Getting Transparency From Taste Inc., One Inch At A Time


It’s that time of year again – time for the Taste of Park Ridge (“TOPR”), the City of Park Ridge’s premier civic festival run, once again, by private corporation Taste of Park Ridge NFP (“Taste Inc.”) without any contract with, or accountability to, the City even though it costs the taxpayers almost $23,000 in unreimbursed City services.  

Two years ago, in ”Time For A Transparent Taste” (07/07/08), we first questioned the secret way in which TOPR was being run by Taste Inc., at that time an Illinois 501(c)(3) corporation [pdf].  Taste Inc. did not publicize its financial information and also appeared not to have filed any IRS Form 990s [pdf], the federal tax return form required of 501(c) corporations who have annual revenues greater than $25,000, for the first four years of its existence: 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.  

Even though non-profits don’t have to pay taxes, the required Form 990 is an informational return intended to allow the IRS and the public to evaluate non-profits and how they operate.  Most, if not all, of the Form 990s filed with the IRS are posted on the GuideStar website, but none were ever listed there for Taste Inc. in any of those first four years, even though it was a certainty that Taste Inc. had revenues exceeding $25,000 in each of those years. 

Our questions stirred up a hornets’ nest of comments both challenging and defending Taste Inc’s conduct.  We were accused of being conspiracy theorists, axe grinders and worse.  But through all that time Taste Inc. produced nothing to account for the money it took in or how it was spent.  

So around this time last year, in ”One Year Later: Another Call For Transparency From Taste Of Park Ridge” (06.22.09), we re-raised those same questions, along with a new one: Why did Taste Inc. voluntarily dissolve itself on February 20, 2009 [pdf], and then re-incorporate on March 4, 2009 – but, this time, as a 501(c)(6) corporation with Chicago attorney Leo Aubel replacing Pines’ Dave Iglow as its registered agent? 

Yet another question was raised by the way the original Taste Inc. dissolved: we could find no record of it having followed the prescribed procedures for dissolution [pdf], including any record of what it did with whatever assets it had from those first four years of operations.  In other words, it looks like the original Taste Inc. was a scofflaw as to both its annual IRS filing requirements and its dissolution – with no accounting of whatever assets it accumulated from four years of operations and what it did with them on dissolution.    

As for why Taste Inc. effectively changed from a 501(c)(3) corporation to a 501(c)(6) one, the single biggest difference between the two appears to be that a 501(c)(6) corporation may engage in political activity [pdf] on behalf of, or against, individual candidates for public office, so long as that political activity does not constitute the corporation’s primary activity; and a 501(c)(3) cannot [pdf].   By running the TOPR, therefore, Taste Inc. has the “primary activity” qualification necessary for it to engage in political activity. 

What could that mean for Park Ridge government?   

Well, judging from Taste Inc.’s first-ever Form 990 [pdf] filing in March of this year, Taste Inc. is sitting on $65,221 in surplus assets just from last year’s TOPR event.  If Taste Inc. does that well this coming week, it theoretically could have a $130,000 campaign “war chest” with which to help finance aldermanic candidates in next April’s municipal election. 

That’s over $18,000 for each of the seven wards, which as best as we can tell would comfortably exceed what has been spent by any aldermanic candidate in the history of Park Ridge – other than Mark Anderson, who in 2003 spent a shade over $20,000 [pdf] to defeat incumbent Homeowners Party 5th Ward Ald. Steve Huening.   And it would far exceed the next biggest aldermanic campaign spender, Howard Frimark, who dropped a little under $13,000 [pdf] that same year to win the open 4th Ward seat [pdf].

Back in 2003, however, the City Council still had 14 aldermen, with only 7 seats at stake in any one election.  That made it impossible to win an entire Council majority in any given election. 

But with the current 7-person Council, Taste Inc. could commit $20,000 to four individual races to elect a 4-alderman Council majority favorable to any interests or agenda it might wish to advance.  And even after that $80,000 expenditure, Taste Inc. would still have $50,000 left over as “seed” money for TOPR 2011. 

Was the switch from a 501(c)(3) to a 501(c)(6) part of a plan by Taste Inc. to become a political powerhouse?  Or are its motives more benign? We don’t know, and the folks running Taste Inc. remain characteristically closed mouth. 

But irrespective of whether they intend to become moneyed power brokers in Park Ridge politics, that $65,000 in operating surplus reflected in Taste Inc.’s initial Form 990 filing makes one thing crystal clear: Taste Inc. can well afford to reimburse the City for the approximately $23,000 in City services it uses.But if past history is any guide, don’t expect that check to be in the mail to City Hall anytime soon. 

[To be continued…] 

56 comments so far


A few things:

First, your late. Good lord you throw this out piece only 4 days before the taste starts – your slipping!!!!

Second, and I am just throwing this out there, could it be that you are wrong….GASP!!!! The taste has maintained that the money made is used to fund the following year. Your own post references 50K in seed money. I am not sure if that is a correct figure but it seems to be in the ballpark. If you take the 50K and subtract it from the 65K what are you left with?? 15K. This seems to make sense as the expenses associated with stages bands etc would not be free. Beyond that, it seems when it comes to the taste you have a tendency to always go for, and even build, the worst case senario. I would refer your readers to 8/26/09. In that post you say the following…..”That’s right: $266,652…for a three day event. Suh-weet! Taste Inc.’s statement also reports that this “civic celebration…costs $90,000+.” If we take that to mean that Taste Inc.’s expenses are $90,000+, then Taste Inc. is making a cool $176,000 in annual profit”. You go on to ask what are they doing with the money. Of course you negelected to consider that that figure includes all the money that is passed back to the various food vendors that serve food at the taste. Apparently you would now admit that, considering in this post you seem to endores the idea that they now have a 65K war chest which would be 111K less than your original theory. Maybe they lied…..ahhhhhhh!!!!!

