Public Watchdog.org

Mayor’s & Alderman’s BBQ Out-Fundraises Center Of Concern

08.10.12

Corrections posted 08.13.12 (See footnote below)

Regular readers of this blog know how we feel about the City of Park Ridge giving away arbitrary amounts of tax dollars to private “community group” corporations who proclaim their “widespread community support” but who can’t seem to raise the funds they need directly from the members of that community and, instead, want to feed at the public trough.

Park Ridge Mayor Dave Schmidt and Ald. Dan Knight (5th Ward) not only have voiced their own objections to such public trough-feeding, but they have voted to deny tax dollars to those corporations.   That has earned them the ill-concealed enmity of the trough-feeders and their more vocal supporters, both on the Council and off – even though they have regularly encouraged their constituents to voluntarily support those community groups with direct donations. 

Last Friday, however, Schmidt and Knight – unlike the vast majority of their critics – walked their talk by putting on a barbecue fundraiser next to City Hall before the regularly-scheduled concert at Hodges Park.  And in a little over three hours, Mayor Dave and Alderman Dan, with the able assistance of the lovely Sue Knight and the talented Charlie Melidosian (or, for all you gender-equity types out there, the talented Sue and the lovely Charlie), raised around $1,200 for the Park Ridge Fine Arts Society that sponsors those summer concerts.

In the interest of accuracy, we note that Schmidt and Knight donated the roughly $200 of “fixins” – hot dogs and hamburgers, buns and condiments – so the net profit from their ‘cue was about $1,000.  There also was a little planning involved, although nothing like for Seal Team 6’s strike on Bin Laden’s compound.  Heck, Schmidt and Knight couldn’t even come up with pricing for their mutts and ‘burgers, instead accepting whatever customers wanted to toss in the open American Tourister that they employed as a cash register. 

We realize, just as Schmidt and Knight do, that $1,200 isn’t going to fund even one concert in the park.  But the real value of their exercise is to demonstrate what can be accomplished if all those legendary Park Ridge “volunteers” – especially the ones who show up at City Hall once or twice a year to shake down the Council for tax dollars for their favorite community group – would get off their duffs and actually do some real fundraising.

Like our favorite “whipping boy,” the Center of Concern (“CofC”).

We endorse the work it does, really we do.  But we pick on it primarily because: (a) its Board of Directors and Advisory Board are loaded with former public officials in an obvious attempt to bond with, and influence, current public officials to throw tax dollars their way; (b) its supporters beef and whine more than the rest of the community groups combined when they don’t get what they want; and (c) it really seems to just plain suck on ice when it comes to fundraising.

For example, judging only by what it reported on Schedule G to its most recent (2010) IRS Form 990 filing, CofC ran four fundraising events between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 that grossed a combined $59,873.  As if that’s not embarrassing enough, those fundraisers actually lost $9,186!  

In other words, with one 3-hour barbecue Schmidt and Knight out-fundraised CofC’s entire organization for an entire year!

How flippin’ pathetic is that?

Such pathetic fundraising could well be a factor in the upcoming City Council debate over its Policy No. 6, which regulates the City’s contributions to private organizations but which hasn’t been revised in over 20 years; and which appears to have been consistently ignored by the Council in arbitrarily giving away millions of tax dollars, literally, to local community groups over the past decade.  Two of the four principal criteria for such contributions are the amount of “[p]rivate financial support” and “[c]ommunity volunteer support” for the services the private organization provides – both of which CofC appears to be sorely lacking, judging by its dismal private fundraising.  

But to show that we’re willing to offer solutions in addition to our criticisms, we’ve come up with a few fundraising ideas that CofC might try over the next twelve months. 

Building on Schmidt’s and Knight’s successful barbecue effort, and mindful of the Maine South football season fast approaching, how about CofC setting up a tent next to the Wilson Field concession stand and challenging the Hawks boosters to a “Battle of the Brats”?  Former alderman (and CofC treasurer) Jim Radermacher and former alderman (and CofC v.p.) Sue Beaumont could don their “Grill Sergeant” aprons and fire up some of Sheboygan’s finest. 

And for those “foodie” Hawks fans, how about having CofC Advisory Board member and current City Clerk “Betty the Hen” Henneman fry up batches of chicken tenders served with a choice of gourmet dipping sauces, while Advisory Board member and former mayor Mike Marous cooks up some stuffed portabella “Marous-shrooms”?  This kind of gastronomic extravaganza could put a grand or more in CofC’s coffers every game.

But we see the real cash cow as being former alderman (and current CofC director) Rich Whalen, who back in February showed up at City Hall with a display of legerdemain that convinced Aldermen Joe Sweeney (1st), Rich DiPietro (2nd) and Jim Smith (3rd) that CofC really can turn every $1 of City funding into $3 of value to the community.  If Whalen can do that to the $10s, $20s and $50s of Hawks’ fans instead of to just the City’s $1s, he could knock down $5-10,000 for CofC during half-times alone!

And come next summer, how about those uber-“volunteers” from Taste of Park Ridge NFP (“Taste Inc.”) designating the Saturday night session of Taste of Park Ridge as “CofC Night” – with all profits (after the City’s expenses are paid, of course) going to CofC?  That should fund a lot of those “wellness” calls CofC specializes in, especially if it includes the profits from “Bobby the Pro” Provenzano’s Maine Township Republicans’ beer tent.

Those are just a few ideas off the top of our heads, but we invite our readers to contribute CofC fundraising ideas of their very own, preferably involving folks like those listed on the CofC and Taste Inc. websites, or other local residents who regularly trumpet their volunteerism and/or support for throwing scarce taxpayer money at private corporations without demanding one whit of accountability for what they are doing with it.

