Is The PRMA Abandoning The Homeless?


As reported in yesterday’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Churches won’t try to run shelter without PADS in partnership,” Nov. 6), the Park Ridge Ministerial Association (“PRMA”) has abandoned its efforts to open a homeless shelter in Park Ridge because its homeless shelter franchise of choice, PADS to Hope, Inc. (“PADS Inc.”), decided it can’t be bothered with complying with our zoning laws.

Apparently PADS Inc. was insulted that our Planning & Zoning Commission and our City Council had the audacity to expect compliance with our zoning laws.  PADS Inc.’s high dudgeon stems from its claim that none of the other communities on its traveling road show circuit required such compliance – further evidence that (as H.L. Mencken might have said), you won’t go broke underestimating the intelligence of most public officials.

That a carpetbagger organization like PADS Inc. would take its ball and go pouting back home to Palatine doesn’t surprise us.  The numerous legitimate questions about PADS Inc.’s operations and effectiveness in combating homelessness raised by so many of our residents and other interested parties (e.g., St. Paul of the Cross Concerned Parents) over the past nine months since the PRMA first announced that a PADS shelter was moving into St. Mary’s Episcopal clearly had an “Emperor’s New Clothes” effect on an organization that seems to have escaped serious scrutiny for quite awhile. 

But what about our local clergy who run the PRMA?  What about their “ministry” that demanded the establishment of a homeless shelter for all those Park Ridge homeless?

Well, according to PRMA spokesman Rev. Stephen Larson of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, the PRMA can’t open a shelter without PADS Inc. because that organization provides “background checks, identification cards, psychological and medical counseling, employment referrals, linkage agreements with police departments and other social services.” 

C’mon, Rev. Larson…do you really think Jesus would let those things get in His way if He really believed a one-night-a-week, six-month-a-year shelter was such an important “ministry”? 

First of all, the “psychological and medical counseling” issue is a complete red herring, because PADS Inc. did little more than a once-a-year check up for its traveling road show “clients.”  If the PRMA really cared about these health issues, however, we have to believe it could work out an arrangement with Lutheran General for health services every bit as good as, or even better than, what PADS Inc. provides. 

As for “background checks [and] identification cards,” that looks like another red herring, because we’re pretty sure PADS Inc. fans like Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark and Chief of Police Tom Swoboda could arrange for the Park Ridge Police Dept. to handle the background checks and any of the other public safety services which PADS Inc. expected to secure through a “linkage agreement” with the City; and PADS Inc. fan and Park Ridge Park District President Dick Barton could arrange for the Park District to provide the picture I.D.s. 

That leaves only “employment referrals” and “other social services” as missing pieces that PADS Inc. allegedly would have provided.  Might we suggest that, if those services can’t be provided by one or more of our local social service organizations like the Center of Concern, maybe Mayor Frimark could negotiate a contract for them with PADS Inc. in much the same way as he wanted to negotiate a contract with PADS Inc. to put one of its franchises in the Public Works Service Center?

We can’t guarantee that all of this would work out the way we have suggested.  But the fact that the PRMA is so willing to walk away from what it was calling, just weeks ago, an essential “ministry” indicates that this was never really about helping the homeless but, instead, was about helping PADS Inc. to expand its franchise so that it could get more government and private funding.  And it also suggests that the PRMA was not exactly telling the people of this community the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about its support for a PADS Inc. franchise in Park Ridge.

Finally, we need to recognize one Robert O’Neill of Park Ridge, who – in an “Open Letter of Contempt” published in yesterday’s Herald-Advocate – called the people who “created enough noise to keep a homeless shelter out of Park Ridge…narrow minded jackals” and venomous “snakes,” in part, it seems, because they were also critical of his pastor, St. Paul of the Cross’s Fr. Carl Morello.

For ratcheting up the nasty rhetoric well beyond that of Fr. Morello, who merely branded those same people as practitioners of “thinly veiled racial and economic bigotry,” we bestow on O’Neill the inaugural “Pseudo-Christian of the Week” Award.  We also look forward to his next letter to the Herald-Advocate announcing that he has begun taking one homeless person into his own home one night per week between now and April.1 as his own personal effort to remedy homelessness.

