Tonight’s City Council COW Offers Something To Moo About (Updated 11.29.11)


Tonight’s Park Ridge City Council Committee-of-the-Whole (“COW”) meeting has one very significant item on its agenda: the report on the City’s 2010-11 audit.

Most notable for you legitimate fiscal conservatives in the crowd is that the report confirms what had been rumored for the past few months: that after three straight years of deficits totaling approximately $6 million, the City actually posted a $2 million surplus for fiscal year 2010-11!  And that even includes a $35,000 surplus in the General Fund, the City’s principal operating fund which had posted a $3.7 million deficit during FY 2009-10.

According to the summary of revenues and expenditures for all City funds, although revenues came in at almost $2.3 million less than budgeted, expenses were almost $4 million less than budgeted – and almost $1 million less than in FY 2009-10.  User charges increased by over $1.4 million from last year, which we believe is a positive sign that the City is starting to implement a more aggressive (and more fair) pay-as-you-go approach to the cost of service provision.

As noted at Page 8 of the full 171-page Audit, that’s the second straight year of expense decreases, which the auditors attributed to “the City respond[ing] to the downturn in the economy by prioritizing expenditures related to the core government services”– which just happens to correspond to Mayor Dave Schmidt’s first two years in office and his first two budget vetoes, which in each instance caused the Council to re-visit and reduce its spending.

That’s right, all you big government spendthrifts who might not believe what you just read: “Prioritizing expenditures related to the core government services.”   With special emphasis on “prioritizing” and “core government services.”

The importance of that concept becomes more apparent when considering some of the other information contained in the full audit, such as that the City’s median household income being a shade over $88,000 (or not that much more than our back-of-the-envelope calculation for the median individual income for District 64 teachers); that the City’s unemployment rate increased from 7.0% in 2010 to 8.2% as of August 2011; and that residential property represents over 85% of the assessed valuation of all property located within the City limits.

In other words, homeowners rather than businesses carry the lion’s share of the City’s (and the school districts’, and the Park District’s) property tax demands, with a significant number of those homeowners now battling unemployment (and even more, presumably, battling under-employment).     

Unfortunately, that’s not the only ominous news contained in the audit.

The City continues to carry almost $40 million in debt, of which over $27 million is directly attributable to the general obligation bonds issued in April 2005 and June 2006 to finance the TIF/Uptown Redevelopment project.  As noted by the auditors: “The Uptown TIF continues to put pressure on the General Fund, as the property tax receipts are not sufficient to pay the annual debt service payments” – which debt service payments (according to the audit) will not even begin to pay down principal until December 2012.

For that situation, Park Ridge taxpayers can thank the elected public officials who made it possible: then-mayors Mike Marous and Howard Frimark; and then-aldermen Mike Tinaglia, Don Crampton and Kirk Machon (1st); Rich DiPietro, John Benka and Jeannie Markech (2nd); Sue Bell, Andrea Bateman and Kim Jones (3rd); Sue Beaumont, Jim Radermacher and Jim Allegretti (4th); Dawn Disher, Mark Anderson and Joe Baldi (5th); Frank DePaul, Rex Parker and Mary Ryan (6th); and Larry Friel, Jeff Cox and Frank Wsol (7th) – at least 17 of whom were one-term (or one-half term) wonders, 15 of whom chose not even to run for re-election.

It also should be noted that the surplus resulted in part by a decrease in capital expenditures of over $1.5 million from FY 2009-10.  Our concern with that number is whether it represents a reduction or deferral of necessary infrastructure maintenance, repair and/or replacement, thereby creating a kick-the-can-down-the-road situation that may cause bigger problems – and bigger expenditures – at a later date.

We do know that tree trimming expenditures were significantly reduced in 2010-11, thereby increasing our exposure to power outages resulting from falling limbs that might otherwise have been preemptively removed by the City’s previously customary tree-trimming program – and, according to the City Forester, at only a fraction of the cost of removing those fallen limbs after the fact.

