A Decade Later, City Information Still Being “Sanitized For Your Deception”


Frankly, we’re embarrassed.

On March 14 we published a post about “Sunshine Week” without being aware of the fact that on March 13 the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate published an article about the Park Ridge City Council’s making a mockery of sunshine in government (”Four months after he was placed on leave, Park Ridge police officer’s employment officially ends,” March 13).

According to the H-A article, the City paid $12,800 to REM Management to conduct an internal investigation of what appears to have been the Park Ridge Police Department’s handling of the Jason Leavitt incident back in 2006 and its aftermath. You may recall that Leavitt, while off duty, apprehended a Park Ridge teen and allegedly punched him out while the teen was handcuffed in the back of a squad car. That led to a federal civil rights suit that cost the City a $185,000 settlement and an additional $175,600 in legal fees to get to that settlement.

That incident also may have precipitated the 2010 FBI seizure of Police Department records and computers, and it also was a factor in the City’s commissioning of the $75,000+ Ekl Report, the results of which were published by the City in 2008 and which we wrote about in our 09.17.2008 post. 

Although Police Chief Frank Kaminski was not on the City payroll until June 2009, he was responsible for pursuing Leavitt’s termination before the City’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners until he mysteriously withdrew those charges, presumably in return for Leavitt’s agreement to retire effective February 21, 2018.

But if you look on the City’s website for any evidence of how this deal played out before that Board or before the Council, you’ll find little more than a Board decision – in the minutes of its Special Meeting of November 16, 2017 – to continue the public hearing on Leavitt’s termination; and the Board decision – in the minutes of that Board’s January 11, 2018 meeting – to approve Kaminski’s dismissal of Leavitt’s disciplinary hearing for reasons allegedly contained in Kaminski’s memorandum dated December 4, 2017.

Would you like to see a copy of Kaminski’s December 4, 2017 memo? So would we.

Would you like to see a copy of the contract that likely memorialized the deal Kaminski cut with Leavitt to take retirement in exchange for Kaminski’s dropping of the termination proceeding? So would we.

Would you like to see a copy of the REM report? So would we.

But we can’t find them anywhere on the City’s website.

And when the H-A made a FOIA request for the full REM report, the City denied it.

Why? According to the H-A article:

“[T]he release of the information weighs more heavily toward the harm it demonstrably would create to the reputation of the city, the public confidence in the department, and the morale and efficient operation of the police department.”

Can you say “Cover up”?

After decades of translating the double-talk alibis provided by public officials to justify their secretive misdeeds, what the City’s statement probably means is that: (a) those PRPD officials who handled the whole Leavitt matter (including Kaminski, once he inherited it in June 2009) botched it; (b) they don’t want the taxpayers to know how and how badly they botched it; so (c) they cut a secret deal with Leavitt; and (d) they are now trying to bury all the problematic evidence with some secrecy alibi trumped up by the anti-H.I.T.A. city attorneys, probably relying once again on the Illinois Personnel Records Review Act (the “PRRA”) that, by its express terms, applies only to the FOIA-bility of personnel records by third parties other than the City, the owner of the records.

You can read a more detailed description of Ancel Glink’s misinterpretation/misapplication of the PRRA in our posts of 05.27.2016 and 07.26.2017.

What are those allegedly pro-H.I.T.A. folks around The Horseshoe at City Hall doing about it?

As best as we can tell, nothing.

“Nothing” seems like a billboard-sized message that they are more concerned about giving political cover to Chief K and his department than they are about telling the truth to the taxpayers who pay for Chief K and that department – and who paid $12,800 for that REM report.

Although we don’t agree with the anonymous commentator to our previous post who suggested that what the City is doing with the Leavitt matter is a “Chicago-style Laquan McDonald cover-up,” we do believe what the Council is doing – intentionally or negligently – sure looks, sounds and smells like a cover-up…and for purely political reasons.

A decade ago this coming May 21, we published a post titled “Sanitized For Your Deception” in which we criticized the spin and deception applied by City Hall to the goings on there, both in The Spokeman and in the meeting minutes. But that practice slowly disappeared under the leadership of Mayor Dave Schmidt. Suddenly minutes were accurate (probably because meetings started being videotaped) and The Spokesman’s more creative writing mysteriously started hewing to the facts rather than some City Hall politician’s fiction.

As we see with the REM report and the related information about Chief K’s withdrawal of Leavitt’s termination complaint, however, City Hall isn’t just sanitizing matters for the public’s deception: It’s hiding them altogether.

That should be unacceptable for any Park Ridge public official who talks the H.I.T.A. talk, and even for those who don’t. And it should be unacceptable for the taxpayers for whom those public officials are supposed to work.

But only if our elected officials grow spines and stop covering up for high-priced bureaucratic misconduct and subterfuge.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Sunshine Week 2018: Better Late Than Never


Anyone who has read even a couple of posts on this blog knows that we’re obsessed with “sunshine” in government, our focus being local government here in Park Ridge.

Which is why we’re embarrassed that it’s already halfway through “Sunshine Week” – started in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors to promote a dialogue about the importance of transparency, open government, and freedom of information – and we haven’t even acknowledged it. And even more embarrassed that we’ve overlooked every year since our post of 03.16.2009

Years before the late Mayor Dave Schmidt got elected in April 2009 on the platform of H.I.T.A. – Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability – and made those principles the hallmark of his sadly-abbreviated tenure from 2009 until his sudden death in March 2015, this blog had begun regularly advocating for transparency, starting with its “Statement of Principles” published in its third post, on May 8,.2005:

“Government operations must be transparent so that both our elected and appointed officials can be held strictly accountable to their constituents.”

This blog’s editor, as a member of the Park Ridge Park District Board from 1997 to 2005, was instrumental in getting that public body to become the first unit of local government in our community to videotape its meetings and make the tapes available for public viewing.