Now you take a figure of 65K, much of which is probably already being paid for stages and bands etc (only to be replaced by this years “profit”) and multiply it by 2. You then have this money going to a slate of candidates!!! This is all a plot!!! They have been lying low waiting for their chance!! But why would anyone think you are into conspiracy theory????

Lastly, in all this who gets off scott free?!?!?! Who has a position of authority in this town?? Who has the bully pulpit, if you will?? Who could stand up at a city council meeting (he runs them for christ sake) and state that he wanted this information or he wanted a vote on denying city support??? Scilencio!!! Ask him why as he works the beer tent.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We apologize for the lateness, but we had too much other governmental buffoonery to comment about. 

The numbers from our 8/26/09 post were what Taste Inc. chose to release last year to the City Council, before it filed its first-ever IRS Form 990 despite operating TOPR for four years prior to that.  And this Form 990 contains numbers which appear to be different from the numbers it released last summer, as you might see if you actually read the Form 990 that we embedded in pdf form in the post for your convenience and compared it to what Taste Inc. released last summer.  

We will be addressing some of the points you raise, and asking questions of the Mayor, City Council and City Manager, in our next post.     

I am not sure I understnd this. Are you saying that Taste Inc. did not file tax returns for its first four years in business? If so, how can they get away with that?

EDITOR’S NOTE:  As we understand the tax code for not-for-profits, if a 501(c) corporation (like Taste Inc.) takes in gross revenues of over $25,000 in any one year, it is required to file an IRS Form 990.  Nevertheless, we can find no evidence that the 2005-2009 iteration of Taste Inc. (“Taste I”) ever filed a Form 990, even though we would assume it had gross revenues exceeding $25,000 in each of those years.

We also understand the tax code for not-for-profits to require that a 501(c) corporation that dissolves needs to file various documents and account for whatever assets it has at the time of dissolution.  We can find no evidence of any such filings, or of what Taste I did with its assets when it dissolved prior to the formation of Taste II.  

We have no idea how they can get away with that, or why they might have tried to do so.


As likely a scenario as funding for 4 aldermanic seats is funding for Maine Township Repuglican seats and others along those lines. TOPR is and has been rife with right-wing political activists, which doesn’t make the Taste any less fun or wonderful but does make one worry who wants to enjoy Taste but doesn’t want to contribute to that political agenda.

Editor’s Note:  Our suspicion of Taste Inc.’s political ambitions came from its change from 501(c)(3) to 501(c)(6), and it’s contribution of $1,000 to Friends of Bob Dudyzc back in September 2007.  We think Park Ridge aldermanic races would give the Tastees more bang for their bucks than Maine Twp. races, but admittedly this is all pretty much just speculation because Taste Inc. plays its cards close to the vest.

I wonder if TOPR didn’t file tax returns because they got the idea from Park Ridge Baseball who didn’t file tax returns for something like 50 years even though they are a Park District affiliate. Wasn’t somebody here on the Park Board for a while?

exactly who on the board of TOPR is a “right wing political activist”???

Anon at 626, during at least two City Council meetings in the past year, the mayor has raised the issue of requiring the Taste to use its profits to pay the City for its expenses incurred. The Council rejected him both times. This is not a monarchy. It is up to the aldermen to decide whether the Taste folks get a free pass or not.

Anon 1:11

At what meetings did the mayor do that?

Hey, I’m not your librarian. Go back and check the agendas.

Now I get it. . . all this hubub about the Taste every year is about the paranoid delusions of the friends of the Mayor fearing that some political financial support would go to opponents of his slate of candidates.

What a joke.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  One person’s “paranoid delusions” are another person’s reality. 

As for the 2011 aldermanic elections, we hope that each aldermanic seat will be vigorously contested by at least two (if not more) candidates, all of whom being ardent advocates of clearly articulated positions on the important issues facing the City.  And just as we were critical of then-mayor Frimark’s recruiting and/or financing of aldermanic candidates in 2007, we would expect to be equally critical if Mayor Schmidt were to do the same.   


You have to understand the rules here. See you can say anything you want – it’s called “pretty much just speculation”. You do not have to offer any proof. Today they have speculated that TOPR is in fact a political front. They have speculated that TOPR is filled with right-wing political activists. Next will come the socialist and Nazi comparisons. What is most telling about this blog is not so much who they speculate about but about who they do not speculate about. It’s not about policy or principle but about people and politics.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The “rules here” are no different from any other blog, none of which demand “proof” to enter or comment.  That’s why we publish your proof-less comments.

Our “policy” on TOPR is that we think it’s a fine event, but our “policy” on Taste Inc. is that for $23,000 of taxpayer-donated City services it should be totally transparent and accountable to the taxpayers who are funding it – which just happens to be the same “policy” we advocate for those other private community groups feeding at the public trough.  

Anon 1:56

I think you should offer proof of your statement. You see, I do not think the mayor did what you said and I do not remember hearing him say what you claim. You are asking me to prove the negative when I think you should prove the positive of what you said.


you may want to check your calculations again.

According to the document the taste provided the city council last year, they have around a 10K to 15K surplus which is applied to the next year’s event. So, let’s see 2005 TOPR made 20K according to the city council records with don crampton chairing the finance committee. 2006 -10K, 2007 – 10K, 2008 – 10K, 2009 – 10K —add it up and it looks to be around 60K.

It seems your assumption of TOPR doing 65K surplus is a gross misreading of the info they provided the council.

A surplus of 10K yearly surplus seems a more reasonable and believable explination.

I for one am glad that they are able to create funds to help pay for the next year.

If I recall correctly, TOPR has not received any direct cash support from the city after the 2005 event.