Now, when can we expect to hear that same announcement from all you PRMA clergy and your White Shirted supporters?

20 comments so far

So you would support a senario wherw PRMA set up a shelter that services the entire homeless community as long as they follow the process and proceedures you suggest above?

Please define “entire” homeless community. Do you mean “entire Park Ridge”, “entire northwest suburban cook county”, “entire Chicago metro”, “entire state of Illinois”, what do you mean “entire”?

I love the argument of “you mean if they followed he rules process and procedure you’d be OK with that” as if it were legitimate in a way of defense. You’ll never know the answer to that, at least until there is someone, some organization who is actually willing to follow the rules go through the process and be regulated. Until then STOP asking.

As for Ms. Nabors, talk about mastering the art of talking out of both sides of her out mouth.
First she says “we don’t have the time, resources, or energy, along with a depleting budget, to determine whether or not P.R. should have a shelter”. She also strongly disagreed with the city’s involvement, but then turned around to say … if the city was Not involved Journeys would consider P.R. as part of their community network.


You see it’s not about money, time, resources, or quite franking even really helping the homeless. It is however about making a good living for ones self, by exploiting the homeless, riding on the backs of religious groups and their free labor, along with their first amendment rights, flying under the federal radar by doing just that, then when actually challenged to do the right thing follow some rules, be accountable for their own program, what do they do? Turn heel and run. Quite honestly I feel a little bad for the PRMA, I think PADS sold them a bill of goods and they bought it. And when push came to shove PADS bailed out on the very ones who threw themselves in front of the proverbial train. Nice Job!

No, Anon @ 10:13 AM.

As we’ve repeatedly said, we do not support the “PADS model” of one-night-stand traveling roadshow homeless shelters for a variety of reasons that we’ve identified in previous posts, including that they are ineffective and violate many of the recommended procedures for re-integrating the homeless into their communities.

The points of today’s post are (a) that PADS Inc.’s self-proclaimed “commitment” to the homeless is totally belied by its above-the-law attitude and its my-way-or-the-highway response when it is subjected to laws it doesn’t like; and (b) that the PRMA’s self-proclaimed “commitment” to providing a it-is-because-we-say-it-is homeless “ministry” for only one night a week and only six months per year is totally belied by its lame and factually dishonest contention that only a PADS shelter is worth supporting.

But just to dispel any uncertainty as to where we stand on this issue, we believe that PADS Inc. and the PRMA are hypocrites cynically using “the homeless” as pawns for their own agendas; and that their respective responses to the City’s legal exercise of its municipal authority to enforce its zoning laws makes that hypocrisy crystal clear to all but those blinded by their own social and political self-interest and/or self-righteousness.

I’m one of those people whom my pastor, Fr. Carl, accused of “bigotry”, and my fellow parishioner, Mr. O’Neill, called “jackals.”

Although I profoundly disagree with Fr. Morello and Mr. O’Neill on this PADS issue, I have never challenged their Christianity or called them bigots or jackals. And while I disagree with a number of laws, I do not encourage others to disregard those laws the way Rev. McClenaghan did.

I paid plenty of tuition to put my kids through St. Paul’s, and my name is on the plaque of contributors to the gymnasium that Fr. Carl re-named the “Morello Parish Life Center” without asking those of us who paid for it – just like he didn’t ask us before he offered it for the PADS shelter.

Mr. O’Neill says he’s ashamed to tell anybody he lives in Park Ridge. Maybe he would find the real reason if he looked in the mirror.

Let’s see:

The reason I asked that question is because I believe the answer is no. I have no right to speak for anyone other then myself but my perception is the vast majorty of those who post here would also feel the answer is no.

People seem to look at this whole topic in segments rather then in it’s totality. First we don’t want it at St. Mary’s because it is a neighborhood. Next it is SPC because it is a school. If it would have gone to Public Works it would have been the neighbors across the tracks or use of public resourses. Isn’t the underlying message in all the arguments very simple? “We do not want it here.” The idea of the homeless population in it entirety (including addiction, mental illness etc.) is not something a significant group in PR wants in the city.

