Aug 242011
 

The Naperville city council meetings occur the first and third Tuesdays of each month, unless council members are dismissive of agenda topics that are not that important such as citizen concerns about Smart Meters, district representation, or term limits, and they want to take the night off as happened on July 5 and August 2. I imagine they feel no sense of urgency on topics that citizens see as important.

Meetings can be viewed on TV or live on-line, however when you attend meetings your peripheral vision absorbs so much more that can’t be seen on TV or on-line. Additionally you hear or can be involved in some very interesting discussions in the lobby of city hall, which I will get to later in this posting.

It’s also very interesting when you watch the Public Forum portion of the meeting, and you see things in person that you just do not see electronically. The Naperville city council has a rule that speakers are given 3 minutes to make their presentation. If a citizen presents a topic that the council doesn’t really want to hear, they watch that 3-minute clock very closely as they did when two members of the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group (Joanne St Ives and Jennifer Stahl) made excellent presentations during the August 16 meeting. You could almost see the council waiting for the timekeeper to interrupt the speaker at exactly at 3-minutes. However, both speakers did not give the council that pleasure, since each spoke for slightly less than 3 minutes. However when Chuck Schlabach (a so-called supporter of the meters) spoke he was given almost 4 minutes to state his or the city’s case. Later in the evening, on a different topic, former council member Dick Furstenau was given a total of four and one-half minutes to speak with only one cursory polite interruption from the timekeeper. It appeared the city council applied the ‘good ole boy’ rule for Furstenau since he was one of them for far too long. A classic double standard. Additionally if speakers present points of view that council members embrace, they are given the full attention by the council including clear eye contact and leaning forward towards the speaker. If the speakers are presenting topics in opposition to the council’s wishes, the council members are fumbling through papers, leaning back, looking around the room, looking at the time keeper, looking at the clock, and sometimes either talking among themselves or on two occasions actually dozing off.

Chuck Schlabach presented himself as an “Ambassador” for the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative. The word ‘ambassador’ by definition is “an accredited diplomatic agent of the highest rank, appointed as the representative of one government or state to another”. Therefore, the city of Naperville is taking some poetic license when it labels these folks as ‘ambassadors’.  There is another word that more accurately is defined as “a person who accosts or solicits in order to influence action in the interest of a special group” and that word is ‘lobbyist’. In this case, the ‘special group’ is the city. They need somebody, anybody to speak up for the Smart Meters. There are signs throughout Naperville in opposition to the Smart Meters, however it’s next to impossible to find signs supporting the NSGI. You might be hard pressed to find a sign supporting Smart Meters at a council member or ambassador’s residence. We haven’t seen any. You would think that since the city handed over $1.35 million to PR firms to help quell opposition, the least the PR firms could do is recommend some signs for the front yards of council members and those specially city-trained ambassadors.

Since it was very difficult to find anyone (outside of the city council) who supported the (not-so) Smart Meters, what better way to do it than to train a group of well-intentioned folks to become ambassadors or czars, or lobbyists for the Smart Meters. It appears the thought was, if you can’t find them, just create them.

Listen and watch as Mayor Pradel states the 3-minute rule and then Chuck Schlabach as he presents the Naperville city council’s point of view as the view of the ‘ambassadors’. Please note:

  1. He speaks for almost 4 minutes without a timekeeper
  2. He wants to ‘educate the community’ as if the ‘ambassadors have a monopoly on the true facts
  3. He refers to Energy.gov and the Naperville city website as sources for facts.
  4. He states that ambassadors were “qualified and trained by the city.”
  5. That the ambassadors want to “get you to accept the work that has been done” by the city.
  6. He is wearing a nifty ambassador name tag.

