Public Watchdog.org

Andrea Cline Swings, And Misses, On “Green” Library Lot

05.15.19

We intended to publish a short post yesterday about why the Park Ridge City Council shouldn’t let Ald. John Moran and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District stampede it into approving the purely political “green” Library lot when the first order of business should be piloting the “green” paving of our many un-paved alleys.

But then one of our more prominent local Go Green goddesses, Andrea Cline, checked in with a comment to our previous post that we thought deserved a bit more attention, especially since she had the gumption to sign her name. So we’re giving it a post of its own.

Her comment reads as follows:

As much as I’d like to claim to be the “very engaged resident” Anonymous [commenting on 05.13.19 @ 9:09 AM], twasn’t me, even though I have been singing the praises of MWRD and the CMAP LTA program (totally separate for those of you following along) for years. And while I’d like to take the time to point out all the flaws in this post and the previous one that touched on the library lot, as the Editor often says, I’m busy with my day job.

If Cline isn’t Moran’s mysterious “very engaged resident” – the one who purportedly started this MWRD grant ball rolling – who is? And why is Moran being so uncharacteristically reticent about that person’s identity?

We don’t know, so we’ll just start breaking down Cline’s comment.

She begins by claiming that “MWRD and the CMAP LTA program” are “(totally separate for those of you following along).” At least Cline got that right, the only part of Cline’s comment that is accurate: “CMAP” stands for the “Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning,” while “LTA” stands for its “Local Technical Assistance” program.

Did you ever hear of those before? We didn’t.

Not surprisingly, CMAP is another one of Illinois’ league-leading 7,000 (roughly) units of government that spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year with seemingly no transparency or accountability, and what appears to be few measurable results.

CMAP reports $18,477,158 in FY19 revenues, with almost $13.5 million coming from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation and another $3.4 million (almost) coming from the Illinois Dept. of Transportation. Like so many of Illinois’ typically inefficient taxpayer-scamming public agencies, CMAP appears overpopulated: It has 92 staffers who reportedly consume a whopping $11,929,805 of its $18,320,827 in FY19 expenses that’s an average of $129,672 per staffer – sporting job titles like “Local Planning” (25 of those) and “Policy & Programming” (23 of those).

If this sounds to you like a bunch of public payroller positions filled by various politicians’ otherwise unemployable relatives, you might be on to something.

And it’s run by career politician Joseph C. Szabo, who was paid $216,320 in 2017 and is likely being paid more today. After serving as the top dog at the Federal Railroad Administration from 2009 to 2015 (during the Obama Administration, for all you “R” and “D” geeks), heading CMAP appears to have been his soft landing reward, at least for the time being.

Cline doesn’t say what CMAP’s role in the “green” Library lot is, or is supposed to be. That’s probably because it has none, considering that neither Moran nor Public Works Director Wayne Zingsheim mentioned CMAP in their respective January 14, 2019 memos, nor did City Engineer Sarah Mitchell mention it in her April 8, 2019 memo.

Maybe Cline just wanted to impress with a little acronym-dropping about an obscure state agency.

She goes on to claim there are all sorts of “flaws” in our 04.26.2019 post and our 05.09.2019 post, although she demonstrates the superficiality she first displayed during her 2015 campaign against Moran for 1st Ward alderman by blithely stating that she doesn’t have the time to identify any of them.

Weak, but not unexpected.

That bit of disingenuousness, however, caused us to go back to the January 14, 2019 meeting video and Cline’s remarks in support of the “green” Library lot project, which you can watch from the 1:41:20 to the 1:43:12 mark.

She starts out by praising the Morton Arboretum parking lot as the “most infamous” example of “green” parking lots (Are there any other “infamous” green parking lots are out there that Morton has beaten out for the title?) before bragging about its zero stormwater discharge.

Cline credited that zero discharge to the Morton paver lot’s sitting on four feet of gravel that itself sits over soil.

That got a rise out of Zingsheim, who noted (a) how such a deep sub-base with such a high-water storage capacity would explain the zero discharge; and (b) how, unlike Morton’s gravel-over-soil base, the Library lot’s base is likely to be the same non-absorbent hard blue clay that’s found in most parts of Park Ridge.

Cline’s smug response: “I would argue that you don’t know that.”

We would argue that Zingsheim has forgotten more about Park Ridge soil and infrastructure than Cline currently knows or will ever know. But until soil borings are done in various parts of the Library lot, everybody remains ignorant – including Moran, whose data-less proclamation that “200,000 gallons of water…will be absorbed and detained during a major storm event” remains the same steaming and odoriferous pile it was four months ago when he first dropped it.

Cline ended her data-less video pitch by claiming an additional benefit from the “green” Library lot: “Less snow removal costs…so you don’t have to apply salt or plow as much.” That’s not what we hear from all those Park Ridge folks with paver patios and driveways during our winter months.

We can’t think of any significant City project that has gotten as far as this “green” Library lot with so little hard data to support it. Then again, we also can’t think of any significant City project where a single alderman pulled a Lone Ranger stunt with another governmental body without any direction or authority from the Council itself.

But that’s what you tend to get when you let “politicians” run wild without transparency and accountability.

And that’s also what you tend to get when you let the political tail wag the government dog.

To read or post comments, click on title.

8 comments so far

I have no objection to the green Library lot in concept.