Shortly after his election, Schmidt dragged his first City Council into doing likewise, going so far as to donate the camera and enlist supporters George Kirkland and Charlie Melidosian (now the 5th Ward alderman) to, respectively, run the camera and upload the videos to his own Motionbox site until WOW provided a better system as part of its licensing to provide cable service in Park Ridge.

And through the subsequent efforts of Schmidt and his successor, Mayor Marty Maloney, the City applied for, and received, the “Sunshine Award” from the Illinois Policy Institute in both 2014 and 2015 – making it 1 of only 72 Illinois taxing bodies (among the thousands of those in Illinois) to receive that award in 2015, while also increasing its transparency score from 86% to 94.8%.

Not until the summer of 2011 did Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 jump on that bandwagon, but only after being shamed into it by Marshall Warren, Char Foss-Eggemann and Susan Sweeney, who brought in their own camera to tape that School Board’s August 8, 2011 meeting and then upload it to a YouTube site labeled “sunshine4d64.” We understand that Maine Twp. High School District 207 started taping its Board meeting sometime after that

But it took the election of Reformers David Carrabotta, Claire McKenzie and Susan Sweeney (yes, that Susan Sweeney) to the Maine Township Board last April to finally bring videotaped meetings to that previously opaque political backwater.

Make no mistake about it: When it comes to government, information is power. And the career bureaucrats who populate so much of government know that if they want to manipulate the opinions or decision-making of elected/appointed officials, or of the general public, they can do so by concealing the relevant information that doesn’t serve their purpose; and, worse yet, they are being paid by us taxpayers to do so.

Unfortunately, too many of our elected and appointed officials either knowingly and spinelessly accede to the bureaucrats’ manipulations, or they cowardly hide information and documents from us taxpayers in order to limit the scrutiny of their own decisions and decision-making. They seize upon every opportunity the Illinois Open Meetings Act (“IOMA”) provides for them to run into closed-session meetings even though IOMA merely permits, but does not require, any such closed sessions.

Exhibit A: The D-64 Board, which rarely has seen a closed session opportunity it won’t exploit. From what we’ve seen, heard and inferred, those folks – under the thumb of president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli, who’s under the thumb of Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz – have more substantive discussions and do more public business in closed session than in open session, with the latter doing little more than satisfying the barest IOMA requirements regarding the taking of actual votes.

So as we find ourselves in the middle of Sunshine Week, we embed here a guest essay from the editor of the Valdosta (GA) Daily Times and ask you to take a minute to read it, repeating the following lines out loud both for effect and to enhance recall:

“Every action of government is your business.

Every document held in government halls is your piece of paper.

Every penny spent by government is your money.”

Remember: Those low-paid or unpaid “volunteer” elected and appointed officials, just as much as those well-paid and over-paid bureaucrats (including our teachers and school administrators), work for US – not the other way around.

To read or post comments, click on title.

There’s More To Board/Commission Performance Than Meeting Attendance


As a member of the Park Ridge Library Board for six years, I found a recent article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Park Ridge aldermen recommend city track, publish meeting attendance by appointed board members,” Feb. 22, 2018) problematic for a few reasons.

First, during my tenure (2011-2017) on that Board I missed less than five of over 160 “official” meetings – regular full-board meetings, regular committee meetings, and “special” meetings – for a 97% attendance record; and one of those absences resulted from being stuck on a METRA train for 3 hours after it collided with a car near the Armitage overpass on the evening of December 20, 2016.

Consequently, I was never concerned about the City’s mandatory meeting attendance ordinance for City board and commission members, which reads:


To remain eligible to serve on any Board or Commission, each member shall attend not less than 75% of all meetings for such Board or Commission during each calendar year. Any member who becomes incapable of attending at least 75% of all meetings for such Board or Commission may be disqualified from serving in that office and can be removed by the Appointing Authority in the manner described in Sections 3.1-35-10 or 11-13-3 of the Illinois Municipal Code, as applicable. Failure to meet the minimum attendance requirement shall be considered good cause for removal of any member appointed to any Board or Commission. (Ord. No. 2016-03 , 2(Exh. A), 1-18-2016)

Attendance at “official” meetings is the simplest, easiest and most objective way for measuring one aspect of a board or commission member’s commitment to his/her office. But it’s a huge mistake to consider just attendance at those “official” meetings as an absolute performance benchmark of any board or commission member – as Library Trustee Mike Reardon so cogently pointed out in his remarks to the City Council at its February 19, 2018 meeting, the text of which can be found here.

Since being appointed to the Library Board in June 2015, nobody – N.O.B.O.D.Y. – on that Board has done more, or better quality, work than Reardon. Whether analyzing staffing, measuring performance both internally and vis-à-vis other comparable libraries, exploring efficiencies from the automation of certain operations, budget numbers-crunching, dealing with personnel issues, or just providing the clear, hard-eyed insight that an engineer with a Northwestern (Kellogg) M.B.A. and an abiding love of this community (and its Library) can provide, Reardon’s contributions demonstrate the foolishness of using “official” meeting attendance as the sole benchmark of commitment or effectiveness.

And because his meeting attendance has consistently been in the 90% range, his opinions in this regard cannot be challenged as self-serving.

Most of what can be said about Reardon also can be said about Trustee Joe Egan, another engineer but with a Chicago (Booth) M.B.A. and a similar love of this community and its Library.

Although Egan’s attendance was a bit below the 75% target because of the travel demands of his job, he also has put in plenty of uncredited overtime on some of the same projects as Reardon, as well as being the Board’s point man in dealing with the Library’s architects on design issues for the proposed renovation; in working with the City on fire and safety issues related to the renovation; and in hammering out an intergovernmental agreement with the City to correct the longstanding, half-baked arrangement whereby the non-home rule Library is supposed to pay for capital repairs and improvements to the Library building – like a new roof, new windows, HVAC, etc. – out of its relatively modest budget even though the building and grounds are owned by the home rule City with a budget 15 times larger.

