Why Park Ridge Needs “Mayor Schmidt”


Park Ridge is at a crossroads. 

Under the past four years of Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark’s administration, city expenses have increased faster than revenues, producing multi-million dollar deficits.  Our property taxes are rising at a rate that outpaces inflation and would exceed the tax caps – if the city wasn’t exempt from them. Our basements regularly flood due to aged and inadequate sewers, while our streets and sidewalks crumble.

In short, it is in danger of becoming a far different place than it has been, and that most residents want it to be.

Meanwhile, Frimark has acquired an edifice complex that he is trying to treat by burying us in 20+ years of multi-million dollar debt for a big new police station that is wanted by only a few instead of being needed by many.  And rather than look out for the welfare of the majority of taxpayers and residents, Frimark concerns himself with questionable dealings with “friends,” campaign contributors and the special interests who seem to consider Park Ridge as just another place to make a buck.  Some examples:

  • He cast the tie-breaking vote to give his $1,000 campaign contributor, Napleton Cadillac, up to $2.4 million in outright payments and sales tax revenue sharing from City coffers;

  • He tried to get the city to pay the owner of the American Insurance property at 720 Garden $200,000 more than the price at which the city’s own appraisal valued that property; and

  • He recently accepted $1,500 from Park Ridge Taxi and its owner, who is trying to preserve his taxi monopoly from competition by other taxi companies.

But that’s not all.

In running for mayor in 2005, Frimark reported accepting $84,966 in contributions. Since then, Frimark already has reported collecting another $71,035 for his re-election bid. That’s over $150,000…for a job that is supposed to be very part-time (because we have a $200,000 a year city manager to manage things) and, consequently, pays just $12,000 a year.

But more troubling than those boxcar campaign dollars in light of Illinois’ history of pay-to-play government and Frimark’s own propensity for sweetheart deals, is how that his campaign contributions have been raised. 

Over $24,000 has come from Norridge resident Sam Spiros Markos and a collection of his businesses, many of whom are based out of offices in the strip shopping center on Dempster next to his now-leveled Crystal Palace banquet hall.  $7,200 of that was contributed to Frimark’s original election bid, but a whopping $17,000 has come from Markos Inc. since Frimark’s election – including a few thousand dollars used by Frimark to help elect 6th Ward Alderpuppet Tom Carey in 2007.

And another $30,000-plus has come from just 15 individuals and their businesses, including that $1,500 in the last couple of months from Oakbrook Terrace’s Park Ridge Tax & Livery, Ltd., under new owner (and Oakbrook Terrace resident) Dean Dinev, who is currently trying to keep any spare taxi licenses out of the hands of competitor American Taxi.

In contrast, challenger Dave Schmidt, who is running a true “grass-roots campaign, has collected only $26,062 ($2,600 of his own money). His biggest contributor is Park Ridge resident Tony Svanascini, who contributed $4,646 for a campaign event and whose company, Park Ridge-based, Inc., services the City’s website on a contract given out years ago, before Schmidt became an alderman and in such a small dollar amount that it did not even need Council approval. Schmidt’s next biggest contributors (after himself) are his brother ($1,000), his law firm ($1,000), and one of his law partners ($1,000).

We don’t see many Markos- or Park Ridge Taxi-style pay-to-play opportunities there.

But while Schmidt’s avoidance of the pay-to-play to which Frimark seems to gravitate would be reason enough for us to endorse Schmidt, there are many more reasons that deserve mention. 

Schmidt, although a relative newcomer to Park Ridge, has developed an appreciation for its unique character that befits a lifelong resident.  Yet he is not mindlessly anti-development, favoring projects that enhance the current character of the community rather than substantially change it.  And unlike the current occupant of 505 Butler Place, Schmidt is a true fiscal conservative who believes in balanced budgets and using long-term debt only for long-term needs that won’t mortgage our community’s future for short-sighted wants.  That’s why Schmidt wants to spend our hard-earned tax dollars for better sewers, streets and sidewalks instead of on a big new multi-million dollar police station. 

Even more important, however, is Schmidt’s commitment to defeating the Culture of Secrecy and letting the taxpayers know the truth about how their government works…and how it doesn’t. 

We’ve seen how secrecy has turned the State of Illinois into one of the most corrupt in the nation, and continued secrecy – including abuses of the Illinois Open Meetings Act – has started doing the same to our community.  While Frimark hides in closed sessions and absurdly insists that we can afford both flood relief and a new cop shop, even as we teeter on the edge of yet another multi-million dollar budget hole, Schmidt has blown the whistle on such abuses and lies – and was then condemned by Frimark and his alderpuppets for doing so.

We don’t need another four years of a stereotypical politician who takes credit for everything and accepts blame for nothing, someone for whom truth always runs a distant second to political expediency.  What we do need is a public servant who believes in honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability.

That’s why Park Ridge needs a man like Dave Schmidt as its mayor.  And we need him starting tomorrow.

2 comments so far

I found in last week’s H-A some interesting comments form those who support HF.,pr-letters-040209-s1.article

If he did all those great things in his early years as a PR resident as Mr. Szkwarek said.

How did he go wrong?

Frimark’s REAL accomplishments while in office are:

1. Making sure half as many sets of eyes are keeping track of our tax dollars.

2. Running the city budget into the red by $3Million.

3. Trying to grease the way for give aways to his favorite friends like Napleton and Norwood.

4. Trying to build a new police station we don’t need, probably so he can have a plaque made with his name on it.

5. Trying to keep secrets from the public by picking his country club for closed meetings.

6. Ignoring the OHare expansion until it was too late.

7. Ignoring the Casino deal until it was too late.

8. Ignoring flooding issues until they’ve gotten so bad even he can’t ignore them any longer.

9. Soliciting payoffs from Park Ridge Taxi.

10. Bullying local businesses and residents for insurance business and campaign sign locations.

And the list goes on and on and on.

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