After Ambassador Schlabach’s presentation, I asked him if he would mind if I asked him a few questions in the lobby and he graciously accepted. I asked if he was aware of the fact that the city of Naperville stopped some members of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group from circulating petitions in opposition to the wireless Smart Meters during the weekend of the Ribfest, and he said he was not but he would find out and contact me. I asked him if he was aware of the letter from a member of the same group dated June 13 to city manager, Doug Krieger outlining well thought-out questions concerning the Smart Meters including one specific question, which Doug Krieger did not answer and if he knew why it was not answered.  The question was “Is there anyone on the city staff or city council who is personally, professionally, or politically benefiting from the NSGI project?”  He said he didn’t know why it wasn’t answered but that he would find out and get back to me. It has been more than a week and I am still waiting for answers. Now I do not find fault with an ‘ambassador’ not having answers though he did say during his presentation that he wanted to ‘educate the community’ and ‘get the facts out’. However I do find fault with the city of Naperville for sending ‘ambassadors’ out on the street without preparing them to answer questions.

I then ventured over to a group of folks from the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group in the lobby (none of whom were wearing name badges) and began to chat and listen to them. Within a few minutes, ambassador Schlabach, to his credit, came over to join the conversation, though he did spend more time talking and ‘educating’ than listening. He again said he wanted to help educate the citizens of Naperville to the benefits of the Smart Meters. I asked him if he was willing to arrange a ‘Town Hall’ meeting along with the Smart Meter Awareness group to ‘educate’ the citizens. He did not respond. I asked again, and he said he would get back to someone; I have not heard from the ‘ambassador’.

I said I had one final question that I want to respectfully ask the ambassador, which was “Who paid for your name tag?” He responded by saying, “My taxes paid for this name tag”. I said, “So the city paid for your name tag right?” And he finally had an answer, which was “yes”.

Aug 202011
 

It’s not often that you can get a panel of 11 people consisting of politicians, lawyers, and government bureaucrats including the Naperville city council to ‘freeze’ and become speechless for what seemed like an hour, but that’s exactly what Naperville citizen and Smart Meter Awareness Group member Joanne St Ives did at last Tuesday’s city council meeting when she asked a simple straight forward question. In fact, the only audible sound you could hear was the hyperventilating of council member Bob Fieseler while the others sat in frozen silence. It was not until citizen St Ives asked again for an answer that the deafening silence was broken. Watch and listen as Joanne makes her less than three-minute right-on-target presentation to the Naperville city council with her question coming at the end that freezes the entire council.

The city council’s consternation comes from the fact that it is very difficult to argue against the truth and common sense. Now typically politicians, lawyers and government bureaucrats are very adept at speaking without making sense and chances are that most of them own many pairs of tap-dancing shoes. The more they dance around issues, the more shoes they need. And when it comes to the topic of the Naperville not-so Smart Grid Initiative, there is a whole lot of tap-dancing going on.

Now to be fair, there is one council member (Doug Krause) who represents the voice of reason on the Naperville city council by truly considering the best interests of Naperville citizens. Watch and listen as he addresses his peers.

Balancing out council member Krause’s concerns for his constituency is the power play of council member Bob Fieseler who basically states that ‘come hell or high water’ the citizens of Naperville are going to get these (not-so) Smart Meters whether they want them or not.

Then council member Fieseler follows up with this brilliant observation about the unimportance of paying attention to detail.

Apparently, Fieseler takes the same stance that the person in charge of making sure the Titanic had binoculars for the crows nest did; why pay attention to detail, what could possibly go wrong; forget the details, let’s just get this ship moving.  Keep in mind that council member Fieseler who downplays the importance of detail is the same person who appears to be the ‘front person’ for this not-so Smart Grid Initiative debacle.

On a separate but related note, Kim Bendis, another member of the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group, wrote a detailed letter dated June 13 to city manager Doug Krieger listing and asking for answers to a series of thoughtful and important questions regarding the NSGI to which the city manager responded one month later. One question was “Is there anyone on the city staff or city council who personally, professionally or politically is benefiting from the NSGI project?” In other words is there any conflict of interest. That sounds like a respectful, fair, and reasonable question that any citizen has a right, if not an obligation to ask. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “the first responsibility of any citizen is to question authority”.  For the most part the Naperville city council does an outstanding job of avoiding any semblance of conflict of interest. To this, each of the nine council members should be commended and applauded. Interestingly, it was the only question that was not answered either directly, or with the aid of tap-dancing shoes.

