Library Board – 1, Freeloaders – 0


The most important portion of Tuesday night’s Park Ridge Library Board meeting occurred at the very beginning, but it got the least attention from the assembled multitude.

It was a 45-minute presentation on modern libraries by Rick McCarthy of StudioGC architects, the firm retained by the current Library Board – that Board now being maligned by an assortment of myopic malcontents as wanting to “close” and “destroy” the Library – to advise about a planned renovation to the current building that will modernize and improve it for the entire community.

A renovated Library not just for one or two special interests intent on lining their own pockets and/or dodging $10 user fees, but for the benefit of ALL 37,000+ residents.

For most of the 40-50 folks who braved single-digit temperatures to get to City Hall Tuesday night, that presentation was just something to endure, a meaningless warm-up for the headline act that brought them there. And it showed.

As McCarthy provided a wealth of information about the current building (e.g., that it’s only 2/3 the size it should be for a community like ours), about its current inefficiencies (like all the space wasted on too many desktop computers) and the various design and furnishing changes that can make its limited space more flexible for 21st Century uses, most members of the audience fingered their smart phones, yawned or shifted impatiently in their chairs.

Once all that Library renovation talk was out of the way, however, they snapped to attention for the discussion and vote on the adoption of a Library policy addressing the continuing use of the Library by private, for-profit tutors and other private businesses.

After an hour and one-half of public comment (three times the 30-minute limit prescribed by Library Policy No. I A 14), a 6-2 majority of the Board – Trustees Joe Egan, Char Foss-Eggemann, Dean Parisi, Mike Riordan, Jerry White and this editor v. Steve Dobrilovic and Judy Rayborn, with Pat Lamb absent – rejected Dobrilovic’s proposed amendment to delay charging the $10/hour user fee; and then adopted the policy as written by a vote of 5 (Egan, Foss-Eggemann, Parisi, Riordan and this editor) to 3 (Dobrilovic, Rayborn and White).

Adoption of that policy was effectively a gift to tutors and other business people who have been using the Library as their personal, overhead-FREE business space, because neither the Library’s “Mission” nor its “Vision” include providing free space for the operation of private businesses.

The Library’s “Mission” makes no mention of “tutoring,” or of “education,” or of doing any form of “private business” on Library premises:

“The mission of the Park Ridge Public Library is to provide the community with access to information, recreation and enlightenment by providing and promoting materials, programs and services.”

Neither does the Library’s “Vision” statement, which is intended to go hand-in-glove with the “Mission”:

“The vision of the Park Ridge Public Library is to be a community resource that dynamically provides relevant materials and stimulating programs, accomplished through a friendly and professional staff in an enhanced building with reliable and accessible technology.”

Reading those two statements together results in only one reasonable conclusion: any “information, recreation and enlightenment” furnished under the Library’s “Mission” must come through “materials, programs and services” provided, if at all, by the Library’s “friendly and professional staff” – not by an assortment of unidentified (by the Library), unregistered (by the Library), unregulated (by anybody) and unsupervised (by the Library) freelance tutors having no formal affiliation with the Library.

That might explain why Trustee White wants NO tutoring or other business operating in the Library. And, strictly speaking, he’s not wrong.

But a majority of the Board was willing to compromise with these tutors and parents by permitting tutoring on the premises, albeit with registration of tutors and the payment of a $10/hour user fee.

And when such a policy first came up for a vote by the Board in October 2015, and the tutors objected to its adoption by claiming it discriminated against them, the Board compromised once again by extending the policy to ALL business people – even though no evidence was presented that any businesses besides tutors regularly used the premises for one-on-one activities.

Not surprisingly, those kinds of compromise are lost on the “me first” entitlement-minded tutors: When you’re getting $40-$50-$60 or $70+ per hour – with no overhead because your “office” rent, utilities, etc. are being covered by the Library, a/k/a Park Ridge taxpayers – your self-interest and greed are not easily mollified.

And when you’re the parents of kids receiving such services, you’re not enamored with the prospect that any Library user fee being imposed on those tutors will likely be passed on to you.

Hence the clamor from both tutors and their parent/customers.

And hence the campaign of misinformation, propaganda and outright lies propagated by those two factions in an attempt to intimidate the Library Board, intimidate the Mayor and the City Council, and to whip up public opposition to the policy – including just plain despicable lies spread about the owner of the Academic Tutoring Center who actually pays rent for office space on Main Street that includes RE taxes which flow back to the Library so that it can provide overhead-FREE space to…wait for it…his freeloading competitors.

That’s because our resident freeloaders (and their non-resident “parasite” counterparts) hate to be recognized for what they are: people intent on taking out of the system far more than they put in.  We’ll address that misinformation, that propaganda and those lies in our next post.

For now, however, there’s a fair, honest and responsible business-user policy in place at the Library.

But if the tutors and their supporters really believe all their own propaganda about how THEY – and not the Library Board – represent the will of a majority of The People, they should immediately ask the City Council to put a referendum on the November 2016 ballot that reads as follows:

“Should the Park Ridge Public Library repeal its current policy of registering and charging an hourly fee for use of the Library by private businesses, including tutors?”

We’re betting they won’t ask…because they know they won’t like the answer they’ll get in November.

Robert J. Trizna


Park Ridge Public Library Trustee

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the Editor in that capacity, and not in his capacity as Library Trustee. None of these opinions should be viewed as representing those of the Library, its Board, its staff, or any other Trustees.