Despite those extra-curricular projects undertaken by Reardon and Egan often impinging on their day jobs – unlike the more accommodating evening schedules for the “official” meetings – they most certainly have saved the taxpayers thousands of dollars in outside consultant services.

So when residents like Alice Dobrinsky and Amy Bartucci suddenly pop out of the woodwork to make an issue of Egan’s meeting attendance, or the attendance of Library Trustees Stevan Dobrilovic and Pat Lamb – both of whom also have carved good chunks of time out of their day jobs to undertake extra-curricular activities on behalf of the Library – it’s naïve to assume it’s just about attendance.

Just like it would have been naïve to assume it was just about attendance a couple of years ago when another resident, Walter Szulczewski, popped out of the woodwork and attempted – along with former Library Board members John Benka, Patricia Lofthouse and Dick Van Metre, and former Library business manager Kathy Rolsing – to nuke the reappointment of Egan and Trustee Char Foss-Eggemann because they disagreed with Egan’s and Foss-Eggemann’s philosophy of running the Library based on Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability, and with an emphasis on fiscal responsibility.

You can read about their unsuccessful 2016 nuking effort in this blog’s 06.10.2016 post.

Not surprisingly, Bartucci and Dobrinsky – like Szulczewski before them – were notably MIA during all of those years of bad management, even after it led to the closing of the Library on summer Sundays in 2014 – despite Sundays regularly being the busiest days for the Library on a user-per-hour basis – in order to send a political message to then-mayor Dave Schmidt and the then-city council. We wrote about that in our 04.14.2014 post.

So if I had to bet the Vegas line on why Bartucci and Dobrinsky are suddenly beefing about Library trustee attendance, I’d put my money on attendance being the easiest way to pressure the mayor and at least 4 aldermen into getting rid of Egan, Dobrilovic and Lamb – and replacing them with old-style, fiscally irresponsible, go-along-to-get-along trustees who might assist a couple/few old-style trustees currently on the Board in walking back the H.I.T.A. and the fiscal responsibility that have taken hold at the Library.

Make no mistake about it: Meeting attendance is important. I wouldn’t have gone through the effort to attend 97% of the “official” meetings if I didn’t believe it was. But taking the easy way out by making an arbitrary 75% attendance standard the sine qua non of board and commission service, and effectively ignoring the extra-curriculars of board and commission members like Reardon and Egan, is a sham wrapped in a fiction inside a fraud.

And it increases the likelihood that good government can be subverted by bad politics (redundancy intended).

Robert J. Trizna

Editor and publisher

Former Park Ridge Library Trustee

To read or post comment, click on title.

If Wishes Were Restaurants, All Beggars Would Dine (Updated)


Tomorrow night (02.27.18) the City of Park Ridge Planning & Zoning Commission (“P&Z”) will hold a public hearing, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, on whether the owner of the Pickwick Theater Building – Pickwick Enterprises, LLC, reportedly owned by the Vlahakis Family – will be given a “special use” allowing a lease of the former Pickwick Restaurant (also f/k/a “The Pick”) for a Pearle Vision franchise.

We think an eye-care center would be a serious misuse of that space. But that’s beside the point.

What’s most important is whether enough evidence – not mere opinion but actual facts – will be presented at Tuesday night’s hearing to convince a majority of the P&Z commissioners that:

1. The establishment, maintenance and operation of the special use in the specific location proposed will not endanger the public health, safety or general welfare of any portion of the community;

2. The proposed special use is compatible with adjacent properties and other property within the immediate vicinity of the special use; and

3. The special use in the specific location proposed is consistent with the spirit and intent of the Zoning Ordinance and the Comprehensive Plan.

Those are the points Pearle Vision and/or the landlord need to prove in order for P&Z to approve the special use.

Point 1 is a virtual given, and a finding on Point 2 also seems likely.

Where a Pearle Vision franchise is most vulnerable, however, appears to be on Point 3, given that the “spirit and intent” of the 1996 Comprehensive Plan is to support uses that will strengthen retail, restaurant and entertainment activities in that area.

FYI: A Pearle Vision franchise reportedly is considered a “service” business rather than a “retail” one. And we don’t see how a Pearle Vision franchise, or any eye care facility, will strengthen the area’s retail, restaurant or entertainment features.

But we also can’t ignore the fact that the last two restaurants in that space have failed; and the space has been vacant since July 2017, after the latest restaurant failed in less than a year.

Does that mean that a restaurant can’t succeed there? We can’t say.

The apparent lack of restaurateurs lining up to lease the space, however, suggests that maybe such a space poses more challenges than the folks carping from the cheap seats think when they question why it can’t house a Gibson’s, a Hackney’s, a Bobby’s Deerfield, a Rick Bayless or Lettuce restaurant, some un-named chain restaurant, an ice cream shop, a bar, a coffee co-op, a bakery, a brewery, an art school, some unidentified “small” or “mom and pop” businesses, or some unidentified “destination.”

Not surprisingly, the folks with all those swell ideas don’t seem to have two nickels to rub together. Or maybe they just don’t want to risk those nickels to turn those ideas into reality.

As the old saying might go in this situation: “If wishes were restaurants, all beggars would dine.”

We suspect that if any of the folks running their mouths had been willing to sign the same kind of lease as the Pearle Vision franchisee, the Vlahakis Family would have accepted it.

But like so many folks who prefer to watch the spending of Other People’s Money (“OPM”) rather than spend their own, the idea folks didn’t. And so the Vlahakis Family had to choose between a Pearle Vision and a whole lot of empty in the most prominent storefront in town.

