Trick Or Treat, Park Ridge


With none of our local governmental bodies scheduled to meet tonight and, therefore, not playing any tricks on the taxpayers, we’ve decided to offer a few tricks and treats of our own – although, as might be expected, there are more tricks than treats:

Trick:  Former mayor Howard Frimark got his name splashed all over our two local newspapers a few months back when he insisted the City fine the editor of this blog more than $500,000 for approximately 1,100 postings using the “PublicWatchdog “banner” that includes a stylized partial depiction of the City flag.  Frimark claimed it violated the City’s flag ordinance.  But at last week’s City Council meeting – with Frimark nowhere to be seen – the City attorney reported that the flag ordinance likely was unenforceable, especially when applied to political speech.  So it looks like this trick’s on Howie.

Treat:  The Park District is reporting that it actually made a profit on its outdoor pools this year – thanks to the fact that the perennial financial albatross known as Oakton Pool no longer hemorrhaged around $100,000 of red ink this summer.

Trick:  Proving no good deed goes unpunished, a group of residents want the darkened Oakton pool replaced with a second ice rink. Of course, the proponents are already waxing rhapsodic about the need for another ice surface and how much revenue it will generate.  We suspect they’re suffering from brain freezes, but let the Park District hang a credible price tag – including any bond interest – on the idea, put it to referendum on the March 2012 primary ballot and see what the voters think of it.

Treat:  Rumors emerging from City Hall indicate that, for the just-concluded 2010-11 fiscal year, the City posted a surplus in its General (Operating) Fund, and an overall surplus for all of its funds.  That follows three straight years of deficits totaling almost $6 million by our count. 

Trick:  The ISAT scores are out, and both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times are reporting that no D-64 school ranked among the “Top 50” elementary or middle schools – despite its 4th highest-paid administrators and its 25th highest-paid teachers.  We can’t wait to hear the way the District’s spin-doctor, Bernadette Tramm, plays this bit of info, especially with teacher contract negotiations imminent.

Treat:  As reported in this week’s Park Ridge Journal, local website design firm has offered to make up a $2,900 shortfall in the holiday lights program. 

Trick:  City Mgr. Jim Hock’s admission that the City has taken no action since 2008 to collect on hundreds of thousands of dollars in parking tickets and other fines, which failure was recently discovered by new City Finance Director Alison Stutts.  It will be interesting to see how this dereliction of duty is spun and who ends up “wearing the jacket” for it.

Scared yet?

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With Herald-Advocate And Journal Under Control, D-64 Turns Its Sights On “Spinning” TribLocal


If you don’t recognize the name Bernadette Tramm, don’t feel bad.  The “Public Information Coordinator” of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 probably likes it that way.

She’s the District 64 employee whose job it is to burnish the public image of District 64 – to ensure that good news about the District gets shouted from the rooftops while bad news gets buried.  Quickly.  No matter how little useful information might be flowing out of D-64’s headquarters, it’s Ms. Tramm’s job to convince the average citizen that the sunlight on D-64 is so bright it’s time to put on the Oakleys…and slather on a little SPF-30 for good measure.

When D-64 wins the virtually meaningless “Big Red Apple” award every year, it’s Tramm’s job to make sure every local news organization knows about it the moment it’s announced.  And when the Chicago Sun-Times reports (as it did in its May 31, 2011 edition) that D-64 has the 4th highest paid administrators and the 25th highest paid teachers, it’s also Tramm’s job to convince those same local news outlets not to sully their pages with such matters.

So Tramm must have been working overtime this past week to spin the Chicago Tribune’s “TribLocal” reporter, Jennifer Delgado, into writing not one but two stories that were printed in yesterday’s edition.

The first, “D64 looks at new ways to communicate with taxpayers,” is a puff-piece on D-64’s purported embrace of increased communication and transparency “with parents, community members and taxpayers” – including improvements to the District’s website, the use of social media, and online surveys.  Delgado writes approvingly of how, just this past August, “the district started taping board meetings in response to parents [sic] complaints” – without mentioning that the District’s taping commenced only after resident Marshall Warren showed up with his own video camera and recorded the August 8th meeting.