Aug 122011
 

Between June 22 and August 15, the Naperville city council will have conducted one city council meeting (July 19). That is one meeting during a span of 55 days or nearly two months. Based on that, you would think that the city of Naperville has no issues. There apparently is no sense of urgency on the part of the Naperville city council members to get anything done. If the city of Dayton, Ohio with slightly more population as Naperville can get more work done by four council members than Naperville can do with nine, maybe we need fewer council members.

Are they aware of the fact or do they care that the city of Naperville is swimming in debt. Obviously not, in fact prior to their almost two-month sabbatical they passed an ordinance authorizing a delegated sale of general obligation bonds for an amount up to $19 million. A substantial portion of that additional debt is earmarked for the Naperville ‘not so’ Smart Grid Initiative; which is a colossal waste of money by the Naperville city council. If a committee of executives for a major corporation made this atrocious decision, the board of directors would fire the entire bunch. If members of the Naperville city council managed their businesses as they manage city affairs, they would bankrupt their business.

If two city council meetings per month are too taxing for the council members, maybe they should consider taxing the citizens of Naperville less.  In addition to Naperville’s financial woes and the ongoing NSGI debacle, the Naperville city council has done absolutely nothing with the formation of districts or wards and implementation of term limits. What are they waiting for? Do they think the voters will forget the landslide vote favoring term limits and the creation of wards? Though most council members might be clueless about what to do, most Naperville voters are cognizant of what needs to be done. It is time for the Naperville city council to do what they were elected to do, and that is to do the ‘peoples’ business in a responsible and honorable manner. It is time for the Naperville city council to pick up the pace. Just as there is ‘no crying in baseball’, there should be no time off from council meetings for Naperville city council members until the work is finished.

Aug 052011
 

Naperville is a city of entitlement. The very thing that has caused so much misery to so many is the very thing that the Naperville city council seeks…..an unhealthy dependence upon the Federal government. In a sense, the Naperville city council is a panel of puppets with strings controlled by Federal agencies such has the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) among others.

Watch and listen to this fascinating exchange between members of the Naperville city council and City Manager Doug Krieger as they discuss the hiring of a CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) administrator. If you look closely, you can almost see the Federal government entitlement-puppet-strings attached to City Manager Doug Krieger as if they were a badge of honor as he explains why the city needs to dance to the Fed’s music. Council member Doug Krause asks a great question to the city manager which he can’t answer (How much is this consultant going to cost us?). Council member Grant Wehrli follows with an excellent observation in the form of a question implying the absurdity of the situation. Council member Joe McElroy adds his gift of saying so much in so few words, by ‘telling it like it is’. Finally, city manager Doug Krieger admits Naperville is a city of entitlement.

Nowhere is it more evident that the Naperville city council is a city of entitlement than in the ongoing failure of the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative. The Naperville city council has made a colossal error in judgment by buying into the ill-conceived entitlement grab from the Department of Energy. In the council’s rush to grab money from the Federal government they lost all better judgment and common sense. Here is what we know for sure:

  • Other cities have said ‘no’ to the Smart Grid Initiative.
  • Cities that said ‘yes’ have changed to ‘no’ to a Smart Grid Initiative. They realized the folly of their thinking and wisely changed their mind.
  • The city of Naperville is swimming in debt; why take on more debt.
  • We do not have the money to waste on this needless unproven technology.
  • The first light bulb cost more than today’s light bulb. The same holds true for the smart grid technology. Why pay more now, than less later.
  • Naperville citizens are now burdened for millions of dollars of additional debt for this NSGI fiasco.
  • What we have now is working with more than 99% efficiency; why fix what isn’t broken?
  • The World Health Organization does not endorse the safety of the Smart Grid.
  • The Smart Grid has not yet proven to be safe
  • We can already monitor our own use of energy; we do not need the Naperville city council doing that for us. It’s known as the on/off switch.
  • The Naperville city council says our privacy is protected. Hackers have proven otherwise elsewhere including the hacking of CIA and FBI. The edge goes to the hackers on this one. The citizens of Naperville lose.
  • City government leaders have said ‘the system is secure’. That’s reassuring.  What could possibly go wrong?
  • The city said it would have contractual problems if it pulled out of the project. That is like a surgeon saying to a healthy patient “I’m already here, so let’s proceed with dangerous and needless surgery.

