Past Not Always Prologue (And Some Flies Can’t Be Caught)


At Monday night’s meeting the Park Ridge City Council approved the MAP Amendment and the variances needed for the Park Ridge Recreation and Park District to commence work on its Youth Campus Park project (the “YCP”).

As best as we can tell, that was the correct result – if for no other reason than pinch-hitting City Attorney Kathy Henn’s improvised opinion that linking the City’s approval of the YCP zoning matters to the Park District’s granting of rights to the City to use Northwest Park for storm water detention might violate the City’s Zoning Code.  Not any state statute or court decision, mind you, but our own Zoning Code.

Once that opinion was given, the Council defeated the “linkage” amendment proposed by Ald. Nick Milissis (2nd) by a vote of 5-2, Ald. Jim Smith (3rd) and Milissis dissenting; and then it approved the zoning relief by a vote of 6-1, Smith again dissenting.

Whether Henn’s opinion on this issue will cause the Council to revise the Zoning Code to eliminate the arguable ban on linkage in the future remains to be seen.  But it probably deserves at least some cursory review to determine whether linkage is an arrow that belongs in the City’s zoning quiver.

The linkage issue inspired some interesting discussion/debate by the aldermen, one aspect of which deserves special mention because it was as unnecessary as it was disappointing.

Regular readers of this blog may recall that we endorsed Marty Maloney for 7th Ward alderman in 2011, and he prevailed in a 3-way race.  While we have disagreed with him significantly on several occasions since his election, he has served honorably and creditably overall – just as he served honorably and creditably on the Park Board from 2003-2011.

But in arguing against Milissis’ linkage amendment by suggesting that the Park District could be expected to cooperate with the City’s storm water detention program, Maloney disingenuously cited the cooperation of Park Boards past in accommodating the City’s installation of its two reservoirs on Park District land (Kalina Field and Hinkley Park), and the construction of the City’s salt dome at Oakton Park.

Why was that disingenous?

Because Maloney knows that no governmental bodies act consistently and predictably: he’s now been a member of two different ones.  Their actions are always the product of the personalities, policies and politics of the elected officials who oversee them, and of the bureaucrats to whom the elected officials too often delegate/abdicate too much responsibility and discretion.

The people who sat on the Park Boards that gave the City the use of Kalina, Hinkley and Oakton for City facilities are not the same people who sit on the Park Board now.  And the attitude displayed by a majority of the current Park Board members, and by its director, is not the same one that prevailed back when those three projects were done.

Maloney knows that, too, because he was on the Park Board when the new City reservoir was constructed under Hinkley Park.  He knows that the City didn’t even have to ask the Park District for the use of Hinkley Park because it was the then-Park Board that came up with the idea – and offered that site to the Cityas a way to save City taxpayers the millions of extra dollars it would have cost to put the new reservoir on the old Public Works site at Greenwood and Elm, which was the City’s original plan.

Putting the reservoir at Hinkley also kept that old Public Works property available for sale by the City for what some brokers had previously guestimated to be another million dollars or more.  And it prevented the delays in the reservoir project, and the Uptown Redevelopment project that depended on relocating the reservoir, by the additional time left on NICOR’s lease of the old Public Works property that NICOR didn’t vacate until 2009.

Maloney also knows that this Park Board is different from previous ones – including the ones he served on – because his boards (with the support of then executive director Jim Lange) went to referendum four times during 2005-2006, at least twice on multi-million dollar aquatic facilities.  Those boards and that director respected the taxpaying voters of this community enough to ask for their endorsement and their tax dollars for such expensive projects with such substantial long-term impact on this community.  And they had the courage to risk being told “no,” as they were.

That’s a far cry from this current Park Board, a majority of which just a year ago arrogantly told the taxpaying voters to go scratch themselves – and the horses they rode in on – when that Board voted to build the $8 million Centennial water park without the courtesy of even an advisory referendum.  Those cowards insisted they knew that the community wanted the water park, they just didn’t have the courage to find out for sure.

At Monday night’s Council meeting, Maloney talked about obtaining the cooperation of those Park Board members voluntarily, calling on the “you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” aphorism.  But “flies” who seemingly care so little for what is fair and just for the entire community that they don’t have the decency to hold a vote on an $8 million water park, may not be “catch”-able when it comes to making Northwest Park available for storm water detention, especially now that they’ve got their YCP zoning.

After all, those are some of the same folks who turned tail and ran away from the North Park detention area project after some neighbors beefed about it.  Can they be trusted not to cut and run again if Northwest Park neighbors beef?  Can they be trusted to stand tall when the Park District’s sports affiliates show up en masse to oppose anything that might jeopardize their Northwest Park playing fields?

We hope Maloney is right with about catching flies, because the City just gave the Park District plenty of honey.

But he was dead wrong Monday night by suggesting what past Park Boards had done was a predictor of what the current Park Board might do.  That’s the kind of cheap political trickery we have come to expect from our state senators and state representatives, and from all those other two-bit professional politicians that have run our state into the ground.

