Public Watchdog.org

What Would Ryles Do…About City R.E. Tax Levy? (Updated)

12.17.12

Tonight the City Council is scheduled to vote (7:00 p.m., 505 Butler Place) on adopting the 2012 property tax levy, which City Staff and the Council’s COW (Committee Of the Whole) reduced from an anticipated 11% to a modest 2.15% – the lowest percentage increase in at least the past 10 years.  

The levy increase could have been reduced down to almost zero had the Council sustained Mayor Dave Schmidt’s veto of the questionable $290,000-plus expenditure for Phase I of the cop shop expansion/renovation.  But it didn’t, and that’s the Council’s lawful prerogative.

As a result, however, the passage of the 2.15% increase presents an interesting question of City finances that will be central issue in the upcoming mayoral race between Mayor Dave Schmidt and his only announced challenger: Larry Ryles.

According to Ryles’ website, taxes are his No. 1 issue.  He claims that he “will take the lead on getting annual tax increases down below the annual rate of inflation or CPI” – which he identifies as the 2% purportedly forecast by the Federal Reserve.  So when it comes to the 2.15% levy increase that will be voted on tonight, we are compelled to ask: “What would Ryles do” about this tax levy? 

Would he deem the 2.15% unacceptable because it is 0.15% above the forecast CPI?  If so, what would he cut from the budget – or what additional revenues would he raise – in order to cut the levy down to his 2% benchmark?

Good questions.  Too bad Ryles isn’t answering.

Which is interesting, because Ryles has repeatedly emphasized his “leadership” learned during 24 years in the military and 18 years in the insurance industry as another of the four main issues of his campaign.  He actually has a special “leadership” page on his website that notes how “Real leaders lead from the front.”  

Yet while this levy issue has been discussed by Schmidt and the Council for months, Ryles has been stone cold silent.  At a time when the Council and the taxpayers might benefit from whatever ideas or strategies Ryles might harbor on this issue, forget about leading “from the front.”  Ryles is MIA from the front, the rear, and the sides.

So we ask again: What would Ryles do? 

If this tax levy issue is any indication, the answer would appear to be: remain mute.

And hide.

Update (12.18.12)  The man who would be mayor, Larry Ryles, finally showed up at City Hall for last night’s Council meeting.  Actually, it seems that he showed up only for the “coin flip” (actually, a drawing) to determine whether his name or that of Mayor Dave Schmidt would be first on the ballot in April.  Schmidt won, and Ryles left – without sharing any of his thoughts or views on the 2.15% tax levy increase that was approved following his departure…or on any other City business on last night’s agenda.

This from the guy who claims he wants to be a “full-time” mayor?

To read or post comments, click on title.

21 comments so far

I admit to wondering what Ryles would do, but am more interested in knowing what the heck the city council is thinking by not taking the opportunity to hold the property tax increase at zero.

It would set a great example for a community where the school board and park district board, seemingly led around on leashes by “staff”, just increased taxes even though they have budgets in surplus.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you watch the video from the segment of the 12.3.12 Council meeting involving the Mayor’s veto of Phase I of the cop shop expansion/renovation, you might conclude that the Council was “seemingly led around on leashes” not by “staff” but by the Chief’s Advisory Task Force.

Several Task Force members attempted to defend their findings and recommendations in support of both the project and of over-riding the Mayor’s veto. Most of those defenses, however, were basically re-hashes of the Task Force’s uber-lame “Cost Effective Strategies to Address Risk Factors at the Police Facility” report, the vast majority of which would not have been admissible evidence in a court proceeding; and whatever might have been admissible would have collapsed like houses of cards under any kind of cross-examination – which, unfortunately, is not permitted in Council meetings other than in sworn testimonial proceedings.

True in this case, PW, but “staff” seems to have a lot of influence on officeholders who were elected to oversee their work, not rubber-stamp their every suggestion. I truly meant it to apply just as well to the school boards and the park district board. It has applied to “staff” at 505 Butler Place as well.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t disagree with you generally, FWT, but the fact that the leash-holders on this particular project are neither elected public officials nor employees of the City (“staff”) makes accountability even more problematic.

In re Ryles Up about nothing — MIA? Oooh, good one, you dog, you!

For someone who came out with a website and a campaign fund last summer, Mr. Ryles’ silence in the face of a number of issues that I would like to hear his thinking on is surprising and discouraging. I have this fear that he will continue to lie in the weeds while all these issues are being decided, but then will take campaign positions that could have influenced the Council members had they been brought up now rather than later.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s exactly right. Just because he’s got a military background doesn’t mean he has to be a “stealth” candidate.

