If This Was Either “Planning” Or “Strategic,” We’re In Big Trouble


Only four “ordinary” Park Ridge citizens reportedly attended any part of Park Ridge city government’s “strategic planning” extravaganza this past weekend at the Park Ridge Public Library.  But from the sound of things, the best the taxpaying residents of this community can hope for is that it was merely a waste of time and $19,500.

That’s because the “strategic” ideas coming out of the two planning sessions were pretty much just re-hashes of the “same old same old” we’ve been hearing for years.  That’s the good news.  But some of those re-hashed same olds – the ones that are going to cost us the most money and/or bury us in even more debt, of course – might have received a shot of steroids from the group-think process, making them even more dangerous than before.

Let’s start with the big new police station that Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark has been trying to build so that he can have the taxpayers throw a few million dollars at one or another of his buddies or campaign contributors who wants to dump one of their Park Ridge properties but can’t find a ready, willing and able buyer.  Say somebody like…oh…umm…hmmm…Bill Napleton?  

If we were to believe the opinions of the elected and appointed officials, along with the higher-level bureaucrats in attendance, not only do we need to spend at least $16.5 million (not including the land costs and 20+ years of bond interest) on a new cop shop, but a majority of our residents support such a project – or would support it if only they understood just how necessary it is. 

Our resident “Chicken Little,” Frimark Alderpuppet Jim Allegretti (4th Ward), reportedly went so far with his “the sky is falling” predictions that he actually suggested that (1) criminals arrested by our police might start staging slip-and-fall “accidents” on the steps into the current station just so they could file personal injury lawsuits – with the help of a network of slick P.I. attorneys who would target the Park Ridge police station as a kind of slip-and-fall “honey hole.”; and (2) our female police officers will start filing discrimination suits because of all the years of having inadequate and unequal locker room facilities.   

Gee, Jimbo, couldn’t we solve those two “legal” problems (assuming there’s even a lick of merit to either of them) for a lot less than $16.5 million? 

Not only did the big new cop shop get a ringing endorsement, but a new or expanded Library also wormed its way onto the “to do” list – although Alderpuppet Robert Ryan (5th Ward) did opine that the 2002 library referendum made clear that the citizens don’t want to see the Library moved to some other place in town, as some of the other “strategic” thinkers in the group were advocating.

Other random “strategic” ideas that came out of the brainstorming portion of the sessions included: building monument-style “gateways” to mark the entries to Park Ridge; buying up homes along the Higgins corridor and land-banking them to aid commercial developers; taking the lead on the “homeless problem”; reducing the public’s comment time at Council meetings so the meetings get done faster; doing a comprehensive sewer study to figure out what areas were flooded and what can be done to correct it; giving more economic incentives to businesses to locate here or expand their operations; more façade improvements in South Park and around the Dee Road METRA station; and better “selling” of residents on various projects and plans.

As one of the “ordinary” citizens in attendance observed, if these sessions had been televised or videorecorded and shown to the public, he’d like to have the torches and ropes concession for the citizens who would march on City Hall. 

We suspect that’s a bit extreme, although we do find it interesting that the City Council chose not to record those proceedings so that there would be a verbatim record of everything that was said, how it was said, and who said it. 

But apparently our public officials didn’t want any evidence that couldn’t be sanitized for the protection of the delicate sensibilities of us average citizens.  So those of you who want to find out more details will need to wait for Jennifer Johnson’s account in this week’s Herald-Advocate, or wait for the “official” report that the highly-paid “facilitator” indicated would be forthcoming – hopefully as part of the $19,500 price.

Oh, by the way: Despite the talk about all the great things on which the City might spend bundles of money, the actual cost of things was virtually ignored. And, not surprisingly, nobody reportedly had any solid ideas for generating the revenue needed to pay for them, other than….wait for it…property taxes.  

But you knew that, didn’t you?

8 comments so far

Looks like they tore down the former Budget Rent a Car building which had been vacant since I don’t know how long and they have some picture of something that they plan to build.

What you describe is pretty much how these things operate. I did one for Dist. 64 a couple of year ago, although theirs was run by the two guys from the district’s Finance Committee (Elderkin and Eichman) so it didn’t cost the District 20 grand for the waste of time.

Garbage in, garbage out.

I am not a big fan of these strategic planning meetings with outside facilitators. I have ben through these in the private sector and you come away with lovely sounding phrases like “corporate vision” and “mission statement”. It seems to me the most tangible results were very large bar bills at the hotel where we all stayed.

But I do have to reference a quote that Alpha used in one of her posts in a thread below:

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

I was poking around on google last night and looked up the results of the last Aldermen races in PR. I find the data to be facinating. Of the seven contests, three were uncontested. Two of these included DiPeitro and Bach, two of the most often referenced on the blogs as “alderpuppets”. I cannot even count the number of uses of that creative nick name “Bachtard”. Dipietro has been an alderman for a long time and must have a long track record, and yet there is not one person who runs against him. Of the remaining 4 races there is only one that could reasonably be called close – Ryan at 53% of the vote. Allegretti, another one who gets hammered on the blogs won with 73% of the vote. Two other interesting facts are that the Mayor won by over 60% and only 9106 people voted in the Aldermen races.

So I hope that all the comments on this board are not just gorilla dust. I hope that some of the talented people come here step up to the plate and run in the next elections. If all that is said on these blogs is true then there are many cases that can be made about who should lead. If the general participation and statistics for the next election are similiar to the last one then it is true, the over all participants in the election are getting what they want.

To 7:15am
DiPeitro was challenged and won by only a very small margin.

anon ii:15 PM:

It is entirely possible that I am wrong – god knows it has happened before. The below listed address is where I found the information.

A11:10 on 11/18/08, and A8:30 on 11/19/08,

Oye! Like an old couple not hearing/talking past each other! Cute!

A11:10, the election you are talking about is the last election in which DiPietro had an opponent, back in 2003. The vote count was:

Richard DiPietro (HPPR). . . . . . 298   51.83%
Kevin J. Cawley . . . . . . . . 277   48.17%

A8:30, the election you are talking about is the very last one in which DiPietro ran (2007), and yes he ran unopposed. He also ran as an independent because the Homeowners Party of Park Ridge no longer formally exists.

We should also point out that Mr. Cawley was a political unknown who was also underfunded, yet he came only 22 votes short of unseating the then two-term incumbent (and the only alderman The Manor had since it got annexed). And the Second Ward turnout is usually pretty anemic, so DiPietro’s lengthy tenure is clearly the product of apathy more than ability.


That was my exact point. I am not in his ward but I have not been overly impressed with what I have seen/read. If I base my opinion strictly on the opinions I have read here then the guy is an incompetent “alderpuppet”. Yet not one person from his ward decided to tun against him.

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