And how did the all-talk-no-cash folks respond? Some of them chose to rip the Vlahakis Family for being…wait for it…“greedy” because they chose a real live tenant over leaving the space empty in the hope that a dream tenant might materialize.

Worse yet, one of the loudest carpers, Dena Lucy, went so far as to suggest (over this past weekend, as a comment to Terry Flynn’s 02.11.2018 post on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group FB page) that a decision by P&Z in favor of Pearle would be the product of some unspecified “corruption.”

Over the years we have disagreed with some P&Z decisions, occasionally with vigor. But we have never seen any evidence of what could reasonably be viewed as “corruption” – just different viewpoints and philosophies of government.

So we hope Ms. Lucy will show up tomorrow night and provide exquisite details of her “corruption” charge at the beginning of the hearing, so that everyone watching those proceedings can be on the lookout for the “fix” and who’s involved in it

But don’t bet on her doing so. Even in a political cesspool like Illinois, it’s a lot easier to claim “corruption” than to prove it.

Updated 02.28.2017. Last night the P&Z denied a somewhat half-hearted effort by the Pickwick’s landlord and a Pearle Vision franchisee to get a special use permit to run an optical service business out of a space intended for restaurant/retail/entertainment. Apparently the “corruption” that was supposed to swing this deal for the Pearle franchisee and the “greedy” Vlahakis family never materialized.


Should the permit-seekers wish to pursue the matter, their next stop would be an appeal of the P&Z decision to the City Council. From the look and sound of things, however, that doesn’t seem all that likely.

So now we look forward to those unidentified restaurateurs – who allegedly want the space but were beaten to the punch by the Pearle Vision franchisee – coming forward with whatever grand plan(s) they have for that restaurant space.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Florida School Shooting Should Not Panic Park Ridge


One of the more detestable politicians, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, infamously said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

It appears that some Park Ridge residents subscribe to Rahm’s philosophy, judging from the February 15 post by Lauren Hall on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners FB page in response to last week’s St. Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Hall’s opening salvo: “Has safety taken a higher priority yet? Perhaps the one vestibule project was too expensive but now what?”

She appears to be referring to Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, which has installed allegedly “secured vestibules” at its Washington Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools but has delayed their installation at the District’s other schools because one or more School Board members might dare to think that our schools are already reasonably secure; and that the District’s limited resources should be spent on…wait for it…education.

The nerve of them!

We suggest you read that post and the string of comments it provoked, which run the gamut from “[W]hy would test scores be a higher [priority than safety] if our kids are dead?” and “I’m not going to complain about the cost of any safety measure if it may save even one life” to “How do you protect against the kid…who carries a gun into school in his/her backpack?” and “If someone wants to commit an atrocity like [the Florida shooting] a vestibule is a false sense of security.”

After you’ve finished, ask yourself: Will a motivated shooter – which each of these school shooters is – be deterred by (a) the not-really-secured vestibules this blog has ripped on several occasions, most recently in our 07.21.2017 post, or by (b) the School Resource Officers (“SROs”) proposed for Emerson and Lincoln middle schools, which we criticized in our o8.31.2017 post? (And, BTW, that Florida high school had an SRO on duty at the time).

If your answer is “Yes,” then answer the trenchant budgetary question posed by Toni Wolf that appears fairly early in that string of comments:

“What are you willing to get rid of or reduce to pay for vestibules?”

Not surprisingly, virtually all of the commentators ignored that question.

Instead, some applauded the vestibules at Washington and Lincoln for giving the folks manning the school office a clear view of everybody who enters the school. But unless those office folks have Superman’s x-ray vision they can’t see the collapsed-stock AR-15 or the MAC-10 in the disturbed kid’s backpack. Or the AR-15 stuck down the pants of some whacked-out dad showing up for a Science Olympiad. Or the Glock with a 30-round clip (and a spare?) in the Dooney & Bourke tote of a looney mom attending a holiday program.

What might prevent those dangers? Metal detectors would help, assuming they would be manned by competent operators and would actually be used all day, every day – even on rainy ones when the line of kids going through them backs up and stretches out the door, ironically providing a prospective shooter with an inviting target in its own right. Metal detectors also wouldn’t stop a shooter from targeting kids on the playground at recess, or leaving school at day’s end.

Fortunately, despite the wailing and hand-wringing of certain Concerned Homeowners, the chances of any of our children dying (or even being wounded) by gunfire anywhere in our community are probably about the same as the chances of any of them dying from a plane slamming into Maine South, a catastrophe certain residents have been warning about since Flight 191 crashed after take-off from O’Hare in May 1979.

That’s a good thing, although apparently not good enough for the Chicken Little brigade.

One of our more revered presidents (at least in some circles), Franklin D. Roosevelt, famously said: “[T]he only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Unfortunately, too many of our residents seem almost addicted not merely to fear but to phobia – a phobia that too often seems to be assuaged only by the irresponsible wasting of the taxpayers’ money on snake oil palliatives that enrich fear-mongering security consultants like RETA Security, Inc. that has been advising D-64.

And architects like FGM who happily, and profitably, re-design our schools.

To read or post comments, click on title.

It’s Not The Event But The Cover-Up


In our previous post we wrote about how the Maine Township Assessor, Susan Moylan-Krey, doesn’t really assess anything but nevertheless runs at least a five-person office (herself included), and how she has crossed swords with The Reformers – new Trustees Dave Carrabotta, Claire McKenzie and Susan Sweeney – over whether the non-assessor’s job truly requires the 1,000 hours annually needed to qualify for one of those sweetheart public pensions.

Today we shed some light on how that battle has been waged – not only outside the public’s view, but also outside The Reformers’ view – by Moylan-Krey and Supervisor Lauren Morask, primarily through correspondence with the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (“IMRF”).

