Local Elections Should Give Taxpayers Pause: Eggemann And Borrelli For D-64 Board


Yesterday we talked about showing the door to the incumbent Maine Twp. High School District 207 Board members because they have demonstrated they can’t, or won’t, do the job the students and taxpayers deserve. Today we shift gears to the contested race for three 4-year seats on Park Ridge-Niles School District 64.

Actually, those seats aren’t all that “contested” because there are only four candidates vying for the three seats. So the only suspense is finding out who is going to be the odd man out among incumbent Tony Borrelli and challengers Greg Bublitz, Mark Eggemann and Tom Sotos.

If the Park Ridge Education Association (the “PREA”) – the teachers union – has its way, that odd man will be Eggemann, which would be reason enough to endorse him.

That because the PREA exists solely to put more money and better benefits in the pockets of its members, while avoiding as much accountability as it can get away with. And the PREA has gotten away with that for years while student performance has stagnated or even declined compared to higher-scoring districts in Glenview, Northbrook and those other suburban communities with which Park Ridge competes for new residents.

Worse yet, D-64’s under-performance may be contributing to the marked decline in the performance and ranking of Maine South, which dropped a dozen slots in its student performance rankings in just three years!

Eggemann is the husband of Maine Twp. Republican Committeewoman (and Park Ridge Library Board member) Char Foss-Eggemann. He also served as the late Mayor Dave Schmidt’s 2013 campaign manager. Both of those facts rub certain people – the Kool-Aid drinkers who prefer go-along-to-get-along government – the wrong way.

He’s also the PREA’s worst nightmare: somebody who thinks for himself and isn’t easily intimidated.

Eggemann sounds uncompromising in his demand for higher measurable student achievement, and unabashedly dismissive of the District’s nonsensical “teaching the whole child” instead of “teaching to the [standardized] tests” alibi for its low rankings. Even more notably, he is the only candidate demanding complete transparency from the District and the Board – including dragging the teacher contract negotiations out of the closet and into the sunlight, where the taxpayers and the media alike can see and hear not only the PREA’s demands but also the District’s responses.

Not surprisingly, two of Eggemann’s opponents are PREA sock puppets.

Bublitz is a former teacher and current School District 63 administrator. And for good measure, his wife is a D-64 teacher and PREA member, which would appear to create both a conflict of interest and an appearance of impropriety in dealing with any systemic teacher issues. Bublitz is so much the PREA’s boy that its president, Andy Duerkop, didn’t hesitate to admit that the PREA recruited Bublitz to replace departing two-term PREA cabana boy/beyatch John Heyde, who engineered the current sweetheart contract for the PREA back in 2012.

According to Duerkop, Sotos also sought PREA support. So when a successful challenge got Bublitz’s running mate, Kristin Gruss, tossed off the ballot, the PREA adopted Sotos as its unofficial Plan B. Which is why you’ll see his and Bublitz’s signs paired up in front yards all over town, except where some sly devils have placed Bublitz’s sign on one lot line and Sotos’ sign on the opposite lot line to make it look like they’re on different properties altogether.


While we are tempted to suggest that voters tired of the D-64 same old same old might want to consider giving Eggemann the “bullet” – i.e., voting only for him rather than diluting that vote with votes for his competition – we believe Tony Borrelli deserves another shot at proving he can be the kind of thoughtful and courageous people’s representative we endorsed back in April 2011.

On one hand, Borrelli has delivered for the taxpayers on a number of occasions during his first term – like with his “no” vote on the current teacher contract, his “yes” vote for residency checks, his “yes” vote for videotaping Board meetings. But seemingly just as frequently, he has stiffed those same taxpayers with his “yes” votes on “free” Chromebooks, on a sweetheart contract for newly-minted Supt. Heinz, and an even more ridiculous contract extension for business manager Becky Allard.

And most importantly of all, the educational performance of D-64 students seems dead in the water.

Assuming Dathan Paterno pulls his head out of his anti-Common Core whatsit and actually starts representing all those taxpayers who aren’t afflicted with obsessive/compulsive right-wing ideological pathology but who, instead, just want the educational quality they’re paying so dearly for, a Borrelli/Paterno/Eggemann alliance might be able to inspire some independent thought and civic-mindedness from a cipher like Bob Johnson.

And without a Heyde on the Board for the first time in a dozen years, maybe even a blind squirrel like Vicki Lee might find an occasional acorn.

