Public Watchdog.org

Congratulations, Mr. Schmidt…Now Comes The Heavy Lifting

04.09.09

Congratulations, Mayor-Elect Schmidt.  You did it!

And congratulation, Park Ridge voters…for making it happen! 

4,885 of you went to the polls and cast your votes for taking this community back from the let’s-make-a-dealers and special interests for whom “public policy” is measured by un-enlightened self interest and personal profit.

By saying “Yes” to the open, honest, transparent and accountable City government promised by Mayor-Elect Dave Schmidt, you also said “No” to the cheap imitation of it Mayor Howard Frimark and his Alderpuppets have been trying to pass off on us the last two years. You also showed that you wouldn’t be snookered by a big-bucks campaign that became so desperate it resorted to eleventh-hour sleaziness because it had nothing of substance to offer.      

So give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back.  You earned it.

But Schmidt’s election was just the necessary first step of many that will need to be taken to get Park Ridge back on track.  And the next steps won’t be easy for Schmidt or for the rest of us.

First, Schmidt will inherit Frimark’s Alderpuppets, and don’t expect them to make the new mayor’s life easy.  Five of the six (Allegretti, Bach, Carey, DiPietro and Ryan) regularly opposed Schmidt on Council business and actively supported Frimark; and the sixth, Wsol, showed his true colors with his last-minute, deceptively-worded police station referendum designed to confuse voters and neutralize Joe Egan’s citizen-initiated referendum.  It almost worked, garnering the support of 46.80% of the voters, compared to the meager 16.61% that voted for the new cop shop on Egan’s referendum.

Despite the clear defeat of both cop shop referendums, however, expect Wsol and the other Alderpuppets to push forward with that project in some way, shape or form.  As Allegretti said: They were elected to make decisions like that, without input from the public.  That’s why we also can expect them to try to get redevelopment going in Target Area 4, even though the results of Target Area 2 are singularly unimpressive and the Uptown TIF fund is millions under water.  That’s because – from what we hear – the speculators and owners of those TA-4 properties are chomping at the bit to cash out while they still have the Alderpuppets to rubber-stamp the process.

Mr. Mayor-Elect, maybe it’s time to look into whether the City Code gives the mayor any veto power.

Second, Schmidt will inherit a financial mess.  After $3 million in budget deficits over the past two years and a proposed budget that is flirting with a $2 million deficit for this coming year, the new mayor will need to hold City staff’s and the Alderpuppets’ feet to the fire to reduce the risk of a financial melt-down.  Time for City Manager Jim Hock and Finance Director Diane Lambesis to earn their salaries – and for the Alderpuppets to learn about fiscal responsibility.

Third, Schmidt needs to walk the walk on changing the Culture of Secrecy.  Start with cutting down on closed sessions for everything but litigation and sensitive personnel issues, or at least making it clear to the Alderpuppets and citizens alike that (as the Illinois Open Meetings Act unequivocally permits) anything discussed in closed session is fair game for disclosure. Force those secrecy cultists to make their case for closed session every time one is proposed. We’ve had more than our fill of our mayor running around negotiating sweetheart deals and then telling the Council about it in secret.

Fourth, Schmidt needs to do what he can to make information more readily available on the City’s website.  He can start by digging up the applications for all of the people serving on the City’s boards and commissions and posting them, so that we can learn at least something substantive about the qualifications each of those individuals bring to those bodies. And how about putting in some reasonable biographical information about the City Council members, starting with the names of their employers?

Fifth, he will need to make a sound appointment for his replacement as First Ward Alderman, someone with a thick skin and a strong work ethic who is ready, willing and able to do what Schmidt has done for the past two years.  Four years ago Frimark picked a lapdog (Allegretti) – Schmidt needs to pick a bulldog.

These are just a few of the many things that will provide challenges to our new mayor the moment he takes the oath of office, a solemn vow with which we trust he will abide continuously and scrupulously. 

Because if he doesn’t, rest assured that it won’t get past the Watchdog.

8 comments so far

I have high hopes for Mayor Schmidt, but it’s good to know the Watchdog will be keeping an eye on him, too.

I voted for Frimark four years ago because of all the social and civic stuff he had done over his 35 years here, whereas his opponent seemed to have done nothing. What I soon found out is that 30 years in Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, and all that other stuff means nothing at all when judging who will be an honest and capable elected official.

Please don’t let us down, Dave.

I also have high hopes for our new Mayor.

I did not vote for Frimark last time and it was because of his deep connections with all the insiders.

My family moved to Park Ridge instead of our having family here for generations. I guess my view is as an outsider, which is something that alot of people love to remind you of. They always talk about how long they’ve lived here or that they grew up here. It has always made my family feel like outsiders even though we’ve been here what I think of as a long time.

I think my nature is not to trust long time insiders, so I have never supported that kind of banner waving thing about how long someone has been in a community, as if that trumps everything else.

I wondered if the people would hold it against Schmidt for not living here longer or growing up here, but they didn’t.

I feel better already.

congratulations to ald. dave and to us all.

he will need all of our help and moral support in the days to come, as he copes with all of the problems that he is inheriting. Just the financial problems alone will keep him busy, because you can’t expect the council members to finally figure out a way to balance the budget after mucking it up for the past two years.

and he will need our support when those frimark guys sabotage him and any proposals he tries to advance.

Anon.3:06

I don’t get why you would feel odd being a first generation Park Ridgean. Somebody has to be the first to move in and you shoud not blame anyone for your insecurity.

Anyway it’s perfectly understandable for one to vote for somone who’s lived here along time and if they’ve been involved in various civic organizations.

Of course those shouldn’t be the main reasons either.

I can’t remember my reasons now for voting for Frimark other than he seemed to has been the less of 2 evils.

Another simple step in the direction of transparency is for Dave to spend a few minutes instructing City Clerk Betty W. Henneman in the fundamentals of writing accurate meeting minutes, as opposed to highly redacted versions that “show every one in their best light.” That’s not part of the job description, Betty.

Time for an attitude transplant.

She must be feeling terribly intimidated considering she just was re-elected and not one single person even considered running against her.

A1:11,

How do you know “not one single person even considered running against her?”

Do you have the winning lotto numbers in that crystal ball of yours too?

alpha:

Forgive the extreme statement. You are correct that I do not know for a fact that not one person considered it. The general point of my previous message remains the same.



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