After The Reformers refused in August 2017 to certify that the non-assessing Assessor’s position requires 1,000+ hours of work per year, Township “Bookkeeper” Denise Jajko e-mailed the IMRF’s then-general counsel, Kathy O’Brien, to inquire about Moylan-Krey’s appealing the non-certification and getting back on the pension contribution rolls. That inquiry set off a string of telephone calls and e-mails among O’Brien, Morask and Moylan-Krey from September 2017 into January 2018, some of which Township attorney Dan Dowd was copied on.

But guess what?

Nobody apparently advised The Reformers about the appeal until Morask finally provided them with a copy of her November 20, 2017 e-mail string containing the IMRF’s confirmation that Moylan-Krey’s appeal was successful – but not until the January 23, 2018 Board meeting, two months after she received that confirmation e-mail.

In other words, Morask, Moylan-Krey and attorney Dowd withheld from The Reformers all information regarding Moylan-Krey’s IMRF appeal not only during its two-month pendency but, also, for an additional two months AFTER the appeal had been adjudicated in Moylan-Krey’s favor – and her pension contributions had been reinstated at their customary rate of the Township (a/k/a, the taxpayers) matching Moylan-Krey’s monthly contribution by a ratio of more than 2.65 to 1.

Can you say “Unethical, dishonest and sleazy political gamesmanship”?

Of course you can!

Not until one of The Reformers, McKenzie, contacted IMRF and explained how Moylan-Krey’s situation had been concealed from The Reformers – and arguably misrepresented by Morask, et al. – did the IMRF’s new general counsel, in a January 26, 2018 letter, conclude that “all members of the Maine Township Governing Body have not been adequately informed of the IMRF administrative inquiries and decisions”; and that the Board, presumably acting through The Reformers’ majority, can appeal the results of Moylan-Krey’s secret appeal.

The seeming conspiracy of silence by Morask/Moylan-Krey/Dowd reeks so badly on so many levels that it’s hard to imagine how any of them could muster the chutzpah to continue in their respective positions. But from everything we’ve seen, heard and read about those three, they are nothing if not shameless when it comes to preserving their hegemony over the Township fiefdom.

Maybe it’s because Morask has been feeding at the Township trough for 17 years, while Moylan-Krey has spent the last 12 years rubbing elbows with her there. That kind of tenure generates an air of invincible entitlement that may explain why the fact that both of them have full-time private-sector jobs – Morask as a criminal trial attorney and principle in the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask, Moylan-Krey as a RE broker with Century 21 Langos & Christian – did not cause them even a fleeting concern about how incredible it looks for each of them to claim that their Township position requires at least 1,000 hours a year.

Instead, they appear to be blithely doubling down on their claims, challenging The Reformers to prove the negative: That those Township positions don’t require 1,000 hours.

Hopefully, the IMRF and its new general counsel see through that ruse.

And Dowd? He’s been the Township’s attorney since he was appointed – without any bidding or request for proposal – in 1994. Township paychecks have become like an annuity for him since the days when the likes of Mark Thompson, Gary Warner, Bob Provenzano, Carol Teschky and Bob Dudycz owned Maine Township government. Dowd knows on which side his bread is buttered, and by whom.

And he knows it’s not by The Reformers. Hence, his deafening silence about Moylan-Krey’s under-the-radar appeal.

Unfortunately, such perverse tenure virtually guarantees that Morask, Moylan-Krey and Dowd will not just slink away after being caught with their hands in the IMRF cookie jar.

But it should be interesting to see how much of a shelling those three take if/when the IMRF gets around to considering both sides of the Moylan-Krey issue, not just Moylan-Krey’s (and Morask’s) side presented while The Reformers were kept in the dark.

Hopefully the IMRF will demand that Moylan-Krey actually prove, with real evidence and not just the typical bunch of warm-and-fuzzy anecdotes, that the duties of her non-assessing Assessor’s job require 1,000 hours or more to perform, especially given that her office employs at least four deputy non-assessors; and given her self-proclaimed status as “a full time real estate professional.”

The same goes for Morask, whose criminal trial practice would similarly appear to be incompatible with a Supervisor’s position whose duties require 1,000 hours to perform.

As for Dowd, we can’t wait to hear him explain, on the record, whether his failure to report Moylan-Krey’s appeal to the full Township Board – including The Reformers – was the product of dishonesty, blatant favoritism, incompetence, or (with a nod to the late great Mike Royko) “aggravated mopery with intent to gawk.” Whichever explanation it turns out to be, however, this sordid situation is a clear indication that Dowd has outlived his Township annuity.

Exactly how much we taxpayers hear about these IMRF proceedings, however, will depend on whether The Reformers have finally and fully removed their training wheels and are willing to insist upon the kind of transparency and accountability that have been anathema to Morask, et al. and their predecessors for at least the past two decades. 

Meanwhile, attorneys Morask and Dowd should remember one of the lasting lessons of Watergate, as articulated by the late Tennessee Senator (and attorney) Howard Baker:

“It is almost always the cover-up rather than the event that causes trouble.”

To read or post comments, click on title.

Susan Moylan-Krey: The Maine Township Non-Assessor


Only two weeks ago we wrote our first-ever post about the Bizarro World of Maine Township government where (with apologies to Ray Davies and his iconic “Lola”): “Rs will be Ds and Ds will be Rs, it’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world” that, at least here in Illinois, Tribune columnist John Kass has dubbed “The Combine.”

The Combine is populated by politicians like Maine Twp. Supervisor Laura Morask and Assessor Susan Moylan-Krey, two RINOs who support more-and-bigger Township government.

Recently they and their questionable (if not outright profligate) style of government have been challenged for the first time by new trustees Dave Carrabotta, Claire McKenzie and Susan Sweeney, whom we’ve dubbed, collectively, “The Reformers” because they have refused to mindlessly rubber-stamp whatever Morask, Moylan-Krey and the other Township officials shove in front of them.

