Public Watchdog.org

The Watchdog’s Kibbles & Bits – Box 8

03.21.08

It Ain’t Over ‘Til Howard Says It Is?  Like some schoolyard bully, Park Ridge Mayor Howard Frimark figuratively punched Ald. Dave Schmidt (1st Ward) in the nose a couple of weeks ago with a petty, ineffective and perhaps even illegal “condemnation” of Schmidt for having the nerve to tell the public the truth about what the City Council was doing in secret.  But Schmidt punched back this past Monday night with a trenchant rebuttal of Frimark’s folly.  And Frimark, just like a bully who is finally confronted, seems to have lost his bravado and now calls for an end to the “condemnation debate” he himself started, claiming (as his face-saving alibi) that the “City Council has important business to address.”   

Yes it does, Mr. Mayor, just as it did two weeks ago when you chose to take your cheap shot at Ald. Schmidt, apparently expecting him to cower and become another one of your alderpuppets.  Too bad you needed Schmidt to smack you upside the head in order for you to realize it. 

Park Ridge’s “Super K–Mart.”  You’d think that filling potholes, balancing a budget, and performing the other essential tasks of city government would be enough to keep the City Council engaged.  But while those essential tasks go begging, the Council is preparing to embark on the frolic and detour of redevelopment of what it’s marketing as the “Higgins Corridor.”  And based on early reports, the big-ticket property in the Higgins Corridor is Mr. K’s Garden and Material Center at 1440 Higgins. 

For the time being, Mr. K’s owner, Mark Kowalski, is keeping his cards close to his vest.  “I don’t know if we’ll sell to a developer, develop it ourselves or do a land lease of some sort,” he is saying. “We’re just starting out right now. We’re very much in the infancy of this.”  And for the time being, we’ll take him at his word and wish him the best in his capitalistic endeavors – preferably free of any meddling by our city bureaucrats (and their mercenary consultants) whose redevelopment efforts so far have generated many more millions in expense and debt than in revenue.  

Heading For The Hills.  After 57 years, the business now known as Hill’s Hobby and Collectors’ Shop is closing and moving to Buffalo Grove.  The current owners have given several reasons for the move, including that the average Park Ridge shopper spends only $30 while about half of its customers from the north and northwest suburbs spend an average of $300.  No wonder Hill’s is moving closer to those bigger spenders – while we are left to wonder whether it suggests some serious problems for Park Ridge in attempting to re-invent itself as a retail mecca. 

But another one of the reasons for Hill’s’ departure is more puzzling and troubling. As reported in yesterday’s Herald-Advocate (“Hill’s Hobby to move to Buffalo Grove”): “Mayor Howard Frimark has said the former car dealership building, from which Hill’s has operated since 1985, may be sold to a developer.” 

We can’t help but wonder whether that might explain why Hill’s was offered only a two year lease that included a termination clause if the building is sold. Which causes us to also wonder why Frimark is making such gratuitous pronouncements (or speculations) about existing commercial properties, especially if they create the kind of uncertain business climate that may have helped make Hill’s’ departure a fait accompli.  

Maybe “Integrity” Ain’t What It Used To Be.  Despite his other success last Monday night, Ald. Schmidt failed in his attempt to advance his proposal to require both elected and appointed city officials to recuse themselves from voting on a matter before them if they have an ongoing economic relationship with the person or entity interested in that matter.  While we see some pros and some cons in that proposal, we were amazed at the passion with which 4th Ward Ald. Jim Allegretti denigrated it, going so far as to claim that it “slights us intellectually and slights our integrity.” 

Since you brought it up, Ald. Allegretti, where was your integrity when you came before the City Council in June, 2005, for confirmation as Mayor Frimark’s handpicked aldermanic successor and failed to even mention that you had given Frimark’s campaign fund a $300 contribution just a few months earlier – a fact that could not even be independently discovered at that time because Frimark’s campaign had not yet reported it?  And where was Mayor Frimark’s integrity when he, too, failed to disclose that contribution to the aldermen considering your appointment?  

The fact that you made an additional $200 contribution to Frimark’s campaign fund a few weeks after your appointment was confirmed also raises the specter of the kind of pay-to-play political chicanery (albeit on a much smaller scale) for which Gov. Blagojevich crony Tony Rezko is on trial down at the Dirksen Federal Building.  

Perhaps thou doth protest too much? 

6 comments so far

How much more sales tax are we making from retail sales compared to 5 years ago?

That stuff about ALlegretti’s appointment looks bad, even if it was totally innocent. Then again, if it was totally innocent, why didn’t Allegretti or Frimark say something about it at the time?

I’m sick and tired of City staff or elected officials playing the kinds of games Mayor Frimark looks to have played with the Hill’s property. If there’s a deal involving the city, he should go public with it – and if it’s a totally private deal he should shut up. He may be he biggest gossip in town, which is saying something.

When I read about the Mayor saying that it was time to end the “condemnation” debate I had exactly the same thought. While the debate may end it’s important to note something. And that is that the Mayor owes Alderman Schmidt AND the citizens of Park Ridge a public apology for his asinine behavior. I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

The Mayor sure does have his eyes on the Hill’s property. And for what? The continued Arlington Heights-ization of Park Ridge. Thoughts on that? 1. Like we need another oversized building with more overpriced condo’s in town. 2. If the term TIF and the property are mentioned in the same sentence hold on to your wallets folks.

Allegretti’s protestations at the council meeting were pathetic. Whether you agree or not with the need for a recusal ordinance his obvious ignorance of the reasons for such ordinances – disclosure or recusal – have to make you wonder. His statement to the effect of – trust us, we have the community’s best interests at heart, really ring hollow as we sit and watch the ongoing Rezko trial. Didn’t Blago ride into office on that sort of sentiment? Look where that’s gotten us.

Wondering, good point on “oversized building” holding more condos – and I say that irrespective of condo prices. Those PRC buildings really dwarf everything else in Uptown, and they don’t really fit into the neighborhood. Welcome to Arlington Ridge.

Hoover, you mean Canyon Road, formerly known as NW Highway?
Arlington Ridge. That has a nice ring to it. NOT. But get used to it, I guess…



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