Public Watchdog.org

Melidosian For Sainthood, But Raspanti For 5th Ward Alderman

04.02.19

We begin this post with a disclaimer: The editor of this blog has known both candidates for 5th Ward alderman for many years, has dined with them, has cocktailed with them, and likes both of them and their wives.

But if the race for 5th Ward alderman between current alderman Charlie Melidosian and former 4th Ward alderman (2011-2013) Sal Raspanti were a pageant, Melidosian would be a shoo-in for “Miss Congeniality.”

Whether he’s barbecuing competitively or just for fun, whether he’s walking his mammoth beasts around Hodge’s Park or being walked by them, whether he’s pumping out somebody’s flooded basement, building Habitat residences on weekends, or chauffeuring campaign manager Jean Dietsch from Central Wisconsin back to Park Ridge to deal with a family emergency, Charlie is an undisputed social asset to this community.

Heck, he probably could qualify for sainthood if he were Roman Catholic.

As it is, however, he may be Park Ridge’s current benchmark of affability.

But the history of failed local government in Park Ridge is filled with affable people who weren’t very good, and sometimes just plain sucked, at being elected or appointed public officials

It was affable people on the City Council who blew millions of taxpayer dollars over decades of the City’s membership in the impotent Suburban O’Hare Commission (“SOC”). Other affable people on the Council blew tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on the General Obligation bonds the City issued to subsidize the private developer of the Uptown Redevelopment Project and its TIF (“Tax Increment Financing”) district – even as those same folks routinely neglected sewer maintenance and repair, and did nothing about flood remediation.

It was a bunch of affable people on the Park Ridge Park District Board who wasted more than $20 million tax dollars on two undersized, second-rate facilities – the Centennial “Fitness Center” (f/k/a the “Community Center”) and the Centennial water park – because they didn’t want to give the taxpayers a referendum vote on those projects.

And let’s not forget those affable people on the D-64 Board who spent over $20 million (in late 1990s dollars) replacing the District’s then-newest school (the “old” Emerson), which has subsequently delivered student performance remotely close to what was advertised from the new “middle school” concept back then, or remotely commensurate with what D-64 taxed, borrowed and spent on the “new” Emerson.

Most recently, it was those affable people on the D-207 Board who so grossly neglected the District’s infrastructure and mismanaged its resources over the past 9 years that it will cost taxpayers over $300 million to make things right. And then those same affable folks gave the affable Supt. Ken Wallace – who wouldn’t last a full day as the head of any private corporation with a $120 million/year budget – a 5-year contract extension because he helped pass the $300 million November 2018 referendum after keeping the lid on his (and the Board’s) decade of mismanagement and neglect.

So much for historical background.

We supported Melidosian’s appointment to fill the seat of the late Ald. Dan Knight, which we wrote about in our 02.24.2017 post. But in the two years since his appointment, we have seen little to suggest that he is capable, or willing, to do the heavy lifting.

Frankly, we were appalled by the way he disregarded the City’s procurement policy and joined his fellow Council members in rubber-stamping Police Chief Frank Kaminski’s arrogant no-bid, sole-source procurement of $280,000 of Axon body cameras, which served as the subject of our 01.14.2019 postwhich looked even more irresponsible when Niles announced that, after field-testing three body cams instead of just one, it was getting the same amount of cameras and the necessary support equipment for less than a quarter of the cost.

And we were particularly offended that Charlie attempted to justify his wrong-headed support of Kaminski’s folly by claiming that “[Charlie’s] world is H.I.T.A.” – the acronym originated by the late Mayor Dave Schmidt for “Honesty,” “Integrity,” “Transparency” and “Accountability” in local government. Charlie wouldn’t have dared pull something like that if Schmidt were alive, nor would he have dared trade on Mayor Dave’s reputation and popularity by mimicking Mayor Dave’s campaign signage.

We’ll give Charlie’s campaign manager the discredit for a cheap shot like that, along with other ticky-tacky things like: (a) portraying Charlie as seeking “re-election” when he was never “elected”; (b) claiming that his opponent has “participated in some negative campaigning, without specifying what that was; and (c) claiming that his opponent “provided misleading information to the public,” again without specifying what that was.

But that’s just the chaff.

When it comes to the big stuff, however, we don’t think the body cam fail was a one-off for Charlie. He’s just too much of a “pleaser” to be counted on to make the tough, and often unpopular, calls needed if the City is to continue on the upswing started by Schmidt and “his” councils, beginning in 2011 with the departure of mayor Howard Frimark’s alderdopes.

Ironically, Charlie’s opponent served on the citizens committee that recommended Charlie’s appointment to succeed Knight. Before that, however, Sal served on a Mayor Dave-led Council as the 4th Ward alderman from 2011-2013, until a job promotion and a related increase in world travel caused him not to seek re-election.

In his two years on the Council, Sal’s greatest achievement – in our opinion – was standing tall with Schmidt and a then-Council majority in rejecting the demands of the various local business interests clamoring for the Council to give developer Lance Chody a sweetheart deal in the neighborhood of $3 million of tax relief in return for bringing Whole Foods to Park Ridge. We wrote about that in our 05.17.2012 post

Although he was never a rubber-stamp for Schmidt, he supported many of Schmidt’s efforts to dig the City out of the deep financial hole their affable Council predecessors left behind, to go with a sinking bond rating and unsustainable commitments of tax dollars for questionable projects and programs.

