A forum for comments about Naperville news and issues.

October 2008 Archives

Frequent and longtime guests and participants of this forum will recall discussion about how Naperville deploys its police force, and debate about whether the city needs such a presence of officers downtown.

We're about to find out. To help plug an $11 million shortfall, Naperville is looking at reducing its workforce by 40 positions citywide. To show how deep the cuts would go -- and just how serious this economic situation is -- nine positions would be eliminated from the police department, including the third downtown beat officer, its second crime prevention officer and its domestic violence investigator.

Do you think this forum played any role at all in the proposed cuts city officials are considering? Are you surprised by the cuts, or are they what you expected? (We've known for some time a hiring freeze was in place.) How well do you think city officials listen to input from constituents? How concerned are you about staffing cuts affecting public safety operations--in the police and fire departments?

Naperville School District 203 and the community got its first look this week at architectural renderings showing how the exterior of Naperville Central High School will appear when an $87 million renovation project is completed in December 2011.

Susan Crotty, school board vice president, said she's concerned that the modern look that's heavy on steel and glass will clash with existing architecture predominent in downtown Naperville, namely, some of the older historic structures that lend Naperville its charm.

The Sun Wednesday printed a color illustration showing the new look, and a gallery of additional images can be viewed at napersun.com. (Some images show the district's planned Early Childhood Center.)

What do you think of the new look? What do you think of Crotty's concerns that the modern look will clash with historic features downtown? Now that these renderings are out there, how excited are you about the Central renovation project, which voters made possible when they approved a tax-increase referendum?

Dianne McGuire is on the attack, again. The Democrat in the 96th District state representative race has a fresh set of campaign ads that accuse Republican Darlene Senger of "phoning it in" because Darlene participated in a handful of Naperville City Council meetings over the years via telephone, a practice common among virtually all local government bodies when members are out of town on business.

What's really off-base about these ads is that Senger has one of the best attendance records of any City Council member.

A story in Tuesday's Sun also explores McGuire's involvement in the 2007 school board elections in Naperville School District 203, when union teachers pushing a slate of candidates backed a McGuire group that presented itself as a citizen's organization, when really it was 100 percent backed by the union.

What do you make of all this? What does McGuire's involvement in the school elections say about her character, and is it fair to bring that into question during this campaign? What do you think of McGuire's campaign ads, which she says are put out by the state Democratic party? Is this the type of campaigning you expected to see in Naperville?

Today, North Central College dedicates its fine arts center, the first major performing arts venue to open in town since, well, North Central opened Pfeiffer Hall in 1926.

The centerpiece of the multi-theater facility is the Wentz Concert Hall, a beautiful-looking and absolutely spectacular-sounding space for jazz, orchestral and other musical performances. Finally, Naperville has in its downtown a venue comparable to the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet or the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, in terms of architectural beauty and significance.

The best thing about North Central's latest contribution to the downtown Naperville scene is that it didn't cost taxpayers one dime. It was funded entirely by donations and gifts--no tax breaks, not even a land swap, or break on infrastructure improvements. How do you like that?

Let's find out how culturally refined the participants in this forum are. How interested are you in NCC's new fine arts center? Do you plan to hear or see a musical or theatrical performance there? Are you more likely to plan to go to a concert at North Central because of the new center? Or are you more likely to stick to the type of entertainment offered at Quigley's, Frankie's Blue Room and the other watering holes in town?

Interest in the four City Council seats up for election in the spring continues to grow, with 17 candidate packets picked up so far.

Up for election in April are four seats on the council. Those whose terms expire are James Boyajian, Doug Krause, Kenn Miller and John Rosanova. While Krause and Miller are both seeking another term, Boyajian and Rosanova have decided not to run again.

Two members of the city's Plan Commission intend to run for a council seat: Joe McElroy and Patty Gustin.

"Based on my many years of experience with the city of Naperville, and the village of Lisle before that, I can use those experiences in my desire to help address a broader range of city concerns and development," Gustin said via e-mail.

Also running is Judith Broadhead. She has served for 16 years on boards and commissions including Plan Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Transportation Advisory Board. She is also a board member of the Naperville League of Women Voters and an English professor and cultural event coordinator at North Central College.