You’re much better than that, Ald. Maloney.

You know it.  And we know it.

To read or post comments, click on title.

45 comments so far

The linkage of the two issues was always a stretch at best.

There were a lot of meetings behind the scenes that lead to this conclusion.

Your win / win scenario was unrealistic given the weight of each of the two issues. Variance approval is pretty much perfunctory. Water retention is not an inexpensive decision.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Linkage…was always a stretch” how? Because the Park District would never agree to make Northwest Park available. Because there’s some legal impediment other than the City’s Zoning Code, which was not identified until Monday night?

In this town, lots of “meetings behind the scenes” are the M.O. of the connivers, the shysters, and the special interests. See, e.g., Foot & Ankle Surgeons building; 720 Garden; Executive Office Plaza condo development; Napleton environmental and revenue sharing.

Variance approval is only “pretty much perfunctory” when bureaucrats and public officials give them out like candy, thereby disrespecting the code and encouraging builder/developer disregard.

Nobody said water retention ISN’T “an inexpensive decision” – but as we understand it, the Northwest Park detention plan is a lot cheaper than the alternative flood plan for that area. And those costs have to be the City’s, not the Park District’s. So why is the Park District not offering Northwest, albeit under reasonable cost-neutral terms?

“Variance approval is pretty much perfunctory.”
Sweeping generalization much?

See James/Coughlin Geo.S May property and 205 W Touhy Trammel Crow developments.

At the Council level one rejected and the other approved with conditions.

Surprising and unfortunate hit-piece. heavy on E motion light on fact and fairness. Why is the city government more important than any other taxing body?

EDITOR’S NOTE: City government ISN’T “more important than any other taxing body,” nor did we say it is.

But the moment a mayor or alderman swears his/her oath of office, he/she assumes a public trust for the City and its taxpayers, owing his/her undivided loyalty to the City’s interests over all others, including his/her own personal interests.

Unfortunately, that concept clearly is not understood in Springfield or Crook County. And it looks like some of our public officials in all branches of local government could use a refresher course.

Now, what relevant facts are we “light” on; and what is “unfair” about the post?

This editors position would be the same as millisis-smith disaster or the mayors veiled threat of eminent domain? You should articulate the best solution.

All Maloney said was let’s talk to park district , which I interepet as let’s negotiate instead of getting sued . Pretty reasonable.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Re-read the second paragraph of the post. Concentrate real hard on the words “As best as we can tell, that was the correct result.”

The “best solution” would have been for the Park District to have shown up at that meeting weeks ago with an offer to sit down, then and there, and negotiate terms under which the City can use Northwest Park for stormwater detention IF it goes ahead with that phase of the Burke program – instead of bringing in a court reporter and rattling its own sabres.

If that’s “All Maloney [had] said” we wouldn’t have written this post. But in trying to make points that would have been more appropriate coming from the Park Board president than from a City alderman, he was, in a word, disingenuous about those other projects, especially the Hinkley project which he and this editor supported during the two years they served on the Park Board (2003-2005).

We said it in the post and we’ll say it again: Ald. Maloney is better than that kind of political obfuscation would suggest.

You’ve gone from outrageous to merely ridiculous. Ald. Maloney spoke the truth from his experience, providing actual examples of case after case in which the Park District did what the City wanted. You may think your era was the only one in which Park District elected officials cared about what was best for the community, had integrity, used their heads, etc. etc. What-ever. But you’re wrong, and Ald. Maloney knows it. The current board members are no less concerned, ethical, etc. than you were. And if you’d been at the meeting where, to the prior board’s surprise, a MAJORITY of neighbors were fearful of their local park being used for detention, you would not dismiss their concerns or call those who listened to them cowardly. Burke Engineering tried manfully to explain and reassure, to no avail. So if you’d been on the board then you’d have ignored the concerns and if the vendor turned out to be wrong, you’d say to the neighbors, “oh, well. Sucks to be you?” Bottom line: Your inflammatory comments have no basis in fact. And saying you think the right decision was made and then wiping the floor with the alderman is dirty pool. In fact, if anything good comes from this self-indulgent rant of yours, it will be to give Ald. Maloney a better reputation for independent thinking.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Next stop: sublime.

We’ll give you a crisp new $1 bill if you can disprove any factual assertion – not opinion, but factual assertion – in this post, although you’ll have to come out of the shadows of anonymity to claim it.

During the 8 years this editor was on the Park Board, we said “no” to neighbors and other special interests whenever we believed it was in the community’s best interests. Hinkley’s neighbors didn’t want lighted tennis courts at Hinkley, and they didn’t want the higher park elevations that the reservoir caused. We did our best to address their concerns with low-bleed lighting and a variety of elevation changes and landscaping – but at the end of the day the good of the whole community had to prevail. The same goes for the cell tower at Kalina that filled the Park Board room with people screaming about lightning, radiation and even icicles. And facing down another board room full of PRBS folks trying to preserve their monopoly on baseball fields to the exclusion of Jr. Hawks Baseball. And the Senior Center members’ demand for exclusive use of one of the two Centennial pools during certain busy hours. And so on. It’s really not that darn tough when you keep your eye on the ball and think community first, special interests second.