Which means that City government, although having made significant strides toward fiscal responsibility, still needs to do more both in cutting non-core expenses and in creatively generating revenues in ways that don’t unduly penalize property ownership.  That should be the central focus of the upcoming 2012-13 budget process which, in our opinion, can’t start too soon given the size of the task and the reluctance already displayed by a majority of the “new” aldermen to make tough economic choices, much like the aldermen they replaced.

But for the time being, we’ll consider these audit results as the glass being at least half-full, thanks in no small measure to a mayor who has walked his talk.

UPDATE (11.29.11):  An alert reader has pointed out that the Management, Discussion and Analysis section of the audit (pages 3-14) – from which we took some of the information for this post – is the work product of City Staff (i.e., City “management”) rather than of the auditors.  The Staff, therefore, should be credited with the assembly and organization of that information.  

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4.73% Tax Levy Hike Further Evidence D-64 Not Willing To Live Within Our Means


At its November 14 meeting, the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board proposed a 4.73% overall increase (4.99% increase on those “capped” funds) in next year’s property tax levy over this current year’s levy, pushing its property tax request up to $62,306,681.  That levy will be the subject of a public hearing at the meeting on December 12, and is expected to be approved by the Board at its December 19 meeting.

That’s the Christmas gift the Board will be giving itself at the expense of us taxpayers, presumably so that it can give a belated Christmas gift – a new contract – to the teachers union sometime next year.   

Want to know how Board president John Heyde rationalizes this increase?

“No one expects we’ll actually receive that.” 

Which may be true because, thanks to the tax caps, D-64 is likely to get no bigger an increase than the rate of inflation, plus whatever additional taxes can be assessed on whatever “new construction” has become taxable in 2011.  That’s got District Business Manager Rebecca Allard predicting an overall 1.5% increase, plus that new-construction differential.

In fairness to the folks running D-64, the property tax process in Crook County is arcane at best.   But that doesn’t excuse the kind of shameless spending that has characterized D-64 for more than a decade – ever since it decided in 1997 to demolish its newest school building to make way for a newer $20 million Emerson Middle School that has never produced $20 million of educational quality, at least as measured by the ISAT scores that are commonly used to compare interscholastic educational quality.   

As can be seen from the District 64 tax collection history for the period 2000 to the present, the 2007 tax increase referendum gave D-64 an $8 million tax bump for the 2006 tax year, and another $7 million bump for the 2007 tax year.  But that $15 million wasn’t just two years of extra cash infusions to fill a hole created over the 10 previous years, as the District officials (and their “Citizens for Strong Schools” propaganda arm) sold it to the voters. 

Instead, that $15 million bump created a new tax “floor” for the future tax increases that have followed since then, which have helped enable D-64 to crank its budget up to a projected $70 million for the upcoming fiscal year.  Which might also help explain the 4th highest paid administrators and the 25th highest paid teachers in the State of Illinois – according to an article printed by the Chicago Sun-Times back in May.

D-64 spends almost $20 million more each year to educate 4,300 children than the City of Park Ridge spends to run an entire community of 37,000+ people.   And the City, despite cutting the multi-million dollar deficits it had been posting in recent years, could definitely operate a whole lot more cost effectively.

So what does that say about D-64?

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$1.1 Million Cop Shop Renovation A Want, Not A Need


We here at PublicWatchdog generally are fans of citizen task forces to study particular community problems and provide input to our elected public officials. 

So when a task force was proposed in late 2009 to provide input and recommendations to the Chief of Police, the Mayor, and the City Council about the Police Department, we supported it.  After all, at that time the City had recently received the $100,000+ “Ekl Study” of the police department’s gaffes, shortcomings and dysfunctions; and it was just about to write a check for $185,000 to settle a police brutality/civil rights lawsuit arising from an officer’s alleged pummeling of a 15 year-old resident while in custody.  Clearly the PRPD needed some feedback from the community.

