“Just The Facts, Ma’am”


Those who remember the original “Dragnet” television series will certainly remember L.A. police Sgt. Joe Friday’s request for “just the facts, ma’am.”  And fans of the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan may remember his: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Both of those messages are becoming increasingly important as more and more people confuse opinion with fact, or just plain get their facts wrong.  This seems to occur most often among people who are trying to influence public opinion, whether they be politicians, reporters in the conventional media, bloggers, or ordinary citizens. 

That problem was recently illustrated by Park Ridge resident Ken Balaskovits’ letter in last week’s Park Ridge Journal (“City Officials Had Opportunity To Learn New Runway Details,” Dec. 17). 

In his letter, Balaskovits claims that it was the “purple ribbon” City Council that, back in 2003, had Park Ridge withdraw from the Suburban O’Hare Commission (“SOC”) even as then-mayor Ron Wietcha was expressing his concern about the adverse impact the new east-west runway would have on Park Ridge.

Balaskovits gets a 50% and, hence, a failing grade, on those points.  Although Wietecha did warn about the dangers to Park Ridge of O’Hare expansion back in 2003, the purple ribbons didn’t appear until May of 2005 – part of the orchestrated campaign by supporters of newly-elected Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark in response to Frimark’s whining about how that newly-elected Council “stole his powers” by exercising its legal authority to organize its own Council committees instead of letting Frimark make them up as he chose.

But Balaskovits, an ardent Frimark supporter, appears disingenuous when he carefully shapes his indictment of the City’s withdrawal from SOC so as to avoid mentioning that one of the 7 aldermen whose vote helped carry the City Council’s decision not to renew Park Ridge’s SOC membership – by payment of the annual dues of $64,000 and a $300,000 deposit on future litigation costs – was none other than then-4th Ward Ald. Howard Frimark, a fact reported in the Park Ridge Herald Advocate’s July 24, 2003, edition [pdf].

And as we pointed out in last week’s post (“‘Citizens Take Control’ Because Mayor and Council Don’t” Dec. 17, 2008),since becoming mayor, Frimark appears to have been so disinterested in O’Hare expansion – until the planes started buzzing the southern half of Park Ridge and his phone started ringing off the hook, that is – that he attended only one meeting of the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (“ONCC”), and that was only after then-Ald. Jeannie Markech, at the December 5, 2003, City Council meeting, directly (and publicly) suggested that he and the other aldermen begin doing so.

We don’t expect Frimark to admit that he was asleep at the wheel on O’Hare Expansion.  When it comes to accountability, Frimark believes that the buck stops anywhere and everywhere but on his desk. 

But we wonder whether any of the citizens who are, with Frimark’s encouragement, scrambling to find some way to get the City of Chicago and the FAA to reduce the use of their new $500 million runway will even think of asking Frimark why, while Park Ridge slept, he did nothing either to wake us up or to lobby Chicago and the FAA for ways to reduce the adverse consequences of that new runway. 

As we’ve noted in previous posts, we still think that pulling out of SOC was a smart move, as borne out by SOC’s (now comprised only of Bensenville and Elk Grove Village) consistent and expensive failures to halt Richie Daley’s O’Hare expansion juggernaut.  So we have to give Frimark a gold star for doing at least that one thing right.

But we can’t condone his ignorance and outright neglect of the problems posed by the new O’Hare runway during the past five years while it was being planned and built.  

How about you, Mr. Balaskovits?

18 comments so far


I could not agree more with your conclusions about the Mayor, the last 5 years and what was done, or mostly not done, on the runway deal. I said exactly what you have said, although in slightly different words, to his face at the Maine South meeting.

I also agree with your breakdown of either confusing opinion with fact or just plain getting the facts wrong. I would add a third catagory, that being focusing on one fact while ignoring another.

We have a mayoral election coming up and this is certainly one of the issues that voters will be looking at (I know I will). The problem for me is that while I agree completely with what you have said about Frimark, the other candidate did no better. I realize he was not around when it started and has not been around as long as Howard but when I look for his public record on this matter I find nothing. I see all kinds of postions on “the culture of secrecy” and PADS and development and “small town feel” and the police station (much but not all of which I agree with) but I see nothing about the airport.

