If you live in Naperville and are looking for a place to dispose of some old motor oil, or out-of-date prescription drugs you may be in for a long ride after next year. Due to a $25,000 budget shortfall, the city's household waste disposal facility may have to shut its doors after 2009. It's one of only three such facilities in all of Illinois - the other two are in Rockford and Chicago. Those are pretty long hauls to get rid of nasty items you might find hanging around your garage, especially now in this spring-cleaning season. Will the funds be found to keep the place going? Hopefully, but it's not a sure thing by any means as The Sun examines today (Wed., 4.30) in a story highlighting another revenue woe in these tough economic times. What do you make of it? We'd like to know.
April 2008 Archives
Tuesday's Sun features the story of Kent Gramm, who is losing his job as a college English professor after 20 years because he refuses to tell his employer personal details about his divorce. Of course, when your employer is Wheaton College, you know when you sign up that you've got to stick to the moral high road. What do you think of Gramm's decision to resign rather than explain why his 30-year marriage ended?
"I think it's ludicrous." That was the response Naperville City Councilman Jim Boyajian gave The Sun when contacted for a story (Sun. 4.27) that spotlighted the $4,950 that is budgeted for magazine and newspaper subscriptions for council members. That amount is the second largest expense in the city's 2008-2009 Mayor and City Council budget (cell phone allowances are first at $5,400). Boyajian, who reaches into his own pocket to pay for his reading materials, is not alone among council members in thinking this is a waste of money - especially in these cash-strapped times. Councilman John Rosanova wanted to do away with the allowance - that accounts for almost 12% of the $41,475 Mayor and City Council budget - entirely, but said talks never took hold during last month's budget workshops. So, do you think this is fiscally responsible, or should the Naperville City Council receive this allowance to keep up on their reading. The comment line is open.
The following is an excerpt from Sun editor/publisher Jim Lynch's "Commentary" column (Fri. 4.25), where he defends the Naperville police making extra bucks in OT, deeming it in the interest of public safety.The column came in response to many attacks on police OT both on that thread and the Napergate thread. Do Lynch's comments have any merit or is he just blowing smoke? Read the following and let us know.
"In the aftermath of last Sunday's story on police overtime while reading the comments of Sun bloggers who either don't like cops or see a conspiracy by the presence of more than one of Naperville's Finest:
As to the overtime issue: I'm glad Naperville cops are sitting in court for DUI cases. In a city so bursting with kids that District 204 needs a new high school, we should be glad there's zero tolerance for drunken driving. It saves lives.
Late Friday afternoon (4.25), it became official. Former Naperville fire chief and the city went their separate ways. It was three weeks ago that Wu, apparently because of job performance issues, was given the choice to resign or be terminated. Law allowed a 21-day grace period for Wu, presumably, to contest that city's action. With no follow-up from the ex-chief, the 21-day period ended Friday. Wu, according to interim city manager Bob Marshall, reached an "equitable" agreement with the city and is gone for good.The move was announced in a terse city statement with little detail, so little that Marshall, according to our report, didn't even know if Wu still lived in Naperville. We're still curious as to what really happened here - the whole thing remains shrouded in mystery. But now that it's all done and over with maybe someone would like to come forward and enlighten us as to what really happened in the strange case of John Wu. We're all ears.
In an exclusive CBS 2/ Sun investigation (Fri.,4.25), we delve into an alarming situation at Chicago's busy airports. Both O''Hare and Midway are seeing a sharp spike in runway mishaps where tired pilots have even taken their aircraft down the wrong runways.The fatigued pilots along with inexperienced air traffic controllers and simply so many planes taking off and landing has officials concerned that a major tragedy is just waiting to happen. Will this affect your summer travel plans? Or, have you, a member of your family or a friend experienced a close call either on the runway or in the air at either of our airports. We'd like to know.
Is it all gloom and doom on the real estate front? Well, maybe it is in places like Florida, Las Vegas and California. But things are starting to look a lot brighter in the Midwest. In today's Sun (4.24) we crunch some local real estate numbers that may surprise and even delight you. Naperville home sales prices posted a solid 9.77 percent gain over the past two years, despite a national and regional slump in prices. In April 2006, the average sales price was $471,724 and in April, 2008, the average was $517,791. And, currently the city has just under an eight-month supply of homes, compared to the regional average of 11. So, don't believe all that doom and gloom...it's probably coming from a different part of the country. Tell us what you think.