So the “Chief’s Advisory Task Force was formed in early 2010, and is now comprised of 25 citizen members, plus Chief Frank Kaminski, Cmdr. Dave Keller and Ald. Jim Smith (3rd).  After almost two years of operations, however, we haven’t seen all that much in the way of useful output from the Task Force. 

And that specifically includes a newly-proposed $1.1 million “upgrade” to the 50-year old police station, which was reported in a November 10, 2011 TribLocal article titled “Task force OKs $1.1 M in upgrades to police station.”  According to that article, this project is the brainchild of Task Force member Ralph Cincinelli, who identified “major flaws and risk factors inside the station” before coming up with his million dollar baby response. 

Although Cincinelli’s proposal reportedly doesn’t call for a “major addition” to the current building, the article states that it does include a “new separate, smaller building with a fitness room and space for property/evidence,” as well as a bike storage area and a sally port “to help transport arrestees securely.”

We’ve been hearing about the station’s “major risk factors” for years, well before the voters nuked the April 2009 referendum proposal for a brand new, triple-the-size cop shop which also was intended to address those risk factors.  Frankly, it almost sounds as if the physical conditions that create or contribute to those purported “major risk factors” may have been around since the police station was constructed, yet we’ve never heard of any actual incidents arising out of those factors.

Not that we would want to, mind you.  But if every member of this community were preoccupied with reducing or eliminating all the “risk factors” we face on a daily basis, we wouldn’t have the time or the money left to do much else. 

We assume that Mr. Cincinelli and his fellow Task Force members will come up with an actual report that will ultimately get presented to the City Council’s Public Safety Commission at an upcoming COW meeting.  Maybe by then he or somebody else tied to this project will try to answer the questions that we’ve been asking ever since then-mayor Howard Frimark and his “Purple Ribbon” Council became obsessed with the big new cop shop back in 2006-07:

  • How have the current police station conditions impaired the apprehension and prosecution of criminals?
  • How have the current police station conditions resulted in actual harm to PRPD employees and/or the public? 

Until those questions can be answered in ways that are acceptable to the taxpayers, we do not see the wisdom of spending $1.1 million to eliminate “risk factors” that remain unquantified either by likelihood of occurrence or by their consequences.  And we don’t see how coming up with ways to spend a lot of money furthers the Task Force’s mission. 

Then again, we’ve become accustomed to “mission creep” – both at the local level and at all higher levels of government.

And it’s never a good thing. 

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At City Hall, The Beat Goes On (Updated 11/18/11)


Should City Manager Jim Hock be fired?

That’s the question the Park Ridge City Council is currently pondering, which is a more substantial issue that some of the ones that recently have consumed too much of the Council’s deliberations – like how many pets can be kept in any one residence. 

A couple of weeks ago, Ald. Dan Knight (5th Ward) opined that Hock’s performance didn’t seem worthy of the $200,000+ in annual compensation he’s been paid since arriving here in 2008.  For those who haven’t been paying attention, Hock’s compensation package includes a $350,000 interest free loan, a $5,000/year pay-down on that loan principal, the use of a City-owned car (along with gas and insurance), and pension benefits that we suspect exceed those of most of the Park Ridge residents paying the bill for Hock’s services.  

And it’s all guaranteed through May 2013, by a $117,000 severance package unless he’s terminated for “cause,” thanks to a new contract given him by the former City Council members as they were heading for the exits, after Hock had gone almost a year and a half without a contract since his original one-year deal expired.

From just the information that has become public, it looks to us like Hock has botched a number of significant responsibilities in just the last year or so that, cumulatively, have cost the City (a/k/a, the taxpayers) some significant money: 

— During the 2010-11 budget process, he disregarded the Council’s decision to eliminate the position of Deputy City Manager and reinstate the Hock-terminated Economic Development Director position – instead, retaining the former and sacking the latter.  He compounded that bit of what sounds like insubordination by then bestowing unauthorized severance payments on the Economic Development Director and the Director of Community Development, which cost the taxpayers an extra $45,000.   

