A Saturday Special


Center of Concern Could Learn A Lesson From Misericordia:  If you were out and about Park Ridge today you likely saw a number of people in red and white pull-over vests collecting donations in front of Starbucks and various other local establishments for Misericordia/Heart of Mercy.  Obviously, the supporters of that institution are willing to walk their fundraising talk – unlike, for example, our community’s Center of Concern, whose primary fundraising seems to consist of coming to the City of Park Ridge for its annual $49,500 handout.

In a letter to the editor in this week’s edition of the Park Ridge Journal, CofC Finance Chair (and former 4th Ward Park Ridge alderman) Jim Radermacher ripped into Mayor Dave Schmidt for vetoing CofC’s 2012-13 line item budget handout, and branded as “shameful” Schmidt’s call for CofC to “increase its efforts” at fundraising directly from the taxpayers rather than through the City.  

But a look at Schedule G to CofC’s latest IRS Form 990 tax return for the fiscal year ending 06/30/11 reveals a measly $59,873 in gross receipts from its “Fundraising Events” (a “Dinner/Auction,” a “Holiday Party” and an event identified only as “2”) that produced…a $9,186 loss!  Unless that’s the product of lackadaisical effort or incompetent execution, such a pathetic showing belies CofC’s claim to widespread community support.

Perhaps Mr. Radermacher and all the other current and former local politicians that fill CofC’s board of directors and advisory board might want to consider taking a page from Misericordia’s fundraising playbook and hit the streets of Park Ridge with their own vests and contribution cans.  Whether they could collect enough to make up for the loss of the City annual handout is hard to say, but at least they wouldn’t lose $9 grand.

Fallico Puts Sleeper Hold On Truth:  This week’s Journal also contains a letter from Maine South’s outstanding wrestling coach, Craig Fallico, bemoaning what he calls “teacher bashing” and its discouraging effect on “good teachers and, in turn, good teaching.”

Fallico notes as “fact” that Maine South’s average ACT score is 25 (which he rightfully applauds as “excellent!”) but then inexplicably follows it with the “fact” that a recent NY Times article pegs the average starting salary for a U.S. teacher at $39,000, going up to “a whopping $67,000” for a U.S. teacher after 25 years of service. 

Speaking about Maine South ACT scores in the context of national average teacher salaries, however, is kind of like comparing Dan Gable to Hulk Hogan.  On the other hand, maybe Fallico figured that the point he was trying to make would suffer if he used actual District 207 teacher salaries. 

That’s because, as reported on the “Illinois Interactive Report Card” published by Northern Illinois University, in 2011 the salary for the average Maine Twp. H.S. teacher with 15.1 years of experience was a whopping $108,336.  And according to the teacher salary database of the Family Taxpayers Foundation website, Fallico himself makes a $123,242 salary after 20 years of service – without even getting into the wonderful pension benefits of as much as 75% of salary that can kick in as early as age 55.

That’s enough to make Park Ridge taxpayers feel like they’ve been put in a Full Nelson.

To read or post comments, click on title.

14 comments so far

OK…a Saturday special is nice but Holy Crap! Could you put out two items that are more infuriating?

Here is hoping the Aldermen sustain the Mayors veto on Center fo Concern funding. It is well past high time the organization was weaned of the City’s depleted bosom.

As for Falico and his idiotic letter, it gives a sense of the repugnant gimme attitude that is far too prevalent in the public sector now a days. And it is time the general public stands up against that and demand change…from the public servants and the politicians who enable them. And visa versa. Seriously, his letter was sickening.

Is there any way that the eventual City commitment to any organization be tied to private fundraising result? Pledging to match dollar-for dollar whatever is raised by the organization may be an equitable compromise…And maybe with a minimum and maximum worked in…

Im thinking that maybe it could go like this: The City budgets a maximum amount for next year’s budget that it would contribute. Part of this could include a minimum contribution to be given out immediately and the rest be a 1-for-1 match of the funds raised by the group up to the maximum. So if the current alderman voted to give CofC $45k. Maybe there is an immediate $5k given and then the remaining $40k is only awarded if CofC raises $40k. If they raise $20k only, they get $20k only…

This way the City has a finite budgetary exposure and there would be more of an effort to actually WORK for private funds instead of expecting a handout. Also, this knowledge could possibly invigorate the private donors who know that every dollar would then become $2 for the group.

If they fail to raise the funds, the city sees a “under budget” condition and then can use this in next years budget to maybe cut back on the maximum.

We dont want to see all these groups fail into extinction but we dont want them to only exist due to taxpayer contributions.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You seem to be confusing the City with a private foundation instead of viewing it as the governing and taxing body it is.

As far as we can tell, the City Council never enacted any ordinance or resolution requesting people to form any of these organizations. They were formed voluntarily by private individuals to be run by private individuals the way those private individuals want to run them – without government/taxpayer control, intervention or oversight. The ONLY difference between them and the average private corporation is their claimed not-for-profit status – which doesn’t give them any constitutional right to public funding.