Editor's note: Due to a production error, this story did not appear in the print version of The Sun today (Thurs. 4.24). It is, however, on our web site at napersun.com and an updated story will appear in Friday's print version of the paper and on the web site.
In a reversal of a lower court decision, a federal judge has ruled that a Naperville high school student be allowed to wear a T-shirt that proclaims "Be Happy - Not Gay" at a school sponsored event - on school grounds - that promotes tolerance and diversity. The issue went to court last year when school authorities would not allow the student to wear the T-shirt that they deemed did not fall within the confines of school policy. The federal judge has now made that a moot point and this year the student's voice and T-shirt will be seen and heard. What do you think of the judge's reversal of the decision - is it fair that a slogan of this nature be displayed at a public school or do you disagree?
Wednesday's Sun includes a story by one of our Sun-Times News Group sister publications about how police in the nearby town of Sugar Grove plan to start writing tickets instead of making arrests for first-time offenders caught with small amounts of marijuana. Should Naperville and other towns follow suit?
HAPPY EARTH DAY, Naperville. Today in The Sun (4.22) we're celebrating a day that as energy costs spiral out of control and more and more carbon emissions shoot into the atmosphere, is taking on greater importance every year. Today we tell you what some of your Naperville neighbors are doing to help save the planet's precious resources and also look at the ongoing efforts of the city to be environmentally responsible. It isn't easy being green but it's getting vital to the prosperity - and ultimately the survival - of humanity. We're also including a whole bunch of area events you may want to participate in. But Earth Day is just one day, so tell us what you're doing to contribute to the green cause and what you think of Earth Day and the whole movement that's gathering more steam (pardon the pun) every day. How eco-friendly are you? We'd like to know.
Late Friday (4.18) the opposition group to District 204's new site for the third high school, "Neighborhood Schools for our Children" or NSFOC, filed a new court motion aimed at halting construction of Metea Valley High School along Eola Rd. The group's sttorney, Shawn Collins, is requesting an expedited trial on May 30. Only problem is that if things go according to the current plan, the district will be roughly three weeks into construction of the third high school by then. Does NSFOC, who all along have insisted the school be built on the Brach-Brodie site, and only Brach-Brodie, have a chance or is this last-minute motion just tilting at windmills? Meanwhile, the outcome is still unknown on the pending lawsuit against the district involving Brach-Brodie. Where do you think this is all going? It's late in the game and the bulldozer drivers are almost ready to start their engines. The comment line is open.
In Sunday's Sun (4.20) we feature an informative piece about how the Naperville Police Department plans to cope with a City Council directive to cut overtime spending by 5 percent, to $3 million this year. The comprehensive investigation also looks at the amount of money officers rack up in OT.Though the dollar numbers look big, the annual percentage is actually lower than one of our neighboring municipalities that is comparable in size. We also look at the cops and how they can make money working various summer festivals etc. and where those dollars in police overtime actually come from. The answers may surprise you. A natural reaction might be to say, well, why not just hire more cops instead of paying stiff overtime? That question is answered, too. We're curious what you think - since it's your tax dollars at work - and whether you think the NPD can be successful in following the Council's mandate to cut overtime spending and maintain the quality of public safety Napervillians are accustomed to. Let us know right here.
A magnitude 5.2 earthquake centered in southern Illinois rattled people early Friday morning and was felt as far away as Wisconsin and Iowa. Did you feel the quake shortly after 4:30 a.m.? Tell us about your experience. Include a working e-mail address, if you'd like to share your story with a reporter for an online article today and our Sunday print edition.
Today (Fri. 4.18) we take a gander at the two geese who have become mascots of a Naperville furniture store, where they've taken up nesting grounds. . .like right outside the establishment. The geese have been named Fred and Wilma and there's even a competition to name Mother Goose's little gosling when he or she arrives. Sounds like a real barrel of laughs until, that is, you talk to some parents whose kids have been either bitten by the geese or have had the daylights scared out of them. What do you make of this whole episode? Are you just ducky with it or do you think the geese have opened a hornet's nest? We'd like to know.
What a difference a couple of days make! As we report in today's Sun (Thurs., 4.17), it sure looks like District 204 is going to have the new high school, Metea Valley, up and running as scheduled by August, 2009. Officials of the district and school board tell us that due to the deal with St. John AME Church, construction will be only a couple of weeks behind, enabling the school to open on time. Plus, with this piece of land - which had been used for agricultural purposes only - there are no worries (as tests have indicated) over any environmental concerns. So, at long last, it looks like everyone will walk away happy. Tell us what you think about these fast-moving developments. The comment line is open.
