Frimark, Council Stiff Voters On Cop Shop Referendum (Updated 12/03/08 @ 4:20 p.m.)


When, early into Monday night’s (Dec. 1) City Council meeting, 1st Ward Ald. (and mayoral candidate) Dave Schmidt made his motion to seek the voters’ advice on whether the City should spend in excess of $16 million (not including land acquisition and bond interest) on a big new police station, the silence from his fellow aldermen was deafening.

Some stared down at their desks while others looked blankly into space, as if trying to avoid eye contact with Schmidt or the citizens in the audience whom they claim to represent.  Only their shameless leader, Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark, spoke…and that was only to ask the question to which he already knew the answer: “Is there a second?”

There wasn’t, and the motion died.  And with it died the Park Ridge voters’ best hope for getting an honest chance to tell City government whether or not they want their money spent on an expensive new cop shop that – under the most recent plan expressed by 7th Ward Ald. (and aspiring Frimark Alderpuppet) Frank Wsol – will likely cost the taxpayers over $1 million a year for 20+ years in debt service payments, of which approximately $200,000 a year would be just the interest on the bonds.

By our unscientific calculations, those annual interest charges alone could pay for two police officers, three-four blocks of new relief sewers, or our current city manager.  Any of those three options seems like the better deal for Park Ridge taxpayers, especially since Frimark and the current Council members have shown the inability to manage city finances – as evidenced by the $1.7 million deficit City Mgr. Jim Hock reported for last year, and an even bigger deficit being projected for this year.

But those kinds of calculations and budget deficits don’t seem to matter to our current City officials when the alternative is building a big new monument to themselves – and which also enables them to dish up a lot of sweet contracts to consultants, architects, engineers and contractors.

But with Schmidt’s motion having died without a second, the voters are unlikely to get a chance to express their opinions on the big new and expensive cop shop in the way it can best (and most honestly) be measured: at the polls on Tuesday, April 7.  That’s because the only vehicle for putting an advisory question on the ballot, other than by Council resolution, is by a citizen petition, which would have to be filed no later than January 20, 2009, and which we understand would require something in the neighborhood of 3,000 signatures (although the exact amount is a question for an election law attorney and/or City Clerk Betty Henneman).

Why would Frimark and the Alderpuppets want to put our voters to the onerous task of collecting all those signatures in the dead of winter to get such an important public policy issue on the April ballot when the Council, from the comfort of its warm and cozy chambers, could make that happen in minutes? 

Because if the referendum doesn’t go their way (which is what we believe would be the case), they would have to disregard the manifest will of the people if they still wanted to build their “Taj Mahal” cop shop.  Without a referendum, however, they can continue to talk about the “need” for such a structure and claim – without any way of being proved wrong – that the residents they’ve heard from really want another expensive pile of brick and mortar.  

Frimark and the Alderpuppets think that makes them “leaders.”  What it really does is expose them as cowards.

UPDATE 12/03/08 @ 4:20 p.m.

Today’s Park Ridge Journal contains an article (“At This Point, Can City Even Afford New Police Station”) about the new cop shop debate that should be a “must read” for anybody interested in this issue and the current City administration’s fiscal management, if only for the quotes from 3rd Ward Alderpuppet Don Bach in which he blames the current police station for everything but the heartbreak of psoriasis.

Bach, channeling fellow Alderpuppet Jim “Chicken Little” Allegretti, calls the current cop shop “a lawsuit waiting to happen” with “unsafe and dangerous prisoner facilities” that is such “a disgrace, a joke” that it is creating a “morale problem with our police officials.”  Big talk, Mr. Bach, but where are your facts – not opinions, but hard evidence – that any of your spiel is true, and that the City has suffered any adverse financial effects because of it?  And isn’t it true that any time a new officer vacancy opens up, the P.D. is flooded with applications?

Despite the current recession, hundreds of homes sitting stagnantly for sale (many of which are in foreclosure), and the City budget awash in red ink, Bach – the same Alderpuppet who earlier this year voted to give Mayor Frimark crony Bill Napleton as much as $2.4 million of our tax dollars because (Bach claimed) a whopping 30 of his constituents said it was okay – insists that the new cop shop presents no financial issue.  Watchdog to Bach: “It’s the economy, stupid!”

But, for us, the defining quote from Bach is his claim that: “The overwhelming majority of residents I talk to in my ward on a weekly basis tell me they favor building a new facility.” 

If you’re not smoking the funny stuff or outright lying through your teeth, sir, you’ve just given away your only excuse (lame as it is) for not having a referendum: That you’re afraid of an overwhelming “No” vote.  Otherwise, you’d be eager to be proved correct by the voters.

So either publicly recant your opposition to Schmidt’s cop shop referendum, or tell us where you get your Maui Wowie.  Or should we just check to see how much your nose has grown?

9 comments so far

So who’s up for a quick walk to collect the 3000 signatures?

I am.

To the Mayor and City Council: Shame, Shame, SHAME!!!

Persona Non Grata:

Are you going to use Ald. Schmidt’s petition language? And how can we contact you to get petitions?

Somebody said before that the City Council treats us like mushrooms: keeps us in the dark and covered with sh*t. Denying us a referndum means they also listen to us like we were mushrooms, too.

What the heck happened to Wsol?

When he was elected in 2005 he was put on the Finance & Budget Committee, supposedly because he knew finance and was a fiscal conservative. And he’s currently an alternate member of that same committee.

So how can a guy like that come up with a cockamamie “not getting a tax decrease isn’t the same as a tax increase” explanation for pushing an expensive new police station and not even want to hear what the voters think about it?

100 people each getting 30 signatures gets the job done. If there is 20 houses per block, you should be able to get 30 signatures without leaving your own block

The Advocate has posted a story of Monday’s meeting in which DiPietro is quoted as saying: “The aldermen are elected to make the decisions and get all the information necessary to make wise decisions,” but that he wouldn’t mind a citizens-initiated referendum.

WTF?!  He won’t even second a referendum resolution that would get the council some very important infomration about what the taxpayers are willing to pay for, but he’s okay with the citizens humping around to get 3,000 signatures?

What an ass! 


I believe the correct term would be weasel, not ass.

Out of all the members of the council, DiPietro knows very well that a 2nd to a motion is not indicative of support, but rather merely required to move forward with public discussion of business; it’s what Roberts Rule of Order demands, though I am not absolutely certain ROR demands a 2nd in smaller assemblies.

It was very clear from the way in which DiPietro and the rest of the council sat silently, when Frimark made a production of asking for a 2nd, that they first, did not want any public discussion of the issue, and second, many of them do not understand or appreciate Roberts Rules of Order as the framework under which they are supposed to conduct themselves.

DiPietro should be ashamed of himself. To be a party to blocking public discussion while then claiming to represent the public in “get(ting) all the information necessary to make wise decisions,” is the double-talk of a political weasel, seeking to hide himself and his “wise” decision-making from the scrutiny of the public he claims to represent.

Rich has often been a disappointment, but never so much as he was on this occasion.

I have started a petition based on the one proposed at the City Council on Monday and have about 6 volunteers to date. The good news is we need fewer votes than one might expect. Per Illinois law, we need 8% of the number of voters who voted in the the 2006 gubernatorial election. I am waiting on a response from the Election Board on how many voted in 2006. PR has about 26,000 registered voters and if half voted (which I hope is high), we need about 1050 signatures. I have the petition and will email it to you so you can start right away. We will need to file by mid-January. I can be reached at [email protected]. Let the taxpayers decide if we want over $24 million of their money spent to make the police station 4 times as big as it has been since the 1960’s.

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