Public Watchdog.org

WWRD? Hide In Plain Sight From Scary Debates

02.12.13

A minor snow/sleet storm may have held down attendance at last Thursday night’s City of Park Ridge town hall/candidates’ debate.  But the 40-50 folks who made it to the Park Ridge Senior Center heard Mayor Dave Schmidt and four of the six City Council candidates talk about their beliefs and ideas for improving City government.

The main event of the evening was scheduled to be the first debate between Schmidt and challenger Larry Ryles.  But with Ryles a no-show along with 2nd Ward candidate George Korovilas  and 4th Ward hopeful Jane Johnson, Schmidt, 2nd Ward candidate Nick Milissis and 4th Ward candidate Roger Shubert got to play Q and A with the moderators, Park Ridge Journal editor/publisher Todd Wessell and Park Ridge Herald-Advocate editor Ben Meyerson, who also asked questions tendered by the audience.

That made the featured “bout” a battle of the 6th Ward bantamweights, with current alderman Marc Mazzuca and challenger Vincent “Vinny” LaVecchia displaying two different styles and views of City government, especially on finances.  That bodes well for an energetic contest between them, a welcome difference from two years ago when Tom Bernick ran unopposed but then resigned his seat barely a year into his 2-year term.

And we hope the absences of Korovalis and Johnson last Thursday night are not an indication of their lack of commitment to their respective campaigns.  The voters in those two wards need and deserve more, and more vigorously-contested, aldermanic races than what they’ve been getting.  Not only those voters, but voters throughout the entire community, would have been better served with three aldermanic debates Thursday night rather than just one.

But the biggest disappointment was Ryles being MIA.  As reported by both local newspapers, he went through two alibis for not attending – it was “Schmidt’s debate,” and there were no “ground rules” to establish the “controlled environment” he desires – before coming up with, at the eleventh hour, the excuse he apparently felt he could best sell to the voters: a family commitment.

That’s too bad, because we would have loved to have heard Ryles actually try to answer a number of those questions asked of Schmidt.

For example, we would have loved to have heard Ryles explain why, despite his insistence on keeping property tax levy increases at or below the CPI, he was MIA from the recent Council debates that led to the Council’s adopting the 2.15% increase, the lowest in over a decade; and why he didn’t share with both the Council and the public what specific additional expenses he would have cut, or how specifically he would raise revenues, in order to cut that levy increase even further.

We also would have loved to have heard Ryles identify each specific business he reportedly has been accusing Schmidt of driving out of town, or keeping out of town – and how Ryles would have prevented those departures while luring the others in.  We’re still waiting to hear what specific retailers Ryles thinks he can bring here, and what devices or techniques he plans on using (and at what cost).j

And we can’t wait to hear Ryles’ plans for dealing with the City’s biggest black hole, the misguided and mismanaged Uptown TIF.

Although Ryles may have been MIA last Thursday night, two of his key backers were prominently in attendance: former mayor Howard Frimark, rumored to be serving (with exquisite irony, we might add) as Ryles’ one-man “truth squad”; and ubiquitous local public relations and marketing hired gun, Dick Barton. Frimark was observed furiously scribbling away, seemingly creating a verbatim transcript of the proceedings.

Fortunately, you don’t need to rely on Frimark’s play-by-play, because Schmidt had the festivities videotaped and posted on YouTube, where you can see and hear the candidates who participated; and judge for yourself just how unfair to Ryles was the forum and format Schmidt created.

The next chance to see the candidates in the flesh – assuming they all show up – is at the Park Ridge Republican Women’s Forum on March 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the South Park Recreation Center.  The mayoral candidates also are scheduled to debate before the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce at the Park Ridge Country Club on March 13 between 11:30 and 1:30 p.m.; and before the League of Women Voters on March 14, at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

Until then, expect Ryles to continue to be MIA, even while hiding in plain sight.

To read or post comments, click on title.

