The Unholy Trinity: PADS, The PRMA And Mayor Frimark


Editors’ Note: Technical difficulties prevented the publication of this article yesterday according to our customary schedule. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused our regular readers.

We don’t put a lot of stock in the effectiveness – or the humanity, for that matter – of the PADS traveling road show model of homeless shelter.  Schlepping the homeless from church basement to school gym and from town to town, night after night, as a cure for homelessness defies common sense, as well as accepted best practices for dealing with homelessness.

And we’re no fans of PADS to Hope, Inc. (“PADS Inc.”), the Palatine-based 501(c)(3) corporation whose modest success at transitioning people out of homelessness (in our opinion) provides very little bang for the buck, even factoring in all the free space and free volunteer labor they receive.  

Which is why we, like so many of the people in the Washington School auditorium during Monday night’s City Council meeting, just can’t quite figure out the stranglehold PADS Inc. and its cheerleaders at the Park Ridge Ministerial Association (“PRMA”) seem to have over Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark and his Alderpuppets in getting their particular brand of homeless shelter franchise installed in our community.  But make no mistake about it: There’s a lot more here than meets the eye, and it seems to depend on PADS Inc. importing their homeless “clients” from throughout Chicagoland’s “Northwest Corridor” into Park Ridge with as few restrictions and requirements as they can get away with. 
If you want to find out the details of what went on at Monday night’s Council meeting, you can get them from Park Ridge Underground (“Aces and Eights! Recap!” 10/21/08), the Herald-Advocate and The Journal.  We will simply point out that: Ald. Frank Wsol successfully moved, over the dissents of Ald. Dave Schmidt and Ald. Tom Carey, to nuke the 500-foot school buffer zone recommended by the Planning & Zoning Commission; then, like a basketball referee whistling a “make up” foul to atone for an earlier blown call, Wsol successfully moved – over the dissents of Ald. Allegretti and Ald. Ryan – to require any homeless shelter service providers (such as PADS Inc.) to be co-applicants for any special use permit under the zoning code; Ald. DiPietro got unanimous approval to limit shelters to one per ward; and Ald. Bach successfully moved, over the objections of Allegretti, DiPietro and Ryan, to limit the number of shelters operating in Park Ridge to two at any one time.

All of that took three hours of sometimes tedious public comment and aldermanic discussion, with Frimark occasionally tossing in a comment.  But just as the Council appeared poised to adopt P&Z’s recommended text amendment as modified, Frimark abruptly called a 10-minute recess and left the auditorium.

Upon reconvening the meeting Frimark announced that earlier that day he had discussed with the PRMA and PADS an arrangement where the City would contract with PADS Inc. to be its service provider rather than having PADS Inc. be a co-applicant for any special use permit.  The reason given by Frimark: PADS Inc. doesn’t want to be a co-applicant because no other towns have made them be so.  Frimark also dangled the “carrot” that PADS Inc. and the PRMA would agree not to sue the City over any special use requirements being applied to their “ministry” – for some not-yet-determined period of years.

As an insulted Brit might say: “Sod off!”

If the PRMA or PADS Inc. would actually be willing to stoop so low as to sue the City – and, effectively, all of its taxpayers – over the eminently reasonable requirements of a special use text amendment to our zoning ordinance, let ‘em.  Given all the divisiveness and ill will they have already caused in this community, a lawsuit would confirm something we already suspect: The self-righteous PRMA and its sycophants want what they want, and anybody who doesn’t agree with them is un-Christian and guilty of “thinly veiled racial and economic bigotry,” as St. Paul of the Cross pastor Fr. Carl Morello wrote in a letter to the City Council.

So instead of sodding off, “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark is toddling off to make a deal with PADS Inc.  We can envision him returning to the “special” Council meeting on October 29 in full Neville Chamberlain mode, a draft contract with PADS Inc. and the PRMA in hand, claiming he has achieved “peace in our time” while a chorus of “Hosannas” rises up from an assemblage of PRMA-ers, Friends of Frimark, and his loyal Alderpuppets.  And back in Palatine, Beth Nabors, Pat Harrington and the other carpetbaggers at PADS Inc. can toast their newest franchise and crank up their grant and fundraising machine.