He’s a Frimark-style candidate; long on charm, short on substance. It’s ok for a new candidate not to be up on all the details an incumbent knows, but it’s not OK to make silly, faux-factual comments like Ryles’ about the 2% levy increase. He’d be better off by far running as a kinder, gentler R and positioning Dave as Mr. Potter, but he’s not that clever. He’s trying to run on an austerity platform against the PROVEN uber-frugal Mayor. What a dupa. And if staff are actually dismayed by Dave’s demanding a day’s work for a day’s (nice) pay, what will they do when a military officer has them on KP in the yard? Dupas, everywhere you look.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Maybe so, but who would you rather have leading Park Ridge’s invasion of Des Plaines?

Good to see the City setting the pace on reducing tax increases (although not actually reducing taxes). The other local governments should take a lesson, although there doesn’t seem to be the same level of leadership on those boards when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We agree. And don’t forget that for the past couple of years the City has had the benefit of a finance director, Allison Stutts, who might be the single best public employee – at least at an executive level – of any local governmental body in memory. Unfortunately, she is leaving at the end of this week to start her own financial advisory business.

The Mayor/ Council got to 2.15% by PUTTING OFF projects and improvements…(i.e. kicking the can down the road). Next year, those projects will now NEED to be done, as well as the other natural ones that come up year by year.

Now they had to do what they had to do, since revenue is awful and the TIF isn’t producing what it should. Let’s not call this a perfect session. I think they did a good job…but let’s not pretend all is well with our city finances.

EDITOR’S NOTE: So long as the TIF keeps sucking down millions of General Fund dollars, nobody’s pretending “all is well with our city finances.” But before you dub any project deferral caused by this 2.15% tax levy increase “kicking the can down the road,” you first need to make a case for: (a) what deferred projects NEED to be done this year; (b) some adverse effect to the City/taxpayers by that deferral; and (c) those deferred project(s) being entitled to a higher priority than (i) the projects getting done, AND (ii) the taxpayers getting the tax relief provided by the reduced levy.

I’m starting to think Ryles wants this job for one reason only: because he thinks it will look good on his resume as a self-proclaimed “professional volunteer.” Unless he provide a shred of evidence to indicate otherwise, it seems cleat that all he wants is to burnish his legacy with an impressive title. I wouldn’t be surprised, if a la Rolan Burris, he already has his tombstone carved, with a blank spot waiting for “Mayor.

Repugnant.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That seems unduly harsh – everything we have heard about Mr. Ryles suggests he’s a fine fellow and solid citizen. But as we’ve seen repeatedly over the years in every brach of local government, such folks don’t necessarily make good public officials, and often times they end up being little more than bobble-headed rubber stamps for the bureaucrats or other special interests.

Hopefully, Ryles will step up to the plate and become the kind of candidate who can legitimately challenge Mayor Schmidt on specific public policy matter, on specific issues, and on his record in office – instead of throwing up all the warm & fuzzy opinion and anecdotal chaff we’ve seen so far. The taxpayers deserve a real mayoral contest, not some student council-like popularity contest.

It is not just harsh….it is wild speculation. What exactly makes it so “clear” that is simply to burnish his legacy???

I have never mer Mr. Ryles but I do know he is the ONLY person in this city(myself included) who actually decided to run. The alternative would be that Schmidt would simply run unopposed.

Based on no facts at all you assign superficial reason why he is running. What a silly statement.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unfortunately, “wild speculation” often enters these kinds of discussions. But, consistent with the Founders’ intent in drafting the First Amendment, folks like yourself call “wild speculation” on the speculator(s).

Notwithstanding the questions and criticisms we have heretofore voiced about Mr. Ryles’ candidacy, we commend him for his decision to enter the race because contested elections are best for our system of government.

Anonymous 1035am- Seriously?? You are that worked up over a guy who we know nothing about when he just got on the ballot yesterday?
He may not be the right guy (no idea), but firing off moronic assaults is creepy. The guy is running for Mayor. I’ve never met him..I’ve never seen him attack anyone.
Here’s a message for all of you attacking him already:
RUN FOR OFFICE. Park Ridge is lacking contested races. The more candidates the better. It’s not like being Mayor of Park Ridge is some payday or springboard. Until proven otherwise, I assume whoever is running for local is with good intention.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “It’s not like being Mayor of Park Ridge is some payday or springboard.”

Marty Butler went from being mayor to being appointed state senator following the election of Bob Kustra as Lt. Gov. Ron Wietecha tried to go from being mayor to being appointed state senator following Butler’s death, but lost out to Dave Sullivan.

As for the “payday,” just because the salary isn’t all that much doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for personal enrichment. Rumors have circulated for years of public officials and their friends speculating (and profiting) on real estate deals done through land trusts, partnerships and limited liability companies whose true ownership is shielded from public view.

