City Staff Doing Its Part For “Bad Government”


In our previous post we criticized our elected City officials for the “not-so-good government” or “outright bad government” involved in the recent Council vote to sustain Mayor Dave Schmidt’s veto of the ICOPS contract. 

Since that post, however, we have learned a few things about Ald. Marc Mazzuca’s (6th) motion for a do-over of the September 17, 2012, vote that sustained Schmidt’s veto.  And, unfortunately, most of what we learned suggests that bad government is not confined to elected officials – although Ald. Joe Sweeney (1st) still deserves special mention for his “I’m sure this is going to screw the City, but I’m doing it anyway” spite vote to sustain Schmidt’s veto, which just might be the single most stupid and irresponsible vote any alderman has cast in recent memory. 

And that’s saying something.

What we have learned is that City Staff – those full-time City employees who are paid good money and benefits by the taxpayers to handle the day-to-day administration of City business – dropped the ball, and then kicked it a couple of times, when it came to providing our part-time, barely-paid ($100/mo. for aldermen, $1,000/mo for the mayor) elected officials with the information they should have had, and probably needed, to cast a truly informed vote on the ICOPS contract and on the Schmidt veto.

As we noted in our 08.23.12 post (“Will August Spending Bring November Taxing?”), when the Council voted 5-2 on August 20th to approve the new ICOPS contract, the only Staff “analysis” of that contract provided to the Council appears to have been a page and one-half Agenda Cover Memorandum so lacking in useful information and analysis that it didn’t even attempt to compare the new contract’s costs to those of the old contract.  Yet, incredibly, Staff recommended Council approval of that contract for no ascertainable reason. 

And that lame memo apparently was the only information Schmidt had when he vetoed the contract on September 4th; and the only information the Council had on September 17th when Sweeney, Mazzuca and Ald. Dan Knight (5th) cast the three votes needed to sustain Schmidt’s veto.

We also have learned that since Schmidt’s veto was sustained, somebody(somebodies?) on City Staff put together a new “analysis” which lists every ICOPS employee and attempts to show how the new contract that was vetoed is actually better for the City, economically, than the old one was.   

Can you say “Bass-ackwards”? 

Whether this new “analysis” is worth the paper it’s allegedly printed on remains to be seen, assuming it ever sees the light of day.  But the fact that someone got paid a significant sum of taxpayer dollars to produce that original memo and recommendation with the expectation that the Council would rely on it to vote on the ICOPS contract is sad, bordering on pathetic.  And the fact that the Council and the Mayor apparently DID rely on that memo and recommendation, without question, in approving and vetoing (respectively) the ICOPS contract just compounds the  problem.

The fact that someone also working on the taxpayers’ dime decided to crank out some new “analysis” only AFTER the ICOPS contract is voted on, vetoed, and the veto sustained, is even more troubling.   And the fact that it appears to have been done on the down-low – as evidenced by the fact that the new “analysis” hasn’t appeared (to our knowledge) in any Council meeting packet or posted elsewhere on the City’s website – is offensive.

Can you say: “Staff playing politics?”  Or how about: “Alderman(men) using staff to play politics?”

If the Mayor, the Council, and the acting City Manager are doing their jobs, there should be a very “public” inquiry into who prepared this new “analysis, who requested and/or ordered it prepared, and why it wasn’t prepared until AFTER the entire legislative process had run its course?  And somebody also should explain why it seems to have been concealed from the taxpayers who are paying for this latest example of bad government?

Paging Acting City Manager Shawn Hamilton!

We realize Mr. Hamilton has only been on the job a little over two months, so he’s still entitled to a bit of slack when it comes to finding his way around City Hall and figuring out who can do their jobs, who are overmatched by their jobs, and who (if any) are just collecting a paycheck and/or playing political games on the taxpayers’ dime.  We also realize he’s got a full plate dealing with the day-to-day workings of the City, while also going through the 300-or-so resumes already received for the soon-to-be-vacant H.R. Manager’s job, and the 200-plus resumes already received for the soon-to-be-vacant Finance Director’s job.

As Schmidt correctly, albeit jokingly, noted Monday night: “Let the minutes reflect there is a market for $100,000 a year jobs, even here in Park Ridge.” 

But Hamilton’s not entitled to even one millimeter of slack when it comes to transparency and accountability of City government – a/k/a, keeping our elected officials and the taxpayers fully informed about what’s going on and why.

Starting with the circumstances and details of this new after-the-fact, under-the-radar ICOPS contract “analysis.”

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