As a citizen, I commend the TOPR group for producing a good event.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Given a choice between Taste Inc.’s public relations release last August and its first-ever IRS Form 990, we’re going with the Form 990.

Hey 234, if you had been paying attention, you wouldn’t be asking me to drop everything and go back through the City’s meeting minutes just to prove to you what I already know. So, stick it.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Ladies/Gentlemen, please.

Here is a warm and fuzzy assist to Anon @234pm:

Background memos on the City’s website for the City Council’s Finance and Budget Committee reflect that the mayor first raised the issue of reimbursement at the August 24, 2009 committee meeting. It was discussed again at the September 28, October 26 and November 23 meetings when I recall the Council shot it down for good.

Anon 2:34

I do pay attention and I never heard the mayor ask the aldermen to vote on requiring the Taste to use its profits to pay the City for its expenses. You said he did. You should prove he did. If you aren’t prepared to back up your statements then maybe you shouldn’t make your statements!


The only reason the blogs work at all being anonymous is because when proof of some positive statement is asked for the blogs back up their statements or they try to. I understand comments are different so I guess Anon 2:34 should be ignored for being lazy and rude.

Anon 2:16

I think you could be rright and that is too bad for all of us.

So you basically foster the idea that the TOPR Inc is lying. These board members, all of who are local business people, are screwing the PR taxpayer. Your post a few minutes ago does it again. Their numbers are just a public relations release. Then you act “offended” when someone says stick it??? Too funny!!! What you are intimating about the board members of TOPR goes well beyond Stick it.

Beyond that you are just plain inconsistent. You demand transparency from one orgainzation and not another. We had a fireworks show a few days ago. To use your words… “is that for $23,000 (approx) of taxpayer-donated City services it should be totally transparent and accountable to the taxpayers who are funding it”.So substitute fireworks for TOPR in your quote. Beyond the fact that the person donated the money for the fireworks has a no-bid city contract (not saying this is illegal but you have speculated about less), please tell me how that event is transparent?? We spend just about as much in taxpayer dollars for police and fire for this one night event as the 3 day TOPR. So how much was made on concessions and by who? How about parking? Was any other money made?? What other costs were there? Damage to school property? How about last year? They year before? We know absolutely none of this data. The fireworks show is no more transparent than TOPR. If the principle is as you state, transparency to the taxpayer, why is it you say nothing about the fireworks show?

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Just a few of the distinctions are: 

1.  Americaneagle is a private, for-profit corporation which provides specific informational services to the City under the terms of a legally enforceable contract with the City.

2.  Taste Inc. is a private, not-for-profit corporation which provides general entertainment services directly to the public using City property and $23,000 of City serviceswithout any legally enforeceable contract with the City.

3.  The “fireworks show” is run cooperatively by the City, the Park District, and High School District 207, all of whose finances are required to be disclosed to the public and are subject to FOIA.

4.  For the past two years, the cost of the fireworks – approximately $18,000 – has been donated by Americaneagle.

5.  TOPR was run from 2005 to 2008 by private corporation Taste Inc., whose finances were not disclosed to the public.

6.  Since 2009 TOPR has been run by private successor corporation Taste Inc., whose one year of finances has been disclosed to the extent required by IRS Form 990 and not subject to FOIA.

7.  In 2009, Taste Inc. reported charitable donations of $5,381.

Anon 3:11

If proof is in any of those meetings you cited I must have missed it. I never heard the mayor ask the aldermen to vote on requiring the Taste to use its profits to pay the City for its expenses. I will look at those meetings.

3:11 – The problem with the Mayor’s comments at the meetings you listed is that he never was able to put together a working definition of the event type that would have to reimburse the city, nor did he arrive at a clear way for the city to account for and bill for the services. I think a clearer plan would have been easier for the council to vote yes or no on. . . .He basically said “Hey, I think these Taste guys should pay the city back for services.” Then sat on his hands and let the muckrakers rake muck.

Seems to be a pattern with Dave.


Thanks for the response. I know the distinctions. What I do not know is what difference they make. The principle involved here is transparence. You failed to answer any of the issues I brought up. Are you suggesting that a lack of transparence is OK in some situations? I am not saying that the fireworks is an excuse or somehow makes a lack of transparence for TOPR OK. What I am saying is that just because someone donated the fireworks does not mean it is OK to have a lack of transparence when we spend over 20K in tax payer money. No matter who runs the event, there are others involved, (concessions and parking). If transparence is your principle then the fireworks should be totally transparent and accountable to the taxpayer. It isn’t. 

Unfair 405. The mayor has no power to submit legislation and he cannot force the Council to vote on something which it refuses to consider. He asked the Council to consider a repayment requirement and they decided to go witn the status quo. So unless you want to vote him plenary powers, start looking at where the problem lies.

Anon 7:20

When did the mayor ask the Council to consider a repayment requirement? I looked through the meetings listed up above and didn’t see one time where the mayor asked the Council to consider a repayment requirement. I checked on PRU too. What I read was the mayor asked to look at costs for all special events and the most the mayor said was the policy for special events didn’t have any repayment requirement in it and the mayor also wanted the status quo for reviewing special events to go with staff and not the Council. Nowhere I read did the mayor say anything you say he did. I think it is lame to say the mayor needs more powers and that makes him blameless for his lack of actions in speaking to the issues.

That is weak Anon@736. But you keep drinking your kool aid.

What is weak about what I wrote? I looked through what was listed here and more for what happened and you are wrong about what you claim the mayor’s actions were. Defending the mayor by saying he said or did something there is no evidence he said or did is what is weak and full of kool aid!


Get with the program here!

TOPR, bad!

American Eagle, good!

Wait a minute….