But this Board proved its character when it refused to go to referendum for the Centennial water park. No Park Board since the one that pulled that same stunt with the Community Center in the early ’90s – and screwed up Park District finances for the next decade – acted so brazenly yet cowardly. And Ald. Maloney knows it.

We still think Ald. Maloney is an fine alderman, and we’d like to see him stand for re-election. That’s why we were disappointed with such a gratuitous stunt.

If/when this current Park Board offers Northwest Park for flood control, we’ll re-visit his attempt to cast the current Park Board in the same light as past ones that thought “community” first – while still protecting the Park District’s interests.

You say you think Maloney’s doing a good job but you rip him brutally. You sure have a strange way of praising people, or are you just a dishonest jerk?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We do, and he is. We didn’t rip “him,” we ripped what he said. To the contrary, we actually praised him by saying he is better than what his remarks would indicate.

Opinions vary.

I can understand why Milissis proposed the amendment he did because he represents people who suffer from flooding in the Northwest Park. But as you said in the post on in this comment string, aldermen owe their allegiance to the City so why did Maloney sound like he’s doing p.r. for the Park District? Is it because he was one of the prominent supporters of the Our Parks Legacy group and contributed to its campaign fund?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We believe he supported the project, but we can find no record of his having contributed to the Our Parks Legacy campaign fund.

Frankly, it is his right to support the project and contribute to it. We don’t even have any problem with his vote on the zoning matters for YCP. We simply take issue with his comments.

Let me get this straight:
Maloney should pretend to be a hard a** to the PRPD and vote against the zoning change? Then that would do what? Probably harm the situation more than help. Every hear of strategy?

Aren’t results more important than histrionics? 446am said he/she “understands why Millissis proposed the amendment”, however shouldn’t you look for success instead of political points? It failed 6-1.
This council is like a carpenter without a tool belt.

Does anyone see a pattern? This issue is EXACTLY like several others posted about. Lots of drama, no solution. See TIF, Flooding, Public Worker Salaries, and EMB/Business-Friendly appearance. It gets a few advocates riled up but the we just circle back to the same spot. It’s called building your base.

The taxpayers like this Mayor/Council because he has been seemingly open and cut some fat off the budget. Beyond that, it’s a lot chatter.

No offense, but this is the problem with too many attorneys in elected government. Their experience isn’t in getting things done in a real world. Their experience is in a courtroom.
Extrapolate that further to state and federal government and you can understand why there is so much goofiness legislated.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Getting any of this “straight” might be above your pay grade, judging from this comment.

NO elected official should “pretend” to be anything. There already are too many of them running around pretending to be intelligent, informed and competent.

“Success” often isn’t what it initially appears to be. Passing the Uptown TIF was considered a “success” a decade ago, not so much since. The Council’s voting not to give Whole Foods all the tax breaks it wanted was considered an horrendous “failure” by a number of members of the local business community for the two weeks it took until Whole Foods said they would do the deal without the incentives.

If “[t]his council is like a carpenter without a tool belt,” previous councils were like the tool belt without a carpenter. And if you view any of the Council’s activity as “building your base,” you’ve been watching too much MSNBC or FOX. And if turning million and multi-million dollar deficits into modest surpluses while raising taxes at lower rates than under previous administrations is just “a lot of chatter” to you, you really should step away from the MSNBC.

The reason many attorneys have all their experience in the courtroom is because they are cleaning up the messes created by those people in the “real world.” Most bad legislation is the result of stupid, lazy, pandering, unprincipled legislators – irrespective of whether or not they are lawyers, bakers or candlestick makers.

BTW, if you are talking about trading zoning approval for detention I think the city needs to up its ante. That’s like trading Aaron Rodgers for Josh McCown.

The fields that are currently used for detention are extremely soaked during even moderate rains which make it dangerous and unusable at times. They also dry much much slower. That impacts the parks and the customers of the parks.

If the city wants to trade something, maybe they should trade the old public works building? Asset for asset then. Or, sign a rental agreement where they pay the park for detention? Freeloader days are OVER for this city government.

A standard zoning approval that wouldn’t even make the papers, traded for potentially harming an asset is insane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re NOT talking about “trading” zoning for detention. We’re not even convinced, at this point in time, that using Northwest Park as a detention area is cost-effective.

But if it were done, the park’s drainage would need to be enhanced at least to the extent the Burke study proposes.

According to, McCown is the NFL’s top-rated quaterback at 85.7 (Rodgers is at 70.3, and hasn’t played in weeks) Go figure.

Look at this from a taxpayer perspective. We now have the Burke study (along with hundreds of thousands of dollars) called into question by Mazzuca. He’s now suggesting another paid study? Why should a taxpayer literally buy into any proposal by this council? Is he right or wrong?

How many total commissions and studies are we up to over the last 5 years that have been pointless?

