Kenny’s Back…And Talking More “Village” Smack


In his “Guest Essay” in this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Democratic process not working under current system,” Jan. 13), resident Ken Balaskovits renews his call for changing Park Ridge from a City form of government to a village. 

His argument is the same one he’s been flogging for the past year: that the village form of government – with its representatives elected on an at-large basis rather than from individual wards – would provide more candidates and more contested races.

As we pointed out in two previous posts about this half-baked idea, “Does It Take A ‘Village’ To Get Good Government In Park Ridge?” (03.19.10) and “Ignore Balaskovits And Sign ‘Restore The Council’ Referendum Petition” (04.23.10), his argument that our current form of City government provides far fewer choices than local governmental bodies electing “at large” officials is just plain wrong.

Over the past decade, the City Council has had far more contested ward races than either the Park Ridge Recreation and Park District Board or the District 64 School Board have had for their at-large seats.  And if you exclude the two most apathetic (or just plain pathetic) wards in the City – that dubious distinction goes to the 2nd and 3rd Wards – the City Council’s advantage would be even greater.

So we have to wonder just what Kenny B’s game might be.

It sure doesn’t seem to be increasing contested races for their own sake, especially since Kenny was a supporter of former mayor Howard “Cut the Council” Frimark and never beefed about low turnout in 2007 (when the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Wards all had uncontested races) or pre-2003, when the Homeowners Party candidates rarely had challengers.

But blind squirrel theory being what it is, Mr. B does make one salient point: the lack of citizens willing to step up to the public service plate and seek aldermanic seats is a sad commentary on this community, especially given the thick calluses it has developed from continually patting itself on the back about all its “volunteerism.”

Don’t get us wrong.  Volunteering to be a coach, scout leader, lunch mom, crossing guard, Sunday Supper helper, etc. is a good thing.  And often it provides a service that taxpayers otherwise might need to pay for, so its also fiscally responsible.

But accepting the public trust that comes with representing one’s fellow citizens on a governing body is several notches above that other volunteerism, especially if it is done purely in the name of public service rather than in the interest of networking and marketing.  Or picking up more insurance leads.  

Which is why the residents of the 3rd Ward – it doesn’t seem quite right to call them “citizens” when they seem so bereft of this vital incident of citizenship – deserve a collective dope-slap for their ward’s long-standing tradition of uncontested races that finally has culminated in the figurative spitting in the eye of democracy: No candidates at all.

So as we try our best to rinse away the sour taste of that civic irresponsibility with another slug of vermouth-kissed Bombay Sapphire, perhaps Kenny B’s brain-cramp does have some merit:

Turn the 3rd Ward’s aldermanic seat into an at-large one until all those civic disconnects living there finally wake up and figure out that they owe the rest of us an alderman.  

To read or post comments, click on title.

14 comments so far

Apparently since Ken can’t have it his way, the HO way, he’d rather blow it up and start over his way.

Tell me this Ken, if we went to what you advocate, what would be so democratic about entire swaths of the city going unrepresented if the majority of alderpersons came from just one or two existing ward areas?

To the ‘Dog’s point, the issue is candidate apathy. What is your plan to address that problem regardless of what system of government we use?

And have you thought of this… maybe the reason there is such a lack of candidates coming forward for this coming election is that folks know how screwed up the current crew of alderpersons are leaving things and they are not anxious to step into the mess that’s been made.

Ken, as opposed to constantly bitching about the form of government we use, and then actually DOING nothing, one might think that you would attend meetings and be a more public advocate for the issues that you care about. But, no, that would take time and effort and you’d have to care; it’s apparently easier to pen an occasional letter to the editor and then sit back and do nothing.

Kudos to those who have decided to run, opposed or unopposed. There will be some heavy lifting to be done to address the previously mentioned mess they are stepping into. And maybe when their work is done, if they are successful, come the next election cycle others will be willing and wanting to jump into the fray to be a part of solving problems instead of just sitting on the sidelines bitching about them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We consider “sitting on the sidelines bitching” as decidedly better than being totally uninformed, unengaged and apathetic, so we don’t necessarily have a beef with Mr. B in that regard. We do, however, question his newly minted pro-democracy zealotry when, as best we recall, he accepted years of Homeowners Party hegemony with nary a whimper; and he enthusiastically supported Frimark’s cut-the-Council scam – which appears to have cost Park Ridge taxpayers over $5 million in deficit spending in the less-than-four-years since the voters bought into it.

Or maybe… people from those wards have read both this blog and PRU and say to themselves: “Why would I EVER voluntarily sign on for that abuse.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: As Harry Truman said: “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” More importantly, if they really have a strong sense of civic duty and responsibility, why should they care what any blog writes about them…unless, of course, they realize it’s either factually true or legitimate criticism?

1:04 pm –

If PW or PRU is responsible for pushing the guys leaving the city council out the door, then they have proved their worth. Keep it up people.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks, but we think their (i.e., Allegretti’s, Bach’s, Carey’s and Ryan’s) days became numbered when their mentor lost the 2009 mayoral race to Schmidt; and we think Wsol’s countdown started when his new cop shop project got nuked by Mr. Egan’s referendum and Wsol’s own 11th-hour cop shop improvement referendum also lost, in that same election.


I remember when PRU and PW were both on the same page on Schmidt, the aldermen, and city finances. then PRU went south on Schmidt while PW stayed in his corner. Does PW know why?

