Park District’s War Of Attrition Still Provides Choices


It’s no secret that we here at PublicWatchdog love contested elections because they provide an opportunity for candidates for public office to show why they deserve your vote…or don’t.  So we were looking forward to the upcoming Park Ridge Park District board of commissioners election, which initially looked to be a real horse race.

Back in January it looked like there would be 10 candidates vying for the four board seats coming vacant.  Four of those candidates – Richard Brandt, Nicholas Giordano, Walter Mizialko and Peter Wachowski – reportedly were being backed by Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”), which represents more than 30 Park District employees and has been locked in contract negotiations with the Park District for almost two years.  To some people, including a few current Park Board members, it looked like the union was trying to pack the Board to get the kind of contract it hadn’t been able to achieve through negotiations.

That became a moot point, however, when the candidacies of Giordano, Mizialko and Wachowski, along with SEIU-unaffiliated candidate Meredith Wisniewski, were successfully challenged by current Park Board commissioner and candidate for re-election Nick Milissis and candidate Rick Biagi.  Those four were kicked off the ballot for petition errors (Wisniewski) or the failure to file the required “Statement of Economic Interest” (Giordano and Wachowski, both attorneys, and Mizialko). 

Another unaffiliated candidate, Stephen Vile, overcame a challenge to his candidacy and will be on the April 7 ballot.

Some people, including the editorial board of the Herald-Advocate, have branded those challenges as dirty pool and a petty way to deprive the voters of choice.  And in some ways they are.  Some of those same people have raised concerns that Milissis, Biagi, and candidates Scott Duerkop and Pawel Matula, are running as an “alliance” that is rumored to be  backed by retiring Park Board president Dick Barton and former Maine Township honcho Bob “The Dude” Dudycz.  

But we don’t have much sympathy for people who want the voters to entrust them with multi-million dollar budgets, multi-million dollar bonding power, and stewardship of substantial civic assets, yet who can’t follow simple candidate petition rules: how tough can it be to bind your petitions, to file a statement of economic interest, or to identify the correct number of years of the term of the office you’re seeking?

So while we might not be getting that 10-candidates-for-4-offices race that looked so promising back in January, it looks like we’ll still have six candidates battling for four spots on the Park Board.

And that’s two more choices than the General Caucus is giving us for the District 64 School Board.

27 comments so far

I can’t help but keep waivering between (a) nobody wants these offices, (b) some people want these offices but don’t want to run for them, (c) some people want them, want to run for them, but don’t want any competition, and (d) some people want them, want to run for them, but are afraid to cross the Caucus (or, now with the P.D., are afraid to cross Barton/Dudyzc).

Mr. Milissis is not running for re-election. He was appointed to the PRPD board in Feb 2008 by Dick Barton. Mr. Barton and Mr. Milissis have something in common-a friendship with Mr. Frimark. Mr. Milissis appears to have done very little in his time on the PRPD board due in part to poor attendance. He has missed many meetings as reported by the PRU. His attendance rate is around 70%. Pathetic. If you wanted to be on the PRPD board so badly (there were 8 others to pick from for the open seat but Milissis has a connection to Frimark) then you should attend all meetings. Period. Do not run for a seat on the board if you are unable to make the time to be a responsible commissioner. So Pubdogs and the Advocate and the Journal-clarify your reporting. Mr. Milissis was not elected to the PRPD board by the people of PR. He was appointed to his position. Therefore he is not running for re-election. And Mr. Milissis-how about telling us what you have accomplished in your 12 months on the PRPD board so we can decide if you deserve our vote.

Point of fact, Nick Milissis was appointed to his seat on the Park Board by the entire Park Board, and not just Dick Barton.

The Board had six members at that time, and Mr. Milissis was the only candidate asking to be appointed who had previously served on a Park Board.

It was a 5-1 vote in favor of Mr. Milissis.

I do not know Mr. Milissis. I do know he came in and posted on a thread over at PRU (Feb. 19, Rules are meant to be broken) basically using the forum to reach people with a crafted message.

When he was asked some fairly easy questions related to attendance, he basic answer was a non-answer whining about anonymous posters.

Let’s just say he makes a very bad first impression.

Right-he was appointed to the board-not elected. So he is not running for re-election. I am sure his affiliation with no disclosure Barton did not hurt in the vote.

I’m not saying he wasn’t appointed to the position. You are right…he was. Just not from one person.

What helped him in the vote was the fact that he had served in the position before with the Golf Maine Park District, and had great references from fellow Board and Staff members from that District.

