Time For Some Answers From Alds. Ryan And Wsol


Monday night the Park Ridge City Council ended its 7-month flirtation with billboards, at least for the time being, when Ald. Jim “Billboards” Allegretti led the effort to deprive Park Ridge residents of a final Council vote on whether or not to uphold the 9-0 decision of the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission (“P&Z”) against permitting billboards in Park Ridge.

After shamelessly serving as chief Council lackey for Joseph Loss’ Generation Group, Inc. (“GGI”) in its effort to get permits for four billboards at Renaissance Office Plaza by using the City as its unofficial agent, Allegretti took the coward’s way out: with the help of Alds. Don Bach, Tom Carey and Robert Ryan, he successfully substituted his motion to withdraw the City’s zoning change application for the pending tactical motion of Ald. Joe Sweeney to overturn the P&Z ruling. 

Sweeney’s motion was “tactical” because it would have required a supermajority of six votes, something Sweeney’s and Ald. Rich DiPietro’s expected “no” votes would have prevented.   

What Allegretti has up his sleeve with this latest ploy isn’t immediately clear, but with a little luck we won’t have to watch City government waste further time and effort on a billboards proposal that, even if it had been approved by P&Z or the Council, likely could have generated only a tiny fraction of the revenues Allegretti (and GGI) were promising.
The upshot of all this? 

Seven months of wasted time and attention by the Council, City Staff and the public on an initiative that didn’t deserve to get off the ground – and probably wouldn’t have, if not for the votes of Ryan and Ald. Frank Wsol at the August 17, 2009, Council meeting in support of Allegretti’s motion to make the City, rather than GGI, the zoning change applicant. 

With Bach and Carey absent that night, Ryan’s and Wsol’s votes were all Allegretti needed to overcome the opposition of Sweeney and DiPietro.  And once that happened, the unproductive chain of events that followed was set in motion.

The minutes of the August 17 meeting (sanitized for your protection by the City Clerk, as usual) say only that Allegretti “believes this case was important enough to allow the Council to have the final word” that it wouldn’t get if GGI were the applicant and P&Z denied its application; and there’s no mention of Ryan or Wsol speaking on the motion before voting to approve it.

Try as we might, however, we can’t think of one good “public policy” reason why this case was so “important” that the City had to carry the water for GGI.  Or why the Council needed to have “the final word” on it.  

Although it’s easy to think of several kinky reasons why Allegretti so shamelessly pushed the GGI agenda, we have to wonder what Ryan and Wsol could have been thinking when they signed onto Allegretti’s special deal for GGI.
So we pose the following question for Messrs. Ryan and Wsol:  Why did you vote to make the City the appllicant for the zoning ordinance amendments to permit billboards, especially where doing so allowed GGI to avoid the disclosure requirements of the City’s ethics ordinance that are designed to combat kinky deals? 

Gentlemen, feel free to submit your explanation(s) as comments to this post – we promise to publish them.  

Meanwhile, since we don’t really expect Ryan or Wsol to take us up on our offer, we invite our rank-and-file readers to offer their own explanations.