The apparent point-person for this huge Naperville Smart Grid Initiative mess is council member Bob Fieseler. If there ever was a Naperville city council member ‘appendix’, Bob Fieseler is that person. Just like an appendix, we are not sure what it’s good for, and why it’s there, but when it goes bad, it really goes bad.

There is a form of entitlement that the citizens of Naperville need. They are entitled to have representation in the form of strong leadership from each and every member of the Naperville city council. Naperville citizens are entitled to a city council that spends tax dollars wisely, bases decisions on what is best for its constituency, and demonstrates wisdom and accountability. When there is a weak link on the city council, it needs to be removed just as a bad appendix. The citizens of Naperville can perform surgery at election time.

Jul 202011
 

Wow, where have the gavel pounding, and vitriolic council member comments gone. Why haven’t we heard a council member refer to a staff member’s action as ‘stupid’. Why haven’t we heard a council member demand that staff do a month’s worth of useless research in one day, and give it to that council member the next day so he can let it sit on his desk without looking at it and then say ‘I don’t understand it’.

The Watchdog has been watching the Naperville city council for quite some time and we have been posting since late December 2010, so we have had some time to see changes take place; and the changes have been for the better. A major shift of improvement came after the election when Joe McElroy and Steve Chirico replaced two council members. The council chambers have become civil, and the citizens of Naperville along with Naperville staff are acknowledged with respect and dignity. You sense an atmosphere of more cooperation rather than hostility. Meetings are starting on time, and from where I was sitting, it looked as if the gavel had a slight layer of dust on it, indicating it has not been needed lately. So things are definitely better on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at Naperville city council meetings.

Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues and disagreements about city council decisions. That’s a given, considering the form of government that our country was founded upon; disagreement and questioning authority are healthy as long as it’s done with respect.

There are still hot topics of disagreement between the Naperville city council and a strong knowledgeable base of Naperville citizens. One such difference of opinion is the implementation of the “Naperville Smart Grid Initiative” (NSGI).  For the first time in months, during the Public Forum portion of the July 19 council meeting, there were no speakers on the topic. That does not mean the fine folks opposing this waste of money have given up. On the contrary, they are moving forward and gaining momentum realizing if some group or authority is going to help put the brakes on this fiasco, it will have to approach the Naperville city council from a different angle. The Naperville city council has dug its hole so deep that they couldn’t get out of it even if they wanted to. They are in the same situation that the Titanic was in; too little attention to detail, too little advance preparation, too sure of their decision (even God can’t sink this ship), and too late to change direction. Just as Captain Edward Smith’s name is forever linked to the ill-fated Titanic, Councilman Robert Fieseler’s name will be associated as the ‘point person’ for the NSGI debacle.

Other issues will become more evident including the budget crises that the city of Naperville is experiencing. Another noticeable change in the Naperville city council is when agenda topics are discussed that involve expense, the council members are seriously considering alternatives in order to minimize that expense. That’s good.

However, typically they approve the expenditure. That’s not good. At least they are considering options, so it is a step in the right direction.

Another positive change for the Naperville city council is that they are talking less and keeping the meeting moving. Previously they specialized in ‘circular conversations’; agreeing on a premise, then discussing it endlessly over and over and then agreeing on the original premise. Decreasing those circular conversations is a time-safer for those viewing.  However, during last night’s meeting, there was an agenda topic to ‘Ratify emergency treatment for Emerald Ash Borer’ that consumed 30 minutes of discussion resulting in a unanimous vote 9-0 in favor of ratification. You might be able to justify a 30-minute conversation if the vote was 5-4 or 6-3, or maybe even 8-1, but to talk for 30 minutes and then come up with a unanimous decision is a bit much. Juries have deliberated and decided murder trials in less time. The bottom line is that this may not be the best city council that Naperville has ever had, but for all we know, it could be the best of those to follow.