That’s why we believe that Sal, while decidedly less affable than Charlie, is more ready, willing and able to actually walk the H.I.T.A. walk, and not just talk the H.I.T.A. talk. And that’s why we endorse Raspanti for 5th Ward alderman, while leaving sainthood for Melidosian.

To read or post comments, click on title.

9 comments so far

Tough call, ‘Dog, but it sounds right to me. That Axon body cam deal stunk, and poor Charlie couldn’t stand up to the Chief.

EDITOR’S NOTE: When it comes to their public lives, sadly Charlie seems a lot like Mel Thillens: Too fond of head pats and tummy rubs to be effective, no matter what talk they talk.

I’m not a 5th Ward resident so I can’t vote in this race. But your comparison of Melidosian to Thillens is spot-on, although Melidosian is a lot less obnoxious.

You are also spot-on re how “affable” people suck at government. I subscribe to former Brit PM Tony Blair’s theory of leadership: “The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Did you steal that Blair quote from our 05.17.2012 post?

Thillens is a poster child for affable public officials who pretty much suck at governing. He blusters the Republican Party/Stupid Party line about taxes and fiscal responsibility – which he likely got from his buddy, Congressman Darin LaHood (https://patch.com/illinois/parkridge/thillens-announces-candidacy-for-state-representative ) – but readily sells out to whoever pats his head and rubs his tummy.

And as demonstrated repeatedly during his Park Board service, if he can hide his sell outs in closed sessions, so much the better.

Unf***ingbelievable! Melidosian posted a video on Concerned Homeowners of him saving a litter of kittens in a box the morning of Election Day!!!!!!!

Is there any chance there might still be a small ice flow in Axehead Lake with a couple of those adorable white baby harp seals adrift that Charlie can rescue between now and when the polls close?

EDITOR’S NOTE: That is pretty amazing. Might want to check any surveillance cameras in the area to see if his campaign manager may have planted them there. 🙂

Spot on PWD! We don’t need a lap dog as our 5th Ward Alderman. We need someone who lives HITA and doesn’t just talk about it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We never referred to Charlie as anybody’s “lap dog”: Most recently, we’ve reserved that term for D-64’s Tom Sotos (e.g., in our 08.02.2016 and 03.12.19 posts).

But it was painfully disappointing to hear Charlie claim to be a H.I.T.A. guy before making a mockery of H.I.T.A. with his vote on the body cams.

Sorry PD but one would have to question how much you are really against Charlie. You sure did him a favor releasing this endorsement of his opponent after 15 days of early voting and after the morning rush (if there is such a thing in a PR election) on the actual day of the election.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We aren’t “against Charlie”: We simply endorsed Sal.

And the reasons the endorsement came so late are: (a) the site was shut down for much of last week with technical difficulties; (b) we decided to prioritize D-64 because of the upcoming contract negotiations and because of the PRTAA endorsements; (c) we spent many, many hours reading, cross-referencing and verifying the voluminous information generated by the candidates, instead of just blowing out a bunch of rim shot “I like” endorsements; and (d) this editor has a full-time job.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/GERALD-FORD-3-5-Pin-Button-1976-Campaign-/352251475926
Wasn’t Gerald Ford referred to as running for “re-election “? See link to campaign button

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t recall such a reference; and we don’t see the word “Re-Elect” on the button.

We do find it interesting, however, that Charlie insisted on his campaign being portrayed as a “re-election” one when he himself acknowledged – at the December 17, 2018 Council meeting (from 1:58:14 to 1:58:48 of the meeting video) – that he wasn’t an “elected official” and asked Mayor Maloney if “appointed” officials like himself were invited to the upcoming “elected officials” holiday party.

But, what the heck, even saints aren’t perfect. 🙂

Sorry. Wrong link. Here is the Ford 76 campaign button with “re-elect” on it
https://www.loriferber.com/re-elect-ford-in-76-button.html

EDITOR’S NOTE: Maybe somebody on Ford’s staff had the integrity to take this button off the market once folks realized that Jerry couldn’t be re-elected president until he had first been elected president.

Now, do you have a recording of Jerry Ford asking to be allowed to attend an “elected officials'” holiday party because he knew that he hadn’t been elected either vice-president or president and, therefore, wasn’t an “elected official”?

Ford was never elected to the presidency so similar to your video he would not have said he was “elected” to the presidency. But even the history channel says:

“Ford ran unsuccessfully for re-election in 1976. He survived a difficult primary challenge by then-Governor of California Ronald Reagan, but lost in the general election to Democrat Jimmy Carter. Upon Carter’s inauguration, he praised Ford for his efforts to guide the nation through the Watergate scandal, saying “For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.”[

There are many other examples where someone appointed to fill a term has ran for “re-election “. It is the terminal used consistently in such campaigns

EDITOR’S NOTE: Merriam-Webster online (http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/reelect) defines reelect as “: to elect (someone) again” – which makes common sense and literary sense.

M-W online, however, does brand your definition as the “Kids Definition,” so score that point if you want. But as we said in the post, this stuff – like Charlie’s vague accusations that Sal engaged in unspecified “negative campaigning” and provided unspecified “misleading information,” all of which we assume were orchestrated by Jean Dietsch – is just “chaff.”

Here is an article discussing how “appointed (ie: not elected) senators” rarely win “re-election “.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nate Silver’s specialty is statistics, not linguistics or lexicography.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/appointed-senators-rarely-win-re/



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