D-64 “Parasites” Far More Expensive, And Tolerated, Than Library Variety


One of the many pleasures of the holiday season is the proliferation of holiday movies.

We try not to miss Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life,” the gold standard of Christmas movies and currently No. 20 on the AFI Top 100 list. We can’t help but chuckle when Clarence orders “mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon and light on the cloves” from the Pottersville version of Nick the bartender, and try as we might we can’t keep from getting misty every time those good folks of Bedford Falls come up big to save George and the Bailey Bros. Building & Loan from prison and ruin.

But running a close second in our book is 1942’s “Holiday Inn.”

The combination of Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds and an original Irving Berlin score that debuted the iconic “White Christmas” is tough to beat. And “Holiday Inn” contains more top-shelf Berlin tunes than just “White Christmas,” one of our favorites being Crosby’s Thanksgiving number called “I’ve Got Plenty To Be Thankful For.” 

That’s the way we felt yesterday after reading “District 64 considers changing residency verification policy” (November 25) in this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate, and realizing how the Park Ridge-Niles District 64 School Board – and long-time Board member John Heyde in particular – keeps providing one object lesson after another on how a local governmental body can spend more and more tax dollars running an underachieving school system.

According to the H-A article, D-64 finally got the bright idea that it might be giving away $14,000 of its taxpayers’ hard-earned money on each student who is not actually living in the District and whose parents aren’t paying property taxes, either directly as homeowners or indirectly as renters.

Not surprisingly, however, D-64 didn’t come up with this bright idea on its own.

It had to borrow it from Maine Twp. High School Dist. 207, which decided several years ago that ferretting out all those non-resident students and their…wait for it…parasite parents who were helping themselves to free $17,000/year D-207 educations was well worth the cost of doing so.

According to D-64’s overpaid (at around $220,000/year, not counting every bennie) finance superintendent, Rebecca Allard, students whose parents own an in-district residence (house, townhouse or condo) have their residency checked only once: when those students are initially enrolled. So if a family packs up and moves out of the District, its kindergarten –aged student could remain enrolled in D-64 schools without the parents paying any taxes toward the $14,000 per-student annual cost until the student graduated middle school as much as 8 years later.

Total cost to the District’s taxpayers for such a grades 1-8 scam: a whopping $112,000. Per student.

Because D-64 hasn’t been checking the residency of students from purported Park Ridge homeowners other than at enrollment, we’d bet dollars to donuts that these kinds of scams have been run to the detriment of D-64 taxpayers for years, perhaps costing millions of dollars.

And even though the residency of students of renter families is reportedly checked annually, that still might not provide all that much more fiscal integrity.

That’s because for years there have been rumors of families from Chicago’s northwest side neighborhoods renting one bedroom condos in Bristol Court, Park Ridge Pointe, or smaller multi-family developments for between $12,000-$18,000/year just to establish an in-district address so they can get $28,000 (for 2 students) or $42,000 (for 3 students) of D-64 education – or from $34,000 to $51,000 of D-207 education – rather than sending their kids to Ebinger. Norwood Park, Taft, or paying private school tuition.

With that much money on the line one would think that, once the D-64 Board members understood how much taxpayer money they might be losing, they would get right after implementing a solution to this problem. Like maybe adopting D-207’s policy of checking every student’s residency every year.

But one would be wrong.

The overpaid Allard, while explaining a process like the one used by D-207, immediately disparaged it by pointing out how “labor-intensive” it would be, noting all the overtime that would have to be paid to District employees.

But Allard’s reluctance is nothing compared to that of our elected D-64 Board members who are supposed to be keeping an eye on spendthrift bureaucrats, incompetent teachers, and the overall cost-effectiveness of how our property taxes are being used in the interest of education.

Both Board President Tony Borrelli and member Vicki Lee seem to be looking for some kind of on-line way of avoiding the in-person show-up process that D-207’s Supt. Ken Wallace claims is most effective in catching violators.

But leave it to Heyde to show, once again, how little respect he has for the taxpayers who educated his own kids and who provide all those tax dollars that he has been throwing at underperforming teachers and administrators alike.