Jul 172011
 

Quartzsite is a small town in Arizona with a population of 4000 and growing which is far less than Naperville (141,000 and decreasing) yet both towns are the same size with 36 square miles. What is happening in Quartzsite is not happening here ‘yet’, but it could if the citizens of our fine city fail to remember the famous poem “First they came..” attributed to Martin Niemoller, a Protestant pastor and social activist on January 6, 1946;

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

In our city we are not talking about Nazis, communists, social democrats, trade unionists, etc., however we are talking about local government in the form of the Naperville city council and recent and current events which are concerning at best and out of control at worst including:

  • Excessive water rate increases,
  • Special sessions held in the day (rather than the evening) preventing most residents from attending,
  • Making it more than difficult for start-up entrepreneurial business to operate, like a guy trying to sell hotdogs from a mobile cart in downtown Naperville, to a young fellow trying to start a designated driving service to help those who have been over-served or anticipate the possibility.
  • Inflicting tax increases upon Naperville citizens (gasoline tax)
  • A council member who’s last name rhymes with ‘Fieseler’ tells a Naperville woman during a council recess that  she is ‘toxic’ and is a ‘ticking time bomb’, and ‘needs to stop speaking out on the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative’ and the only way she could fix this was to publicly retract her statement at the next council meeting and send a written retraction to him so he could send it to his newsletter list of people. He wanted all of this simply because she respectfully voiced her opinion during the open forum portion of a Naperville council meeting.
  • Borrowing millions of dollars, while Naperville is swimming in debt, in part to force the NSGI (Naperville Smart Grid Initiative) upon Naperville citizens.
  • Using the police to ‘break up” citizens’ efforts to secure signatures on petitions to slow or stop the NSGI fiasco.(Kim Bendis letter ‘Police called to stop us from passing out fliers’ Watchdog posting ‘Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic’)

Look at the following two videos and the situations, which lead up to these events in Quartzsite, Arizona.

Now let’s make it perfectly clear, I am not saying we are at the “First they came” point ‘yet’. And I’m not saying we are on the doorstep of “Quartzsite” ‘yet’.  And we have a police force of which we can all be proud.  However I am saying that those Quartzsite-type situations got to that point incrementally, little by little, and that is the direction that some members of the Naperville city council ( Fieseler, Miller, Brodhead and Mayor Pradel) appear to be heading, while others (Krause, Hinterlong, McElroy, and Wehrli) tend to bring common sense and reason to the table more often than not. That leaves newly seated council member Chirico vacillating between the out-of-control group and the ‘let’s keep our head straight and try to do it right’ group.

We have a fine city that has been ‘built’ by generations of citizens and previous leaders who have chosen to ‘do the right thing’. We can move in that direction, or we can slide towards Quartzsite. That can be answered if, whether or not, we believe in what Benjamin Franklin wrote, “The first responsibility of citizenry is to question authority.”

Jul 092011
 

If Naperville was a corporation, and the city council was the board of directors, the corporation would be heading towards bankruptcy, and the board of directors would be replaced. It’s amazing how much time and effort is spent by the Naperville city council on minutia and how little time, and effort is invested in addressing major financial and leadership issues.