As far as these groups going extinct without City funding, that funding was cut a couple of years ago for all but the most politically-connected of them, and to our knowledge none of those other organizations have gone extinct. And some of them, like the Kalo Foundation, have actually prospered.

But, then again, that organization appears to have people who are willing to fundraise rather than just beef and moan because their City handouts are being cut.

According to the Wikipedia entry for Park Ridge, 2007 median household income was $91,674 and median family income was $110,842. That makes Mr. Fallico’s individual income as a public employee higher than the median family income of the people who are paying his salary.

Mr. Fallico’s complaints ring hollow to me.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To us, too.

I am a HUGE fan of Misericordia including all the volunteers who collect money on candy days but, given your past positions, I find it amazing that you would use them as an example.

Every year they have a carnival/picnic. It is actually one of their biggest fund raisers of the year. There have to be somewhere near 6 figures attending and it takes a huge amount of city services (traffic etc.) Do you really think that the city presents Misericordia with a bill for these services? Hell, it was only recently that the new Mayor decided to start charging them for water.

They are a great example to use to beat on CoC but they sure do not fit into this “stand on your own position” you seem to want for all such organizations. The city of Chicago does provide services at no cost.

By the way, I am glad they do!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can be darn sure that we don’t hold up Chicago as anything other than a paradigm for government at its worst; and we have no idea what the City of Chicago provides to Misericordia in the way of services, either on a cost or no-cost basis.

Our point, and our only point, is that Misericordia people are pounding the pavement in Chicago and in surrounding communities like Park Ridge, while CofC’s people show up at Council meetings and whine. And whatever half-baked fundraisers CofC runs apparently lose money – which, at least, people in vests and change cans wouldn’t do.

As we’ve said before: If each of the 60 officers, board members and advisory board members listed on CofC’s website tossed in $825/year (or $16/wk) they could stop squeezing the taxpayers. Even an inept vest-clad can shaker should be able to get that in no more than two hours out front of Starbuck’s or Einstein’s.

T-Man…why should the City have ANY budgetary exposure to ANY of these organizations?

As to your matching concept, it sounds like a real potential winner. Now the groups have to go out and find a sugar daddy that will fund it. That is not the job of the City nor how taxpayer funds should be used in the ordinary course of City operations.

Oh I agree that in an ideal world these groups shouldnt rely on the city for funding but I see this as maybe a compromise to move away from the annual alderman grandstanding over these private groups and then just handing over funds without any accountability or required effort by the groups despite any veto. This could be a move towards weaning them off of the city within a few years time…

I was trying to find something that maybe can realistically be approved by the alderman as not so unfriendly to the groups but helpful when an effort is shown…

Its kinda a “tough love” approach and these kids need to learn to fend for themselves but we can give a little help for now if they are serious about leaving the nest…

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s not anything close to “tough love,” T-Man. That’s just “enabling” their continued panhandling behavior.

But if you’re so desperate for a “compromise” to keep those public tax dollars flowing into CofC’s private bank account, we’ve offered one several times before: Let the City put out an RFP for whatever services it supposedly has been getting all these years from CofC; and let CofC (and any other service provider that might be interested) put in a bid for specific quantities of such specific services at specific unit prices that will lead to the execution of a binding contract that can be enforced and monitored/verified by the City to ensure that those services are really being delivered at those prices to identifiable Park Ridge residents.

In other words, the City could treat CofC like a qualified vendor of services rather than a financial dependent.

How ’bout it, T-Man?

OK..or we can just keep barking up that same tree and try to get different results than we have been???

re-read my first paragraph… and then remember that Im not “desperate” for anything…I AGREE that it SHOULD be zero…but it isnt…

cut ’em off now…how’s that?? Cut em off last year…how’s that???…Do you see this happening with this bunch of Alderman???

and when we keep yelling “cut em off cold turkey” years from now, and they still override the vetos and get it anyway…what then?

Have the alderman accepted the RFP idea? That idea works for me too…

I am just trying to get it to zero as soon as possible and am trying to come up with something to get us there.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you really want “to get it to zero as soon as possible,” then stop being an enabler and see what happens when Schmidt’s veto of CofC’s $49,500 budget line item comes up for vote on May 7. The giveaway guys – Sweeney, DiPietro, Smith and Bernick – can be expected to vote to override. But if Raspanti, Knight and Maloney vote on the veto as they did on the original line item, that will be enough to sustain Schmidt’s veto and “get it to zero” this year rather than years in the future.

my comments were a contingency for the Alderman we all know and love…if not, I will pleasantly surprised…I think we’d both be happier…

EDITOR’S NOTE: Stop being a T-Wimp and let the process take its course with an up-down vote rather than throw in the towel on some half-baked compromise. And then let the voters express their preferences next April when the 2nd (DiPietro), 4th (Raspanti) and 6th (Bernick) Ward seats come up for vote, along with the mayor’s.

