New HOs, Old HOs, Everywhere A HO, HO!


The final figures are in, and we now have a better picture of what the two candidates for Park Ridge Mayor in 2009 spent on their respective campaigns.

According to the most recent D-2 reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections (which supplemented the 2008 D-2 reports), the winning Citizens to Elect Dave Schmidt campaign raised approx. $36,000, not counting Schmidt’s $2,400 loan, while spending approx. $32,470.  Schmidt’s opponent, former-mayor Howard Frimark, appears to have raised approx. $63,500, while having spent approx. $62,700.

Although those are big chunks of money, they are significantly less than what Frimark and his opponent, Michael Tinaglia, spent in 2005.

In the battle of the political consultants, winner Dan Patlak and his “Landslide Group cost Schmidt’s campaign $6,000, while Frimark shelled out well in excess of $9,000 on Linda Szczepanski (or “Linda Ski,” as we like to call her) – although her exact amount isn’t clear because several of her “consulting” charges are combined with charges for other things, like “insurance” and “supplies.”

But the real news going into the 2011 aldermanic elections is that there’s a “new” political party in town, and it already has $15,000+ in its war chest. 

The new “Citizens for Non-Partisan Local Elections” (the “Non-Partisans”) was formed January 14 of this year, and immediately received a going-out-of-business transfer of $15,000 from the old Homeowners Party (the “HOs”)[pdf], which by then had become little more than a shell of the issues-oriented, policy-driven organization founded by the late Marty Butler decades ago.  The HOs had spent the last six years in virtual exile following their disastrous showing in the 2003 aldermanic elections, when their candidates came in dead last in 5 of the 6 contested aldermanic elections they entered.  Even their sole victor, 2nd Ward Ald. Rich DiPietro, dodged defeat by a mere 21 votes over a virtually unknown opponent.

The smart money is on the Non-Partisans using those HOs funds to jump-start the aldermanic campaigns of the 4 candidates the Non-Partisans need to take control of Howard Frimark’s most notable, and most damaging, legacy to City government: the cut-in-half, 7 member City Council.   

Given that the Non-Partisans opened for business with the HOs cash and were organized as a lawful political party by a former HOs alderman (John English, 1st Ward), expect them to field reincarnations of the stereotypical HOs candidates – a bunch of generally likeable “nice” guys and gals whose primary concern seemed to be go-along-to-get-along consensus building, instead of serious and effective analysis, debate and decision-making on substantive policies and issues.

A lack of issues, policies and actual results doomed the HOs candidates in 2003 and kept them on the sidelines until apparently deciding to retire their damaged “brand” and re-group as the Non-Partisans – who, not surprisingly, declared in their filing documents [pdf] that they “will seek and support candidates to run for office in city government who…demonstrate a desire to work with other elected officials in a spirit of civility and consensus building….” [Emphasis added]

In other words, that “non-partisan” stuff is just window-dressing for “consensus building” – because municipal elections in Park Ridge are, by law, “non-partisan,” meaning that they are required to be free from the influence of the national political parties.  And despite the occasional cries of “Wolf!” by partisan local Democrats or Republicans, that’s what they generally have been, even though we have heard and observed some local partisans privately judging officials and candidates by their “R” or “D” affiliations.  

From our seat it looks like the real goal of the Non-Partisans is a return to those days of monolithic, go-along-to-get-along insipidness that characterized the last years of the HOs’ reign at City Hall, when every City Council meeting seemed to require at least one lengthy-but-meaningless diatribe by then-mayor Ron “Captain Ahab” Wietecha about his “great white whale,” O’Hare Airport, followed by a lot of head-nodding and rubber-stamping by his HOs-dominated Council. 

So unless and until we start hearing something out of them as to substantive City issues and policies, we think the Non-Partisans can best be described by paraphrasing a line from an old Who song: “Meet the new HOs, same as the old HOs.” 

7 comments so far

“Won’t get fooled again!”

I love that song!

The Who was great.

Watchdogs, isn’t LMS also a Szczepanski operation? Looks to me like Linda Ski made hay out of one of her client’s last hurrahs.


I never pay much attention to campaign expenses and I guess I should say thank you for you doing it.

Here is why I am glad that you and others do watch things, because I have always wondered about the money spent to get into an office that pays so much less. I mean that for all levels of office, not just here in Park Ridge.

I voted for Schmidt and I have hope he will get our community moving in the right direction. From your post today I am very pleased to see that Schmidt didn’t go crazy raising money and spending to get elected to office. He brought back a little sanity to the election and the money that’s been flying around. I like the push back on his campaign spending. I also liked his mail flyers too. The messages were simple, straight forward and I agreed with him.

I hope he keeps his promises.

Why do we need any political “party” for local elections? I remember the Homeowners, and as a “party” it did nothing but put a bunch of people in office who pretty much let city staff (translation: city mgr. Tim Schuenke) do whatever it wanted.

The idea that all the Non-Partisans bring to the table is “civility” and “consensus” is a sure sign of trouble – all form, no substance.

Rorschach prefers tough-love discussion to consensus. Not every vote has to be 7-0 or 6-1. Civility depends on your definition, but unfortunately the fights observed on the City Council were almost always about personalities instead of actual facts and issues.

“unfortunately the fights observed on the City Council were almost always about personalities instead of actual facts and issues”

Such as?

Rorschach is right about votes. The “right” 4-3 vote is a hell of a lot better than the “wrong” 7-0 vote, or a 7-0 “consensus.” (except that it gives 7 mopes who made the wrong decision the ability to say “hey, everybody else was wrong too, so don’t single me out.”)

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


(optional and not displayed)