Delgado also fails to mention that, prior to Warren’s self-help cinematography, Supt. Philip Bender was resisting video-recording of meetings and calling for an opinion from the District’s legal counsel, while Board member Scott Zimmerman proclaimed the videotaping of meetings as being “against school board policy.”  Why the oversight by Delgado?  We’re guessing she didn’t dig outside the little area Tramm had plowed for her – which means that including such information, as President Bush ’41 used to say: “Wouldn’t be prudent.”

Prudence also may be why Tramm bemoaned the expense of the community-wide telephone survey suggested by Board member Anthony Borrelli, and why a proposed District “blog” will likely contain only “one or two paragraphs or photos of school happenings” and won’t “be geared for commentary.”  In other words, D-64 doesn’t want any comments it can’t sanitize and control.

And prudence may also be why we can’t seem to find anywhere on the D-64 website the exact amount of extra dollars – not just the 44 cents added to the levy in 2006 and 2007, or some unidentifiable percentage – that the referendum tax increase took out of the taxpayers’ pockets; or why nobody at D-64 seems to be able to satisfactorily explain why its schools don’t consistently score as well on the ISATs as many suburban districts whose administrators and teachers aren’t nearly as well paid.

That’s what passes for communication and transparency from D-64.

Delgado’s second article “D64 moves quickly to bring finance committee back,” reports on D-64’s intention to quickly reconvene its Community Finance Committee (“CFC”) and recruit new members “to study subjects like spend management, student fees and taxpayer education.”

Anytime you hear the term “taxpayer education,” think “propaganda.”  And when it comes from D-64, that propaganda likely is coming from Tramm.

The CFC, you may recall, was created in 2004 in order to address the death-spiral the District’s finances were in the years following the 1997 “Yes/Yes” referendum to replace the District’s then-newest school building with the “new” Emerson Middle School.  The CFC’s innovative response to that problem was to: (a) recommend a “backdoor” non-voting referendum that authorized the issuance of $5 million of working-cash bonds to keep the Illinois State Board of Education from taking charge of the District’s finances; and then (b) recommend the 2007 tax increase referendum.

Can you say “tax, borrow and spend?”  Or “borrow, tax and spend?” Or how about “Spend, borrow and tax?”  Did you know that’s what passes for financial strategy at D-64?

Which is why Delgado’s reporting that a CFC “subgroup” had advised the D-64 administration and Board that “the district’s fund balance would reach an apex after the referendum but then would gradually decrease, meaning the district might have to seek another referendum” made us more than a little suspicious – if only because we can’t tell from Delgado’s article whether the subgroup’s advice to which she refers occurred back in 2007, or is of more recent vintage.

When the District pushed through the 2007 tax increase referendum, it did so with the promise that the revenues produced by the tax increase, combined with the District’s more frugal management, would put off any future tax increase referendum to 2017.  At this point in time, however, we are skeptical about that promise becoming reality because we see no hard evidence that D-64’s management has been frugal…even before Board members John Heyde and Pat Fioretto start negotiating the new teachers union contract.

Which means that the CFC subgroup’s prediction may very well come true…and sooner than 2017.

And when that time comes, expect Ms. Tramm to do her best to spin that bit of dross into pure gold.

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Over-Ride Of Community Group “Handouts” Veto Proves Tax-Funded Entitlements Also Alive And Well


We’re starting this post out with one tiny bit of good news: the Park Ridge City Council sustained one of Mayor Dave Schmidt’s vetoes last Monday night – nixing higher wage ranges for non-union City employees – by a 6-1 vote (Ald. Jim Smith dissenting).  

City Mgr. Jim Hock requested those higher ranges to accommodate the 3% across-the-board raises the Council approved – on Hock’s recommendation – by passing the amended 2011-12 budget back on May 25th by a 5-2 vote (Schmidt and Ald. Dan Knight dissenting, Ald. Joe Sweeney absent), and then locked in by over-riding Schmidt’s veto on June 20th by a 6-1 vote (Knight dissenting).  The Council rubber-stamped Hock’s higher wage ceilings on August 15th by yet another 6-1 vote (Knight again dissenting) which Schmidt vetoed on August 29th, setting the stage for the veto-sustaining vote. 

The worst part of these raises (and the raises for unionized City employees) is that they come with basically no articulated rationale other than that those employees have gone 2-3 years without raises.  That’s it: no discussion of improved performance, no analysis of greater efficiencies, no attempt to differentiate among the various employees.  Just a blanket, everybody’s-entitled, 3% increase tacked onto whatever those non-union employees already had been making.

