Public Watchdog.org

Wsol’s Cop Shop Referendum Questions: Too Much, Too Late (Updated)

01.19.09

At tonight’s City Council meeting, Mayor Howard “The Coward” Frimark’s apprentice Alderpuppet, Frank Wsol (7th Ward), is scheduled to present two advisory referendum questions, one of which ostensibly involves the proposed new police station that Wsol desperately wants – and on which he himself placed the $16.5 million price tag (which becomes $28 million when the bond interest is added in) that was the basis for Ald. Dave Schmidt’s proposed Council referendum resolution and now Joe Egan’s citizens’ referendum petition, both of which Wsol opposes.  

Wsol’s referendum proposals reek of rank political gamesmanship.  He has been talking up the big new cop shop project since his re-election campaign two years ago without once expressing any interest in giving the voters a chance to vote on it via referendum.  And when Schmidt, on two occasions, proposed a referendum resolution by the Council, Wsol wouldn’t even offer a second so that the referendum’s merits could be discussed. 

But more offensive than Wsol’s obvious gamesmanship is the intellectual dishonesty of his referendum questions themselves, which – like both Schmidt’s and Egan’s questions – are advisory only, meaning that even if they are approved by the voters in April the City Council can nevertheless ignore them if it so chooses.  And from the way Wsol’s questions read, a bet on the Council’s ignoring them looks to be a sure thing.

One of Wsol’s questions – “Shall the City of Park Ridge adopt a policy that all non-emergency debt and all non-emergency budget increases above the CPI-U (CPI-U decreases will not apply) shall require voter approval by referendum vote?” – is so ridiculous and impractical that, if enacted and applied literally to the City’s operations, it could require a virtually incessant stream of referendum questions that might even require the City to hold special elections for even some minor spending or borrowing decisions that, while not technically “emergency” ones, might not be able to wait for the next regularly-scheduled election.

But while Wsol’s CPI-U question is just ridiculous, his other question may be the single most poorly-worded and intellectually dishonest referendum question we have ever seen – appearing to have been written first to confuse, then to confound, and finally to frustrate any voter who actually tries to make sense of it.  It actually causes us to wonder whether Wsol is proposing it in the hope that it gets a ballot position ahead of Egan’s question, so that many voters throw in the towel in disgust before even getting to Egan’s.

In the interest of political science and provoking thought among the electorate, however, we will try to deconstruct and analyze that referendum question, with our comments in bracketed bold for your convenience:

“In adopting a capital project to improve the administrative/public and police facilities at 505 Butler Place [Wait a minute! By adding “administrative/public” into the equation, it looks like Wsol is setting the table to go beyond the “police facilities” to include other parts of City Hall. Why is it, then, that the new cop shop project – which Wsol originally supported at more than four-times the size of the current 9,000 square foot facility and without any cost cap, before scaling back the cost to $16.5 million – is now morphing into an overall City Hall project?], shall the City of Park Ridge require as conditions of issuing any bonds for such improvements that: the annual bond payment will not cause an increase in City taxes/fees or service reductions as of 2008 levels (adjusted for inflation) [Who at City Hall can we trust to tell us the truth on that point? Didn’t Wsol vote for last year’s budget and (we believe) all of the costs and expenses that pushed it $1.7 million into the red, and didn’t he do the same for the current year’s budget that was already $1.2 million in the red a the half-way point?]; the total spent, absent interest [which, according to figures obtained by the City, will push the total cost of a $16.5 million project to $28 million] and operational costs [which can be expected to more than double, based on the additional size, while Wsol et al. are already presiding over consecutive years of budget deficits] will not exceed $16.5 million; the facility improvement will not require new land purchases [Did you clear this with Mayor Howard, Bill Napleton and all the other Friends of Frimark who are trying to sell their land to the City, Mr. Wsol? And if you’re thinking about using the Courtland property that the City bought a few years ago for around $650,000, you need to include that cost as well.] and the facility improvements will, where economically appropriate, include “green engineering” for the purpose of lowering on-going operational costs?” [Given the current mayor’s and Council’s fiscal buffoonery, “where economically appropriate” can be expected to mean “don’t count on it.”]

Now, compare that with the Egan version that Wsol and the other alderpuppets have criticized: “Shall the City of Park Ridge replace its current police facility with a new, larger structure at a cost of at least $16.5 million plus additional, but currently unknown, costs for the land on which it will be situated and bond interest?”  

