Archive for January, 2016

Gov. Rauner’s 2017 State of the State Address

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Governor calls for General Assembly to enact laws to bring prosperity to all citizens and all parts of Illinois.

In the midst of budget standoff that has lasted more than seven months, Gov. Rauner delivered Illinois’ annual State of the State address Wednesday. During the address, the Governor briefly touched upon his administration’s accomplishments in his first year in office which they believe saved Illinois $938 million. According to the Governor, these savings were achieved by reducing state spending by $500 million; saving $188 million through unemployment insurance fraud reduction; and saving $250 million through reforms within the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The Governor also touted implementing a revolving door ban on state officials becoming lobbyists and reforming the EDGE credit to eliminate special deals.

In his annual address to the General Assembly, Gov. Bruce Rauner told lawmakers that “Illinois’ economy has been split in two – one part with modest growth, the other in decline.” Some neighborhoods, suburbs, and workplaces located within 90 minutes of O’Hare  have partly participated in global recovery from the severe economic downtown of 2008-2009. Gov. Rauner reminded lawmakers that the remainder of the state, including areas traditionally oriented towards industry and manufacturing, have not benefitted from this global recovery. These regions need to see changes in Illinois laws and policies that will be sufficient to help communities throughout the state share in economic growth and opportunity.

Pointing out that “factory workers in Texas are now making more than Illinois folks, even without adjusting for the cost of living,” Rauner renewed his call for serious discussion, debate, and enactment of his Turnaround Agenda. Job-creating elements of the agenda include workers’ compensation reform, mandate relief for local governments, changes in relationships between the public sector and labor unions, and property tax relief. Striking a bipartisan note, the Governor called attention to elements of the Agenda that have, in the past, been supported by a wide variety of leaders.

The Governor noted that in order to improve the quality of life for all residents, Illinois needs to increase the economic opportunity for all individuals. This requires excellent education and vocational training combined with multiple career opportunities made available by companies competing to hire workers. The Governor stated that despite the natural benefits that Illinois has to offer, including economic and strategic viability, Illinois is failing its citizens by promoting an economic status quo that benefits politicians and trial attorneys at the expense of the middle class. This failed economic policy forces people and businesses out of Illinois which exacerbates the middle class deterioration while depleting the state of much needed taxes dollars that could be used to promote and protect infrastructure and programs for the most vulnerable citizens. The Governor’s proposal to address these problems is his Turnaround and Transformation agendas.

In closing, the Governor admitted that the last year was difficult but wants to build off the bipartisan progress that resulted in Criminal Justice Reforms, Police Reforms, and Unemployment Insurance changes to jumpstart mutual participation to achieve a grand compromise to move Illinois forward.

As is always the case, immediately after the State of the State, each caucus leader spoke to the media. Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin made it clear that Illinois requires the structural reforms contained within the Governor’s Turnaround and Transformation agendas rather than relying on just raising taxes. They echoed the Governor’s belief that raising taxes without real institutional reform will continue Illinois’ political, structural, and financial downward spiral.

House Speaker Michael Madigan organized some human service program advocates to present their concerns regarding the lack of a state budget to the media during his press conference. Speaker Madigan reiterated that he is willing to work with the Governor, but he believes that discussions should only include budget matters and he has doubts about the Governor’s sincerity of bipartisanship when he continues to advocate for changes that are in direct conflict with Democratic Caucus core principles.

During the State of the State, Governor Rauner trumpeted his tentative bipartisan agreement to support Senate President John Cullerton’s pension proposal. In somewhat of a surprise development, the Senate majority caucus voiced their hesitancy to pass their pension proposal with the Governor’s support before a budget solution is in place.

Governor Issues Executive Order to Modernize Illinois’ Technology

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), a 25-year small business owner of an information technology consulting firm, applauded Governor Bruce Rauner’s action today to create the new Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT). The agency will transform the state’s information technology functions into one agency to provide better service to Illinois residents and businesses.

Illinois consolidates its redundant information technology functions into new Department. After studying existing redundancies in State of Illinois management operations, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order. The order directs that State information-technology (IT) operations be moved from the various departments of which they were parts to form the new Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology. These operations currently employ approximately 1,700 State personnel specializing in information technology solutions and maintenance. Executive Order 16-01 was issued on Monday, Jan. 25.

