Some New Year’s Resolutions For 2008


As the last days of 2007 tick away, we decided to make some New Year’s resolutions for those unlikely to make them for themselves.

For All Our Public Officials:  Start out with these three…

1.         Be honest.  Quit being politicians and start being our representatives.  Begin by telling us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Example:  When you propose one of your grand schemes that involves taking on millions of dollars in bond debt, don’t just tell us the face amount of the bonds.  Give us the same kind of Truth in Lending disclosures that our mortgage lenders provide – how much we’ll have to pay each year, and the total amount (including interest and fees) those bonds will cost us over their lifetimes.  If you don’t have the integrity and the nerve to do that, then don’t issue the %&@@$*# bonds.

2.         Be transparent.  Stop running into “closed session” at the drop of a hat just because it may be technically legal to do so.  To our knowledge there is no public business for which closed session is absolutely required, nor is there any obligation to treat anything that goes on in a closed session as “secret.”  The more you hide from the public, the more public suspicion you create.  Let’s end the Culture of Secrecy in 2008.

3.         Be frugal.  Try treating our tax dollars like they are printed by the U.S. Treasury instead of by Parker Brothers.  As our legendary U.S. Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen used to say: “A million here, a million there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”  So stop spending our real money like it’s chump change.

If you can keep these resolutions, everything else will be a cake walk.

For the Dist. 64 Board and Staff: 

1.         Stop “spinning” us about how well you do on the ISATs and, instead, start showing us where each of our schools ranks in comparison to the rest of the suburban Chicago schools.  If reporters from the Chicago Tribune can go through state ISAT records and determine (to the best of our recollection) that, among Northeast Illinois elementary schools in 2006, Washington ranked 57th, Lincoln was 144th, Roosevelt was 193rd, Carpenter was 320th, Emerson was 344th, Field was 377th, and Franklin was 508th – ranking behind schools from Arlington Hts., Cicero (yes, Cicero!), Clarendon Hills, Deerfield, Elmhurst, Geneva, Glen Ellyn, LaGrange, River Forest, Western Springs and Wilmette – then you should be able to do the same… assuming you have the stomach for it.

2.         See if you can responsibly manage all the extra money we’re giving you these next two years due to the successful referendum.  Your record over the past decade suggests that you can’t and won’t, but hope springs eternal – especially if the District’s newly-expanded Community Finance Committee (“CFC”) can actually be something more than a sitting collection of special interest cheerleaders for continuing tax increases. 

For Mayor Howard Frimark:  It’s prostate, not “prostrate.”  And the homeland of Norwegians is Norway, not “Norwegia.”  While you’re at it, get rid of your private phone in the mayor’s office.  At least try to create the appearance that you’re using the taxpayer-provided office solely for public business rather than for politicking and insurance sales.

For Napleton Cadillac:  Stop trying to pawn off on Park Ridge taxpayers the financial responsibility for cleaning up any pollution your business caused on your former site.

For PRC Partners:  If you want to develop the Napleton Cadillac property, split the clean-up cost with Napleton – or take it all on yourself.  You already made out like a bandit when you slickered the City out of millions on the purchase price of the old reservoir block, so you owe us.  Big time.

For Paul “Mr. Maine” Carlson:  Keep teaching, in whatever capacity you can.  And keep showing us that “institutions” don’t only come in brick-and-mortar.

For City Mgr. Tim Schuenke:  You’re a lame duck, so don’t screw up anything else before you leave.  In fact, confine yourself to routine paper pushing until you turn your office light off for the last time and head back to Wisconsin.

For the Dist. 64/Dist. 207 School Caucus:  Stay gone.  You’ve never been anything more than a purely political organization run by a handful or two of “insiders” who cynically manipulate an ever-changing cast of well-meaning but generally clueless “delegates” from various community organizations to endorse and help elect what has consistently been the most financially inept governing body in our community – the D-64 Board of Education.  And at the same time you regularly scare off any challengers, thereby producing the fewest contested races – and the fewest choices for the voters – of any local government.

For the Park Ridge Park District:  Since you don’t have the common sense to close Oakton Pool and stop pouring $50-70,000 down the drain each year because it’s the most expensive and worst attended pool in the District, try something innovative – like stocking it with game fish and holding daily kids’ fishing tournaments.  Can you say “Junior Bassmasters”?

For the Park Ridge Police Department:  Answer the following two questions, or admit that your obsession with a new cop shop 400% bigger than the current one is really just about size:

1.         How, specifically, has the size of the current police station made us less safe in our homes or on the streets of Park Ridge than we deserve to be?

2.         How, specifically, has the size of the current police station enabled criminals to avoid detection, apprehension and prosecution?

For Ald. Robert Ryan (5th Ward):  Try actually representing your constituents rather than the developers on density issues.  Or at least do the noble thing and sign on as a co-sponsor of Ald. Schmidt’s recall ordinance. 

For the Planning & Zoning Commission:  Grow a spine and stop rolling over for certain (well-connected?) developers who want to squeeze every square inch – and every single dime – out of their projects.  You’re supposed to be working for “us,” not for “them.”

For the Zoning Board of Appeals:  Ditto.

For the City Council:  Discover and disclose the names of each and every “real” owner of all of those parcels of property that you are considering purchasing for the site of the new police station.  And while you’re at it, publish the appraisals for those parcels so we can compare them to what the City ends up paying.  Maybe the “dots” don’t always connect, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to see every one of them.

For the Park Ridge Senior Center Members:  Get rid of your sense of entitlement.  While your approximately 1,200 members shamelessly pay a paltry $22 in annual membership “dues,” the Park Ridge Park District is burning through almost $150,000 of our tax dollars each year to give you what amounts to a private club. And a number of you aren’t even Park Ridge taxpayers!

For the Maine South Constitution Team:  Another year of hard work and outstanding achievement!

For the Park Ridge Falcons and Cheerleaders:  Ditto!

For All Park Ridge Citizens:  A greater interest in how we’re being governed at the local level.  And more grass roots involvement – because this community has too much quality and potential to be dominated by a small group of profiteering insiders and special interests.

6 comments so far

Anything close to these resolutions becoming reality in 2008 would be wonderful.

Excellent post.

Rumors abound that the beneficial owners of some of these land trusts are current and former public officials (or their spouses) who have not (or did not) properly disclose their interests as the law requires.

The problem with rumors is the obvious: They are not fact, which makes them susceptible to being unjustifiably believed or dismissed, with the taxpayers/voters being misinformed either way.

That’s why it’s so important that we have full disclosure of who owns or has any interest in any private property that the City is buying – with such disclosure coming well in advance of any offer to purchase even being made. 

I’ve got another resolution for all of the local governments: “Stop hiring all these high-priced consultants who tell you just what you let them know you’re hiring them to tell you.”

Thanks for the great resolutions. I never had any idea those old geezers at the Senior Center were sucking so much cash out of the Park District every year. What do they even do over there?

[…] Thinking about this particular “for the seniors” pandering by Blago reminds us of another “senior” entitlement at a local level, one we wrote briefly about several weeks ago (“Some New Year’s Resolutions For 2008”): […]

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