Time For Taste Inc. To Put Up Or Shut Up


We have finally discovered at least one financial fact about Taste of Park Ridge, NFP (“Taste, Inc.”), the private corporation formed in 2005 to receive a no-bid deal to run “Taste of Park Ridge” (the event) from the administration of newly-elected Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark, and which – according to reports [pdf] available on the Illinois Sec’y of State’s website – inexplicably dissolved itself on February 20, 2009, before inexplicably re-incorporating on March 4, 2009. 

That one financial fact?  That, just this year alone, the City spent almost $23,000 of our tax dollars on City services for Taste, Inc.’s 3-day event.  Or so says the City’s “Special Events 2009” report [pdf], which is one of the agenda items for tonight’s Park Ridge City Council Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting (City Hall, 7:00 p.m.).

With the City now routinely running multi-million dollar budget deficits and the City’s reserves dwindling, the cost of everything it does, and the value provided for that cost, has become more important than ever before.  So a review of the 10 community events listed by the City shows that Taste (the event) consumes more City resources than any other event – even more than the City-run July 3rd fireworks show.

What does the City get in return for our $22,838 investment?  We have no idea – and, apparently, neither does the City: as best we can tell, this is the first time it has even tried to figure out what Taste (the event) costs…which is at least a reasonable, albeit belated, first step.

For the 5 years Taste, Inc. has run Taste (the event), the people running Taste, Inc. – currently, president Dave Iglow, vice-president/secretary Albert Galus, treasurer Jim Bruno, and directors Dean Patras, Sandy Svizzero, Barb Tyksinski and John Warnimont – have operated under a strict “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as to how much Taste, Inc. takes in, how much it spends, who it spends it with, and how much it gives away through its “Community Cares” fund.

At the August 17 City Council meeting, Iglow and Galus showed up in their signature orange Taste, Inc. shirts to read a self-congratulatory statement about just how wonderful they and their event are – which you can see and hear at, starting at approximately the 43.00 minute mark of the video.  

Not surprisingly, they spoke nary a word about Taste, Inc.’ s revenues, expenses or finances, other than (a) to make pointed references to the “dedicated, non-compensated” Taste, Inc. organizers and the numerous volunteers who provide Taste, Inc. with a dependable pool of free labor, and (b) to laud the un-quantified contributions Taste, Inc. claims to have made to other community organizations.

If you go to the Taste, Inc. website,, you’ll find more of the same vague, self-congratulatory bluster about Taste, Inc.’s “Community Cares” fund, which purportedly supports other community groups and projects “[w]hen we can, based on available funds.”  Of course, nothing on the website discloses when Taste, Inc. had any “available funds” and how much of them it gave away to whom.

Frankly, we’re getting fed up with Taste, Inc.’s public displays of self-indulgent back-slapping while it keeps all its financial information completely hidden from public scrutiny.  When a private corporation, “non-profit” or “for-profit,” holds a monopoly on the City’s biggest civic event and sucks up $20,000+ a year in tax dollars to run it on a no-bid, no accountability basis, we’re going to be pretty darn suspicious of exactly who is getting what, and why – especially when you can’t even find Taste, Inc.’s IRS Form 990s on, unlike such smaller local organizations as the Kalo Foundation.

So what’s up with that, Taste, Inc.?

After all, we share a boundary with the ethically-challenged City of Chicago, we are located in “Crook” County, and we live in what the Chicago Tribune has rightly termed the “State of Corruption” – all of which have provided us with plenty of examples of how private business interests can glom onto public funds by questionable means.  To think that what goes on all around us couldn’t happen here in Park Ridge is so naïve, we’d rather bet that not only is there an Easter Bunny, but that he sometimes moonlights as the tooth fairy.

But before the Taste, Inc. apologists start whining about our criticism, we remind our readers of one other fact we discovered about Taste, Inc.’s finances, although we had to get it from the Illinois State Board of Elections because Taste, Inc. sure wasn’t publicizing it: Taste, Inc.’s $1,000 political contribution [pdf] to “Friends of Bob Dudycz” in September 2007, shortly after “The Dude” resigned his position as vice-president of Taste, Inc. and as he was exiting his position as Maine Township Supervisor.