But the first step is electing Eggemann and re-electing Borrelli.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Local Elections Should Give Taxpayers Pause: D-207


Early voting for our April 7 local election started last Monday (March 23) and continues through this Saturday, April 4. Although we always encourage voter turnout, we oppose early voting for a number of reasons, several of which we noted in our post of October 20, 2014.

Irrespective of when voters vote, however, make no mistake about it: voting matters.

As we’ve seen over the past decade, electing pleasant but inept go-along-to-get along folks to our school boards can bring our community years of overpriced-but-underperforming educational services that not only do a disservice to the children of our community but also rob our taxpayers of money that could and should be better spent.  The higher our property taxes increase and the lower our school rankings fall, the more likely it is that comparative home shoppers will look more favorably on places like Glenview and Northbrook.

Being eternal optimists, however, we always hope for elections that present the voters with meaningful choices. Occasionally the choice is between a good candidate and a better one, but all too often it seems like the choice ends up between a mediocre candidate and a bad one; or between a bad and a worse one.

And sometimes, especially where incumbents are involved, their record of poor performance dictates a “throw the bums out” vote, almost irrespective of who their opponents might be.

Which explains today’s “endorsement” for throwing out the incumbents at Maine Twp. School District 207 who are running as a ticket/slate: Sean O’Brien Sullivan, seeking his third four-year term; Paula Meyer Besler, who was appointed to the board last April and is seeking a full four-year term; and Pablo Morales, who was appointed to the board last August and also is seeking a full four-year term.

Admittedly, Besler and Morales are incumbents lite, their appointments appearing to have been engineered and effected in closed session meetings to avoid the scrutiny of the media and the taxpayers who provide the overwhelming majority of D-207’s approximately $150 million annual budget.  We wrote about that perverted process in our August 29, 2014 post. Such a lack of transparency raises all sorts of questions about the honesty and integrity of both that board and its process for appointing replacement board members.

But the key reason why we encourage the voters to show these incumbents the door is because they clearly don’t “get” what it means to hold the public trust for that many students and that much taxpayer money – or to “get” what the students and the taxpayers deserve for their $150 million a year.

Back in our October 30, 2009 post. we reported that D-207’s flagship school, Maine South, ranked 12th on the Chicago Tribune’s “Top 50” high schools list (based purely on test scores), while the Chicago Sun-Times ranked it 13th on its “Top 100” list (based on test scores and other factors). Just three years later, however, Maine South had slid to 24th place according to the 2012 Chicago Sun-Times analysis, and 29th-place in U.S. News & World’s 2012 rankings of Illinois public high schools.  Worse yet, neither Maine East or Maine West was within a $50 cab ride of Maine South in any of these rankings.

But you wouldn’t guess that from hearing Sullivan, Besler or Morales talk about D-207.

According to a Daily Herald article dated February 19, 2015, Sullivan claims that D-207 “is doing an excellent job” – so excellent, in fact, that he “would make no ‘changes’ at this time.” Running mate Besler claims to be “extremely satisfied” with how D-207 is preparing its students for college and/or the start of their careers, and she too does not “believe any changes are needed at this time.” Only Morales gives a less-than-stellar endorsement of D-207’s educational achievement, saying that it merely does “a good job preparing students for the next phase of their lives.”

What’s that old line about denial being not just a river in Egypt?

If you need any other reasons to just say “no” to Sullivan, Besler and Morales, try Sullivan’s 2011 endorsement by the Maine Teachers Association, D-207’s teachers union – a dubious achievement he is likely to repeat again this year, either expressly or tacitly. Or check out Besler’s website, where the “Issues” tab gets you what appear to be a bunch of canned platitudes from D-207 rather than Besler’s views…assuming she has any beyond the District’s own pablum.

As for Morales, his response to a Daily Herald question about his views of teacher contracts – without acknowledging that D-207 teachers and administrators are among the highest paid in the state – speaks volumes: “Therefore, one of my core beliefs is that teachers should work in an environment where they feel respected, valued, have the tools to do their job well and are fairly compensated.”

For those not conversant in politician speak, that translates to: “Whatever the teachers want.”

When it comes to demanding a full dollar’s worth of educational value from every taxpayer dollar expended, these three incumbents have demonstrated little more than the ability to rearrange deck chairs and play “Nearer My God To Thee” on the kazoo.  Re-electing them would effectively condemn D-207 to the continued decline of its academic standing – which these incumbents and their four fellow board co-conspirators would likely address with even more spending, even higher taxes, and even less accountability.

Unfortuntately, while we would love to provide glowing endorsements for each of the three challengers to these incumbents – Theresa Collins, Jill Dolan and Chimanlal Patel – we cannot.  They are just alternatives.

