Increasing Park District Fees: Are You F-Ing Kidding Us!?!?! – Part 1


A recent Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article (“Park District budget calls for increases in cost for pool passes and camps – but no tax hike,” Oct. 25) seemed innocuous enough, reporting on recently-announced budget proposals for consideration by Park Ridge Park District Board members Cindy Grau, Harmony Harrington, Jim Janak, Rob Leach, Jim O’Brien, Jim O’Donnell and Mel Thillens.

But that article and the proposed user-fee increases caused such a firestorm of discussion on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group FB page that the page’s resident dominatrix, Kathy Meade (f/k/a “Kathy Panattoni Meade”), shut down all comments on the entire site “until further notice” because of a “spiral of cruelty.”

Ironically (or maybe not), Meade’s command decision appears to have been made less than 36 hours after she herself kicked off that “spiral of cruelty” with a class warfare mini-rant about the fee increases proposed or endorsed by those “many…park board members” who live in “million dollar home[s]” – which she began with the staid and demure:


For those of you who, like this editor and several others, have been blocked by Meade from reading her posts and her comments because of offenses real and imagined, you can read that entire string by clicking HERE, thanks to one of our unblocked Watchdog “stringers.”

If you do, you can read on the very first page her beefs about visiting the District’s outdoor pools at “$40 for a family of 5…[to] sit in direct sun on the hot concrete”; and about “$80+ for a basketball skills class” with “15 kids…[o]ne instructor…[n]o materials.”

She pines for when “Day Camp used to be $300” (Page 32) and snarls about “the $200 basketball class and $300 drum lessons” (Page 26), and lifeguards “watching hundreds of kids for $8.25 an hour” (Page 8) – whom she wants to be paid $15 an hour (Page 28) without any clue of how to cover that 45% cost increase, other than to stick the taxpayers with it because the pools are too expensive for her already.

She did a lot of the same stuff a couple of years ago when the H-A ran an article about the Park District raising its user fees. We wrote about her entitlement mentality and her opposition to increased Park District fees in our October 21, 2015 post – which we encourage you to read so that we don’t have to repeat all those same arguments here, including our 31-word description of the kind of person for whom we use the shorthand term: “Freeloader.”

After Meade shut down comments on her post because of what she claimed was “bullying” (i.e., the assertion of points of view contrary to hers that she can’t refute other than by accusations of sexism, ageism, elitism, avariciousness, shaming, bullying, etc.) the discussion shifted to the Park Ridge Illinois Citizens Online FB page, where it raged on – apparently without Meade’s participation – until the whole string mysteriously vanished without a trace.

That’s Facebook for you. As cutting as a ginsu but as lasting as the blink of an eye.

We’re not sure who pulled the plug on that particular string of Citizens Online history but, fortunately, another one of our Watchdog “stringers” downloaded it before it was deleted; and you can read it by clicking HERE.

George Orwell warned about this kind of thing in “1984”:

“As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of the Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs-to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date….All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.”

Not “fake news” but “fake history.” Even worse.

If not for the foresight and effort of our “stringer,” those 20-pages of Citizens Online post and comments about Meade’s “time-out” style of censorship would be lost to the ages and, for all intents and purposes, would never have existed at all.

For the record, NO PublicWatchdog post ever has been deleted. And the only comments that were not published (about a dozen over the past 10 years of this blog’s regular publication) were: (a) anonymous ones, (b) containing “personal” attacks about individuals, (c) that could not be verified as true, (d) were borderline (or more) libelous, and (e) were unrelated to the “public” lives and/or activities of their subjects.

But while this Facebook folly runs the gamut from troubling to entertaining to just plain silly, it’s merely the back story for the real issue: “How much of the cost for using Park District amenities should be borne by the users instead of the taxpayers?”

We’ll discuss who is “F-ING KIDDING”  whom on that issue in our next post.

To read or post comments, click on title.

4 comments so far

Look forward to the next post. The park district gets 5.06% of my property taxes, which in my case is a bit less than $600. I figure that covers a few cuttings of the grass at Centennial.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ll do our best to inform and entertain.

I did not even know there was a Citizens Online string about this after Ms. Meade shut down her comments. Thank you for saving and posting it.

Crying “bullying” is really a cowardly way to address these kinds of arguments. I expect that from Meade, but who is this Clarkin fellow who resorts to that in a few of his comments to Meade’s post (page 35)? He also plays the class-warfare card on page 36 by implying that country club membership is a way to determine who is wealthy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Crying “bullying” is just another tactic in the victimhood game.

A 5-minute Google search discloses:

* a January 13, 2015 article in the “Illinois Observer” that identifies a “Dave Clarkin” as Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs’ “Deputy Chief of Staff of Public Affairs,” as does a April 1, 2017 post on the Illinois Association of School Board’s blog;

* a November 7th, 2014, post on the “Progress Illinois” website identifies a “David Clarkin” as a Frerichs campaign spokesman in the former’s 2014 race for state treasurer, as does a Nov 17, 2014 article in the Daily Herald;

* a March 4, 2011 Capital story refers to a “Dave Clarkin” as “[o]ne of [Chicago Ald. Brendan Reilly’s] top lieutenants…who…once worked for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan”; and

* comments to a March 10, 2011 “Uptown Update” identify a “Dave Clarkin” as a campaign strategist and a “master at opposition research and planting stories in friendly media outlets” for unsuccessful 2011 46th Ward aldermanic candidate Molly Phelan.

If that’s the same “Dave Clarkin,” there could be some Madiganocrat partisan politics going on in Pleasantville.

I am concerned that if rates continue to increase for facility usage fees, will they price out enough residents, usage drops, and overall fee revenue will decrease?

If overall fee revenue decreases, won’t that mean larger tax increases?

Bigger question: how much support of the Park District is tax based versus fee usage based?

EDITOR’S NOTE: If program/class/activity rates increase and users decide not to use, the programs/classes/activities can be cut and the expenses eliminated. If facility usage fees increase and users decide not to use, the cost of operating, maintaining and staffing those facilities should decrease.

It is our understanding the user fees now provide approximately 51% of the District’s revenue, but that it still does not cover the fully loaded costs of the programs, classes and activities.

THanks to your stringers for capturing those FB comments. The deletions and wholesale disappearances are why Facebook is an inferior medium, but probably why certain people prefer it.

I noticed that Meade went from ripping the price of things and that her kid had 15 kids in his basketball camp, but then she argues for more people in a class so that the price can be lower.
And she also wants t-shirts for her money.

Some people….

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