Republican Women Kick Off Election Stretch Drive


The April 9 local elections are only 1 month away, and last night provided the first event of what is the stretch drive to election day.

The Park Ridge Republican Women held their customary candidates forum Thursday (03.07.13) night at South Park Fieldhouse, and around 150 people showed up to hear the two candidates for mayor, the six competing candidates for alderman (in the 2nd, 4th and 6th wards), and five of the six Park Board candidates give short presentations and press the flesh.

Oh, yes…some of the Republican candidates for Maine Township offices also spoke, causing us to once again question why Illinois doesn’t just eliminate township government.  But that’s another story for another day.

[Because of the number of candidates running in contested elections – a GREAT THING! – the Park Ridge Republican Women will hold a second forum at the same site on March 21 at 7:00 p.m. for the candidates for the three school boards – D-64, D-207 and Oakton Community College.]

Notably, it was the first opportunity for voters to see and hear both Park Ridge Mayor Dave Schmidt and challenger Larry Ryles in the same room – although the forum format did not give them an opportunity to spar about the issues.

That opportunity should come next week, assuming Ryles shows up, with the Chamber of Commerce luncheon debate at the Park Ridge Country Club on Wednesday, March 13 (11:30 a.m.), and the League of Women Voter’s debate at City Hall on Thursday, March 14, (7:00 p.m.).

Ryles went first and did his best to spend his entire allotted 5 minutes talking about everything but substantive City issues: his childhood in Georgia, his military service, his terrorizing local cleaners with his fluency in Korean, his insurance career, etc.  And he might have made it, too, had not the timekeeper audibly informed Ryles that he was down to his last minute – at which time Ryles began mouthing a few hollow platitudes about making Park Ridge a place his children could call home and raise their own families.

Gee, Larry, isn’t Park Ridge already that kind of place – and hasn’t it been that way for the last several decades, except when property values and/or taxes go so high that grown children can’t afford to move back?  Wasn’t Park Ridge recently declared the 72nd safest city (among those with populations over 25,000) in the entire country?  Isn’t that why we live here?

Heck, even former mayors Ron Wietecha, Mike Marous and Howard Frimark – who, not surprisingly, have endorsed Ryles, presumably in response to Schmidt’s telling the painful truth about what an economic black hole their pet Uptown TIF project turned into – consistently talked up what a great place Park Ridge was to raise a family, albeit while they were chronically deficit spending and digging us into a debt hole so deep we aren’t likely to emerge until the mid-to-late 2020s, if then.

Besides Ryles’ fluency in Korean, we also learned that there are two competing factions of Park Board candidates: the “incumbent” faction of current Board president Rick Biagi and current commissioners Steve Hunst and Dick Brandt, and the “challenger” faction of current commissioner Steven Vile and newcomers John Philips and Joan Bende – the latter apparently critical of the current board’s handling of the three-year running battle between the Park District and private corporation Park Ridge Senior Services, Inc. over how the Senior Center will be managed.

Whether the “challenger” faction is more than a one-trick pony special interest ticket remains to be seen.  And we think the “incumbents” ticket owes the taxpayers a much better explanation of why the Park Board is saddling our community with a second-rate replacement Centennial Pool, and exactly how reliable are the numbers in what appears to be a smoke-and-mirrors financial plan for the proposed Youth Campus project.

We only wish that the Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters provided debate time to both the Park Board candidates and competing aldermanic candidates: George Korovilas and Nick Milissis in the 2nd Ward, J.B. Johnson and Roger Shubert in the 4th Ward, and Vinny LaVecchia and Ald. Marc Mazzuca in the 6th Ward.

Because it’s at the local level, with these local races, that the democratic process does its best work – and where grass-roots government gets done.  And this year we’ve got real differences between the candidates, and real choices.

So pay attention, do your best to attend the remaining debates, think, and make sure to vote on April 9.

To read or post comments, click on title.


22 comments so far

The vague and charmless drivel Ryles spouted was merely embarrrassing and out of touch except for when he woke up considerably to describe his prowess vs. the Korean dry cleaners. The fact that he seemed blissfully unaware that he was exhibiting both bigotry and bullying was distasteful and even a bit unnerving. Or perhaps he was re-fighting the Korean conflict?
Surprised you had nothing to say about Mazzuca vs. LaVecchia. Mazzuca was the only candidate who spent his entire 5 minutes trashing the character of his opponent. He even pulled out that old Frimark chestnut about “Chicago-style politics” which Howard gave him to use the last time around. And he’s supposed to be the uber-intelligent one?