I have many objections, however, to a project that looks like political scheming by Ald. Moran and MWRD and that comes out of the gate so half-cocked, yet immediately gets a consensus of support from a majority of the council and the mayor.

I agree with you about the core samples being taken, and that needs to be done right so that we don’t end up with the cost overruns the Park District faced because it didn’t take enough core samples when they re-did the Centennial Pool/Senior Center lot a few years ago.

Lastly, I hope Wayne Zingsheim doesn’t bend to pressure and start cutting corners and making up lowball cost numbers just to satisfy Moran, the other Council supporters of this project, and the mayor.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We agree. We also suspect/fear that the cost of doing this project “right” will be way more than what the Council is currently predicting but that, for political reasons, they might do a half-baked version on the theory that “every little bit helps.”

Our council will get suckered into doing this project for MWRD with insufficient sub-base excavating of clay and replacement with pit material so when it’s done it won’t hold enough water. It will be too late to do anything about it, but it sure will look nice.

Unless at least some of the 87% of PR registered voters (who didn’t bother to get informed and make it to the polls on April 2nd) start to care, we might as well get used to the lack of HITA as shown in the Library lot project. We’ve been down this road before as a community and while painful it’s sadly going to get worse. My hope is it won’t take as long for residents to see through the BS and start to turn things around in 2021, with more “contested” elections.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve always said that if all those people that proclaim their horror over Trump or Pelosi paid as much attention, and got as horrified, by the ineptness, stupidity and waste by our local “politicians” and governmental units, our community would be way better off. So we end up deserving the local government we get.

I always thought that, although aldermen (and members of our other local governing bodies) have every right to speak for themselves, nobody speaks for the council (or any of our local gov’t boards) without specific express authorization from that public body. So I don’t see how MOran can meet with MWRD and direct staff to prepare and submit a grant application without the Council knowing about it and authorizing it. And I don’t see how staff can prepare a grant application without Gilmore knowing about it.

That’s why I don’t believe the mayor and the other aldermen who say they didn’t know anything until the Jan. 14 meeting. BUt if they really didn’t know anything, Moran and Gilmore both deserve a public dressing down.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We find the whole situation suspicious at best, stinky at worst. The idea that Moran and Staff could do all the grant work last summer, then find out in late November that the City got the grant, but somehow keep it secret from the mayor and the rest of the Council until January 14, does seem like quite a stretch.

Ya know what I find fascinating. You know this guy. You have served on committees with this guy. You have stood at a grill with this guy. So he is the kind of person who capable of the corruption that you are at a minimum implying and you never had a clue. Fascinating. He must me some sort of criminal mastermind.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And have drunk scotch with this guy. And have smoked cigars with this guy. Why? Because he’s a good guy…just like Ald. Melidosian is a good guy! And just like Mel Thillens is a good guy. And just like so many of our other elected and appointed officials are good guys and gals.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t totally suck as public officials, whether on an individual issue or regularly; or that they should be excused for totally sucking.

As Edmund Burke reminded the Electors of Bristol in 1774, elected representatives owe a sacred duty to their constituents:

“Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living.”

Sometimes our officials suck because of stupidity, other times because of ignorance, laziness, or spinelessness. But most often it seems like they suck because they can’t resist acting like shameless “politicians” who are more concerned about pleasing some special interest or another so they can get their heads patted and their tummies rubbed, preferably in public.

That’s not necessarily corrupt, nor is it criminal. But it’s rarely ever H.I.T.A. And its never good government.

Comprende?

ANONYMOUS ON 05.17.19 7:48 AM

Agreed. Melidosian and Maloney at a minimum had to have known about it. Especially Maloney by the way he barked at Alderman Schubert for questioning the lack of transparency and process.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hopefully Anonymous can answer for him/herself.

From our perspective, however, if they knew about it and remained silent, that’s a problem. And if they truly didn’t know about it, that’s also a problem not only for them but for Gilmore.

There is a math solution to measuring how much rain water would be held that can answer some of these questions. One cubic foot holds 7.48 gallons of liquid. How many cubic feet will be build under the library parking lot? Take the cubic feet times 7.48 and that is how much rain water that could be potentially held.

Loam soil absorbs water at a rate between 1/4 and 2 inches per hour. Sandy Soil, because it has very large spaces, absorbs water at a rate of more than 2 inches per hour.

How much space between the grid and the soil calculates how much water to hold. How much soil placed under the parking lot will help with determining whether the parking lot will fill up like a swimming pool or flow back to the streets and overwhelm the sewer systems.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Assuming by “[o]ne cubic foot” holding “7.48 gallons of liquid” you mean one cubic foot of empty space, you’re talking about some kind of tank or vault – which is not what Moran, Zingsheim, Cline, or anyone else is talking about for the Library lot.

At this point nobody knows whether we have “loam soil,” “sandy soil,” hard blue clay, or some combination, under the Library lot. And until the City conducts an appropriate number of borings (and perk tests?), nobody will acquire that knowledge – although our money’s on Zingheim’s hard blue clay.

Your response to anon on 05.17.19 8:10 am was spot-on wonderful. Just because you’re a good person doesn’t mean that you automatically can be a good public official, or a good soccer coach, or a good doctor, or a good accountant, or whatever. And I think being a pleaser might be the biggest impediment to being good at any endeavor, but even more so as a public official.

Some people don’t have what it takes. Nothing wrong with that, unless they try to do what they can’t.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks. And agreed.



Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>