Under the State’s charts of organization that existed up until this week, each of the more than 100 State departments, bureaus, and agencies that operate under the overall supervision of the Governor had the right to operate separate, free-standing IT offices. Over time, this created significant barriers to operational productivity. Different offices developed more than 1,000 separate and incompatible software solutions, at least one of which dates back to 1974. Once adopted, these platforms became embedded into operations.

The Governor has instructed the executive personnel of the new Department to centralize and consolidate all information technology decisions and spending. This is the standard model recommended by IT management professionals and utilized by 29 other U.S. states. With Rauner’s executive order, Illinois has become the 30th state to set up a consolidated department of information technology. The head of the new Department, Hardik Bhatt, is Illinois’ Chief Information Officer.

Rauner and Bhatt have stated that one of their first priorities will be to use this consolidation as an opportunity to reduce the vulnerability of the State’s electronic infrastructure to hacking and other cyberattacks, including cyberattacks originating from terrorists and other sources outside the U.S.

Illinois Unemployment Uptick Higher than Nation

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Department of Employment Security (DES) reports that December 2015 jobless rate rose by 0.2% over November.

The year-end unemployment rate of 5.9% was 0.9% higher than the nationwide rate of 5.0%, and reflected a decline of 16,300 jobs in Illinois. This decline coincided with a month in which overall U.S. total employment rose by 292,000 jobs. IDES reports that Illinois had 3,000 fewer nonfarm payroll jobs in December 2015 than were filled by working Illinois residents twelve months earlier. These figures show that the Illinois job recovery from the 2018-14 downturn, after moving forward very slowly for multiple years, completely stalled in 2015.

Cross-tabs contained within the Department’s report made clear that much of the weakness had been concentrated in the retail sector, defined for unemployment-reporting purposes as “Trade, Transportation and Utilities.” Seasonally adjusted trade/transportation jobs declined by 12,100 from November 2015, making this the weakest sector in this Illinois month-to-month report. Retail job creation continued to be affected by the continued transition of significant subsets of Christmas retail activity to non-traditional distribution pathways. On a year-to-year basis, however, the weakest Illinois sector continued to be manufacturing, with Illinois factories maintaining 14,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in December 2015 than had been on Illinois payrolls in December 2014.

The Department also reported on where joblessness was concentrated in the final calendar month of 2015. Metro areas with unemployment significantly higher than the 5.9% statewide rate included Carbondale (6.5%), Danville (7.4%), Decatur (7.4%), Kankakee (7.0%), Peoria (7.0%) and Rockford (7.2%). Joblessness, as in previous months, was disproportionately felt in Downstate cities and metropolitan areas traditionally oriented toward manufacturing and industry.

Illinois’ 5.9% jobless rate continued to be significantly higher than the rates posted in many neighboring states. The December 2015 rates in states that border on Illinois were as follows: Indiana, 4.4%; Iowa, 3.4%; Kentucky, 5.3%; Missouri, 4.4%; and Wisconsin, 4.3%. During the same 12-month period that Illinois lost 3,000 net nonfarm payroll jobs, Indiana generated 57,100 net new jobs, Iowa generated 25,600 net new jobs, Kentucky generated 40,200 net new jobs, and Missouri generated 26,000 net new jobs.

FY16 Budget Still Elusive

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

$6.6 billion in unpaid State bills could lead to further debt downgrade.

In a report published Tuesday, Jan. 26, the credit-rating firm Moody’s pointed to Illinois’ $6.6 billion in unpaid bills as of Dec. 31, 2015. Moody’s, the world’s largest debt-rating firm, has previously downgraded Illinois’ credit rating six separate times since 2003. Illinois is currently rated by Moody’s as Baa1 with a negative outlook. This rating, three notches above “junk bond” level, is typically interpreted by markets as signaling that Illinois bonds carry a relatively low investment-quality ranking. Moody’s labeled the unpaid-bills “a clear indicator of weak liquidity and governance.”