The City Council has reversed itself and undone a restrictive noise ordinance that was passed last year. Some downtown establishments can resume having live music outdoors this summer. What do you think of the latest change?
Another sign that Democrats are gaining traction in DuPage County is that a Democratic challenger for the solidly red 13th Congressional District is setting fundraising records and drawing the attention of national Democratic party officials for the first time. How good are Democratic Scott Harper's chances against Republican incumbent Judy Biggert in the fall?
Monday's Sun includes a feature about Antiques on Jefferson, at 34 W. Jefferson Ave. in downtown Naperville, announcing that the store will close at the end of May. It's just the latest venture that will become nothing more than a memory. What were some of your favorite people and places that are gone from Naperville? They could be downtown shops or restaurants, fields or parks on the outskirts that have been developed, even people that you once knew. Share your nostalgia and tell us what's gone from Naperville that you miss most.
Naperville resident and SS Peter & Paul parishioner Doug Delaney leaves for Washington D.C. Monday (4.14) for a special job - he'll be helping coordinate events and smoothing things out for Pope Benedict during the Pontiff's visit this week to Washington, D.C. and New York City. The humble Delaney, whose full-time job is executive assistant to Joliet bishop Peter Sartain, calls his duties a "leap of faith" since he won't know the exact nature of his assignment until he arrives in the nation's capital. If you'd like to wish Doug good luck on his papal mission or offer a message to or even a prayer for the pope in conjunction with his first visit to America, this is the place to do it. We're sure Doug would love to see your words of support and, though we can't speak for the pope, we're pretty confident he'd be happy to get plenty of good wishes and prayers. We hope you agree.
In the latest twist to the saga of District 204 and the third high school, officials of St. John AME Church have offered to sell the district all 84 acres of its property so that the new high school can be built at the site along Eola Rd. The new development means that the district -even after last week's collapse of the Midwest Generation deal - might be able to build on the planned site after all. School Board president Mark Metzger says he'll be sitting down to talk to the church leaders on Monday (4.14), presumably to discuss the price. Meanwhile, critics of the Eola site, "Neighborhood Schools for Our Children" or NSFOC, remain unsatisfied, fearing environmental concerns relate to the church property as well. It's premature to speculate how this will all pan out, but one thing looks certain: It doesn't appear ground will be broken on any site by mid-April, the date that the district said would ensure the new school opening in August, 2009. Comments, anybody?
Citing "serious public opposition and deep division within the community," power company Midwest Generation said Thursday (4.10) that it won't sell to District 204 the 37 acres it needs for the construction of the third high school at Eola/Molitor Rd. Meanwhile, Superintendent Stephen Daeschner reiterated the district's need for a third high school to ease student overcrowding. The school board says that all options are now on the table, including the building of a smaller version of the high school on the remaining 50 acres. And the opposition group, "Neighborhood Schools for Our Children" or NSFOC, urged for a return to talks over the acquisition of the Brach-Brodie property. Where do you think this is all going to wind up? The comment line is open.
In a mass e-mailing sent out Wednesday (4.9), District 204 superintendent Dr. Stephen Daeschner addressed the matter of the location of the third high school at Eola/Molitor Rd. and for the first time directly confronted the dissident group "Neighborhood Schools for Our Children" or NSFOC, who are suing the school board over the location. Daeschner said in the e-mail that NSFOC was a small group, numbering 200-300 members out of a district of 18,500 families in 55,000 homes, that is spreading "misinformation." Separately, in a Sun story today (Thurs, 4.10) on the "secret" environmental reports that the NSFOC referenced about the site, District 204 explained that - in the district's estimation - there's nothing secret about them at all. The story, headlined on the front page of the paper, can also be found at napersun.com. What do you make of the situation now, after Daeschner's e-mail and the district's explanation of the "secret" reports? We'd like to know.
Representatives from Naperville-based Edward Hospital were in Springfield Tuesday making their case about why the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board should approve Edward Plainfield Hospital. But regulators once again put off making a decision, this time until May or July. The latest delay angered Plainfield Mayor Jim Waldorf, who said, "The people of Plainfield feel betrayed. They want a hospital."