Heyde not only echoed the overpaid Allard’s concern about employee overtime, but he went her one better by whining about the inconvenience of a D-207-like process to D-64 parents:

“What District 207 is doing is a pain in the neck for parents. My question would be – do we think we’re going to find enough kids who don’t belong in our schools that it’s worth the burden on the families? Not to mention the cost to the taxpayers in terms of overtime.”

In other words, it’s the convenience of D-64 parents – who already are getting around a 200% return on the D-64 portion of their property taxes for just their first D-64 student, and who are getting an extra 300% return for each additional D-64 student – that is more important to the sensitive Heyde (and to Lee and Borrelli?) than whether the taxpayers are getting ripped off by non-resident parasites who have no qualms about scamming FREE D-64 educations for their kids.

Since the overpaid Allard and the sensitive-spendthrift Heyde can’t seem to figure this out on their own, we’ll offer this suggestion to alleviate any concerns about the cost of employee overtime in this residency-check process:

Instead of paying employees to do these basically clerical residency checks, how about recruiting all those PTO-member volunteers who devote scores of hours to saving $10-20,000 a year on photocopying and clerical costs, or who spend hundreds of hours planning and staging variety shows to raise similar bucks?  Then the cost of the checks would be virtually nothing.

Fortunately, all reports are that the overpaid Allard will be riding off into retirement and her guaranteed six-figure-pension in June 2015.

Unfortunately, we haven’t heard any similar report about whether the sensitive-spendthrift will try for another four years of dis-serving D-64 students and disrespecting D-64 taxpayers. And since another teachers union contract negotiation is coming up in 2016, we can see how Heyde might want to stick around for at least a couple more years to negotiate one last sweetheart contract that meets or exceeds the one he and then-fellow Board negotiator Pat “One-and-Done” Fioretto pushed through 3 years ago.

The only silver lining to this latest tale of D-64 Board buffoonery is that Board member Dathan Paterno appears to have climbed off his anti-Common Core bandwagon long enough to actually make some salient observations about the need for much better residency oversight, to wit: “If we can dissuade others from [stealing D-64 educations]…at a certain point, we won’t need to do this.”

Let’s hope so, although parasites are extremely difficult to dissuade – as the Library species, and the number and ferocity of its defenders, already have demonstrated.

But if this effort is successful, maybe then the D-64 Board can start figuring out how to provide the kind of educational quality and measurable performance that comes a lot closer to matching what D-64 taxpayers are being forced to finance.

To read or post comments, click on title.

City Council Finance Chairman Explains Higher City Tax Levy


We live in a society with two generally distinct sectors–the public and the private.

The private sector is non-monopolistic, with monopolies actually being illegal in most instances. Because there is so much competition in the private sector, decisions are based almost exclusively on economics rather than popularity. Popular decisions that produce bad economic results usually lead to drops in stock prices, the firing of management (albeit with golden, or at least silver, parachutes), and even bankruptcy.

The public sector, on the other hand, is monopolistic.  Government services tend to come from only one source of supply: e.g., only one fire department, one police department, one system of public education. That’s because those are customarily considered “essential services” which usually cannot be efficiently or economically provided by the competitive free market – although the consistent increases in the costs of such public services has created the outsourcing/privatizing movement.

Public sector decisions are always political decisions, with popularity rather than economic soundness tending to be the more important consideration. Witness the City’s “investment” in the Uptown TIF, a politically popular project (at least with our then-elected officials – the taxpayers never got a vote on it) that was economically unsound from the start due to an over-commitment of City funds and debt with no commensurate economic upside in return.

Those costs to the City were soft-peddled and even concealed from public view by the Uptown TIF perpetrators and their successors. For several years the City ran deficits and processed the Uptown TIF costs through the General Fund to paper over those costs. Only recently did the City, under Mayor Dave Schmidt’s administration, start coming clean with the taxpayers, as politically painful as that has proven to be.

Once again this year, Council Finance Chairman Dan Knight has prepared an essay on the new tax levy that has been sent to the local newspapers and was published in last week’s Park Ridge Journal. It is reprinted here with Ald. Knight’s permission.


By now most Park Ridge residents have either read or at least heard about our City Manager’s presentation of a preliminary December 2014 (for payment in 2015) tax levy to the City Council that is some 23% higher than the prior year’s levy. In actual dollars that 23% represents a $4.1 million increase over the prior levy, and your 2015 tax bills should reflect that increase.

