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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.

*                             *                             *

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.

To read or post comments, click on title.

9 comments so far

As if this wasn’t a dumb enough idea to start with, now MWRD wants to dictate everything about the property in perpetuity for $650K, at most. I’ve given up on Moran, Mazucca and Melidosian, but it would be nice to see Mayor Maloney step up and show some leadership in response to this shakedown, the way Mayor Schmidt did when the developer demanded a couple million dollars in order to bring a Whole Foods to town and Schmidt (and a council majority) said “no.”

My dad said when you take money from someone they get to tell you how to use it. That $650,000 from MWRD looks smaller and smaller and definitely not worth it. Don’t know how things went tonight, but hopefully the council came to their senses. Hopefully.

Moran and the Go Greens can’t let this go for political reasons. What they will do is get MWRD to give a few concessions on the IGA, then praise MWRD for being so cooperative (maybe giving credit to Cam Davis, that MWRD guy who spoke at the Action Ridge meeting earlier this month) and argue that the City owes it to its citizens to meet MWRD half way.

7:01:

Add the Mayor’s name to the list. He is doing absolutely nothing about it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not necessarily disagreeing with you, in large part because we aren’t sure what you would want the mayor to do.

PAINFUL is the word that best describes the video portion of last night’s meeting on this topic. Sadly, Mayor Maloney, mayor wannabe Moran and Alderman Melidosian are in over their heads on this one. They are being systematically played by MWRD and will end up getting painted into a corner without even knowing it. This is what happens when you have members of a city council that genuinely struggle with saying NO and are more interested in checking boxes for their own resumes. This is also what happens when HITA takes a back seat to city government. Drop this project and chalk it up to a lesson learned. Tell the green folks (with confidence) that we have more pressing infrastructure issues the city council should be focused on.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have not yet seen the video, so we will reserve judgment until we do. But saying “no” is not a strong suit for several of these aldermen.

The video of last night’s Council meeting has been posted and I just got done watching the library lot portion of it. Maloney has drunk the Kool-Aid on this for sure.

As 7:01 predicted, about 2/3 of the way through that discussion Mazzuca says they can “get around” most of the MWRD’s IGA terms. Then Melidosian says they should negotiate the “no redevelopment” term from permanent to a fixed number of years. That’s when Maloney jumps in and says he wants to stop the discussion, before adding that if Sarah Mitchell is “comfortable” with a fixed number of years of no redevelopment, maybe that’s what they go with.

Correct me if I’m wrong, PW, but that is NOT a Sarah Mitchell or staff call: That’s a public policy call that the Council should be making.

Has Maloney just drunk the Kool-Aid or has he already gone in the tank for MWRD on this deal?

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we noted in response to the previous comment, we have not yet seen the video. But if your account is accurate, this has turned into a goat rodeo.

Adam Simon’s memo presents six substantive policy matters, at least three of which – “Long-Term Maintenance Obligations,” “No Redevelopment” and “Procurement Issues” – the Council should have discussed last night to determine whether they are deal breakers; and, if not, where is the break point for each. It appears that Simon’s memo teed those up for just such a discussion, so if the Council didn’t discuss and resolve it basically whiffed driver off the first tee.

I’m back – (Anonymous 5/20 @ 10:56 p.m.) – and I’ve watched the video of the portion of the meeting regarding the “Green Lot”. Oy Gevalt! It sounds like Moran, Maloney, Melidosian want this to work so badly that they’re throwing caution to the winds and will do ANYTHING to make it work. Zingsheim says there’s clay under that lot. So what’s it gonna cost to meet the demands of MWRD just to make that portion work? Who knows? Is it really worth the cost of all the other demands to take MWRD’S money? Doubtful. But onward they go. Ald. Joyce seemed to have some common sense ideas. It remains to be seen whether the rest of the group will listen to him. This is just dumb and a waste of time. Perpetuity, Schmerpetiuty! The council has more pressing matters to deal with, they should stop this one already and get on to those more pressing matters!

EDITOR’S NOTE: We now have watched the video and, with the exceptions of Milissis and Joyce, the quality of the discussion sure sounded like this is on its way toward the kind of irresponsible “done deal” that was the rule under the Frimark Administration and prior Homeowners Party regimes.

What I want him to do? Here is a direct quote from you:

“As to how the Mayor’s comments and conduct about the “green” Library lot comport with H.I.T.A., frankly they don’t. And the longer he let’s Moran run the show with this Library lot project, the more he demonstrates that H.I.T.A. doesn’t matter”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Now that we’ve seen the meeting video from this past Monday night, we sadly have to concede that the mayor appears to either be in on this misbegotten deal or he’s letting Moran run the show. Disappointing, no matter which it is.

ANONYMOUS 05.21.19 @ 7:01 AM here, and I regret to point out that this MWRD deal is going just the way I predicted, even to the point of Mazzuca saying during the meeting that he thinks the City can negotiate away (“get around” were his exact words, as I recall) the IGA problems the City attorney pointed out.

And Maloney did say that he’s willing to accept whatever number of “No Redevelopment” years Sarah Mitchell would be satisfied with. So he’s going to send some collection of aldermen and staff to negotiate in secret with the corrupt MWRD politicos.

This thing stinks more and more each day.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Council is chasing this deal like a cat in heat, although we did hear Moran start to tap dance a bit near the beginning of the discussion about possibly turning this into an alleys project.



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