Illinois is currently carrying $27 billion in general obligation debt in global bond markets. Downgrades to Illinois’ credit rating increase the rates of interest that Illinois is required to pay, further increasing costs to taxpayers of building Illinois’ roads, bridges, and other tangible infrastructure. In Illinois’ most recent sale of GO bonds on Jan. 14, the State and its taxpayers were required to pledge to pay interest rates averaging 1.61% higher than comparable interest rates faced by AAA-rated states such as Indiana.

House Republican Leader Durkin calls for active enforcement of balanced budget requirement.

The Unbalanced Budget Response Act, a new Act introduced by Republican Leader Jim Durkin, creates an alternate cash-flow structure if the FY16 and FY17 budgets are not balanced. Under the fiscal structure outlined in HB 4521, if the General Assembly enacts unbalanced FY16 or FY17 budgets or if no budgets are enacted, the Governor would be given the power to establish contingency reserves using previously appropriated funds. Some of the moneys in these reserves could be transferred to other agencies to meet immediate and urgent spending responsibilities, while other appropriations would remain unspent until the budgets become re-balanced.

Enactment and enforcement of HB 4521 will make it possible for Illinois to fulfill its constitutional balanced budget duties in reality and in real-time. State agencies would be given power to adopt emergency rules as necessary to reduce their spending rates in line with these gubernatorial sequestrations. The powers to be granted to the state agencies are similar to emergency powers that were granted, on a bipartisan basis, to former Gov. Pat Quinn during a budget crisis in 2009. HB 4521 was filed in the House on this past Tuesday.

No new talks planned.

In fact, talk increasingly swirls at the Capitol about the possibility that a budget won’t be in place until after the fiscal year ends in June.

On a related note, the Rauner Administration has declared an impasse in negotiations with state government’s largest employee union, AFSCME. The Administration has asked the Labor Board to determine if there is, in fact, an impasse, which would trigger the Administration’s “best and final” offer. Should that offer be rejected, the union would likely strike.

General Assembly Spring 2016 Session Opens

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

The Illinois House reconvened on Wednesday, Jan. 27, to hear Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State Address. This was followed by discussion on new bills introduced by members for committee consideration and floor debate during the 2016 spring session. At the top of every list of discussion, however, was the continued impasse affecting the FY16 budget.

On Thursday, Jan. 28, Illinois House and Senate Democrats passed SB 2043. The bill, as amended in the House, was a measure appropriating more than $700 million in unfunded money for higher education. If the bill were to become law, it would add to the existing total of $6.6 billion in State unpaid bills. Gov. Rauner has stated that he will veto SB 2043. The bill did not break the impasse in the FY16 budget process.

New Bills Will Drop Soon

The deadline for submitting legislation drafting requests to the General Assembly’s Legislative Reference Bureau was Friday. The deadline for introduction of new bills in the House is Feb. 11 and the Senate bill introduction deadline is Feb. 19.

Fox Valley, Central Kane United Ways Announce Merger

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Aurora-based Fox Valley United Way and United Way of Central Kane County, headquartered in St. Charles, announced plans Wednesday afternoon to merge Central Kane into Fox Valley United Way (FVUW).

The merger, which will be effective Aug. 1, 2016, was unveiled yesterday at a special meeting of representatives of the social services agencies served by United Way of Central Kane County.

Paula Yensen, executive director of United Way of Central Kane County, said the merger announcement was made nowto assure agency representatives that current funding requests and allocations would proceed normally – and to reveal that the organizations would receive an additional distribution from UWCKC reserves.

In a companion presentation at the meeting, Fox Valley United Way CEO Michael Meyer pledged to continue to fund the social services organizations that United Way of Central Kane County supports for the next two fiscal years.  He also said FVUW would open an office in central Kane.

Yensen said the merger was prompted largely by two issues:  The pending retirements of both Yensen and Administrative Assistant Julie Slavens, United Way of Central Kane County’s only other staff person, and extensive new business practices required of all local United Way organizations by United Way Worldwide.

The new business model stresses the need for local United Ways to spearhead collaborative community change, but the organizational capacities required “make it difficult for smaller United Ways such as ours to remain viable,” Yensen said.

United Way of Central Kane County provides financial and related support to 22 social services agencies which in turn serve over 13,000 individuals in the Central Kane communities of St. Charles, Geneva, Elburn, Campton Hills, Kaneville, Wasco, La Fox and Maple Park.

