Public Watchdog.org

An Americaneagle Saves Our “Rockets’ Red Glare”

08.29.08

As reported in both local newspapers this week, the annual July 3rd fireworks display at Maine East High School is safe for at least another year, thanks to a donation from local website design firm Americaneagle.com, Inc.  And Americaneagle’s Tony Svanascini says next summer’s show will be bigger and better than ever.

Chalk up one very visible example of how a successful local business can give back to the community above and beyond the taxes it pays.  And even above and beyond – in Americaneagle’s case – the 140 or so people it employs. 

When we wrote about the petty politics that was threatening our annual pyrotechnic tradition (“When Politicians Play With Fireworks”, August 13, 2008), we noted that certain Park Ridge Park District commissioners reportedly were miffed that the City of Park Ridge seemed to be getting all the credit for that event.  So those commissioners – who readily turn a blind eye toward the red ink pouring out of other Park District facilities or programs, like the $80,000 or so each summer from the dead pool leaking at Oakton – became born-again fiscal conservatives and targeted the rockets’ red glare for a trimming.

But if we have our information straight, even though the Park District actually wrote the check each year for the cost of the fireworks portion of the show, the Park District was being reimbursed for that cost by the City of Park Ridge.  One way or the other, adding Americaneagle.com, Inc.’s donation to the equation means that either the City or the Park District just found $18,000 more in next year’s budget. 

Meanwhile, Americaneagle’s private contribution to this event – along with the contributions of our tax dollars by the City, the Park District and School District 207 (through Maine East), and an $8,000 contribution (public/private?) from the Park Ridge Fine Arts Society – causes us to inquire once again about why the Park Ridge Kiwanis Clubs purportedly gets an “exclusive” food concession deal for the event, especially without any known contribution by them to the cost of the event?

We reiterate that we’ve got nothing against the Kiwanis, but if the taxpayers continue to fund a substantial part of the fireworks show that enables the Kiwanis to fundraise on an “exclusive” basis, we think that, at the very least, the Kiwanis owes those same taxpayers answers to the following questions: (1) How did they get an “exclusive” deal?  And (2) What kind of profit, if any, do they make off the show?  We also think it would be a fine gesture for them to produce a financial report documenting the revenue and expenses they generate from this event.

We suspect that these questions and request will provoke comments similar to those raised in response to our August 13 posting: that the Kiwanis does so much good for the community that it’s an insult to ask them such things.  

But before anyone talks about insults, maybe they should first explain why the Kiwanis Clubs appear to be the only net “takers” from among the array of net “givers,” both public and private, each Independence Day?

7 comments so far

Kudos to Public Watchdog! It’s about time that someone took on the Kiwanis machine. One of their ilk told me that the clubs allegedly make an annual contribution to defray the costs of the fireworks but I think he was covering up something. Then he claimed that the local Kiwanis clubs provide support to a whole laundry list of questionable projects like Adopt-a-Highway, Avenues to Independence, Center for Concern Christmas Baskets, Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation, July 4th Kiddie Parade, Maine Center for Mental Health, Maine East Key Club, Maine South Key Club, Maine South scholarships, Meals on Wheels, Northwest Suburban Boy Scouts, Northwest Suburban Girl Scouts, Park Ridge Baseball & Softball, Park Ridge Fire Explorer Post, Park Ridge Library, Park Ridge Police Explorer Post, Park Ridge Teen Center, Park Ridge Historical Society, Park Ridge Youth Campus, Plymouth Camp for the Handicapped, Rainbow Hospice, Spastic Paralysis Research, Special People, Spinoza Bears, The Harbour, WINGS, World Affairs Seminar, Maine Township High Schools After-Prom Activities and Park Ridge Uptown Holiday Flag Displays but he provided me with no accounting records to document any of it. But here’s the kicker: he claimed that Kiwanis sells concessions at the fireworks show more as a service to the people of Park Ridge than as a fund-raiser! Do you believe the arrogance of that statement?

Anyway, I think it’s high time we gave Kiwanis the boot and got a for-profit vendor in there who’ll be willing to pay to play!

Milton,

While you went on at length about that apparently despicable Kiwanis Club, you totally failed to make any mention of, or offer of gratitude to, Americaneagle, Inc. for their generous donation!

But in consideration of your very negative feelings if not obsession about Kiwanis, I do understand that anything that would allow their reprehensible behavior to continue would not be greeted with appreciation by you.

Though I personally find it odd that you concentrated all your attention on what is certainly not the bulk of substance in today’s Watchdog piece, you do state your case against the Kiwanis rather impressively.

I must also admit to being astounded at your ability to recall such an extensive list from memory! The duplicitous Kiwanian rattled all those organizations off to you and you remembered them all! Utterly astounding!

It goes without saying that I’m appreciative of the generous offer from Americaneagle, Inc. But, I can’t help wondering what their hidden agenda is. Nobody provides a service to the community without expecting something in return.

Milton? John Milton? Milton Berle?

Check out the City’s report on the fireworks – no mention of Kiwanis contributing money, and no revenue reported for “concessions.” Sounds like you got conned by your Kiwanis “Deep Throat.”

If I made a list of who I give a buck, or a fiver, or even a sawbuck to in any given year, it might be as long as the Kiwanis list. Big deal. How much do they give and how often?

The more I read about these organizations, the more I wonder how much good they really do in relation to all the business and professional schmoozing that goes on.

Thanks, Americaneagle! I took my family to the fireworks this year, paid $5 to park, got hit up to buy glow stuff for the kids, all because theyre trying to recover costs (which I agree with). So why then does Kiwanis get a free ride to fundraise without giving anything to help with costs?

WHy doesn’t KIWANIS just front what they spend in expenses to run the concessions at the fireworks, what they make (gross and net revenue), and what they pay to the City, the Park District or anyone else for their exclusive concession rights? If they’re not hiding anything, why not disclose and be done with it?

Amazingly (or not?), the mayor announced the fireworks deal at the most recent Council meeting. Who did he credit? Not Tony Svanacini, the fine gentleman who pledged the $20,000. No, the mayor took some of the credit for himself and gave most of the rest of it to Dick Barton. What a tool.



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