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Bigotry and bullying”? Seriously? Because (assuming the anecdote was true and not just a fictitious attempt at humor) Ryles’ knowledge of the Korean language surprised certain Koreans operating dry cleaning establishments in town? Yeah, right.

Mazzuca did not spend “his entire 5 minutes trashing the character of his opponent.” But if you’re concerned about equal treatment, we also didn’t say anything about the derogatory comments other candidates made about their opponents, either.

The Park District is saddling us with the best Centennial Pool upgrade the budget can afford; that doesn’t make it second-rate. How about “modestly scaled but a vast improvement over the leaking, 50-year-old existing one?” And as for the Youth Campus park, the public will have the ability to absolutely trounce the whole idea if they don’t like it. So we have what amounts to a responsible renovation and an exciting but totally optional addition. Yet you keep harping. The Park District gets less than $500 a year from a homeowner who pays $10,000 in property taxes, and makes admirably sound use of it. Again, please visit TeaLula for a teapot that fits your tempest.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wrong on all counts. But, once again, if the new Centennial Pool that will cost over $7 million and last for 30-40 years truly is so desirable to a majority of taxpayers, and the cost so insignficant, why weren’t those taxpayers given the opportunity to vote on it – especically knowing that the Park Board could disregard that vote if it so chose and do the project anyway?

If you guessed “dishonesty,” “cowardice” and “arrogance,” you’d be right.

Any other referendums on the ballot besides the youth campus?

EDITOR’S NOTE: None of which we’re aware.

Re-fighting the Korean conflict?

Ryles can’t be that old.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, he’s not that old.

It was great to hear Laura Murask come clean on her 2nd pension that will come from the Maine Township Gov’t and the taxpayers.

Let’s that would make it two pensions! Then the health care bennies are there too.

Tell us , why is Maine Township the highest paid part time trustees….so happy…..they ride on the same band – pie wagon with Mayor McCheese too.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We try not to think of Maine Twp. government because it’s always seemed like a little special interest club dominated by its own version of the “Illinois Combine” – a bunch of RINOs who have reached an accommodation with Boss Madigan and, consequently, are left alone to run their little corner of the world.

I was at the Republican Women’s forum, and Ryles’ presentation was the single weakest one of the bunch when it came to content and issues. I was hoping to hear him lay out some specifics so that I could compare his positions to Schmidts, but after going through his background like it really mattered, all he came up with was a lot of nothing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s why Ryles’ handlers (ex-mayor Howard Frimark, political gadfly Paul Sheehan and public relations pro Dick Barton) are trying to make this election a popularity contest by posing Ryles as Mr. Warm & Fuzzy – a figurative cotton-candy salesman with no well-defined, detailed positions that might cause people to actually think about and form an opinion about what he claims to stand for and intends to do if elected – while branding Schmidt as evil, wicked, mean and nasty.

It’s actually a smart political strategy when your candidate is an empty suit, policy and practices-wise. And it’s a strategy that worked for over a decade with the old post-Marty Butler Homeowners Party, before crashing and burning in 2003 (when 5 of 6 HO candidates lost their contested races) and going underground for the past 10 years since.

Rumors are circulating, however, that a new HO group – with $15,000 of the old HO’s campaign funds – met last week to put the band back together again, figuratively. IF that occurs, we’d bet a crisp new $1 bill that a good chunk, if not all, of that $15,000 will go to the Ryles campaign.

I didn’t attend the forum but I read about it in the H-A. Apparently Ryles is painting Schmidt as a “bully” and his (Ryles’s) excuse for not attending City Council meetings is that he is busy helping his kids with their homework.

A commenter on the H-A’s site nailed it, I thought, when he/she remarked about the irony of a military man complaining about bullying while at the same time touting his tough guy experience.

And someone else astutely pointed out that if Ryles is too busy now to attend meetings then how would he be able to manage the commitments if elected?

His message, if something so flimsy can even be called a message, is all over the board but seems to lean most heavily on negative campaigning and excuses.

