Explanations Welcome On Firefighters Contract Vote


To understand that the firefighters contract passed by the Park Ridge City Council Monday (Sept. 19) night is bad for the taxpayers, all one needs to do is read the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate’s article about it (“Park Ridge firefighters get contract but veto likely, “ Sept. 20). 

After reading that story twice, the only arguable benefit we can see the new 3-year contract providing for the City (and, hence, its taxpayers) appears to be that it saves the costs of negotiating a new contract every year – although that’s coming from the City’s labor attorney, Dina Kopernekas, who also trudged out the old reliable we’ve-always-done-it-that-way justification for another 3-year deal, while demonstrating her value-add by re-naming that alibi the City’s “historical norm.”

Actually, from the way the H-A story describes Monday night’s proceedings and quotes Ms. Kopernekas, one might think she was the union’s negotiator instead of the City’s. 

We don’t know how much Ms. Kopernekas’ services cost the City, but we sure wish the mayor or one of the six aldermen who voted to approve this latest exercise in bad public policy – Ald. Marty Maloney (7th) was absent, so his fingerprints aren’t on it, yet – would have asked her and/or the City negotiating team members (City Mgr. Jim Hock, Deputy City Mgr. Julianna Maller and Fire Chief Mike Zywanski) to itemize and explain each of the benefits the City is supposed to be getting from the “new” contract terms, and especially the no-layoff provision

That utterly foolish provision is straight out of the political playbook of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, which he employed last year in all its pandering squalor to lock in the re-election support of the state’s largest public employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (“AFSCME”).   Not surprisingly, however, the insipid Quinn now is trying to welsh on his no-layoff bet, recently announcing layoffs of approximately 2,000 AFSCME members while blaming state lawmakers for not appropriating enough money for him to make his political payoffs.  

But at least Quinn may have an escape clause: a state law that makes all state contracts “subject to appropriations.”

Does the City have one of those?  Not one of our elected officials gathered around The Horseshoe Monday night asked about it, and neither attorney Kopernekas nor the City’s negotiating team members mentioned it.  So we’re betting on “no.” 

Alds. Joe Sweeney (1st), Rich DiPietro (2nd), Jim Smith (3rd), Sal Raspanti (4th) and Tom Bernick (6th) also didn’t see the wisdom of either Ald. Dan Knight’s (5th) suggestion of only a 1 or 2 year contract, or Mayor Schmidt’s suggestion that any 3-year deal include a “wage re-opener” that would give the  City the right to re-negotiate just the compensation piece of the contract for that final year, to reflect whatever the economic conditions might be at that time.

Ironically, all six of the aldermen who approved this contract claim to be “fiscal conservatives” which, in light of their votes, may have further debased the meaning of that term.  And none of them, save for Bernick, gave much of an explanation for his vote, although Bernick’s explanation was uber-lame:  if the City didn’t approve the contract, the union could demand arbitration that would take the decision out of the City’s hands and cost the City even more legal fees.

That’s the kind of spineless attitude public officials employ to hold themselves hostage to shameless demands, whether from the public employee unions or the business community.  And it reminds us, in a pathetic rather than humorous way, of the scene in the movie “Blazing Saddles” where the black sheriff holds a gun to his own head and warns all the lily-white citizens of Rock Ridge, sotto voce: “Next man makes a move, the nigger gets it!”

Worse yet, by voting for the no-layoff provision, Bernick and his fellow aldermen actually gave away their primary weapon for dealing with an extreme award by a rogue/union-biased arbitrator: layoffs of union personnel to free up the money to pay the increased wages and benefits.  Neither he nor his colleagues seem to grasp Albert Einstein’s maxim: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  

Which is even more amazing, considering that all six aldermen who voted “yes” on that contract could be characterized as “business people.” 

Do any of them have 3-year employment contracts?  Do any of them have guaranteed wages and guaranteed increases in those wages?  Do any of them have defined benefit retirement plans?  Do any of them have the Civil Service and contractual job protections they once again gave the firefighters?  Do any of them provide this array of benefits to their own employees or subordinates in the private sector?  We’re guessing “no.”

Fortunately, because Mayor Schmidt has indicated he will veto this contract, those six aldermen and Maloney will get another opportunity to vote on this issue.