— He unilaterally decided to have City absorb unbudgeted increases in employee benefits expense without informing or consulting with Council, costing another $141,000.   In a similar vein, he improperly attempted to pay the police chief $19,000 in “deferred compensation” in order to evade the City’s cap on police chief salary – a cost that was avoided only because Mayor Dave Schmidt vetoed it; and, after initially approving that deferred comp payment, the Council finally woke up and sustained the veto. 

— He irresponsibly handed the firefighters union negotiations to Chief Mike Zywanski (who doesn’t live or pay property taxes here), who promptly agreed – without even telling the mayor or the Council – to negotiation “Ground Rules” that required the negotiations to be kept secret from the public.  When Mayor Dave Schmidt finally discovered those “Ground Rules” and called Hock on them at the May 2, 2011, Council meeting, Hock failed to “man up” and, instead, continued to obfuscate for the next two weeks – presumably until he could persuade Chief Z to “wear the jacket” for that gaffe without Hock’s having to assume any responsibility.     

— He left the Finance and Budget Director position, the second most important City Staff position, vacant for almost a full year after receiving the application of the candidate he ended up hiring.   

— Most recently, the discovery that collection of at least $600,000 in City tickets and fines has been neglected since Hock took over as City Mgr., something for which Ald. Rich DiPietro (2nd) said there was “no excuse.”  

Yet DiPietro and five other aldermen have decided Hock deserves an evaluation process with some performance objectives and a period of time to achieve them – even though, according to an article in this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Park Ridge aldermen favor evaluation, improvement over firing,” Nov. 17), DiPietro claims to be only “fairly satisfied” with Hock’s performance, Ald. Jim Smith is “negatively impressed,” Ald. Sal Raspanti (4th) doesn’t “know if [he’s] satisfied…but there’s a lot of room for improvement,” and Ald. Marty Maloney is merely “satisfied.” 

Hardly a ringing endorsement.

Notably, none of those aldermen who want to give Hock more time to shape up have identified, much less elaborated upon, exactly what it is that Hock is actually doing well.  The best thing that a Council member has said about his performance comes from Ald. Tom Bernick (6th), who considers him “a valuable source” of information. 

We’re not sure about “valuable,” although we certainly would concede expensive.

We’d expect that even blind squirrel theory would account for at least one or two “very good”s or “excellent”s on something or other over the course of three years.  So, in the interest of magnanimity, we’ll offer one: Hock’s hiring of Finance Director Allison Stutts, who so far has been an all-star in the position – including being the one who was responsible for bringing to light the neglected ticket collection mess. 

But that seems to be it.  And therein lies the problem.

Is this kind of performance from the City’s top operating officer really all the taxpayers deserve for $200,000+ a year?  Or, put another way, is this all that any of the aldermen who represent those taxpayers expect from someone  in that position and at that price?  Or, put yet another way, is this all any of those aldermen would accept from one of their own employees making that kind of dough?  

But apparently that kind of reasoning doesn’t automatically come with a seat around The Horseshoe, so we will eagerly await what we expect to be a lot of warm-and-fuzzy goals and objectives that nobody will be able to objectively measure.  Look for “goals” like “Improve communication with elected officials” and “Enhance staff morale,” along with related objectives like “No less than five e-mails per week on topics related to the upcoming week’s meeting” and “Encourage independent action by subordinates.”

Which, in turn, will likely provoke comments from aldermen like: “Jim’s e-mails are a must-read – I couldn’t put them down!” and “I’ve never seen so many smiles at 505 Butler Place.”  And that will be more than enough for those among our elected officials who seemingly expect nothing and, therefore, can never be disappointed.

Meanwhile, no substantial improvement will occur other than what the mayor or the aldermen themselves specifically direct, even as Hock begins his search for a similar position in some other community and the remaining term of his sinecure here in Pleasantville winds down.

And for City government, the beat goes on.