Yes “Pub-Puss”, and “letting the process take its course” is what we should all have been doing all these years when confronted with Alderman shenannigans…or is that what youve been bloggin about on these and many other topics???

BTW…look up “contingency”

You do realize that youre arguing with someone who agrees with you right?

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, we realize we’re arguing with someone who wanted a matching funds boondoggle that wouldn’t be “so unfriendly to [CofC]…when an effort is shown” at fundraising. Real tower-of-jello stuff.

As for letting the process take its course, we didn’t mean old time business-as-usual but, instead, letting this particular CofC funding process go to an up-down vote on the mayor’s veto rather than accepting some namby-pamby compromise. If people actually stand for something, they should be willing to risk losing in order to have a chance at winning instead of cutting a deal for more mediocrity.

I agree…veto now is the best scenario…seriously…

We wouldn’t want to be accused of “desperately” “want[ing]” some “namby-pamby” “half-baked” “tower-of-jello” “keep those public tax dollars flowing” RFP “cutting a deal for more mediocrity” “boondoggle” of an idea to take place before that veto vote either…(see I can do that too)

All joking aside, I wouldnt mind the RFP scenario either in lieu of the past years full payment dump. Cuz I see both as trying to minimize it as much as possible (targeting zero of course) IF the veto is overridden.

but as I said, this was meant as (BIG IF HERE) another possible contingent solution IF the veto is overridden (like from May 8 onward).

Your trust in that veto being upheld seems a bit more than mine. And you may be right. I guess I was preparing for the worst while hoping for the best…sorry you took it the wrong way…

Keep up the good work!

PS – The “business-as-usual” crack was tongue-in-cheek cuz you seemed to get so riled up over my agreement with you. I’m on-board on this point…just brainstorming…

EDITOR’S NOTE: After so many years of observing inept, stupid and just plain bad government, the sense of humor ain’t what it used to be.

But in case you haven’t noticed, we don’t do “compromise” well – whether because we read too much about Neville Chamberlain and Munich, or because we can’t quite shake the late Jerry Garcia’s quote that: “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”

We don’t have any “trust in that veto being upheld,” but we’d rather go for the win than negotiate for the tie just to avoid the possibility of a loss.

It’s very endearing that you would feel better about the C of C’s operation if it had the “control, intervention and oversight” of government. Totally at odds with your usual stance that government is useless. And for those who truly believe there is no difference between a charity like C of C and the average private corporation, “the Hunger Games” is gonna view like Winnie the Pooh.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re just plain WRONG! If CofC earned its own money rather than fed at the government trough, we could care less who has “control, intervention and oversight” of it – other than to make damn sure it WASN’T the government.

The only people who seem to think there’s no difference between a “charity” and the “average private corporation” is…wait for it…CofC, who feeds on government money but flaunts its private status to avoid so much as even accounting to the City concerning which specific City residents it serves and what is the exact cost of those services.

If we could just reduce the amount of unenlightened self interest displayed by the otherwise decent people like Fallico and those who run Center of Concern, we wouldn’t have these problems. For some reason these people want us to think they know best, and they want us to put our money where their mouths are.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Put our money where their mouths are” – great line! That does seem too often to be the case.

I’d like to add that Maine Township teachers pay nothing to the pension fund. Altho the District share of the pension payment to the state pension fund is only about 0.6% the District pays approximately 10.4% to the state fund for the Teachers side

At 10.4% of 108k that’s $11.2 more or about $119k average compensation.

The irony there is the standard 9.4% payment is considered as income by the contract so they are forced to pay an additional 9.4% on the 9.4%, meaning about 10.4%.

Also, the teachers pay only 5% of a single’s health care and have similar disability and dental provisions.

And it will all keep going up 6-7% per year with the step and cost of living arrangements on wages. Won’t be long until only the teachers can afford to live in PR

Thank goodness for the cap on property taxes….unless you are a 207 parent where this ends up meaning teacher layoffs and bigger class sizes and the loss of good teachers because of seniority… until we get another referendum….ugh.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Across-the-board increases are ridiculous, as are COLAs. Where does it say that workers’ wages must be inflation-proof. If inflation were to shoot through the roof, teacher salaries would have to go with them?

The mess we’re in is the product primarily of bad ideas that weren’t properly debated and thought through, like retirement from most public-sector jobs by age 55.

The comments I’ve read here astound me. You should be ashamed to call yourselves a public watchdog. Unbelievable. “Researching” on google for 15 minutes makes you an imbecile, at best, when it comes to talking about public sector compensation and what people do and do not deserve. Try teaching for one full day, then tell me what you think. Actually, please don’t, because it’s pathetic.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hey, watch who you’re calling an “imbecile”: our researching on Google doesn’t always take us the full 15 minutes. Heck, we often find what we’re looking for a lot quicker than that, especially when it comes to compensation and pension abuses in the public sector.

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