We think that language is exponentially clearer than Wsol’s.  But, predictably, Alderpuppet and Frimark lapdog Jim “Chicken Little” Allegretti (4th Ward) was unhappy about it: “It’s biased, it’s prejudiced, it’s one-sided, and it doesn’t really tell us anything.” Funny, but that’s one of the ways we could describe Allegretti and his Council service over the past three-plus years.

As reported in last week’s Herald-Advocate (“Wsol suggests different ballot questions about police station,” Jan. 14), Wsol – in full dissembling politician mode – said he is proposing these questions “in an effort to resolve the issue of Park Ridge City Council spending and its right to incur long-term debt.”  

Gee, Mr. Wsol, instead of proposing one referendum question that looks to dump a steady stream of the City’s big and small financial decisions on the voters when you don’t want to give them the vote on this one big cop shop expenditure, and another question that is borderline-unintelligible, why don’t you start by doing one of the jobs you were elected to do…like balancing the City budget?  And if you really want to start getting a handle on the City’s debt problems, why not reinstate the City’s voluntary debt cap that was eliminated back in 2003-04?

Or aren’t those suggestions complicated and confusing enough for you?

Update 1/19/09
They did it!  This morning Joe Egan filed petitions containing over 2,800 signatures, or approximately 600 above the minimum required.  Mr. Egan reported a “huge number” of signatures turned in yesterday, which suggests a repudiation by the citizens of Park Ridge of both the Oberweis hi-jinks of Mayor Howard (“The Coward/The Bully”) Frimark and the political maneuvering of Frank Wsol and the rest of Frimark’s alderpuppets.

Way to go, Mr. Egan and all you petition circulators!  And way to go, Park Ridge voters!  On to April 7th!

18 comments so far

Congratulations to Joe Egan — and to all of us! We will get a vote on this issue in April. This made my day.

Way to go Joe Egan and friends! Banner day for the people of Park Ridge!

I hope the results in the April voting give us at least two reasons to celebrate again!

I posted on the Park Ridge Underground that I did not understand what a yes or no vote means for the questions being put forth by Frank Wsol.

I still don’t know.

Does this mean that Egan’s referendum will be on the ballot no matter what? Or will Wsol try to put his crazy questions on too?

A “yes” vote on the long one would mean that all of those things that are listed should be incorporated into whatever budget is going to be adopted for a new police station/city hall renovation project budget. I think.

We’ve now got the only referendum question we need – Egan’s.

We now need to focus on exterminating the root of the problem – Frimark. Let’s face it, if it weren’t for Frimark and his merry gang of yes men, none of us would have to had to go through this effort. I am fearful the senior element of this town will carry Frimark to a victory come April. They see him as one of theirs and trust him. We need to get the word out to the seniors.

Heard Wsol’s indecipherable referendum question passed after a long discussion about amendments that may or may not have been added to the original.

Heard that Allegretti voted “no” with Schmidt, but because he (Allegretti) didn’t think there should be any referendum on the police station, just let the Council do what it wants, probably in more closed sessions.

But what should we have expected from a Frimark appointee who contributed $500 to Frimark’s campaign, just coincidentally $300 a few months before the appointment, and $200 shortly after.

It gets better (or worse). Allegretti just gave $1000 to Frimark for his campaign.

To Annoynamous 1.19 09

What do you mean get the word out to the seniors?

Also when did last night’s meeting end?

I left a little bit after 10:30.

anon 11:25:

You understand that you are accusing him of a $500.00 “bribe” for a position that pays $1200 per year???

anon on 01.20.09 5:43 pm:

We don’t agree that “anon 11:25” is actually “accusing” Allegretti of paying a $500 “bribe” for a position that pays $1,200 a year. And we don’t want to try to climb inside Allegretti’s head to figure out what goes on in there.

But let’s put it a different way: If you could go to the Grand Victoria, plunk down $500 and be guarantied to walk away with $1,200, would you do it? How about if you knew that for that same $500 you could get $1,200 a year for the next 4 years?

So were Allegretti’s $300 down, $200 later contributions pay-to-play? That’s for him and Frimark to answer. And while they’re at it, maybe they could explain why neither of them told the Council at Allegretti’s confirmation hearing in June, 2005, that (at that time) Allegretti had already contributed the $300 – just in the interest of full disclosure?

We also note that Allegretti has already tossed $1,000 into Frimark’s re-election campaign coffers. Which would still leave him $2,700 to the good (based on $4,200 he’s received since June 2005).

But, once again, those questions are most properly for Allegretti and Frimark.

PD:

I understand what you are saying and perhaps I am naive (god knows I have been accused of being a lot worse on the blogs) but let me give you some insight of how I look at it.