There’s no doubt that on the face of it, both in real dollars and as a percentage, this is a stunningly large increase. Bearing in mind that the City’s portion of the total typical tax levy is roughly 12%, a 23% increase in the City’s share equates to about a 2.75% increase in the total tax bill. On a fairly typical $12,000 tax bill this equates to a $330 increase.

A $330 increase is not to be taken lightly, especially by those on fixed incomes. But you deserve an explanation of the rationale behind that increase, and why it is almost unavoidable.

Here it is.

The first factor is the back-end loaded nature of the Uptown TIF debt the City remains obligated to pay, which hits this levy with a vengeance because the total required debt service payments for the TIF bonds and the required payments of the TIF-related intergovernmental agreement obligations (with both local school districts and the park district) far exceed the tax revenue the TIF brings in. Those TIF expenses will require an additional $2.1 million in payments this coming year, as previously-deferred principal payments kick in; and as the prior abatement of those TIF-related taxes has ceased. Just the TIF alone represents 50% of the total increase.

Next, the success of the recent Park Ridge Library tax increase referendum has enabled the Library Director and Board to levy over $1 million more than last year’s approximately $3.7 million, for a total of $4.7 million.  That accounts for another 24% of the total levy increase.

Finally, escalating police and fire pensions have the boards of both pension funds asking for an additional levy of $300,000, which amounts to 8% of the increase.

Just those three elements of the City’s total tax levy consume 83% of the total increase sought.  Worse yet, the City has almost no flexibility to reduce those requests because there is absolutely no flexibility as to the TIF or the library increases; and there is very little flexibility, if any, in the pension fund levy requests due to state pension funding mandates.

Over the past few years City tax levy increases were deliberately held to a far more modest level: in the 2% to 4% per annum range. But the demands imposed on the City as described above give the City Council no reasonable hope of achieving such a small increase this year. That said, the Council will work as usual to be sure the balance of the levy is rationalized and any additional increases sought are modest and absolutely necessary.

The fact that this year’s total Uptown TIF debt of $3.4 million will comprise nearly 16% of the City’s total tax levy teaches us a painful lesson: taxpayers and other stakeholders must pay attention to what their elected officials are doing when they are doing it, not years later after the damage has been irreversibly done. It is in the present, rather than in the distant future, that public officials can best be held accountable for their actions on our behalf.

In the case of the Uptown TIF, irrespective of one’s tastes and opinions about the appearance and functionality of both the residences and the retail components, the financial components that were locked in 10 years ago and still have another 13 years to run have been a disaster – and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future, according to the City’s outside TIF consultants.

Like you, as a resident and a taxpayer I look forward to the day we are out from under the crushing pressures of the TIF. And I hope and trust that, as badly as we taxpayers have been burned collectively by this “gift” from a decade ago, we have learned enough from the experience that we will never let something like it happen again.

The City Council will discuss this new tax levy at each Council meeting leading up to the levy’s adoption at the Council’s December 15th meeting.? I heartily encourage you to attend those meetings and provide your input to those of us – the mayor, your aldermen, the city manager and senior city staff – who owe you a completely transparent process and accountability insofar as how we address this challenging situation.

Dan Knight

5th Ward Alderman, Park Ridge


Had we had this type of transparency, candor and accountability from the City administration(s) back in 2002-06 when the Uptown TIF was cooked up and jammed down the taxpayers’ throats without a referendum, the current Council might not be stuck grappling with such long-term intractable problems, or having to propose unpopular tax increases.

But we didn’t.

To read and post comments, click on title.

Youth Campus Park Battling Cost Overruns Before Permits Pulled


How does a $13.2 million parks project grow a $1.6 – $2 million cost overrun before the project has even gone out to bid?

Just ask the Park Ridge Park District.  Or not, given that it has become rather closed-mouth about this topic.

As reported by the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate in a November 12 article (“Higher costs predicted for Park Ridge Youth Campus”), a $1.6 -$2 million overrun is what PRPD Building and Grounds Supt. Terry Wolf is currently projecting.  According to Wolf, the Park District is “trying to clarify that [number] and identify where and why we have these overages.”

