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President Obama has made his speech and his points known.
Paul Ryan and the Republicans have stated their case. Now the battle begins over the philosophy and practical application of government budget making.
What do you think is good or bad on either side? Is there a chance for compromise?

gaso.jpgAs gasoline prices climb steadily upward, with some predicting they may hit the $5 mark this summer, how is this affecting you? Are you figuring out ways to economize or are your trips so infrequent, your job so close to your home or your wallet so stuffed with cash that gas price hikes are not a problem?

They had to start somewhere so they started with their own budgets, said new House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. On its first day, the new Republican led House of Representatives made its first budget cut, albeit a small one, 5% of office budgets. This means cutting things like postage and bottled water to the tune of about $75,000 per member of Congress.
Is this encouraging or just window dressing? What's your view of the economy going forward in 2011?

Now that pension funding for public employees has been reformed, a question facing Illinois voters will be if they favor changing the pension funding obligations for police and firefighters.
This already has stirred a rift between government officials and those same police and firefighters. Is it a politcal issue or a practical issue? Naperville's fire and police pension funds are funded at 59.2% and 53.5% respectively. They must be 100% funded by 2033. How should lawmakers tackle this issue?

Just looking around today and stocks are surging, gold is selling at around $1,300 an ounce and the recession ended - in 2009. Anybody out there feel better about the economy? Anybody notice the recession's end? Anybody own any gold??? Are you going to sell it? and what's in store for next year if the Democrats hold Congress? What's in store if the GOP retakes the majority?

In an effort to stimulate small business the Senate cracked a GOP filibuster, clearing the way for a vote on a $30 billion fund for small business loans.
Democrats welcome this as Washington finally doing something to get Main Street the access to capital is hasn't had for months. Republicans have been busy with amendments, focusing on
ways to change a new requirement for businesses to file 1099 forms on transactions over $600.
What's your take? What is it going to take for businesses to expand and start hiring again? Are they waiting for anything other than a sign from Washington or Wall Street? Hopefully some Naperville business people can offer some good insight.

On Thursday the city of Naperville began to inform city workers of layoffs. The exact number and the positions was unclear Thursday but was expected to amount to several dozen jobs eliminated, between open positions and job cuts. Ten of the cuts will be at the police department, where eight open positions were eliminated and two recently hired officers were let go.

The cuts were projected to save the city about $3.5 million in an effort to close an $11 million budget deficit for 2011.

Councilman Bob Fieseler told the Sun that while the cuts were necessary, this time residents would notice the difference and would be disappointed as their services were affected.

What do you think of these cuts by the city?

Edit: The city announced Friday that a total of 49 positions were cut, consisting of 22 filled postions and 27 vacant positions. The city estimates this will save $3.6 million. Combined with last year's reductions, the city has now cut 10 percent of its labor force.

In his 14 years as Naperville's mayor and liquor commissioner, George Pradel has never revoked a local bar or restaurant's liquor license.
Which begs the questions: is that because city officials and police tend to go easy on nightclub and restaurant owners because of the copious tax revenue their businesses generate? Or is it because the downtown nightlife district -- despite its rowdy reputation in some quarters -- is comparatively trouble-free?
Articles from the Naperville Sun library and anecdotal evidence suggest that out of the thousands of people visiting the downtown area on a typical Friday or Saturday, 1 percent or fewer are arrested for assault, battery, property damage or other crimes related to alcohol consumption there.
Still, the city's 32 liquor-licensed establishments and their employees can be held legally liable for indulging their patrons by "over-serving" them and, in some instances, conjuring their darker sides.
"We're constantly telling them we don't want them to over-serve," Pradel said of local tavern and restaurant operators. "Our police check all the time to see that people aren't being over-served. The owners could be in deep trouble" for that if, for example, a patron should become involved in a drunken-driving crash, he said.
"I think our city is very fortunate that we have such responsible owners of the bars and restaurants that serve liquor," Pradel said. "I know it's hard times, but we really put the clamp on people, and if they're over-serving, we're going to be taking them to court."
What do you think? Do you think Naperville bartenders to a good job at monitoring patrons' alcohol intake? Do you think that downtown Naperville's nightlife promotes fun, safe socializing - or is it becoming an area that draws more debauchery out of people than other areas?
And furthermore - do you think bartenders should be held liable if a patron drinks too much - or should that be something that simply falls under the category of "personal responsibility?"
Voice your thoughts - they might be published in The Sun this week!

A recent survey shows that 54 percent of Americans plan to use their tax refund to pay off bills, up from 35 percent last year. Only 5 percent planned to go on a shopping spree.

Many people have traditionally treated their tax refund as free money to do something fun with, but this year it seems that has changed. With the lousy economy and people worried about losing their jobs, everyone wants to get themselves in better financial shape to weather the storm.

How about you? If you are getting a refund, are you being sensible with it or are you treating yourself?

Some business owners are saying downtown is becoming "the high-rent district," while some landlords are saying it depends who your landlord is and how long you've been a tenant. But all agree having a set business plan and knowing what you're getting yourself into is the key to successfully launching a small business downtown.

The Downtown Naperville Alliance says plenty of the stores downtown aren't corporate owned, but others aren't so sure new mom-and-pop shops can make it.

Let's be realistic, Naperville is an expensive place to live, shop and dine, so any small business trying to make a go of it here should have a well-though-out plan and enough cash to last until customers are established. Visitors come from miles around to puruse the merchandise and eat the fine food.

That said, What do you think of the mix of stores downtown? Have you had a bad or good experience renting space there? Any particular niche missing?

Naperville Potluck

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