So now we move to background checks and other ways to filter out segments of the homeless population – as if somehow there is a method of background checks that are going to make those against a shelter comfortable with the idea. I don’t care who or by what method a background check is done. They are not perfect. Beyond that there are issues related to addiction and/or mental illness that would not even appear on a background check. Even if you could find these things out you probably could not legally exclude them anyway.

We pick apart the counciling services. Would be anymore comfortable with a person with mental illness coming to a shelter in PR just because he was receiving assistance at Luthern General? Are you going to be any more sure he is taking his meds?

So now we have today’s post which basically says that PRMA could have built their own system to do all the things that PADS does. Why would you argue for something that you don’t want? I guess this is to point out the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the PRMA – as if we did not already know that, even before we ever heard of PADS. I suppose to some degree this is entertaining but I am not sure what the point is. Even if they did exactly as was suggested, all of the objections would remain the same.


You are nothing if not consistent in your continual paralysis-by-analysis thinking and cherry-picking portions of the issue for discussion while claiming the broadest viewing position.

The only component missing from your latest comment is your usual coy offering of your being at a disadvantage for not having lived in Park Ridge for very long.

You are amusing to some degree.

Anon 2:46, and as I said we’ll never know will we, that is of course until we have a willing participant to go through the process. But since there seems to be some dispute of those who feel they don’t NEED to follow the rules it seems you’re just spinning you’re wheels, and looking to justify some bad behavior and ill feelings. Get over it. The fact is there will always be some who may feel, they just don’t want this. Just as there are those who feel they are above the law, but there are most who feel like it or not, if this is something that’s going to be done, then just follow the rules. If the rules became something that turned into the major deterant and is what has prevented this from happeneing, then go to the source. Pads is your problem, not the rules, stucture, or process. It was their reluctant attitude that put the stop to this. So for the PRMA, and all who supported PADS, if you have a problem, go to Palitine and take it up with them. Perhaps if there had been as much time looking into PADS as there was minipulating and planning candlelight prayers there may have been a heads up on what they would or wouldn’t agree to. Or maybe no one really cared and thought that this thing could be bullied through.


I guess we are all ammused to some degree by this place or we would not keep coming back! I know I come at the issue for a unique angle. Perhaps it was my upbringing – maybe I was dropped as a child!


I believe people other than yourself moved into Park Ridge at the same time and since your having arrived, so “unique” is probably not an accurate depiction or perception of yourself in relation to the circumstances surrounding your amusing grasp of any given issue.

For the sheer entertainment value alone, I ask:

1. What observations you might have to offer for the point where protest fails and law prevails?


all that effort by pads and the prma and then just – poof! – and nothing? there’s definitely more here than meets the eye.


Now you have me amused!! I was not in anyway implying that my uniqueness had anything to do with when I moved to PR. Actually looking back I would much rather have spent my formative years in this town.

As to the question you ask, I am not sure I can give you a thesis on the subject but I will offer some observations. I believe in the rule of law. Those laws have to be applied equally and fairly but the law comes first. If a law is on the books it must be enforced. Hopefully the laws not only provide order but also reflect the mores of our society.

Related to protests, I am not sure what you mean by a protest failing. I look at protests in two ways. First you have protests that are simply intneded to draw attention to a particular issue or position and and are in now way in conflict with the law. If someone gets a legal permit to have a march and does not violate the rules then the protest and the law would never come into conflict.

Then of course there is civil disobedience. In light of the recent election the idea of riding in the wrong section of a bus seems appropriate. Even in a senario like that the law must be enforced (no matter how stupid it is). Who ever chooses to engage in this kind of protest should be prepared to deal with the consequences. Martin Luther King was prepared to go to jail and did many times for his protests. As long as he was willing to live with the consequenses and continue protesting then the law prevailed and his protest did not fail. Then, thank god, over time the law was changed.

Those are my observations. If there is something more specific or I misinterpreted your question (entirely possible) please let me know.

I don’t believe Park Ridge has a “homeless problem.” But if we do, then I would support the establishment not of a “homeless shelter” but, instead, of a network of homes (e.g. rental apartments or homes) for those homeless with clear ties to Park Ridge.

