Private Citizens, And Private Funds, Save “Indians Cede The Land”


Back on 01.29.13, we gave a big Watchdog bark-out to the folks at the Kalo Foundation for their Governor’s Hometown Award.  Unlike so many of those meaningless fluff-and-stroke awards given out by governmental bodies, that one had merit: the Kalo folks raised more than $300,000 to save a piece of our community’s heritage, the former Iannelli home and studio.

And they did it without the typical private community group ploy of going to the City with their hands out.

Today we offer another Watchdog bark-out to another group of citizens who accomplished something on their own for the community, also without the easy recourse to a City handout: the folks who raised the funds necessary to restore the old post office Depression-era mural and donate it to the Park Ridge Public Library.

At the dedication this past Friday evening, a number of those citizens showed up at the Library for the dedication – and also to honor the folks who made it possible: Mural Restoration Committee members Tony Borrelli, Pat Lofthouse, Dick VanMetre, Jeff Caudill, Paul Adlaf, Nancy Pytel and John Murphy.  They led the effort to raise the $38,000 needed for the restoration and the mounting of the 6’ x 20’ mural completed by George Melville Smith in 1940 under a commission from the U.S. Government as a way of assisting artists and decorating public buildings during The Great Depression.

Park Ridge Mayor Dave Schmidt properly noted and praised the restoration effort as further evidence of what can be accomplished by motivated people with a distinct goal and the ability to enlist the community in pursuit of that goal – just as the Kalo Foundation did.  Although the amount of money needed for the mural was substantially less than what was needed for the Iannelli project, the principle is exactly the same.

Of course, successes like this annoy the heck out of all those private “community groups” that organize as not-for-profit corporations (thereby avoiding any transparency and accountability obligations to the general public) to pursue their pet projects, but then sprint for the public trough to feed on taxpayer dollars the moment they can’t or won’t raise sufficient funds for those projects directly from the taxpayers – even as they demand public funds by arguing that that those very same taxpayers endorse the “missions” of those private corporations and want those community groups to be taxpayer-funded.

And those groups howl like banshees whenever any public official – especially Mayor Schmidt and this current City Council – dares to demand transparency and accountability, as in trying to find out what specific public services those organizations are providing Park Ridge residents, and at what cost per unit of service.  That’s one reason restoring those giveaways of taxpayer funds is a key part of mayoral challenger Larry Ryles’ campaign.

Fortunately, the Kalo folks didn’t play that kind of game, and neither did the Mural Restoration Committee.  They just rolled up their sleeves and did the heavy lifting, and the fundraising, themselves.

So the next time you’re in or around the Library, stroll up to the second floor and check out the newly-restored mural mounted above the doorway just west of the main information/help desk, which has been a part of this community’s heritage for over 70 years and will continue to be part of it for decades to come.

And when you do so, remember that it is just one more example of what private citizens can do on their own, without not-for-profit corporations and government handouts, when they put their minds to it.

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