The city of Naperville is swimming in debt and the water level is quickly rising. In an effort to improve Naperville’s financial woes the city council is considering doubling pet license fees and hiking parking fines to help offset, in part, their ordinance authorizing a delegated sale of general obligation bonds for an amount not to exceed $19 million of which $6 million is directed towards the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative fiasco. The actions and decisions of the Naperville city council would be comparable to the crew of the Titanic rearranging the deck chairs prior to sinking. Rather than pulling the plug on needless expense (NSGI fiasco), they are taking on more water ($19 milllion)

The Naperville city council’s logic is tilted sideways. For example, City Manager Doug Krieger recommends the parking fines be increased because in fiscal year 2011 parking fines are projected to bring in $262,000, which exceeds the $355,000 spent annually on Community Service Officers who write the tickets. Does it ever cross their minds that rather than increasing fines to meet the expense, they could reduce the expense by eliminating community service officers and related department expenses that are incurred? The Naperville city council’s first thought is to take dollars from the citizens of Naperville, rather exercising their fiduciary responsibility and cutting expense.

The Naperville city council’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases that Ronald Reagan quoted about government in 1986,

“If it moves tax it (Naperville citizens).

If it keeps moving, regulate it. (Naperville business)

If it stops moving, subsidize it.” (SECA)

As Civil Libertarian P.J. O’Rourke said, ‘Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys” Giving more money to the Naperville city council in the form of higher taxes and fines, and giving power to the Naperville city council in the form of the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative fiasco is not a sustainable solution to the council’s mis-management.

It’s time for members of the city council to join councilman Doug Krause by stepping up to the challenge of demonstrating courage and supporting the citizens of Naperville. While councilmen Fieseler and Miller, along with Mayor Pradel are rearranging deck chairs, there is still a chance for the majority of the council to join councilman Doug Krause and steer the ship in the right direction.

Jul 052011
 

The Naperville city council is intensifying its effort to force-feed the citizens of Naperville with a diet of unproven technology they do not understand, want or need. The technology in question is the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative (NSGI), which is in itself a misnomer. The Naperville city council is pulling no punches in inflicting this fiasco upon the citizens of Naperville.

No amount of public outcry, information or facts will detour them implementing this waste of public funds and heap additional debt upon the citizens of Naperville. The Naperville city council professes to want the citizens of Naperville to fully understand this ‘initiative’ however they make no effort to allow citizens to disseminate information. In fact, as you will see from the letter below written by Naperville citizen Kim Bendis, the Naperville city council is making every effort to keep a lid on citizen involvement. Make no mistake about it; the Naperville city councils determination to ram the NSGI down the throats of its citizens is no less  resolute than General Sherman’s march upon Atlanta. The Naperville city council is hell-bent on implementing the NSGI, just as a heroin addict is fanatical in obtaining drugs.

 

From: Kim Bendis <queenbendis@att.net>
Date: July 3, 2011 4:20:

Subject: Police called to stop us from passing out fliers, why?

Hi All,

Yesterday afternoon before getting a manicure, buying some gifts, and attending a fabulous birthday party with box seats to Styx at rib fest (Mayor Pradel showed up as a surprise for the birthday boy), some friends and I decided to pass out some fliers and get some signatures for the petition at the Neuqua Valley H.S. shuttle site.  I arrived about 1:15 pm, with the two others arriving around 12:30 pm. At 1:55 pm an officer on a motorcycle said that he had gotten a call from someone from the district asking that we not pass out fliers.  Puzzled I asked if there were any complaints about our interaction with people etc., he said no, just that someone from rib fest had called him and asked us to leave.  Not wanting to cause a scene and feeling a bit sheepish b/c this was the first time that I had ever been involved on the “other side of the law” (besides the once in a blue moon traffic ticket) we were very polite with Officer L.H. and agreed to leave even though we didn’t understand what we had done wrong.  We were not accosting anyone, paid our taxes to district 203, and were just practicing our right to free speech.  We didn’t understand what the big deal was.  Office L.H. said that since Neuqua was private property we needed to clear it with the district before proceeding just as the organizers of rib fest had done.  I told the officer, “Okay, I guess that makes sense, but would he have been called if we had told the rib fest volunteers that we were passing out free bottled water to anyone using the shuttle?”  I doubt it!  Before leaving, I went over and talked with the 2 people who were rib fest volunteers and asked if they had called the police and apologized if we had offended them in any way.  The woman said that she was not offended; she just said that all the rib fest volunteers had been “warned” that there might be people wanting to pass out fliers and petitions regarding the smart grid and they were instructed to call the directors of rib fest who would then call the police.  So this is my question…. if the city is so confident about their decision to install wireless smart meters on every home, school, church and business and sure of their claims that they will save us money, will secure our privacy and protect us from unwanted health hazards, why would they care if a few “uninformed” residents passed out fliers and petitions?

