Frankie And Jimmy In The Claire De Lune


The front page story in this week’s Park Ridge Journal is titled: “The City Needs Money.”  That’s what prominent local attorney and Morningfields Market owner Frank DiFranco is howling in a blatant attempt to stampede our resident sheep – including most of the Park Ridge City Council – into a questionable billboards deal.

The kinkiness of all this should have been obvious from the start, with DiFranco law colleague (and relative?) Ald. Jim “Billboards” Allegretti not only leading the charge on the zoning code text amendments needed for the four billboards Generation Group, Inc. is seeking, but also proposing the scheme by which the City (rather than GGI or the property owner) became the “applicant” for those amendments – a scheme in which Alds. Robert Ryan and Frank Wsol were (take your pick): (a) co-schemers; (b) accomplices; (c) aiders and abettors; or (d) clueless go-along-to-get-alongs. 

Because the applicant was the City, no disclosures had to be made under the City’s ethics ordinance as to the identities of the officers, directors and shareholders of GGI or the property owner.

How convenient for them.

According to the Journal article, DiFranco wants the City to have a sit down with GGI’s Joseph Loss and talk money:  “They should be meeting with Joe Loss and trying to figure out how to get the most amount of money.”

We agree…but only after GGI and the owner of the Renaissance office plaza voluntarily provide all of the disclosures required under the ethics ordinance, so the City knows exactly who it is dealing with.  And because (according to the Journal article) DiFranco “has stated he is not connected to Loss’ Generation Group corporation,” we think DiFranco and Allegretti should present ethics disclosures too, if only as a sign of their good faith and fair dealing.  

Disclosures are crucial here because some of Mr. Loss’ clients in billboard deals with other municipalities reportedly are known criminals, like former Crook County undersheriff Jim Dvorak, who did federal time for bribery and ghost payrolling scams; and Oak Brook businessman Joseph Nicosia, convicted of insurance fraud.

In a series of articles in 2004, the Des Plaines Journal details the connections between Loss, Dvorak and Nicosia in the company that made a bundle off billboard permits granted by the City of Des Plaines, ostensibly trading on Dvorak’s relationship with Bill Schneider, who himself was convicted of mail fraud in the 1990s but nevertheless overcame that impediment to become head of Des Plaines’ Economic Development Commission and then even Acting City Manager.

Once all the appropriate disclosures have been made and the City and all of its residents have some idea of with whom they are dealing, sitting down and bargaining over how much the City deserves for four eyesores and the prospect of more makes sense.  And once the money issue is resolved – and assuming the City Attorney finds a way to ensure that any deal the City cuts on these billboards can be legally enforced – the City Council can hold a public hearing where residents can opine on whether the price is right.

Make no mistake about it, folks: the City does need money.  But, in large part, that’s because of the financial mismanagement we got for the past four years under former mayor Howard P. Frimark and his favorite aldermanic lapdog, “Billboards” Allegretti, when the City posted millions in deficit budgets, spent down fund balances, and tried to add another $16 million of debt for a new cop shop – something Allegretti favored so much he didn’t even want a referendum. 

So why weren’t DiFranco and Allegretti singing the money blues back then?

Maybe they were too busy listening to Claire de Lune?

2 comments so far

Claire de Lune, in French is moonlight.

Are Allegretti and DiFranco moonlighting as billboard company investors? Will Allegretti and DiFranco being dancing in the moonlight with Joseph Loss if the billboard deal goes through?

I get the feeling they think we’re all mushrooms. Keep us in the dark and feed us fertilizer.

DiFranco’s flyer says “It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil,” but the standard form of that phrase substitutes “grease” for “oil.”

Maybe Frankie D doesn’t want anybody to get the idea this deal is greased.

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