Taste inc produces an excellently done community event and provides charitable donations to other groups, yet Americaneagle gives money to the city on the condition of it going to an extended relative and the owner of americaneagles happens to be the biggest contributor to the current mayor.

something smells here and it aint TOPR…it smells like schimdt and his americaneagle buddy are doing what PUBDOG likes to refer to as a CROOK County type of deal.

HMMMMM.. Lets see if pubdog has the cahones to publish this or if the dog has been nuetered.

It is unfortunate that contributors like anon at 810 would apparently deliberately blur the issue.

American Eagle does not run the fireworks show or sell tickets, or t-shirts or anything else. It collects no money and makes no money. It does not request police or public works services. What it did was bail out the Park District and the City the last two years by paying for the fireworks. That is all. Those are your apples.

The Taste Committee does sell tickets, does collect money and does request City police and public works services free of charge and now apparently admits to reaping a hefty profit which it will not use to pay back the city for the free services it is now getting for courtesy of the aldermen. Those are your oranges.

Anyone who cannot see the distinction has fruit salad for brains.

Anonymous on 07.06.10 8:26 pm:

The word is cojones, and it doesn’t take any to publish silly comments – we do it all the time.

According to you, something smells because:

1. the owner of Americaneagle is the biggest contributor to Mayor Schmidt’s campaign fund.

2. Americaneagle donated approx. $18,000 this year ($36,000 total over the past two years) for the City’s/Park District’s/D-207’s fireworks show.

3. The fireworks ended up being purchased from an “extended relative” of Americaneagle’s owner.

(And we’ll add a point about this situation that you appear to have overlooked):

4. Americaneagle got a City contract worth almost $20,000 to re-do the City’s website.

We’re faithful readers of John Kass, Mark Brown and Carol Marin, but we’ve never heard of a “CROOK County type of deal” where a business owned by some elected official’s biggest campaign contributor donates $36,000 in order to get only $20,000 worth of City business.

As for Taste Inc.’s “charitable donations to other groups,” as reported by Taste Inc. (in its recent first-ever IRS Form 990 filing), in 2009 Taste Inc. donated a whopping $5,381 – or less than 1/3 of what Americaneagle contributed that same year just to the fireworks show – despite Taste Inc.’s taking $23,000 of City services ($3,000+ more than Americaneagles’s City website contract).

So if you’re looking for a “CROOK County type of deal,” you’ve found one: Taste Inc.’s deal with the City for TOPR.


My question (s) has yuet to be answered. How much money exchanged hands at the fireworks show? Concessions? Parking? any thing else? How much did it cost us (taxpayer) beyond the approximately 20K we know about? The subject here is transparancy. I could care less if Maerican Eagel runs the event. The point is on one side you have TOPR and if they do not account for every freakin’ cent it is a tragedy. On the other you have an event that is not transparent and not a sole says a word. You give a bunch of reasons about who does or does not run it. Good for you. The point is you have different standards based on who is involved.

May I ask what is the value of having a virtual commercial at an event in front of thousands of people(many of whom are business people) that may have a need for your service? Is it possible that that generated some business? May I ask what the value is of adding the city of Park Ridge as a client if you are marketing other cities and businesses? There is a value to that but I digress.

My point has never been that Americaneagle or the ownner are bad or did anything illegal. I have said several times we owe them a thank you. My point is you use this whole transparence issue as a tool. It is a hammer that you take out to beat on organizations that you have issues with. Meanwhile, other organizations or events that are just as guilty of a lack of transparency while using taxpayer money (a great deal more taxpayer money if you break it down by the hour)are not an issue at all.

A point about this situation that PW appears to have overlooked is AE made a fat fee from its contract 5 years ago. AE has taken about $40k from the city.

Publicwatchdog 5:01

Does americaneagle’s fee of $20,000 for the new website include what I read are also more fees it will get? Web site maintenance ($2,000), hosting & licensing fees ($2,100).

My name is Tony Svanascini and I am and owner and the CEO of In view of the recent comments about my company and me appearing on this blog, I thought it would be helpful to provide some facts and set the record straight. is a website design and hosting company that moved to Park Ridge from downtown Chicago in 1997, arriving here with around 7 employees. We initially occupied space at Renaissance Center but later relocated to Uptown, where we now have 2 different locations housing 150 of the 175 total people we proudly employ. Many of our people also have chosen to live in Park Ridge and raise their families here, including my wife, myself and our three boys.

Between paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in local property taxes and employing people who themselves generate property, sales and parking tax revenues on a daily basis, I would say that provides a huge “net positive” for this community. And I am proud of that. too.’s involvement with this community’s 4th of July fireworks show began a few years ago, when I read in one of the local papers that the city was considering getting rid of the fireworks because of budget constraints. Being that my father-in-law manufactures fireworks and puts on fireworks shows all over the country, I figured that we could step up to the plate and offer to donate the fireworks show under the banner. I can assure you that, had I not had the family connection to the fireworks business, there is no way I would have even thought of doing something like that.

After we came to an agreement with the city (under former Mayor Howard Frimark, by the way) to provide the fireworks show, the Park District (which was also involved) wanted to make sure we got recognition for the event. Although we did not expect to get a lot of new customers or business from sponsoring a local fireworks show, we gratefully accepted the Park District’s offer because we thought the attention would help us with our program of recruiting employees who live in the area.

And it did. In fact, that first show was so well-received that we agreed to donate the fireworks show again this year. And we hope to do the same next year.

As for my support of Dave Schmidt’s campaign for mayor, I got to know Dave after he became my alderman. Because I believed him to be the better candidate in last year’s mayoral election, I made a personal contribution of $4,646 for a fundraiser at Zia’s Trattoria in February 2009. That was the first significant political donation I ever made to any candidate, and I am pleased that Dave was successful and that he has become a friend.’s relationship with the City of Park Ridge as a vendor of website services began 5-6 years ago, well before I met Dave or we donated any fireworks shows. Over the years has received close to $50,000 from the city, which includes the cost of the recent website redesign work. I believe Park Ridge received excellent services for those fees, which were substantially discounted because we wanted to do our home town’s website and try to make it the best of its type.