I am even more committed to empower our friends, families and neighbors to ask “smart” questions regarding the city’s smart meter installation.  I know that this isn’t the easy or popular side of the debate to fall on, however there’s too much evidence and current national case studies to ignore the fact that this city wide roll out of wireless smart meters is not a “smart” idea! We live in an era where our past is affecting our present and future.  Because of advocates within the food, plastic, environmental and business arenas the trend towards organic, BPA free, Climate Change and Fair Trade concepts are powerfully emerging.  The same push needs to occur within the power (utility) industry.  The City of Naperville is not allowing for residents to be fully informed, otherwise there would not be the need for an ambassadorship program or in the city’s PR firm’s own words (p. 14) “the need to quell dissension”.  We are compiling a list of volunteers to  pass out literature and sign the petition asking our city council to stop installation until Naperville residents have had the opportunity to weigh in on the issue.  This issue is crossing generational as well as political lines.  Representatives from the Democratic, Republican and Tea Party are all sending out e-blasts!  We need 3000 signatures ASAP before the city-wide installation begins September 1st.  The city claims that they have “not heard from enough residents to stop the project.”   Consider using your social network to spread this e-mail and become involved in the future of our city.

I was recently interviewed for the TribLocal  http://triblocal.com/naperville/2011/06/17/city-looking-for-smart-grid-volunteer-ambassadors/ and stated that we are advocating for our city to be educated and informed residents surrounding this issue rather than passive recipients of an intentional marketing strategy (the “ambassordorship program” is a marketing strategy found on p. 19 of the PR firm’s contract).   The debate continues b/c to date the city has been unable to answer questions surrounding 1) Financial Viability– Return on Investment (ROI) and Quantitative Societal Benefits fail to be seen in reality.  According to the city’s own budget our existing analog meters are 99.95% accurate, so why go into millions of dollars in debt when what we have works and doesn’t pose these risks? 2) Security/Privacy: with Citibank, Google, Lockhead Martin, iPhone4 etc. all getting hacked and PIKE, Symantec and the GAO all warning  that end-to-end encryption is not happening and that the Smart Grid is vulnerable to cyber-attacks why not wait until these issues mitigated? 3) Health: with the WHO coming out in May saying that wireless technology is a contributing factor to cancer along with scientists such as Dr. Myron Wentz (best selling author The Healthy Home, benefactor to Wentz Auditorium on NCC’s campus and Albert Einstein recipient for his humanitarian & scientific discoveries) have all stated that the cumulative affect of RF and EMF radiation is harmful over time.  Finally, with cities around the country (real time case studies) placing moratoriums against smart meters (46 cities in CA, and the States of  ME, HI, CT) why would Naperville residents want to be part of a national science experiment and first adopters of a program that is proving to be flawed throughout the country?

If you are willing to pass out petitions, host a casual conversations meeting, or volunteer in another way e-mail me at queenbendis@att.net.  The first meeting that we held at Grace United Methodist last week was well received with 60 people in attendance (along with Councilman Bob Fieseler, chair of the smart grid committee and Councilman Krause) and 40 new people signing the petition.  We want to reach the goal of 3,000 people signing the petition by August 4th, 2011 before the full scale roll-out of the smart meters begins in September.  Please join us in our effort to keep Naperville safe, secure and a leader in our nation as a family friendly community while also leading the way towards an eco-friendly future! Go to www.NapervilleSmartMeterAwareness.org for more info. and an on-line petition.

Thanks for your support,

Kim Bendis

 

 

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.