Have we wasted time, money and infused confusion into one of the top issues that has faced Park Ridge for decades?

Now, we want to bring the PRPD into this fray? How can we solve the problem if we don’t even know what success looks like?

Disagree with Centennial construction all you want, but the PRPD looked at a problem and solved it. While you keep bringing it up, many many taxpayers are very happy with Centennial Pool construction. Using it as a superlative, actually demeans your own argument.

Maybe the council should send a court reporter over to the park board to learn something?

Lots of questions, very little solutions.

You are right, the city government would take McCown over Rodgers. Good analogy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We look at EVERYTHING from a “taxpayer perspective.”

We see no reason for ANY other studies, paid or unpaid. Ald. Mazzuca may have some very legitimate questions, but they should be presented to City staff and, if necessary, to Burke. But NONE of the work done on flood control over the past 5 years is “pointless” – what WAS “pointless” was all the previous years when previous administrations and staff pretty much just ignored these problems while occupying themselves with big shiny toys like the Uptown TIF.

Most residents know what “success” looks like: minimal, if any, flooding from 100-year rains. But if that cannot be achieved – and much of what the Burke study shows is that it cannot, at least not at a cost of less than $100 million – then “success” might have to be redefined.

The Park District (and you) lost any right to honestly and ethically claim that “many many taxpayers are very happy with Centennial Pool construction” when the Park Board arrogantly and cowardly didn’t put that project to at least an advisory referendum that would have quantified the “many” – because the Park Board and staff knew that the outcome would not be favorable, especially with a vote on the $13 million-plus YPC project already teed up for April 2013.

But that’s never stopped shameless users and shameless spenders of OPM instead of YOM and TOM.

I can see why some are attacking Milissis on this blog. He lifted the veil and by his motion brought this subject to public scrutiny. Had he not I probably would not have known that using park land was even an option. The PD crowd is now mad because responsibility has shifted to the commissioners in a very public way. The Park Boardwould have preferred they got their way with the YCP and then quietly denied any assistance to the city. After this you better believe and the other residents will be watching very carefully how the commissioners treat the city when it comes asking for help. In that sense Milissis and Smith have already made the park district and it’s board more accountable for their future deeds.

Land variance approvals are perfunctory in Park Ridge and you can see it by the new construction that took place over the past ten years.

Do you think that Kathy Henn and Tom Hoffman are not on speaking terms? These would not be back door under the table deals for them to clarify each entities position.

There is no negotiation necessary between the Park District and the City because the Park District has a plan that will pass through the review with flying colors. The City on the other hand doesn’t have anything to hold against the Park District for negotiation purposes.

Your problem is that the Park District has a couple of shrewd Commissioners that understand the issues much more thoroughly than you would like them to; the City, on the other hand, has a flooding problem which needs to be fixed.

The only way to fix it in this current economic environment it is by either raising taxes, raising fees, cutting other programs, or whatever it takes to pay for the real flooding solution.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We hope Ms. Henn and Mr. Hoffman would not do “back door under the table deals,” and that the public officials to whom they answer would not permit it. And until somebody has proof of such deals, we’ll hang onto that hope.

The flooding issue has to be analyzed on an ROI basis. Ten-year flood protection on $100 million of bonded debt would appear to be an insufficient ROI, but that appears to be about the best the Burke study is projecting.

Can we really blame to PRPD for not putting in up on the referendum? Couldn’t the city itself have done that?

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, as we understand Illinois election law, the City can’t pass a resolution to put a Park District referendum issue on the ballot. So, yes, we really CAN blame the arrogant and cowardly Park Board, and its arrogant and cowardly director, for not putting the $8 million Centennial water park to referendum.

11:15 am – Do not presume to talk for the “many many” taxpayers who support the $7,700,000 waterpark/Centenial Park destruction when you have no data to support this statement. Not one person I have talked to is happy with this wasteful spending of taxpayer money.

You claim the PRPD “saw a problem and solved it” is ridiculous. The PRPD has been wanting for years to put in a waterpark at Centennial including when Maloney was on the board. The taxpayers were asked and we said NO-three times.

What the PRPD under the dishonest management of Gayle Mountcastle saw with the failing pools was an opportunity to build the waterpark by claimg as Rick Biagi threatened that either support the waterpark or there will be no pools at Centennial at all.

All this current PRPD board had done is burden the taxpayers with $20,000,000+ of debt. That is a big problem that only time and our tax dollars will solve.

“Not one person I have talked to is happy with this wasteful spending of taxpayer money”.

Not saying that there are not folks who do not like the new centennial construction…of course there are, but 11:15 did not say everyone liked it. He/she did not even say the majority like it…..simply that many, many like it.

If the above pasted statement is really your experience (not one simgle person….really?!?!?!) you really have to get out more.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Okay, so HOW many is “many, many”? 100? 500? 1,000?

None of those numbers, if converted to votes, would have carried any of the previous aquatic center referenda. So are you saying – as this Park Board and director clearly believe – that it’s RIGHT for them to commit $8 million (over $6 million of which is long-term bonded debt) to a major project without giving the voters an opportunity to vote their views of that project?

