Another Done Deal?


This week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate reports that this Monday night (January 28), the Park Ridge City Council is scheduled to vote on giving Napleton Cadillac – along with favored Uptown developer PRC LLC – as much as a $2.4 Million windfall of our tax dollars. (“Napleton deal heads for council,” Jan. 24).

This irresponsible giveaway appears to have been engineered by a two-thirds majority of the City Council’s Finance and Budget Committee, specifically two of Mayor Howard Frimark’s most dependable alderpuppets, Robert Ryan (5th Ward) and Tom Carey (6th Ward), with plenty of assistance from lame duck City Manager Tim Schuenke. 

In a pleasant surprise, the chair of that committee, 2nd Ward Ald. Rich DiPietro, seems to have temporarily shed his customary go-along-to-get-along ways and is proclaiming his opposition to this deal as currently structured because it gives away a little more than he thinks it should.  For a consummate “Yes”-man like Richie D, that’s the equivalent of John Hancock signing the Declaration of Independence – so we’re giving him a round of applause for that. 

And we’re giving him another round of applause for finally figuring out that the City has no business tossing away $400,000 of our tax dollars to bail Napleton out of its own environmental problems just so it can sell its property to PRC, presumably at a nice fat profit – one that will be $400,000 fatter thanks to us taxpaying chumps.  DiPietro, clearly on a roll, even notes that the $400,000 could be better used to pay down the City’s still-substantial (over $2 Million?) TIF debt; and that bailing out Napleton could set a bad precedent for the City in dealing with future environmental problems on private land. 

But, sad to say, Richie still doesn’t quite have the cojones to openly reject any and all tax-sharing arrangements with Napleton even though any such arrangement – irrespective of the amounts or percentages – can set the very same kind of bad precedent that the environmental bailout will, but with much larger costs to the taxpayers.  And because tax-sharing isn’t limited just to those relatively few properties with environmental problems, it allows virtually any business to play the “We won’t come to/stay in Park Ridge unless you give us some of your sales tax money” card.

Giving in to that kind of extortion – and extortion is exactly what it is, only gussied-up with the warm and fuzzy term “tax-sharing” – is also bad economic policy because it creates a false sense of Park Ridge’s value as a retail market.  Face it, folks: If Park Ridge needs to bribe businesses to come here or stay here, then not only are we lying to ourselves about how attractive a market we are, but we’re also setting ourselves up as easy marks for the carpetbaggers who would like nothing more than to pull us into bidding wars with other communities, many of whom have more money and more available sites than we do.

For those of you keeping score at home, Ryan is the alderman who met privately with the developer of the Executive Office Plaza project before ignoring hundreds of his constituents and voting to give EOP the extra density zoning variances that could add between $500,000 and $1 Million to its profits.  And Ryan’s campaign treasurer, local realtor Owen Hayes II, was disciplined by the State of Illinois for trying to make a quick $200,000 profit from the City by selling it a parcel of Busse Hwy. property without disclosing he was the owner. So Ryan appears very comfortable with relocating our money from the public treasury into the pockets of private business owners. 

Carey’s main claim to fame this far into his budding political career is that Frimark recruited him to run for 6th Ward alderman and bankrolled Carey’s campaign [pdf] to the tune of more than $3,100, or almost 40% of Carey’s total funding, making Frimark by far the single largest contributor to “Citizens for Carey.”  What do you think the chances are that the mayor might have a few ideas for Carey on how good this deal is for Park Ridge and for Napleton, who itself just happens to be…wait for it…one of Frimark’s $1,000-and-up campaign contributors?