Yensen said Fox Valley United Way was chosen as the best option to continue to serve Central Kane people and agencies following an extensive cost-benefit analysis undertaken last fall by the United Way of Central Kane County Board of Directors.

Ultimately, Yensen said, the Board “looked for the organization where we would have the most affinity.  That was Fox Valley United Way and their CEO Mike Meyer.”

Meyer said FVUW is on pace to raise $1.3 million in contributions and grants in the fiscal year which ends June 30.  FVUW supports 49 social services agencies serving the southern Kane and Kendall County communities of Aurora, Big Rock, Bristol, Hinckley, Little Rock, Millbrook, Montgomery, Mooseheart, North Aurora, Oswego, Plano, Plattville, Sandwich, Sugar Grove and Yorkville.

United Way of Central Kane County expects to raise about $400,000 in the current 2015-2016 campaign year.

Area Youth Tackle Hunger with “Souper Bowl of Caring”

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Fox Valley United Way Partners with Youth Volunteers and Local Grocery Stores to Benefit the Hungry

On Saturday, Feb. 6, the day before the Super Bowl, Fox Valley area youth will be participating in the “Souper Bowl of Caring.”  This annual nationwide event empowers young people to help those in their community who go hungry due to lack of resources.

For the 10th year, Fox Valley United Way is partnering with local grocery stores, and recruiting student volunteer and adult mentors who will greet shoppers and accept food and monetary donations.  Shoppers are asked to consider purchasing one of a suggested list of items and leaving it in the Souper Bowl of Caring bin near the store’s exit.  Or they may provide cash donations, each dollar donated gives the pantries the ability to purchase $8.00 worth of food from the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

These contributions provide significant support to the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry and the Kendall County Food Pantry.  Last year, this event gathered 3,200 pounds of food and collected over $7,800.00.

“This event is a win-win-win for the community,” says Michael Meyer, Fox Valley United Way CEO. “Students get a chance to learn about hunger and how a few hours on a Saturday can make a huge difference for those in need.  Food pantries receive much needed assistance after the holidays.  And our participating grocery stores join in our mission to LIVE UNITED—reaching out a hand to folks in difficult financial circumstances.”

Once again this year, local Jewel-Osco stores and Prisco’s Family Market in Aurora, will be welcoming these volunteers.  “The Souper Bowl of Caring is a premier event, and Jewel-Osco is excited once again to partner with the Fox Valley United Way,” said Jewel-Osco President Mike Withers. “Hunger remains an important issue and it’s essential that we do all we can to help stock the shelves of our local pantries.”

Fox Valley United Way volunteers will be at each participating food store from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to accept donations.  This year’s locations include Jewel-Osco stores on Eola Road and W. Galena Boulevard in Aurora; Veterans Parkway in Yorkville; Orchard Road and Route 30 in Oswego; and N. Route 47 in Sugar Grove; as well as Prisco’s Family Market on Prairie Street in Aurora.

“Last year’s event was our most successful ever providing a total of more than $63,000 worth of food that was made available to the neediest in Kane and Kendall counties,” says Meyer.  “This year, we know that we can make an even greater impact, as our volunteers are truly passionate about addressing poverty in their own community.”

Executive Director Announced for Hesed House

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Well-known, Former Executive Dowd Returns to Top Post

Amidst much speculation and anticipation, the Hesed House Board of Trustees is thrilled to announce today that the next leader for Illinois’s second largest comprehensive homeless shelter and resource center will be Ryan Dowd.

After reaffirming their sincere thanks to Michael Cobb, who recently resigned, for his service to the staff and guests of Hesed House, Board Chair John Ball announced that effective Feb. 8, Ryan will return to Hesed House as the next executive director.

Ball states, “We believe he is the right leader who possesses the vision and experience to guide us as we move forward with the goal of becoming one of the premier anti-poverty organizations fighting to end homelessness in the Fox River Valley!”

Dowd served as Hesed House’s executive director for nine years, first serving as a volunteer at age 13 and continuing in various staff roles throughout college and law school. Dowd reluctantly left Hesed House in 2013 when he followed his dreams to found the Center for Faith and Human Rights based in Washington, DC, where he focused on assisting human rights activists in repressive countries. Most recently, he served as executive director at Ayuda, serving vulnerable immigrants in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland with legal, social, and language services. Dowd received his JD and MPA degrees from Northern Illinois University. He earned his undergraduate degree from North Central College.