Other customers of ours include: The White House (which was the biggest launch in the history of the Internet, during President Obama’s inauguration), the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Auto Show, Beretta, Fannie May Candies, Portillo’s, the NFL Hall of Fame, Nascar, Cook County, DuPage County, the U.S. Army, the Coast Guard, and hundreds of other well-known and lesser-known businesses all across this country, and in several foreign countries as well.

To those who have suggested some kind of pay-to-play situation between and the City of Park Ridge, I can only point out that over the past 2 years we have donated $36,000 of fireworks and received around $25,000 in city business. All of our services have been provided under signed written contracts that are matters of public record.  Frankly, if we (my family and my company) didn’t reside here, there is absolutely no way we would be doing this for purely “business” reasons: we provide website services for over 100 other cities, many of whom pay us significantly more that did Park Ridge, yet we don’t sponsor their firework shows or other events.

I also am puzzled that some people find negatives in all this, as nobody ever has voiced such complaints to me or employees. On the contrary, we have received hundreds of e-mails over the past two years thanking us for the donations and even saying that these shows have been much better than past shows.

Although I have gone on long enough already, I would be remiss if I didn’t address Americaneagle’s Better Business Bureau rating, which has been mentioned in other forums. It is currently a “D-“, based on one unanswered complaint which we were instructed by our attorneys not to answer due to the complainant’s threat of litigation which, fortunately, never materialized. While we continue to discuss that rating with BBB, most of our customers rely on Dun & Bradstreet’s ratings, where we rank in the upper 10%. You can check that for yourself at D&B’s website,, under their “open ratings” section.

In conclusion, I am more than happy to answer any questions anyone wishes to ask me about, its business relationship with the City of Park Ridge, or the fireworks. I can be reached by e-mail, [email protected], or by office telephone at (847) 699-0300.

Anon 12:07

Looks like I will be the first because Tony Svanascinis story on this changed. Last May here he said “Over those years we have been paid approximately $34,000 by the city, all under contracts that are matters of public record. Our contract for the just-completed city website re-design was for $19,500 (part of the total 34k we’ve received in total)” but now he admits the fees totals are %50,000 and also now admits the fireworks is a family deal. If this is all about transparancies it looks like PW and Tony Svanascini and the mayor were not being all transparent until now.

Thank you Tony.

Now, who will be first to find fault with this?

Anon @ 1216, you do have fruit salad for brains. Be sure to look for the co-conspirator on the grassy knoll. And then…get a life.

Anon 12:22

Are you the lazy and rude person from yesterday? Maybe your brains are fruit salad since you can not say anything worth saying. The story being told has changed. I have paid attention and I have a nice life but thank you for being concerned.

Yep, it’s me. Are you the same ignoramus who can’t tell the difference between a contributor to a government-sponsored Independence Day event who helped offset taxpayer expense and a privately run festival which costs the taxpayers money? I could have sworn it was you. Sure smells like you.

Anon 12:35

I am the person who asked about what the mayor did and did not say about requiring repayment from the Taste because you made claims where there is no evidence of the mayor doing what you said. I am not the person who compared the two things. You could maybe see a doctor about your problem with smells if you think you are smelling things through your computer. You could also maybe see a psychiatrist for your mental hang ups about people aksing questions.

12:16, I would be happy to discuss this with you if you have any questions. I am including all numbers, including hosting and maintenance, in those totals. The totals are actually under $50k but as months go by and hosting and update fees (300-400/month) accrue, the figure obviously goes up.

The fact that my father-in-law owns the fireworks company was always disclosed to the city and the Park District, both in writing and in the original presentations. The fact that is wasn’t advertised by the Park District or City is a question you’ll need to ask them as I’m not sure where or how I would disclose that to the public anyway. As I said, we wouldn’t have offered the donation if I didn’t have knowledge of the fireworks business to begin with (via both my in-laws, they have separate fireworks businesses).

Please understand that we do not HAVE to do the fireworks show… We would have gotten the same revenues from the city with or without the donation so I am absolutely bewildered as to how this is being perceived as a negative. If you think it’s better for us not to give this donation then I would be happy to let you do it next year, you know where to reach me. Of course, based on the hundreds of e-mails I’ve received, you are definitely in the minority, if not the only one.

Tony Svanascini

I do not think it is necessary to call or email you and talk about these things. Your offer is out of line with the issues of transparencies here. When people have said call so and so the answers here have been no and I will keep with that. In the posts and comments here on your company you could have been more transparent about the fireworks deal with your family and all the fee totals when you were talking about those things and your company here before today. I think it is not fair to pass the buck to the dity or parks. You changed your story on those amounts and never talked about the family arrangements. It does not look good for the CEO for a company not to know what the fees are for some business. It looks really bad when the CEO comes to say how great everything and how all this donating is all in the good of his heart and then gets the facts in question wrong and does not even mention other facts. It is your choice to do the fireworks show. What the negative is is how in the writings here about your company some how you and the PW left off some details about how it is all working and how the talk about it has not been in keeping the the calls of tranxparencies here.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  What “looks really bad” to us is a private, allegedly non-for-profit business with a monopoly on the City’s premier civic event not filing IRS Form 990 tax returns for its first four years in business, then closing down its 501(c)(3) operation and reincorporating as a 501(c)(6) operation.  What “looks really bad” to us is not filing the required forms to account for the assets that seem to have disappeared when the 501(c)(3) operation closed down.  What “looks really bad” to us is taking $23,000 of City services, turning a $65,000 “profit,” and not even offering to pay for those services while the City lays off police officers and other City workers.  And what “looks really bad” to us is making only $5,400 in unidentified “charitable donations” while sitting on that $65,000 “profit” that can now, thanks to the change in its 501(c) status, can be used for lobbying or political purposes. 