Pub dog,
Thanks for keeping a watchful eye on the Park Board race. Especially this time around. It is true that I was appointed to the board to fill an unexpired term. I filed my application for the vacancy like everyone else and was scrutinized and interviewed by the board like everyone else. A vote by all the commissioners who were elected by the voters of Park Ridge was cast and five of the six decided, based on my experince and refrences, I’d be the best for the job. No backroom deals there. Ofcourse the same two “anonymous” (Hi Jean D.) people that attacked me on the other blog followed their same tired and old tirade here. Any one who has followed township politics knows that I was the closes thing to a political opponenet of Bob Dudycz, so to say that he is know behind some conmspiracy to get me ellected to the board is ludicrous. These “anonymous” friends are throwing up smoke screens trying to distract from the real issue at hand in this election. The Union tried to take over our board and vote their meritless pay increases at the expense of our taxpayers. Three citizens (Myself, Biagi and Matula) who only had the best interests of their community in mind stepped up against the Leviathan who is SEIU (Service Employees Union AKA major backers of our former governor and currrent junior Senator) and put in their own time and effort to thwart that underhanded attempt. We succeeded in taking 3 of the four off the ballot. As far as my dedication and committment to the Park Board and this District, this Thursday I’m putting in my own time and dime in and have filed with the Circuit Court to take the last remaining Union backed candidate (Richard Brandt) off the ballot. I will not respond to any of the “anonymous” postings that will follow, and believe me it will be like a feeding frenzy of the the same two people bombarding the blog with postings and acting like its a village uprisisng. In reality they are one of the following: 1) people that did not get picked to be appointed on the board 2) some of the candidates me and my runningmates kicked off the ballot or 3) some SEIU operatives posing as PR residents. As I said on PRU I recommend that any resident who has a legitimate concern as to my representational activities and my achievements can go to the District website ( under the “Board” tab and e-mail me directly and onymously with any questions or comments. Although the outrage was palatable on the PRU blog, guess how many e-mails I received after I posted the same recommendation that people contact me directly? If you guessed SERO, you are correct. Not a single one of those outraged and oppinionated bloggers contacted me to ask “the facts”. Pubdog, thank you for all you do and for keeping a watchfull eye on all politics local. Keep up the good work. Signing off ONYMOUSLY, Nicholas Milissis.

If you guessed S ERO you are still incorrect. 🙂 I apologize for the misspellings above. Got carried away with the message I was trying to convey. Nicholas Milissis

Mr. Milissis:

Thank you for your comments, including your kudos to this site. We try our best to tell it like it is and call it as we see it, although we realize that there are two (or more) sides to every story. That is why we accept and encourage comments, including anonymous ones, that disagree with our posts.

From what we observed and researched about your appointment to the Park Board, we objectively concur with your inherently subjective assertion that no other applicant for the Board vacancy had your level of parks and recreation experience, which likely explains the 5-1 vote in your favor.

That being said, we do not have sufficient information to agree or disagree with your contention that you were “the closes [sic] thing to a political opponent of Bob Dudycz” at the Maine Twp. level, so we also cannot confirm or deny the rumors that he and Dick Barton (who HAS been a Dudycz ally and – if we recall correctly – was the single most zealous supporter of your appointment to the Park Board) are behind you and your “slate” of candidates.

We respectfully suggest, therefore, that if you wish to dispel those rumors, you can begin by affirmatively stating, without qualification or condition, that Mr. Dudyzc has never provided you with counsel, advice, encouragement and/or financial support in connection with either your appointment to the Park Board or your current candidacy.

We believe that the voters deserve to know who your supporters are, just as they deserve to know those of Mr. Brandt and the other candidates – so that they can make the most informed decisions when they cast their votes on April 7.

Mr. Milissis-Regardless of whether we ask you with a name behind it or anonymously (this is how this word is spelled), the questions are the same and we deserve an answer. Why did you miss so many meetings? What exactly have you done in the 12 months you have been on the PRPD board? These are legitimate questions you have so far have refused to answer. As a result, all of your grandstanding about the other opponents whose place on the ballot you contested seems to me wrong. Due to your resistance to answer the questions posed to you here and on the PRU site, the voters of PR are left to assume you have done nothing in the past 12 months and simply wanted the other PRPD board candidates off the ballot so you would be elected by default.