So, in anticipation of that veto vote, we’re extending the following invitation to all of those aldermen:  Send us your explanations for your votes on the firefighters contract by 5:00 p.m. next Tuesday (Sept. 27) and we will publish them in their entirety (other than for any per se libelous content) as the featured text of next Wednesday’s post (and, if you prefer, also as comments to this post). 

Be forewarned, however, that we reserve the right to comment on your explanations, although that should not deter you if you truly believe your reasoning is sound.

Let’s hear from you guys!

To read or post comments, click on title.

31 comments so far

There maybe another benefit to the tax payer. We will always have a minimum number of fire fighters for our community. Perhaps paying for a minimum number of fire fighters is more like an insurance policy.

I know that this thinking is a stretch, but I was trying to put a positive spin on this outcome.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yep, just like keeping that “magic” quarter in your pocket has protected you from elephant attacks. How do you know? Because, since you started carrying that quarter around with you, no elephants have attacked. Q.E.D.

I would think one would compensate those who have the courage to go into a burning building.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Haven’t they been getting paid up until now?

Or are you suggesting that their continuing “courage to go into a burning building” is solely created by the compensation…and that such courage will disappear if they don’t get a 2% raise next year and 3% more the year after?

How much on average does Park Ridge pay per fire fighter? How does this compare to the industry average?

It is difficult to evaluate whether this is a bad deal or a good deal without having the complete picture. Show us the numbers!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dead-wrong questions. If Kenilworth (or Franklin Park, for that matter) pays its firefighters $100K/yr plus a new car every 3 years, what bearing should that – standing alone – have on how much Park Ridge pays its firefighters?

As we understand it, any time a vacancy opens up on either the Park Ridge police or fire departments, they get buried in applications. And we don’t seem to have many defections once they get here. The same goes for teachers at both D-64 and the D-207 schools.

We know what the Mayor thinks of city employees. His disgust for them comes out everytime he opens his mouth at a meeting. Go ahead and veto it. The one year contract stuff is great. So when the economy improves, the Firefighters can expect 7 or 8 percent per year based on your compensation formula. Maybe they have books on Labor law at the Park Ridge Library.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The only person who truly knows what the mayor thinks of public employees is the mayor. But from his overall conduct and comments about them, one can conclude that he likes them every bit as much as the average citizen does, unless you judge his view of them solely by his refusal to let them have their way with the public purse. In which case you must believe that California Gov. Jerry Brown and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo have “disgust” for their states’ public employees, too.

If/when the economy improves, if the firefighters and any other public employees can justify higher compensation (or better hours, or free Happy Meals on Thursday) for themselves, they will do so; and we trust the public officials in office at that time will respond, hopefully in ways that look out for the best interest of the entire community.

This isn’t about labor law, it’s about economics. And, yes, the Park Ridge Library does have some books on economics.

I think you are incorrect in not comparing Park Ridge versus other communities. There is a whole industry set up to evaluate pay ranges.

There should be an industry standard and PR fire should be compared. Are we paying in the top 95 percentile, 75 percentile, 20th percentile? In running a business you get what you pay for. Is Park Ridge homes valued as much as Keniworth or Lake Forest, absolutely not. However we do not want the fire fighters to be always looking for better jobs in other communities because our pay is poor. Training is very costly too.

Are our fire fighters being paid salaries over $150k each? That would be disconcerting. Are they being paid $37,500 each? That would also indicate a problem.

I can’t critize the Alderman without knowing all of the information.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again, just a plain wrong paradigm – unless you are claiming that every one of these other communities is being soundly managed and provides a comparable work environment to Park Ridge’s. The way to know that your working environment – whether that means salary, benefits, conditions, etc. – is deficient is by tracking how hard it is to keep people and how hard it is to hire new ones. And by that measure, at least in this economy, Park Ridge appears to be not just an adequate working environment but “a wonderful place.”

Park Ridge in Reverse-

I have great respect for our employees. I know for a fact that the vast majority of them, including the firefighters, are hard working and dedicated. But the fact is they did not elect me; the taxpayers did. And it is the taxpayers’ best interests, not the employees, that I am bound to pursue.

Moreover, if you go back and review my criticisms, they have been almost exclusively directed at senior management whom I believe have underperformed, especially given the hefty salaries they are pulling down.

I hope this clears up your misconception.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

That’s what City Hall had been doing for years, but I thought this new group of aldermen might change that. Guess not.