Of course, the PRMA really doesn’t care about providing homes for the homeless because it’s not a PADS shelter – and the PRMA seems to have some kind of secret but real relationship with PADS.

I had not even heard about the PRMA before this PADS mess arose, but I would be satisfied if I never heard about the PRMA again, if this is typical of what it can do and how it goes about doing it.

I am a member of St. Paul of the Cross Parish, I am against the PADS shelter, and I think that Fr. Carl Morello (of the “Morello Parish Life Center”) is a whiny, sanctimonious and pompous ass. But I was a St. Paul parishioner before Carl Morello ever became a priest, and I’ll still be there after the Archdiocese finds some other place to stick him. I will not let him and his idiotic and divisive brainstorms (like the PADS shelter) drive me away.

Amen to Anon at 12:30p.m. I remember having bosses who were complete horses asses and thinking that I’d been in the position I held long before they came along and often saw them ship out to different offices. I too, will not let Fr. Carl drive me away from SPC.

I couldn’t agree more with Anonymous 11.07.08 2:44.
Fr. Carl and Mr. O’Neill Both need to look in the mirror.
They both should be ashamed of themselves, talk about
not being Christian….

Dear Jackel and “anonymous”
You both are so brave to contest someone’s Christianity while hiding behind a username or nothing. At least my father had the guts to sign his name to his arguement. How can you honestly think it was a good Christian act to deny the homeless aid? May God have the mercy on you that you failed to show others….

Well if you and your father reed past article here you’ll find it’s more that denying homeless people help.

More from Bob’s son…
To the “Public Watch Dog”
First off, isn’t this a church issue? If you are a ‘public” watch dog, should you be concerned with government issues and seperate the church issues?
Also, why would we need to bring homeless into our homes? We TRIED to allow the homeless onto church grounds, but you and your kind pushed them out. If you didn’t like the soultion presented, shouldn’t YOU open your home?
To Mike Touhy, don’t believe everything you read, especially on an un-edited, un-vetted blog. These (including my words) are ALL opinions.
To another bold Anon- Fr. Carl didn’t name the Life Center. He’s done a lot for the parish, and regardless of you (largely incorrect) opinion of him, doesn’t the Christian thing to do include helping the homeless, regardless of your ‘tenure’ at St. Paul?
It is a sad commentary on Park Ridge that we’d close our doors to those in need. Period. All of the other conversations are side distractions.

To Kevin O’Neill:

1. Homeless shelters have both church and state components and implications, which is why the City can legally regulate them and why we are comfortable addressing the public policy issues surrounding them.

2. We, like most/all of the other opponents of the PADS shelter, support assistance for any homeless with strong ties to Park Ridge.  To our knowledge, however, no one – including the PADS supporters – has yet identified any Park Ridge homeless.  Instead, the rumor of Park Ridge homeless is used to justify importing homeless from other communities into Park Ridge, something that is proven to be ineffective in solving the homelessness problem.

3. If the PADS supporters really care about the homeless and truly believe that the PADS “clients” are as pleasant and safe as was argued in support of warehousing them in St. Paul of the Cross’s gym, then taking them into private homes would appear to be the “Christian” response to PADS taking its ball and going home to Palatine. 

4. What we represent as fact is, indeed, factual – which is why we often attach pdf documents (or provide other sources when available) to substantiate our research and the opinions based on that research.  But much of what we write, admittedly, is opinion; which is one of the reasons we also publish the opinions of people like yourself.

5. Whether Fr. Morello named the gym complex after himself or simply smiled as some sycophant proposed it for him, the truly humble and – in our opinion – proper thing for him to do would have been for him to graciously decline naming rights, at least while he was still at St. Paul.  But we guess somebody big and strong must have twisted his arm and forced him to accept the name, and those same brutes are continuing to twist his arm when he himself refers to the facility as the “Morello Parish Life Center.”  

6. From what we can tell, the People of Park Ridge are usually very generous, supporting a number of charitable organizations and efforts.  Consequently, we reject and resent your condemnation of those people just because they wouldn’t let you and your fellow self-righteous shills for the carpetbaggers from PADS Inc. disregard our zoning laws and jam a PADS shelter down our collective throats just because it happens to be the charity of your choice.


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