Hock’s Termination Should Be Teaching Moment For City Government


Last night the Park Ridge City Council – in a special session with Ald. Tom Bernick (6th) MIA and reportedly resigned – voted 6-0 to terminate City Mgr. Jim Hock.

When Hock arrived four years ago from Oak Park, Michigan, we were duly skeptical of what the taxpayers would get for the excessive compensation package negotiated by then-mayor Howard Frimark.  We ended our 05.30.08 post with the following: 

“So while we welcome Mr. Hock and hope that he earns all our hard-earned money he’s being paid, we have to wonder if this is yet another ‘sweetheart deal’ by Mayor Howard and his Alderpuppets?”

Unfortunately, despite some legitimate potential, Hock never really did earn his $200,000+, all-in, compensation. 

Presented at the outset with a choice of working at good government or playing at politics, Hock chose the latter.  He promptly hopped into the bad-government bed of Frimark and his Alderpuppets (Jim Allegretti, Don Bach, Tom Carey and Robert Ryan), serving as a willing accomplice to Frimark’s efforts to build a big new police station, finagle special deals for buddies like Bill Napleton, Bruce Adreani and the owner of 720 Garden, and spend the City into million dollar-plus deficits from which it is only now beginning to recover.

Even after Frimark was defeated by current Mayor Dave Schmidt in April 2009, Hock remained firmly tucked under the covers with the Alderpuppets.  And he was rewarded for his “loyalty” when they, along with current Alds. Joe Sweeney and Rich DiPietro, inexcusably gave him an even sweeter contract that included a ridiculous $120,000+ severance benefit that will now pay Hock more for not working than most Park Ridge taxpayers can earn in a given year.

Ironically, Frimark made a brief appearance at last night’s meeting and reportedly bent the ear of a couple of reporters before scooting away while the Council was in closed session debating Hock’s fate.  Rumor has it that ol’ “Let’s Make A Deal” has been talking about a rematch with Schmidt, claiming the support not only of old backers like DiPietro and the folks who run Taste of Park Ridge NFP, but also some old adversaries like Center of Concern treasurer (and 1/2-term 4th Ward Ald.) Jim Radermacher.

Frankly, we’d love to see Howard try to resurrect his what’s-in-it-for-me style of government and see whether the voters are gullible enough to buy into it a second time.  But until a formal announcement is forthcoming, it’s just rumor and idle speculation from the master of rumor and speculation himself.

Meanwhile, long-time Deputy City Mgr. Juliana Maller will take over as acting City Mgr. while the search is commenced for Hock’s replacement.  Although the temptation will be great to search for another public-sector bureaucrat to replace Hock, we hope the Council invites applications from people with private-sector experience as well.

And after two successive non-resident carpetbaggers (Michigander Hock and his predecessor, Wisconsinite Tim Schuenke), maybe it wouldn’t hurt to look for somebody who has a long-term stake in, and commitment to, this community, or at least this general area.

Oh yeah…and someone who’s more concerned about running honest, transparent, accountable, cost-effective government than with playing politics and pandering to the special interests.

To read or post comments, click on title.

13 comments so far

Is there any reason that he could of been stripped of his severence package? I thought I read earlier that if he met the criteria on some issues it could happen.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unless somebody discloses what was discussed in the closed-session portion of last night’s proceedings, we won’t know.

Let’s see President of the U.S. runs the country at a salary of $400,000 per year. The City Manager of Park Ridge runs at a special discount of $200,000 per year. Who is underpaid or who is over paid? I am starting to understand why a lot of local governments have deficits.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We consider overpaid bureaucrats more the symptom than the cause of local government deficits, but that’s kind of quibbling.

Gene Spanos is blogging about the firing of Hock as the Friday Night Massacre and saying the mayor is responsible for Hock and Bernick leaving. Any truth to what Spanos is saying?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently every village must have its own idiot.

First, Spanos couldn’t start a blog if his life depended on it. Second, calling Spanos a village idiot is an insult to Village Idiots.

We would all be better off if Frimark moved to Florida full time. But whether he stays or goes, I don’t see him running for mayor again. I guess he is just a stalking horse who will try to rough up Schmidt for somebody else’s benefit.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bad pennies seem to always keep returning.

The idea of having a long-time resident as City Manager who understands the community and the people, and who has a commitment to the commounity beyond merely the paycheck, sounds like a good idea. But will this Council consider it?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hard to tell. The natural tendency has always been to go back to the bureaucrat well any time a new City employee is needed. But maybe the new blood on the Council will look at this situation a different way for a change.

the problem with hiring a resident is that they will need to pander as their neighbors and their kids’ friends’ parents will be right here. We saw how eliminating the local residency requirement freed the Park District from several longstanding deficit deathgrips/sacred cows that could not have been accomplished with a local in charge. As for going back to the bureaucratic well, anyone who has sat through a City Council meeting knows there is a lot of arcane crap-ola that a private sector executive would not know about, and the steep learning curve would be at the taxpayers’ expense. That said, there’s no reason except laziness for the Council NOT to look for private corporation-like qualities, or even earlier private management experience, in the new City EVP. Demanding a successful track record would be kinda nice, eh?