Ryan returns to Hesed House at a time when the State of Illinois’s budget uncertainty is putting considerable pressure on many not-for-profits throughout the State. Currently, Hesed House is still anxiously awaiting more than $250,000 of state funds that may never come. Dowd responds, “This is a really difficult time for nonprofits serving vulnerable families in our state, but I feel blessed beyond measure to be rejoining a community that cares so much about every member.”

At the time Dowd left, Hesed House founder Sister Rose Marie Lorentzen wrote to him, “You’ve softened hearts and you’ve softened institutions. You’ve helped overcome rigid boundaries between agencies, between the well-to-do and those who are homeless… and you’ve strived to guide your staff along those same paths. I’m so grateful for all you’ve been and done.” Today Sister Rose Marie shares, “Now I’m so grateful that you are returning to help us build a world less rigid, more just…indeed, a hesed kind of place.”

Until Dowd returns next month, 18-year veteran staff member and current Associate Director Neil McMenamin will continue to serve as the interim executive director.

Mayor Weisner, Chief Ziman Recommend New APD Deputy Chief, Commanders

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

From left, Commander Mike Doerzaph, Deputy Chief Keefe Jackson, Chief Kristen Ziman, Commander Keith Cross, Commander Paul Nelson

A 21-year Aurora Police veteran, Lieutenant Keefe Jackson, 49, has been recommended to fill the second-in-command position of the state's second largest police department.

"A strong and diverse Command Staff sets the tone of a police department," said Mayor Tom Weisner. "After consulting with Chief Ziman and reviewing the short-term and long-term goals of the APD, I am proud to recommend Keefe Jackson as the new Deputy Chief. His decades of experience and leadership in law enforcement and in the military will continue to be invaluable to the second largest police department in the state."

Jackson, who began his career with the Aurora Police in April, 1995, has worked in patrol, Special Operations (Gangs and Vice) and Field Training and is a former member of the Special Response (SWAT) Team. He was also an investigator with the Illinois State Police North Central Narcotics Task Force, served on the Aurora Police Honor Guard, and coordinated the police department's Crisis Intervention Team which addresses calls for service involving people with psychological challenges. He currently oversees the Office of Professional Standards which investigates internal and external complaints involving Aurora Police employees.

Jackson was promoted to Sergeant in 2004 and Lieutenant in 2010. He would become the first African-American Deputy Police Chief in Aurora and the first since 2008 when Greg Thomas held the position.

Jackson is a retired Captain with the United States Army National Guard having served as a Commissioned Officer for 23 years including deployment in Iraq where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is a 1984 graduate of Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago and a 1990 graduate of Northern Illinois University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics. He also graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School's Senior Executives in State in Local Government program; the Police Executive Research Forum's Senior Management Institute for Police; and the School of Police and Staff and Command at Northwestern University.

"I was faced with the daunting but exciting task to promote a Deputy Chief and two Commanders," said Chief Ziman. "I say daunting because the skill-set and heart-set of the applicants made it ridiculously difficult. But that also made it impossible to make a bad decision."

"My end in mind was to bring people together with competency and leadership abilities that would, through their example, inspire members of our police department and bring out the best in them," she continued. "In doing so, service to our citizens is the natural consequence. The officers chosen today all epitomize honor, integrity and compassion and that balance is what earned them the positions."

New Commanders Also Announced

Chief Ziman has selected Lieutenant Michael Doerzaph, 47, and Lieutenant Keith Cross, 46, for promotions to Commanders.

Doerzaph, a 22-year Aurora Police veteran, has worked in Patrol and Special Operations and also served on the North Central Narcotics Task Force. In addition, he has been assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Task Forces. He currently oversees the Aurora Police Department's Central Services Division consisting of the 911 Center, Jail, and Records sections.

Doerzaph was promoted to Sergeant in 2003 and Lieutenant in 2008. He graduated in 1987 from Naperville Central High School and in 1991 from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology.