What do you think about the delay, whether there's a need for a hospital in Plainfield, and Edward's repeated attempts to win state approval?
It's a double whammy for officials of District 204. As we report in today's Sun, (Wed., 4.9), the district is facing a big lawsuit from the Brach-Brodie trust which contends that it lost out on a $40M deal with a real estate investment firm over the BB property due to the district's pulling out of the venture at the last minute. Furthermore, in a scathing letter sent out yesterday, Shawn Collins, attorney for "Neighborhood Schools for Our Children" or NSFOC, provides a litany of grievances about the just-made-public environmental reports. Among them: There are seven secret reports on the third HS site still unreleased; the power lines and pipelines were ignored; only 15 of the site's 87 acres were tested and there was no testing for unreported spills. It looks like the embattled district is fighting a two-front war: One on the fiscal side and the other on the environmental side. Thoughts, anyone?
At long last, District 204 has released the Phase II environmental reports regarding the proposed new site of the district's third high school at Eola/Molitor Rd. In thorough coverage in today's Sun (Tues., 4.8) we look at the report which highlights five "hot spots" or areas that will need clean-up or remediation. They all seems to be located near the site of the old peaker plant that stands in the shadow of the soon-to-be constructed high school. After extensive soil borings and other technical work, the district's consultants reported that the trouble spots could easily be remediated. But what's not clear at this point is who is going to pay for the remediation and at what cost? Meanwhile, a group of parents in the district, "Neighborhood Schools for Our Children" or NSFOC, contend the whole site should be tested for environmental hazards. Currently, the area that has been examined is on the acreage close to the now defunct peaker plant and not the whole site. What will be the next step for the district and the affected parents? The comment line is now open.
In a special report in today's Sun (Sun., 4.6) we look at the teardown phenomenon that has gripped Naperville over the last few years. Simply put, a teardown is when a developer - or an individual - buys a small, older home, razes it and then builds a modern, state-of the-art house on the property. The buyer's interest is obviously in the property, and not the existing structure. Just drive around Naperville, especially the downtown area, and you'll see plenty of completed teardowns, some in harmonious Victorian style which seem to blend in perfectly with the area and some that look like huge, brick monstrosities. We look at the impact of this trend, what it does to neighborhoods and the city at large. Are teardowns destroying the historical charm of Naperville or is it just the inevitability of progess? How do you feel about teardowns - are they good or bad for Naperville? We'd like to know.
It was a story that broke late in the afternoon, fairly typical when governmental officials want things to fly under the media radar. At first we thought the tip was a late April Fool's joke, until we determined it was true - John Wu was out, effective immediately, as Naperville's fire chief. It was a difficult story (Thurs. 4.3) to get anyone to comment on, and it was strange that the comments we did get - while not addressing the "performance" issues (why he's out) - all basically said what a great guy the chief was and how everybody wished him well. It's all kind of strange for the man who one day was the city's fire chief and then the next day is not. Do you know something we don't about this situation? If you do, maybe you could share it with us.
After a month-long delay, the District 204 school board is set to release the environmental reports on the new site of the district's third high school planned for Eola/Molitor Road. In an interview with the Sun published today (Thurs. 4.3), board president Mark Metzger says that the consultants who conducted the report found nothing alarming and that the board is "very, very comfortable" with what they've seen. Metzger goes on to explain why the site was deemed unacceptable during the first go-'round and why it will now be considered safe after it's "easily remediated." However, attorney Shawn Collins, who represents the opposition, "Neighborhood Schools For Our Children" (NSFOC), is not convinced. Collins, whose group wants extensive testing on the whole site, contends that these environmental studies usually raise more questions than answers. The discussion line is open.
Gunfire rang out in south Naperville just past midnight Tuesday morning (4.1) and a mortally-wounded man's body was found on the median of 87th St. Neighbors were stunned by the sudden explosion of violence in a town which is as sleepy as it is safe. But in the ever-changing world we live in, are we being lulled into complacency?
Granted, this is the first homicide involving a firearm to strike Naperville in three years and the city has a very low crime rate, but this incident serves as a grim reminder that violence can flare at the most unpredictable of moments as well as places. Just three months into 2008 and Naperville has recorded its first homicide - a statistic which neighboring Aurora has yet to chalk up. Are you bothered by this heinous crime happening in our city or is it just an isolated incident we will all soon forget? We'd like to know.