EDITOR’S NOTE: If one subscribes to that line of reasoning, then we might as well prohibit our elected officials from being Park Ridge residents who would have an even greater “need to pander.” As for the “arcane crap-ola,” it’s minimal and usually used gratuitously by the bureaucrats simply to create the appearance of complexity and faux-competence.

WAIT!! Frimark thinking about running again? Does Napleton need another deal?

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we said, that’s what he reportedly is telling certain people. And because politics sometimes does make strange bedfellows, his claim (to one of our sources) that former ald. Radermacher was supporting him might not be all that farfetched – due to former Schmidt supporter Radermacher’s dislike for how Schmidt won’t ankle-grab for one-trick pony Radermacher’s pet private charity, the Center of Concern.

Many/most of the spendthrift special interests will be out for what’s left of Schmidt’s scalp. The real question will be whether they control enough of the voter turnout to outweigh the folks who appreciate Schmidt’s efforts at stopping the City’s chronic and foolish deficit spending.

Juliana Maller, any chance she could be promoted?

EDITOR’S NOTE: No. At least 2-3-4 aldermen don’t think she’s a permanent solution; and she doesn’t want to relocate from St. Charles.

To hide behind this blog — is what a coward would do sir !

Your silver spoon is showing –at the wrong end.

We wish Tom Bernick all the best as well as

Jim Hock – both were for –the people.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Is that you, Gene “The Marine” Spanos? Are you that guy who claims to be “dedicated” to whatever can get him early retirement on one or more public pensions? If so, why comment anonymously, sir (or madam)?

The identity editor/publisher of this blog is well-known, as it has been disclosed at City Council meetings, in each of the two local newspapers, in the TribLocal, and by former mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark whenever he can’t think of anything substantive to say about City government, which is most of the time.

Jim Hock was as much “for –the people” of Park Ridge as someone could be who pulls $200K+ a year out of their pockets for doing such a poor job that not even Ald. Rich DiPietro could bring himself to vote to retain him; and who is so much “for –the people” of Park Ridge that, as we understand it, he never established a permanent residence here and reportedly has already headed back “home” to Michigan to await the payment of the $120K+ in ridiculous severance payments DiPietro and Ald. Joe Sweeney voted to give him.

As for former ald. Tom Bernick, he was so “for –the people” that not only did he resign his Council seat barely one year into his two-year term, but before he threw in the towel he missed more Council meetings than the previous unofficial modern-day record-holder for no-shows: former ald. Robert Ryan.

If that’s what we get from their being “for –the people,” we shudder to think about what might have resulted if either Hock or Bernick had been AGAINST “–the people.”

Almost every discussion about this guy ends up with someone bringing up the building dept. Is there an administrator in charge of this dept? If so is this person also not capable of running the dept or do they also point the finger at Hock?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since (as we understand it) the Building Dept. is responsible for issuing building and occupancy permits, as well as enforcing compliance with the building code, that would seem to be the logical place to start asking questions and expecting some answers.

The building department is part of the larger Community Preservation and Development (“CP&D”) which is a rudderless ship adrift in a sea of ineptness. CP&D is temporarily under the administration of Cathy Doczekalski who was positioned by Hock even though she had no relevant experience. The Sr. Building Dept. official is Steve Cutaia whose resume before joining CP&D contains the lofty position of apprentice plumber. It’s a running joke among developers when dealing with Cutaia to install first and ask permission later. The lack of any semblance of professionalism or respectability in CP&D was an ongoing point of contention between Schmidt, several Aldermen and Hock.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We understand that Acting City Mgr. Maller has been “encouraged” to focus her efforts in that direction.

Yrs, in addition to doing her own job and Economic Development Director Kim Uhlig’s job and at least half of Hock’s job, she can now take on Community Development as part of her job.
And then we can bellyache about the lousy service for another 20 years.

And as for your earlier riposte that a non-resident City Manager is akin to a non-resident elected official, that’s pretty lazy thinking and not like you. Resident elected officials plus a non-resident City Manager seem the ideal check-and-balance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What we meant is that we understand Ms. Maller has been encouraged to focus on the hiring of a new CP&D director.

If people do their jobs professionally, “check-and-balance” becomes alomst superfluous. As we have seen with the last two carpetbagger City Mgrs., however, having no long-term commitment to, or stake in, the community has been problematic. And if you need other examples, look no further than former Park District directors Wisconsinite Steve Meyer and Ray “Kane County” Ochromowicz. Or D-64’s new-Emerson “Yes/Yes” referendum import, Schaumburg’s own Supt. Fred Schroeder, back in the late 1990s.

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