Public Watchdog.org

City Staff Doing Its Part For “Bad Government”

10.10.12

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.”

To read or post comments, click on title.

5 comments so far

Well done dog! It will be interesting to see how the acting city manager and his buddy in the 6th ward explain this one. We can only hope Sweeney doesn’t have another melt down.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nobody has covered themselves with glory on this deal, least of all former city mgr. Hock and the soon-to-be-ex H.R. manager – who, in fairness, it appears Hock promoted expecting her to fail, as she reportedly had no credentials for the position.

“……..acting city manager and his buddy in the 6th ward explain this one”.

Toooooooo funny!!!!!!!

His “buddy in the sixth ward” was selected by the author of this blog (along with other members of a comittee) and put in office by the Mayor. The acting city manager was selected by the Mayor himself.

Now you have them pegged as buddies??? If you do not like these guys take it up with the person who put them in office. He is very easy to find.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mayor Schmidt did indeed nominate both Ald. Mazzuca and Acting City Mgr. Shawn Hamilton for their respective positions. Mazzuca’s appointment was unanimously approved by all 6 then-aldermen, and Hamilton’s appointment being approved by 5 of 7 – with Alds. Raspanti and Maloney dissenting because (as reported by the Herald-Advocate and the Journal, respectively) Raspanti “would have liked to have seen [the City] get 100 resumes and really broaden the search,” while Maloney complained about the Council’s doing nothing about finding a new permanent city manager after it terminated Hock back on May 4th.

So you’re point is what, exactly?

I am not sure you are fairly representing the reasons why Maloney voted no on Shawn Hamilton.

According to the Herald Advocate (the same article the provides the reasons you cited for Ald. Raspanti’s vote):

http://parkridge.suntimes.com/news/14121974-418/park-ridge-aldermen-appoint-interim-city-manager.html

“Maloney also expressed concern about Hamilton’s prior experience.

“ ‘I think his experience is not necessarily what I would be looking for in that position,’ Maloney said. ‘He has public and private experience, but his public is less than one year as county administrator.’

“Maloney added that he did not believe the responsibilities of a county administrator are equivalent to that of a city manager.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: We stand corrected/supplemented.

And that’s why, in our 08.01.12 post on Mr. Hamilton, we encouraged the Mayor and the Council to “begin a search process for the permanent [City Manager] slot now” – while suggesting that Schmidt and the Council “deputize Raspanti and Maloney to run” the search for the new permanent City Manager. But we haven’t heard either of them volunteer for that duty – have you?

I am trying to understand a couple of items that don’t make sense.

Original contract, prior to the vote, why do you think the mayor and/or alderman didn’t table a vote until the appropriate questions were all answered?

Also, you mention a significant sum of tax payor money to write both the first proposal and the revised proposal. If the staff of the city wrote both proposals, I would agree with you that it was probably a waste of time, but how do you go from a waste of time to significant waste of tax payer money? It sounds like the first proposal, that being 1.5 pages would take what 3-4 hours with writing, reviewing and editing? The second proposal with the updated analysis maybe all of 8 hours for the process?

The city staff would still get paid the same amount whether they wrote both proposals or picked the lint out of their belly buttons.

Are we paying the staff $1000 an hour to write proposals?

I think when you write about handouts to organizations of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, that is significant, and a waste of money.

It is a waste of time, a frustrating process, a head scratching how the heck did this happen; but the waste of significant taxpayer money, not seeing it (or maybe just not understanding the costs involved in the process). Please elaborate.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Maybe the initial contract approval vote wasn’t tabled because neither the mayor nor the aldermen had any “appropriate questions” at that time. But that’s just a guess.

We assume by “proposal” you mean the “Agenda Cover Memorandum” and the still-secret “new analysis” that reportedly turned up in the last week or two. But we have no idea where you’re coming up with “$1000 an hour to write proposals” because these aren’t unit-cost charges but taxpayer-funded salary dollars wasted on the production of virtually worthless recommendations by employees who may not be up for the jobs they’re holding. And if stuff that’s actually published to the taxpayers is so shoddy, we shudder to think about how much naval lint passes for “internal” work product.

I didnt think much of Tim Schuenke and felt about the same for Jim Hock. They seemed like Mickey Mopes. The same way with Julianna Maller, whenever she had to do or say anything. Those people didn’t inspire any confidence because it looked like they really had no command of their duties. I didn’t know much about that Carrie Davis (CPD) or Kim Uhlig (EDC), but from what I saw at council meetings when they were still around they were unimpressive.

The could never get away with that working at my company, which leaves me to conclude that public employment and the people who hold those jobs by and large are refugees from the private sector.



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