A New Reason To Enjoy “Taste” This Weekend


It looks like another good weather weekend for Taste of Park Ridge (“TOPR”), our community’s premier annual bread-and-circuses event.  That’s a good thing…and we really mean it.

Even though we have been highly critical of the way TOPR has been run by TOPR’s private owner, Taste of Park Ridge NFP (“Taste Inc.”), we still want it to be successful – especially this year, now that Taste Inc. has promised the City a share of the profits for the first time since Taste Inc. was given the event on a no-bid basis in June 2005 and started pocketing the profits that were originally intended for the City treasury. 

Don’t expect the City’s 3% share of TOPR revenues to balance the City budget.  In the first place (as we understand it), the City won’t be receiving any piece of beer-tent revenues, which some people have speculated may actually exceed the food revenues.  Why those were carved out of the deal isn’t clear, and the guys who run Taste Inc. weren’t saying.

But we’ll still be happy if the City’s share of the food revenues simply covers the event’s costs to the City – both the “direct” costs (e.g., overtime for police, fire, public works, etc.) and the “indirect” costs (e.g., TOPR-related work done by City employees on City time).  Two years ago the City valued those combined costs at approx. $23,000, before mysteriously changing its accounting last year to include only the “direct” costs.  As best we can tell, that was all City Mgr. Jim Hock’s doing, and we’re not aware of his giving any explanation for that change.

We’re hoping, however, that the City’s getting even a 3% share of the food revenues will cause this new City Council to abandon the “see-hear-speak no evil” monkey-shine attitude toward TOPR and Taste Inc. that has been the norm since then-mayor Howard Frimark and the City’s last 14-member Council handed TOPR to Taste Inc.  Maybe the new Council finally will demand some real transparency and accountability from Taste Inc. – which has been so secretive about its operations one might wonder if it’s a CIA “front” for black-ops assignments in Afghanistan.

One example is its lack of tax returns.  If Taste Inc. truly had been a not-for-profit for the past six years, where are the five IRS Form 990 tax returns to go with the one it filed (in March 2010) for 2009 that is currently displayed on GuideStar, and which appears to show a $65,000 profit from just last year’s event alone.  Why those returns aren’t posted on Taste Inc.’s own nifty website is a puzzlement in its own right, as is the fact that its 2010 Form 990 isn’t on GuideStar even though it was to have been filed by May 15, 2011.

From past experience we know that TOPR can be a lot of fun.  But if you want to ratchet up that fun another notch or two, we suggest that patrons start asking a few questions of all those uniformed members of Team Tastee bopping around the event, such as: 

  • Where’s the proof Taste Inc. really was a not-for-profit corporation from 2005 to 2009? 
  • How much money did Taste Inc. take in during those years? 
  • What did Taste Inc. do with all that money it took in during those years? 
  • Where’s Taste Inc.’s 2010 IRS Form 990, that should have been filed by May 15th? 
  • Why not open up Taste Inc.’s books to the public?  
  • If you guys really are just “volunteers” why don’t you operate TOPR as a committee of the City starting next year, like the City Council originally intended when it turned TOPR over to you back in June 2005? 

Or come up with your own questions.  And if you get any answers, please send them to us because we’ve never been able to get much in the way of information from the Tastees – although we don’t take it personally, because the City Council has faired no better.

Meanwhile, get out there and enjoy the food, the drink, and the entertainment of TOPR…because, for the first time, you’ll be helping put some TOPR profits in the City’s pockets instead of only in Taste Inc’s.

To read or post comments, click on title.

2 comments so far

I’ll do my part to help the city out. But why only 3% of the profits when the city gives them services, closes off the street, closes parking, and provides all those auxiliary cops?

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’ll have to take that up with the Tastees, specifically Albert Galus who came to City Hall last month to make the 3% offer while asserting Taste Inc.’s “sole proprietorship” of TOPR.

Why was Peter Silvestri’s name plastered on the back of the food tickets??

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re betting that he donated them.

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