Thank God For Separate Church And State


We here at PublicWatchdog are big fans of those dead white guys known as the Founding Fathers.  And their political genius in providing for the separation of church and state by means of the First Amendment was apparent to anyone who attended Monday night’s “Special PADS Workshop Meeting” at City Hall.

What we saw were our elected officials (with two notable exceptions) uniformly acting like public servants instead of politicians – and the members of the Park Ridge Ministerial Association (“PRMA”) acting like politicians instead of clergy.  The highlights (or lowlights, depending on your point of view) included the following:

* Head homeless huckster Beth Nabors of PADS bragging about not knowing any of her real neighbors but feeling “safe and secure” living next door to the PADS shelter at St. James Church in Arlington Heights because all of her PADS “neighbors” have been pre-screened by PADS. 

* None of the PRMA representatives being willing (or able?) to explain exactly how – as in what criteria were used – St. Mary’s was chosen over all of the other churches.  All they would say is that “for various reasons” no churches other than St. Mary’s volunteered to be a PADS site.

* Fr. Ted Stone of Mary Seat of Wisdom explaining how turning away a homeless person “is like turning away Jesus” – but offering no explanation why MSW wants to send “Jesus” to a PADS shelter instead of inviting Him into the MSW parish house for some rest and a meal. 

* The pastor of 1st United Methodist talking about the inconvenience of having to drive a homeless young man out to a shelter in Mt. Prospect.  Apparently, there were no available couches or food at 1st United, either.

* Rev. Amity Carrubba, the temporary pastor of St. Mary’s Episcopal (who reportedly will be gone from there by the time it welcomes its first PADS “guest”) using “I’m not an attorney” to dodge every question about her belief that St. Mary’s doesn’t have to comply with the City’s zoning code – but finally admitting that she was receiving pro bono legal advice from former City Attorney Paul Keller, a St. Mary’s parishioner.

* None of the PRMA representatives being willing to categorically rule out a lawsuit against the City if it doesn’t approve the St. Mary’s PADS shelter.

* MSW Pastor Fr. Gerald Gunderson assuring the Council that when the PRMA identifies a “need” such as a PADS shelter, “you can bet my parish is going to support it.”  Sounds a lot like that shepherd-and-sheep dynamic we noted in our column of May 5th.

* Both Nabors and Pat Harrington of PADS taking every opportunity to toot their own horns, which was not unexpected from people who make a comfortable living from PADS and could prosper even more as new PADS franchises – operating rent-free from church properties while using the free labor of volunteers – are established.

* The PRMA reps constantly using the term “ministry” when referring to the PADS shelter, almost as a mantra to ward off those evil spirits of zoning ordinances and the St. Mary’s NIMBYs – even though PADS is clearly a secular business instead of a religious activity.

Not to be outdone by the clergy, however, 5th Ward Alderpuppet Robert Ryan put his politician’s stripes on display by stressing that “everybody” wants to help the homeless and warning against “divisiveness” – which is RyanSpeak for disagreement with what he wants.  He once again urged the adoption of a “process” to study alternatives to the St. Mary’s site, even though the PRMA has said repeatedly that it already considered all reasonable alternative sites and St. Mary’s was the only one for them. 

But the most bizarre and offensive behavior of the night belonged to Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark.  Before the workshop even began, Frimark became visibly agitated upon discovering that Dan Knight was going to be one of the presenters for the NIMBYs.  After unsuccessfully trying to persuade NIMBY leader Phil Donohue to nix Knight, Frimark threatened to publicly embarrass Knight when the meeting began if Knight persisted in being part of the presentation. 

Fortunately, Knight and his fellow presenters stood their ground; Frimark’s bullying proved to be another of his empty threats; the presentation went as planned; and freedom of speech in Park Ridge survived Howard Frimark – and his best efforts to give the PADS/PRMA contingent the “home field” advantage – for at least another day.  

10 comments so far

Thanks for the report, Dog. I didn’t get a lot of this from today’s journal, and I’m not expecting it from tomorrow’s Herald-Advocate. Frimark should consider himself lucky that Knight didn’t pop him one for that kind of threat.

What is it with these clergy – don’t they get it that we’re not buying that a PADS flophouse is a “ministry” just because they say it is? I think you Watchdog people have said this before, but why don’t each of the Churches take in these poor unfortunate harmless homeless themselves instead of farming them out to the PADS shelter.

The PADS people and the PRMA people showed me nothing Monday night. I have to think that the Center for Concern could do a better job than these PADS people. And if they can’t, then the CFC needs to get its act together.

Instead of being reasonable and doing the work it takes to preserve community harmony – the local clergy INSIST on one site for PADS, and one site only – a location chosen without concern for its tight surroundings.

All the while towns from coast to coast are in agreement that residential locations are not preferred for homeless shelters. Get in touch with reality. Are the clergy incapable of creative problem solving?

Kudos to the NIMBY neighbors – who have conducted themselves with dignity, did their homework, and pleaded their case – while the flocks yelled threats, verbal attacks, and a certain clergy member screamed “unchristian” on the steps of Park Ridge City Hall. He yelled this at an elderly couple trying to attend a public meeting. Shortly after this outburst he lectured, in Council Chambers, on the feeding and sheltering the homeless because Jesus might be among them. Did he ever think that Jesus might be anywhere – the elderly couple, or the neighbors? Baa baa.

I’m tired of these holier-than-thou clergy who talk the talk but don’t walk the talk. I hear MSW is losing a lot of parishioners, which I can understand after seeing and hearing those two priests from there Monday night. What a great story about the guy from 1st United driving a homeless guy out to Mt. Prospect instead of giving him a bed, couch, or even a piece of floor and a blanket. And Amity has no clue.

Who is Dan Knight and why is Frimark afraid of him?

Dan Knight is a guy who doesn’t get the vapors when somebody throws their title around, whether it be a politician or a member of the clergy.

I called MSW and asked if they had a PADS facility. The woman who answered told me that they couldn’t have PADS located at MSW because the facility was too close to their gymnasium and the preschoolers. I asked if she knew that the St. Paul PADS site was IN the gymnasium. Her response was “I only work here and that is what they told me. Maybe the layout is different at St. Paul.”

I am embarrassed for the members of St. Paul of the Cross and the Park Ridge community that are opposed to the PADS proposal. By putting aside egos, fears, and preconceived notions, our community could become an example to others, and more importantly an example to the future of our society: the children.

The PADS question will define us as a community:
PARK RIDGE, A Wonderful Place of tree lined streets, beautiful homes, good schools, shallow values and fearful, ugly people. Actions speak louder than words.

No one issue should “define” our, or any other, community. That is a shallow and simplistic viewpoint, but we thank you for it nonetheless.

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