Since When Did “Government” Become Synonym For “Charity”?


Four different perspectives on City government and its finances were on display at Monday night’s City Council meeting, during the discussion of the Council’s over-ride votes on Mayor Dave Schmidt’s vetoes of $190,000 in donations of public funds to 13 private community organizations.

In asking the Council to sustain his veto of those community group donations, Schmidt stated that he supports private contributions to those groups but does not believe in giving them public funds, especially when essential City services are being cut.

Ald. Jim Allegretti (4th Ward), on the other hand, supported all the donations on the grounds that the organizations might dissolve without these public funds; and because that $190,000 is virtually “meaningless” due to its being only 19/4000s of the City budget.

Ald. Robert Ryan (5th Ward) also supported all the donations, pointing out that the Council already had cut those contributions indiscriminately by 12% “across the board” because he, for one, didn’t want to have to make the tough decisions of choosing one group over another.  To Ryan, apparently, Meals on Wheels is no more essential a service than Brickton Art Center.

And Ald. Rich DiPietro (5th Ward) claimed to be listening to his heart instead of his head when he voted to over-ride Schmidt’s vetoes as to the Center of Concern ($55,000), Maine Center for Mental Health ($6,600) and Meals on Wheels ($7,040).  In other words, his own “heart” is more important than both the “hearts” and the “heads” of his constituents, who appear to have chosen not to donate enough to these organizations to keep them from trying to feed at the public trough.

It should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that we support Schmidt’s view.  Both the Illinois Constitution (Article VIII) and the City’s Policy No. 6 state the general principle that public funds should be used only for “public purposes,” with exceptions permitted only upon express findings of a “public purpose” for the specific appropriations to private entities.

But it looks like neither the Illinois Constitution nor the City’s own policy means much to Alds. Allegretti, Bach, Carey, DiPietro and Ryan, as we could find no mention of any express findings having been made by the Council of a specific “public purpose” for each of these donations that justifies the appropriation of these public funds.  In fact, we can find no evidence that any “public purpose”-justification information was even requested from these organizations by this spendthrift Council. 

Just call it this Council’s version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

We question the credibility and/or the sanity of any public official of this community who considers $190,000 “meaningless.”  More than a few Park Ridge households live on half that for an entire year.  Others are spending (or borrowing) that much for four years of college education for their children.  And two of our police officers were fired because this Council didn’t want to budget that much for their retention.

We also have to question the judgment of any public official who seems to equate art classes with meals for the underprivileged – even if we believe Meals on Wheels should be contracting with, and accounting to, the City for each meal it provides to a Park Ridge resident on the City’s dime.

But the real crux of this matter is the view of City government these 5 aldermen seem to share with the folks running these private community organizations: that “government” somehow has become synonymous with “charity” – or with “private non-profit organizations.” 

It’s not synonymous, nor should it be – unless, of course, these private organizations are willing to be as transparent and accountable to the taxpayers as the City of Park Ridge is supposed to be. 

Everything we’ve seen from these organizations so far, however, indicates just the opposite: most of them don’t even post their IRS Form 990s on their websites, and none of them (to our knowledge) has yet to explain to the Council (or the taxpayers) exactly how many Park Ridge residents they serve, what specific service(s) they provide, and at what cost per unit of service. 

That might explain why they also aren’t interested in providing their services under performance-for-pay contracts, like just about every other private, third-party vendor of goods or services to the City signs.

But if the five aldermen who voted to over-ride any of the mayor’s vetoes really want to act as the consciences (or, the “hearts”) of their constituents, we think it’s only fitting that they prove that their own “hearts” are where they want our’s to be.  Let them produce the cancelled checks or other receipts showing all of their personal contributions to each of these 13 private organizations whose appropriations they endorsed.

If you want to walk your talk with our money, fellas, how about first proving that you’ve already done so with your own?

35 comments so far

This is beyond unbelievable!!! Do you even have mirrors in your house. The main point many in this town have been trying to make is that there IS a difference between organizations like CoC and Brickton. Many suggested in the begining that the Mayor be a bit more discriminate with his veto. To be blunt many said feeding the elderly YES, artsy crap no (for now).

Your position, the same as they Mayors (what a shock!!!) has been NO to everything – period! No public funds to any of these organizations. To quote what you said about the Mayor….” Schmidt stated that he supports private contributions to those groups but does not believe in giving them public funds.”

So in the end you are mad at Ryan for voting yes on everything. You think he should have seen the difference between Meals on Wheels and Brickton.