Why is PW fixated on the Park District’s non-referendum Centennial aquatic facility? Even PW has admitted that the Park District had the legal right to do it, so to use one of your favorite terms: What’s the “beef”?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Just because it’s “legal” doesn’t mean it’s right. Virtually everything the Madigan-dominated General Assembly has done over the last 30 years was “legal,” but it’s destroyed our state – just like the Uptown TIF and various other boneheaded decisions made by local government was “legal” but extremely damaging to the City’s financial condition.

The arrogance and cowardice displayed by this Park Board in doing the Centennial water park deal without even consulting the taxpayers via an advisory referendum is something that Park Board would love for taxpayers to forget – which is why we intend to keep reminding them of it.

Updating Centennial is the right thing to do. Residents may have voted the idea down in the past, but that was years ago. Since then we’ve lost Oakton pool and our two existing pools are deteriorating. Continued deterioration may be the only acceptable (cheap) solution to some people but many residents do want decent, updated facilities. It’s called progress.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s called shameless users pandered to by a shameless Park Board, at the spineless taxpayers’ expense. If the arrogant cowards on the Park Board thought they had the voters support locked up, they would have gone to referendum. They knew they didn’t, so they didn’t.

Let’s see what those taxpayers thinkd of faux-“fiscal-conservative” Mel Thillens’ stewardship of the Park District come next November when he runs against Madigan’s Moylan in a battle of heart disease versus cancer.

It’s not even “progress”, it’s replacing a broken asset. I’m still confused how any sane person doesn’t understand that. But the commenter above said “Not one person I have talked to is happy” about Centennial is actually pretty scary. That is a person who is so blinded by his own reclusiveness that he/she actually thinks they can speak for others. Really? Not one person???? Amazingly Biagi still won handily. The voters chose easily that they approve of Biagi and Centennial.

The park board should not have gone to referendum. They did for Youth Campus and look what happened. It won, and the crotchety people are still mad.

There was a referendum for Oakton, not Centennial. Honestly, the town is worse off without the Oakton pool. But that’s who votes in local elections. Crotchety people who USED the resources for decades, but now think they shouldn’t replaced what they used.

The park was faced with “decades” of deterioration of pools and assets, but they don’t get an excuse do they? Only the current Mayor should get our sympathy ?

Gimme a break.

The soft spot for this administration needs to end. Frimark was terrible, so “better than Frimark” is now the standard?

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, Schmidt is the new standard – as in: better than the last 20 years of mayors Wietecha, Marous and Frimark.

Apparently you don’t care what the vast majority of Park Ridge taxpayers/voters want. Guess you prefer an oligarchy instead of a republic. That’s okay, because that’s what most shameless users of OPM want, and what most bureaucrats and other spenders of OPM prefer. So you fit right into that crowd. Well done!

Biagi won because he had enough positives to overwhelm his one huge Centennial lapse in judgment – which would explain why pro-Centennial commissioners Vile and Hunst lost to mediocre candidates.

No one is saying that the Centennial pools did not need to be replaced. But the PRPD did not even consider the less expensive alternative of replacing the pools on the same footprint thereby also eliminating the destruction of Centennial park that has accompanied the construction of the $7,700,000 waterpark. That speaks of a lack of due diligence on the part of the PRPD. More than one option should have been considered.

When this level of investment is committed to an asset with a very short useful season-what 90 days assuming perfect weather-the failure of the PRPD should be broadcasted loud and clear so the taxpayers understand the costly long-term implications of the mismanagement of the PRPD by G. Mountcastle and this board.

Our property taxes continue to rise from the various taxing authorities. People may want “progress” but when the waterpark loses money and the Yourh Campus becomes a cash drain on the PRPD-the cost of this progress on our tax bills will likely make people question why these costly projects were approved by the board or voted for by some 4000 or so PR voters in the case of the YC.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do NOT lump Centennial and YCP together. Whether you like YPC or not, the voters approved it – which they never had a chance to do with Centennial because a dishonest, arrogant and cowardly Mountcastle and Park Board took that vote away from them in order to avoid losing that vote.

The voters voted against Oakton and a Centennial pool complex when Maloney was on the Park Board. They also voted against a water park at Centennial in the 1990s. So you’re exactly right about this Park Board and Director Mountcastle making sure the voters wouldn’t get a chance to say “no” to the new Centennial water park.

When does Mountcastle parlay her new pool and new park into a new, higher paying job at a bigger park district?


Please stop with the “a pool is used only 3 months a year and therefore not worth investing in” lament. Yes summer is short — all the more reason we should have a decent one. Look around…virtually every park district in the area — and in other locales that do experience four seasons — have outdoor pools. They’re part of what makes summer more bearable and enjoyable for those people who actually do get out sometimes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: When public money is spent, the first thing we look at – and the first thing any public official should look at, ESPECIALLY for amenities rather than necessities – is ROI. And outdoor public pools shich operate 3 months/year at most have NO significant ROI because: (a) even if they can operate in the black, they never really recapture their initial cost so as to accrue residual value because by the time they get to that point they are out-dated; and (b) installing an outdoor pool or aquatic center on public property actually makes that property LESS valuable because anybody who might buy it won’t want the pool.

