I Come Not To Bury DiPietro, But To Praise Him


This Monday (May 6) night, the new City Council will be sworn in.  And when the smoke clears, for the first time in 18 years Ald. Rich DiPietro will not be sitting at The Horseshoe.

DiPietro did not seek re-election on April 9, and will be replaced by Nick Milissis.

It was all the way back in 1995 that Rich first took his seat in the Council Chambers.  The mayor back then was Ron Wietecha, each ward still had two aldermen, and the City was still in pretty much the same shape as former mayor Marty Butler had left it after his 18 years in the big chair, prior to his being appointed state senator in 1991 following Bob Kustra’s election to the post of Lieutenant Governor.

From the moment he took his seat on the Council, Rich and I rarely agreed on any controversial issue.

I never could understand what appeared to be his unwavering support for Wietecha’s obsessive/compulsive, spare no expense, all-O’Hare-all-the-time agenda.  That obsession led not only to years of neglect of Park Ridge infrastructure but also to the City’s flush-down-the-sewer $650,000 “investment” in a proposed Peotone airport.  Rich also endorsed both Wietecha’s thwarted effort to build a new $20 million library, and his ill-conceived/worse-executed Uptown TIF that Wietecha successor Mike Marous made a reality – and which has proved to be a multi-million dollar financial albatross that is now projected to hang around the taxpayers’ neck for years to come.

But we really crossed swords over Rich’s equally-unwavering support of mayor Howard Frimark, perhaps Park Ridge’s all-time political bottom-feeder and opportunist.  Rich was on-board with Frimark’s closed-session efforts to cut sweetheart deals to owners of land on which Frimark wanted to build a new $20 million police station, and he voted in favor of Frimark’s legally-meaningless “condemnation” of then-Ald. Dave Schmidt for actually upholding the Illinois Open Meetings Act and blowing the whistle on Frimark’s closed-session wheeling and dealing.

How Rich’s legacy of Council service will be viewed likely will not be known for a number of years, probably not until the Uptown TIF expires and its full effect on Park Ridge can be assessed.   It remains bewildering, however, that after 18 years of watching and listening to Rich and watching his Council votes, I can honestly say that I have no idea of what his overarching philosophy of City government might be.

Yet notwithstanding the upbraiding regularly administered to him on this blog, Rich remained unfailingly cordial and gentlemanly in person.

Which brings us to the point of this post: praising the “real” Rich DiPietro.

If you want to learn about the real Rich, you can start by reading Denise Fletcher’s Park Ridge Journal article dated August 15, 2012.

There you’ll find out that he has been married to his wife, Kathy, for 50 years – a truly “golden” achievement burnished even brighter by the fact they were high school sweethearts who married so young they couldn’t legally share a champagne toast at their own wedding.  Theirs is a Romeo and Juliet story without the tragic ending, and his role in that story speaks more to his character than any of his Council votes.

Not only did Rich and Kathy raise seven children of their own but, during the 1970s, they served as temporary foster parents to 22 infants until Catholic Charities could place them with adoptive parents.  That’s another kind of “walking the walk” that doesn’t show up in the Council’s meeting minutes or on its meeting videos, but is far more meaningful in the long run.

Rich has been in the printing business all his adult life, having started his own shop in 1981 and evolving it into a printing and graphic arts service provider now known as CrossTech Communications, with its own building on Jefferson Street just a block west of the Ogilvie Transportation Center.  He’s what used to be called a self-made man – except that I suspect Rich is too modest to claim that kind of credit for himself.

From all outward appearances and everything I have heard from those who know him far better than I, Rich has lived an exemplary private life and has more than earned whatever good fortune awaits him in his retirement from public life – including 24 grandchildren on whom he is reported to dote more than a little bit.

Rich DiPietro is one of the finest men ever to sit at The Horseshoe.  That should be his continuing legacy to this community, and that is what this post celebrates.

Ave atque vale, Rich!

Robert J. Trizna

Editor, publisher, chief cook and bottle washer

To read or post comments, click on title.

12 comments so far

Wow! I don’t always agree with you Mr. Trizna, but you publishing how decent a person really is, even though you have a different position on all of those issues, is very commendable.

I never new any of the information about Mr. DePietro. I have more respect for you for publishing this well written piece. I now have an enormous amount of respect for Mr. Depietro. What a fine individual he is.

Classy move, PD. You also walked the walk.

My view of Mr. DiPietro’s views on local government sound close to yours, Mr. Trizna, but I saw that article in the Journal when it was published and reached the same conclusion. And years ago I reached the conclusion that really good people can be not-so-good public officials, while slime balls (like Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich) can be better officials than people.

My sincere thanks to you. Extremely kind comments. While I will be leaving the Council, I will not be leaving my role as a faithful reader of Public Watchdog. Keep up your good work even if we do not always agree. Thank you once again.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The pleasure was all mine. And we’ll take every reader we can get, especially “faithful” ones.

Thank you, Ald. DiPietro, for being my alderman all these years. During the 15 years I’ve lived in the 2nd Ward you have been the best of the bunch. You will be missed.

I”m pleased Ald. DiPietro’s character is being recognized. It should also be noted that Mr. DiPietro pretty much WAS the institutional memory of the City Council for the past few years. It frequently fell to Ald. DiPietro to explain to the Council how it was that things became the way they were. Also, more than any other elected official, Ald. DiPietro provided expertise on legislative procedure for the Council.

Clinton and Gingrich? Neither could keep it zipped and both are smart, but there’s a few differences your reader overlooked. Clinton uses his intelligence to do good and heal divides, Gingrich uses his to do ill and widen divides.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Puh-leeze! Give that Red/Blue version of Animal Farm‘s “four legs good, two legs bad” nonsense a rest.

Ald. DiPietro is/was not my alderman, but I appreciate his kind manner, thoughfulness and knowledge. He most certainly will be missed on the council. Hopefully we’ll have the pleasure of seeing him around town.

I will if you stop advocating that some animals are more equal than others. Deal?

EDITOR’S NOTE: “More equal”?

Very classy. As a fairly new reader, I am impressed that you wrote this, and in agreement with your post. Good for you, and best wishes to Alderman DiPietro and family!

Although I did not inherit his fortitude, which is required for public service in Park Ridge, my father’s passion for this town inspired me to raise my own family in Park Ridge these past 12 years. I could not be more proud of his contributions to this community. He is an inspiration to a world that needs more people to give back to the communities they love.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Better get to work on that fortitude, Tom, because there’s a pair of shoes that needs filling.

Yes, “more equal.” You know, the last line of Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” I think they call that irony or some such. Orwell that ends well.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We know the reference, but its applicability remains a mystery. Care to clue us in, Mr./Ms. Coy.

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