But in this country, everybody is innocent until proven guilty.

So far NO new candidates for the park board either?? Boy, for all the complaining on this board, you’d think someone would spend their own time actually doing something for this city instead of complaining from your computers. I guess people are real tough when they show up yelling at the board with their neighbors, but no so tough when it actually means volunteering their own time on a regular basis.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Running for office has never been a prerequisite for complaining about government and the public officials who manage it. And “volunteering” isn’t inherently angelic.

Please, lighten up on my “burnish his legacy” remark. You yourself have said numerous times that Mr. Ryles seems to be lacking in substance, having provided no specifics whatsoever about what he might do for residents that’s different or better than our current mayor. I never said he was an evil person, and I commend his volunteer work.

However I just don’t see anything compelling about his prior experience, nor any evidence of what he will do to help us as a city. And he would hardly be the first person to run for office whose own ego is important that the needs of those he would be elected to represent.

Editor- Obviously, your statement is true regarding running for office. However, I think it proves the 10 neighbors/NIMBYS yelling at every pool meeting really is just that. 10 neighbors yelling adn complaining for strange/selfish reasons. If I was mad at how my local govt, I would at least coordinate a group to get someone to run.
I’ve read lots of posts by YOU that said “it’s not like the park board ran on the pool project” or similar….well now they have a record, so….get some signatures then.

EDITOR’S NOTE: There have been far more than 10 “neighbors/NIMBYs yelling at every pool meeting.” And there have been many other people yelling about the proposed Centennial Pool project than just “neighbors/NIMBYs.”

Citizens shouldn’t have to run for office themselves in order to get decent, cost-effective, representational government from their local governmental bodies. Plus, even if the folks who are complainting decided to run for office, their election in April 2013 would come too late to stop this misguided, overly-expensive and just plain stupid Centennial plan that the Park Board will likely pass this Thursday night without seeking an advisory referendum that would prove, beyond doubt, that these Park Board members either really understand what the people want, or that they are delusional and supremely arrogant in their delusions.

4:41 pm-No one is yelling at the PRPD. Those of us opposed to this particular plan are asking the PRPD board to be accountable for the action they are likely to take on Thursday. Passing a new waterpark plan for Centennial that in the end will cost the taxpayers of PR over $10,000,000 plus interest on the debt. No referendum, no alternative plan for either a more expansive indoor facility that could be used year round instead of for at most 90 days. No plan for a replacement of the current foot print that is ADA compliant. No plan from a competing waterpark developer. So a complete failure to perform their fiduciary responsibility. That is not yelling, that is not being selfish. That is merely responsible citizenship.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Responsible citizenship” is lost on this Park Board. Try “profligate spending.”

If you put “trim trees at a cost of 50 cents to me so they don’t fall on high-tension wires and kill my electricity in the middle of the Super Bowl” on a referendum, it would fail. The cookie now (save the 50 cents!) is more compelling to us as animals than the electricity later. We elect officials to take the long and broad view for the next generation and for all the residents, not just those paying taxes right this minute and not just those living right next door. We are all self-centered in the short haul; perhaps rightly so. We look to government to reflect and support our aspirations and long-range wishes. You don’t need to hire a personal trainer to help you eat the cookie now but to help you fit into your bathing suit in June. (I know you loathe these human-type anecdotes, but they work.) If, over a term, we believe our elected officials’ decisions overall do not reflect our aspirations and needs, we can change those elected officials. And then you can take pot-shots at the new ones…or the old ones, depending on who’s in the ring.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not only do we vigorously disagree with your shabby view of your fellow citizens, but we almost feel sorry for you if you really believe what you’ve written (we’re betting you don’t, unless you’re a Park Board member). Try watching a few Frank Capra films over the holidays – “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” and “Mr. Deeds Goes To Town” – and you might get a sense of why the Founders put the power and their trust in the citizenry.

6:12

“Those of us opposed to this particular plan are asking the PRPD board to be accountable for the action they are likely to take on Thursday.”

Sorry but the fact is that you are already getting your wish. You want them to put it to a referendum which is fine by me but even if they do not put it to a referendum they are accountable. They will be accountable when the next elections take place.

I know it sucks but that is the way our system works. You can huff and puff all you want and I know it sucks but that is the way it works. If they go down this path your only recourse is to make sure you and all those opposed vote them out.

