P is for Penick — and plenty more

Updated 10/4/2011 1:49 PM

For a preponderance of reasons, I spent a major portion of a recent weekend pouring over my old "Around Naperville" columns.

Penned since May 1999 when this publication first provided an opportunity to pitch my perspectives, I was curious to peruse what had been on my mind in previous autumns and what's changed.

A piece popped out from Oct. 19, 1999, titled "Poorly prepared people put process in peril," which reminded me to tell readers other folks have always written the headlines.

The opening line that Tuesday was, "Perhaps my preoccupation with the 16th letter of the alphabet began when I took on my married name.

"Over a period of time, I've noticed my passions outside of family begin with the same letter: popcorn, parades, picnics, puzzles, postcards, pizza, places, performers, PCs, printers, public policy, people, parties, projects, politics, proposals and my pup, Prairie."

In 2011, all those "P" passions continue to play a part in my life except that our golden retriever/Labrador blend, Prairie, was put down in 2002. And since 2003, my daily walks have been with our peppy Papillion pup, Karl, in the lead.

In that 1999 column, I noted the prominent local issues in the press were parks, pools, parking and a plan for downtown, leaving pressing school issues at the time to other writers.

Back then, primarily picking on prolonged proceedings in city council chambers on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, I imagined their possible impact on city staff. I also wondered how members of police and fire departments, council members, newspaper reporters on assignment and participating citizens could be effective the next day at work.

I pondered how to actively engage citizens with their many points of view to participate in concept meetings, public workshops, commission meetings and other planning stages before presentation at city council.

Noting the three-minute rule for public comments that still is often waived, I wrote, "Thanks to the patience of our public servants, everybody gets three minutes. Even when the half-hour period dedicated to an issue is up, our city council usually approves a motion to press ahead, allowing more citizens to present their positions, often repeating previous speakers. And, sometimes, it's too late in the process."

I pulled other columns, too. One addressed the value of silence and the power of pregnant pauses, ala comedian Jack Benny. I promise to repeat that message another time.

One resounding plea has been for citizens to pay attention, to be prepared for all things that surround us, and to be educated voters for upcoming elections.

As you likely noticed if you watched the Jaycees Last Fling Labor Day Parade, we're headed toward another election cycle for federal, state and county officials.

Already, men and women who want to serve Naperville in DuPage and Will counties, Springfield and Washington are lining up to promote their races in the primary election on March 20, 2012.

Petition packets are now available.

Many people are passing petitions for signatures of registered voters to place candidates seeking office at the federal, state and county level on the 2012 primary ballot. Be mindful that signing a petition does not mean necessarily that you support the candidate. It simply means you support that the candidate is qualified to run in the primary.

And wouldn't you know? You can follow the procedures for candidate filings via PDFs and other published information available at the Illinois State Board of Elections' website, elections.il.gov.

Please pay attention. Simply put, we need private sector jobs. Poorly prepared people put the process in peril.