Chief K Plays Good Cop, Typically Bad Politician


We start this post with a disclaimer: We like Police Chief Frank Kaminski and think he has done a good job of running the Park Ridge Police Department.

But when he or any other bureaucrat starts acting like a politician and trying to pass off cow flop as chocolate pudding in order to spend taxpayer money needlessly, we’re going to call him on it.  And that’s what it looks like Chief K is trying to do with this $360,000 “Phase I” of an approx. $1.2 million, 3-year cop shop renovation/expansion, which we have criticized since our “$1.1 Million Cop Shop Renovation A Want, Not A Need” (11.22.11) post.

At Monday night’s COW meeting, 5 of the 6 aldermen in attendance acted as if they didn’t want to risk not getting their Jello pudding cups by asking Chief K any tough questions.  As a result, it was left to Mayor Dave Schmidt to point out all the existing available space at City facilities and ask the tough questions about why the City should be spending over $360,000 for: a new building to store evidence that has been stored in a vault in the police station for the last decade (or two, or three, or four?); a bike corral; and some additional paved parking spaces.

If you want to see/listen for yourself, the Phase I discussion can be found on the City’s website, from approximately 2:28 to 2:45 – a mere 17 minutes – of the meeting video.

Chief K’s answers consisted almost entirely of ipse dixit (“He, himself, said it” – so it must be true) opinion instead of hard facts, but that seemed to be more than enough for the can’t-tell-cow-flop-from-pudding Alds. Rich DiPietro (2nd), Jim Smith (3rd), Sal Raspanti (4th), Marc Mazzuca (6th) or Marty Maloney (7th) to rubber-stamp the Phase I contract – with nary a mention that it came in $10,000 over the budget. 

Of the five, only Mazzuca had the temerity to even ask a question, a softball about whether any alternatives have been explored and studied.  When Chief K responded with “We’ve been studying this for over a year, ” – which didn’t actually even answer the question – Mazzuca was finished.  Apparently, he and his colleagues (save for Ald. Knight) share the view that simply spending time “studying” something is the equivalent of, or a substitute for, actually conducting an objective, competent and thorough analysis of it.

In the case of these Phase I expenditures, we can only surmise that Chief K and the five aldermen must not (or not want to) remember how Chief K’s predecessor and a number of former aldermen spent well over a year “studying” a brand new police station – until resident Joe Egan got it put on the April 2009 ballot as a referendum, and the voters told them in no uncertain terms what they thought of that idea and the value of all that “studying” – by an 83% to 17% “no” vote on that new cop shop.    

The defeat of the new cop shop, however, is why Kaminski and this new crop of aldermen have adopted this nickel-and-dime strategy, even if the nickels and dimes total $360,000 for just this Phase I – without even attempting to solve what is supposedly the most pressing health issue afflicting the current cop shop: mold.  That’s “Phase III” of this plan, three years from now.  Behind a bike corral and some parking spaces.

Really, Chief?  Really, Alds. DiPietro, Smith, Raspanti, Mazzuca and Maloney?

If you want to see the “studying” that led up to this point, look no further than the “Cost Effective Strategies to Address Risk Factors at the Police Facility,” a transparently lightweight power-point presentation from the Police Chief’s Advisory Task Force that we discussed in our “New Cop Shop Plan Just Reheated 3-Year Old Canards” (03.14.12)   and “More Disingenuousness On New Cop Shop Plan” (03.16.12)  posts and won’t waste additional time re-ridiculing – except to say that such a lame presentation in any competent private-sector business setting might well get the authors fired.

The takeaway from Monday night’s meeting (and from the long history of this cop shop saga) is that when a high-placed bureaucrat who professes expertise in an area wants something, most elected officials will take the path of least resistance by simply rubber-stamping it  – as they did Monday night – instead of making the effort to actually think about the issues and ask the tough questions that need to be asked…and answered meaningfully.    

And it’s so much easier to do when those officials can tell themselves it’s a bargain at only $360,000.

To read or post comments, click on title.

4 comments so far

I’m not surprised Ald. Smith let Chief K slide; he’s apparently been too busy thinking up new names for city departments. Priorities, you know?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hey, leave Smitty alone. He’s busy trying to make grocery shopping in Park Ridge safe for teetotalers.

I meant to include this link with my comment at 6:32. Why the H-A felt this deserved this much space is a bit of a mystery to me:

EDITOR’S NOTE: Slow news week.

Five or six years ago when this idea came around (as it seems to every decade or so)the big push was for extra space because there was not enough room to segregate the perps from the victims, the women from the men, or the juveniles (offenders or victims) from either. Residents were treated to the picture of rape victims being interviewed out in the open with their attackers being paraded past their chairs on the way to or from lockup. What ever happened to that problem that, like mold, appeared pretty dang real?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The good news is that we don’t have rapists regularly hauled into the cop shop past their victims because we don’t have rapists. All those problems aren’t “real” problems, but more like hypothetical ones – as we pointed out in our 03/14/12 post.

I read that report and your right, it is doo doo. This is another one of those half-baked deals that seem to come around every so often when people are distracted with other things, like the presidential election. Well, at least Schmidt will veto it, a lot of good that will do with the council asleep at the wheel or in Kaminski’s pocket.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Maybe at least 2 more of the aldermen will wake up and see this new cop shop renovation for what it is. But we’re not counting on it.

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