Taste Of Park Ridge Curtain Call Tonight? (Updated 03.06.12; 03.07.12)


Tonight’s City Council meeting should finally ring down the curtain on the recent Taste of Park Ridge (“TOPR”) RFP charade orchestrated by City Mgr. Jim Hock, seemingly in collusion with the folks who run the private corporation Taste of Park Ridge Inc. (“Taste Inc.”) that has had a no-bid, no-contract monopoly on TOPR since 2005. 

That monopoly appears to have cost the City over $100K in City services provided free to Taste Inc. over the past 7 years – which allowed Taste Inc. to build up its current $80,000+ bank account despite having to pay what Taste Inc. claims were thousands (tens of thousands?) of dollars to the IRS in back taxes for the four years (2005-08) it advertised itself as a not-for-profit while, in reality, it was a for-profit corporation. 

This year was supposed to be different.

This year the City was going to award a first-ever TOPR contract, based on an RFP that required reimbursement of City expenses and a share of the profits.  But as could have been predicted from the fact that Hock was in charge of the process, the RFP itself was a cobbled together mess in many respects that contributed to the three applicants submitting non-conforming proposals, all of which should have been rejected.

But Hock chose to enter into negotiations exclusively with…wait for it…Taste Inc.  And once that started, he promptly (a) agreed to reduce the RFP’s $100,000 letter of credit requirement to the $20,000 one Taste Inc. offered, and (b) agreed to defer any City profit sharing until after Taste Inc. pockets the first $20,000 of profits so that it can boost its bankroll up to an arbitrary $100,000 figure.

If this City Council had a spine, it would tell Hock and Taste Inc. “no deal” unless profits were split 50/50 beginning with the first dollar.  But it doesn’t.  And, besides, politicians love bread and circuses – and TOPR provides both.

Which might explain why, by our count, Alds. Joe Sweeney, Rich DiPietro and Jim Smith already are in Taste Inc.’s corner.  And if Taste Inc.’s biggest Council cheerleader, Ald. Tom Bernick, actually decides to make one of his rare appearances at The Horseshoe, Taste Inc. will have its fourth vote even if Alds. Sal Raspanti, Dan Knight and Marty Maloney vote for a better deal for the taxpayers.

There are those who will say that forcing Taste Inc. to pay its expenses after 7 years on the public dole is an accomplishment.  And it is, just like grabbing a few crumbs off the floor is an “accomplishment” for a beggar.  Which is what the City has let itself become in dealing with Taste Inc.

Worse yet, the City’s (a/k/a Hock’s) mismanagement of this RFP process likely has demonstrated to anybody who might otherwise be interested in bidding on any future TOPR contract that the City’s RFP process is just a sham and a “cover” for awarding the event to Taste Inc.  But that almost certainly will be lost on Hock, the Taste Inc. aldermen, and whatever Taste Inc. representatives – Mel Thillens? Dave Iglow? – show up to take their bows. 

Just chalk it up to a little more special-interest government from 505 Butler Place.

UPDATE (03.06.12):  To nobody’s surprise, Taste Inc.’s done deal for TOPR 2012 became officially “done” last night by a 6-1 vote (Ald. Knight dissenting).  

And, also not too surprisingly, Taste Inc.’s No. 1 Council cheerleader, Ald. Tom Bernick (6th) – whose Council attendance record to date makes that of former Ald. Robert Ryan seem positively stellar – apparently found the awarding of the TOPR contract an event more worthy of his presence than the usual Council and COW meetings, or the budget workshops.  Perhaps he just wanted to publicly ask Taste Inc.’s Dave Iglow and Mel Thillens, one last time, why they keep insisting on running TOPR when they’ve been treated so shabbily of late at 505 Butler Place.

Memo to Ald. Bernick: Try $80,000 in the Taste Inc. bank account, which should swell to a cool $100 grand this summer, thanks to the $20,000 of profits Taste Inc. won’t have to share with the City under the contract approved last night. 

Other than Bernick, none of the aldermen explained their votes, so we don’t know why they thought Taste Inc. shouldn’t have to split the first $20,000 of this year’s profits with the City, a/k/a the taxpayers.  Frankly, we expected more from Alds. Raspanti and Maloney, who in past Council discussions on this subject seemed more concerned with maximizing the City’s financial return on TOPR than their simple “yes” votes (which cost the City $10,000) last night would indicate. 

But the taxpayers should be grateful it’s only $10 grand: at tomorrow night’s budget meeting, these same folks will be dealing with real money. 

Or maybe not all these “same folks”: what’s the Vegas line on Bernick showing up?   

UPDATE (03.07.12):  For those of you who bet the “over,” you’re in luck…because we’ve heard that Bernick bailed on tonight’s budget workshop, preventing the Council from having a quorum and causing the cancellation of the workshop (because Alds. DiPietro, Maloney and Raspanti had previously indicated they would not be present).

We’ll need an “official” record check, but it’s looking like Bernick may have set the record for most Council meetings missed by one alderman in one budget year.  And, more remarkably, he will have done it as a rookie! 

Way to go, Little Tommy!

To read or post comments, click on title.

15 comments so far

Perhaps a veto by the mayor will restore confidence in the process?

EDITOR’S NOTE: No. “Confidence in the process” has been nuked by this year’s charade perpetrated by Hock and the Council. Nothing short of a majority Council vote to deny TOPR to Taste Inc. unless it shares profits from dollar one has any chance of convincing any prospective TOPR bidders that future RFPs won’t just be more kinked deals designed to keep Taste Inc. running TOPR.

