questions to the Watchdogs, we will also be posting more questions and answers on March 23rd. Thank you to those who have submitted questions and comments. We encourage you and others to continue to do so, and we will respond to each.

Q: Why haven’t I heard more about City Council Watchdogs?
(Mark R. Naperville)

A: We are relatively new, and rely on word-of-mouth via the Internet. We are better known now than a year ago, but not as well known as we will be a year from now.

Q: How many people are there in your Watchdog group?
(Dean M. Naperville)

A: More than a year ago, but not as many as next year. The important metric is the fact we are growing. It’s all about citizen-voter awareness. Give us one person who can make a difference versus a dozen people who are clueless.

Q: Are you funded, and if so where does your funding come from?
(Beryl B. Chicago)

A: Technically no, however we do have local business support along with individual involvement. It’s not about dollars; it’s about voter awareness and action.

Q: How has the City Council responded to your website and postings?
(Judy F. Naperville)

A: We have heard from 5 of the 8 City Council members. Two have been supportive, two have been critical, one was curious, and the other three at best are indifferent to citizen-voter concerns, or at worst are apathetic that we or their constituency exist unless it’s election time.

Q: How long do you plan to “Watchdog” the City Council and local government?
(Craig F. Naperville)

A: We will continue until the City Council and local leadership prove with their voting and actions that they have the best interests of their constituency in mind. In other words we plan to be here for a long time. The short-term goal is to weed out via election the City Council members who are out-of-touch with the needs of our citizens and local business. The long term goal is to have a competent and voter responsive panel of 11 (8 Council members, the Mayor, the City Manager, and City Attorney).

Q: Why are you so negative towards Councilman Furstenau?
(Harry B. Naperville)

A: If it seems that we are critical of Councilman Furstenau, it’s only because he has earned that distinction by his actions. He presents himself as the expense-conscious Council member who is concerned about the city budget and finances. Yet he has cost the city multiples of tens-of-thousand dollars with frivolous law suits against the City and outstanding members of the Police Department. To say his actions are egregious is an understatement. This in combination with the perception that he is absolutely clueless with regard to agenda topics at Council meetings qualifies Councilman Furstenau at best as a side-show of comedy entertainment for those who view Council meetings, and at worst an embarrassment of local leadership.

Q: Do you get your information first hand or elsewhere?
(Jean N. Naperville)

A: We attend or view City Council every-other Tuesday night meetings, and rely on verifiable information from city staff, along with first-hand citizen and local business feedback. .

Q: You talk very little about Mayor Pradel, or Councilmen Krause and Hinterlong. Why is that?
(Rich S. Naperville)

A: Mayor Pradel and Councilman Krause are both running for the office of Mayor (along with Kenn Miller). Mayor Pradel speaks more loudly with his four-foot scissors that he uses for Grand Openings, than he does at Council meetings. Maybe he’s running out of energy, or maybe he’s said all he needs to say with nothing more to be said. He seems complacent with his position as Mayor and previously the only question would be if he gets a higher percentage of votes than Mayor Daley would get in Chicago if Daley was running again. Councilman Krause is running for the office of Mayor (along with Kenn Miller), so he is measuring his words, but we expect that to change if he plans to make a serious run at Mayor Pradel. Council Hinterlong brings a lot of common sense to Council meetings, and who can be critical of common sense; in fact, that’s exactly what the Council needs…..more common sense.

Q: Has the City staff contacted you about their concerns?
(Starlynn S Rockford, Illinois)

A: Yes. We anticipated they would be reluctant to communicate with us since their jobs are dependent upon not only getting some results, but also keeping their ‘bosses’ happy. Certain members of the City Council have a tendency to hammer away at city staff as if they were human piñatas.

Q: Does the local paper (Naperville Sun) see you as competition, or as a partner in their journalistic efforts?
(Phryne J. Des Moines, Iowa)

A: ‘Doubtful’ to the first part of your question, and ‘no’ to the second part. Our local paper is the Naperville Sun, and they are struggling as are most newspapers nationwide. They have gone from publishing six days-a-week to 3 days weekly. Their slant on local government issues is bland; focusing more on the ‘who and what’, rather than the ‘why’. With that approach the local paper has been complacent with local government, which is probably a dream-come-true for the City Council.

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Feb 232011

We had a great response regarding our request for reader’s questions. Some we responded to individually via email. Other questions were similar in content, so we took the liberty to pinpoint and shorten the query. We will post additional questions and answers in the coming weeks. Again thank you to our viewers for submitting your questions and concerns.

Q: You seem very critical of the City Council. Do they do anything right? (Bert T. Naperville)

A: Of course they do, and that’s to be expected. We focus on areas of improvement.

Q: Why do you hammer away with the Council’s late start time? (Ken Y. Naperville)

A: Punctuality is respect for another person’s time. If they can’t start meetings on time, it’s a microcosm of disrespect for their constituency in general, and an example of their inability for self-discipline which carries over to their financial accountability.

Q: Why don’t you talk more about the new candidates, rather than the incumbents? (Leah G. Downers Grove)

A: Incumbents are making important decisions now, hence spotlighting them is vital. New candidates are off to a very slow start and no one seems to be serious about taking a lead. One candidate has no email address, while another one has an incorrect email address listed with the City Clerk. Attention to detail and assertive game plans are lacking. We anticipate, or at least hope this will change because the City Council needs fresh ideas and strong leadership. Currently ideas are stagnant, and leadership is lacking.

Q: Will you be endorsing any new candidates or incumbents? (Fred P. Naperville)

A: Yes. We will conduct a survey and post the results shortly before the election. We will also make our recommendations soon after the survey.

Q: Still no name on your website. Why hide from your opinion? (Grant W. Naperville)

A: It’s not about any one of the ‘Watchdogs’. It’s about the content of the postings and the actions of City Council and local government.

Q: What possible difference can one person make in an election, or one small group of people, or one website? Some of the councilmen have been there since time began. (Florence B. Naperville)

A: It’s this type of attitude that allows elected officials to stay in office. Every journey starts with the first step, one person becomes one group which gets larger, and a website or social network expedites communication. This is a powerful tool. There are 230 million personal computers in our country of over 300 million people. If you think a first step doesn’t make a difference, then look at the Tea Party, and the recent change in Egypt.

Q: How did your group get started?( Michon M. Toronto, Canada)

A: The idea was conceived late in 2008 during a social event; nothing more than friends chatting about local events, and agreeing that actions need to replace chatter. Then by the middle of 2009 it began to move forward at a quickened pace with citizen involvement. On August 5th of 2009 our first support came from local business, with others soon following. By the first part of 2010 we had a solid grassroots foundation. We have never aspired to build a high rise on that foundation based on our Statement, Mission, and Vision, however our focus is to create the most widespread, quality-base as possible, and we are doing exactly that.

Q: Are you affiliated with any other groups? (Joe Z. Naperville)

A: No, not directly. However ‘Watchdog’ groups are beginning surface and organize in other cities and states nationwide. The City of Chicago has incorporated a City Council Watchdog group within its proceedings. It appears they realize it’s better to work with the group than to deny its existence or to reject its impact on public awareness.

Q: How has your Watchdog effort been received by local business?
(Ryan W. Wheaton)

A: Better than anticipated. At first they were inquisitive as to our motives. They were and still are cautious and on-guard about eager endorsement of our actions and comments because the city can affect their business with permits and licenses. However they also realize overregulation does negatively impact their profits and ability to freely conduct business

Q: Are you concerned about ‘retaliation’ from the Council or local government? (Warren P. Oswego)

A: No.

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