Who's boarding bandwagon to Wood Napliswar?
The big question, of course, is when the four DuPage County towns are merged into one, what should its new name be?
Few options roll off the tongue, but I'm somewhat partial to Wood Napliswar.
Or, in the spirit of fairness, how about an alphabetical pairing: Lisnapwarwood?
Or, (Warning! Semi-insider Naperville joke coming.), how 'bout just leaving it at: Naperville?
When we heard a few weeks ago of a petition effort to ask voters on the April ballot in they supported merging Lisle, Warrenville and Woodridge with Naperville, we immediately wondered who might be behind such an effort. We heard of this only because of a post on the city of Warrenville's Facebook site disavowing being behind such an effort. We tracked down an attorney representing the petitioners, who refused to divulge any details about the merger. Since then, he hasn't returned any of our phone calls.
The mayors of the four towns had a thing or two to say, though. They announced they had filed objections in court to the petitions. The grounds were similar to the candidate objections we've been seeing in the run-up to the April local elections: Not enough signatures, ones that don't match the listed addresses.
The mayors said a merger would be costly, complicated and could have far-ranging implications on other taxing bodies; furthermore, they said, they already attempt to share resources. But I thought the mayors' civic pride -- and that of the residents they represent -- was stung by the petition-passing. "We've never had any indication that anyone wanted to be anything else but Warrenville," said its mayor, Dave Brummel.
A few days later, a Daily Herald editorial sided with the mayors, decrying the shadowy figures behind the merger efforts. "Hopefully, these petitions will be summarily rejected and whoever is behind this drive will see what a disruptive distraction it is for residents in these communities who want to focus on more important issues and candidates in their local April elections," our editorial said.
I kind of forgot about the issue, figuring we'd catch up with things when the court hearings come around. But in the meantime, we've gotten some blowback that I never would have expected. The first came from Citizen Advocacy Center, which lauded us for bemoaning the frequency and scurrilousness of candidate ballot challenges. But we went awry by focusing on the elusive petitioners. "The right to anonymous speech has been a protected First Amendment right since the framing of the United States Constitution and has been upheld repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court," Maryam Judar, executive director of the advocacy center, said in a letter to the editor. She also questioned the validity of taxpayer dollars being spent to keep a matter off the ballot.
A second letter, which appears today from a Lisle resident, suggests a feasibility study on the merger and opines that "political motivations (are) behind the immediate, overwhelmingly negative reaction."
I think it's important to let the world know who's passing petitions that could affect their lifestyles. It's reflective of our long-standing policy to get people "on the record" when we write about them. Our editor or managing editor must approve our rare use of anonymous sources; we don't run anonymous letters to the editor.
Further, DuPage County is really the cradle of government consolidation efforts; we've been writing about it for several years. And one thing I've learned is it's a time-consuming and cumbersome process to merge or dissolve a government. It took the county two years to disband its first government in 2013: the Timberlake Estates Sanitary District, which hadn't provided service since the mid-1980s nor had it levied a tax. Oh, and two-thirds of its residents said it was OK.
That said, lord knows we have enough government in Illinois, more than 7,000 units, easily highest in the nation. And, doesn't it seem the height of democracy to let people have some say in where they live?
I'll go out on a limb and suggest -- should the ballot challenges survive -- a vote to merge the four communities would be one of the most lopsided votes in history.
Longer-time residents of the Northwest suburbs might remember a vote decades ago to rename Hoffman Estates to East Barrington. That idea got trounced -- by about a 10-to-1 ratio.
And I suggest: Who really wants to live in Wood Napliswar?