It’s good to see people engaging and talking about the election. I still see no evidence, however, that Ryles has anything of real substance — such as business acumen, financial know-how and/or government experience — to bring to the table.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We think the old adage “you have to crack some eggs to make an omelet” holds true here. Schmidt inherited a mess/disaster left to him by former mayors Frimark, Marous and Wietecha and their go-along-to-get-along Councils. He has had to make tough, decidedly NOT warm-and-fuzzy decisions to reverse that disastrous direction. Since Ryles appears to have no new ideas of his own, and since we’ve already seen that the old ideas of his supporters/mentors got us into these messes, his only strategy is to paint Schmidt as mayor meany.

But that’s okay. If the voters can’t see through that, or if they want another empty-suit mayor and a return to the old tax/borrow and spend ways, they can make that choice next month.

We need to elect aldermen who reflect the public’s wishes, foolish or wise. That way, the Mayor can’t be blamed for his fiscal conservativism while the aldermen fail to vote against his advice and fail to override his vetoes but let him take all the blame. Nobody seems to remember the Mayor can’t vote except to break a tie, and if the aldermen really thought he was out of line, they’d override his vetoes. At least Schmidt is capable of rational thought and speech. We had one embarrassing mayor in Frimark; let’s not have another in Ryles.

EDITOR’s NOTE: Correction: We had two embarrassing mayors in Frimark and Wietecha; and one economically disastrous one in Marous, if only because of his lead role in finalizing the Uptown TIF.

It’s one thing to run a campaign without substance alone, but clearly Ryles has backers. The fact that none in the bunch seem to realize or care that residents want more than a popularity contest is really sad and embarassing. It’s not just one empty suit but a whole row of them. Do they honestly think that shallow platitudes are acceptable and/or reassuring?

News flash to Ryles & team. Stop insulting us. The issues do matter. We are not all uninformed buffoons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What the voters want is immaterial to the Ryles camp, because it has no substance. So a popularity contest is all it can muster.

Marc Mazzuca’s personal attacks on Vinny LaVecchia at this forum were as outrageous as they are false. PW prides itself on publishing the facts, so why doesn’t it criticize and clear up all of Mazzuca’s lies about Vinny, unless your covering for Mazzuca because you were on the committee that nominated him to replace the guy that quit?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editor was one of four 6th Ward residents whom Mayor Dave Schmidt appointed to screen the four candidates who sought appointment as the 6th ward alderman after Tom Bernick resigned.

After watching the video of last Thursday night’s forum, however, we have not found any “facts” which Mazzuca lied about. But if you wish to point out any, let us know and we’ll revisit the issue.

In the Park Board race are two there are two groups. The incumbent group, and we know of the kudos and criticisms the editor of this blog has had of them. But the challenger group has been proudly solidified around the concept that the Senior Center, a public building staffed with public employees and paid for with tax dollars, should be in the control of a private group, SSI. The thought that this is their rallying ideal is far more frightening than anything the current board has done.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t necessarily disagree. But, as we’ve previously noted, the unprecedented across-the-board arrogance and cowardice of the current Park Board – by borrowing $6.3 million and spending $7.1 million on a new aquatic facility at Centennial that will leave its imprint of mediocrity on this community for 30-40 years without an advisory referendum – might be more problematic than the damage those Senior Center one-trick ponies could cause.

I do have to admire your use of tactics. You take a position you know is not even possible so long as it supports your argument. You talk about the current plan being an imprint of mediocrity when you know (my god we all know) that this idea or a year round facility with a sliding roof would NEVER pass a referendum. Of course you say it to support your desire to have the current plan go to referendum but it is transparent as hell. So are taxes are so high we need to cut support to cummunity groups yet you actually suggest a sliding roof?? Perhaps during the winter months we could get the Bears to play there to raise revenue!!

THe analogy is a family having a disagreement about whether a new car is needed. THe person who thinks we do not need a new car simply takes the position that only a Rolls Royce makes sense and anything else is an imprint of mediocrity.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You might be closer to correct IF the PRRPD had decided to go to referendum on the new $7.1 million Centennial Pool and we were beefing about it not going to referendum on a $12 million pool.

But since the arrogant, dishonest cowards on the Park Board and Staff chose to stiff the taxpayers on any referendum for that pool, the more accurate analogy would be one member of the family dictating that the family take out a big loan to buy last year’s model stripped-down Chevy that can only be driven during the summer.