So we’ll say it once again: If Taste, Inc. isn’t a kinked-up organization with “insiders” cashing in on their positions within the company or feeding sweetheart deals to favored vendors while portraying themselves as disciples of Mother Teresa, the best – no, the only – way to show it is for Taste, Inc. to open up its books for inspection by the people who are pouring all that money into its coffers – both voluntarily as Taste (the event) customers and involuntarily as Park Ridge taxpayers.

It’s time for Taste, Inc. and its proprietors to put up (provide the financial information) or shut up (their bragging).  And if they won’t put up, then maybe it’s time they give up…their no-bid monopoly on Taste, the event.

25 comments so far

This is exactly the kind of stuff that ticks me off about people like the operators of Taste Inc.

If there’s nothing to hide, then stop hiding it! If you think we’re buying your “we’re only in it for the good of the community” b.s., we’re not.

The committee took over the event when the Chamber of Commerce said it was not going to do it any more. Those people (Mr. Iglow, etc.) should be applauded for keeping this wonderful event alive, and the Taste has been a grand success every year since then.

So why should we not trust them? Why should they have to turn over their business information?

I have to say that I am pleasently surprised by the 23,000 figure. Based on what I would assume would count as “billable” city services to the taste and the fact that it is a 3 day event, the number seems low to me.

I am all for any “partner” of our city being able to stand public scrutiny. I have a feeling that in terms of dollars left on the table there may be a great deal more cash in other third party contracts. If this is the way the city monitirs their relationship with the taste, what are the other big dollar third parties getting away with?

I am glad the city is starting to look at these things more closely but even if it turns out that none of the 23K ends up being billed to the taste, I think that amount spread among the taxpayers of PR is a bargin for something that I strongly feel really adds to PR.

If it’s going to cost the city that much to be involved with, why couldn’t it be a city-run event, with the city forming a committee of volunteers that report to the city. Everything would/could be transparent and open.

This way all revenues would come into the City and the City could make a determination of what to do with those profits.

Perhaps we could use the proceeds from the Taste to pay for the flood control credits, so loved by Aldermen Wsol & Bach.

It could be called “Suds for Subsidies.”

anonymous on 08.24.09 12:21 pm:

If the 501(c)3 and not-for-profit Taste committee didn’t use my money and your money and all of Park Ridge taxpayers money to run their event you might have a point… “Why should they have to turn over their business information?” But they are using my money and I want to know how they are using it and I have every right to ask and get a true response.
If Taste doesn’t want to give us taxpayers full disclosure then they should pay the City back every penny they use of tax payer money and make sure they are insured to a good limit by a reputable carrier. The City would be made whole (financially) and the Taste gang can go off and do whatever they want with whatever money they make and only be accountable to those who make their NFP donations to the organization.

Your question, “Why should we not trust them?” is so naive it is not even funny and isn’t worth responding to.

anon on 08.24.09 1:11 pm:

why do you make it sound like the city has to choose between eating that $23,000 in services, or not having taste of park ridge at all? that sounds a lot like the taste inc. people hinting that if they have to disclose their financials they aren’t going to run taste anymore, which sounds like a big bluff.

From the minutes of the City Council meeting of July 18, 2005: “Mayor Frimark reported that the Taste of Park Ridge was a great success. He thanked the committee and volunteers in our community. He said a more detailed report would be forthcoming.”

From the minutes of the City Council meeting of July 17, 2006: “The Taste of Park Ridge was a successful event lasting three days. There was an increase of revenue of approximately 40% from last year. The Mayor thanked the City employees and the Taste Committee who contributed their time to make this a great event. A final report from the Taste Committee will be given next month.”

From the minutes of the City Council meeting of July 16, 2007: “Mayor Frimark reported that the Taste of Park Ridge was very successful and that the Taste Committee would present a complete report at a future meeting.”

And guess what? The “Taste Committee” never presented any report at any future meeting.

I wonder why?

I just found this website….interesting….I have lived here for a while now and everyone loves the taste. (I know you’re not questioning the love factor.) The people who run it seem like life long residents and business people. None of them seem too big for their britches and none seem to be traveling the world or driving Ferraris around town. Not a Todd Stroger or Blago in the bunch. (In other words, do you really thing there is something illegal happening here or are you just generally pissy people? There are always a few who try to ruin things for everyone else in the name of political correctness.)

