Taste, Inc.’s “Owners” Owe All Of Us A Show-And-Tell (Updated 7/15/09)


This just-concluded weekend saw the annual return of Taste of Park Ridge.  The weather cooperated and the event appeared to have been well-attended, as usual.  Which means that it very likely was a financial success for its private owner/operator, Taste of Park Ridge NFP (“Taste, Inc.”). 

Although we are unabashed fans of the Taste of Park Ridge event, we have been critical of Taste, Inc. because of the somewhat odd way it came into existence and because of its insistence on keeping all of the details about its finances secret – especially in view of the fact that it effectively has been given a no-bid monopoly on Park Ridge’s largest annual civic event.

According to the Taste, Inc. website, its creation occurred as follows:

“In May of 2005, newly elected Mayor Howard Frimark, responding to citizens’ desire to see the Taste continue to develop as a signature event, secured seed funding for the 2005 Taste.”

Given Frimark’s role and his self-promoting tendencies, it’s not surprising that, at the July 18, 2005, City Council meeting [pdf], he crowed that the newly-minted version of the Taste event “was a great success” and announced that “a more detailed report would be forthcoming.”  But we never heard about such a report being issued, and we could find no evidence of one on the City’s website or, more importantly, on Taste, Inc.’s own website. 

Frimark made the same kind of announcement, and gave the same kind of assurance about a “report” being forthcoming, at the City Council meetings in July, 2006 [pdf] and July, 2007 [pdf].  But, again, we never heard about such a report being issued and could find no evidence of one either on the City’s or Taste, Inc.’s websites.  By July 2008, however, it looks like even Frimark could no longer maintain the charade, as no such announcement by him appears in that month’s City Council meeting minutes.

Why all the secrecy, Taste, Inc. President Dave Iglow (Pines Mens Wear of Park Ridge), Vice-President Albert Galus (Academic Tutoring Centers), and Treasurer Jim Bruno (Chase Bank)? 

If everything about Taste, Inc. is, and has been, on the up and up, why have you guys (and your predecessors, like Maine Twp’s Bob Dudyzc, Summit Square’s Marc Dennison, and Park District Commissioner Dick Barton) refused to share Taste, Inc.’s financial and operating information with the City and its residents whose volunteer services and money make this event such a success?

Don’t you guys understand that this kind of secrecy breeds suspicion? Or is it that you just don’t care?

Update (7/15/09)

Taste (the event) chairman and Taste, Inc. vice-president Albert Galus is quoted in yesterday’s on-line Herald-Advocate as labeling this year’s event “another successful weekend of feasting and entertainment,” and estimating attendance at between 40,000 and 45,000 people over three days. (“The ‘Taste’ of the town”) 

That’s great, Albert, really it is.  And we’re really happy for you.  Now why not do the right and honorable thing and provide 100% disclosure of Taste, Inc.’s finances, including its P&L on the just-concluded event, to all those resident volunteers who provided all that free labor, and all those resident customers who provided all that wonderful revenue?   


9 comments so far

I was at the Taste two of three nights, and it was great. But I also agree that the financial inofrmation should be made public.

I recently noticed that Frimark’s sign in front of his business on Busse highway is down and it appears the building is for sale. Where oh where has our Howard gone?


I completely understand your position on the obligation of the taste to publish their financial information on their website so that it may be reviewed in a public forum.

What I do not understand is what I see as a missing piece in your blame. You did not mention Mayor Dave’s name once in your post. You mentioned Frimark’s name, deservedly so, as he was very much involved and did not follow through on a report he promised – there is a shock!! Frimark is no longer Mayor. The new Mayor, in part, ran on transparency for city government yet he has had no comment at all on the objections you and many others here have raised. He has been silent and we all know he is aware of what has been posted here (we all know he comes to this site) and what some if constituents feel (we all know that many who come here talk to him regularly).

You make a statement in todays post that sums it up for me. “…..refused to share Taste, Inc.’s financial and operating information with the City and its residents whose volunteer services and money make this event such a success?” I understand that your position is that unless it is in a public forum it is not worth talking about but I would have to ask do we no that there have been cases that people have financial information and it has been denied? You imply that the Mayor or other members of city government have asked for this information and it has been denied. Is this so? Are you telling me that Mayor transparency let the taste go on this year having absolutely no idea what the expenses were for the city and/or what the revenue was for their “partner”???? My hunch is that he/they do know and if that is the case I would ask our elected officials why the silence? After all, “Don’t you guys understand that this kind of secrecy breeds suspicion? Or is it that you just don’t care?”

Lack of a report is something that I would have expected from Frimark but not something I would have expected from Schmidt.

9:05. You are correct that I have been paying attention. You are also correct that I have been quiet. That was deliberate on my part because I did not want to create unwarranted controversy prior to this year’s Taste which might have eclipsed the event.

The issue of the City’s involvment in the Taste and other events will be addressed at the City Council’s Committee-of-the-Whole meeting on August 24. That will give the Taste organizers and the City time to accumulate the financial information necessary to make a reasoned assessment of the situation.

The public should understand that this review is not directed solely at the Taste. There are a number of events where the City provides services but receives no reimbursement. The Council will be engaging in a broad review of all of these events. Stay tuned.


Thanks for the post and thanks also for serving me a few cold beers on Thursday evening. I was operating under the assumption that someone in public office would be looking at at least the cost side of the ledger in terms of services provided by the city (let alone having regular meetings with TOPR related to revenues). I am glad you are headed in that direction, and may I respectfully suggest that this become a yearly agenda item.

At the risk of sounding like a cheerleader, I do want to offer my thanks to board amd committee members of TOPR as well as all other volunteers. What ever one might think about the financial debate, putting on an event like this takes a hell of a lot of work and it starts long before Thursday. My family had an outstanding time all three days and, at least form my observations, so did thousands of other people.

Didn’t I read somewhere that Taste, Inc. gets $10,000 from the City in the form of services for which it doesn’t pay? Isn’t that the equivalent of 4 flood relief subsidies in Frank Wsol’s plan?

Where did you read that??? You should run for office! It would appear you are the only one in town who knows what the numbers are.

Anonymous on 07.13.09 11:37 AM:

The exact figure is $10,600, which can be found at page 19 of the City Manager’s “Budget Message” dated April 15, 2009, which in turn appears on the City’s website under the agenda for the Special City Council Meeting held April 18, 2009.

And that figure expressly “excludes [City]employee regular salary costs.”

Those guys running Taste have to be making a bundle just on the beer, so why are they getting $10 grand from the city?

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