Government by Rumor and Innuendo


It appears that rumor and innuendo are becoming the standard currency of certain political factions in Park Ridge. The latest case in point relates to a lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County to enjoin construction of the first phase of Uptown Redevelopment.

Rumors that CRG had assisted in the filing of that suit started to fly late last week, but just this past Monday, June 6, those rumors appeared in an e-mail circulated by Park Ridge resident Sarah Kidd, the wife of current Park Ridge Appearance Commission member and unsuccessful 2003 Homeowners Party 4th Ward aldermanic candidate Brian Kidd.

In that e-mail, Kidd claims that CRG “and some of the residents of the Summit Retirement Center” filed the lawsuit, which is captioned Baldacchino v. City of Park Ridge. The unedited text of her e-mail is reproduced below.

To set the record straight, CRG had absolutely nothing to do with the lawsuit filed against the City. CRG is not a party to that suit, and it neither endorses nor supports it. Unfortunately, Mrs. Kidd seems to have made no effort to check her facts prior to circulating that e-mail, apparently content to let rumor and innuendo substitute for readily verifiable information.

Mrs. Kidd was also wrong in claiming that CRG stopped the building of a new library back in 2002. In reality, the voters of Park Ridge did that – by better than a 60%-40% margin (8,948 votes to 5,786 votes) in a November 2002 referendum. And that vote came after more than two years of new library planning by the Library Board and city staff, using the services of architects and other consultants they retained.

The voters’ rejection of a new library also came despite the efforts of the “Yes New Library Committee” – headed by then-Library Board vice-president Janet Joyce and “Friends of the Park Ridge Public Library” Treasurer David Donovan – that campaigned for the new library using a $5,000 contribution from the Friends.

When CRG addressed Mrs. Kidd concerning this misinformation, she apologized. But the question remains: Was Sarah Kidd simply misinformed, or was she intentionally trying to mislead?

Mark Twain once said that “a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. ” By that measure, a lie can travel all throughout Park Ridge before the truth even gets its socks on.

Responsible government requires responsible behavior from all of its citizens. Rumor and innuendo are irresponsible tactics that fall well beneath the standard of public discourse that this community deserves, and they must stop.

Text of Sarah Kidd 6/6/05 e-mail:

Normally I do not get involved much in Park Ridge politics, but I heard
something this morning that is absolutely unbelievable!! And now I feel I
have to get involved! Have you ever heard of the Citizens for Responsible
Government (CRG)? It is time everyone is made of aware of this group and
what they have done and are trying to do to Park Ridge.

The CRG is involed in the filing of an injunction to stop all construction
activities for the Uptown Redevelopment!! After all these years of so many
of us waiting and waiting to see something happen to Uptown! And now when
the city was just starting construction towards what would be a beautiful
redevelopment the CRG has once again involved gotten themselves involved in
trying to stop it!! The CRG and some of the residents of the Summit
Retirement Center, filed the injunction. And this is done after the city
of Park Ridge gave the Summit Retirement Center $650,000 to redo their

The CRG also stopped the city of Park Ridge from building a new libraby a
few years ago. They put a referendum in at the time of the election. If
you happened not to vote that year you probably wouldn’t even have known
about it. They got enough people concerned with the cost of a new library
and what it might do to our taxes and the new library initiative was
effectively shut down, before it even had a chance to get going.

I am e-mailing you to spread the word! Forward this on to any and all Park
Ridge residents. Write letters to the editor of the The Park Ridge Herald
Advocate. More people should be aware of this group and what effect they
have on Park Ridge. This nonsense has got to stop if we are ever going to
move foward.

Republicans v. Democrats: A Red Herring


Quick…name one issue facing Park Ridge city government that can be reduced to either a “Republican” position or a “Democratic” position.

Give up? That’s okay, because there isn’t one. If there was, it would have come out in the most recent local election between two nominal “independents,” one of whom is a well-known Republican who successfully branded the other a Democrat in what was supposed to be a non-partisan election.

Only a few years ago city government in Park Ridge was dominated by the Homeowners Party (the “HOs”), an organization that its then-president Roger Crawford and then-mayor Ron Wietecha (in a February 6, 2005, essay in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate) proclaimed to be “not an issues-based political party.” The HOs traditionally handpicked their candidates for city offices through clubby ward caucuses that operated pretty much according to the Chicago Democratic Machine’s motto: “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

For more than two decades the HOs’ overwhelmingly Republican membership could claim to be non-partisan because HO candidates generally ran unopposed. That changed two years ago, however, when four “independent” candidates with admitted Democrat leanings defeated their Republican-leaning HO opponents for seats on the City Council.

And that changed further this April when the HOs surprisingly did not field a slate of candidates. Successful mayoral candidate Howard Frimark, a long-time HO wearing the “independent” banner (as he did during his 4th Ward aldermanic campaign in 2003), took on former Ald. Michael Tinaglia, also running as an “independent” after having been elected to the City Council twice as a HO.

Frimark hammered Tinaglia as a partisan Democrat who accepted a $250 contribution from Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, while at the same time emphasizing his own support by the Maine Twp. Republican organization and collecting written endorsements and contributions from Republican State Sen. Dave Sullivan ($1,500) and Republican State Rep. Rosemary Mulligan ($1,500), reportedly the first time they endorsed candidates for Park Ridge offices.

Although billing it as Republican v. Democrat was a convenient way to hold a mayoral election without any serious discussion, debate and answers for the real issues facing our community, our citizens deserve much more – especially when there doesn’t seem to be a dime’s worth of difference between local Republicans and Democrats when it comes to governing our city.

How do the Republicans differ from the Democrats on Uptown Redevelopment? How do they differ on zoning, public safety, traffic congestion or taxation? The simple answer is: They don’t.

But so long as politicians and their backers insist on labeling what should be a non-partisan process as a partisan battle between Republicans and Democrats, local elections will continue to dis-serve the voters with partisan smoke and mirrors. And the unpleasant odor permeating the process will be the smell of a red herring.