Meanwhile, a wag of the Watchdog’s tail goes out to Schmidt and Knight for proving that not-for-profit fundraising isn’t just showing up at City Hall once or twice a year with a handful of “gimme” and a mouthful of “much obliged.”

CORRECTION:   A commentator pointed out an error in our presentation of CofC’s fundraising versus Mayor Schmidt’s and Ald. Knight’s barbecue.  On a net/net basis as reflected by Schedule G of CofC’s Form 990, it would appear that the latter out-fundraised the former because the latter had a net “profit” of $1,000 while the former had a net loss of $9,186. 

However, it must be noted that although Schedule G requires the deduction of $27,756 in “charitable contributions,” those contributions, just like the $200 of “fixins” contributed by Schmidt and Knight, nevertheless were actually raised by CofC in connection with its fundraisers.  So when those contributions are added to CofC’s gross rather than subtracted, CofC actually raised $46,326 compared to Schmidt’s and Knight’s $1,200.   

We apologize for that error.

To read or post comments, click on title.

9 comments so far

Great ideas Dog. The CofC can also sell brats at the Farmers’ Market, host a pancake breakfast or spaghetti dinner, or collect money at red lights like some of the other charitable organizations. Or if they feel really industrious, they can plan and schedule a Concernapalooza in the uptown area. Combining live music with a beer tent should allow them to turn a profit.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly. Given how half-hearted or just plain inept the fundraising has been, even a bake sale would be an improvement.

How about we call it Park Ridge Palooza.

Sorry I couldn’t resist.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If CofC can book Jack White and the Black Keys, we’re in.

I don’t even know what to think about this. The Center loses $9,000 on four fundraisers? Do you know what kind of fundraisers those are, besides ineffective?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The only fundraiser we know about for sure is the annual miniature golf outing in Des Plaines.

PD:

Your point about CoC needing more and better fundraising efforts is a good one. Some of your suggested events are great. That said, I do feel that there is some clarification required.

4:28 stated “CoC $9,000 on four fund raisers….” This might leave someone with the impressions that these events should be canceled and that they are giving away money by having the events. This is not the case.

In your description of the event held by Mayor Schmidt and Alderman Knight you correctly state that the event grossed 1200. You subtract 200 in charitable contributions to reach your net but the truth is the entire 1200 went to the PR fine arts society.

So it is with the CoC events. After all the math the form indicates the events neted negative 9186. However, if you decuct the charitable contributions you see that the events did net $18,570 to the operation of CoC.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Your point is well taken. Thanks for the correction.

The Center of Concern just sent me an invite for an Oktoberfest Fundraiser…Friday, September 21 at the Tam in Niles.

I’m going. Who’s with me?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Mayor, please provide the detail that’s really important to a lot of people: How much?

My pleasure. I believe it is $40 which includes a buffet dinner.

Also, The Center is in the middle of a matching funds fundraiser. Send in a contribution, and some generous benefactor will match it for you. All of us who value the Center’s efforts should dig into their wallets and send something in.

Besides apologizing for the error, do you ever issue a retraction?

EDITOR’S NOTE: A “retraction” is directed at something that is false. Our statement about the CofC net revenue was factually accurate per Schedule G of the CofC Form 990. As was pointed out by a commentator, however, both that Schedule G and our discussion of it were somewhat misleading. Hence, a “correction” rather than a “retraction” was the appropriate response.

Misleading??? The title of your piece is “Mayor’s and Alderman’s BBQ out fundraises Center of Concern. In the article you state….”In other words, with one 3-hour barbecue Schmidt and Knight out-fundraised CofC’s entire organization for an entire year”.

In your apology you state….”CofC actually RAISED $46,326 compared to Schmidt’s and Knight’s $1,200″. Even if you look at the way I did in my post, the events contributed over 18K to the bottom line of CoC versus 1000 for the BBQ.

In other words, the entire premise of your piece that allowed you to launch in to the whole “you suck”, “get off your duff routine” was false, not msileading but false.

To add insult to injury, the Mayor follows up with information that there is already another event coming in September that sounds new. That is not to say that CoC is perfect. They need to continue to try to be more efficient and raise more money in different ways. SOme of your suggestions are great. Hell, I’ll even stipulate that your focus on the issue may have something to do with improvements.

I read your blog because of the “inside information” you provide. I do not have to agree with 100% of what you to say for it to be valuable to me and I appreciate what is obviously a hell of a lot of effort you put in this blog.’

However, in this case ya just stepped in it. You took a positive event put in by the Mayor and Alderman Knight and used it as a hammer to go after your “whipping boy”, which by the way is a very interesting choice of words considering the history of the phrase, and it turned out to be completely false.

There are those who will be 100% behind you on this issue no matter what you say, just like there are those on the far left or right who applaud when their candidate or a super-PAC (same thing) puts up an add that is “somewhat misleading” (read lies) but on this piece, I see egg dripping off your face.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re mistaking us for somebody who cares whether you or anyone else is “100% behind [us] on this issue,” or any other issue. We write what we believe in, and we don’t give a rat’s derriere whether you or anyone else is behind it.

According to the IRS, CofC’s four fundraisers LOST $9,000. That’s a fact. But even if you look only at CofC’s gross fundraising revenue, $87,000, and compare it to CofC’s total revenue of $720,000, its fundraising is pathetic and really does “suck.” Which is why it keeps on carping about being stiffed by City government’s not continuing with its arbitrary, irresponsible handouts.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ah, some modest improvement over previous comments. Well done.



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