Anonymous on 02.28.09 2:27 pm:

Good questions, but unrelated to why Milissis and his team are trying to get their opponents thrown off the ballot. As Watchdog points out in the post, people who can’t comply with rules that are pretty darn straightforward don’t deserve to be on the ballot, so Milissis has every right to have them kicked off.

It’s ironic that those who complain about and/or dismiss anonymously offered criticism are the same people who eagerly accept anonymously offered support and/or PRUdos.

Jeeze, Nick, just answer the questions. Publicly. The more you dodge the issues, the more likely it is people will become more interested in voting for the two most unknown candidates, Matula and Vile, over you — assuming Biagi and Duerkop are ahead in the name recognition race.

No amount of previous Park Board experience or friends characterizing you as a fiscal conservative can save you from being viewed as a slippery politician if you don’t stand and deliver your answers in public forums — and of course, we consider the blogs to be legitimate public forums, however unconventional or untraditional they may be viewed.

As for your characterization that two anonymous commenters were attempting to create an appearance of something that wasn’t — we have sad news for you, friend, you are mistaken.  We can’t say with certainty who the comments came from, but the comments were issued from several different IP addresses. 

Anon at 2:45-and politicians who refuse to answer questions do not deserve to be entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility of managing the assets of the PRPD. So hopefully people will not vote for Milissis for one of the 4 open spots-unless he can come forward and answer questions and state why he deserves our vote.


I am not sure what you are referring to. Please explain.

At least Frimark has the “decency” to wuss out up front. He has said he will not participate in a forum where citizens can shout out questions. Why? He wants to avoid potentially damaging questions.

You chose to come here and then have done nothing but evade the questions (see anon 2:27 above). If you are running for office and choose to post on a blog you can expect to get some questions – DUH!!!!! You are not required to answer them but please don’t act like they are unfair.

Mr. Milissis:

As an example of what I have said above, I have seen posts from Alderman Dave on the blogs from time to time.

Other posters sometimes asked questions based on his posts. What does he do? Answers the questions.


You have only lived in Park Ridge a few short years. The residents here are intelligent people and make decisions based on a persons past performance. The voters have noticed that you do not have the best attendance record. They have asked you questions about it and you choose not to answer.

You are representing the residents in our town. We expect attendance at the meetings you were appointed to represent us at. You have fallen short of expectations without an explanation. Your silence says a lot.

Maybe being appointed to two different commission/committees plus the Park District is just too overwhelming for you. Learn to prioritize or step aside and let someone who really wants to represent us do the job.

Did you bite off more than you can chew? Jack of all trades master of none? Go back to unincorporated Maine Township!

Mr. Milissis-I am one of the many posters questioning you “anonymously” and I am none of the 3 things you mention in your earlier post. Stop assuming things-you are making an ass of yourself. People have tried to ask you questions at meetings-but you are not always at the meetings of the PRPD board or the board’s advisory committees. Your lack of commitment is unacceptable and speaks volumes about your level of service. And nice try saying that you are committed to the PRPD board because you are trying to get candidates off the ballot who are vying for your seat and who you personally don’t like their politics. (I would guess many PR residents don’t want the SEIU taking over the park board.) But what have you done in the last 12 months to make it a better park district? Just answer the question.

Oh I am sure before the debates Dick Barton (aka, Mr. Haney of Park Ridge’s/Green Acres) will craft some excuses for Nick, or take others accomplishments and say Nick was responsible for them…….

Anonymous at 10:33pm You are ssssoooo Right! Didn’t they do that with Robert Ryan? They claimed that he was the one who started the farmers market even though the whole town new it was Owen Hayes! And WOW, look what Owen Hayes turned into! It is funny, but he is the only house on Vine that has a Frimark sign!

Frimark Sign??? I thought his had not come from the printer!! I have not seen a Frimark sign anywhere in town.

Howard is having a tough time getting sign locations. That happens when you piss off everyone in town. There are only a few out that people have been spotting.

Anonymous on 03.01.09 12:15 pm,

That might explain why he’s got his cronies stealing Schmidt signs in the middle of the night.  Frimark is a total limp weenie.

We have heard that Schmidt signs have been removed from various locations, but we have heard of no evidence – as opposed to mere suspicion – that their removal was the work of the Frimark Campaign or of anyone officially connected to that Campaign or to Mayor Frimark himself.

Rather than engage in idle speculation, if anyone sees signs being removed or has firsthand knowledge of such unauthorized sign removal, he/she should inform the Park Ridge Police. Otherwise, people, let’s let the voters focus on the many substantive issues that distinguish the two candidates from each other.