In that same February 19 Daily Herald article, Collins says that “[w]e should be able to increase our rankings…on an overall basis” without suggesting even one way of doing so. Dolan professes to be “proud that our District offers many programs academically and in the arts.” And Patel, while claiming he believes “in constant improvement,” seems fixated on “special needs…cultural integration and language education” without any recognition of the related costs.

Nevertheless, the three incumbents have already shown themselves to be hell-bent on continuing to drive the D-207 train the wrong way down the track, with no intention of letting up on the throttle.  So all we can do is urge voters to switch engineers ASAP and hope for something better.

Because “better” won’t be coming from these incumbents.

To read or post comments, click on title.

D64 Candidate Forum: No Hard Questions, No Hard Answers


Guest Post by Steve Schildwachter

This past Monday (March 16) evening I went to the District 64 school board candidate forum sponsored by the PREA teachers’ union, the Parent Teacher Organization and the Elementary Learning Foundation.  (I had to look up the latter organization, which appears to be a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that awards “grants to teachers and staff who are committed to excellence in education” and is governed by a group of parents.)

The candidate line-up was different than I expected.  Tony Borrelli, an incumbent, was there, along with newbies Greg Bublitz and Tom Sotos, but Mark Eggemann was at work and sent a statement that was read by the moderator. Bob Johnson was there even though he is running unopposed to fill out the term to which he was appointed when a former board member resigned his seat last summer.

This post won’t attempt to be a strict account of the evening, just my impressions based on the public and private remarks of the candidates.  The newspaper article previewing the event promised that “members of the community will be invited to ask questions,” which turned out to be wrong. But I was able to squeeze in some informal questions when people were milling around afterwards.

My biggest impression:  None of the candidates made one.  It would have been hard for any voter to walk out of the forum ready to support any of the candidates – because none of them expressed any clear, specific points of view.

For example, a common refrain during the event was “for the children.” As in: “We’ll do what’s right for the children,” and other variations on that theme.  Look, it’s clear to me that everyone involved has the best of intentions and wants District 64 schools to be the best they possibly can.  No one needs to prove that.  But this phrase doesn’t translate into any firm point of view.

So, please, Messrs. Borrelli, Bublitz, Eggemann, Johnson and Sotos:  Can we please retire this rhetorical crutch?

The second most-used phrase of the evening was “do more with less,” a reference to the supposed tightness of D64 budgets which actually increase every year.  To that point, the candidates who said they’d “do more with less” never said how they’d achieve this.  There were some questions from the moderator about how candidates would manage spending and whether or not they’d raise taxes, but nobody committed to any positions beyond saying that if a ceiling was falling apart, “we should fix it.”

With the exception of Tony Borrelli, who’s been on the board for four years, there seemed to be a lack of knowledge of how the budget actually works.  For example, Sotos — who told me he’s reading “a big stack” of research — hadn’t even heard of the “step and lane” system by which teachers get annual pay increases according to their years of service (steps) and level of education (lanes).  Stated another way:  The 2% annual pay increase given to the teachers in 2012 is over and above these “lane and step” increases, meaning that they effectively get an average increase of +3.6% per year.

Although Tony can definitely claim he was only one of two “no” votes against the +2% pay increase of 2012, I was left wondering how serious he would be about controlling costs in his second term.  In December — just three months ago — Borrelli, Johnson and four others voted for a +4.6% budget increase, above the legal limit, because “we have to ask for more so Cook County will approve the maximum allowable.” The maximum allowable?  This does not sound like cost control to me.

In public comments Monday night Borrelli said the school board should let administrators do their job and only provide “oversight to ensure policies and procedures are being followed,” which didn’t suggest a willingness to hold administrators accountable.  I was waiting to hear a candidate say they would instruct the superintendent to prepare multiple budget options, e.g., one that cuts spending by 2%, one that keeps spending flat, and one that takes the fully-allowed-by-law increase (which is what they vote for every year).

To be sure, managing a big budget like this one is a tough task, and elected representatives aren’t paid to do it.  But these candidates were there willingly and perhaps should at least ask the hard questions.

Can we cut administrative positions?  Freeze administrators’ salaries?  Which of our expenses is rising faster than the CPI and which are rising more slowly?  If we cut the budget by 2% and didn’t cut teachers’ salaries, what would we cut? Maybe these questions are being discussed; but if so, no such discussions occurred Monday night.