It’s as if they popped up overnight, like mushrooms in an autumn wood.

But you can’t think about this stuff the way you would financial problems in your private life, a/k/a the “real” world.  The bureaucrat world of 15% (or worse) cost overruns is nothing like the one the rest of us live in, where financial decisions have real consequences that can’t be pawned off on friends and neighbors the way bureaucrats can pawn them off on unsuspecting and relatively helpless taxpayers

Think about it this way.  You hire a contractor who tells you he can design and build that addition to your home for $100,000.  So you go to your bank and max out your equity line of credit to borrow that $100,000.  You sign all the paperwork needed to indenture yourself to the bank.  And then your contractor tells you, oops, your project is already 15% over budget…and he hasn’t even pulled the permits.

This cost-overrun disclosure makes us wonder exactly who was doing the budgeting over at Park District HQ back when this Youth Campus Park project was being put together and gussied up for sale to the community in a binding referendum in April 2013.

Can Park Board president Mel Thillens – the tax/borrow/spender who championed the no-referendum $8 million Centennial water park effort in 2012-13 and then followed that up by leading the Youth Campus Park referendum campaign before allegedly becoming a born-again fiscal conservative while running his losing race for state representative – explain how the Park District can be as much as $2 million, or 15%+, over budget yet not know exactly why?

Are we looking at a cynical case of bait-and-switch designed to bamboozle the voters?  Or is it just some irresponsible and/or incompetent WAG budgeting ?

Board president Thillens?  Thillens?  Anybody?  Bueller?

Either way, Park District management – Board and Staff – should have some big-time explaining to do.  But as we’ve seen with the water park boondoggle and the Senior Center/Kenmitz Estate fiasco, what passes for “management” at the Park District is shameless enough that providing explanations to the unwashed masses of District taxpayers is optional, at best.  After all, the votes on the Youth Campus Park already have been counted, so who cares!

Meanwhile, the Park District reportedly is the recipient of a $750,000 state grant for this Youth Campus Park project, and expects to receive an additional $500,000 from the sale of naming rights for a multi-purpose building on the site.

The naming rights deal was announced by Exec. Director Mountcastle at the November 6 Park Board meeting.  In response to Commissioner Rick Biagi’s question of whether that $500,000 in new money would result in an equivalent amount being shaved of the referendum-authorized bonding, or be rebated to the taxpayers, Mountcastle –predictably for a consummate bureaucrat –responded: “That would not be my recommendation.”

In other words, a million here and a million there is no big deal to the Mountcastle’s of the world, so long as those millions go toward building a better bureaucratic resume and not be wasted by giving them back to the taxpayers.

At the end of the day, the taxpayers have no more of an idea of where those $1.6 to $2 million in cost overruns are coming from than they did of where the original $13.2 million cost for the Youth Campus Park project came from for referendum purposes.

And the best way to cope with that is not to think of any of it as “your” money.

Because Mountcastle and most of the Park Board don’t think of it that way.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Private Citizens Now Bearing Brunt Of Defective Zoning Code


John O’Flaherty apparently doesn’t care about winning friends and influencing people here in Park Ridge.

It’s one thing for the real estate developer disgruntled with the way the City is responding to his development plans to sue the City and/or City officials for not giving him his way. But when he sues ordinary citizens simply for expressing their opinions at an open public meeting, O’Flaherty might just as well have told Dale Carnegie to go pound sand…and the horse he rode in on.

O’Flaherty responded to the Park Ridge Planning & Zoning Commission’s denial of his application to build a 22-unit residential building on top of a parking garage and 1,500 square foot commercial space at 400 W. Talcott – the last feature apparently being the bare minimum commercial space he needed in order to camouflage his residential building as a “commercial” structure for purposes of the property’s “B” (for “Business”) zoning classification – by filing a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County: 400 W Talcott LLC v. Argionis, et al., Case No. 2014-CH-17457

We can understand O’Flaherty suing the City, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and the individual P&Z commissioners. We can even understand his suing Ald. Joe Sweeney, the Council’s liaison to the P&Z Commission, and Jon Branham, the City’s Senior Planner in charge of evaluating the Zoning Code compliance of projects such as this. They are City officials so they at least technically fall within O’Flaherty’s field of fire.

