Public Watchdog.org

Changing Of The Guard At 505 Butler Place

05.02.11

The changing of the guard at Park Ridge City Hall occurs tonight with the departure of five aldermen and the swearing in of their replacements.  It also marks the end of what remained of the administration of former mayor Howard P. Frimark and, perhaps, the beginning of what can be called the administration of Mayor Dave Schmidt.

That’s because four of the five outgoing aldermen – Alds. Jim Allegretti (4th), Don Bach (3rd), Tom Carey (6th) and Robert Ryan (5th) – were Frimark acolytes.  Or at least it sure appeared that way from how they seemed to dance to whatever tune he called, as well as from their lack of any identifiable philosophy of City government other than simple ad hoc decision-making irrespective of its long-term or interdependent consequences. 

The fifth, Ald. Frank Wsol (7th) was the most enigmatic of the five.  No Frimark acolyte, to be sure, but also not the dependable and consistent fiscal conservative he fancied himself.  Too often he appeared to be governing less by principle and more by finger-to-the-wind politics.  Unlike the other four who came into office as Frimark gophers and left as little else, we will remember Wsol most for his unrealized promise.

Their legacy looks to be one dubious “achievement”: a likely fourth straight year of operating deficits which, all in, should total several million dollars and will have depleted the City’s reserves to a dangerous level.

Ironically, their best “achievements” were those ill-conceived things they tried to do but failed, sometimes due to circumstances beyond their control, including:

  • an unnecessary and overly-dense condominium complex at the Executive Office Plaza site that fell victim to the recession;  
  • a multi-million dollar giveaway to Frimark campaign contributor Napleton Cadillac that was aborted when General Motors pulled Napleton’s dealership; 
  • a PADS “If it’s Sunday, this must be Park Ridge” traveling homeless shelter that PADS walked away from rather than apply for the required City special use permit;   
  • a secret land deal for 720 Garden that was abandoned when then-Ald. Dave Schmidt lawfully blew the whistle on it – and was promptly “condemned” for it by the Illinois Open Meetings Act-challenged Frimark, his four departing acolytes, remaining Ald. Rich DiPietro, and City Clerk Betty Henneman;  
  • an unnecessary and unaffordable new police station that crashed and burned thanks to Joe Egan’s citizen-initiated cop shop referendum; 
  • what looked like a kinked-up billboards deal; and 
  • another makes-no-sense, extremely overly-dense condo development on Touhy just east of the Town of Maine cemetery.  

Of the incoming five aldermen, at least 3 – Dan Knight (5th), Marty Maloney (7th) and Sal Raspanti (4th) – sound like they share at least some of Schmidt’s views on transparent, accountable and cost-effective City government.  Although 3 votes aren’t enough to pass ordinances and resolutions supportive of such policies, 3 are enough to sustain mayoral vetoes of actions contrary to such policies.  Whether that will be enough to govern effectively and implement those policies, and whether those policies – if implemented – will have a positive effect on City government, remains to be seen.

But to those five departing aldermen we offer a heartfelt “bon voyage” and the hope they are much more successful as private citizens than they were as public officials; and to their incoming successors, we offer an equally-heartfelt “bienvenue.” 

And “good luck,” because you new guys are inheriting a mess.  

To read or post comments, click on title.

7 comments so far

Last week I stated related to TOPR that it appeared the Mayor had the votes and you got all up ion my face (typical).

This week you say the following…..”Of the incoming five aldermen, at least 3 – Dan Knight (5th), Marty Maloney (7th) and Sal Raspanti (4th) – sound like they share at least some of Schmidt’s views on transparent, accountable and cost-effective City government. Although 3 votes aren’t enough to pass ordinances and resolutions supportive of such policies, 3 are enough to sustain mayoral vetoes of actions contrary to such policies”.

Essentially you are saying that if the Mayor were to veto the protion of the budget that provided services to TOPR it is likely that these three (at least) would uphold that veto.

Translation…..the Mayor has the votes!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again, you are flaunting your ignorance.

Which of those three gentlemen has publicly said he would cut off those free City services Taste Inc. has been getting to run TOPR? And exactly what “protion [sic] of the budget” contains the funds for the services provided to Taste Inc. for TOPR that would need to be cut?

Dude… you are like a bad penny… get lost!

1:47pm, why do you think that the private organization knows as TOPR shouldn’t pay for city services? Why should they get a free ride? Can anyone get this type of deal? Please enlighten us.

chamber of commerce and south park merchants (both private organizations) produce the winterfest and do not pay for city services. the city is a sponsor and provides them as their contribution to that event. Most people assume these events are city, but they are not, they are produced by private groups and the city supports and everybody benefits.

Except for the fireworks, which is run by the park district.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please provide documented figures of the revenues each of those two private groups generate from Winterfest.

Why wasn’t there an Editor’s Note for 6:53 pm asking how is this comment relevant to this post or the first comment? I didn’t read anything in the first comment that said the person thinks TOPR should not pay for services. 9:56 am gave some information in answer to 6:53 pm and the Editor asks how it’s relevant? What screwball is operating this blog?

EDITOR’S NOTE: One who has been too busy actually working for a living to pay close enough attention. But so as not to damage your self-esteem any further, we have deleted the first sentence of our Editor’s Note to your last comment.

Now produce the documentation we asked for in the second part of that Editor’s Note.

The comment blogged at 9:56 was not me. I was saying the Editor’s Note was screwball. The only comment blogged here out of left field was 6:53 but that one did not get an Editor’s Note. Screwball all the way.

in reference to what 11:46am remarked.

The editor is a bit “screwball” as you put it: because if he were sincere about the policy issue debate of city service repayment from private groups then his bombastic rants would include: The chamber of Commerce, South Park Merchants Assn., Memorial Day parade committee, Norwegian Day parade committee, Analiese Run/Charity Classic organizers, Park Ridge Fine Arts Society, and Polish Fest organizers.

But his rants don’t include them, even though they (and likely others I may have missed) qualify for his public policy issue wrath.

Chalk it up to him being a tempest in a teacup!

EDITOR’S NOTE: We would like to see every organization that runs a revenue-producing event paying all costs of the governmental services they use. But comparing any of these other organizations and events to Taste Inc.’s “Taste of Park Ridge” money machine is pretty silly, because the money Taste Inc. takes in makes what all the others take in, combined, look like chump change.

We’re still waiting for the Taste Inc. folks to explain to the people of Park Ridge why they didn’t file Form 990s for 2005-2008, or whether their claim that they were a not-for-profit for those years was an outright fraud. But given the secrecy with which Taste Inc. operates, we’re not holding our breath.



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