Mayor Dave, keep on doing what you’re doing.

Mayor dave said:But the fact is they did not elect me; the taxpayers did.

What if a fireman is also a taxpayer in Park Ridge. and they did elect you?

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s an easy one: every fireman is already getting far more benefits from Park Ridge residency than the average resident, because he/she is getting everything every other resident gets, PLUS a job. And he/she will get far more in additional benefits from the new contract than it will cost him/her in taxes. Therefore, he/she has a conflict of interest; and, consequently, he/she is considered an “employee” rather than a “resident” for purposes of any issue about the firefighters contract.

Gee….I wonder what Mayor Dave’s message in the Spokesmen is going to about this month. How much do we pay for that “political announcment” again?? It’s more than the 80K over the next three years referenced for the fire fighters contract.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gee…we wonder where all your comments (or any letters to the editor in the two local papers) were complaining about The Spokesman when Howard Frimark was mayor. But if you want the City to dump The Spokesman, contact your alderman and tell him to propose getting rid of it.

Very easy answer. I only lived here for about a year under the Frimark admin and even that was enough for me to vote for Schmidt. That does not prevent me from commenting on obvious hypocracy. He waves the flag about costs and serving the voter when it is fits the argument but ignores savings in other areas. I think it is hysterical that he (and you) scream bloody murder about 2% for fire fighters (that is less than $100.00 per month post tax) and 80K when we are spending more taxpayer dollars on the Spokesmen. By the way, I have nothing against the Spokesmen per se. But when you fit it into the Mayor’s story line of “tax payers best interest” and the financil crisis….it just does not fit!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Frankly, we don’t care who you voted for, only that your argument is flawed.

Like it or not, The Spokesman is designed to directly benefit the entire community by providing information to the residents. The extra compensation, no-layoff provision, etc. of the firefighters contract benefits only the firefighters covered by it.

But if your beef is about the cost of The Spokesman, we don’t disagree. We believe it should be principally an on-line publication that can be viewed on the City’s website or that can be e-mailed to subscribers. Those who want who don’t have access to a computer and the Internet, however, should be able to go to City Hall and have a copy run off for them, or pay a subscription fee to have it mailed to them.

Do you know how many Park Ridge firefighters or police have been killed or seriously injured on the job in the last 20 years? I can see how being a firefighter or cop in Chicago or New York can be dangerous, but we don’t have those kinds of fires or that kind of violent crime here in Park Ridge, do we?

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you mean “in the line of duty,” we aren’t aware of any in Park Ridge who have died. We do not know about “seriously injured.”

But you make a good point: Park Ridge is not like New York or Chicago – or even Evanston or Des Plaines, for that matter – when it comes to building heights and crime rates. Frankly, that’s great for all involved, unless ones compensation is based on danger and risk.

While agreeing to a no layoff clause on its face does not seem prudent, I think you need to bone up on your knowledge of negotiating with public safety unions in IL. When the parties can’t agree, the law says they then make their cases to a third party arbitrator. The law favors the public safety unions in these awards. Feel free to peruse the findings ( which cite “comparables” in the overall discussion — so you may want to take note of those salaries in “Kenilworth or Franklin Park.”

The moral of the story – unless you’re flat broke, prepare to shell out some cash to the unions. Your blame and frustration should lie with the legislators in Springfield for creating a one-sided environment that forces municipalities to offer wage increases in order to cut their potentially larger losses.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want to wait until there is any kind of meaningful change in Springfield, then you’ve given yourself your perfect excuse for doing nothing locally. Because no matter how much an arbitrator might give away to the unions, if the City didn’t give away its ability to lay off employees it would still have the ability to respond by cutting bodies to meet the increased costs of the arbitrator award.

These firefighter negotiations were FUBAR from the moment Chief Z or one of the other dwarfs on the City’s “negotiating team” (a/k/a “surrender team”) agreed to those secrecy “Guidelines” and they continue to be FUBAR. Once again, the Einstein quote says it all. Or if you prefer something a bit shorter: “Same old same old.”

Wow. I have underestimated how much you think of yourself. “Send us your explanations for your votes on the firefighters contract by 5:00 p.m. next Tuesday (Sept. 27) and we will publish them in their entirety.” What world of absurdity do you live in? Why should they? I don’t mean why should they explain themselves, but why should they do it in your forum. Who are you to demand this and under your terms?