But naming twenty-two private citizens – Al Beltuzzi, Larry Devereux, Krystyna Doerhty, Linda Foss, Joe Fresel, Patricia Gagliardi, Tom Harris, John Hildefra, Missy Langan, Dan Lawlor, Pat Livensparger, M. Christina, Tom Maheras, Carol McComb, Steven Nadler, Ron Pollina, Karen Sloma, Ray Wachnick, Jerzy Wachnick, Paul Wright and former ald. Frank Wsol – just for speaking out against the size and density of the projects is nothing but unvarnished political hardball.

It also may be a violation of the Illinois Citizen Participation Act, 735 ILCS 110/1 et. seq., commonly known as the Illinois Anti-SLAPP (“Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”) statute, which is designed to prevent folks like O’Flaherty from filing lawsuits not so much to actually win them but, instead, to “chill” citizens’ exercise of their free speech and protest rights, and to discourage future opposition to their projects by causing the sued citizens to incur the time, expense and distraction of being a defendant in a lawsuit.

Interestingly enough, the lead attorney for O’Flaherty, Ronald Cope, is himself an elected official in Lincolnwood. And, even more interestingly, within days of filing the suit naming all these individuals, Cope reportedly offered to drop them from the suit if they would sign waivers agreeing not to seek attorneys’ fees or damages from O’Flaherty and his attorneys.

In other words, Cope – on behalf of O’Flaherty – intentionally scared the beejeezus out of many/most of those private citizens, then offered an olive branch in the hope of extricating himself and his client out from potential Anti-SLAPP liability, which includes an award of the wronged individuals’ attorneys’ fees.

A few of us folks here at PublicWatchdog are trial attorneys who make decent livings from waging courtroom battles, but we’d be the last folks to encourage anybody to litigate – including our fellow residents, especially a developer who has far more to gain from unleashing a pack of high-priced attorneys on ordinary Park Ridge citizens.

But from what we know of this situation, it appears Team O’Flaherty’s lawsuit is the exact kind of action the Anti-SLAPP law is intended to discourage and punish. And his attorney’s attempt to let bygones be bygones by tendering waivers to the folks they just sued seems like a pretty transparent acknowledgment that O’Flaherty and Cope may have overplayed their hand.

Whether any of the 22 private residents choose to hold O’Flaherty’s feet to the fire and try to Anti-SLAPP him remains to be seen. Given the expense, the potential exposure to liability, and the distraction presented by this lawsuit, we can understand if all 22 choose discretion over valor, take the waiver deal, and leave with a whimper instead of a bang.

But as we argued pre-SLAPP suit (in our 10.02.14 post), the real lesson from this situation is just how inadequate and/or screwed up our Zoning Code is – and how it encourages uncertainty, acrimony and expense for the City.

Now 22 ordinary citizens have discovered that, up close and personally.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Veterans Day 2014: The “Sacred Trust” We Owe Our Veterans


Today is Veterans Day – the one day each year set aside to honor all men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, whether in wartime or peacetime. It is intended to recognize the sacrifices and contributions to our national security of those living veterans, and to thank them for their service.

It’s not the same as Memorial Day. That’s the day we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country.

The two days are not interchangeable, nor should they be.

While we owe our dead veterans, especially those who died protecting our freedoms, an undying duty of remembrance, respect and gratitude, we owe our living veterans more tangible benefits: the care and opportunities they have earned through their service.

For those of us who still justifiably believe in The American Dream, nobody deserves it more than those veterans who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way to keep our nation and their fellow Americans safe and secure – many of whom have paid a high price for doing so.

Every veteran who has been injured in body, mind or spirit as a result of military service deserves the best medical care this nation can provide – including the ongoing care and support needed to address the special challenges of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. In that regard, we hope the overhaul of the Veterans Administration announced yesterday is not just a political stunt but an overdue and much needed step in the right direction.

As Americans, we should all join in President Obama’s acknowledgment of the “sacred trust” we owe our veterans:

“If you put on a uniform and risk your life to keep us safe, we’ll do our part for you. We’ll make sure you and your family get the support you need. We’ll have your backs, just like you had ours.”