Different strokes for different folks.

2pm Take the marbles out of your mouth when you write. It is all gibberish.

Got a question for you: if someone offers to pay for the fireworks, who the hell cares where he buys them? He did it with his own money, not taxpayer money. If he had bought them from someone other than his father-in-law, they likely would have cost more, or we would have seen less fireworks. Would that make you happier? So what exactly is your beef? This whole conversation is insane, people. Go back to the top and read the post. This is about whether the Taste should pay back the City for expenses incurred out of the profits derived from the Taste. STAY ON TOPIC.

Anon 2:12

I guess you speak and read gibberish because you understood enough to ask me a question. Some here have compared the fireworks to the Taste and how PW has said one is bad and the other is good but without questioning the lack of transparencies for the one event the PW takes favor with. It turns out the PW and the americaneagle and the mayor did not give all the facts about the fireworks deal. Nobody here has said the fireworks show is not nice. It is just not being treated the way other relationships between donors and politicians and organizations gets treatment here. What do you think about the CEO first saying his fees were totals of $34,000 but now saying the totals are $50,000? What do you think about PW not disclosing the family arrangements for the firworks or Tony Svanascini not speaking to that before when he posted here? What do you think about the monthly charges that add up over $4,000 for the year as an additional charge to the city for the website fee of $19,500? Those fees together to the same company for the city website are over the bid amount I understand. It is about the transparencies and what is being said here and not said here. You can not have your cake and eat it too by saying one is fine and one is not. What is your beef with asking questions about what is being said here? All of these posts have been about transparencies. Why do you care if the topic gives treatment to the americaneagle company instead of the Taste when the real topic is transparencies? The PW editor put up the comment posts so your yelling STAY ON TOPIC makes you sound full of yourself. You sound dumb too because PW wrote about transparencies and possible political actions then at the very end said Taste should pay back the city. It read to me more like PW is more concerned about the politics than any requirements for repayments.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  A private for-profit vendor (like Americaneagle) providing the City with specific services under a legally binding and enforceable contract is nothing like a private not-for-profit corporation (like Taste Inc.) being given $23,000 of free City services annually without any contractual obligations or accountability.  

Taste Inc. also appears to have violated laws designed specifically to make 501(c) corporations transparent by not filing IRS Form 990 income tax returns for the four years it operated TOPR as a 501(c)(3) entity, or filing any of the documentation related to the dissolution of that 501(c)(3) entity. 

Finally, Taste Inc. has not even offered an explanation of its change from a 501(c)(3) to a 501(c)(6) entity, despite regularly tooting its own horn.     

Mr Svanascini:

I am sure you are puzzled. Unfortunately people who do very good things (like you) can get caught in the political crap that goes on in PR. It is puzzling how your business could be talked about for potential insider dealings and money changing hands. Puzzling and not fair. I am sorry and pass along my thanks for your community involvement.

Having said that, there are other people in town who have been through the same experience. You can simply read this thread or many from past years around this time related to TOPR. The problem is that if people are going to “speculate” about others, other people are going to “speculate” about you.

Anon 4:06

You sure did not STAY ON TOPIC! I do not know what I have written that has you being so rude. I think lashing out like you have iss a sign of mental weakness in you. If you can gather some brain strength and STAY ON TOPIC or even in the same country as the topic that would be refreshing and new.

What I think we all need to keep in perspective is that we should all be on the same side. No one wants the people who run civic events to use public funds and profit from them without disclosing what is going on. No one wants a local business to profit from a campaign contribution. Most people like well run fireworks and street fests. All of us want the city to run well and efficiently.

The problem comes when people start anonymously implying that people have ulterior motives, when they haven’t even bothered to talk to those people and voice their concerns. Tony doesn’t like it. The Tastees don’t like it. The first reaction is often like Tony’s above: [paraphrasing] “Hey, wait, I’m not trying to do anything bad. Give me a call and we can talk about it”. But guess what, Tony. Anonymous posters don’t call you to find out what is really happening. It is far easier and entertaining to speculate and fling mud.

The really sad thing is that while everyone is busy mudslinging, people who try to do good for the city get castigated, and nothing gets done to even have a meaningful conversation about, much less solve the underlying issues. So far this practice has made the people who volunteer to run the Taste, and the company that donates our fireworks less interested in doing it again. Great.

Maybe we need to rethink the effectivness of this type of local government criticism, and try for a more positive approach, like some adult conversations between the interested parties.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We think the most notable difference between Americaneagle/Mr. Svanascini and Taste Inc./its members is displayed by the very public and thorough way the former responded to the critical comments on this blog.  Meanwhile, the Taste Inc. folks are nowhere to be heard – except, perhaps, through the comments of their anonymous de facto surrogates.  

And, directly contrary to your statement that these types of discussions make both Mr. Svanascini and the Taste Inc. folks “less interested in doing [their respective activities] again,” Mr. Svanascini said in his mini-essay that he is hoping to donate the fireworks again next year.  That’s another notable difference between Americaneagle/Svanascini and Taste Inc. folks, who won’t answer any of the legitimate questions raised about Taste Inc. and its operation of TOPR. 

Paging Mr. Iglow, Mr. Galus, Mr. Bruno…let’s hear from you!   


I completely agree with you but when some of these suggestions have come up in the past they have been completely slammed. Many suggested calling a TOPR Board Member and the answer from this blog was (paraphrasing) neither they nor the public should have to call and it should all be available on their website. Having to call is not transparence – or something like that.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Not only do we believe the public is owed explanations that they don’t have to seek out from those who feed at the public trough, but phone conversations (and even face-to-face ones) can easily turn into “he said, she said” contests.  Mr. Svanascini was willing to put his position into writing – why can’t/won’t the Taste Inc. folks?

