City Officials Need To Be Accountable For TOPR


One of the comments to our August 3 post about Taste of Park Ridge (“TOPR”) and the private corporation that runs it on an exclusive no-bid, no-contract, no-accountability basis, Taste of Park Ridge NFP (“Taste Inc.”), inquired about the City officials who gave away TOPR to Taste Inc. back in 2005.

That’s a good point, because while we have called Taste Inc. on the carpet for its sweetheart deal and its secrecy, in situations like this it takes at least two to tango: the opportunistic private individuals/organization that want something from government, and the typically (for Illinois, at least) complicit/clueless public officials who blithely give it away.  Oh yes…and let’s not forget the sheep-like voters, who are happily distracted from the harsh realities of incompetent and/or corrupt governance by the bread and circuses our politicians cynically provide.

As we’ve previously pointed out, the Taste Inc.-sters cashed in on the opportunity given them in June 2005 by then-mayor Howard Frimark and then-Alds. Don Crampton, Kirk Machon, Rich DiPietro, Jeannie Markech, Andrea Bateman, Kim Jones, Jim Radermacher, Jim Allegretti, Mark Anderson, Joe Baldi, Rex Parker, Mary Wynn Ryan, Jeff Cox and Frank Wsol.  So instead of running TOPR through the planned City committee that was going to be subject to the Illinois Open Meetings Act and would be returning all profits from the event to the City, the Taste Inc.-sters promptly set up their private corporation answerable to nobody and began running TOPR for what appears to be solely Taste Inc.’s benefit.

During its first four years in operation, Taste Inc. produced no reports for the City and didn’t even file IRS Form 990 tax returns – facts ignored first by Frimark and those fourteen aldermen who gave TOPR away, then by Frimark and his stripped-down Council of Alds. Dave Schmidt, Rich DiPietro, Don Bach, Jim Allegretti, Robert Ryan, Tom Carey and Frank Wsol.  Rather than call Taste Inc. to account for its activities, all those officials were too busy being “politicians” – working the beer tents or otherwise making themselves visible to the voters by helping run the TOPR circus.

But last summer, Mayor Schmidt finally called Taste Inc. to account for its activities.  And for the first time ever, Taste Inc.’s Dave Iglow and Albert Galus showed up at a Council meeting with a “report” [pdf] which claimed $266,652 of “gross receipts” but said absolutely nothing about the profits produced by those revenues. 

We had to wait until March of this year to see Taste Inc.’s first-ever IRS From 990 [pdf], which inexplicably reported only $163,391 of total revenues (what happened to that $266,652?), but also reported a whopping $65,221 of “excess” – what most of us in the real world call “profit.”

In addition to the gross revenues discrepancy, we also noticed that Taste Inc.’s Form 990 doesn’t report the $20,000+ in free City services (police, fire and public works) that Taste Inc. received, even though there is a specific line item (Page 3, Part III, Line 5) asking for “[t]he value of services or facilities furnished by a governmental unit to the organization without charge.”

We wonder whether Taste Inc. president Dave Iglow, who signed that Form 990, or Taste Inc. accountant James Vourvoulias, who prepared it, have an explanation for those discrepancies; and, if so, whether they will share that explanation with the public that effectively puts that $65,000 in Taste Inc’s bank account.  And we have to wonder whether our Mayor, our City Council, or our highly-paid City Manager will even bother to ask for such an explanation.

We also have to wonder what particular public policy causes the Mayor and the City Council to keep giving away $20,000+ a year in free services to a private organization that is pocketing $65,000+ in profits originally intended for the City’s coffers, even as that same City Council cuts police officers because it can’t afford the $100,000-per-officer annual cost. 

But, then again, what can we expect from public officials who, if not actually “in bed” with the Taste Inc.-sters, do their best to keep Taste Inc.’s pillows fluffed?

14 comments so far

This stinks. Where’s Mayor Transparency on this?