For example, at the August 22, 2017 Township Board meeting they refused to certify that the Township Assessor position required at least 1,000 hours of work per year, thereby entitling Moylan-Krey to continued participation in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (“IMRF”) pension program. For those of you who may not have been paying attention, the IMRF is one of those Cadillac public-sector pension plans whose defined benefits are guaranteed by Illinois taxpayers because of a sweetheart provision inserted into the Illinois constitution in 1970.

Moylan-Krey stated under oath that the Assessor’s position required 1,000 hours of work. That’s an average of 20 hours/week for 50 weeks a year, assuming two weeks of vacation. In typically non-transparent, unaccountable Illinois bureaucrat fashion, however, she failed to supply any evidence of why 1,000 hours were needed for that position.

Why shouldn’t The Reformers have trusted her sworn statement?

Let’s start with the fact that the Maine Township Assessor does not appear to actually “assess” anything. As we understand it, all property assessments in Maine Township are done by the County Assessor.

If Moylan-Krey doesn’t do any assessing, what exactly are her job functions, and those of her office?

According to the Assessor’s profile on the Maine Township website: “The main role of the Assessor’s office is to serve our residents.” Seriously, it really says that – which is why we embedded it so you could see for yourself, before they change it.

Have you ever seen a more disingenuously nebulous description of what a bunch of bureaucrats do than “serve our residents”? We know we haven’t, and we’ve been paying attention for quite a long time.

But, as legendary t.v. pitchman Ron Popeil might say: There’s more!

In addition to Moylan-Krey, the Township – meaning we, the Township taxpayers – employs at least four other folks with the title of “Deputy Assessor,” according to the Maine Township Staff Directory. That sure seems like a lot of payrollers in an Assessor’s office that does no assessing.

And it gets even better – or worse, depending on your perspective.

Although Moylan-Krey claims that the Assessor’s position that does no assessing requires at least 1,000 hours of work (Remember: 20 hours/week for 50 weeks), and that she personally puts in more than 1,000 hours a year, Moylan-Krey’s “Personal Profile” on the Century 21 Langos & Christian website trumpets her as “a full time real estate professional…fully committed to serving the needs and interests of both sellers and buyers in all aspects of residential real estate.”

So even though Assessor Moylan-Krey doesn’t do any assessing, Broker Moylan-Krey apparently does sell real estate, full time.

Does Century 21 Langos & Christian have a defined-benefit pension plan as good as, or better than, the Township’s IMRF plan? We highly doubt it, which might explain why Moylan-Krey – with the rock-solid backing of Morask – is fighting tooth and nail to have the IMRF over-ride The Reformers’ refusal to certify the non-assessing Assessor’s position as requiring 1,000 hours of annual work.

We’ll tell you more about that IMRF battle in our next post.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Moving In The Right Direction – Albeit Too Slowly – On SRO Program


Contrary to the collective belief of our critics, we actually enjoy writing about our public officials doing good things, or at least not screwing up.

Today is one of those few days we get to do that.

The reason?

A Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article reports that three members of the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 School Board are re-thinking their previous support for what appears to be a highly-suspect plan to put Park Ridge Police officers in both D-64 middle schools on a part-time basis in the guise of “School Resource Officers,” or “SRO”s. (“District 64 board members reconsider placing resource officers at middle schools,” Jan. 30).

Before you get your hopes up that this SRO idea is heading for the ash can, however, we must warn you that while Board vice-president Rick Biagi, member Fred Sanchez and member Eastman Tiu reportedly had this epiphany after reading the well-written 36-page “Report & Recommendations” (the “Report”) about SROs by the law firm of Ekl, Williams & Provenzale (the “EWP Report”), they remain one member short of a Board majority.

We encourage you to read the entire EWP Report so that you can appreciate just how impetuous the Board and Administration appears to have been in their rush to implement an SRO program that: (a) fails to reconcile or even properly consider the conflicting “police” and “educator” roles of the SRO and the nature of any SRO intervention; (b) lacks any specific training requirements for the SROs; (c) lacks not only some of the most basic data to justify adopting such a program but, perhaps more importantly, lacks any data collection plan on a going-forward basis by which to evaluate the program; and (d) lacks even a “Mission Statement” or “Memorandum of Understanding” identifying for the D-64 Administration, the PRPD, the parents of D-64 students and the taxpayers exactly what problems the SRO program is supposed to address.

If the motto of “This Old House” is “Measure twice, cut once,” D-64’s and the Police Department’s motto for the SRO program so far appears to be: “Put away that damned yardstick and pass the chain saw!”

Since the Board previously voiced unanimous support for the SRO program, we can only wonder whether members Mark Eggemann and Larry Ryles might still be drinking the SRO Kool-Aid. But no guessing is necessary for Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and Board secretary “Tilted Kilt Tommy” Sotos, whose comments as reported in the H-A article suggest they both are on their second Big Gulp.

Borrelli, the sock-puppet of Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz, continues to laud the SRO pilot program as having “a lot of merit”– without explaining exactly what that alleged “merit” consists of, other than 8-10 hours per week (out of approximately 35 school hours per week) of soft duty in a clean, well-lighted place for whatever police officers are lucky enough to get it.

And Sotos? He still “really support[s] the SRO program” – for reasons also not explained in the H-A article or that can be ascertained from watching the SRO portion of the January 22, 2018 Board meeting video.

But if you think you can tolerate more spun saccharine than you’d find in a cotton candy factory, read the SRO program’s eight “objectives” on page 2 of Heinz’s SRO memo for the D-64 Board’s January 22, 2018 meeting and then ask yourself: “How are they going to measure whether, and to what degree, any of those objectives have been achieved?”

