Time For A Transparent “Taste”


Like many Park Ridge residents, we look forward to the “Taste of Park Ridge” each summer.  Since its inception several years ago, it has added a welcome festive air to our community every summer. 

But recently a reader expressed surprise to have learned that “the Taste” is being run by a private not-for-profit corporation: Taste of Park Ridge NFP, which (according to the Illinois Secretary of State) was incorporated June 22, 2005. 

Interestingly enough, we could find no mention of any corporate status on the Taste’s website (, although such a status is suggested by the website’s listing of officers and directors [pdf]: Dave Iglow, president; Bob Dudycz, vice-president; Jim Bruno, treasurer; Albert Galus, secretary; and directors Dean Patras, Sandy Svizzero and Barb Tyksisnki. 

Also identified on the Taste’s website is a Taste “committee” [pdf], of which Dudycz is “chairman” and which includes corporate officers/directors Iglow, Bruno, Galus, Patras, Svizzero and Tyksinski, along with Carol Brown of the Park Ridge Police Dept., Mayor Howard Frimark, M. David Johnson of BDS Software, Park Ridge Economic Development Director Kim Uhlig, and John Warnimont of Activision Electric. 

One question raised by these corporate and committee structures that isn’t answered on the Taste website is a fundamental one: “Why was a private corporation formed to run an event that began (to the best of our recollection and research) as a venture run by the Chamber of Commerce with the City’s assistance?” 

That a private corporation would be formed to run an event like this is even more curious given that – as reported in last week’s Park Ridge Journal – Taste vice-president and committee chairman Bob Dudycz noted that: “Virtually all of the labor to run this event is by volunteers and community organizations,” such as the Park Ridge Police Department, the Park Ridge Fire Department, the Park Ridge Public Works Department, the City of Park Ridge Administrative Staff, the Park Ridge Library, the Park Ridge Park District, the Park Ridge Youth Campus, the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, and the Knights of Columbus. 

Another Dudycz comment reported in the Journal that got our attention is: “In past years, the Taste of Park Ridge board has contributed funds for college scholarships, and donated to local events and other worthy causes.”  Despite scouring the Taste website and Googling the Taste and the Taste corporation in various ways, we could find nothing about the identity of those scholarship recipients, the amounts awarded, the application process, the qualifications required for consideration, or exactly who makes the award decisions.  The same goes for the “local events” and the “other worthy causes” who allegedly benefitted from the Taste corporation’s largess.

While we are aware of no evidence that anything untoward is going on with the Taste, we can’t help but wonder why the people who appear to be in charge of it have kept so much of what they are doing secret – especially when so much of what they are doing is admittedly being accomplished primarily through the “volunteerism” of employees of the taxpayer-financed City and Park District governments, as well as of the taxpayers themselves.  The Taste corporation has its own website, so there is no excuse for not making all of this information readily available to the people who make the Taste a success year after year. 

We’ve repeatedly criticized the City and the other local governmental bodies for fostering the “Culture of Secrecy” with their closed session meetings, confidential memos and their spin-meisters masquerading as “public information officers.”  We think the same criticism should apply to the “Culture of Secrecy” being practiced by the Taste corporation, which is effectively acting as a quasi-public entity that derives the vast majority of its revenues and goodwill from its monopoly of what may be our largest civic event.

If there’s nothing to hide, people, then why all the secrecy? Since you already toot your own horn (deservedly so) in connection with the Taste event itself, why not tell the community the details about all these other things that you claim to do?

How about starting with letting all those Park Ridge families who help enrich the Taste corporation’s coffers each summer know exactly how their students can go about getting one of those scholarships? 

Update 7/10/08:

We regret that we failed to discover what appears to be the single reference to “Taste of Park Ridge NFP” – the corporation that took over the Taste event in 2005 – as easily as some of the Taste’s (corporation’s) apologists who finally directed us there yesterday. 

We made the silly mistake of expecting to find the Taste (corporation) identified on the “Home” page of the Taste (event) website when, instead, we should have realized that we needed to go to the “Canopies on Courtland” tab, then select the “contract” link, then read through the 19 references to “Taste of Park Ridge” or “Taste of Park Ridge Committee” in the “Application and Sponsorship Contract” [pdf] until we finally got to that single reference to “Taste of Park Ridge NFP” in the very last paragraph, under the “Indemnification” heading.  We can’t imagine why we didn’t think of looking there first! 

Which actually illustrates our point about the “Culture of Secrecy.”  If the average citizen needs even that much luck and/or effort to find such basic information about exactly who/what runs our community’s most prominent annual event, then somebody’s trying to hide it – just as the Taste (corporation or event) chose not to advertise its $1,000 contribution to Taste (corporation) vice-president and Taste (event) chairman Bob Dudyzc’s campaign fund, either.  Wonder why?

But we sure hope that Joe Baldi and those other Taste (corporation) apologists help us out by providing the answers to our other questions posed in yesterday’s “Time For A Transparent Taste – Part 2” – or at least tell us in which other obscure places on the Taste website we might find them.