13 comments so far

No third ward challenger? Shame.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No third ward election this year. Shame you didn’t know that.

But any would-be challengers of 3rd Ward Ald. Jim Smith in 2015 might be interested in Smitty’s latest press release announcing his support of Larry Ryles for mayor, in which he reportedly (according to today’s Park Ridge Journal story) complained that Mayor Schmidt has neglected economic development in the City. How ironic (or outright deceitful), coming from the guy who was the Council’s most vocal critic of Whole Foods. But maybe increased solar flare activity or a slight shift in the earth’s magnetic field while he was writing his press release garbled what normally passes for his thinking.

I really enjoyed participating in the February 7th candidate’s forum. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the issues that are important to the residents of the 2nd ward and the City. After all that is why I am running for alderman. The forum was ran impeccably, fairly and courteously for both the candidates and the audience. As you mentioned, the people can judge for themselves by watching the video of the entire event on YouTube. There are two similar events left (which include aldermanic candidates) so I would urge ALL candidates to come out and discuss what their views are on the issues affecting our city. If we as candidates don’t do that now how will the voters trust us to be able to carry out our duties as their elected representatives in the future?

EDITOR’S NOTE: And we applaud your efforts, Mr. Milissis.

Can there be a fair and honest debate here ?

Can we finally see that Mayor Dave closes his

personal check book for the Democratic candidates

too ? As in the past !! Let’s finally ask the

self appointed alderman Judge Judy for her

EDITOR’S NOTE: Can you please translate this into something intelligible for those of us who don’t speak Spanos?

input !

Since I’m not in the third ward I’m not on top of the alderman’s term, sorry. But I’m glad to hear that’s the reason there is no candidate to challenge him and not that he’s running uncontested.

As for his support for the Mayor’s opponent, I’d guess he’d support basically “Anybody but Schmidt,” which is hardly a ringing endorsement for Ryles. And indeed his claim that Schmidt has neglected economic development is rich considering how excruciatingly embarrassing his attempts to block the Whole foods project were.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, but if you were paying attention at all you should have known – irrespective of what ward you’re from – that wards 1, 3, 5 and 7 got 4-year terms in the 2011 election, while Wards 2, 4 and 6 got only 2-year terms, in order to create a staggering effect to compensate for the 7-at-once result of Frimark’s cut-the-Council referendum in 2007.

But you are absolutely correct about Smitty’s ridiculous attempts to block Whole Foods. We have also heard, although have not confirmed, that Smitty favored Mariano’s; and that he believed that if Whole Foods got its spot Mariano’s would not come to Park Ridge. Contrary to that, we have heard from more dependable sources, although also not confirmed, that Mariano’s abandoned its plans to come to Park Ridge because the developer working with Mariano’s wanted an even bigger City subsidy than Whole Foods was denied.

If nobody runs against Ald. Smith in 2015, it’s almost worth moving to the 3rd ward to do so. He’s that embarrassing for the City. If you live in the 3rd ward, for heaven’s sake consider it now. Your beagle could win. And Editor, I’ll go with “deceitful” — as Ald. Smith voluntarily attended most meetings of the Economic Development Task Force — a group of local business owners, biz consultants who live here, and dedicated local shoppers — ALL appointed by Mayor Schmidt to help address the City’s economic development needs.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Any ward that can’t field even one legitimate, petition-collecting candidate doesn’t deserve an alderman. So even Smitty is more than the 3rd Ward deserves. Think about that for a minute!

Debate was very educational on the facts as well as on the demeanor and savvy of the candidates who had the guts to show up. Worth watching the YouTube video whether or not your mind is already made up.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly.

You mention that you have heard that Smith favored the Mariano’s deal, and it was clear from his comments during meetings on Whole Foods that was the case. The developer on Mariano’s was/is Elliott Builders.

Ald. Smith previously recused himself from a discussion in front of the council (the group homes on Washington), because he indicated to the Council at that time he had a personal relationship with the Elliott family (the builder of the proposed homes).

