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Tonight’s Council Meeting: One More Reason To Reject MWRD Grant; And A Farewell To Ald. Milissis (Updated)

05.20.19

At tonight’s Park Ridge City Council meeting the Council is scheduled to address another aspect of the ill-conceived and misguieded – bordering on stupid and wasteful – “green” Library lot project.

Unlike in past sessions where this project was discussed and various aldermen and residents took turns blowing smoke up each others’ (and the taxpayers’) kilts, tonight’s topic is supposed to be limited to the Intergovernmental Agreement (the “IGA”) the MWRD wants the City to sign.

A redlined version of the entire IGA is attached to City Atty. Adam Simon’s analysis of it. But you really don’t need to get past the analysis to see how the reportedly corrupt MWRD wants to stack the deck in its favor.

Simon’s analysis breaks the IGA down as follow:

Performance of the Green Infrastructure

The “green” lot must provide “retention” of at least 192,760 gallons of storm water. The preliminary design of the “green” lot has it capturing the stormwater and then slowly releasing it into the sewer system for ultimate treatment as wastewater. That’s called “detention, not “retention.”

Floating Grant Amount

192,760 gallons of storm water is the “Design Goal.” If MWRD finds, in its discretion, that the “green” lot doesn’t meet the Design Goal, it can unilaterally reduce the amount of the grant.

Long-Term Maintenance Obligations

If the City fails to maintain the “green” lot to MWRD’s standards in perpetuity, MWRD can demand a refund of the grant amount, perform the maintenance work itself, and charge the City for its costs.

No Redevelopment

Once the “green” lot is installed, that lot may never be redeveloped for a different purpose. Even if part of the lot is redeveloped for another purpose, it will affect the Design Goal, which could result in the MWRD demanding partial reimbursement of the grant.

Procurement Issues

The use of the grant money is expressly subject to complying with MWRD’s purchasing laws, including the below state law and local procurement policies – some of which limit the eligible contractors who can be hired to provide material or do the work.

Limited Appropriations

The IGA expressly disclaims any promise to re-appropriate any amounts which have not been disbursed after the expiration of the [current] fiscal year.

Every one of those terms and conditions should be a red flag, warning the City away from doing business with what the Chicago Tribune recently branded as “a bastion of crony politics” that provides “big opportunities for corruption” because it “has long been a hotbed of Democratic politics and patronage.”

We doubt that those red flags will be heeded by the biggest fans of the “green” Library lot boondoggle. But it might be fun to watch and listen to how those proponents try to put some sort of benign spin on the situation in order to keep it moving forward.

Kick-off is at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 505 Butler Place.

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Tonight is the final meeting for Second Ward Ald. Nick Milissis, who is resigning from the Council after six years of service. He is moving with his family to Glenview and, therefore, is legally prevented from continued Council service.

He was elected to the Council in April 2013 with our cautious endorsement, which you can read in our 04.08.2013 post. Since then he has been a zealous advocate for his constituents in the Second Ward, especially on the flooding issue which seems to dominate all others up there.

Although the magnitude of the flooding problem and the cost of remediation – especially in Wards Two and Three – have made progress slower and more incremental than Milissis or his constituents might like, that has not deterred him from making a case against flooding, and for his constituents, at every opportunity.

In reviewing our posts about the Council since Milissis became an alderman we discovered a fairly equal split between those time we praised him and those times we barbecued him. Not surprisingly, a number (if not a majority) of the latter involved our disagreement on the best way(s) to remediate flooding in the Second Ward and how to allocate the costs of doing so. At one juncture he wrote a lengthy comment critical of one of our posts on that topic that we chose to publish as a post of its own: “Ald. Milissis: PubDog Has ‘Jumped The Shark’ On Second Ward Flood Projects,” 06.12.2014.

But while we may have disagreed with the alderman, we have never doubted his diligence, his sincerity and his desire to vigorously represent not just himself, his friends, or one special interest or another but ALL his constituents. And on all but the rarest occasions he would explain his position and his vote so that his fellow aldermen and residents alike knew the “why” behind it.

We have no idea who will be appointed to fill the remainder of his term, which expires in May 2021. We can only hope whoever it is will bring a skill set, temperament and demeanor similar to what Millisis regularly demonstrated.

“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” (Garrison Keillor).

Update (05.21.2019) We were mistaken about last night being Milissis’ last Council meeting: June 3 will be his last meeting. Hopefully that extra time will give him a few more opportunities to convince his fellow aldermen that this “green” Library lot is basically a deal with the Devil (MWRD) that will be far more expensive – to do right, not half-baked – than the prices we’ve been hearing.

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