Public Watchdog.org

Witch Hunt?

03.05.08

They can’t keep our streets paved or fill the potholes.  They can’t stop the flooding of our basements.  They can’t get us dependable electric power.  They can’t stop hiring consultants to tell them only what they want to hear.  They can’t stop raising our taxes.  They can’t even stop giving away our money and special favors to political contributors. 

But one thing Mayor Howard Frimark and his Alderpuppets Jim Allegretti, Don Bach, Tom Carey, Rich DiPietro and Robert Ryan can do is run a witch hunt…or a snipe hunt, depending on your point of view.

At the City Council meeting this past Monday night (March 3), Frimark used his regular “Mayor’s Report” to read a prepared statement in which he, City Clerk Betty Henneman and the Alderpuppets publicly “condemned” the release of closed session information and materials by 1st Ward Warlock…er, Alderman…Dave Schmidt, apparently for Schmidt’s having the temerity to actually tell Park Ridge taxpayers how the City was going to spend more than a million dollars of their money on a police department “audit” and on the acquisition of yet another parcel of private property for a new police station.

As reported in today’s Park Ridge Journal (“Mayor Condemns Alderman’s Release Of Documents,” March 5), Frimark and Friends once again displayed their terminal ignorance of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (IOMA), with Frimark wrongly insisting that the Illinois legislature recognized that “certain matters…should not be discussed in open session.”  He then blamed Schmidt’s release of the previously-concealed information for having “laid waste to the confidence and trust that are necessary for deliberative bodies to carry out their duties.”

Bunk.

As we’ve said before, and as is clear from the discussion of IOMA on the Illinois Attorney General’s website, IOMA merely permits – but does not require – certain limited subjects to be discussed in closed session.  Moreover, nowhere in IOMA does the state legislature require that any of the information discussed or disseminated in, or in connection with, such closed sessions be treated as “confidential” or entitled to secrecy. 

Of course, given the wheeling and dealing that Frimark and the Alderpuppets have been concealing from their constituents in all those closed sessions, they need to trust each other to keep secrets – not unlike the Mafia with its “omerta” (code of silence). So a guy like Schmidt is their worst nightmare – an informant.  That’s bad for those conspirators, but great for us taxpayers.

Which would explain why Frimark snuck the “Council Decorum” item into the existing agenda over the weekend and then apparently circulated his condemnation statement among the Alderpuppets in classic “hub-and-spoke” conspiracy style, ostensibly to avoid violating IOMA.  And in classic Frimark style, he didn’t even have the decency to offer Schmidt the courtesy of a preview.  

From the account in The Journal and from reports of citizens in attendance Monday night, it almost sounds as if Frimark was flirting with McCarthyism in his attack on Schmidt.  The only question is whether Frimark’s McCarthyism is of the paranoid Sen. Joe McCarthy variety, or of the petulant Charlie McCarthy type. 

And the answer to that question might very well depend on whether Frimark is coming up with this nonsense on his own, or whether he’s just a dummy spouting the views of some behind-the-scenes Edgar Bergen.

10 comments so far

your final paragraph is interesting, as i’ve heard from time to time that frimark is just a “front man” for others. i never could find out who those “others” were, but it piqued my curiosity because he seems to have accomplished a lot, politically, for somebody who doesn’t seem to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Is what Mayor Frimark did with the condemning Alderman Schmidt and having the City Council join in and not tell Alderman Schmidt about it legal to do?

I do not want to sound like a dummy, but I do not know the law for it. It does not sound legal.

Our understanding is that it has no legal effect and, therefore, it is neither legal nor illegal. It’s effectively a nullity – a purely political ploy ginned up by Frimark and the Alderpuppets in a spiteful but misguided attempt to embarrass and intimidate Ald. Schmidt for blowing the whistle on their wheeling and dealing.

It is more than a little disturbing, however, to realize that those are the people who have control of the City’s $50 Million-plus budget, along with the power to borrow and spend countless millions more.

So for all of you who voted for Frimark and for his Council reduction, we hope you are enjoying your colonoscopy.

I wish Schmidt were my alderman – mine’s a tool.

I’m also sick of all this closed session/confidential crap. The Council should do everything in open session. If you’re a public employee and you don’t want your chronic nosepicking or job screw-ups discussed publicly, then go get a job in the private sector. If my money is going toward your salary, I want to know what you’re doing to earn it.

Bright light is the best disinfectant, and there sure sounds like there’s a lot of mold and fungus that needs cleaning up.

He wants to be a Joe McCarthy (think: I gotta get those dirty bastards) but unfortunately (for him) he has a Charlie McCarthy mentality and talents. Has anyone actually observed some of those Alderpuppets moving their lips recently???

“I think all public officials including the Mayor, the Alderman and members of our boards and commissions really are ethical people.”

Mayor Howard P. Frimark, Procedures and Regulations Committee meeting, January 11, 2006.

Enough Said.

I think Fred and I have the same alderman.

Wondering:

We have seen the Alderpuppets move their lips…while reading. But nobody has heard them talk while the mayor is drinking water.

Appreciate your website but want to make clear that Alderman Schmidt was not releasing the info about the police investigation because of the cost (which is $300,000 lower than the most recent settlement our town paid) and probably significantly lower than the amount we’ll pay on the Farley case (another federal lawsuit which was recently filed). He was releasing it because Schuenke was trying to get the city council to NOT go forward with a real investigation and to instead do a cheaper, more superficial “management audit” that most assuredly would not have gotten at the truth. That was the problem. It would be great if your website recognized the serious complaints that have been brought against the police department and supported trying to get this town a first rate department. It may cost a bit more in the short term but it will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run. Thanks.

We strongly support a thorough, non-political audit of the Police Department, which is also one of the reasons we also oppose spending $20-30 Million on a big new police station.

Money spent on that much brick and mortar is money that can’t be spent on the things that really make the department better: equipment, training, and compensation and benefits that can attract and keep the kind of personnel we want. As we’ve said repeatedly, square footage doesn’t prevent or solve crimes.

That being said, however, we do favor a complete renovation of the current cop shop and perhaps a modest space increase either at the current location or – as has been suggested by Ald. Frank Wsol and others – at the two fire houses, making them integrated public safety facilities.



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