EDITOR’S NOTE: It wasn’t a “demand”: it was an invitation. Feel free to check the dictionary if you don’t know the difference.

They most certainly DO have an obligation to their constituents to “explain themselves” and their votes on any issue, even though they certainly don’t have to do it here. And a simple “yes” vote isn’t an “explanation.” You can check the dictionary to clear that up for yourself, too.

Riiiiiight. And of course then they are gutless for not accepting your gracious invitation. After all, the Mayor (AKA your finger-puppet) did.

And does that explanation requirement hold true for all “yes” votes, just this one or only some?

In any case if you want a more detailed answer then call them and ask them. If they feel the need to comment on an issue then they have the opportunity to do so in public forum operated under Robert’s Rules of Order every other week. No public official should be subject to a public “cross examination” by some non-entity of the general public such as you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ouch. Sounds like your Cheerio’s might have gotten soggy from something other than milk this morning.

Some of the aldermen may be gutless, but it’s not because they won’t accept an invitation to write to us. As for the mayor, he’s much too big to fit on anybody’s finger; and he was responding to another comment, not to this post.

Maybe you missed civics class the day they taught how public officials are accountable to all their constituents – which includes being subject to public “cross-examination” about public business. That comes with the public trust with which those public officials are invested. Or do your tastes run more to monarchies and dictatorships?

Do you know how to access the Firefighter and Police union contracts on the internet. I have had no luck….altho I am not to strong at this. With all the talk about 0,2 and 3% increases my guess is there is a set of step increases like the teachers get that make the actual increases the firefighters get for showing up each year more like 4,6 and 7%.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It is available on the City’s website at

We’ve read the contract and, frankly, are amazed at the seemingly arcane formulas for calculating compensation. But if the basic 24 on, 48 off rule applies, it would appear that the firefighters are receiving their respective salaries for approximatley 122 working days per year – compared to the customary 230 days per year normal private sector employees work.

Watchdog sounds like its anti-fireman and just trying to screw them over.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are not anti-firefighter. But we are anti-irresponsible spending; and when we look at the salaries and benefits the firefighters get for what is looking more and more like a part-time job, it causes us to wonder whether the firefighters are working for the taxpayers, or the taxpayers are working for the firefighters.


You are aware that for those 122 days a firefighter is on the job for 24 hours, right?? I mean you make it seem as if the go in for 8 hrs 122 times a year and that is it.

OF course now comes the discussion about what they do for every second during that 24 hrs right??

Yeah, you and the Mayor have lots of respect for the firefighters as you paint a false picture and attack what they do. Based on the picture you paint why not demand pay cuts???

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, we are aware that they are “on the job for 24 hours,” which averages out to 56 hours per week. Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 8 hours of every 24 is considered “sleep time” and excluded from “working time” to back their “working time” down to 40 hours on average. Firefighters can also do things like grocery shop and recreate (at the firehouse) as “working time,” depending on the number and duration of calls. We don’t hear the firefighters offering to keep track of all their time, so we will assume that they generally make out alright in that regard, especially in a community like Park Ridge.

We don’t speak for the mayor, nor he for this blog. And as we see it, “respect” isn’t just a function of how much someone is paid to do a job he voluntarily chose – unless, of course, one’s view of the world and of value is purely mercenary.

Of course, what a reasonable conclusion. Because at 3:00 AM when your phone rings with an emergency you are at the ready to leap out of bed and get to work. Oh wait, no I guess you wouldn’t because you and your Mayor friend are a couple of ambulance chasers and you can always wait until after your morning coffee to chase down the ambulance. That is of course after these local heroes finish up with their “sleep time.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s just one of the inconveniences that come with being paid to sleep 8 hours each shift. And to eat, and to watch t.v., and to shop for food for the firehouse, and to work out, etc. Most people don’t get paid for those things, even those doctors who get woken up at 3:00 a.m. – other than doctors in residency programs, although they reportedly almost never get more than a couple-three hours of sleep at a time.

The mayor will have to speak for himself, although he is a DEFENSE attorney, a/k/a the anti-ambulance chaser. Nobody affiliated with PublicWatchdog has ever chased an ambulance, irrespective of the irrelevance of that point. But, come to think of it, even the ambulance chasers would have to be on the same kind of schedule as the firefighters/EMTs if they expected to catch the ambulances the latter are driving.