Update (11/18/11): Yesterday the H-A reported (“Report reveals another half-million dollars in upaid debts to city of Park Ridge,” Nov. 17) that City Finance Director Allison Stutts had discovered that there are over $550,000 in additional uncollected debts owed the City, including $301,940 in unpaid ambulance bills and another $208,779 owed for fines for things like false alarms, cutting overgrown grass, damage caused to City property, sidewalk-replacement cost sharing, and unpaid rent for City-owned property.  And $36,000 is owed for red-light camera fines that have accumulated just since July of last year.

Worse yet, it appears that there’s another $124,078 in unpaid utility bills (water and sewer) that haven’t even gone to collection because – get this! – the City apparently hasn’t sent unpaid utility bills to collection since 2005.  For what it’s worth, that would have started on the watch of the previous inept city manager, Tim Schuenke. 

But don’t worry about all this uncollected revenue, folks:  all this incompetence will be eliminated just as soon as the City Council designs and implements its Hock Performance Improvement program, the theme song of which is rumored to be: “Nearer My God To Thee.

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Veterans Day 2011: Debts Of Gratitude And Honor


It originally was known as “Armistice Day” because November 11 was the day in 1918 that Germany signed the armistice treaty ending World War I, the “War to End All Wars.”  Unfortunately, World War II and the Korean War proved that wrong, and by 1954 Congress decided to change the name to Veterans Day.

No matter one’s personal political stripe, we all owe a debt of gratitude to our military veterans.  And with the United States waging war continuously since March 2003 using Reservists as well as “regular” enlisted men/women, there are far more “veterans” among us than we might realize – in addition to those vets of WW II, Korea and Vietnam.  Some are Purple Heart recipients for having been wounded.  Some of them have been honored with bronze and silver stars for the special distinction with which they served.

Every one of them who has actually seen combat, however, also carries the scars of battle.  Some are very visible, others not at all.  But as author Jose Narosky quotably noted: “In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.”   

Today politicians will give speeches, and those are necessary to ensure that we recognize and remember the service and the sacrifice inherent in military service.  But speeches aren’t nearly enough, especially for those who have returned from service significantly diminished, depleted or impaired.

Although we often disagree with Sen. Dick Durbin on public policy matters, he is spot-on when he says: “We owe our disabled veterans more than speeches, parades and monuments.” That’s especially true for those veterans whose disability arises from actually having been placed in harm’s way in the defense of this country.  We, as a nation, owe them the best care this country can reasonably provide to restore them, as much as possible, to the condition and functionality of which they were robbed on the battlefield.

And those of us who did not serve must do our best to ensure that they get it.

That’s our debt of honor.

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City Fails “Outsourcing 101.” Again.


After 3 years of posting annual operating deficits (a/k/a, expenses exceeding revenues in the General Fund) that totaled in the $5 million range under the new, money-saving 7-member “Frimark” City Council, we hear that the City of Park Ridge – thanks to the leadership and, yes, the vetoes of Mayor Dave Schmidt – has produced only the second operating surplus in a decade (for the just-concluded fiscal year 2010-11), although we await the results of the annual audit for confirmation.

But because the mayor, the City Council, and City staff couldn’t seem to consistently agree on what were essential City government expenses and what were frills, Schmidt’s semi-austerity approach that encouraged these much-improved results still left the City short on things like sewer maintenance and repair, street resurfacing, tree trimming, and various other services that many residents consider “essential.”  Schmidt, the Council, and staff often clashed not just over hundred thousand dollar cuts, but even over cuts of a few thousand dollars. 

Every one of those cuts, however, took another bite out of those deficits.

So it’s in the light of that kind of nickel-and-dime budgeting and spending trench warfare that the City’s recent admission that it has been grossly neglecting the collection of outstanding parking tickets and other City fines totaling almost $1 million dollars was a decidedly unpleasant revelation. 

That’s right, campers: according to a report by City Finance Director Allison Stutts, the City is carrying on its books over $1 million of uncollected municipal fines, including penalties and interest!  And approximately $900,000 of that has accumulated just since 2008! 

