Some Shoveling Here, Some Shoveling There…Pretty Soon You’re Blaming Public Works


It’s winter here in Park Ridge, and winter usually means snow. And ice.

Which means plowing. And snowblowing. And shoveling.

Park Ridge, like most suburbs, doesn’t have an ordinance requiring property owners to clear the City’s (a/k/a, the taxpayers’) sidewalks and cross-walks abutting their property – and keep them clear – of ice and snow. In the absence of such an ordinance, there is no legal duty on the homeowner to do so; and some folks have expressed concern that they could even subject themselves to liability by shoveling at all, if they do a poor job.

But most people seem to voluntarily undertake the task and do decent job of it. And many of them will do their neighbors’ walks, especially if they have one of those heavy duty snow-throwers that fling plumes of the white stuff 10 or 20 feet into the air.

Yeah, it’s a “guy thing.”

So far this year we’ve been extraordinarily lucky: unseasonable warmth (global warming?) has kept us pretty snow-free. That’s helped the City conserve money that would otherwise have been spent on plowing and salt.

But a few weeks ago an icy-snowy mixture over a dozen or so hours required several plowing runs by City crews to keep the streets clear. And, as plows are wont to do, they left piles of snow and ice in inconvenient places like curbs and cross-walks.

C’est la vie? Not quite.

A mom whose kids were forced to negotiate a plow-created ice pile in order to wait for their school bus posted a comment on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group Facebook page. That led to a “discussion” (which appears to have since been pulled for unknown reasons, but which one of our “stringers” o captured before it disappeared so that you can see it here) in which some folks blamed “lazy” homeowners – especially those on corner lots – for not cleaning up what the plows left behind. And, as some parents are wont to do, the blame directed at those “lazy” homeowners seemed to stem primarily from the fact that their little darlings didn’t have a nice clear space to wait for their school buses.

But it was left to our old friend, Kathy Panattoni Meade – one of those corner homeowners taking some of the incoming fire – to react to accusations of laziness by blaming the City’s Public Works Dept.:

“Technically that part of the sidewalk isn’t even my property. It isn’t even in front of or directly next to my house. I honestly think this is a job for the public works.”

Interestingly enough, she raised that “not my job” argument only after she explained how “we shoveled the sidewalk to the street” three separate times. So unless the sidewalk got up and moved or acquired a new legal status following those first three shovelings, it sounds like she was just looking for an alibi to throw in the shovel.

And, frankly, that’s okay because (as we pointed out earlier) homeowners have no obligation to clear the snow from the public sidewalks.

But then don’t throw brickbats at Public Works, especially when it has never, to our recollection, shoveled residential sidewalks for at least the past 25 years because of the substantial additional cost shoveling of walkways and bus stops would add to the City’s (a/k/a, the taxpayers’) budget.

Fortunately, a few commentators were voices of reason, including Martin Mazur, whose “I never ask what can my city do for me, I ask what I can do for my city” unmistakably echoes JFK’s inaugural address of 55 years ago this month.

That, standing alone, deserves a Watchdog bark-out.

But another bark-out goes to Mike Miller, who suggested that “the parents or the kids who have to wait there should pitch in and shovel out where they have to wait. Yeah, the neighbor with that corner could do a better job but this isn’t the city’s problem.”


For those who don’t like Miller’s solution, however, we’ve got another one for you: show up at City Hall this coming Monday night at 7:00 p.m. and tell the City Council why you and your kids are entitled to better snow removal than you’re getting, plus snow shoveling. And don’t forget to remind the Council of what Ms. Panattoni Meade keeps reminding everybody else: “I pay property taxes.”

Even if those taxes are some of the lowest in Park Ridge.

To read or post comments, click on title.

8 comments so far

That snow/ice was extremely heavy, a “widow maker”. Before making remarks about whether or not the owner of the corner house should have cleared the corner, was he/she able to do so? The owner may very well have health issues that made it difficult or impossible for them to clear the corner. Mr. Miller makes a good suggestion, the parents of the kids using that corner or any corner should pitch in and make sure their kids have a safe place to wait.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yep, assuming in the first instance that there’s something inherently unsafe about kids waiting for their bus while standing on a 1 or 2-foot pile of ice and snow.

There are several of us on my block who are “motivated” by the guy thing you reference. It seems to be whoever happens to get out there first has at it. There are several older residents on the block and we all know who they are and make sure there walks are clean. After all a house on an alley in the middle of the block in PR takes about 5 minutes to clear.

All that said, all of us have at one time or another lived next to a perfectly able bodied man who virtually never shovels his walk. Soon it gets packed down by walkers and becomes a virtual skating rink. Kind of like the folks on the block who have weeds as tall as Jack’s beanstalk and never mow the lawn.

I mean come on!! People are not expecting perfection but you at least have to make an effort. It is called being a good neighbor.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course EVERYBODY should do their part. But when they don’t it doesn’t automatically become a Public Works job.

Interesting choice of topics when the real storm hitting PR right now is the outrage at your idiotic tutor/businessperson policy at the library. Quite a convenient diversion.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Get over yourself, freeloading tutor – or tutor customer who doesn’t want to pay the extra $10 the freeloading tutor is expected to pass through to you.