But let’s not forget our very lame-duck (but still toxic to Park Ridge’s economic health) City Manager, Tim Schuenke, who not only endorses the deal but also trivializes the $400,000 environmental handout by claiming that “[t]axes on the new development [in Uptown] will pay for that $400,000.”  That’s the same Tim Schuenke who, in a story that shares the very same page of the H-A with the Napleton story, predicts a $600,000+ budget deficit for fiscal year 2008-09 and warns of future budget problems due to rapidly escalating pension expenses. (“Schuenke predicts $600,000+ shortfall for city budget next year,” Jan. 24)

Gee, Tim, wouldn’t that $400,000 you’re giving away to Napleton/PRC fill almost 2/3 of this coming year’s budget deficit – without us having to wait to 2010-11 or whenever it is that the TIF will actually dig itself out of its current multi-million dollar hole and finally start paying for itself?

Fortunately, Schuenke is scheduled to retire on February 29 and is reportedly heading back to his native Wisconsin, so this may be the last of his mischief.  We can only hope that the City hires a new city manager who either is from Park Ridge or at least wants to become invested enough in our community to actually care about its long-term future.  Unfortunately, it’s beginning to look like this Napleton fiasco – along with the 2008-09 red-ink budget – are Schuenke’s going-away presents to the suckers of Park Ridge. 

But if most Park Ridge residents don’t really care about how they keep being bled – by higher and higher taxes that go not for essential city services but into the pockets of special interests who all seem to be tied in some way or other to Mayor Frimark and his Merry Band – then nobody will show up at the Council meeting Monday night to tell the Council “No!”  And Ryan, Carey, and two other alderpuppets to be named later by Frimark, will do whatever it takes for what looks like a “done deal” to actually become one.

And the easier it becomes for Bill Napleton, who praises this deal as “a positive thing for Park Ridge and for Napleton,” to be proved half-right.

9 comments so far

Not sure about getting to the city council meeting? Here’s a link to contact information for the city council: Call or email and let them know what you think!

I am not sure I can get to the Monday meeting but I will be contacting my alderperson and the mayor. The notion of giving Napleton $400,000 is really quite outrageous.
What the heck is going on in this town???

Spot freakin’ on, Dog! The business boys want more condos so that they produce more in-town customers, because we don’t get out of town shoppers since there’s nothing that special or unique to drive here for. ANd the condo boys want bigger bucks than they can get from single family homes. “Carpetbaggers”? You got that right.

If we are to assume Watchdog is correct with Frimark’s wheeling/dealing, how is he getting away with it?

If the City Council gives Napleton one stinking dime, the aldermen voting for it should all be recalled! And Frimark should be run out of town on a rail.

I’m betting that Schmidt and Wsol will do the right thing and vote no. Ryan, Carey and Allegretti will vote yes. And DiPeitro or Bach will go along with them, or propose some really lame-ass compromise that the other three can sign onto. And make no mistake about it – this is all being worked out this weekend, if it hasn’t been worked out already. Open Meetings Act be damned.

Hey has anyone noticed that City Council Agenda is posted online? I see the Napleton deal is on the agenda, but there are no details of the deal anywhere to be seen. What’s up with that? I thought that was the purpose of putting the agenda online so, you could get the information.

That’s supposed to be the purpose, Macko. But if Frimark and his Alderpuppets, along with Schuenke, are trying to give away the store under the public’s nose, it’s sure a lot easier to do when the agenda and the Council meeting “packet” have been “sanitized for your protection.”

[…] Last week we wrote about how lame-duck City Mgr. Tim Schuenke was aiding and abetting Alderpuppets Robert Ryan and Tom Carey in their proposed giveaway of as much as $2.4 Million of our money to Napleton Cadillac and PRC LLC even as he was proposing a $600,000 deficit budget for 2008-09 and warning of future financial problems. (“Another Done Deal?”) […]

[…] But amazingly enough, Carey’s brain-cramp pales in comparison with the outright buffoonery of  Ald. Bach, who prefaced his vote by excoriating Bill Napleton (gracing the Council with his presence to ensure that the “done deal” really got done) for not only disrespecting the Council but also insulting the goodwill of the people of Park Ridge by holding them up for the $2.4 Million of environmental clean-up money and sales-tax sharing.  Bach noted that he had purchased his current Cadillac from Napleton but that when it came time to buy his next one, he would be going elsewhere. […]

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