How did this happen?

As we understand it, those unhappy totals include primarily parking tickets outsourced to Professional Account Management, LLC (“PAM”), a subsidiary of Duncan Solutions of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pursuant to a contractual arrangement approved by the City Council’s Finance & Budget Committee on March 13, 2007; and subsequently unanimously approved by the full Council at its regular meeting on March 19, 2007, as can be seen from the relevant excerpts of those meeting minutes.

From the discussion at last night’s City Council meeting, what then-Finance & Budget chairman Ald. Don Crampton (1st) optimistically termed “a great advance” for the City’s collection of tickets was screwed up right from the start because no City employee, or even a department, was expressly tasked with monitoring the arrangement – although Ass’t City Manager Juliana Maller insisted that, while all four City departments agreed to giving the deal to PAM, “it was always the intent that the Finance Department would manage” PAM.

That’s the classic “empty-chair defense”: blaming someone who is gone and, therefore, unavailable to defend themselves.  In this case, the empty chair belongs to former Finance Director Diane Lembesis, who left her position in January 2010 for a similar position with the Village of Gurnee.  By laying the blame on Lembesis’ empty chair, accountability for the problem presumably doesn’t get beyond her to her former “supervisors.”

Can you say then-Deputy City Mgr. Maller and City Mgr. Jim Hock (who also threw Lembesis under the bus last night)?

This outsourcing effort seems to have been so badly botched from its inception that there appears to be not only mass confusion as to what PAM was going to do and what the City as going to do, but also no requirement that PAM even provide the City with regular reports about its collection performance!  And, according to Stutts, no member of the City staff bothered to ask for any reports until Stutts arrived early this year, discovered the problem, and began digging into it.

As Ald. Joe Sweeney noted last night, Stutts deserves major kudos for her efforts.  And perhaps, we might add, a “Sherlock Holmes” deerstalker hat in recognition of her sleuthing.

We’ve been a proponent of outsourcing by government of those services that can be obtained more economically from the private sector, so long as they are properly bid out, properly contracted for, and properly administered.  What the City has demonstrated so far with outsourcing, unfortunately, is not what we had in mind, or what the taxpayers deserve.

It does, however, fit the the model of incompetence established by the City through its years of throwing large-but-arbitrary amounts of tax dollars at private community groups for unspecified, un-quantified, no-bid, no-contract services for which, not surprisingly, no monitoring or reporting has occurred.  With a paradigm like that, this PAM fiasco almost begins to make sense, albeit in a perverse way.

So when it comes to Outsourcing 101, give the City an “F” on tickets and fines.  After all this time, and with all the problems Stutts identified, the City will be lucky to collect even half of the outstanding fines.

And for that reason, it might be time for the City Council to start grading what passes for “management” at City Hall.

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Taste Inc. Proving To Be A Deceit, Wrapped In Propaganda, Inside An Absurdity


It was back in July 2008 that we first questioned the bona fides of Taste of Park Ridge NFP (“Taste Inc.”), the purported non-for-profit private corporation that was handed the Taste of Park Ridge event (“TOPR”) on a no-bid, no-contract basis in 2005 by then-mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark and a purple ribbon-distracted/intimidated City Council.

Our concerns about Taste Inc. included that it seemed to be making a lot of money with absolutely no transparency or accountability to the City, even though – as originally marketed to the Council by Frimark – the folks running TOPR were supposed to be members of a City committee rather than a private corporation.  Worse yet, Taste Inc. was stiffing the City for the tens of thousands of dollars worth of “free” City services (police, fire and public works) it was using. 

But because none of Taste Inc.’s tax returns were being posted on GuideStar, the Internet clearinghouse for information about not-for-profits, we also began asking whether Taste Inc. really was a not-for-profit. 