Why??? You and the Mayor didn’t!!!

11:13: If you read previous posts (or have someone else read it to you if that’s easier), PW has always stated that as long as the city receives a measurable service for this money, it’s fine assuming it’s a required service. A good example of this is Misericordia, for they receive money from the state of Illinois but it is in consideration of taking care of a mentally retarded person, taking the load off of a state-run center. In this case, however, DiPietro and his 4 minions decided to just GIVE AWAY $55k arbitrarily to the Center of Concern. Why 55K? Why not 50k? Why not 70k? Why not 100k? There was absolutely NO EXPLANATION of whre that amount came from. This is an insult to the TAXPAYER.

For that reason and that reason alone, I am proud of having a mayor who has the courage to stand up against this madness.

In your response, I hope you address what this 55k is for and where they got the number from. My thought is that it’s because they have so much political clout, such as former Alderman Radermacher, a DiFranco (relative of Allegretti’s partner), Dudycz (recipient of Taste of Park Ridge political donation), Betty Hennemann (City Clerk), among others, that they can use that muscle to their advantage to get more funds. Just take a look at their roster, it’s a who’s who of park ridge politics: and

For crying out loud, Rainbow Hospice has a much bigger budget and they’re were only supposed to get a few thousand! WHERE is the logic in all this??? I don’t agree with ANY of these charities getting public money but how can one charity get 55k and another get 4k with absolutely no explanation of how that number came into being?

Most importantly, what gives these aldermen the RIGHT to give away MY money? What stops them from raising property taxes by thousands of dollars because they feel that they should support charities in an even bigger way? What stops them from having an extra 1/2% sales tax to support our local charities? This is beyond a slippery slope, and it is horrible government policy at best.

Anon @ 11:13 a.m.:

We DO believe there’s a difference between organizations like CofC and Brickton – which is why we have privately contributed to CofC but not to Brickton. What we DON’T believe is that City government should be soft-headedly donating arbitrary amounts of public funds to private entities to use any way they damn well please without any transparency or accountability.

If credible evidence is presented that some Park Ridge residents depend on Meals on Wheels for sustenance, AND if the City Council believes it truly is the City’s obligation to feed them, then the City Council should pass an ordinance (or resolution) declaring feeding our hungry a lawful City obligation; and then it should institute a procedure by which it CONTRACTS with Meals on Wheels (or any other qualified meal provider) to supply X number of meals at Y dollars/meal to residents who must qualify to receive those meals the same way any welfare recipient is supposed to qualify for welfare benefits.

The difference between Ald. Ryan and us is that we believe that public policy (as contained in Article VIII of the state constitution and adopted in City Policy No. 6) precludes donations of public funds to private groups, while Ryan doesn’t. So by saying “yes” to a policy of public fund donations to private groups, Ryan also signed onto the duty to prioritize and discriminate between things like subsidized meals and subsidized fingerpainting when there are insufficient funds to pay for both, while we didn’t.

By shirking his duty of prioritizing and discriminating and simply chopping an indiscriminate 12% off everybody’s appropriations, Ryan once again revealed himself to be a shallow public policy lightweight whose core competency appears to extend no further than to finding ways to get elected to public offices where he can spend boatloads of other people’s money instead of his own, and to do so without any personal accountability.

Unfortunately for the current and future taxpayers of Park Ridge, he’s not the only one on this Council.

According to published statments in various news sources, Mayor dipschimdt has stated that he used the taxpayer funds he recieves for him occupying the office of mayor to donate to various groups among the 13 listed in this debate.

So, In essence, he has made a decision to allocate taxpayer dollars to these groups.

It is quite transperantly clear that Mayor Dipschmidt is a hypocrite. He would rather play games than provide real leadership.

He should resign now.

Let’s see if the pubdog editor AKA “Sir Barksalot” has the balls to publish this.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  There you go…we’re happy to display your ignorance.


That is not in fact what has been stated. It has been used as a leg in the argument but that is not their position. If you have any confusion about that look at the statement from the Mayor they provided. Again it says…..”Schmidt stated that he supports private contributions to those groups but does not believe in giving them public funds.” He says DOES NOT BELIEVE in public funds going to these groups. That is his position – period.

Do not try and cloud the issue by saying they think it is OK if it were better accounted for. That is simply crap. If you do not believe me give the Mayor your example of Misericordia.