Exactly, Mr. President.

And thank you, veterans!

To read or post comments, click on title.

Fewer Library “Parasites” Mean More Revenue And/Or Less Expense


Not all that many years ago “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was an aphorism parents taught their children from an early age. It was so common you often heard kids on playgrounds chanting it in an almost-taunting, sing-song fashion.

In today’s full-employment-for-psychologists,-sociologists-and-lawyers society, however, “sensitivity” is a virtue and “victimhood” has gained almost sacred status. And a an expanding contingent of the shameless not only seek to reap what they have not sown, but when called out for their avarice they feign sensitivity and claim victimhood. Or their sympathizers and apologists claim it for them.

So it came as no surprise that a recent article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Park Ridge library fees mean lower use, fewer ‘parasites’,” November 4) would seize on how the editor of this blog – in his role of Park Ridge Library trustee – used the word “parasites” to describe a certain group of non-resident Library ex-patrons at last month’s Library Board meeting.  Especially since the H-A reporter who wrote the story is no “fan” (to put it mildly) of this editor or his philosophy of local government.

She also wasn’t in attendance at that meeting.  So it must have been her muse that inspired her to listen to the tape recording of the meeting, because she seems to have gotten the quotes right…or close enough for government work.

To be clear, the “parasites” label was not conferred on all non-resident Library users – just those who had been coming to our Library for the past few years for free use of our computers and programs but recently stopped doing so because (according to our Library’s director) the Library started charging non-residents for those privileges. Although this editor voted to approve those fees, they were actually proposed by Library staff in response to Library Board requests for ideas on how to raise needed revenue.

One of the definitions of “parasite” in Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary is: “a person or thing that takes something from someone or something else and does not do anything to earn it or deserve it.” That pretty much describes those non-resident Library patrons who profited from their lower-than-Park Ridge property taxes because they could get free library computer time and programs – compliments of our taxpayers – while their own communities saved money by offering less amenities and not even keeping their libraries open as many hours as ours.

But judging by the hue and cry from a couple of Library employees and a few suspected parasites (posted as comments to the H-A article, many of which this editor sportingly responded to), one might think labeling parasites as…well…“parasites” was some heinous crime; or, at the very least, an outrageous social faux pas.

Admittedly, “parasites” in this context is probably as provocative as it is descriptive, with a decidedly negative connotation. Nobody who regularly uses somebody else’s resources without paying fair value for them – no matter how shameless they have to be to do so – likes to be compared, even indirectly, to a leech or a tapeworm.

But as the Library’s director seemingly lamented the departure of those shameless non-resident patrons, “parasites” was actually the nicest term that went through this editor’s head: none of the other ones, including the several adjectives that might have preceded them, can be printed here.

That’s because Park Ridge Library trustees like this editor owe a fiduciary duty to our residents and taxpayers – and ONLY to our residents and taxpayers – who foot the bill for the Library’s maintenance and operation through payment of their property taxes. Many of them struggle mightily just to pay those taxes. When it comes to spending those tax dollars, therefore, every penny had better benefit OUR residents and taxpayers first and foremost.

That sense of duty became even more honor-bound when, just this past Tuesday, those taxpayers conscientiously and graciously voted to tax themselves even more to keep our Library open, operating and improving.

So if Chicago residents, for example, want free library computers and free programs, they should demand them from Rahm Emanuel and his alderpuppets, many of whom were co-conspirators with Rahm’s predecessor in the decades of stupidity, irresponsibility, mismanagement, graft and/or corruption that have virtually bankrupted that city. And they should be willing to have THEIR property taxes raised to pay for them.

Meanwhile, the doors of our Library remain open to Chicagoans and other suburbanites who are content to enjoy our Library’s ambience and its printed materials, or who are willing to pay the modest non-resident fee of $3 per hour for computer time – more than a sawbuck less than what Kinko’s charges just 5 minutes down the road.