If you answered “by using unverifiable warm-and-fuzzy anecdotes,” you’re a winner.

After reading the EWP Report we still have the same questions and objections we raised in our o8.31.2017 and 12.29.2017 posts, starting with: Is there really a need for stationing police officers in our schools – officers who are bound by oath to enforce child pornography (e.g., sexting-by-minors) laws, drug and underage alcohol laws, and underage smoking/vaping laws – but expecting them to behave like glorified counselors or home-room teachers?

Unfortunately, the three newly-enlightened Board members don’t yet appear quite ready to call for an end to further time-wasting discussions of the misbegotten SRO program even though it becomes clearer and clearer that (as we wrote in that 12.29.2017 post) “the real reason the SROs are being brought in is because the teachers and/or administrators at those schools aren’t willing or capable of maintaining order and discipline when left to their own devices” – especially when D-64 needs to create distractions from things like test scores and other measures of academic achievement (like ratings and rankings) which suggest that the teaching and administrating being done is neither worth its high cost nor competitive with the schools in comparable communities:

“What do you mean our academics aren’t as good as they should be? Look at that wonderful million-dollar secured vestibule…and let me introduce you to our new SRO.”

According to Pages 7-8 of the EWP Report: “[T]here is no data that correlates the presence of an SRO to a reduction in…[shooting] incidents” or “to lower instances of weapons, drugs and violence within a school….”

So instead of wasting more time, effort and money on an unnecessary SRO program, the D-64 Board should focus on improving the quality of the expensive education provided to its students, and especially those special needs students whose treatment by the Administration has sparked what seems to be justifiable concern, if not outrage.

If D-64 middle-school students – basically 13 and 14 year olds – can’t reasonably be controlled by the teachers and administrators during school hours, that’s a failure of the teachers and administrators; and a failure of the students’ parents.

Let’s not compound those failures with s half-baked, wrong-headed SRO program.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Ald. Melidosian’s Dangerous Liaison With The Library


Why are Park Ridge residents Alice Dobrinsky and Amy Bartucci so concerned about the attendance at Park Ridge Library Board meetings of the City Council’s liaison to the Library Board, Charles Melidosian (5th)?

And why did those concerns prompt such a lengthy article in last week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate: “Residents voice concerns over Park Ridge Library Board attendance,” January 23, 2018?

Historically, the attendance of aldermanic liaisons at City board and commission meetings was irregular-to-rare. That changed in 2009 when mayor Dave Schmidt – in response to the Council’s new Committee of the Whole (“COW”) structure following its reduction from 14 aldermen to 7 in Spring 2007 that also cut the number of monthly regular Council meetings and Council committee meetings from around 12 per month to 4 per month – encouraged aldermanic liaisons to become more pro-active in their interactions with their respective boards and commissions, especially when significant issues might be on those meeting agendas.

But Schmidt, who himself was the Council’s liaison to the Planning & Zoning Commission while he was the First Ward Alderman, realized that aldermanic liaisons didn’t need to attend every meeting of their respective boards or commissions to do their jobs. A lot of the liaison’s duties can be accomplished just by the liaison’s reading the minutes and board packets, and by being accessible to its members.

It’s against that historical backdrop that we consider the significance of Dobrinsky’s and Bartucci’s complaints about Melidosian’s – and certain Library Trustees’ – meeting attendance.

According to that article, both Dobrinsky and Bartucci were troubled by Melidosian’s absences – he reportedly attended 12 of 26 regular board and COW meetings since being appointed Library liaison in February 2017 to replace the late ald. Dan Knight. Ostensibly their beefs arose from the Library’s failure to fill the Library Director vacancy since Janet Van De Carr retired in June 2017.

We wrote about that goat rodeo in our 12.15.17 and 12.26.17 posts, including about how hired-gun library recruiting consultant John Keister fed our Library Board two candidates, one of whom he was simultaneously recruiting for the Palatine Library Director position – apparently without telling our Board – that she accepted just as soon as she was announced as a finalist for our position. And the other finalist, Aaron Skog, withdrew right after his first public vetting, although his qualifications were so questionable we have to wonder how he even got to be a finalist, other than by being the last midget standing.

According to the H-A article, Bartucci faulted Melidosian for not attending the November 27 public vetting of Skog even though the City Council was meeting that night: “If there is a [City Council] liaison not attending and [the library board] is in the process of finding an executive director, I felt this deserved more attention.”


Melidosian belonged exactly where he was that night – at 505 Butler Place – instead of at the Library auditorium listening to Skog. But apparently that concept doesn’t jibe with Bartucci’s view of City, and Library, government.

Yes, we know – thanks to the Jennifer Johnson’s curiously incomplete cite to the City’s Handbook for Elected Officials – that aldermanic liaisons are “expected” to attend the meetings of their respective boards and commissions. The Handbook, however, does not set any specific requirement for liaison attendance, nor should it – because the duties of a liaison can be accomplished in many ways, some far more effective than by sitting at an uneventful meeting.

And, not surprisingly, Ms. Johnson overlooked that other provision in the very same paragraph of the Handbook (at page 10) that states: “It is not the role of the liaison to express opinions on any issue before the Board or Commission in the liaison’s capacity of Alderman.”

So riddle us this, Ms. Dobrinsky, Ms. Bartucci and Ms. Johnson: What did you expect Ald. Melidosian – or Mayor Maloney, or any other alderman – to do had they been in attendance at the November 27 public vetting of Skog, hours before he withdrew his candidacy for the director’s position: Wave goodbye?

As best as we can tell, Ald. Melidosian has attended virtually all of the Library Board’s regular meetings and a few of its COWs. And, frankly, on occasion he has over-stepped the role of an aldermanic liaison by expressing his opinions about matters before the Board. But we don’t hear Ms. Dobrinsky, Ms. Bartucci and Ms. Johnson beefing about that.