Question for ya. Would you find it respectful if someone decribed your job in a decptive way to play off of anti-public employee sentiment (Scott walker playbook)? I mean you certainly have every right to do it and maybe you really feel that way, but you can’t, at the same time, claim to be respectful.

Essential your argument is “Why are these folks getting a 5% raise spread over 3 years?? They are not worth what we pay them now!! Hell, they only work 122 days a year while we all have to work 230!!”

Respectful?? Factual??

By the way, I love the use of the word mercenary. It comes from the same handbook. There is more of that repsect for ya!! Imply that PR firemen are mercenaries!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Answer for ya: the previous commentator did just that in using the term “abulance chaser.” So what? As we understand it, it’s mentally unhealthy to define oneself and one’s worth by the job one holds – which is why jobs aren’t entitled to respect, people are. And they are entitled to it irrespective of their jobs.

The bottom line is that you get to choose your job, so just shut up and do it; or go do something else.

The reason there is so much “anti-public employee sentiment” is because the average taxpayer has finally woken up to the realization that, when you stop and do the math, many of those poor oppressed and disrespected public employees are making out far better than the people paying their salaries and benefits, which is one of the main reasons every branch and level of government in this country is in such financial distress.

And here’s a Monday morning revelation for you: Almost everybody who accepts money for working is, to some degree, a “mercenary.” Get over it.

6:49 AM and others,

First the disclaimer: I really believe that there are a lot of hard working public employees in our city so the following should not be taken as a slam against firefighters or anyone else. It’s written to show some basic economic reality.

I’m a private sector worker. In the past ten years, my property taxes have doubled, but my income has dropped. I’m not alone in this – it’s a sad but real part of today’s economy – many of my friends and neighbors are in the same position. In this situation, I’m wondering why I am being taxed more to pay for raises for public employees, not just firefighters but all of the city workers. In addition, our taxes are rising to pay for defined benefit pensions that very few private sector workers get. At what point will the public workers realize that the rest of can’t afford it anymore? Why do the public sector workers think that they are entitled to raises when the people paying their salaries are getting laid off or having our salaries reduced? It’s not an issue of disrespect for firefighters; it’s the feeling that taxpayers are being asked to provide raises and benefits that are far more generous than the taxpayers are getting themselves.

8:36 AM

Spot-on. Private sector workers are getting no raises, some are getting cut-backs in compensation, and almost none have defined benefit pensions any more. But the public employees operate under a presumption that they are entitled to raises and pensions for no reason other than they are public employees and somebody will always give it to them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And the reason they think that is because somebody always does give it to them, often the same somebodies who proclaim themeselves “fiscally responsible” and dedicated to looking out for the taxpayers’ interest.

Thanks for linking the contract. I read the wage tables and there is a cost of living of 2-3% per year within each range. But there is a merit commitment to get employees to range F in 4 years and range I in about 10. Firefighters are evaluated every 6 months for these merit raises, So if you look at the fire fighter wage table, a fire fighter in Range A(wage $54,832) will probably be in Range B(wage $58,702) in the next year and achieve a 7% increase. This is a little harder to figure out than the teachers……The District 64 contract just tabulates the salaries by years of service so the 6-7% is obvious.

For the fire fighters(and police) we are putting aside $41,000 per year per employee for pensions. Most defined cost private pensions put aside $3,000-$5,000 per employee,

So the rub is not only giving raises when we are in a serious recession, it is the size of everything. Things, including wages, double in 10 years when they increase 7% per year. With the fire fighters and police they can retire after 20 years and go get another pension somewhere else.

The County employees I understand are getting small increases several times this year that add up to over 8%

I understand that the labor rate for PR is around $40/hr now. The herald published laborer wages by name a couple of months ago… laborer among several is making $72k on straight time and 20% more on overtime. What he does is worth $12 per hour max.

And finally….picking on the firemen…..they aren’t worth $150k as someone earlier suggested. There are thousands and thousands of people who would love to have those jobs at a third of that level. But this is all fixed so the market can’t work.

Government cost is 80% wages. Those wages are driving us bankrupt

EDITOR’S NOTE: It sure would appear that way.