I agree with Tax Payer (no relation)… What the heck does Maine Township DO besides collect property taxes and hold passport information sessions? It’s only a little, expensive outpost of Crook County Government conveniently located on Ballard Road. Dear Publisher, I know you said it’s a story for another day, but I’m shocked how quickly you dismiss it as a little club. It is an extravagant waste, especially when you consider whatever pensions Ms. Morask mentioned. Yes, they have RINOs. By the way, one of them is named Moylan something-or-other…is that any relation to union henchman and big spender Marty Moylan? He LOVES pensions.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We dismiss Maine Twp. as a little club because that’s all it is, consuming a significantly smaller fraction of Park Ridge tax dollars than any of the four local governmental bodies we cover.

What’s more, Hunst, Biagi and Brandt are the most conservative of the current Park Board. Biagi was the only one to vote against the tax levy. Brandt often speaks out against spending. And Hunst in previous terms, spoke out to get the affiliates’ contributions in line with their expenses.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And the “most conservative” Hunst, Biagi and Brandt voted to blow $7.1 million, of which $6.3 will be borrowed over 15 years, on a mediocre Centennial aquatic facility without having the basic decency of asking the taxpayers’ opinion via an advisory referendum.

“What the voters want is immaterial to the Ryles camp, because it has no substance.”

Indeed. But what do they want? Power? Victory? I don’t get it.

If a person (or a group ) can’t even articulate clear positions on the issues that matter to residents at this stage of the game, then how effective could he possibly be if elected?

I’m starting to think that Ryles is seriously unfit for the office. And I hope the majority of the voters also realize this.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “But what do they want?”

Everything they had before Schmidt became the new sheriff in town: a bloated staff of ineffective bungling managers, a dishonest and supremely stupid Uptown TIF, irresponsible giveaways of tax dollars to private, unaccountable community groups and special interests (like the facade improvement giveaway to local property owners), constantly escalating wages and benefits without any commensurate productivity increases, a new cop shop, a $700,000 giveaway to the Scharringhausen family to acquire its parking lot instead of leasing it for a tiny fraction of that, etc.

Ryles is a puppet. That’s why Frimark, et al. have done their best to keep him away from Council meetings and generally under wraps.

But he’ll have to finally put on his big-boy pants this week with the debates on Wednesday and Thursday.

PW – you say that the Bende/Phillips/Vile group might cause less damage than Biagi/Brandt/Hunst did by failing to send the pool issue to referendum. Let’s not forget a couple of points:

1) Vile was the only commissioner to vote “no” to send the Youth Campus isue to referendum (sounds pretty dangerous to me);

2) The Bende/Phillips/Vile campaign flyer states that they are squarely behind the pool project as proposed. I think the quote was “it’s high time” [that the pool be replaced].

It sounds to me like none of these folks are on board with you re the pool. BTW – didn’t Biagi generally agree with you on the pool referendum issue, but didn’t have Board support?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t mistake our comments as an endorsement of the “challengers” ticket, or an indication we won’t endorse one or more of the “incumbents.”

Nevertheless, it was the 7 current Board members (including Vile) who disrespected the taxpayers by not sending the Centennial Pool to referendum. And we don’t recall Commissioner Biagi even making a motion for a referendum, even though he was the only Board member to raise the issue from time to time, and got no support from the rest of Mountcastle’s Munchkins.

I think Ms. Mountcastle would be the first to agree that these Munchkins were much more like the flying monkeys, bedeviling her nonstop to do better, faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner. Which, to a great extent she has done despite needless distractions from vile personal attacks launched by entitlement-seekers. But please; if both sides agree the pool upgrade is a good idea,no mention of any referendum, then you are left with the distinction being one side wants to meet the needs of all taxpayers and the other thinks that what matters most is returning the public facility called the Senior Center to the control of a handful of private citizens. The rest of the seniors want no part of them, as you’ve pointed out in the past. If you really mean you don’t see which is worse, well…then we really are without the press.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If Mountcastle and the Munchkins really believed a new Centennial Pool was going to “meet the needs of all taxpayers,” they would have gone to referendum knowing they would win. Instead, they know that Centennial Pool is just a different kind of special interest, albeit one that serves more individuals than the Senior Center but still doesn’t come close to serving even a majority of taxpayers. So M & the Ms cowardly ran away from that referendum.