EDITOR’S NOTE: PublicWatchdog has remained in the mayor’s corner because, generally, we believe he has done a pretty good job under some pretty difficult circumstances, not the least of which are Frimark’s aldermen and a City Mgr. who is overpaid, if not over his skis. As for PRU, this isn’t our week to watch them.

629…Why does it matter?


There is “sitting on the sidelines bitching” and then doing nothing and there is “sitting on the sidelines bitching” but being engaged.

Not everyone can be a Mayor, or an Alderperson, or make it to every meeting… not everyone can and nor may they want to. But my point about Ken here was that, as far as I am aware, he writes these occasional letters to the editor and then goes away and does nothing. Unless you want to call yapping it up with likeminded pals doding something.

Ken says we should have a referendum on this matter. Well, I say Ken… grab some forms and get out and get some signatures. If you feel so strongly about this do something… otherwise shut the f*ck up.

And to the whomever suggested that PW or PRU is scaring off potential candidates for local elected offices… think again. What are there… some +20,000 registered voters ion Park Ridge? If you are going to let these two blogs and the handful of people that comment on them, much less read them, deter you then you aren’t suited for any office over dogcatcher anyway. Even in our sleepy little ‘burg… politics ain’t beanbags. Put on your big boy pants and man up!

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re right: time for Kenny B to fire up a petition drive or zip it.

Pub Dog is correct on several of which is inadvertent. I am not a “citizen” of the third ward. I am a CITIZEN of Park Ridge even though I am a RESIDENT of the third ward. The ward boundaries of Park Ridge are entirely arbitrary. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, I don’t think the residents of the third ward would be any better served by being represented by an alderman who lives in the third ward than we would be by having an alderman who resided on the south side of town. With the exception of sewers, I can’t think of any issue facing Park Ridge that doesn’t affect all of Park Ridge. And even the problems with the municipal sewer system are not confined exclusively to the seventh ward. I doubt the residents of the third ward are any more or any less civilly engaged than the other citizens of Park Ridge. But, I sort of like Pub Dog’s idea of the alderman for the third ward being elected at large.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Your distinction between “citizen” and “resident” is correct, and we appreciate it.

As to what we understand to be the other point of your comment – that the welfare of the City as a whole should trump any parochial ward interest – we agree; but we also think an alderman’s representation of a defined territory (ward) creates the opportunity for the constituency of that ward to have a more informed and better advocate for their parochial interests than they might otherwise get from a at-large representatives, especially if no at-large representatives live in that particular ward.

There’s nothing wrong with this system that would not improve by multiples with better aldermen. Whether the new ones will be better or not remains to be seen, but I find it hard to imagine that they could be worse.

I am not sure I necessarily go for the “at large” election idea. I think there are more than just sewers as issue(s) for individual wards. That said, each alderperson should have the best interest of the community at heart no matter.

And 11:56… you are right… the new folks can’t be worse unless they come in like Huey, Dewy, Louie and the Three Stooges.

Hmmmm. Actually Mr. Editor I think it may be simpler than that. It could just be that the revolution is over. Not that it lost or that it was a bad cause, but just because people grow tired of it. I always found it a bit strange how the French annually celebrate Bastille Day and the start of the French Revolution when in fact the real timeline suggests they started with a King, mounted numerous regime changes over ten years and then ended with a dictator in place. The reality is that once the reason for the revolution is gone so is the revolution and those with less virtuous ideals again gain control and try to do a better job at keeping us happy while reaping their own benefits. Maybe, I’m wrong but it sure looks like we are all heading back to where we were ten short years ago. Just different faces with different schemes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We think you’re wrong. “Ten short years ago” Park Ridge was run by an O’Hare-obsessed mayor and a rubber-stamp, 14-member City Council, all of whom were members of the already-in-decline Homeowners Party (Unofficial motto: “Don’t worry, be happy”). That mayor and Council were busy sewing the seeds of what would soon become 8 annual operating deficits in 9 years and reserves and a dangerous financial situation – which would have been a whole lot worse if ordinary citizens hadn’t stepped up to thwart those boneheaded public officials in their attempts to build a new $20+ million library and a new $16+ million police station.

If you can’t see those kind of dramatic differences, it’s time you checked your eyeglass prescription.

Ok, let me try again. I agree those are dramatic differences and as I said all those things you mentioned ever “lost or that it was a bad cause”. My point is that those things are now distant memories, if that, in most of the average citizen’s heads. That is why no one really cares. That is why comments on both blogs are down so significantly and that is why you only have two contested Aldermanic races and one with nobody. Why we are there is only half the point. The other half is that like it or not you can weed the garden all you want, but when the landscaper goes home the weeds start to grow again.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Which is why we have to keep on weeding.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” Thomas Jefferson.

PW and dipschimdt are doing something that involves weed, just not sure what.

When the gardener has gone this garden
Looks wistful and seems waiting an event.
It is so spruce, a metaphor of Eden
And even more so since the gardener went,

Quietly godlike, but of course, he had
Not made me promise anything and I
Had no one tempting me to make the bad
Choice. Yet I still felt lost and wonder why.

Even the beech tree from next door which shares
Its shadow with me, seemed a kind of threat.
Everything was too neat, and someone cares

In the wrong way. I need not have stood long
Mocked by the smell of a mown lawn, and yet
I did. Sickness for Eden was so strong.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Guess you must have been a little hard-pressed to find a relevant “gardening” poem, so you settled on this one. Whatever.

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