So what exactly is their agenda?

To read or post comments, click on title.

Is “Reform” Finally Coming To Maine Township Government?


Illinois has almost 7,000 units of government – a whopping 2,000+ more than first runner-up Pennsylvania. In contrast, Florida deserves the taxpayers’ Miss Congeniality award for serving 6 million more residents than Illinois with only 1,650 units of government.

Critics of our banana republic (formerly known as the “Land of Lincoln”) correctly attribute its nearly bankrupt condition to our surfeit of taxing/borrowing/spending entities. And one of the bigger contributors to our fiscal buffoonery is township government.

Illinois has 1,432 individual units of township government, even though 17 of Illinois’ 102 counties have none at all. That leaves 85 counties with an average of 16.85 townships apiece. And because all townships sit within county borders, there are two higher layers of government – state and county – already in place to address the needs of township residents.

But all townships also contain municipalities (Park Ridge is home to portions of Maine, Norwood and Leyden townships) that provide yet another layer of government services to township residents within those municipalities’ borders, to say nothing of the park districts, school districts, library districts and even mosquito abatement districts that do the same.

Against the backdrop of such perversely-comical redundancy we offer today’s post, our first ever that focuses exclusively on Maine Township government and on how three newly-elected (in April, 2017) trustees – Dave Carrabotta (R), Claire McKenzie (D) and Susan Sweeney (R) – have forged a bi-partisan majority to challenge the Township’s sclerotic business-as-usual operations and shake it loose from its historical Illinois Combine-style politics.

We’ll refer to them collectively as “The Reformers.”

To illustrate what they are up against, we direct your attention to a January 2, 2018 article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate: “Maine Township trustees set property tax levies amid pushback” – which captures some of the half-truths, “what ifs” and wrong-thinking that have made Maine Twp. government a sluggish political backwater for decades.

Back in November The Reformers voted 3-2 (Supervisor Laura Morask and Trustee Kim Jones voting no) to lower the Township’s general town fund and general assistance levies by 5 percent, arguing that the Township was sitting on substantial reserves and did not need the higher levy Morask was seeking.

Imagine that: A majority of Maine Twp. elected officials actually voting to reduce a tax levy. They must be taking lessons from the Park Ridge City Council, which last month reduced its levy for the second consecutive year – this time by 8.99% – as Mayor Marty Maloney credited the late mayor Dave Schmidt and the late alderman Dan Knight for starting the do-more-with-less effort that City staff and the current Council have built upon.

Although The Reformers won that November vote, at the Township Board’s December 19 meeting Morask argued vigorously against the reduction while her long-time ally, Township Highway Commissioner Walter Kazmierczak, insisted on a 2 percent increase in his road and bridge levy that would push his department’s annual revenue to over $2 million.

That brought a rebuke from Sweeney, who pointed out that Kazmierczak’s department had spent approximately $1.8 million the previous year, and well below $2 million in previous years.

But Morask and Kazmierczak weren’t giving up.

They threw every single uncertainty, contingency and catastrophe they could imagine against the Town Hall wall: Uncertain health care costs, successful property tax appeals, increased user fees, the potential for a cold and snowy winter, increased overtime costs, possible increases in commodity costs, an increase in the CPI – even the possibility of the General Assembly approving a property-tax freeze.

When that didn’t appear to be swaying The Reformers, however, Morask and Kazmierczak insisted that the Board was legally required to approve Kazmierczak’s road and bridge levy request – with Morask telling them: “You guys really don’t have a choice.”

Fortunately, The Reformers are learning that Morask is often wrong, even if never in doubt.

McKenzie, an attorney, pointed out the absurdity of the Board’s having to vote on a levy without being able to vote “no” – especially given Kazmierczak’s admission that his department “had plenty of money left over” from last year due to a mild 2016-2017 winter. Maybe he’s looking to create a slush fund (pun intended).

That left it to Morask to provide the night’s biggest whopper in trying to impose her will on The Reformers:

“Right now, we have the perception of being good government.”

We can only wonder where Morask acquired the delusion that “good government” consists of spending almost $700,000 a year to give out less than $200,000 of general assistance benefits.

That’s right, folks: According to the the Township’s own report, the Morask Administration – which more accurately should be called the “Morass Administration” – it appears that last year the Township paid $697,804 out of its “General Assistance Fund” (presumably in staff salaries and related expenditures) in order to distribute $183,833 of benefits to the needy residents of the Township. By our calculation that’s an efficiency rating of 21%.

If Maine Township were a private charitable organization it would be flagged as one to avoid because of its excessive overhead expenditures!

Hopefully that kind of inefficiency factored into The Reformers once again approving a 5% reduction in the general town fund and general assistance levies, and a flat road and bridge levy, by a 3-2 (Morask and Jones again voting “no”) majority.

We realize Maine Township, with an annual budget of around $7 million, absorbs less than 2% of our RE tax bills – even as the City of Park Ridge and the Park Ridge Library combined take about 13%, and the schools grab the lion’s share of approximately 69% (with a majority of that going to Park Ridge-Niles School District 64). At the December 19 meeting, Sweeney noted the Township’s relatively small RE tax bite while correctly observing: “[T]hat doesn’t mean we should go without scrutiny or [not] look at saving whatever tax dollars [we can].”

We quoted scripture in our 03.17.2011 post about how D-64’s bumbling of its lunchtime supervision program did not bode well for its bigger decisions: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” Luke 16:10 (King James Version). That same passage could apply to Maine Township if not for The Reformers.

Here’s hoping Carrabotta, McKenzie and Sweeney stick together and remain faithful to both the Township’s taxpayers and its neediest residents by even more aggressively calling out the business-as-usual incompetence (if not outright waste) that has been SOP for Township government for too long.

To read or post comments, click on title.