Today’s Daily Herald reports that Republican State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Controller Judy Baar Topinka, self-proclaimed “fiscal conservatives,” awarded pay raises up to 16% to mostly non-union public employees who the Better Gov’t Assoc. said “already enjoy generous salaries and benefits.” And Democrat Jesse White gave 250 of his office’s employees 6% raises, costing $936,000 extra per year. Quote the BGA’s Andy Shaw: “But most people in and out of government are working longer hours without additional compensation these days, so a bit of additional responsibility doesn’t automatically justify a higher salary.”

Hear that, City Council? Hear that District 64?

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, because they don’t want to hear stuff like that when they’re busy playing Santa Claus with our money. Ho, Ho, Ho!

4:04, next time your house catches on fire, call a hedge fund manager who “deserves” his pay.

EDITORS NOTE: Why should we do that when we have a well-paid fire department?

P.S.: For what it’s worth, we also believe that all hedge fund managers’ income should be taxed at the 35% ordinary income rate rather than the 15% capital gains rate.

And the reason they (police and fire) keep getting those raises is because the law favors these employees. It’s cheaper for the City to give a raise at 2-3% as opposed to go to arbitration and lose and pay more…that’s why all these towns keep giving raises. It is an exercise in risk management. We can all complain and blame the City…but if you think if the unions are going to take wage freezes, think again. Read the arbitration decisions I posted earlier…it is an eye opening read. Get Springfield to change those rules..good luck. Even scott walker wouldn’t touch public safety.

EDITOR’S NOTE: So are you suggesting the City just throw up its hands and give every City union whatever it wants because we are afraid of arbitration?

No, 9:01, it not a 2-3% raise….its a 7 percent raise. Its a new contract that give 7% raises!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: The problem with so much of this stuff is that it’s hard to figure out exactly who is getting how much; e.g., teacher “step” and “lane” compensation.

7:47….Got the blog patrol duty again tonight? We are all wrong….except I don’t hear you denying the 7% raises or the benefits, and they and the people who give them are the real problems here.

I was reading your blog recommended to me by a friend. I have recently moved here from another State.

I don’t know if the readers or the writer realize that in some small towns, the fire departments are being significantly cut because of budget shortfalls, overspending, and too many unfunded promises. These towns are moving to working with neighboring communities to cross cover with both sets of fire fighters with the overall objective of having less fire fighters.

I don’t advocate Park Ridge doing this. However, times are tough and smaller sacrifices need to be made now by both the City and all of the government workers, otherwise Park Ridge will be in the same boat.

Hopefully within the Park Ridge contract if someone retires or moves away, the City does not have to guarantee to replace them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re right: government business-as-usual is no longer working, and new paradigms need to be tried.

For example, today’s Sun-Times reports that the City of Chicago’s Inspector General has recommended the firing of 595 firefighters, 161 laborers and 75 downtown traffic control aides as part of a plan to stablilize Chicago’s increasingly desperate financial condition – to which Chicago Ald. Joe Moore responded: “Some of it would prove to be politically challenging, however we’re running out of ideas.”

honestly, are these alderman totally incompetent? do they have the slightest clue what is going on? this is not personal towards fireman just like it won’t be personal towards teachers when they try to shove a referendum down my throat to pay them more. the mayor is right on in vetoing this and wanting to reopen compensation in 3 years. eerybody thinks the economy is going to improve but experts suggest it will be years before housing rebounds, tho not ever near to previous absurdities, and gdp growth with remain muted. in 3 years things will not be significantly better, so do you want to have a bigger budget problem in 3 years?

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s the way it looks to us, too. But when an entitlement mentality develops, it’s hard to change it.

Dear PubDog, please forgive me for posting something off-topic. It seems there’s a New York suburb with the same “no clapping at City Council” rule we have in Park Ridge. What’s more amazing: the curb on free speech or the fact that there’s anything to clap about in a City Council meeting?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not aware of any formal/official “no clapping at City Council” rule. We always thought that any “no clapping” or “no booing” admonition from the chair was just an attempt to keep the audience from getting unruly. After all, today’s clapping can quickly become tomorrow’s vuvuzela blowing; and, before you know it, you’ve got a soccer match on you hands.

You forgot that PR had a no smiling or smirking rule under its former Tzar Frimark.

Separately, ‘Dog… when do we get a new piece?!?

EDITOR’S NOTE: That, too, was an unofficial one.

Later today, but we’ll be cheating a bit by publishing a “guest” essay with only a bit of editorial comment.

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