So, why are a few people on this website seemingly out for blood? My guess is it’s a bit like the old saying,”Perhaps the lady doth protest too much.” In other words, those who are not doing the work and helping but are instead complaining obviously have a hidden agenda. What is it you’re all mad about? I am looking for the real reason, not the transparency issue you seem to cling to in all the arguments I just read. Are you still mad about the last election or the change of Alderman years ago? Does the current Mayor not have enough power for you. Are you his personal buddies and you want all credit to go to him? I am just guessing here, but by reading the posts it seems like an ancient grudge breaks to new mutiny.

Perhaps it’s time to let it go and let those who are willing to work hard do just that without having to report to some comb-over bureaucrats.

The city would spend a fortune trying to run an event like this because they would need to pay every person organizing it. People do not volunteer that kind of time to government agencies, no matter how altruistic they appear. Would those who are loyalists to whoever runs this website step up for the city and volunteer thousands of hours? Doubtful. Business people do it because it gives them more visibility and networking ability in the community. (Of course, perhaps that’s what a few sour apples here might be after. No one can promote themselves via volunteer work because, god forbid, they might get some customers to walk through their doors.)

Volunteer time is nothing but sweat-equity, which all entrepreneurs live and die by; paying for advertising is often not a real answer to the small business person in tough economic times.

I hope the alderman see through the hidden agenda (whatever it really is) of those who are affiliated with the top secret Public Watchdog and allow the taste to continue as is.

BTW….who actually runs this website and who owns the domain? I suppose no one will say, but I think I will do some more reading/digging on the web tonight and see what I can find…..friends in low places you know.

It’s so much fun watching a small minority get all lathered up when a new person joins the fracas and doesn’t agree or worse yet, thinks you’re the ones who have a hidden agenda. This should be a good time…..


I do not pretend to know exactly how this is going to work out but I do not believe I made it “sound like anything”. I think my statement was/is fairly clear. I said “even if it turns out…..”. How does that assume anything?

1. Glad their investigating.
2. Surprised it only cost us 23k.
3. If it turns out that we cannot collect any of Tastes profits to offset taxpayer expense I still think the Taste is worth it.

How is that confusing??

Mr. Smith:

We have no desire to stop Taste. All we want is full disclosure of its finances by the private corporation that was formed in 2005 by friends of the then-mayor for the sole purpose of getting a no-bid monopoly on what looks to be a very lucrative event that we now discover is being subsidized by the taxpayers of Park Ridge to the tune of $20,000+/year.

Are you against full disclosure, Mr. Smith? And if so, why? Are you also in favor of no-bid monopolies? If so, why?

As for your gratuitous references to Todd Stroger and former Gov. Blago, neither one of them is reported to own or drive a Ferrari – so that’s a herring redder than a Ferrari.  

Greetings Alpha —

The answer is yes.

Thanks PRU.

Mr. Smith said, “I just found this website….interesting”

Mr. Smith, didn’t your Mama ever teach you not to lie? Or, are you one of those people who doesn’t pay attention when reading?

Either way, very disappointing beginning here, on your part.

Trust me, I am not disappointed in my start here – at all. I got the reaction I assumed I would get. You’re all very predictable. You must all be very close friends who have shared more than a few meals together. I enjoyed getting you all riled up. And my mama actually taught me that sometimes it is OK to lie. If you are claiming you NEVER lie in your day to day life, well, you’re a liar. And how would you know if it’s my first time or not? Are you the webmaster or the ideology cop for this group?

I am against full disclosure when it is none of the government’s business. It appears that the Taste is its own not-for-profit, which gives it certain rights that the mayor cannot just remove because he is the mayor. Hell, he barely has any power himself; somebody saw to that with the last mayor and now that a new guy is in place, he can’t actually do anything other than attend photo ops and pretend to be calling for clean government when he is being controlled back channel by groups like this.

Look, if you don’t like that there is a law to form non-profits and you don’t like that non-profits have certain protections(like all corporations), then work to change the law of the State. Good luck with that.