What were Alds. Sweeney (1st), Rich DiPietro (2nd), Jim Smith (3rd), Sal Raspanti (4th), Tom Bernick (6th) and Marty Maloney (7th) thinking when they voted for these raises?  Who knows, because they’re not saying: apparently they don’t believe they owe the taxpayers any explanation when giving away significant amounts of public funds.

Although the Council’s veto-sustaining vote didn’t repeal those raises that will cost the taxpayers $185,766 this year alone, by preventing increases in the wage ceilings it thereby capped those raises at those ceilings – with the balances of the would-be raises paid out in lump sum-like bonuses that, as we understand it, are not considered for purposes of pension benefit determinations. 

Whether by blind squirrel theory or the law of unintended consequences, this Council appears to have done a good thing for Park Ridge taxpayers.  And even if it provides only a small savings this year, a much bigger benefit may result if these lump-sum payments become an alternative to those arbitrary salary increases that carry the extra baggage of increases in pension liability. 

So we’re calling this one small step for Schmidt, even if it’s no giant leap for the Council’s spending lemmings – unless, of course, they can stiffen their spines enough to start saying “no” to raises and “yes” to bonuses based on productivity and merit instead of across-the-board donations.

Which leads us to Monday night’s over-ride of the mayor’s veto of the first $15,444 installment payment to the City’s private community groups – not including the Youth Commission, which is a City (i.e., “public”) commission rather than a “private” organization.  

Schmidt vetoed this installment on October 3, 2011, noting that these donations of completely arbitrary amounts of tax dollars that are budgeted to total $61,776 this year not only violate Article VIII of the Illinois Constitution and the City Council’s own Policy No. 6, but also represent bad management – as Schmidt’s veto message pointed out:

Furthermore, if the City is to expend public funds on these privately-performed services, it should not do so in the form of donations of arbitrary funding amounts, but in the same manner that it purchases any other services from private vendors: under a written contract that identifies each service provided, to whom it is being provided, and the charge for each such service; and that also requires that the City be furnished with the information necessary for it to objectively determine whether all the services for which it is being billed have, in fact, been rendered to Park Ridge residents.

Unfortunately, don’t expect this Council – with the exception of Ald. Knight – to “get” these concepts.  Our tongue-tied aldermen seem to enjoy playing Santa Claus with our money far too much to concern themselves with something as mundane as requiring contracts from these private organizations that expressly limit their receipt of City funding to: (a) specific services to be provided to Park Ridge residents at specific unit prices; and (b) the City’s receiving a detailed accounting confirming that those services have, in fact, been provided at those prices.

What’s wrong with that, one might ask?  It would make the people running those private organizations unhappy.

And one thing we’ve learned about these spendthrift aldermen is that they don’t like to make anybody feeding at the public trough unhappy.

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Veto Over-Ride Proves Appeasement Alive And Well In Park Ridge City Gov’t


Within the past couple of weeks, the heretofore unthinkable happened.

The new mayor of that political cesspool known as Chicago, and the almost-new president of the Crook County board, both announced that their respective branches of government were going to get salaries under control or there would be more layoffs – in excess of 1,000 at the county level, along with furloughs and the loss of paid holidays; and more than 500 in Chicago, along with eliminating almost 800 vacant positions.

But here in Park Ridge, our public officials not only keep giving out raises without a care in the world, but they also sweeten the pot with additional benefits like the no-layoff provision contained in the new firefighters union contract – presumably to prevent themselves from correcting their mistake at a later date should their judgment ever return.

Monday night, by a 6-1 vote (Ald. Dan Knight dissenting), the Council over-rode Mayor Dave Schmidt’s veto of the contract between the City and the firefighters union – in an empty Council chambers as the clock worked its way toward midnight, after a closed-session discussion orchestrated by the City’s highly-paid “labor attorney” Dina Kapernekas, whose hiring and compensation arrangement we still haven’t been able to find memorialized in any of the Council meeting minutes.

Such 11th-hour maneuvering is a slap in the face of anybody who believes in transparent government.  That’s even more true when the maneuvering endorses a contract that was negotiated under a public-information blackout agreed to by Fire Chief Mike Zywanski without the good sense of consulting with the mayor or the Council prior to agreeing to it; and without the integrity of admitting to what he did when the mayor first asked about it at the May 2nd meeting – unless his initial silence was intended to buy time for him and certain other City employees to get their stories straight and persuade Chief Z to wear the jacket?