Interesting that Alderman Smith and Howard Frimark are actively supporting Larry Ryles.

Ryles just might be the ticket back to the good old days of taking care of yourself first, your friends second and the taxpayers never.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ya think?

And let’s not forget ol’ “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark cast the tie-breaking vote to give his buddy and de facto campaign contributor (through his company) Bill Napleton a quick $400,000 of taxpayer money for environmental clean-up of the Cadillac dealership property, and up to another $2 million of sales tax revenue sharing money, even AFTER GM/Cadillac had notifed Napleton that they were going to shut down his dealership on that site.

Or Frimark’s violation of the City’s ethics ordinance by trying to sell insurance to the Uptown Residences association within the “cooling-off” period following his departure from City Hall.

Ryles’ claims to be the “moral” candidate. We’re not sure what that means, but we’d love to hear him explain the “morality” of those two bits of what appear to be attempted graft and/or corruption from his political mentor.

Please remember that just because Smith ran unopposed and written-in doesn’t mean that all 3rd ward residents were happy about it. And it definitely does not mean that they DON’T DESERVE representation. We don’t all have the availability to take on something like running for and serving as Alderman at the present time. And some of us do take the job seriously.

Would you rather have another Tom Bernick if someone just stepped in but couldn’t give the task its due commitment?

We deserve what representation we got this time, I grant you, but please don’t go overboard and indict everyone living in the 3rd ward for the remainder of time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, TWR, but even Bernick collected petition signatures to earn a place on the ballot.

The Third Ward hasn’t even had a contested election since before 1999, so you need to face the fact that, frankly, your ward just plain sucks – because EVERY other ward had done better than that, even the sleepy 2nd.

Agreed; Editor. Everybody has kids to raise and a living to make. So did our nation’s founders. Democracy depends on doing a little more than you absolutely have to. At least half the folks in office around town now hold down seriously demanding professional jobs in a stressful economy that threatens to replace them with younger, cheaper talent every day. A majority of them also have kids; in some cases, more than the usual two. Yet they find time to serve. That’s what it takes to keep democracy alive.

It was a little unsettling to me to pick up the latest PR Journal and see City Clerk Betty Henneman smilingly supporting Larry Ryles. Granted she has the right to support anyone she likes but still it makes me wonder why she so clearly doesn’t support Mayor Schmidt. I wasn’t aware up until seeing that photo that she didn’t.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re kidding, right?

Betty, like so many of the old post-Butler “Homeowners” crowd of rubber-stampers and posers, yearns for those bad old days when tax, borrow and spend was done freely and shamelessly, without any attention being paid by the press or any organized opposition. For people like that, Ryles is a knight in shining armor – not just some older politician in a maroon beret.

I am not kidding, as I’m new to town and was unaware of her history. Other than she seems to have been in City Hall forever, so maybe I should have figured out that the new, transparent City Hall was not to her liking.

So has anyone ever run against her?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editor has been following local government in Park Ridge since 1990, and he has no recollection of her ever running a contested race.

Did you see Ryles’s piece in the PR Patch? Not much substance to be found:

http://parkridge.patch.com/articles/frimark-holds-no-office-on-my-campaign

EDITOR’S NOTE: When it comes to City government, there’s not much substance to Mr. Ryles or his positions on the issues.

I was disappointed by the misleading comments in the paper as well as opponents Facebook page. My name is George Korovilas, and I am running for alderman in the 2nd ward. I was contacted one week before this debate by our mayor. I explained that my family we be out if town for the week on vacation and disappointed that I was not given an opportunity to speak. The mayor just laughed and said he would explain that I was out of town. Unfortunately this was not done and the editor of this paper questioned my lack of interest. I confronted our mayor at my childrens’s school at a fundraiser for Franklin. He apologized but I guess the damage has been done. Thank you for letting me respond.
Dr. George Korovilas



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