The “parasites,” on the other hand, can do our taxpayers a favor by staying away.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Vote Today To Stop The Insanity…And The Blisters (Updated)


Readers of this blog know that one of our go-to quotes about government incompetence and stupidity is Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

For all but 2 (1995-97) of the past 31 years the voters of Illinois have given control of the Illinois House of Representatives to a collection of mopes, opportunists, carpetbaggers and scalawags that can get away with calling themselves a “political party” only in a state as politically, financially and ethically bankrupt as Illinois: the Illinois Democratic Party.

And for 29 of those 31 years, that Democratic majority of the House has ceded absolute power and authority over the House to the “human” embodiment of everything that’s wrong with this state, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Our state has suffered horribly for it, becoming a national joke for its chronically unpaid bills, its unfunded pensions, its banana republic credit rating, and so much institutionalized corruption that its two most recent former governors were in federal prison at the same time!

Yet Illinois voters have done their best since 1983 to prove the truth of Winston Churchill’s observation that “the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

As we made clear in our 10.20.14 post, you 55th House District voters have an unacceptable choice between incumbent Marty Moylan (D. Madigan) and challenger Mel Thlliens (R. Buffoon). A vote for Moylan, however, is a vote for another two years of Madigan’s disastrous control of the State House, while a vote for Thillens is not.

Neither Moylan nor Thillens deserves your vote, but Thillens deserves it far more than Madigan does.

You 20th District voters on the east side of Park Ridge have a better choice, because the incumbent is Michael P. McAuliffe, a go-along-to-get-along mope who basically inherited the seat when his father, Roger McAuliffe, died in 1996. But at least he’s a Republican and unlikely to vote for Madigan as Speaker. Democrat Mo Khan, on the other hand, will be an automatic Madigan vote if needed.

Abraham Lincoln said that while elections belong to the people, “[i]f they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

If you vote for Moylan or Khan you are voting for two more years of irresponsible and corrupt Madigan rule.

Unfortunately, we’ll all be stuck sitting on those blisters.

UPDATE (11.05.14) 

In case you haven’t heard, Rep. Marty Moylan-Madigan defeated challenger Mel Thillens by a vote of 14,219 (52.2%) to 13,020 (47.8%). Moylan-Madigan’s win/Thillens’ loss, along with several other Republican losses in contested House contests, means that Speaker Madigan will remain Speaker Madigan for another two years, virtually ensuring that Illinois’ 30-year decline will continue despite the election of Bruce Rauner as governor.

But more importantly, and far more worse for Illinois citizens who actually care about their state’s continuing decline for the personal and political enrichment of Madigan and his ilk, Moylan-Madigan’s win/Thillens’ loss – standing alone – was enough to enable Speaker Madigan to retain his veto-proof majority in the House.

So for any of you who voted for Rauner and Moylan-Madigan, your schizophrenia helped ensure that the Speaker will remain the single most powerful elected official in the State of Illinois for at least another two years.

In that regard, we have to give a big shout-out to that gang of entrenched RINO (Republican In Name Only) opportunists that hold all the Maine Twp. elected offices: Carol Teschky, Bob Provenzano, Gary Warner, Walter Kazmierczak, Laura Morask (and relative newcomer trustees Peter Gialamas and Kimberly Jones). According to an article in last week’s edition of their unofficial newsletter, the Journal (“Off The Record: Township GOP Slate Won’t Endorse Thillens,” October 31) they refused to endorse fellow Republican Thillens over Democrat Moylan-Madigan.

According to Bobby Pro, the Maine Twp. RINOs’ main man notwithstanding Teschky’s “Supervisor” title:

“I’m neutral in this race.  There’s no way I can take sides,” said Provenzano last week. “Marty’s (Moylan) still one of my best friends. Thillens understands that.”

In other words, folks, the Maine Twp. branch of the “Illinois Combine” that Tribune columnist John Kass identified and named years ago – that cozy you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours partnership between Illinois’ RINOs and the Dems that have run Illinois into the ground for the last 30 years – is clearly alive and well, despite Char Foss-Eggemann’s thrashing of Teschky in last March’s hotly-contested Maine Twp. Republican committeeman’s race.

So for as long as the Maine Twp. Combine is in control of Maine Twp. government, it would appear that – to paraphrase the late and terminally-corrupt Dem Chicago alderman, Paddy Bauler – “Maine Twp. ain’t ready for reform.” Or at least not when there are Dem backs to be scratched.

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