Anon at 1:57, that had to be one of the most stupid things I’ve ever read. Thanks PW for publishing that, I needed a good laugh.

Hey DipWad at 1:57pm…
Once Schmidt gets paid it’s HIS money… no longer taxpayer money. Sort of like when you get a paycheck from your employer. That money is YOURS and no longer your employer’s. You’d know that if you had job.

I think 1:57 raised a valid point. The money Schmidt donated last year came from the salary he said he wouldn’t take. It is hypocritical to say you give your own money to these charities but use the money paid to you from public funds that you said you weren’t going to take and then claim you are making personal donations. It doesn’t sit right but it’s good for a laugh.

I think 2:28 is right on the mark. Schmidt and his band of bloggers here do not want any public funds to go to any private groups no matter what.

The Miseracordia example is funny. They get multi millions in public funding to provide charity care to the mentally disabled. Because they ease the burden on State run agencies 12:26 is holding them up as a good example. That is what CoC does but 12:26 has a problem with CoC. What is really funny though is after holding them up as a good example and defending the bloggers here then 12:26 reveals the truth about the position of the Mayor and the blog. None of them want any public funds for charity care no matter what.

One thing to do is to get a referendum on the ballot that clearly asks the question: “Should public money be donated to charities and/or not-for-profit organizations”. Like the police station referendum, I would bet good money that it would overwhelmingly be “NO!”.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  There won’t be such a referendum unless it is citizen-initiated via petition drive, because (according to Ald. Allegretti, among others) our aldermen were elected to make these kinds of decisions without referendums. 


You disagree with Alegretti on this matter?

From working with the Catholic Archdiocese I know that Catholic Charities, Maryville, etc. have contracts (instead of receiving “donations”)with the county, state or feds for the services they perform and the money they receive. No contracts for our community groups just sounds very wrong.

And what a great idea to have these aldermen put up or shut up about how much they personally donate to the groups they voted to give publc funds to, not that I’m expecting that to happen before monkeys fly out of….

12:26 pm, I heard some of that clout was in the room last night, Radermacher and Disher for two. I wish they would add a camera above the mayor’s chair to video the crowd and the speakers at the podium, who you can’t really see too well.

Catholic Charities does hold contracts with the State. So do the Center of Concern and the Maine Center for Mental Health.

5:50, yes, radermacher was there, and was very friendly with the great don Bach afterwards as well out in the parking lot, along with The head of center for concern.

5:50 pm, do you talk to yourself all the time? The Maine Center can help you with that problem.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

8:24 pm, an interesting quote choice from the father of Communism, Karl Marx. I’ve never read Das Kapital. Did you enjoy it?

DiPietro has been my alderman since The Manor was annexed to Park Ridge, although I have never voted for him because he always ran unopposed. I would be delighted to see what each of those five aldermen who voted for those contributions gave to those organizations, especially DiPietro who acts like he has very short arms when it comes to digging into his pockets for money.

Anonymous 6:07 am

You don’t live in the Manor and DiPietro is not your Alderman. Why lie in order to make your point? Lieing must come naturally to you.

I do know Rich DiPietro. He is my Alderman.

Alone or together, not a single one of you here can come close to achieving what his charitable contributions have been.

You’re big mouths and bragging bring nothing but shame to you.

Holy cow 6:07, how long do you think Mr. DiPietro has been an alderman?

I agree with 6:42 you clearly do not live in the Manor and surely know NOTHING about Alderman DiPietro or his generous character.

6:07 and 6:42:

Without producing any evidence, BOTH of you could by lying, or just simply misinformed, about Ald. DiPietro’s charitable or other contributions.

What can be proved – at least to the extent it appears in the Illinois Board of Elections records – is DiPietro’s “political” contributions:

$250 (3/26/05) to Friends for Frimark for Mayor
$100 (2/8/06) to Maine Twp. Reg. Repub. Org.
$75 (2/18/06) to Maine Twp. Reg. Repub. Org.

And Cross Tech Communications, which we understand is owned by DiPietro, shows the following “political” contributions:

$440 (3/31/05) in-kind (signs) to Friends for Frimark for Mayor
$2,250 (2/15/07) in-kind (printing) to Citizens for Strong Schools

What does any of this have to do with DiPietro spending TAXPAYER money? A monkey can do that, it doesn’t make the monkey any more or less charitable than you or I. I repeat, A MONKEY OR AN IDIOT CAN GIVE AWAY OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY, ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE IS NO RAMIFICATION FOR DOING SO!

