When A New Fire Engine Is More Than Just A New Fire Engine


Several weeks ago we took a few shots at the Park Ridge Fire Dept. and Chief Sorensen in our post: “Fire Chief’s Salary Beef Too Little, Too Late” (06.16.16)

As we wrote back then, we believed Chief S was better than that particular performance would indicate. So we’re happy to read a Sept. 1 article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate about how he and the department’s executive officer Paul Lisowski were able to secure a FEMA grant that will provide $500,000 toward the replacement of the department’s 21 year-old fire engine that had become a maintenance problem due to the almost 130,000 miles it has logged.

The cost to Park Ridge: $50,000.

That warrants a big “Huzzah!” to Chief S, EO Lisowski, and whoever else made this possible.

Fortunately, that $500,000 grant comes with another dividend that should not be overlooked: the trenchant observation by Chief S that his department’s inability to get the new engine other than by this grant was the result of the City’s financial condition.

For those folks who just can’t seem to figure out public-sector economics, the idea that the City does not have the available cash to spring for a new fire engine might be scoff-worthy. They tend to see government, in its every form and iteration, as some kind of uber-wealthy uncle always able to pick up the dinner tab and still indiscriminately dole out virtually unlimited funds.

But the City’s inability to easily buy new fire trucks – at a cool half mil a pop – is just one of the many consequences of almost two decades of foolish spending, idiotic borrowing, irresponsible under-taxing, and sweetheart deals under former mayors Wietecha, Marous and Frimark, aided and abetted by at least one manipulative and outright dishonest city manager, enabled by a gaggle of complicit alder-dunces.

Those mistakes are still tying the hands and purse-strings of the current mayor and Council, and will continue to do so for years to come. But beginning in 2009 with the administration of the late mayor Dave Schmidt, the adoption of more transparent and accountable taxing, budgeting and spending policies and practices started to turn things around. And that turnaround has continued under the stewardship of Acting Mayor Marty Maloney and the current Council,

Unfortunately, that steady course of improvement over the past 7 years is not yet sufficiently institutionalized to the point where it can’t be blown up with just a few injudicious and expensive ideas and/or decisions, especially if they involve large amounts of long-term bonded debt. Should you need an object lesson to understand this concept, look no further than the City’s foolish issuance of tens of millions of dollars of 20-plus year General Obligation bonds a decade ago, used effectively to subsidize the private Uptown Redevelopment project pushed through without even giving the taxpayers a chance to express their opinion via a referendum.

Equally problematic is what appears to be an increasing number of newer residents who talk and act like every one of our units of local government is sitting on its own gold mine staffed by a contingent of elves who simply dig up a few more shiny nuggets anytime teachers and administrators want raises, parents want hot lunches, and kids want Chromebooks.

Yes, Kathy Meade, f/k/a “Kathy Panattoni Meade,” that means you.

On September 1 Ms. Meade posted the H-A story about the fire engine grant on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group FB page, and then commented about this being “a phenomenal opportunity to get a brand new state-of-the-art engine for the price of an entry-level Lexus.

Such childlike naïvete (or freeloader-ism, take your pick) completely ignores the tens of millions of dollars Park Ridge taxpayers send to Washington (i.e., FEMA) and Springfield each year with only a tiny fraction of that treasure being returned through things like FEMA fire engine grants – while federal and state politicians use the rest of our tax dollars to fund other communities’ fire trucks, police cruisers, community centers, libraries and schools even though some/many of those communities are no more economically-distressed than Park Ridge.

Maybe even less.

So when all is said and done, we didn’t get a new fire engine for the price of an entry-level Lexus: We got a new fire engine for the price of several Lexus dealerships.

Meanwhile, we’re now into the fourth decade of corrupt Madigan Democrat rule, aided and abetted by complicit and/or corrupt RINO governors Thompson, Edgar and No. 16627-424, that has turned state government into one big shell game, except with several dozen shells to most effectively bamboozle the clueless taxpayers. That’s how Madigan, Cullerton, et al. can keep on robbing Peter to pay Paul – and Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, Jude, Thaddeus, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John, Paul, Cosmas and Damian – without looking at the business end of the federal indictments they so richly deserve.

Simply by throwing communities like Park Ridge an occasional bone. Or fire engine.

Don’t get us wrong: a fire truck from FEMA beats a sharp stick in the eye any day. And you can be darn sure that if we didn’t get it, Rockford…or Fargo ND…or Athens GA…or Bakersfield CA…would. That’s the kind of merry-go-round spending that keeps the freeloaders hooked like crackheads, and our governments growing like Topsy.

So another round of applause for Chief S and EO Lisowski for getting us that shiny new fire engine for the price of a Lexus.


To read or post comments, click on title.

6 comments so far

Like you, I am glad we got the new fire truck. Like you, I am grateful for the efforts of the Chief and EO Lisowski. Like you, I appreciate the financial 8-ball those three mayors and their councils (ironically, much of the “100 years of city council experience” that backed Larry Ryles against Mayor Schmidt in 2013) put us behind. And like you I appreciate what Mayor Schmidt, Acting Mayor Maloney and their councils have done since 2009 to get us out from behind that 8-ball.

And as to all those “What’s in it for me?” types who have come to expect a $500,000 fire truck for the price of an entry-level Lexus, I am reminded of that wonderful Nelson Algren quote in your March 10, 2015 eulogy to Mayor Schmidt:

“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.”

Wow, your sycophants are quoting your eulogy for the late mayor. Do they have it memorized or did you distribute copies personally for dissemination?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The commentator was quoting Nelson Algren. Perhaps you’ve heard of him…then again, probably not.

I’m familiar with Algren. Just as your fans (or alter-egos) are familiar with the dates and contents of your tributes. Lol.

Stupid people think that there’s such a thing as “government money” when, in reality, it’s the people’s money confiscated by the government.

Stupid is as stupid does, and greedy is as greedy does.

Excellent analysis. No “free” money, even at entry-level Lexus pricing. I’ve lived in Park Ridge for 50 years and we seem to be attracting a kind of trailer-trash element from Chicago that is fleeing because they realize they won’t be able to send their kids to private schools and also pay the higher taxes coming their way.

Sorry for the late reply. Kudos to Chief S for ‘working it” . Other PR city employees would not of extended the effort to apply for the grant etc. As correctly stated, this would of gone to Rockford or somewhere else.

Thanks Chief!

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