Ken Bochenski, retired corporate vice president of operations for Spiegel catalog group, hopes to bring his business background to the council.

"The economy is bad, the city has a revenue problem," he said. "They're going to have to cut the budget or they're going to have to cut services."

Also planning to run is CPA Bill Eagan, who works as a finance manager at Kraft Foods and adjunct accounting professor at Harper College.

Those who said they are still considering a run include attorney Kevin Lynch, retired Bolingbrook Police officer John Moravecek, downtown business owner and Pepsi Co. employee Chris Finck, and computer programmer Eli Hodapp.

Others who picked up packets but could not be reached for comment include Lucy Kalkman, Michael Prueter, Charles Schneider and Chad Treisch. Resident James DerKacy previously said he picked up a packet for informational purposes, and Councilman Miller signed out two packets.

Just because 17 packets have been picked up doesn't mean the city will have to hold a primary election.

"We could have 100 packets picked up, and that's not going to do anything," City Clerk Pam LeFeber said. "It's how many packets get turned in." Seventeen candidates whose packets have been verified by election officials are needed for a primary election.

The primary election for the City Council, should one be necessary, will he held Feb. 24.

Packets can be picked up through Dec. 8 at the city clerk's office at the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.

It's easy, in a county where 100 percent of the elected officials are Republican, to believe there must be some sort of bias and favoritism exhibited by the ruling party officials.

That's what local Democrats claimed this week, when they said, among other things, that the DuPage Election Commission has Republican cronies on the payroll and favored Republicans in recent ballot disputes.

The commission answered the charges, saying the ballot disputes were resolved fairly and that it also has a Democratic crony on the payroll. You can read more in Friday's Sun.

What's your impression of the election process in DuPage? Do you think it's on the up-and-up? Do you trust that elections are being conducted in a legal and fair manner? Or do you believe that illegal and unethical practices are being allowed to happen?

There was an old saying about Chicago elections that went, "Vote early and often." Well, now in Naperville, at least the first part is true. You can vote early.

Early voting for the Nov. 4 general election began Monday for DuPage County residents and Tuesday for Will County residents. Early voting for both DuPage and Will county residents ends Oct. 30.

Early voting for DuPage County residents will take place in Naperville at the Municipal Center from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and Oct. 25. A full list of early voting locations throughout the county is available at www.dupageelections.com.

Will County residents who reside in Naperville can visit the Will County clerk's office to take part in early voting or visit the city clerk's office at the Municipal Center from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and Oct. 25. Absentee voting will also be held from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 1.

Are you going to vote early? Have you considered it? What do you think of the option? Is it more convenient for you than waiting for election day? Or are you going to stick with tradition and cast your ballot on Nov. 4?

With less than three weeks to go until the nation selects a new president, one issue has become foremost on the minds of Americans: the economic crisis.

The Dow is coming off its worst week in history. Trillions of dollars in value have been lost. The world seems to teeter on the brink of something big.

Can one man -- the president -- make a difference? Who do you think is better able to lead the country out of this economic turmoil, John McCain or Barack Obama? How will the economic crisis affect your vote in the upcoming presidential election?

A dispute over whether City Council members should have access to certain employee information erupted during Tuesday's meeting, prompting the council to shoot down a request by Councilman Richard Furstenau to review internal investigation information for 10 complaints filed by residents against Naperville Police officers.

Councilman Grant Wehrli said he thought this was a thinly veiled attempt by Furstenau to use his position in City Council to further his litigation against the city of Naperville.

By a 7-1-1 vote, the City Council voted to deny Furstenau access to the complaint information. Councilman Doug Krause voted present, and Furstenau cast the sole opposing vote.

"It's got nothing to do with the lawsuit and everything to do with the fact the government needs to be available to the people," Furstenau said.

Furstenau said he requested information in May regarding 10 complaints filed by citizens against members of the Naperville Police Department because the statistic showed up in a brochure mailed to citizens. Last month he said he would like the names of the officers subject to the internal investigation and a one sentence summary of the complaint.

"I have not asked for anybody's personnel file. All I was responding to was something put together by the police department," Furstenau said. "When a councilman cannot get a copy of an internal investigations complaint, that's a problem."

