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Whom Do You Trust?

09.10.08

Today’s Park Ridge Journal reports on another political skirmish between Park Ridge Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark and 1st Ward Alderman Dave Schmidt (“Frimark Defends Against Schmidt Accusation,” Sept. 10). 

Back in June, Frimark complained to Zoning Board of Appeals chairman Ann Tennes that Schmidt was trying to steer the ZBA’s decisions.  Tennes reported Frimark’s complaint at the ZBA’s June 26 meeting:

Chairman Tennes shared with the Board that Mayor Frimark contacted her because of his concern that Alderman Schmidt was trying to interfere with the rulings of the Board cases.  He was advised that Ald. Schmidt was putting things in writing and trying to steer the Board’s cases.  Chairman Tennes stated she defended Ald. Schmidt because he has always been respectful to her and to the Board.  Joe Sweeney and Gary Zimmerman stated they both see Ald. Schmidt several times a week and there are never any discussions regarding the Board or village politics. 

So at the September 2nd City Council meeting, Schmidt publicly challenged the truth of Frimark’s comments to Tennes.  Not surprisingly, Frimark offered nothing in response.  But the Journal reports that by September 5th, Frimark was complaining that Schmidt was not telling the truth and had taken Frimark’s comments out of context – claiming that an un-named ZBA member had called Frimark in May to express his concerns that Schmidt was “using his influence to promote his agenda,” whatever that means.

The Journal further reports that Frimark tried to tap dance away from the accusation, contending that Tennes’ statement in the ZBA minutes inaccurately recounted what Frimark told her.  But Tennes is sticking to her guns: “My comments that were in the meeting minutes stand.”

That doesn’t surprise us.  In a battle of credibility, we’ll go with Schmidt and Tennes every time. 

And because Frimark seems to prefer avoiding public scrutiny whenever possible (which is why he’s the poster boy for closed City Council sessions and the Culture of Secrecy) it also doesn’t surprise us that, as reported by the Journal, Frimark whined about Schmidt going public on the matter instead of talking to him privately: “As an alderman, he should call me and say he’s got a problem with me and ask, ‘What is the real story?’ and I would have told him.” 

But if that’s the way Frimark likes to operate, we have to wonder why he didn’t call Schmidt – instead of Tennes – to discuss his concerns about Schmidt and the ZBA in the first place?

10 comments so far

OK… I will ask: Howard, who is the unnamed ZBA member who called you in May to express his concerns that Schmidt was “using his influence to promote his agenda”?

Here is your chance to give a straight forward response to a key element of this story that is missing. Do something about it.

And as the post points out, next time you have an issue with Schmidt, or anyone else for that matter, you make the first call rather than do the behind the scenes rabble rousing you typically engage in.

Please don’t take this as a defense of Frimark but this is politics. This is what politicians do. If he plans to run again it is pretty clear who one of his most dangerous foes is (if he chooses to run). So the games begin early. I am sure there are many more behind the scenes things going on.

Look at the presidential election we have two candidates talking about change and yet they are doing the same old closed door things and playing the same old games to get us their message that they are going to change Washington.

Until the public steps up and holds all candidates responsible with their vote this is nothing more then “gorilla dust”. The bad news to me is it seems often honesty and integrity are not the number one determining factor in who people vote for.

Anon:

We won’t take your comment as a defense of Frimark, but we disagree with your “this is politics” and “[t]his is what politicians do” explanation. And the fact that it is done at higher levels of government doesn’t excuse it on a local level.

What Frimark did – and has been doing – is bad government, pure and simple. And we’re sick of it. That’s why we consistently attack the Culture of Secrecy, which pretty much has no place in a government that’s being run on the up and up.

And Frimark isn’t alone. The Park District and School District 64 boards run into closed session any chance they get, and most of the time the public never finds out even a fraction of what went on in those closed sessions until it’s too late to do anything about it.

We do agree with you, however, on how the public has to step up and hold all candidates, elected and appointed officials accountable for everything they say and do, and everything that happens on their watch. But that requires transparency, not “confidential” closed session dealmaking and private conversations between public officials out of earshot of the media and the citizens.

And you are spot-on when you say that “honesty and integrity are not the number one determining factor in who people vote for.” If it were, we wouldn’t have many of the problems we have with government because we wouldn’t have the scoundrels we have in government causing those problems – or the other scoundrels who hang around government looking for their next sweetheart deal.

Frimark would have told Schmidt “the real story” in a pig’s eye.

Howard!

And this too… who you gonna call to complain that the evil blogs are being mean to you!!!

Wondering,

Maybe Howard will call Jesus about the evil blogs, but that call will just coincidentally happen to route through the members of the PRMA is all. Surely you’re familiar with signal switching and that sort of thing.

Holding all public officials “accountable” is essential, and that means even after they’ve left office. Instead of going to referendum to get the money they needed, former Dist. 64 board members like Jayne Curry, Marty Joyce, John Pierce, Robert Ryan, Dean Krone, Jane Meagher, Steve Lieber, Barb Jones, Joe Baldi, Rich Brendza, Steve Latreille, Christina Heyde and Ares Dalianis let the school district slide into financial crisis for almost 10 years, cutting programs and increasing class sizes while telling us it wasn’t hurting the quality of education. Then a couple of years ago they borrowed $5,000,000 without a referendum just to make payroll, before finally hitting us with a big referendum last year. But none of them have taken ownership of any of that thumb-twiddling. And Supt. Fred Schroeder got brought in to build a new Emersson, then jumped ship and headed back to parts unknown. No ownership there, either. Who’s left holding the bag? Us, with property taxes going up while our property values are declining. Brilliant!

Are you saying that those who were against a referundum would somehow have have been for it if it had been brought up earlier?

I don’t know all the history here – the referendum was only about a year after my family moved here. I am sure there are legitimate reasons to question some of the decisions that were made in the past. But based on the arguments I heard from those against it, I think they would have been the same earlier on in the process.

Also, I don’t think any of the people you mentioned planned for our property values to go down.

Lastly, unless they have done something criminal, exactly how do we hold people accountable once they have left office?

The best part of the whole story is when Howard says “As an alderman, he should call me and say he’s got a problem with me and ask, ‘What is the real story?’ and I would have told him”.

HA!!! Howard tells someone the real story? And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

It shouldn’t be a question of being for or against the referendum. Its a question of whether they did a crap job of managing the finances of the district by letting things go in the tank.

And if they create the impression with the voters that they can’t manage money, then its less likely the voters will want to give them more.

Maybe nobody planned for our property values to go down, but when you put yourslef in the position to be affected by things like that you’re asking for disaster the moment any trouble arises.



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