I have to agree with you, Anon 4:59. Mayor Schmidt? City Council?

I observe that few on the council do their homework before meetings, and when presented with data they rarely interrogate it.

When you look at the clowns on the city council we should be grateful TOPR is only taking $20,000 of public funds and only pocketing $65,000. These aldermen wouldn’t do a thing if it was $40,000 and $130,000, or more. Please let’s get more people runnning for aldermen next year.

Anon at 459. First pull your head out of your ass so you can see, and then read the fifth paragraph.

8:34 –

I’ll give Schmidt props for getting something out of the Tastees, but it was just a blip on the screen with no follow up. Like 8:00 says, the council (like every council since 2005) would give away the store to Taste Inc., so unless Schmidt keeps the pressur on nothing will happen because the council likes the status quo.

If TOPR is not for profit, why doesn’t it give those profits to the city or to charity?

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Good question.  But don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer from the guys who run Taste Inc.

“But last summer, Mayor Schmidt finally called Taste Inc. to account for its activities”……..after calling them to account he next called them to make arrangements to work the beer tent – again!!!! Once again you execute 5 gymnastic moves reaching for a way to compliment the mayor. Tooooo funny!!!!!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Just because Schmidt appears to have been the first and only City official to call Taste Inc. to account isn’t a “compliment,” it’s just a fact.  And we’d report the fact of any other City official doing the same, except they haven’t.

And Schmidt couldn’t call attention to this as alderman because????? Oh yea–he was too busy fighting the powers that be who passed a budget not in balance…oops, wait that’s not quite right, he was voting for a budget out of balance.

Boy, it sure is confusing to figure out where schmidt stands on anything. he claims to be mayor transperency but all you really can clearly see is that he is full of bullschmidt!

Algernon, there was follow up. This issue was discussed ad nauseum about a month or so ago on this site. The truth is the matter was raised by the mayor at subsequesnt Council meetings, but the Council would not back him up. It is the Council, not the mayor, which has the power to coerce the Tastees to fork it over. And therein lies the rub.

“I kill myself,” said 3:41. “Please do,” said the rest of the world.


Please clarify, are you advocating that physical harm to the point of demise befall a poster to this forum?

Of course not. This is America. Everybody is free to make an idiot of themselves. And you should lighten up.

The Form 990 shows that Taste Inc.’s $65,000 net came after it wrote off $5,000 in contributions to some unidentified charities. If Taste Inc. is legitimate, why isn’t it giving away the $65,000, too?


You are so right. The previous council should have made sure that, in addition to the balanced budget, a $6.3 million surplus, and a fund balance of nearly $15 million they left this council, they should have made sure to include any and all profits TOPR may have made during their second and subsequent years of operation. That way this council, including Schmidt, could have deficit spent even more money! Yes PW, you are spot on. Let’s turn over every penny we possibly can to this collection of clowns because they’ve shown us all exactly what sort of stewards they are with public funds. Brilliant!

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We don’t believe government policy should be established based on who is in office at any particular time.  Nor do we believe that the spendthriftedness of what you term the “collection of clowns” currently on the Council – three of whom (DiPietro, Allegretti and Wsol) were part of that previous Council – retroactively justifies the previous Council’s being asleep at the wheel on TOPR from the moment they gave it away to Taste Inc. in June 2005.

But since you bring up the previous Council as a counterpoint to the current one, let’s not forget it was the folks on that previous Council whose performance in office motivated 7,688 (v. 6354) of the Park Ridge voters who went to the polls in November 2006 to vote to cut the size of the City Council by half.  And 9 of those aldermen (Crampton, Machon, Markech, Jones, Radermacher, Anderson, Baldi, Wynn Ryan and Cox) apparently weren’t sufficiently committed to the Council and/or their constituents to even run for a second term in office, effectively turning the Council over to its current inhabitants without a fight.

As you say: “Brilliant!”