The only outright gaffe of the evening was Bob Johnson’s statement that “the community doesn’t want a teachers’ strike,” accompanied by a colorful listing of all the negative consequences; e.g., Park Ridge on the 10 p.m. news (but, curiously, no concern for children not being able to attend class).  I’d venture to say that it’s true, the community would rather not have a strike.

But Bob was answering a question about how to handle the upcoming teachers’ contract negotiations. PREA teachers’ union president Andy Duerkop was sitting right in the front row and now knows at least one board member will be a pushover at the bargaining table.

On the same topic, I asked Greg Bublitz if he would recuse himself from teacher contract negotiations, but he didn’t really answer yes or no.  Would his experience as a District 63 teacher and administrator help inform the discussions, or make him sympathize with the union, or both?  What about the fact that his wife is a District 64 teacher?  My point was that he owed voters an answer before Election Day, not after.

All of this comes back to the budget.

When I moved to Park Ridge ten years ago my property tax bill was $9,880, and by last year it had doubled to $19,549.  I’ve since negotiated down my assessment, so my tax bill is “only” $16,836. But what that really means is only that I succeeded in shifting part of my tax burden to my neighbors.  Nevertheless, District 64’s portion of my tax bill has jumped from 37.3% ten years ago to 42.5% this year, which shows how fast the budget has increased.

When I explained this to one of the candidates, he retorted that I should be complaining about the City of Park Ridge’s planned +22% increase.  This really made me mad because, when I ask the Park Board for some fiscal responsibility, they blame the school districts. Yet now here’s the school district blaming the City.  Which is rich because a big chunk of the city’s increase stems from the Uptown TIF — and money it must pay to Districts 64 and 207 under the City’s TIF agreements with those districts.

We should be able to demand fiscal responsibility from all our local taxing bodies, all the more so because they are composed of our friends and neighbors — people we live and work with.  Which leads to my last point.

It seemed to me that none of the candidates were willing to stand up for a position on anything because they were too afraid to offend, alternately, the teachers, the administrators, or their neighbors.  It’s as if they must keep saying “for the children” as much as “do more with less” so they can’t be accused of being anti-child, anti-teacher or anti-tax increase.

I’m all for comity and friendship.  In fact, I genuinely enjoyed meeting Andy Duerkop, and we have some important, personal things in common.

But the candidates weren’t supposed to be there to make friends. They were there asking to be elected to a local body that decides how much money will be demanded from you, me and every single one of our neighbors. The least they could have done was tell us what they would do if elected.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Monday’s Daily-Double: The City And D-64 (Updated)


Two important events will occur this evening that merit your attention.

Election of Acting Mayor: Early on in the Park Ridge City Council’s agenda for tonight is the scheduled election of the Acting Mayor pursuant to Section 5 of the Illinois Municipal Code. Because Mayor Dave Schmidt died with less than 28 months left in his term, state law provides that the Council shall elect the Acting Mayor from among its members.

Because state law does not provide for a “temporary mayor” who would serve until the successors to current Alds. Joe Sweeney (1st) and Jim Smith (3rd), the City Attorney has recommended that the Acting Mayor be chosen as soon as possible. Hence, tonight’s election.

We would hope that whomever is chosen will make a public commitment to continue on the trail Mayor Dave blazed over these past six years. This Council, and the one that will follow it come May, owe a debt of honor to his legacy of honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability in City government through what would have been the final two years of his second term, at the very least.

But just because state law doesn’t provide for a temporary mayor to serve for the six-plus weeks until the two new aldermen will be seated, doesn’t mean some ill-informed folks won’t call for the Council to wait anyway. As if brand new out-of-the-box aldermen could possibly have anything close to the sense of the current Council’s group dynamic – and what it’s like to work with each of these individual aldermen – that Sweeney and Smith have developed over 4 years of Council service.

So if candidates Cline, Moran, Van Roeyen and Wilkening want to demonstrate a little statesmanship, they should all show up at City Hall tonight and unanimously tell the Council, and their fellow citizens, that they don’t want the Acting Mayor vote postponed – because the aldermen most qualified to vote on the Acting Mayor are already sitting around The Horseshoe.

We’re not going to hold our breath waiting for that to happen, but we would be delighted if it did.

D-64 Candidate Forum: A candidate forum for Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 will be held tonight from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the Roosevelt School auditorium, 1001 S. Fairview.