Not surprisingly, four of the six aldermen casting over-ride votes (Alds. Sweeney, DiPietro, Raspanti and Maloney) Monday night didn’t even feel any obligation to publicly explain the reason(s) for those votes, limiting themselves to a simple “no” when they were polled on the motion to sustain the veto.  Apparently they don’t care whether or how the firefighters are supposed to actually earn their 2% bump in 2012-13 and their 3% bump in 2013-14.  2-3% quicker response times on fire calls?  2-3% greater success rate on paramedic resuscitations?  2-3% reductions in fire damages?  2-3% more cats removed from trees?

Or is the real point of their sphinx-like silence that they truly believe City employees do not need to actually earn their raises in this madcap world of public-sector unionized employment?  Or in the equally madcap public-sector non-unionized employment, for that matter – as we saw from this same merry band’s approval of an amended 2011-12 budget back in May that included 3% across-the-board raises for the City’s non-union employees – with only Schmidt and Knight dissenting?

Only Alds. Tom Bernick (6th) and Jim Smith (3rd) gave any clue to their reasons for their veto over-ride votes, and Smith’s was little more than a call to “move on.”

Bernick, on the other hand, called it “a very good contract” despite being unable to articulate anything “good” about it other than that it would eliminate any chance of the union demanding costly arbitration.  In fact, Bernick sounds so terrified of arbitration that he may have crowned himself the Council’s new “Chicken Little,” title vacated by former Ald. Jim Allegretti – especially in light of Kapernekas’ admission that the City’s turning down the contract didn’t make arbitration a certainty because the City and the union still could agree to resume negotiations over those two points on which Schmidt based his veto: the 3% year-three raise and the no-layoff provision.

Bernick’s expressed arbitration-phobia and the “sphinx”-aldermen’s unexplained over-ride votes become far more problematic, however, is in how these bad contract terms affect future negotiations and contracts. 

As Schmidt correctly noted in his comments immediately prior to the over-ride vote, by agreeing to these terms the City is effectively setting a new baseline for subsequent negotiations…and any subsequent arbitration award.  In other words, by agreeing to the 3% year-three raise and the no-layoff provision, the City has now given the firefighters union (and every other City-employee union?) carte blanche to treat those terms as an entitlement in future negotiations…and has given any arbitrator carte blanche to award those terms in any future arbitration.

What this vote (and the prior vote to adopt this flawed contract) also does is effectively announce that these aldermen, save for one, are pushovers: six Neville Chamberlain wannabes going belly up for the union and then proudly waving this contract above their heads while proclaiming labor “peace in our time.”  

Can you say “entitlement,” Alds. Sweeney, DiPietro, Smith, Raspanti, Bernick and Maloney? 

We knew you could.

Now, how about “appeasement”?

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District 64 Teachers Negotiations Starting Off On Wrong Foot


Anybody who has been reading this blog for the past several months knows that we have been critical of across-the-board salary increases recently given out by the Park Ridge City Council (to both union and non-union employees) and by Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 (to non-union administrators).   Such increases, lacking any basis in merit or productivity, are bad public policy on several levels; and bad management of limited resources. 

We were highly critical of City Manager Jim Hock’s apparent abdication of responsibility for the firefighters contract negotiations to senior Fire Dept. staff (the “Fire Guys”).  As part of the firefighter “fraternity,” they couldn’t be expected to negotiate aggressively with their “frat brothers”; and they never should have been put in such positions of likely failure.  That bit of bad management is on Hock.

Nevertheless, Fire Chief Mike Zywanski made a bad situation much worse by agreeing (beyond his authority, and without even discussing it with the mayor or City Council) to a set of negotiating “Ground Rules” that gagged our elected officials and kept the public in the dark about the terms being negotiated.  He then compounded that gaffe by sitting silently at the May 2, 2011 Council Meeting and refusing to answer Mayor Dave Schmidt’s questions about who committed the City to those “Ground Rules.”  That’s entirely on Chief Z…and on the City Council that approved the resulting ill-advised contract.

