This is our third of a three-part series of questions and comments to the Watchdogs along with our responses. We thank you for your submissions. We encourage you to continue expressing your concerns to us, and we will reply directly via email and postings.
Q: The Naperville City Council and local government can’t be as ‘bad’ as Chicago or elsewhere; so why focus on Naperville?
(Danny H. Naperville)
A: We spotlight Naperville because most of us live in Naperville. And what has happened elsewhere can surely happen here if citizen-voters aren’t aware or don’t take action to keep their local government in check. A government free to do as they please will surely do that and those actions are political in nature oftentimes for self-preservation rather than for the betterment of their constituency.
Q: What is the motivation for your Watchdog group?
(Mary K. Minneapolis, Mn.)
Our mission is to provide the electorate with additional eyes and ears to see and hear the nuances of actions and decisions of their local government, and a watchful eye on those who spend our hard earned tax dollars, while promoting awareness among citizen-voters about incompetence, waste, mismanagement and taxpayer abuse by elected officials at the local level.
Our vision is a term-limited, representative local government based on ethics, transparency and accountability whereby elected officials respect their constituency and act on behalf of the citizens they represent.
We are seeing watchful eyes at both the national and state levels of government; however at the local levels of government this misuse or abuse of government is running unbridled. There are over 230 million personal computers in our country of over 300 million people. No newspaper has ever attained that kind of circulation. This website allows that type of watchful eye.
Q: Do you have a “horse” in the race for Mayor or Naperville City Council?
(Philip B. Naperville)
A: No. We will be making our recommendations shortly before the election and after our survey and polling are complete There are front runners now, however much can happen between now and then that could affect our recommendations for Mayor, as we have recently seen happen with Naperville City Council candidates.
Q: Has anyone from the Naperville City Council reached out to your Watchdog group?
(Darlene M. Naperville)
A: Yes. We have received questions or comments from 5 of the 8 Council members One Council member asked to meet informally with a Watchdog, but quickly withdrew the invitation.
Q: Have your Watchdog efforts made any change in local government or Council activities?
(Tillie B. Peoria, IL.)
A: Yes, however nowhere near the changes needed for effective Leadership. We look for changes in Leadership Dimensions along with expense control and budget awareness. Leadership Dimensions would include Thinking Critically, Driving Change, Communicating Effectively, Demonstrating Courage, Building Trust, and Demonstrating Accountability. We have seen subtle changes, however the key changes necessary will be known the day after elections are held. We also know continued reform of the Naperville City Council will be necessary with future elections and we are confident this will absolutely happen when districts are created.
Q: How difficult is it to stay objective in your dealings with the Naperville City Council?
(Mickey J. Plainfield)
A: It’s very doable. We (the active Watchdogs) purposely refrain from informal interaction unless it’s initiated by a member from the Panel of 11. (8 Council Members, Mayor, City Manager, or City Attorney). Basically we like to take a ‘step back’ for a clearer-view. Whereas Watchdog followers and local business supporters actively encourage interaction with the Panel of 11.
Q: So if the Watchdog was a magician, which City Council members would you retain?
(Drake B. Naperville)
A: This picture will be more focused as we get closer to election. As it stands now, four of the nine elected officials would be retained. They are meeting or exceeding expectations. The positions of City Manager and City Attorney are selected for approval. If they were elected positions, we would anticipate, seeing new individuals in position. There definitely is major room for improvement.
Q: What obstacles do you find most frustrating as Watchdogs?
(Lynn C. Lisle)
A: The fact that local business, and especially new start-up businesses, are intimidated by local government and specifically the Naperville City Council. They feel they need to be subservient, in order to stay in the ‘good graces’ of those who control their destiny.
Q: Politics is boring. How can you possibly find this stuff interesting?
(Clara G. Burr Ridge)
A: Well, you submitted a question, so it can’t be that boring. Nothing is boring if you have a passion for it, and we have a passion, not for politics, but for statesmanship. Politicians take care of their own personal needs, whereas Statesmen such as our Founding Fathers cared for the greater good of all. We agree that most residents are not interested in local government and find it boring. This mindset allows local politicians to run unbridled. Our goal is to stimulate interest and involvement from local citizen-voters.
Q: In one of your postings you suggested citizen-voters living near a Naperville City Council member see if those elected officials shoveled their sidewalks within the 48 hours grace period. Well…..did they?
(Jerry N. Naperville)
A: The majority did, however that means a few did not. And those few did vote in favor of the ordinance. So in effect the Council favored the ordinance in ‘vocal’ but not in action. We also checked with our own Watchdog group to see if we shoveled and the percentage shoveling equaled that of the Council. The only difference being that we did not vote for or against the ordinance. Of interest, we also did a spot check of homes and found the percentage of those complying was the same as the Council and the Watchdogs. Kudos go to Councilman Krause who shoveled his sidewalk so thoroughly that he was taken to the hospital after being found in a snow bank phoning for help. Some could say he exceeded expectations; however the ordinance would say that he complied. He was quoted saying “His shoveling days are done.” We’re not sure if that means that he will no longer honor the ordinance, if that means he will support the ‘small’ businessman by hiring someone to do the work. But that begs the questions will he send the shoveler a 1099 form for tax purposes.