That, as far as I can tell, is a fact.

Our city government has completely failed the voting citizens in the area from downtown Park Ridge to Devon and from Canfield to Dee Road. What kind of mayor/leader attends one meeting about the expansion and impact of O’Hare? Clearly a mayor who time and time again has demonstrated zero leadership skills. It took one woman and some hardworking individuals to plan and form a group to try and salvage some good for us from the new runway and its ridiculous approach pattern over a highly populated residential area. All of this in a matter of a few days.

Mayor Frimark also failed the children of PR at 4 schools-more than 4000 kids. Roosevelt and Washington will not be noise abated for several years. Meantime-each time a plane flies over-perhaps 200 in a school day-the teacher has to stop talking and wait for the plane noise to stop. That works out to about 45 minutes of lost education each day. What a failure of our mayor and city council.

Those of us in the effected area have been robbed. We have been robbed of the right to enjoy our homes and our yards. We have not been compensated for what has been stolen from us and no one-mostly the Mayor Daley and the city of Chicago who dissemanted misinformation-is being held accountable. I guess that is how government-at all levels-works these day.

We did not have this kind of relentless plane activity before the runway opened so don’t tell us to deal with it because we live by an airport. This is a major change to PR and all of us are effected. As the property values drop, so do the tax collections for the town. As a result, the schools and park district will over time begin to suffer.

If you live by NW park or SW park-you bought your homes fully aware of plane traffic. When we bought our homes this was not an issue.

It is amazingly arrogant that Mayor Frimark would even bother to run again and then kick off his campaign after the embarrassing meeting he ran at Maine South last week. No answers and no hope was what he was selling that night.

I agree with the previous poster-what choice for leadership do we have in this town? Clearly Frimark is a not the answer. Is Dave Schmidt?

I’m under the new glide path and I’m not a happy camper. But what new angle can Park Ridge play that SOC hasn’t already lost on?

I agree that Frimark totally ignored O’Hare since becoming mayor, and if O’Hare were my only criterion for choosing a mayoral candidate (it’s not), that ignorance alone would be enough for me to choose Schmidt. But I’m for Schmidt because of many other reasons, including Frimark’s Culture of Secrecy, his Executive Office Plaza giveaway, the Napleton giveaway, and the American Insurance appraisal scam, to name just four other reasons.

But the question that needs to be asked is: What can be done now, practically speaking, to salvage this totally screwed up new-runway situation? It sure seems like Frimark and his O’Hare/ONCC gofer for the past year and a half, Bach, are just riling people up to get them running around without really thinking this situation through.

Because if Frimark can keep the people running around and not thinking, they won’t realize that the O’Hare runway battle may already be lost; and if it is already lost, it was lost by Frimark back in 2004-2006 – and maybe even by St. Ron Wietecha, between 2000 and his resignation in 2003, due to his constant efforts to screw with Daley at every turn rather than sit down and try to negotiate a compromise that might help our community.

I just checked Schmidt’s website and he has nothing posted about his position on the new runway.

The Advocate has an update today about Thursday’s Maine South meeting. Ken Dort’s question about why the City didn’t start a dialogue with the residents about the runway before it opened is right on target.

And per the Advocate update, Frimark had no answer other than he and the Council are on it now. A day late and $500 million dollars short.

None of you get it. Howard could care less about such mundane things as the ONCC meetings. How Don Bach can stand there and rip into the ONCC while at the same time kissing Frimark’s butt is laughable.

Howard, Balaskovits and the nit-wit Judy “the purple ribbon queen” Barclay were too busy getting rid of the Council members who would not play ball with Howard. One of which happened to be the only one paying any attention to what was going on with O’Hare.

I agree. Where was Frimark when something could have been done? And Rosie Mully, Frimark’s partner in stupidity, was also nowhere to be seen on the new runways.

But I get some perverse pleasure out of watching my fellow PR residents, several of whom I know were Frimark (and Mulligan) supporeters, now running around like stampeded cattle because their mayor and state rep didn’t do anything on O’Hare.