Thank you!!!!!!!! It is facinating to me how people feel commfortable starting, saying and repeating things with no evidence. Kind of like Hannity.

I can just see the e-mails flying around town….”did ya hear Frimark did this???”

There are plenty of real reasons not to vote for him. Thank you for pointing that out!

I know of a location that now has a camera turned on. Wouldn’t it be something if we caught Howard stealing signs on film? Or what do you want to be that it is Linda Ski stealing the signs!

Dear PubDog Editor:

I wanted to take a moment to respond, or at least, comment, on the PubDog article from 02/27 regarding the upcoming Park District Board election.

First, thank you for supporting my efforts to maintain some semblance of order to the filings for the original 10 candidates. As you know, I objected to Giordano and Mizialko’s paperwork and was successful on both challenges. I too was troubled by the apparent attack on me and my fellow challengers by the editors at the Herald, castigating us as undemocratic for our objections. As I stated in my open letter to the Herald as well as to the PRU, if we as citizens find it abhorrent that people can be bounced from a ballot for failing to bind their paperwork together or forgetting to file a Statement of Economic Interest with the Cook County Clerk, then we should speak to our legislators about changing the laws. As an officer of the Court, I am sworn to uphold the laws of the United States, and that is precisely what I did when filing my objections.

Was I also concerned that a slate of four people backed by the SEIU might be on the ballot? Absolutely. Was that a motivating factor in my objections? Most certainly. However, the bottom line is that all candidates must follow the rules, including myself. I took painstaking efforts to insure that my paperwork met all of the rules because I take this candidacy very seriously. Why shouldn’t all of the candidates be held to this same standard?

As for the other open question you posed to Nick Milissis regarding our “slate” and alleged connections to Barton and Dudycz, I wish to set the record straight.

I decided to throw my hat in the ring in this election because I was very concerned about the SEIU taking over control of our Park District. I am the father of four young kids (soon to be five). My entire family uses Park District programs and facilities on a regular basis. I want to make sure that we continue to have nice facilities and good programs at a reasonable price for everyone in our town. I am a fiscal (and social) conservative and I believe strongly that elected officials have a profound duty to the taxpayers to be good stewards of taxpayer money. I want to see the Park District thrive with the money they already have allocated to them. I would also like to see the Park District come up with some unique ways of increasing revenue (for example, by increasing sponsorship opportunities) without going to the taxpayers or to the users for increased fees.

The Park District Board is not a stepping stone position for me. I have no aspirations to run for higher office. I simply want to see the Park District continue to be a source of pride and enjoyment for our community.

Dick Barton is a fellow member in the Knights of Columbus with me and I have used his firm for some PR work for my own law firm. I have known Dick for probably 5 years and count him as a good friend. When I first thought about running for the Board, I contacted Dick to get his thoughts. Dick was excited to hear that I was contemplating running and promised to support me in any way he could. I also know Steve Hunst from my regular workouts at the Community Center and Steve also offered his complete support. Before I knew it, I had the support and backing of Sal Raspanti, Marty Maloney, Mary Wynn Ryan and Nick Milissis.

Soon thereafter, Dick offered to help me with compiling my candidacy paperwork and also enlisted the help of Bob Dudycz to review my paperwork to insure that it contained no errors.

I have given no money to Dick Barton (other than a check for $50.00 to cover the fees he incurred when we used his UPS Store account to allow my petition circulators to get their forms notarized) or to Bob Dudycz.

I have not asked for any campaign contributions nor do I intended to solicit any. Because I was originally facing the prospect of four candidates backed by the SEIU, I thought it might be wise to meet some of the other candidates and see if any of us were like-minded in our views of the Park District. I met Nick Milissis, Pawel Matula and Scott Duerkop shortly after filing my paperwork and came to the conclusion that we all had much to gain by pooling our financial resources together to challenge the SEIU. The four of us have formed an “alliance” so that we can share the costs of brochures, yard signs and other such materials. Let me assure you that there is no other hidden agenda or quid pro quo at work.

Dick has offered his ongoing help with our “alliance” by giving us some campaign advice and helping us with putting our brochures together. We are not paying Dick any money to provide his advice or assistance. Also, I can unconditionally state that I have no political connections to Dick Barton or Bob Dudycz nor am I connected in any way politically to Mayor Frimark.

I hope that this answers the questions you may have had about my candidacy and about our “alliance” (entitled “4 The Parks”).

If you have any further questions of me, I would be happy to answer them for you.


Rick Biagi

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