Believe me I sympathize with your frustration. THere are many decisions made at verious levels of government that I wish our city/state/nation got the right to vote on over the years that were a hell of a lot more significant than a pool project. Alas that is not the way it works and I did the only thing I could do. I voted against those who had made what I thought were terrible decisions.

anon 612pm.- “Waterpark”. hahahaha. FYI- anyone that uses that term hasn’t left their basement in about 3 decades, is grossly ignorant or just lying to you.
Anyone who’s reading this…when you see them use the word “Waterpark” ..it is the neighbors across the street. They’ve banded together to brand the pool improvement a “watermark” to scare people. What scares me, is the damage that your opinions have done to shape our city.
Wow, you people are real small.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For someone who comments as frequently as you while hiding behind the curtain of anonymity, you probably shouldn’t be calling anybody else “small.”

9:00 am- I am not ignorant and don’t live in a basement. This is a waterpark. You call it a modern aquatic facility. Same thing. And no one has banded together to scare people.

Once again if you have not been paying attention-opposed to this action by the PRPD have solid reasons. Four times before the town has voted NO! to this type of costly limited time use outdoor waterpark. This waterpark costs more than $10,000,000 when all is said and done so it should go to referendum.

The PRPD board has miraculously managed to project the cost of this phase at just under the binding referendum amount. But they did this by taking money ($%800,000) out of reserve that could have been used for costs related to ADA compliance needs at PRPD facilities. As a result, the PRPD had to raise the tax levy to cover the ADA compliance costs.

The PRPD board is voting on this in December-likely by design and at the suggestion of the consulting firm – thinking that the taxpayers are too busy with holiday activities that we won’t notice.

The PRPD board has failed to consider other options for this site-either a smaller scale project or a larger scale project. That is a failure of their responsiblity.

These opinions do not negatively affect the shape of our city. Expressing opinions for or against should open govt. officials minds so they make better decisions. We have a right to question the actions of a board who is supposed to represent all the taxpayers of this town not just those who want all the taxpayers to build them a waterpark.

You are correct that 9AM posted anonymously as do I.

Just to clarify, every single person on this thread posted anonymously, although we do know that a few posts are from a person who apparently lives in the 5th Ward and claims to pay taxes. In fact, off the top of my head I can only think of one semi-regular poster who has a signature that identifies who he is and that would be good ole’ Mayor Dave.

To clarify further, that “every single person” I mentioned includes you. You do not sign any of your posts in any way that would reveal your identity. I now know who you are but that is only becuase soneone “outed” you on this and another blog. I came here for years with no idea who you were and for someone coming here new today it would be the same thing.

But here is the kicker. Over the years you have pasionately defended anonymous expressions. One such example is from your post BACH, HUMBUG (04/10/08) in which you defend yourself against such an attack (about your blog being anonymous) from then Alderman Bach. Now you are using Bach’s silly tactic to discount a poster.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A fair point, albeit not totally accurate.

First of all, a number of people besides Mayor Dave use their names when commenting, including: LLoyd Godfrey, Shawn O’Leary, Rick Biagi, Matt Coyne, Steve Schildwachter, Mel Thillens, Jim Bruno, Kenneth Butterly, Mike Touhy, Nicholas Milissis, et al.

The identity of this editor/publisher has never been denied or concealed, and it has been common knowledge for years. It has been published in both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as in the local press when former mayor Howard Frimark unsuccessfully challenged the editor/publisher’s appointment to the Library Board in July 2011, and unsuccessfully attempted to get him fined $500,000+ for incorporating a stylized image of the City Flag in this blog’s banner.

And just because we permit anonymity doesn’t mean we can’t comment on it.

10:58 – The point was if you think it’s a water park, that’s like calling the Uptown Park Ridge–downtown Chicago.
And yes…yes… you’ve hit the nail on the head. All the whining, and frightened residents constantly overreacting and publicly berating any improvements or progression to our city DOES reflect badly. We aren’t a “bedroom” community anymore…or at least most of us don’t want that creepy description of our town. We want modern, higher end facilities and services and are willing to invest in that.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hey, you’re back! Do you want your Kool-Aid neat or on the rocks?

11:46-Glad your family is so flush with the resources to pay for the higher-end facilities you want ALL of us to pay for. Some in this town are not as well off as you seem to be. The things you desire are wants not needs. This town does not have the tax base that can create and pay for the higher-end facilities that you desire. PR is not the north shore. Never has been and never will be when PR sits at the end of the runway of one of the busiest airports in the world. For as long as my family as lived here (over 20 years) retail stores and resturants have opened and closed and the cycle continues today. It is not because the citizens of PR have tried to stop them from succeeding. This is not whining or overreacting this is just the way it is.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sociologists and psychologists could have a field day figuring out interpersonal and group dynamics of Park Ridge. But the only issue should be: The current Centennial Pool proposal, yes or no? And the Park Board and Staff is terrified of any answer that they can’t control.



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