Question….. if there was even one previous council member who was paying atention to what was going on at O’Hare, and they are now no longer a “council member” but still a Park Ridge resident, why is it that they stopped paying attention to the problem after they stopped being a council member. I would think that if there was the threat of this problem and some, or someone had knowledge of what was to come, the discussion and fight should have continued even after one “leaves the council table”.

I would think that if one cared enough about the community to get involved and run for a “public service” job, the same concern for the community would continue even after they are no longer in that position.

Unforunatly all too often in politics when ones time is up all the projects, concerns, and issues
seem to just fade, as if to say, “it’s not my problem any more”, and I’m not sharing any of my information with anyone, however I reserve the right to bitch about it later if the next guy doesn’t do it the way I would have.

The “previous council member” didn’t stop paying attention to the issue, nor has that “previous council member’s” concern for the community diminished.

However that “previous council member”, after requesting no less than 5 times that Mayor Frimark engage on the issue of O’Hare expansion as well as asking that the city administration consider a local residential sound insulation ordinance and was repeatedly rebuffed, in addition to all the other issues that “previous council member” spent time researching, asking questions about, and pushing for greater discussion of those issues, and when the local press repeatedly ignored the publicly offered reports given at council meetings, that “previous council member” got tired of beating her head against a brick wall.

The “icing on the cake” was when a majority of voters made clear that they were more concerned with that “previous council members” perceived and presumed political party leanings, and when Howard Frimark, to whom the majority of voters seemingly preferred to give total political and policy control to, did so by cutting that “previous council member’s” term in office in half, that “previous council member” decided to give the citizens of Park Ridge what they seemingly preferred…to let Howard Frimark see to their concerns in total.

So, here you are. All the information anyone could have ever asked for is contained in the documents listed on the ONCC web site, along with reports contained in the minutes of the city council meetings. If you are one of the horses who refused to drink when you were lead to the water, that is, in fact, your problem.

to “between the lines”:

your intellectual dishonesty is showing.

if you’re going to go after someone who was on the council only between 2005 and 2007, how can you let others off the hook who have been there longer? what about frimark, who was the mayor in 2005 and remains the mayor today? or dipietro, allegretti and wsol, who were aldermen back in 2005 and remain aldermen today?

if you’re going to blame someone, you blame who was there back then and who’s still there now.

Precisely right, E.E. But if “between the lines” had to be honest, intellectually or otherwise, then “between” would have to spend some time in front of the mirror playing “gut-check”…and answering difficult questions of conscience about “between’s” own culpability in the grand scheme of public policy and political party games.

Hey gang, let’s blame Terri Schmidt, who admits in her letter in this week’s Advocate that she was “one of the Park Ridge liaisons to the Suburban O’Hare Commission (SOC)” back in 2001. She says she chartered buses and outfitted people in red “Stop O’Hare Expansion” T-shirts to meetings with then-gov. George Ryan, but she doesn’t seem to have done anything since then.

Or how about Ron Wietecha, who wimped out and resigned back in 2003 and ran off to Barrington? Why didn’t he stick around and fight?

I could have missed it. I don’t read the papers cover to cover every week, but I thought Don Bach was the liason to the noise commission.  Hasn’t he been on there for two years since he got elected? Why didn’t Don Bach give us any heads up for the last two years about the opening of the new runway? I’m not blaming anyone for not stopping the O’Hare expansion project, but I do blame our current politicians for not talking about this to us before it opened.

Easy now, I wasn’t speaking to one person per say on the issue, and meant no real disrespect. It was in fact intended to be a generalization. I agree there are still members on this council that were on previous councils who in every sense of the word dropped the ball, and their feet should absolutly be held to the fire.

However, if beating ones head against the wall is what it takes to get the attention of those less concerned, then beat it til it’s bloody,if you believe in something it shouldn’t matter if one person agrees or ten-thousand and one agree fight for your voice, you may win a few and lose a few but for gods sake don’t ever let them take away your voice, it’s a disservice to you and those you may be fighting for.

C’mon look at some more recent issues that took alot of hard work and and alot of talking, and alot of beating ones head against the wall, and mostly alot of residents joining together side by side, til they did hear us.

This O’Hare thing is bad, but don’t allow this to cause loss of sight in what’s coming up in the very near future. Issues that will need everyones attention and voices.