If Frimark, the PRMA and PADS Inc. think they’ve got the support of anything close to a majority of Park Ridge voters, however, they should have the decency to put the issue to advisory referendum.  With Frimark nodding in agreement, Alderpuppet Robert Ryan repeatedly talked Monday night about the trust he has for the PRMA and PADS Inc.  Why, then, won’t Ryan and Frimark trust Park Ridge voters to express their views of a PADS shelter in a referendum?

Maybe its because Frimark, the PRMA and PADS Inc. know that the “Big Lie” (“The majority of this community wants a PADS shelter here.”) works only so long as it isn’t proved false.  And for the time being, the “Big Lie” has allowed that unholy trinity to hijack City government on this PADS shelter issue.  

Now, if only we could figure out “why”?

4 comments so far

This comment was posted to “A Great Time To Support Our Center of Concern” but we believe it is also very relevant to today’s post and, therefore, include it here as well.

Name: Anonymous

I attended a recent Council meeting regarding PADS shelters. I do not attend St Paul or have children in school, but I was especially moved by the testimony of those parishioners. I heard nothing to convince me the PADS model would meaningfully help an individual homeless person or address homelessness as an issue. I came away with the impression that PRMA and PADS were trying to force their own agenda on Park Ridge citizens. I agree with many of you that the Center of Concern is already addressing this issue and does so in a more comprehensive manner. And they are more forthcoming about their funding and goals. An issue I have not heard discussed is the fact that (according to Catholic Charities) Mary Seat of Wisdom and St. Paul of the Cross are partners with Catholic Charities in an organization called New Hope Apartments, apartment buildings for low income families. Is there perhaps a plan to build one in Park Ridge, and is the wrangling over regulations regarding the Church’s use of its property a vanguard motion to open the door to low income housing sites? I formerly lived in or attended school at two Catholic parishes which were closed by the Archdiocese for financial reasons, which properties were later sold or leased for profit. May I suggest that the Archdiocese use their own properties for shelters instead of asking their parishioners (who work hard to keep their parish and school funded and viable) to endanger their children. No one here is callous or ignorant about the real issues of poverty, and I know many of us support charities or volunteer according to our own consciences; however, we choose to live ordinary, secular lives, in which we also hold our civic responsibilities in high regard. If others wish to be missionaries, God bless them, but they are not entitled to tell the rest of us we are unGodly for disagreeing with their methods, nor are they entitled to force the rest of us to shoulder the consequences of their decisions.
1-Reject PADS
2-Reject temporary shelters
3-Support the systems in place, such as Center for Concern
4-Require PRMA to disclose completely their agenda.

Where are we at though? While some have argued this has taken so much time we have just really uncovered or gotten to the very valid points of concern. We are all trying here to show the aldermen and mayor what lies ahead – deaf ears!!!! To me this has been moving too fast – without enough discovery and information to the residents.

People need to speak up and quick – to every alderman and the mayor for whatever good it will do – a huge campaign was needed for this to which we were not prepared and was not able to accomplish and here we are at 2nd reading!

PADS is NOT the answer – thie ordinance is not good public policy – are we really playing a dead man’s hand???!!!!

Because this is bad – really really REALLY bad.


Here is an interesting quote from the Herald-Advocate. This is Mayor Frimark responding to the increased incidents at the Youth Campus in Park Ridge:
If these instances continue to increase, and if there’s any more severity, we are going to have some blunt conversations with DCFS and management of the Youth Campus concerning the safety of our residents,” Frimark said.

OMG! Really? Really? But he doesn’t anticipate problems from homeless adult men (and women) with substance abuse issues and mental health issues? OFGS.

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