That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be built, just that they shouldn’t be built without referendum approval when they cost multi-millions of dollars financed by bonded debt that will tie the public body’s financial hands for a decade or more.

But maybe candidate Mel Thillens has some grand new insight into this issue now that he’s a newly-minted “fiscal conservative” who wants to convince voters he’s not the kind of tax/borrow/spend politician Marty Moylan is.

It’s hard to argue a topic when the opposition is fundamentally dishonest. Centennial is a “water park” because there are two slides? It’s a pool with two slides. It also added amenities advocated by the senior crowd.

12:20am- You are also either lying or ignorant. The existing footprint replacement was studied. There wasn’t even much savings. When you replace your TV do you get a flat screen or a tube TV? Do you know how short-sighted and stupid that would’ve been?

The other “lying or ignorant” comment is ignoring the other improvements that are going into the cost (Parking lot, flood protection…) of Centennial. Is the parking lot used 3 months a year?

It’s ironic how this administration gets a free pass because of past inaction, while this board advocates for the park board to do just that.

EDITOR’S NOTE: NOBODY has been any more “fundamentally dishonest” about the Centennial water park than the Park Board and District staff – starting with numerous variations on “the residents of this community want this kind of facility” when they KNEW that wasn’t true and, therefore, refused to go to referendum on it (and/or were afraid that if the water park went to referendum and won, it would nuke the YCP referendum)

None of that new infrastructure would be going in at this time if not for the new water park.

“[T]his administration” [i.e., the City administration] gets a free pass” because it is stuck remediating years/decades of neglect of infrastructure delivering essential services or addressing problems with essential services, not some frivolous amenity like a water park usable only 3 months a year.

Speaking of in-town embarrassments under this administration. We now have an asset (the library) that is going to go dark on Sundays in the summer.
Thank god we will have a pool that will be open on Sundays.

We have this beautiful building with excellent resources that kids can’t even use in the summer on Sundays now? Eh, reading is overrated I guess.

What’s next, no salting streets on Tuesdays? Maybe no police Wednesdays? Lights off Fridays? How about everyone take their own garbage to the dump in June?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The City Administration has no control over the Library’s operations or its operating budget: that is totally the province of the Library Board of Trustees.

Closing the Library on Sundays next Summer: (a) was the idea of Staff; (b) was supported by a majority of Library Trustees who were originally Frimark appointees to the Board, and/or Frimark supporters, and/or Ryles supporters; (c) could have been avoided entirely if the Library didn’t give 1% raises to its employees; (d) could have been avoided several times over if the Library Staff and those same Board members were willing to charge users of the Library’s computers a mere $1 per use for the 67,000+ annual uses that have until now been free; and (e) could have been avoided a couple of times over if the Library staff and those same Board members were willing to charge the roughly 32,000 Library program participants a mere $2 per each program participation that they have until now been getting for free.

So you can consider those Summer Sunday closures just another favor to the freeloaders from shameless spenders of OPM.

1. If the pool would have gone to referendum I would have voted to build it.

2. I will not vote for Thillens because Mel, while a VERY good person and a VERY nice man, is a hypocrite.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To paraphrase (in English) an old Yiddish saying: If your grandma had testicles, she’d be your grandpa. We really don’t care what you would have done if the Park Board hadn’t dishonestly, arrogantly and cowardly deprived you of a referendum vote.

And we really don’t care whether or not you will vote for Thillens because he’s a “hypocrite” for reasons you don’t even attempt to explain. But assuming you’re right about Thillens, in a race between a “hypocrite” v. a “Madigan stooge,” we’d probably go with the hypocrite because he could actually do or say the right thing half the time (i.e., when he’s NOT speaking or acting hypocritically), while the stooge is always a stooge.

The city council couldn’t order the library to stay open on Sundays? I would be there is some way for the council to get involved and fix this. Do they have the guts?

Good information on the sausage-making, but still creating an unfortunate result. It’s the job of the boards (library or park) to maintain their assets for the citizens. Library board failed in their duty.

It’s a shame.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What part of “The City Administration has no control over the Library’s operations or its operating budget: that is totally the province of the Library Board of Trustees” don’t you understand?

You could say that Library Staff and a majority of the Library Board “failed in their duty” – or, actually, they may well have SUCCEEDED in their duty…to those people who use computers and programs for free, at the taxpayers’ expense and at the expense of those people who would otherwise be using the Library on Sundays next Summer.

And, yes, “[i]t’s a shame.” A damn shame.

Explain why he is a hypocrite?? You know the answer and you have pointed it out multiple times on this blog (although you did not use the word hypocrite).