And, yeah, we are trying to create a “diversion” because we always go out of our way on this blog to avoid controversy.

This Meade woman sounds like the person who pays coach fare but wants first-class service.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good analogy.

“Freeloading tutor,” nice. I’m not a tutor but I really can’t believe you are targeting people who are helping people learn. How the heck are you going to police everyone whose activities might be related to business? Are you going to ask the staff to read people’s minds to make sure they’re not somehow profiting from their visit to the library? You’re ridiculous and it’s clear that the more people object, the more you’ll dig your heels in, just like a stubborn child. You and your cronies have made a mockery of the library board.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since you insist on being a tough-talking anonymous coward, we can’t tell whether or not you’re one of those freeloading tutors or just one of their cheap customers. So we’ll just assume you’re one or the other.

We’re not “targeting people who are helping people learn” – we’re “targeting” freeloaders (and non-resident parasites) who think they’re so special that they’re entitled to free space to run their private, for-profit businesses. It’s not our fault if those two groups aren’t mutually exclusive.

In response to your most recent editor’s note: “We’re ‘targeting’ freeloaders (and non-resident parasites) who think they’re so special that they’re entitled to free space to run their private, for-profit businesses.”

…to be clear from your response: It appears you’re not targeting Park Ridge resident students (whose parental guardians already pay property taxes with allotments being contributed to the library) and not targeting Park Ridge resident tutors (who also are already paying property taxes with allotments being towards the library). If reducing free-loading from non-residents/non-taxpayers is a key motivating factor in proposing and supporting this initiative, why doesn’t the proposed policy exempt registered Park Ridge tax paying residents and students enrolled Park Ridge schools?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because paying taxes doesn’t entitle taxpayers to free space in which to operate their for-profit businesses. But if you think it does, go to D-64 and D-207 – those public bodies actually charged with EDUCATING our kids, and who suck up around 70% of our property tax bills – and ask them for free tutoring space instead of trying to squeeze free space out of the local governmental body that taxes least.

So private business (i.e.: the across the street tutoring business who sought out governmental intervention/protection) is entitled to governmental intervention in this instance?
But governmental intervention in the form of charitable contributions (center for concern) from park ridge government, or government intervention to shovel our sidewalks or clear bus stops is not appropriate?
I thought you were one of those “the government that governs the least governs the best” types?
Does that tutoring center owner have pictures of you or do you just casually throw away the principles you believe in?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Your ignorance is astounding (although not your cowardice), but we’ll tolerate both for the sake of a using it for a teaching moment.

First, the fellow who runs “the across the street tutoring business” never sought ANY “governmental intervention/protection.” He simply responded to an article in the paper about the Library Board looking into whether the Library should be providing free space for tutors to run their private for-profit businesses by making the point that: “I have to charge more for my tutoring in order to meet my overhead,” he said. “If I didn’t have overhead, I could reduce the cost per hour for tutoring.” Herald-Advocate, July 21, 2015.

Past clueless Library Boards let tutors do whatever they wanted in the Library, thereby tipping the playing field in favor of the freeloader tutors while their competitors like “the across the street tutoring business” were paying rent/taxes that go to the Library that turns around and uses the money to give free rent to their shameless competitors.

Following the comments here, I was very disappointed to learn of Public Library Board of Trustees policy to start charging tutors. I use the library with my daughter while my son with special needs gets his tutoring done. The $10 charge would conservatively cost me an extra $400 a year. It seems the library board has lost sight of the basic mission and purpose of a library. I have been in support of library measures in the past. I cannot say I will be in the future.
“Cheap Customer” – Rev. Matt Hoffmann


Thank you for your support of the Library. We hope that a few basic facts might keep you in the fold.

First, there is nothing in the Library’s new policy requires tutors to pass any part of the $10 fee to their customers. Given that they’ve been getting overhead-FREE office space for years, and many of them are charging $50/hour and up, one might think they could afford to eat that cost unless they are consumed with greed – which would be sinful, right?

Second, the Library’s “Mission” statement reads as follows:

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

As you can see, no mention of “tutoring,” or of “education,” or of the doing any form of “private business” on the Library premises. Those terms are similarly missing from the Library’s “Vision” statement that goes hand-in-glove with the Mission:

“The vision of the Park Ridge Public Library is to be a community resource that dynamically provides relevant materials and stimulating programs, accomplished through a friendly and professional staff in an enhanced building with reliable and accessible technology.”

Reading those two statements together permits only one reasonable conclusion: any “information, recreation and enlightenment” furnished by the Library under the Mission must come through “materials, programs and services” provided, if at all, by the Library’s “friendly and professional staff” – not by an assortment of unidentified (to the Library), unregistered (by the Library), unregulated (by anybody) and unsupervised (by anybody) freelance tutors.

The new policy came under consideration last summer when complaints were voiced about tutors talking and monopolizing tables in the Library for hours at a time and the Library Board started geting a sense of just how many tutors were using the Library as their principal or only office – while also seeing how the Library had created the unfair situation where tutors renting private space were paying RE taxes (through their rent) to the Library that was using those taxes to provide overhead-FREE space to the taxpaying-tutors’ competitors.

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