Several council members said a meeting on council rules is necessary. It was actually a discussion of the council's meeting and workshop schedule that sparked the debate. The council agreed to schedule a council rules workshop for 4:30 p.m. Nov. 10.

Whose side do you agree with here--Furstenau's, or the council majority's? Was Furstenau's request for information reasonable, or out of line?

Naperville City Council member Grant Wehrli proposed a bold suggestion Tuesday night, when the council unanimously approved a new 1.5 percent tax on downtown businesses in order to pay for new parking decks.

Wehrli thinks Naperville should stop imposing a 1 percent citywide food and beverage tax, and levy a half percent instead.

This tax has been in place since 2004 and for the last few years its revenues have been doled out to various cultural and community groups, to the tune of about $2.7 million per year.

What do you think of Wehrli's idea? Other council members seemed cool to the suggestion. He says given this tough economic climate, every little bit helps. Do you agree, that taxpayer dollars paying for the arts is a luxury we can't afford these days? Or are the cultural programs too important to neglect, whatever the cost?

The Naperville Public Library is the best in the nation, and has been for nine years running, the library learned Wednesday.

How much do you use the library? Are you aware it offers a lot more than books--such as nearly 10,000 DVD and audio titles and MP3 files that you can download in the comfort of your own home, anytime, 24/7?

Maybe you like the programming the best--the storytimes for kids, the financial services offered by the business librarian. Maybe it's something else, altogether.

What do you like most about the Naperville Public Library? What do you think it could do to become even better?

We learned late Tuesday that longtime Naperville City Council member John Rosanova has decided he will not seek another term.

In the spring, the four-year seats of incumbents Rosanova, Doug Krause, Kenn Miller and James Boyajian are up for election. Krause and Miller are running again, while Boyajian and now Rosanova have said they will not seek re-election.

So far, challengers for what will be at least two open seats on the council include plan commission member and Naperville entrepreneur Joe McElroy.

Well, this seems like a golden opportunity for anyone with a sincere interest in shaping Naperville's future to step up to the plate and seek public office, to have a seat at the table while decisions are made about the town's spending, its policies and priorities.

Any takers out there?

A question on ballots Nov. 4 will ask whether Illinois should convene a constitutional convention. By law, the question must be asked of voters every 20 years, a story in Monday's Sun explains.

Supporters, like Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, say the convention is needed to address such issues as recall of elected officials and same-sex marriage. Opponents, like law professor Ann Lousin, say the state's constitution is fine, that its problems have to do with lawmakers not getting along.

A convention could cost $78 million, Lousin says, while Quinn says it could be done for $23 million.

Who do you believe? How are you going to vote on Nov. 4 (or earlier, if you vote early)? Does Illinois need a constitutional convention?

Sunday's Sun features the results of a Sun study about Naperville's highest-paid public servants. We used the Freedom of Information Act to ask the city, school districts and park districts for lists of their highest-paid workers, then combined the findings into one list.

In a moment, you'll be able to share your observations. First, here's a couple of thoughts from us:

Why are administrators in Indian Prairie School District 204 paid so much more than their counterparts in Naperville School District 203?

The highest-paid public servants work in schools, not the city. Why is that?

The park district's highest salaries don't even register in the top 20 citywide.

The findings reported in The Sun are simply base salaries. You gotta figure another, what, 20 percent in costs borne by taxpayers for health insurance and other benefits, then add whatever retirement contribution taxpayers are making, not to mention auto allowances, etc.

Now, your turn. What do you think of the salaries paid to public servants in Naperville? What would you change, if you could?

Here's an issue that pops up from time to time in Naperville: Should the City Council, instead of consisting entirely of at-large members, have designated district representatives?

There are many facets to the discussion. You could have district representatives, and still have some at-large members. District council members would be more directly responsible for responding to concerns of their constituents. At-large members could respond to any citizen.

Other points to consider if Naperville were to adopt districts: What would the boundaries be? How many districts should there be? Should the number of members on the council be increased, so each district council member would serve fewer people, and thus be able to be more responsive?

What do you think? Should Naperville revisit the question of council districts, and, if so, what form should it take?

Naperville Potluck

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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