Look at the campaign he is currently running versus his recent actions with the Park expansion and the pool. Like many, he has no problem spending tax dollars on things he wants but wants to hammer people and programs for things he does not want. His actions and his stated position do not match at all.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We DON’T “think” like you – as your comment about voting for the water park so clearly demonstrates. So what YOU think makes him a “hypocrite” may be very different that what we think.

My god!! I would think that even people who have differences on issues (as we certainly do) can at least agree on what is or is not hypocritical behavior.

I mean one of us might find it acceptable as the “lesser of two evils” as you stated in a post above, but I would at least hope we could agree that doing what he did and now saying what he is saying constitutes hypocrisy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We take nothing for granted – including what is meant by “hypocrisy” – when it comes to aligning our thought processes with those of people who would vote for something as stupid as an $8 million water park that can only be used 3 months of the year and doesn’t even have the one feature the greatest number of bogus survey respondents wanted (a lazy river).

In the spirit of Christmas, the park board rewrote the words to The Twelve Days of Christmas. Here are the the new words of an old Christmas favorite.

On the 12th day of Christmas the Park Board gave to me:
12 shadeless picnic benches.
11 missing swings
10 missing swim lanes
9 missing soccor fields
8 useless bochi balls
7 empty sandbox spots
6 useless sled runs
5 treeless stumps
4 missing monkey bars
3 half empty parking lots
2 retention ponds
and a tax bill in the mail

Merry Christmas


Nice that you were able to have a little whine before Christmas dinner.

Anon 12.23

We do get 4 seasons as well.

We’ve been skirting the real issue here, namely, that we have a Park board engaging in extravagant empire building to give one of their members with political ambitions a record of “accomplishment” and “civic mindedness” to run on.

Get with the program.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re giving this Park Board way too much credit for “political” astuteness: they’re just your basic tax, borrow and spenders of OPM who would have done what they did even if Thillens wasn’t running for state rep.

Thillens himself, however, may be a different story.

Re: The library closure on summer Sundays.

In reading the Park Ridge H-A today, it seems the library is practically forced to close on Sundays with the budgets cuts by the city council.

So yes, this is on the city council and Mayor. Obviously with budget cuts, there are ramifications.

Another loss for city taxpayers due to the city council.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we responded to your equally erroneous anonymous comment on 12.23.13 @ 9:03 am:

“The City Administration has no control over the Library’s operations or its operating budget: that is totally the province of the Library Board of Trustees.

Closing the Library on Sundays next Summer: (a) was the idea of Staff; (b) was supported by a majority of Library Trustees who were originally Frimark appointees to the Board, and/or Frimark supporters, and/or Ryles supporters; (c) could have been avoided entirely if the Library didn’t give 1% raises to its employees; (d) could have been avoided several times over if the Library Staff and those same Board members were willing to charge users of the Library’s computers a mere $1 per use for the 67,000+ annual uses that have until now been free; and (e) could have been avoided a couple of times over if the Library staff and those same Board members were willing to charge the roughly 32,000 Library program participants a mere $2 per each program participation that they have until now been getting for free.

So you can consider those Summer Sunday closures just another favor to the freeloaders from shameless spenders of OPM.”

What about that can’t you understand?

So you refuse to understand/report that the origin of the cut lies with the city council & mayor? You don’t believe in cause and effect?
“In November, the Park Ridge City Council eliminated a proposed 5% increase in library’s tax levy that would have generated $186,900 over 2012 levy.” – Park Ridge Herald Advocate.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We do our best not to report half-truths and untruths.

What the Council did (notably, by unanimous vote) is hold the Library’s 2013 levy to the same level as the 2012 levy, while the Library wanted to increase the levy to compensate for management decisions it didn’t want to make – like not giving raises this year, or starting to charge “user fees” for things like programs and computer usage, each of which would have generated more than enough revenue to keep the Library open on Summer Sundays.

But if the Library wants more money than the City Council wants to give it,
it can bypass the Council entirely by going to referendum and asking the taxpayers directly to vote for increasing its levy.

Maloney for Mayor in 2017!!!!

Clever spin. The City Council did not abide by what the staff recommended in order for them to deliver the services needed for the community.

1% raises for hourly workers who work in an understaffed environment for children, elderly and parent is too much? Inflation was about 2% last year, so they’d still be losing.


The mission of the Park Ridge Public Library is to provide the community with access to information, recreation and enlightenment by promoting materials, programs and services.”


The vision of the Park Ridge Public Library is to be a community resource that dynamically provides fresh formats, materials for personal growth and stimulating programs, accomplished through a friendly and professional staff in an enhanced building with up-to-date and accessible technology.”
–from the website.

We live in Park Ridge, not Gary. If the city council can’t fund the library enough to be open 7 days a week, then it clearly shows they can’t even complete the simplest task of their job. I know you choose to always defend the mayors council, but come on.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No “spin” at all, just the facts – which you don’t appear to like any more than Library staff and a majority of the Library Board, none of whom were elected, unlike the mayor and the aldermen who voted unanimously to hold the Library’s levy at last year’s rate.