Apples and oranges, what’s your point?

If this is the direction you all want to go, I am fine with it as long as it is applied consistently. By that I mean we make it a requriement that every elected official provide all information related to income, taxes paid and ALL contributions. That includes the Mayor.

I am all for it… but good luck getting it on the agenda for a Council meeting!


That is my point. If you want to do anything beyond spout off about it as a stupid tool in an argument, the Myaor has no more interest in it than the council.

8:53, contributions are all public record. have someone show you how to look that up on this great invention called the internet… the current mayor raised half the money that frimark did by the way, so what’s your point?

It could be the reason people don’t know about the charitable contributions of the aldermen is because they don’t go around thumping their chests about what they give, like the mayor does. They don’t have a blog advertising their charitable contributions like the mayor and his campaign financier do. If private contributions are supposed to be private then maybe the mayor shouldn’t talk about his so much.

I find it quaint that some people regard the presence of Aldermen Radermacher and Disher in the audience to be ominous. When public money becomes available, the people most directly affected will usually attempt to make their best case for receiving some of it. Nothing particularly threatening about that. I didn’t see any evidence of any alderman changing his vote because of who was in the audience.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You mean former aldermen Radermacher and Disher, right? 

We don’t find anything especially “ominous” about certain people showing up at City Hall only when they want some feed from the public trough.  We’ve come to expect it from them.  And we don’t find anything especially “threatening” when they just sit there, assuming that simply sitting there constitutes making “their best case” for their turn at the trough. 


Contributions to CoC (as the Myaor claims) or Meals on Wheels are on the internet? If that is the case why does PD challange the Aldermen to produce checks?? Again, if the Aldermen are required to produce canceled checks I would like the Mayor to do the same. While we are at it I would like them to produce ALL information related to earnings (included investments). After all, what they contribute should be put in the context of what they are worth, right???

I LOVE PD suggestion….Let’s go!!! Mayor, you claim to be all for transparency so why don’t you go first!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are unaware of contributions to either of those two organizations being on the Internet, or the mayor saying that they were.  As for cancelled checks, you must have stopped moving your lips while reading the post: That’s only for those who voted to give away the taxpayers’ money, to show that they are putting their own money where they want to put ours.  And as for disclosure of income and net worth, you can take your “from each…to each” Marxism (Karl or Groucho) over to PRU where it belongs.

I understand the PW’s opinion of not spending public money on private ‘anything” So I’ll be sure to keep that in mind the next time the Higgins corridor or somewhere else in town is prime for development and you suggest the City do some land banking in preparation for the sale to a private developer.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We don’t believe in “land banking.” We believe in eminent domain, but only where and only when needed.

A little gift some dead white guys who wore stockings and wigs provided…

First Amendment – Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause; freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly; right to petition
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

1st ammendment trumps any of the bullshcmidt “sir Barksalot” offers. Read it an weep FLUBDOG.

Radamacher and Disher are free to do whatever they damn well please.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We love the 1st Amendment. 

You’re right: Radermacher and Disher can belly up to the public trough on behalf of their pet non-profit anytime they want…and we can call them on it any time we want. 

I think I’ve got it, FLUBDOG. You believe in eminent domain, where government steps in to take private property for fair market value using public funds, even against the wishes of a owner who doesn’t want to sell, in preparation for the sale of that private property to a private developer for private development.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We could speculate on exactly what it is you’ve “got,” but that should be obvious to the average reader. 

We believe in eminent domain as permitted under the laws of the State of Illinois.  Those laws exist to deal with unwilling owners and provide them with fair market value for their property.   

It’s the principle, FLUBDOG. You and the mayor don’t think any public funds should be used for private groups. That is what you have said. You resent the private charities helping people privately who have needs. But now you say it’s okay if it is used in eminent domain! Using public funds to take private property from one private owner to complete a transfer of the private propertyy to another private owner!

EDITOR’S NOTE:  To the extent we can even understand your comment, we disagree with it.  Once again, we believe in eminent domain as Illinois law permits.  And to take it one step farther, we greatly prefer it to sweetheart land deals between public bodies and “connected” property owners.

The principle be damned. Right, FLUBDOG? If you can hide behind a law to use public funds for private development then you have no problem using public funds for private purposes. You only have a problem with it if those public funds help real people instead of letting developers make their property deals. Are the contributions to community groups illegal? If you and the mayor think they are then file a lawsuit. You are both lawyers.

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