Cross began his career with the Aurora Police in April, 1994 after a short stint with the Milwaukee Police Department. In Aurora, he's worked in Patrol, Community Policing, Special Operations, Field Training, Central Services, and is a former School Resource Officer. He also leads the department's Honor Guard, Crisis Intervention Team, and Hostage Negotiator Team. Cross is the President of the Northern Illinois Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; and graduated from the Executive Strategic Management program at the Senior Management Institute for Police at Boston University.

Cross was promoted to Sergeant in 2005 and Lieutenant in 2008. He is a 1987 graduate of East Aurora High School, earned his Associates Degree in General Studies from Waubonsee Community College in 1989 and a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Political Science from Bemidji State University in 1992.

A special promotion ceremony will be held for the Commanders in February.

The Deputy Chief appointment is subject to City Council approval.  The Aurora City Council will have an opportunity to discuss the recommendation at a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, February 2, at 5 p.m.  The candidate will be considered for appointment at a special City Council Meeting immediately following the Committee of the Whole meeting the same evening.  Upon confirmation from the City Council, the new Deputy Chief will be sworn in immediately.

Mayor Weisner Selects Fire Marshal as next Aurora Fire Chief

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Aurora Fire Marshal Gary Krienitz

Mayor Tom Weisner has recommended Aurora Fire Marshal Gary Krienitz to replace retiring AFD Chief John Lehman as the next Chief of the Aurora Fire Department.

Chief John Lehman advised Mayor Weisner several months ago that it was his intention to retire in early 2016, prompting Mayor Weisner to begin an extensive internal selection process that  included peer surveys, management evaluations and multiple rounds of interviews. Mayor Weisner made his recommendation from among six internal candidates.

"I'm very pleased to recommend Gary as our next chief," Weisner said. "His natural leadership qualities, combined with his considerable experience and training, make him a solid choice for chief. Gary's strong record of volunteerism will help to carry on the tradition of the fire chief being an integral part of the Aurora community."

Serving in the Aurora Fire Department for 19 years, Fire Marshal Krienitz began as a paramedic before being promoted to Lieutenant and then Captain. In April 2015, was appointed as Aurora's Fire Marshal.

"When I was in high school at Waubonsie Valley, a friend gave me an opportunity to ride with Medic 4 at Fire Station 4. Little did I know that brief ride-a-long would have such an impact on who I would become," he said. "Now to be considered for the position as the next Chief of the Aurora Fire Department is such a great honor."

A graduate of Waubonsie Valley High School, Krienitz served eleven years as a paramedic after joining the department in 1997. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 2008 and to Captain in 2014. One year later in 2015, he was appointed as Aurora's Fire Marshal.

In 2014, Krienitz was named Firefighter of the Year.  Along with Private Jason Larson and Private Dan Murphy, he earned the department's top award for their stalwart efforts in a dangerous motel fire that resulted putting themselves in harm's way and saving the lives of two people.

A member of the National Fire Protection Association and the International Association of Arson Investigators, Krienitz holds more than 15 certifications, including being a certified evidence technician, rescue specialist, arson investigator, emergency medical technician, juvenile fire setter counselor, and personal trainer. He has completed more than 50 training courses through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Illinois Fire Service Institute, the Illinois State Police Academy for Arson and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.  Krienitz earned his Fire Science degree from the College of DuPage and was a Team Leader with the DuPage County Fire Investigation Task Force.

A dedicated community volunteer, Krienitz mentors youth at Calvary Church, teaches Junior Achievement classes at local schools, and has put his extensive training and expertise to use with medical missions in Guatemala, Cambodia, the Philippines, Brazil, Bosnia,  Belgium, Slovakia and Ethiopia. He, his wife Stephanie, and their children Claire and Kevin, reside in Plainfield. They'll be moving to Aurora within one year.

"You know when you have that feeling when something is just right? That's how I felt first entering a career in fire service and that feeling is even greater all these years later," said Krienitz. "Building on foundation laid by Chief Lehman, the Aurora Fire Department has the right tools needed to continue to improve and be the best. I look forward to working with my team to develop short-term and long-term goals that are realistic yet innovative, aggressive and efficient."

The recommendation for Aurora Fire Chief was considered and approved by the City Council on Tuesday, January 26. Chief John Lehman will continue to serve as Fire Chief through his scheduled retirement date in February, at which time the new Fire Chief will be officially sworn in.