As for he economics of the deal, just the annual interest on the bonds to pay the new Centennial’s debt service is likely to cost the taxpayers more than what the Senior Center’s operating loss was costing them. So we’re looking at a distinction without a difference.

Wasn’t it Biagi who when asked by a taxpayer at a park board meeting last fall why the PRPD board did not go for a nonbinding referendum on spending what could total $10,500,000 on a waterpark his response was-to paraphrase-that since the taxpayers elected the PRPD board we essentially gave them the authority to make these types of decisions. How arrogant.

I also thought that some of the PRPD commissioners were more conservative financially than others-at least that is how they portrayed themselves to get elected. Now we see that conservative means spending other people’s money on a waterpark which the taxpayers have voted down 3 times before. It also means spending $62,000 (as reported by the H-A) on a referendum to issue $13,200,000 for a park on an extreme end of town.

The waterpark and the Youth Campus proposal are wants not needs. These projects will not increase the value of our homes but will raise our property taxes. We have other priorities in Park Ridge that we should be allocating scarce resources to. A waterpark and another 11 acres of park land to maintain on an extreme end of town are not priorities.


EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s nothing but arrogance.

But the taxpayers have a right, by majority vote, to choose such “wants” – even if they choose them over “needs.” But our arrogant yet cowardly Park Board denied them that opportunity to choose or reject the new Centennial “want.”


Your response might be closer to correct if you had not chosen to use the mediocrity card. It is you who paints the plan as mediocre, as if you wnat them to have your wiz-bang plan with the “sunroof”……”a new aquatic facility at Centennial that will leave its imprint of mediocrity on this community for 30-40 years….” You imply you think the plan should be more knowing very well that it would never get done.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, we’ve said the plan should be more – much more – because, as Daniel Burnham said: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

So instead we’re getting another mediocre facility because it’s cheap enough to avoid a referendum, just like our mediocre Community Center made that way for the same reasons 20 years ago.

Water park? Calling it that has been the coordinated battle cry by the whining nimbys who live across from the park. Do they know they get laughed at when they call it that?
The pool needed to be replaced, the board did its job. I am thankful the board actually wants to improve our parks by purchasing the youth campus. Vote yes.

2:32-I am not a nimby and am not laughing at those across from this new waterpark who oppose the plan.

This is a waterpark-Ms. Mountcastle called it that herself at a November 2012 PRPD meeting before the Christmas/Holiday season PRPD vote to approve the waterpark. When completed the waterpark will have a lazy river and a huge waterslide.

The new waterpark will cost an estimated $10,500,000 when completed. That is why there are many in PR against the waterpark-not just the neighbors. The outdoor waterpark is too expensive for 3 months of use when replacing the pools “as is” would have been substantially cheaper and more than adequate to meet the out door swimming needs of the community. And this type of waterpark facility has been voted down 3 times before by the taxpayers of PR.

Now the PRPD wants another $13,200,000-$18,000,000 with the interest on the bonds-for a park. How about they fix up the parks and facilities they already manage at a fraction of the cost.

It is easy to do your “job” when you vote to spend lots and lots of other people’s money on amenities we do not “need”. A better job performance would be if the PRPD operated within the resources-tax dollars and fees-they already collect.


SMR 6:39- I totally agree re: fixing up the pre-existing parks in town. Maine Park is arguably one of the more interesting places to take a walk in town, albeit a bit out of the way, but this past summer it was clear the PRPD was having difficulty keeping the grounds and water clean of debris and scum. It’s one thing to have lawns mown at Hinkley and Northeast, but I suspect that they are not capable of caring for another “complicated” property in the way that an entity like the Chicago Botanic Garden (with their very sizable donations) would be able to.

If there was any evidence that over-crowding or demand from residents was driving this April 9th proposal it would be one thing, but all I have sensed so far is an emotional response from those who had ties to the property when it was still the Youth Campus. The fact is, none of the children (or adults) who will end up using the proposed park will actually NEED it, not in the way chidren may have in its past incarnations.

Adding to that is the fact that any support given to the PRPD at this time essentially acts as an approval of their recent actions and condones their Centennial blunder. Voting NO on April 9th can let them know that they’ve already sneaked their sweets and can now sit back and enjoy the aftertaste every year for three measly months…

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