And thanks for answering my question about this being some sort of old political grudge. It smelled like that. Look, 2005 was a really long time ago. NO one has purple ribbons (or whatever color they were) on their trees any longer. It is time to move on.

These are honest business people who formed an honest to goodness not-for-profit. They followed all the laws of the state. They give of their time in order to promote PR and their businesses because that’s what must be done in small communities. There is nothing fishy here other than your political grudge. And even if there is, then get the state’s attorney involved and have that office investigate the whole thing. I am pretty sure Ms. Madigan and her staffers would tell you all to find a more constructive use for your time and energy. She wouldn’t send her lowest level attorney out. Her office would not touch this very honest effort because there is no point in wasting tax payer’s money investigating a political grudge against a legit company.

The city does not have the right to look over all my books and they don’t have the right to look over any other companies books either. If I happened to be a builder in the town (and I am not saying I am), I would be using lots of city resources in various ways. I would practically live at city hall, taking up time, asking questions, getting favors, being sure my projects were cleared first, getting through certain low level zoning issues with a wink and a smile (I gotta nice smile), etc…. I would benefit from all of this, and I would still not open my books – even if the mayor asked nicely. I would be building beautiful houses, following the laws of the state and city all the while, taking up city resources.

The world is an imperfect place, nothing is 100% fair or equal. It is impossible. Please, drop your old grudge and find a more constructive use of your time. In case you haven’t noticed, your property values are more like Schiller Park than Lake Forest these days, thanks to the new runway on Belleplaine. (Yet you pay LF type taxes…talk to your mayor about that…oh wait…he has no actual power…damn it!) Take all your efforts and work on that.

So, who does own this site? I would imagine the owner must be very proud of him/herself. Perhaps that person already is public, but because I am new here (even if you think I am lying) could you please post it again?


Mr. Smith,

It has been awhile since I have commented on one of the blogs, but this posting woke me up. I’m not even sure where to start. But let’s pull out a few of your “best” points.

“I am against full disclosure when it is none of the government’s business. It appears that the Taste is its own not-for-profit, which gives it certain rights that the mayor cannot just remove because he is the mayor.”

Huh? The City of Park Ridge can choose to spend or withhold taxpayer money to fund any event it chooses. The city can and should request full disclosure for any entity requesting money from taxpayers.

“Look, if you don’t like that there is a law to form non-profits and you don’t like that non-profits have certain protections (like all corporations)”

If they are a non-profit formed under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code they have to file a public document form 990 and I’m Sorry but there is no law that requires a City to fund an event with taxpayer money.

“The city does not have the right to look over all my books and they don’t have the right to look over any other companies books either. If I happened to be a builder in the town (and I am not saying I am), I would be using lots of city resources in various ways. I would practically live at city hall, taking up time, asking questions, getting favors, being sure my projects were cleared first, getting through certain low level zoning issues with a wink and a smile.”

At first blush at this I can only assume “Two Buck Chuck” was on sale this week. I’m not sure which previous administration you are referring where as a regular course of business of “getting favors” would be standard, but I have a good idea. No company requesting anything from the city should be working on a “wink and a smile” method. Every entity should be prepared to work within legal parameters and in the event where a specific funding is requested should be prepared to show just cause.

The City of Park Ridge gave this entity $20,000 cash in 2005 for seed money. Every year the City is asked to provide Police, Fire, and Public Works support. I like the event and attend it with my family. If after paying the restaurants, musical groups, beer vendors and other fair market suppliers there is a few dollars left over for the organizers, then so be it, but if there are significant profits I would like to know who is getting my tax money.

Finally, “BTW….who actually runs this website and who owns the domain? I suppose no one will say.”

Ditto Mr. Smith.

Until 2 years ago my family and I lived in Chicago, where everything that can be kept secret is kept secret by a mayor, city staff and aldermen who make the old Soviet Union look “open.”

So while I would like to share Mr. Smith’s view that “these are honest business people who formed an honest to goodness not-for-profit,” I can’t get past the idea that if that were true, there would be no reason for these “honest business people” to keep the finances of Taste of Park Ridge secret.

From over 30 years of living in Chicago, one thing I learned is that 99 times out of 100, “secret” is crooked.