The forum purportedly is being “sponsored” by the various D-64 Parent-Teacher organizations, the Elementary Learning Foundation, and the Park Ridge Education Association a/k/a the teachers union (“PREA”). But make no mistake about it: this is the PREA’s rodeo, as even the title of last week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate story suggested (“District 64 teachers, school groups host candidate forum,” March 10).

That story quotes PREA president Andy Duerkop as admitting (a) that the union recruited candidate Greg Bublitz, a former special-education teacher and current East Maine School District 63 administrator; and (b) that candidate Athan “Tom” Sotos sought support from the PREA. In other words, one started out in the PREA’s pocket, and the other happily climbed in with him.

Which would explain their campaign signs paired around town. And why the PREA wants to put as many PREA-beholden sock puppets on the new Board as it can, seeing as how that Board will be negotiating – with the PREA, naturally – the new teachers’ contract next year.

They’ve already got Scott “Mini-Heyde” Zimmerman in their pocket, and we can’t imagine the malleable Vicki Lee standing up to the PREA. Appointee Bob Johnson has done nothing in his 7 months on the Board to dispel the concerns we expressed about the process by which he was selected. Worse yet, the performance of two candidates whom we previously endorsed – Board president Tony Borrelli and Dathan Paterno – has been underwhelming, to say the least.

We wouldn’t be surprised if the PREA turns out a hefty number of teachers and friendly parents in support of their sock puppets. And to hiss their Public Enemy No. 1: candidate Mark Eggemann, who is decidedly not a sock puppet and who is the only D-64 non-incumbent (according to the H-A’s March 12, 2015 candidate profiles) who is demanding improved student achievement and more accountability to the taxpayers.

If you’re feeling a little civic-minded tonight, you could go to City Hall at 7:00 to see the Acting Mayor selected and still have time to catch most of the D-64 candidates forum at Roosevelt. But if you can only go to one, then the place to be is the Roosevelt auditorium.

Because that’s where you’ll find the sock puppets on parade.

UPDATE (03.16.15).  Moments ago, Ald. Marty Maloney (7th) was elected Acting Mayor by a 6-1 vote of the City Council: Alds. Milissis, Shubert, Knight, Mazzuca and Maloney – yes; Ald. Sweeney – no; Ald. Smith – abstain, which counts with the majority.  Maloney pledged to extend the legacy of the late Mayor Dave Schmidt.

Maloney said he would remain an alderman rather than give up his aldermanic seat in return for being able to exercise mayoral veto power.  Sweeney claimed Maloney’s refusal to relinquish his seat was the reason for his “no” vote, but Sweeney promptly congratulated Maloney after the vote.

Godspeed, Acting Mayor Maloney.

To read or post comments, click on title.

There Will Never Be Another Mayor Dave


Last Monday night (March 2), Park Ridge Mayor Dave Schmidt gave his sixth consecutive “State of the City Address.” By his own admission, it was the most upbeat one he has given.

He didn’t know it was to be his last.

Mayor Dave was buried yesterday in the Town of Maine cemetery. He died suddenly late last Wednesday (March 4) night of what is believed to have been a brain aneurysm.

Ironically, in the address’s opening-paragraph Mayor Dave claimed to be “as optimistic as ever about the City’s future,” clearly unaware of how soon his own future would be cut short. Throughout his address he cited the progress made on such matters as the refinancing the Uptown TIF bonds, a lower projected TIF deficit, stopping further decline in Moody’s rating of the City’s bonds, surpluses in the General Fund, and the repair of the Touhy railroad overpass.

Always the realist, however, he echoed Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address (“a wise and frugal Government…”) in reiterating the need for City government to maintain its resolve that “every single dime we ask the taxpayers to give to us is spent as wisely and frugally as possible.”

That should be a prominent piece of the legacy Mayor Dave left his successors and our community.

The rest of Mayor Dave’s address was a mixed bag of the good and the not-so-good. But telling his constituents the bad as well as the good was a hallmark of Mayor Dave: he respected us enough to tell us the truth.  And he trusted us to understand and use that truth to vote and act in the best interest of our entire community.

That respect and trust should be a prominent piece of his legacy, as well.

One of Mayor Dave’s greatest virtues was that he never wanted to be mayor. As a first-term First Ward alderman he regularly scoffed at any suggestion that he was looking toward the big chair at The Horseshoe.

But about a year into his aldermanic term he saw and heard things that he knew weren’t right. He spoke out against improper closed sessions and the secret dealings that went on in them, most notably over the City’s attempt to acquire the 720 Garden property for a new police station.  That earned him a formal, albeit meaningless, “condemnation” from his predecessor and a majority of his fellow aldermen, even though everything he said and did was fully within the boundaries of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

It also contributed to a break with his mayoral predecessor – as did Ald. Dave’s siding with residents who opposed the traveling road show known as PADS because he believed it to be a half-cocked, ineffective and inhumane way to address homelessness; and because it violated the City Code.