Paging Mr. Iglow, Mr. Galus, Mr. Bruno…again!


Are these Editor comments some of that “Adult conversation” you were refering to??? No???

Several Tastees have been on here by name and explained, much like Tony did, their history and motivations. They have also asked repeatedly, much like Tony did, for anyone with an issue to have a direct converstaion instead of complaining anonymously. The problem is that this forum allows for a few people to spout rancor and actually gets in the way of productive conversation.

One difference between Tony and the Tastees you fail to point out is that Tony is friends with Bob Trizna the others in the Mayor’s campaign circle who run this blog. While the Tastees include some past political rivals of the Mayor’s.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The only officer of Taste Inc. who commented here, to the best of our recollection, is Treasurer Jim Bruno, whose comments and PublicWatchdog’s response can be found under the post “Time For A Transparent Taste” (07.07.08) and are at 07.11.08 at 7.01 AM and 12:58 PM, respectively. 

Our posts and the comments we publish are not based on political relationships or personal friendships.  That’s why, once again, we invite Dave Iglow, Albert Galus and/or Jim Bruno to explain to the public, in writing:

(a) why no IRS Form 990 tax returns appear to have been filed for Taste Inc. for 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008; 

(b) why the 501(c)(3) version of Taste Inc. was involuntarily dissolved in February 2009 and a 501(c)(6) version of Taste was incorporated in March 2009; 

(c) why it appears the 501(c)(3) incarnation of Taste Inc. filed none of the papers usually associated with the dissolution of a 501(c)(3) entity; 

(d) what happened to whatever money (and how much) the 501(c)(3) Taste Inc. had at the time of its dissolution; and

(e) why won’t Taste Inc. reimburse the City for the approx. $23,000 of City services it uses each year?   

They have put their position in writing. You linked to it on 826/09. You may not like the document but they did release it giving their history “general” numbers and their position on disclosure etc. What exactly has changed since then that you want them to answer? You want them to disclose all data. They do not want to do that. They have given you a reason they feel it is wrong to disclose that you do not agree with. It seems to me these are the same old issues with a little fresh “speculation” sprinkled in.

So, just like every year, you direct all your anger at them. Perhaps if I knew who you were and your relationship with these guys I would understand better but it is really amazing to me. So the Adlermen are idiots, right? The taste board are crooks. So how about the only guy in your corner. Mayor Transparence!!! Boy he has really stuck his neck out there for you on this one. Beer tent anyone???

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Taste Inc.’s record speaks for itself – other than when it is silent because Taste Inc. apparently didn’t file any IRS Form 990 tax returns until 2009 – which, not surprisingly, wasn’t mentioned in that public relations piece Taste Inc. produced last summer.

Editor: Mr. Svanascini said in his mini-essay that he is hoping to donate the fireworks again next year.

Tony [also said]: If you think it’s better for us not to give this donation then I would be happy to let you do it next year.

Sounds like he’s at least a little less interested in donatating than he was before the public anonymous criticism of a seemingly generous act. I’m not saying he won’t do it, but he’s not a normal human being if the criticism made him a little less inclined to generosity.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Until informed otherwise, we’ll assume Mr. Svanascini takes the criticism for what it’s intended to be: a smokescreen to direct attention away from Taste Inc.  But he can speak for himself on that, most likely by funding or not funding next year’s fireworks show.


If you really believe people are owed explanations then PW should have provided a full explanation of the fireworks deal and americaneagle’s fee totals without having to be asked. The point you and some here do not understand is when you attack a topic on one side then it is fair to get attacked on the same topic on another side expecially when you refuse to even acknowlege you omitted some facts from the many discussions you have had here and some of the facts change with each telling. The Taste should be required to repay the city expecially becqause it looks like they can with the funds they have but the mayor never really put that out there even though some here say he did. It was not even the mayor who produced the tax form you put here and I do not remember him ever asking for one either from any groups. He is not keeping his promises he made in his campaign. So it is fair to wonder what else he is or is not doing too when some of the facts about his big supporter do not come to light until way after the mayor crows about his big supporter at a civic event. I found it tacky and so did some other people I heard talking. The political actions you seem worried about are things you will just have to worry about because people have the right to organize and act politically if they want to and they don’t have to explain anything special to you.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Americaneagle gave the City/Park District $18,000 this year and $18,000 last year.  Taste Inc. took $23,000 from the City last year, and will probably take that much again this year.  You wanted accountability from Americaneagle and you got it, compliments of Mr. Svanascini.  When the officers of Taste Inc. stop taking from the taxpayers, and start explaining things like missing tax returns, your points might acquire some validity.  But we suggest you not hold your breath waiting for transparency or accountability from Taste Inc.


Mr. Svanascini finally accounted the facts of the fireworks deal. If there is a next time he tells the story here on your blog I hope the accounting does not change again. It is good for him to have your blog to come to post his story and know he is among friends. When you start accounting all of the facts around all of the topics you write about your points about other organizations might acquire some validity too.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  “Among friends”?  At least 50% of the comments – most of which appear to come from one or two sources – did nothing but rip him and Americaneagle, in a post that was not even about Americaneagle or the fireworks.  But that’s life.

PubDog said “Our posts and the comments we publish are not based on political relationships or personal friendships”

Anon says “Yes they are”

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Opinions vary.

“You wanted accountability from Americaneagle and you got it, compliments of Mr. Svanascini”.