I mean no “real disrespect”…but where have you been for the past 3 1/2 years?

Unless you’ve beaten your own head against a brick wall and been bloodied in the process, while also taking shots from certain “peanut gallery” members for your troubles, or watched as they silently sat by without ever offering you any support for the positions you KNOW they supported, or when it is you who bloodies your head against that brick wall all alone, then and only then should you dare to offer any “advice” about carrying on the fight for attention to an issue.

Your suggestion is nothing short of ludicrous. Somebody who fought for attention to an issue (along with many other issues), who was then booted from office in deference to the guy preferred to be given all authority, should still do the job of fighting for attention to an issue because the guy given the job isn’t doing the job? That’s nuts.

The disservice done is by those who played politics instead of concerning themselves with public policy, and those folks now have planes buzzing over their homes every few minutes, a looming $3million dollar city budget deficit, increased height and density for connected developer friends of the Mayor’s with a zoning map amendment that increases the possibility of more of the same, less spending on REAL infrastructure needs such as sewers and street re-paving, and public scoldings and silencing at council meetings for their troubles.

Yes, let’s look at the more recent issues, because ignoring history is much less painful than having to take stock of one’s own failure to pay attention to the warnings offered.

Beating one’s head against the wall until it’s bloody is a strange way to be effective. And I frankly don’t see one instance in which that has worked for the good of the community.

What recent issues were one by bloody heads?

Anonymous @ 2:09 PM,


Unfortunately, there are some adults in the community who, like children, only learn their lessons the hard way.

People, the O’Hare mess has little to do with what Why-Techa, Jeanne d’Arc, Da Two Mares or any of the others mentioned did or didn’t do. (Although at least Jeannie tried…and tried…and tried.) It’s been a done deal for aeons, much as we hate it. Mulligan is already framing the problem as a conspiracy of a handful of insidious Daly Democrat plants (who just happened to be a majority of the Park Ridge electorate in November, apparently). This is more comical than Gene Spanos’ or Kenny B’s paranoid conflations. Daly was not the Decider. Anyone who read the very Republican Chicago Tribune for the past number of years was treated to a constant refrain of why we need a bigger, badder O’Hare for the sake of the national transportation hubba-bubba. Our aptly named Mr. Hyde (R-Youthful Indiscretion) and all the other Republicans fell into line with this homage to sacred market forces and business travel uber alles. The Tribune also reported that the Feds were gonna come in and make it happen if the locals (that’s us and Chicago) didn’t work it out amongst ourselves nicely. A bigger, badder O’Hare was not a Daly foul-up on the order of Meigs’ razing. It was more a Federal foul-up on the order of, well, where to begin? Let’s just say we’re the eggs in that particular omlette. We are collateral damage. Republican dues-payers all these years? So what? So are Bensenville and Elk Grove. Local needs don’t matter. All we got for our years in SOC was a chance for Why-techa to misrepresent a $650,000 donation toward legal fees as an “investment” on which we’d get a nice return. Two of the purple ribbon Democratic aldermen, Anderson and Radermacher, cared enough about where your $650,000 went to ask the hard, intelligent questions and find out. SOC was nothing but a nice gig for a bunch of lawyers and a distraction for the City. Fight, yes; make a fuss, yes; embarrass them with PR stunts like the Maine South meeting, absolutely. But spend more money we don’t have on lawyers who can’t make the 5,000 lb. gorilla, national commerce, go away? Sorry. I’d rather donate the money to the Park Ridge Community Fund. At least that way the money would do our residents some good.

Rosemary Mulligan believes that the best defense is to be as offensive as possible. She isn’t much of a thinker and that is why she and Frimark get along so well because they are twerps of a feather. I guess Rosemary didn’t think through her statements about how pulling out of SOC was a Daley plot carried out by locally identified Democrats, or is Howard Frimark a Democrat? In the news article WD posted here, Frimark was one of the 7 Aldermen who voted to end Park Ridge’s membership in SOC. Mulligan is also a resident of Des Plaines that pulled out of SOC even before Park Ridge did. I wonder what Rosemary is telling the people in Des Plaines now?

Mulligan is an idiot.

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