Those positions made Ald. Dave a number of powerful adversaries. But it earned him even more supporters.

And the more he studied City finances, the more he realized they were a house of cards that nobody else around The Horseshoe – elected official or bureaucrat – wanted to acknowledge.

So when no other challengers to the then-sitting mayor stepped forward in 2009, Ald. Dave became Candidate Dave, a reluctant Cincinnatus with a simple campaign platform: “H.I.T.A.”

Honesty. Integrity. Transparency. Accountability.

Can you imagine any “politician” running on such a platform?  They’d be laughed right out of the politicians’ union. But Candidate Dave was no “politician” because he didn’t suffer fools gladly, and he wouldn’t compromise principles just to make some half-baked, short-term deal that would make some special interest happy.

So despite running as the darkest of dark-horse candidates – a short-time Park Ridge resident with no kids in the local schools or sports programs, no family members living in town, no local business presence, and no Country Club, Rotary, Kiwanis or Lions club memberships – his message and his two-year record on the Council resonated with the voters. He won the mayoralty in 2009 by a solid margin over the incumbent.

His adherence to those H.I.T.A. principles and his straight-talking, stand-up style during his first term in office earned him the nickname “Mayor No” for having the common sense, courage and foresight to just say “no” to unaffordable and/or misguided spending; and the nickname “Mayor Veto” for doing what no other Park Ridge mayor had ever done: veto irresponsible budgeting and veto irresponsible spending.

Not all of his vetoes were sustained, but a majority of them were. And the ones that were sustained saved hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on untimely, unnecessary or just outright wasteful expenditures.

That earned him re-election in 2013 by an even wider margin than in 2009 – despite the first-ever endorsement of his opponent by (and a $1,000 contribution from) the union representing the City’s public works employees; and an unprecedented endorsement of that same opponent by the City’s three previous mayors and twenty-five former aldermen allegedly representing 100 years of City government experience.

Mayor Dave took that in stride: “If the people who caused all the problems we’re stuck with are for [my opponent], I must be doing something right.”

And indeed he was.  But that ended last Wednesday night.

In his six years in office, Mayor Dave was bolder and more courageous, and more fiscally responsible, than all three of his predecessors. Combined. He embraced the daunting tasks they left for him and “his” City Councils. And in that relatively short time he and those City Councils succeeded in mending the gaping holes in the City’s finances while at the same time invigorating the City’s spirit with a new style of government – grounded in reality but energized with a freshness, honesty, transparency and optimism that won him support from a broad spectrum of City residents.

Mayor Dave knew his own mind and had firm principles which he articulated clearly and acted upon decisively.  Although a staunch Republican, he never saw any City issue as a “Red” or “Blue” one.  He knew the color of most of the City’s problems was green, the color of money, which is why he was so focused on the financial side of City government.

He never backed down from a fight when he was championing the cause of Park Ridge, and especially its taxpayers.  Mayor Dave instinctively embraced the common sense of those taxpayers that Nelson Algren so marvelously memorialized in his book Chicago: City on the Make: “For the masses that do the city’s labor also keep the city’s heart. And they think there’s something fishy about someone giving them a museum for nothing and free admission on a Saturday afternoon.”

Substitute “an Uptown TIF” for “a museum,” and “anything” for “admission,” and you’ve got the picture.

There will never be another Mayor Dave.

He was the right man at the right time for Park Ridge: an affable, tireless, guile-less yet savvy public servant who hated “politics” and the term “politician,” for good reason.  He strove every single day to do the right thing for the well-being of his adopted community with absolutely no expectation of, or desire for, any economic, social or personal gain.  Whether at his Loop law office, at the ballpark, or on vacation near some ocean a thousand miles away, he truly was the 24/7 mayor Park Ridge needed these past six years.

But now he’s gone.

So it’s left to those of us who believed in the principles of government he stood for to carry them forward – hopefully with something close to the humor and irreverence he regularly brought to the task.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” (Dr. Seuss)

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R.I.P. Mayor Dave


Park Ridge Mayor David Schmidt dead at 57 (Park Ridge Herald-Advocate, March 5, 2015)

Mayor David Schmidt remembered for vetoes, civic passion (Park Ridge Herald-Advocate, March 5, 2015)