A mayoral veto would not only keep TOPR Inc out of this year’s event (given your assumption of a 4-3 vote) , but it would probably discourage them from responding to future RFPs as well. If you really feel this way about the Tastees, you should encourage a veto.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We think Taste Inc. has ripped off the City and its taxpayers on the free City services for the past 7 years, but keeping Taste Inc. out of this year’s (or any other year’s) TOPR event isn’t what this post is about, or what we’ve ever advocated. We’ve wanted the City and its taxpayers to be made whole on expenses, and we’ve wanted the City to share in the profits of the event – two interests that we believe are best served by a fair and competent RFP system, not this goat rodeo devised and administered by Mr. Hock.

No mayoral veto, even if sustained by the necessary 3 votes, is likely to convince anybody that this year’s process was fair; or that any future process supervised by Hock and endorsed by a 4-alderman Council majority, will be any better.

I heard the “Taste Inc.” contract was approved last night 6-1 (Knight “no”). Your arguments don’t seem to have had much effect on the City Council.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You heard right. C’est la vie.

But at least, for the first time in 7 years, the taxpayers won’t have their tax dollars “donated” to the Taste Inc. treasury in the form of free City services. And an RFP process, albeit one that needs significant revisions, for future RFPs – assuming the profiteers at Taste Inc. don’t convince the Council to abandon the RFP process altogether, which is a distinct possibility. Again, c’est la vie.

It appears the old PD double standard is alive and well!!!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: And it appears lucidity is still an unachieved goal for you.

So you find your treatment of the rest of the council versus your reaction to Maloney and Raspanti and their vote last night to not be a double standard??

It appears to me their vote repreesents everything you are against and yet not a peep.

EDITOR’S NOTE: See, you CAN be lucid if you put your mind to it.

Our only reference in the post to the individual aldermen in in the seventh paragraph, in which we identified Alds. Sweeney, DiPietro, Smith and Bernick (who…SURPRISE!…finally did show up for a change) as definite “yes” votes for Taste Inc. that would decide the issue, “even if Alds. Sal Raspanti, Dan Knight and Marty Maloney vote for a better deal for the taxpayers.” And that proved absolutely correct.

As for Ads. Raspanti and Maloney, they didn’t “vote for a better deal for the taxpayers” – which we noted in today’s Update to the post. Feel better now?

Who covers these costs listed below?

1> Who insures the event?
2> What happens if there is a food poisoning outbreak, who pays?
3> Garbage collection, is their additional staffing for pick up?
4> The Taste is staff with volunteers, so their is a cost of time that is not paid for.
5> The event is promoted by the City, so shouldn’t the costs of promotion be reimbursed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Interesting questions…too bad you waited until after the contract was approved to raise them.

Go to the City’s website and look at the “Taste Event – Agreement with Taste of Park Ridge NFP, Inc.” pdf.

Hopefully someone is asking the questions the previous commentator asked. Do the alderman and mayor take their job seriously, or are they rubber stamping all of Hock’s ideas?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Schizophrenia is treatable, you know.

329pm…you are frickin’ kidding, right?
Did you just start paying attention to this goat rodeo??

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, he/she has been paying attention for awhile, but belatedly asking some half-baked questions and then letting his/her evil twin try to legitimize them with faux indignation apparently is some kind of political tactic.

My questions are fully baked. You figured out that I respond multiple times, asking questions from different perspectives, good for you. It is very much a political tactic. The name is John Taylor Gatto. Perhaps you have heard of me, or are you just a small ‘L’???

EDITOR’S NOTE: Alright, multiple personalities…and one of them even has a name. We’re making progress.

So John Taylor Gatto… you sound like you think a lot of you. But I haven’t heard of you… I must be “L”-less.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This one seems to think a lot more of himself/herself than the real JTG likely does of himself.

Now why you pickin’ on me? ‘Cause I ain’t been to but less than half them dang budget meetings? Why for I gotta go to those? Because I ain’t been to but a few of them dang reglar meetins this year? Why for do they need me thar? I got dang better thangs ta do than sit ‘en fight with the Mayer ‘en all them other guys. Leave me the heck alone.

Them six ward peeple don need me there ‘cept when I think it’s inprortant to be there. So shut the hell up. I gots opinions and they matter. I owns a business! I knows stuff and what I’m a doin’.


If I lived in Bernick’s ward I’d be wondering what the hell is up with my supposed representation. And when he is there is is typically a shill for the Chamber of Commerce, TOPR or some other entity NOT his constituents.


EDITOR’S NOTE: On one hand, if he’s not going to show up with regularity, he should probably resign. On the other hand, he tends to be more valuable absent than present. Which makes him a lot like Churchill’s view of Russia: “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”


I’m don’t get the meaning of “small L.”. Can someone enlighten me?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We assumed he/she/they were referring to the word “Libertarian.” But he/she/they still need a lot more work on nother “small l” word: lucidity.

Anyone seen Bernick arounf town yesterday or today? A budget meeting had to be cancelled last night because he announced at the last moment that he had been called out of town.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, but it wasn’t our night to watch him.

PublicWatchdog, however, hereby offers a $5 reward to anybody who provides conclusive, documented proof that Bernick actually was in Park Ridge last night. Something like one of those “hostage” photos of him standing beneath the clock at Prospect and Summit surrounded by darkness, with him holding yesterday’s edition of the Park Ridge Journal while the clock’s hands are positioned at…say…”8:30.”

Too funny.

Bernick, if you’re out there will you please report in? We all miss you buddy…

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