Where in the Library’s “Mission” or “Vision” does it say that the City Council is supposed to abide by whatever the Library Staff recommendeds?
Where does it say that programs and computer usage must be free instead of fee-based? Where does it say the City Council is supposed to give the Library any more money than the Library is statutorily entitled to receive, and which it is getting?

The Library Board, on Staff’s recommendation, chose to give 1% raises instead of keeping the Library open on Sundays during the summer. They also chose to close the Library on summer Sundays instead of charging program attendees and computer users a fee for those amenities. And they also chose not to discuss going to referendum to ask the voters directly for more money. Those are all Library Board and Staff decisions, not Council decisions.

We defend what we think is right, irrespective of who proposes or promotes it. It just so happens that we appear to be on the same public policy pages with this mayor and a majority of this Council, just like we were not even in the same public policy book as former tax/borrow/spend mayors and councils who treated OPM like it was Monopoly money.

Should the city council require Lutheran General to build water detention in order to approve its variances?

This is the game that is being played, so why not extend it further?

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’re referring to the recent Council discussions about the Youth Campus Park variances as “the game that is being played,” you’re way off base.

The Council never suggested that the Park District “build water detention” as a trade-off for the variances at YCP: what Alds. Milissis and Smith were seeking, as we understand it, was a firm commitment by the Park District to permit THE CITY to install certain infrastructure at Northwest Park so that it could be used as a stormwater detention area.

Got it?

This City Council decided that the taxpayers of Park Ridge need a break, since they can’t seem to get one from the state or federal governments. I support that decision.

Thanks for the comment Mayor.
And for those interested in providing the library with more money there’s an organization, Friends of the Library, that would be happy to take your money as a conduit to the actual library.

Give til it hurts.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good point. For a $25,000 donation earmarked for keeping the Library open Sundays next summer, this editor/Library Board member would propose a Board resolution proclaiming those Sundays as “[Donor’s name] Sundays” and advertised/promoted as such by the Library.

Or if you prefer, designate the $25,000 for employee salaries, which would free up the cash to keep the Library open summer Sundays. The proclamation would still be part of the deal.

Anon 3:32
Solid snark, but unfortunately if the goal of the city council is tell the citizens and taxpayers to fund something themselves because leadership can’t provide what they are elected to do, it really says a lot about what’s going on.

The $25,000 savings or whatever isn’t tangible or helpful to the taxpayers, so save the pyrrhic victories.

Maybe anon 3:32 should tell the council to legislate until it hurts, instead of doing nothing until we hurt.

Chalk it up to another “little thing” missing that effects the character of Park Ridge.

Can the taxpayers of Park Ridge get the most of OUR resource that is the library?

EDITOR’S NOTE: What the City Council appears to be doing is telling the “leadership” of the Library – both Board and Staff – to manage their facility better and more cost-effectively instead of continuing to deficit spend year after year while expecting City Hall to bail them out.

Did you miss that, or are you just incapable of grasping and accepting it?

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children.

And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not sure whether that deserves an “Amen, brother!” or a “Seriously?”

Why is a Samuel L Jackson riff from “Pulp Fiction” pertinent to this discussion ??

Look within.


They should take the same stand for the PRPD.

Not pay for their projects.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “They” who? “Not pay for [whose] projects”?

Full disclosure should indicate that PubDog is a mayorally appointed member of the Library Board and has been working assiduously forever to cut Library hours, service, amenities, and anything else not funded by taxes as a matter of personal philosophy: Namely, it’s not sewers, fire or police — those we just under-support. It’s only literacy, culture, community, which deserve no public dollars whatsoever. You and the rest of the R’s are making great headway in your “death by inches” approach to all we value. Congrats. I don’t need to say “keep it up” because that’s clearly all you have to do with your personal time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You must mean “full disclosure” every time this blog addresses Library issues, because this editor’s appointment to the Library Board has been disclosed at various times, including posts on 07.21.11 and 10.03.13; and the Editor’s Note to the comment to this post on 12.27.13 @ 3:32 pm.

But for those who need a refresher course, this editor was appointed by Mayor Schmidt in 2011, based on unanimous recommendation of Alds. Knight and Maloney, and then-Alds. DiPietro and Raspanti; and confirmed by a 6-1 vote of the Council (then-Ald. Bernick dissenting) over vigorous and vehement objection by former mayor Howard Frimark.

But if it’s “full disclosure” you want, please be advised that this editor not only argued and voted AGAINST closing the Library on summer Sundays, but also cast the only vote against the 2014-15 budget, primarily for that reason. He also argued FOR keeping employees, programs and services, although he wanted to see them financed through the institution of program and computer usage fees rather than additional taxes – UNLESS the voters specifically approved additional taxes for the Library via referendum.

Finally, this editor dislikes “R”s just as much as “D”s – although he supports the election of “R”s here in Illinois solely to combat the three decades of Ma”D”igan hegemony over our General Assembly that has virtually bankrupted our formerly-great state.

Is that full enough for you?

Yes, indeedy. My apologies.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No problem.

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