But now the taxpayers are facing yet another opportunity to be fleeced by their public employees, this time courtesy of the negotiations between District 64 and the Park Ridge Education Association, a/k/a, the teachers union – the folks who never miss an opportunity to portray themselves as selfless “professionals” who use the slogan “it’s for the kids” as a talisman to ward off accountability and any form of criticism. 

Unlike some residents who get upset when public employees ask for more money, however, we see nothing wrong with public employees asking for higher wages and better benefits.  That’s the “labor” side of the capitalism equation.

Where the problem arises is when feckless elected and appointed officials can’t or won’t say “no” to those requests.  And, as we recently saw when the D-64 Board rubber-stamped 3% across-the-board raises for administrators hashed out in closed session on June 27, 2011, only Board member Anthony Borrelli was willing to say “no.”  That bodes ill for Park Ridge taxpayers who already pay approximately 1/3 of their ever-increasing property tax bills to D-64.

Which is why we are concerned that the District’s teachers contract “negotiating team” reportedly is being led by Board President John Heyde and Board member Pat Fioretto, neither of whom will ever be accused of being fiscal conservatives, even as that term has become increasingly diluted by those who loudly proclaim themselves as such but then quietly ignore all that being it entails. 

Heyde’s imprint on the D-64 Board has been one of secrecy – or the “lack of transparency,” if you prefer – about D-64’s operations, as we’ve previously written in posts such as: “Some ‘Over-The-Transom’ Info About District 64’s Under-The-Radar Activities” (07.06.11); “Secret Pay Raises At School District 64?” (06.30.11); “D-64 Board Stealthily Picks Architect of Record” (05.13.11); “More Of The ‘Culture of Secrecy” At District 64” (09.16.10); “Arrogant And Disrespectful, Or Simply Petty And Juvenile?” (04.07.10); and “Concealing The Details Of A ‘Fair’ Contract Raises Questions” (09.14.09).

Any wonder that the teachers union contract signed by Heyde and Eric Uhlig back in 2009 includes a provision that keeps those negotiations…wait for it…secret from the public, unless both sides agree otherwise?

But Fioretto’s role in the union negotiations might be even more problematic than Heyde’s, primarily because Fioretto makes his living as a labor and employment attorney representing unions, albeit private sector unions.  As his law firm’s website advertises:

Baum Sigman Auerbach & Neuman, Ltd. was founded in 1963, making it one of the oldest law firms in Chicago specializing in the representation of Unions and Taft-Hartley employee benefit funds. For over forty years, we have maintained our commitment to working men and women who comprise organized labor and their employers. We strive to protect the benefits earned by the labor movement as they relate to unions, Taft-Hartley employee benefit funds, and the individual worker.

While we take no exception to Fioretto’s (or his firm’s) avocation or its inherent duties, they generally tend to require the kind of pro-union “fraternal” mind-set that does not readily lend itself to aggressively arguing the “management” position during contract negotiations with other unions, as the Fire Guys recently demonstrated in the botched City firefighters contract negotiations.

While Fioretto’s position on D-64’s negotiating team might not be a classic conflict of interest, it carries the aroma, if not the actual appearance, of impropriety.  Does anybody outside of the D-64 administration and Board – and, of course, those PREA negotiators trying to stifle their grins – reasonably believe that Fioretto should be leading D-64’s negotiating team any more than the Fire Guys should have been leading the City’s firefighters contract negotiating team?

Whether this is simply a big mistake or whether it’s an inherently bad idea is irrelevant.  What is relevant, however, is that this appears to be another case of the wrong men for an important job.

And that’s why, once again, we’ll all end up paying the ever-rising costs of Heyde’s and Fioretto’s unpaid “volunteer” service.

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Fortunately, Mayor Schmidt Is No Gov. Quinn


Monday night (Oct. 3) Mayor Dave Schmidt vetoed the 3-year firefighters union contract that was approved by the City Council on September  19.  In his veto message, he criticized the new contract for only two reasons: the 3% increase in the contract’s third year, which he wants to subject to a re-opener (re-negotiation) if economic conditions warrant it; and the new no-layoff provision, which he wants to eliminate. 

We were disappointed that the City Council passed a contract containing those very significant flaws by a 6-0 vote (Seventh Ward Ald. Marty Maloney was absent) – especially when the minutes of that September 19, 2011 meeting show that only Alds. Dan Knight (5th) and Tom Bernick (6th), along with Schmidt, asked any meaningful questions about the contract’s terms during what passed for Council “debate.”  Across-the-board increases unrelated to improved performance and productivity are hallmarks of bad management, whether in the public or the private sector.