We got thumped by a number of Taste Inc. defenders and apologists, including Taste Inc.’s then-treasurer, Jim Bruno, and its then-new “committee” member Mel Thillens, for even asking such an “insulting” question about all these self-less “volunteers” who committed thousands of hours of their time to TOPR with no expectation of compensation or other rewards.

But guess what?  After 3 years of stonewalling, and confronted by a new array of aldermen who began talking about putting TOPR out to bid, Taste Inc. finally admitted that it actually had been a for profit corporation during those first four years when it was falsely advertising itself as a not-for-profit one.  In other words, for the past six years those self-less “volunteers” who run Taste Inc. had outright lied to the people of this community – even while sucking tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars out of the City treasury.

Let’s call that simple deceit.

And several weeks after that, just days before the Council’s vote on bidding out TOPR, Taste Inc. suddenly produced its 2005 through 2008 corporate tax returns, along with an offer to actually enter into a contract with the City for next year’s TOPR that would cover the City’s “direct costs for services provided…[to TOPR].”

We understand that the newly-released 2007 return reports $111,803 in gross receipts/sales and $18,308 of taxable income.  What’s especially interesting about those figures is that an article published in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate shortly after the 2007 TOPR (“Taste Committee reports record turnout,” July 19, 2007) reported that 2007 TOPR sales were “approximately $201,000.”  That’s a whopping $90,000 more than Taste Inc.’s 2007 tax return discloses. 

We’ll call that simple propaganda…if only because it sounds a little better than “intentionally under-reporting income.”

But the absurd manifested itself several weeks ago when – as reported in this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Complaint filed 2 years after alleged Park Ridge election incident,” Nov. 1) – deputy head-Tastee, Albert Galus, filed (a) a battery charge against Mayor Dave Schmidt for allegedly bumping him outside a polling place in April 2009; and (b) a “cyber-stalking” charge against the editor of this blog, claiming this blog posted “untrue” messages about him and Taste Inc.  

Hey, fatuous Albert!  Have you no shame?  You wait 2 years to file a complaint against Schmidt for allegedly battering you outside the Mary Seat of Wisdom polling place?  Seriously, Albert? 

And you file a “cyberstalking” complaint against the editor of this blog for writing about Taste Inc.’s lies and stonewalling?   Seriously, Albert? 

Not surprisingly, the Cook County States Attorney declined to prosecute either of Albert’s charges, presumably viewing them as the baseless political mush that they are.

Instead of making ridiculous charges against the mayor and this blog, maybe Galus should spend that time explaining why he and his Taste Inc. buddies lied to the taxpayers of Park Ridge for the past 6 years about Taste Inc.’s not-for-profit charade.  Or about how those same taxpayers enriched the Taste Inc. corporation to the tune of $70,000-$140,000 so that Albert and friends could walk around Uptown for a few days each summer in those orange polo shirts, acting important. 

Actually, we’ve got an even better idea: Why doesn’t Albert and his current Taste Inc. cronies – Dave Iglow, Sandy Svizzero, Barb Tyksinski, Dean Patras, John Warnimont, Jackie Mathews and Mel Thillens – actually start doing what they were supposed to be doing since 2005: volunteering to run TOPR for the City’s benefit, the way Frimark explained it to the City Council back on June 6, 2005?  That way, the Council doesn’t have to go through the hassle of sending TOPR out to bid.

All those Tastees need to do is tell the Council they want to liquidate Taste Inc. and donate what’s it its treasury ($73,000 as of year-end 2010 – there should be more in there now, after such a successful 2011 TOPR) to the City, to be placed in a newly-created TOPR “enterprise fund” that will be managed by a TOPR City committee comprised of Albert and his fellow Tastees.  They can continue to run it exactly the same way they’ve been running it since 2005 (assuming, of course, that nobody’s been stuffing TOPR cash into their pockets), except that all the profits would go into the City treasury – and its books and records would be open to public scrutiny.   

Everything would be totally transparent and above-board – just the way Albert and his fellow Tastees claim it has been since 2005. 

How about it, Albert?

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