To “The People”


In Monday’s posting we wrote about how neighborhood activists are re-claiming our local government by organizing and speaking out on issues of importance to their own neighborhoods and, by extension, to the Park Ridge community as a whole. 

In researching that piece, however, we came across an interesting post from February 2, 2005, by local political blogger and attorney Russ Stewart, who reported the following about then-mayoral candidate Howard Frimark’s efforts to build a slate of aldermanic candidates to run with him:

“I couldn’t find quality people” to run for alderman, moans Frimark, a 62-year-old insurance agent and a first-term Park Ridge alderman. “There’s a lot of apathy in this town.”

Maybe Frimark just wasn’t looking in the right places back then.  Or maybe it’s taken three years of Frimark’s own brand of special interest, wheeling-and-dealing city government to help “The People” realize that the only way they are going to get “good government” is to do something about it themselves.  One thing is certain: over the past six months a lot of quality people have been anything but “apathetic” in organizing and speaking out against what they believe to be the wrong way our city is being run. 

The mayor might even recognize their names if he was actually paying attention when they came to City Council meetings or e-mailed him about their various concerns – like his endorsement of the sweetheart variance deal for his campaign contributors at Executive Office Plaza.  Or his attempted $2.4 million bail-out of campaign contributor Napleton Cadillac.  Or his pandering to the Park Ridge Ministerial Association with his support for bringing a PADS homeless shelter, first to St. Mary’s Episcopal and now to St. Paul of the Cross.  Or his ridiculous Cumberland underpass idea.  And that’s just part of the list.

People like Carla Owen, Paul Meyer, Becky Bork, Phil Donohue, Dan and Sue Knight, Gary Beckner, Mike Casey, Bob and Barb Christopher, Ruby Cruz, Frank Partipilo, “The Cumberland Patriot”, Jill McGuigan, Joan Sandrick, Paul and Lorna Chevlin, Tony and Carleen Riccio, Mary Ahne, Bill and Angela May, Jim Bruno, Missy Langan, Tony and Jennifer Svanascini, Steve Kopka, Jim Whitney, Paula Waters, Kristin Grant, Gene Spanos, Apple Naughton, Jean Dietsch, Jim Marino, Debby Usher, Jennifer Whitelaw, Bob and Sarah Horak, Judy Barclay, Kristin Grant, Leslie Dempsey, Anna Coakley, Mirek and Patti Dobek, Christine Schilling, Pat Livensparger, Margaret Cohen, Frank Colleran, John Cassiday, Kevin Costello and Kathleen Wolf, to name just a few, have shown that they are not apathetic about this community and that they have the courage to say and do things to make it better.

And that’s the way it should be with a system of government like ours, where ordinary citizens have the right to show up and be heard by their elected and appointed public officials.  And when they do so – especially after informing themselves on the issues – they can have an amazingly positive influence on public policy, and on the public officials who are supposed to be representing us. 

As Thomas Jefferson wrote to Richard Price in 1789: “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”

So here’s to “The People.”