This is not about Mr. Savanascini. As far as this conversation he is a non-issue. I say thank you Sir and I hope you get through this still wanting to do it again next year. Tony does not or did not add or take away accountability from this process and his post yesterday did not either. You ask all these questions about TOPR. We cannot debate until we are blue in the face about that but the point is you do not seem to give a shit about the same information from the Fireworks show. We have 23K in taxpayer support to TOPR. We have approximately the same amount going to a one night event. There may even be other expenses. IS ther damage to the field that has to be repaired?? We have money being made at the fireworks show (concessions etc). Transparence means how much? To whom? Where is the money going? I realize the event is run by City/PD/207 but it is supported by our tax dollars. Does the event pay for itself? If it were run differently, could it? Most importantly, is all this information posted on the city website??? This has to be done to meet your transparence criteria, right??

I like BOTH events. I think that both events are worth the investment of city services considering the dontations of time and, in the case of the fireworks show, the actual fireworks. I do not hang out with Tony but I believe him. The same goes for TOPR. I do not think these people are pocketing cash or funneling money to political campaigns. Look at who they work for or the fact that they own local businesses. Do you think a local store wants to rish an uproar like that? There is already an uproar and they want more business, not half the city pissed off.

But the way I see it you are not holding the fireworks event to the same criteria as TOPR.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The fireworks show is run by a cooperative of the City, the Park District and District 207, at whatever expense those public bodies report.  If you’ve got a problem with that, you should take it up with them.  TOPR is run by a technically “not for profit” private corporation which, in the first year that it finally filed an IRS Form 990 tax return, reported a $65,000 “profit” on $163,000 of revenues – funds that it can now use, because it inexplicably changed from a 501(c)(3) to a 501(c)(6) entity, for things like lobbying, private business development and political activity. 

That’s why we’re not holding the fireworks event and TOPR to the same standard – because it’s apples and oranges.


The only group you are attempting to hold to any standards is the Taste, Inc. You didn’t make even a modest attempt to hold Mr. Svanascini and American Eagle to any standards regarding the fireworks. Your readers accomplished that task.

The only groups you have any real right and authority to try to hold to any standards are the elected officials who run the city, the parks, and the school districts.

In the case of Taste of Park Ridge, the only group you have any real right and authority to hammer on the issue of disclosure are the elected officials at City Hall who have not lifted a single finger to accomplish anything close to the transparency you’re advocating.

Paging Mayor Transparency and the Council!

Those people are your representatives and the people from whom you should be demanding action on this issue. You’ve given Mayor Transparency a virtual free pass despite his campaign pledges.

The Taste, Inc. change from a 501c3 to a 501c6 is interesting, but nothing Taste, Inc. has to explain to anyone. The lack of previous 990 filings is more than interesting, but again your only real right and authority is to demand your representatives look into the breech. Or, you could file some sort of inquiry or complaint with the IRS, as Guidestar might not have all the documents you’re interested in seeing.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  There is no “fireworks” story about Americaneagle or Mr. Svanascini because they don’t run the fireworks show or have any responsibility for it.  All Americaneagle did was provide fireworks, reported to be $18,000 worth per year (i.e., $36,000 over the past two years) to a show that might have been cancelled otherwise, and which the various governmental bodies decided to keep alive.  Whether those fireworks came from a relative of Mr. Svanascini’s is irrelevant, since he paid for them.

Taste Inc.’s request and receipt of $23,000 a year of taxpayer-funded services in order to turn a $65,000 “profit” for an event it runs and which it doesn’t have to account to anybody is, in our opinion, a world apart from the City/Park District/Dist. 207 fireworks show.  Apparently you disagree. 

Different strokes.


You’ve addressed the very first paragraph in my comment to you but you have again ignored the bottom line issue.

You have again defended American Eagle admirably while ignoring the statement from American Eagle that if his family members were not in the fireworks business American Eagle would not have made a fireworks donation. A statement which would seem to have implications for future City, Parks, and D207 planning. Let’s hope those relatives don’t sell their fireworks businesses or retire any time soon, which might put the City, Parks, and D207 in the position of again having to consider whether to fully fund a 4th celebration or not.

What you have again not addressed, admirably or otherwise, is why you have not hammered the only groups you have any real right and authority to hammer on the issue of transparency. You have not held either the Mayor or the Council accountable for their failing to take action on the issue of transparency you are advocating.

It’s not a matter of disagreeing whether or not there is an issue concerning American Eagle and the owner’s involvement in a fireworks show.

The disagreement is in whether or not Watchdog intends to keep hammering a private not-for-profit corporation, and making some fairly inflammatory accusations about the members of that corporation, while completely bypassing the one avenue truely open to Watchdog for achieving transparency; the elected representatives who have the ability to take action on the issue.

Your continued concentration on defending and promoting American Eagle and the owner especially by way of contrasting both against the Taste event and not-for-profit corporation are actions only your conscience can understand.

What your readers might want to understand is whether or not Watchdog has any intention of hammering the elected representatives of the public and the elected representatives’ failure to seek what it is you are demanding on the issue of transparency. Unless of course demands for transparency are not the real bottom line issue.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Americaneagle made a DONATION – this isn’t anybody’s ENTITLEMENT.  So if the various governmental bodies are making decisions by counting on another fireworks donation, they are being even more irresponsible than usual. 

We are not defending Americaneagle because there is nothing to defend, unless making a very public donation of $36,000 requires some sort of defense.  On the other hand, Taste Inc. – the corporation – is “donating” nothing more than the $5,000+ it identified on the first Form 990 it has chosen to file since being given the TOPR in 2005, while it turns a $65,000 “profit” while continuing to stiff the City for $23,000 of City services it uses to ring up that “profit.”

Let Taste Inc. start paying the City for those services and keep filing its Form 990s like it is supposed to do and it won’t have us calling it on the carpet like this.

And since we run this blog, we will exercise our prerogative to have the last word and close comments on this post.  Thank you for your interest.