So how did it go last night with the city council….did the hounds get what they wanted or did logic prevail?

What “logic,” Mr. Smith?

If Taste the corporation has been getting an average of $20,000 a year of free city services in addition to the $20,000 they got as “seed money” when they started, that totals $120,000 of City subsidies so far.

And so far all I can see that they’ve “given back” to the community is $1,000 to Bob Dudycz’s political campaign.

That smells “fishy” (to use your term) to me, Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith,
Please take some time to read the IRS’s code and regulations before you state that a not-for-profit has a right NOT to make its books and records available for public inspection and that they can do whatever they want with the funds they generate. (These generals rules for not-for-profits have been posted on this site many times before.) Non-profits are obligated by law to disclose annually their financial information. And individuals affiliated with the Taste-especially board members- may not personally benefit from public money provided to TPR-either city funds or donations.

Has anyone at PWD actually sent TPR a letter asking for the Form 990? TPR is required to give it to you if you ask. They are not required to post it online. If they return is late or has not been filed-then there are fines and penalties to pay. What happened to any money in TPR when they dissolved and reincorporated?

And Mr. Smith, I like you would like to know who runs this site. But if they choose to remain anonymous like you and many of us who post-then so be it. Though frustrating, we should be thankful for some of the issues they bring up-which our previous mayor and his puppets on the council tried to hide from us at taxpayer expense. You are not obligated to visit this site-you are here by choice.

“And so far all I can see that they’ve “given back” to the community is $1,000 to Bob Dudycz’s political campaign”

With all respect, you do not see very far.

Mr. Smith…you sound very much like an insider yourself. It is ironic you chose “Mr. Smith” as your moniker. Remember Mr. Taylor in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington?” He was an esteeemed businessman beyond reproach, as was his senator pal. Well, we all know what lurked behind the scenes. Is that the case here? Hopefully not, and I would like to think it is probably not. But how would I know? The Taste folks won’t spill the beans. Why? So what if they are not required to? What difference does that make? If everything is copacetic, then opening the books would be a benefit to the organizers, because it would show how well managed the operation is.

My guess is you must be close to one or more of the organizers, because you seem to know an awful lot about them, enough to vouch for their character. In fact, I’ll go further and speculate that you are one of them. And that disturbs me greatly, because based on what I can glean from your diatribes, you would probably condone a little skimming off the top (with a wink and a nod of course), because that is how things are done in your world.

As far as the mayor is concerned, he is simply doing what he promised: to do his best to make sure the people know where their money is going. If you want to criticize him for that, then you really are a moron.

Full disclosure means that you are NOT AFRAID to tell what is going on behind closed doors. When you refuse to disclose, we only have to assume that you are hiding something. The arrogance and glazing over the topic by the Taste of PR reps at a recent City Council meeting was SCREAMING cover up.

Oh, and to answer someone’s question about who “owns” the website:

Taste of Park Ridge
120 Main st
Suite 202
Park Ridge, IL 60068


Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
Taste of Park Ridge [email protected]
120 Main st
Suite 202
Park Ridge, IL 60068

Record expires on 08-Dec-2017.
Record created on 08-Dec-2005.
Database last updated on 25-Aug-2009 12:24:09 EDT.

Domain servers in listed order:


Registry Status: clientTransferProhibited


I need your input. What exactly does the city mean by “indirect reassigned personal costs”? Does that not mean that someone who would have been working and paid anyway is diverted from what they would normally be doing so that they can work the taste?

If that is correct, that would mean that even though the entire 20K would be “billable” in terms of services provided by the city to the taste, the actual additional expense to the taxpayer would be $11,769.

Of course the risk is that the officer who might normally be patroling is not at the taste. I do not recall a crime wave that weekend.


Thanks for the information but I believe the question was about this site, not the TOPR site.

sorry…my brain hurts after listening to the Finance report last night. There may be dead brain cells as a result. I hope I didn’t have the same look on my face as the Alderman did while Ms. Lembesis was speaking.

Um…registration for Pubdog? Who hasta know?

I too have a headache from listening to the report. See my comment on the Underground. I can’t type it again here, because my fingers won’t stop trembling.

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