I do no know Allegretti from a hole in the wall. I do not agree with all of what I have seen him say or do. These Aldermen do have the right to support a candidate for Mayor and based on his contribution record and past decisions I think it is pretty clear he is in the Frimark camp. I do not claim to undersatnd why he supports Frimark, but then again, I do not understand why people supported the presidential candidate I did not vote for either.

For posters to make the leap that some how this was for financial reasons, to me, seems absurd.

I am by no means a rich man but the numbers here are so low it is almost laughable. I do not know what he makes per year in his lawyer gig but but if you make some assumptions about taxes you are left with about $2000. I cannot get my family half way to Disney world for that money, let alone hotel and park admission.

Along with the wad of cash he also gets to do the job – a job I would not want for 10 times the money. If you assume he spends 5 hrs a week (I have no idea if this is even close!!!!) that is 1000 her over 4 years or 2.00 per hour.

If the inferences are true then either this guy is a terrible crook or the stupidest man walking.

A10:57,

You are naive, notwithstanding your profession of having insight to offer.

But just for yucks, using your own words, if “this guy [isn’t] a terrible crook or the stupidest man walking” (Personally, I think that title may be more applicable to Don Bach), then what is he?

Of course, I have my own answer to that question, based in part on what I have personally heard him say about the job of being an alderman, but I’m interested in learning more of your “insight”.

To: Anon on 01.22.09 10:57 am

It’s not just about the money. Ever been to a City council meeting or one of the various committee meetings?? See Howard lean… and see all of his Alderpuppets lean with him.

It’s not just about money… it’s about Howard getting HIS way with an unquestioning council. It’s about Howard and a band of Alderpuppets, some who he appointed or helped get elected, pushing through decisions as a cabal.

Show of hand… who thinks it is appropriate that several of the sitting Aldermen collected petition signatures for Howard’s Mayoral run or have given him campaign contributions??? Where is the independence that gives the citizenry confidence that the government is working FOR THEM as opposed to FOR THEMSELVES??

Alpha:

I hate to answer a question by asking a question but I am hoping you will share the comments you heard him make about the job of Alderman.

I honestly am not sure how to exactly answer the question you pose. My point in the prior post was that I find it hard to make the connection with any significant financial gain. He may get some benefits from networking but, based on the practice areas described on his firm website, I find it hard to believe he is getting a windfall.

I also have virtually no experience with him as you appear to. So I would guess he is a mixture of many things good and bad. Ego, pride, having an agenda (whether I agree with it or not), willingness to serve.

Let me take this opportunity to apologize in advance as I am fairly confident you will not find this to be a satisfactory answer!!!!

A:12:48,

On this piont “I am fairly confident you will not find this to be a satisfactory answer!!!!” we agree.

I have personally heard Alderman Allegretti say that nobody takes the job of Alderman for the pay; “the pay” being $100 per month. I have also heard Alderman Allegretti say that taking the job of Alderman is good for business, because it gives one’s business a higher profile in the community.

I find those statements mirror those of his benefactor and political mentor, Howard P. Frimark.

Presume what you will, but try to leave out the doe-eyed nincompoopery when you do.

I believe there is anything but “willing(ness) to serve” on either Mr. Allegretti’s or Mr. Frimark’s “agenda”, as I have observed neither of them actually “serve” the public.

However, I have observed both these men “serve” special interests, friends, campaign contributors, and themselves through various actions taken by each; not the least of which are voting to give away scads of taxpayer money, economically motivated variances, attempts to help special interests avoid public scrutiny, insistence upon keeping public business secret, and limits placed on the ability of the public they are supposed to “serve” through limiting public input and public debate…for starters.

Now I repeat my question to you, if “this guy [isn’t] a terrible crook or the stupidest man walking” (Personally, I think that title may be more applicable to Don Bach), then what is he?

anon on 01.22.09 10:57 am:

Interesting how you totally avoided the PubDog’s point that neither Allegretti nor Frimark volunteered the information about Allegretti’s $300 pre-appointment contribution to the Council during his confirmation hearing. As far as I’m concerned, THAT’s what makes this smell bad. That, and the $200 contribution 3 months AFTER the election was over, but only a few weeks after his appointment by Frimark.

And this doesn’t even touch on what other financial and other benefits and opportunities can and do come to elected officials, as we’ve seen in Chicago, Crook County, and throughout our corrupt state. Just a police station alone at upwards of $20 million all in will generate contracts and profit to architects, engineers, contractors, consultants, lenders and bond counsel in sufficient amounts that those people might want to express their “gratitude” in a variety of ways that may not rise to the level of “pay to play” but which are underhanded, unethical and contrary to what good government should be.



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