But the most important reason why the mayor’s veto should be sustained is the no-layoff provision.  And if you doubt just how important it is for the City to retain its unfettered right to lay off employees in order to manage expenditures, look no further than the editorial in yesterday’s (Oct. 4) Chicago Tribune, titled “Selling out Illinois.”

That editorial justifiably rips Illinois’ latest ethically-challenged governor, Pat Quinn, for selling out the state’s taxpayers one year ago by…wait for it…cutting a no-layoff deal for state employees.  Now he’s trying to back out of that deal because…wait for it…the state can’t afford all those employees.   The editorial also notes that, in exchange for that no-layoff promise, “the union made some minor cost concessions” – kind of like our firefighters union agreeing to no wage increase this year as the proverbial carrot for a 2% increase next year and the 3% increase the year after that.  

But unlike the governor, who cut his deal with the state’s largest employees union to gain its endorsement of his election bid, we don’t see any evidence of a similar quid pro quo sell-out by the City Council members who approved the firefighters deal.   It seems as if they just decided to give away across-the-board, non-merit based increases and a no-layoff guaranty because the City’s “negotiating team” and its labor attorney recommended it, or they think such raises and guaranties are what government is supposed to do.

Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like the City’s “negotiating team” was the sell-out.  

As we understand it, that “team” was nominally headed by City Mgr. Jim Hock, although he purportedly delegated his primary responsibility to Fire Chief Mike Zywanski, Dep. Chief Jeff Sorensen, and one or more unidentified Battalion Chiefs (the “Fire Guys”).  Hock apparently was oblivious to the risks of letting the Fire Guys – long-time firefighters union members before accepting their promotions to “management” – run contract negotiations with their former “frat brothers.”    

We can only wonder if the Fire Guys showed Hock their fraternity’s secret handshake as part of the deal. 

What else but a sell-out would explain why the City got stuck with a set of negotiation “Ground Rules” requiring that all demands, offers and other such details of the negotiations be kept totally secret and not reported to the public.  And if that doesn’t sound kinky enough, consider that not only did the Fire Guys lack the legal authority to bind the City to those Ground Rules, but they did so without even telling the mayor or the Council.  And then they kept the Ground Rules secret for months afterwards. 

Accrording to the minutes of the May 2, 2011, Council meeting, “[t]he origination of the Ground Rules agreement remained questionable” to that point, in large part because both Hock and Chief Z, despite being present that night, apparently lacked whatever virtues it would have taken for them to stand up and tell the truth then and there – something Chief Z finally got around to doing at the May 16 meeting, when he belatedly admitted (according to that meeting’s minutes) to “presenting the ‘Ground Rules’ to the union” after checking “with a labor attorney and Human Resources” personnel whom he conveniently failed to identify. 

What makes things even more interesting is that, as also reported in the Sept. 19 Council minutes, the City’s bill for those secret negotiations is “approximately $40,000 thus far, non-inclusive of staff time.”  Could the “labor attorney” with whom Chief Z claims to have consulted also be the recipient of that astounding expense?  And could that attorney be Dina Kapernekas, even though we cannot find the minutes of the Council meeting at which her retention by the City for this purpose was approved? 

It should be noted that Schmidt’s latest veto is consistent with his previous veto of a 3% across-the-board increase for non-union City employees.  The Council’s vote on sustaining or over-riding that earlier veto was to have occurred at Monday night’s meeting, but it was postponed by the Council in order to give Hock and City staff a chance to prepare a comparative analysis of other municipalities’ salary structures.

Why wasn’t that kind of analysis prepared before Hock and staff recommended those 3% increases, and before the Council’s original vote that Schmidt vetoed?  Could it be because such comparisons would show that the City’s employees are already better paid than their counterparts in other communities?

We agree with the Tribune that Illinois taxpayers continue to be sold-out by Gov. Quinn.  And it looks to us like Park Ridge taxpayers are being sold-out by some of our City employees, with both this firefighters contract and the non-union raises serving as two of the most recent examples.

Will our elected officials do something about it, or will they just look the other way and rubber-stamp the results?

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