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Some Shoveling Here, Some Shoveling There…Pretty Soon You’re Blaming Public Works


It’s winter here in Park Ridge, and winter usually means snow. And ice.

Which means plowing. And snowblowing. And shoveling.

Park Ridge, like most suburbs, doesn’t have an ordinance requiring property owners to clear the City’s (a/k/a, the taxpayers’) sidewalks and cross-walks abutting their property – and keep them clear – of ice and snow. In the absence of such an ordinance, there is no legal duty on the homeowner to do so; and some folks have expressed concern that they could even subject themselves to liability by shoveling at all, if they do a poor job.

But most people seem to voluntarily undertake the task and do decent job of it. And many of them will do their neighbors’ walks, especially if they have one of those heavy duty snow-throwers that fling plumes of the white stuff 10 or 20 feet into the air.

Yeah, it’s a “guy thing.”

So far this year we’ve been extraordinarily lucky: unseasonable warmth (global warming?) has kept us pretty snow-free. That’s helped the City conserve money that would otherwise have been spent on plowing and salt.

But a few weeks ago an icy-snowy mixture over a dozen or so hours required several plowing runs by City crews to keep the streets clear. And, as plows are wont to do, they left piles of snow and ice in inconvenient places like curbs and cross-walks.

C’est la vie? Not quite.

A mom whose kids were forced to negotiate a plow-created ice pile in order to wait for their school bus posted a comment on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group Facebook page. That led to a “discussion” (which appears to have since been pulled for unknown reasons, but which one of our “stringers” o captured before it disappeared so that you can see it here) in which some folks blamed “lazy” homeowners – especially those on corner lots – for not cleaning up what the plows left behind. And, as some parents are wont to do, the blame directed at those “lazy” homeowners seemed to stem primarily from the fact that their little darlings didn’t have a nice clear space to wait for their school buses.

But it was left to our old friend, Kathy Panattoni Meade – one of those corner homeowners taking some of the incoming fire – to react to accusations of laziness by blaming the City’s Public Works Dept.:

“Technically that part of the sidewalk isn’t even my property. It isn’t even in front of or directly next to my house. I honestly think this is a job for the public works.”

Interestingly enough, she raised that “not my job” argument only after she explained how “we shoveled the sidewalk to the street” three separate times. So unless the sidewalk got up and moved or acquired a new legal status following those first three shovelings, it sounds like she was just looking for an alibi to throw in the shovel.

And, frankly, that’s okay because (as we pointed out earlier) homeowners have no obligation to clear the snow from the public sidewalks.

But then don’t throw brickbats at Public Works, especially when it has never, to our recollection, shoveled residential sidewalks for at least the past 25 years because of the substantial additional cost shoveling of walkways and bus stops would add to the City’s (a/k/a, the taxpayers’) budget.

Fortunately, a few commentators were voices of reason, including Martin Mazur, whose “I never ask what can my city do for me, I ask what I can do for my city” unmistakably echoes JFK’s inaugural address of 55 years ago this month.

That, standing alone, deserves a Watchdog bark-out.

But another bark-out goes to Mike Miller, who suggested that “the parents or the kids who have to wait there should pitch in and shovel out where they have to wait. Yeah, the neighbor with that corner could do a better job but this isn’t the city’s problem.”


For those who don’t like Miller’s solution, however, we’ve got another one for you: show up at City Hall this coming Monday night at 7:00 p.m. and tell the City Council why you and your kids are entitled to better snow removal than you’re getting, plus snow shoveling. And don’t forget to remind the Council of what Ms. Panattoni Meade keeps reminding everybody else: “I pay property taxes.”

Even if those taxes are some of the lowest in Park Ridge.

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“Local Boy” Shows Right Stuff From Left Wing (Updated)


After taking a bit of a holiday break, we’re going to start 2016 out on an unusual (for us) note and write a post that doesn’t involve the stupidity, ignorance and profligacy of our local politics and government, or our local freeloaders and neighboring parasites for whom “civics” is taking more out of your fellow taxpayers’ pockets than you put in from your own.

Today we’re writing a “local boy makes good” post about a young man who, by dint of extraordinary effort applied to natural talent – and while overcoming significant adversity – has achieved his dream of doing something very difficult at a very high level.

His name is Michael Mersch, he plays professional hockey for the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League, and he recently scored his first NHL goal.

Having a local kid playing any professional sport is something special, given how difficult and competitive the journey to professionalism in sports is. But it’s even more of a challenge to make the NHL, where most players are still from that traditional hockey bastion of Canada – or, in recent years, from Sweden, Finland and Russia. And most of the Americans in The League seem to be from the more hockey-oriented New England states, or the likes of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.

As best as we can tell, Michael is the very first Park Ridge hockey player to make the NHL, although we’re sure the Park Ridge hockey community will correct us if we’re wrong on that.

But what makes his story even more compelling is its “back story” – starting with the death of his father, also a professional hockey player who made it one level short of the NHL – when Michael was eight years old, leaving behind Michael’s mother, Nancy, and two younger children.

Fortunately, Michael’s father left him with a good amount of athleticism, and he excelled at most sports he played as a youth. But hockey was where he really stood out.

His mother allowed him to move to Michigan and train with the U.S. National Development program, learning to play the game at a level beyond what he could find here in Illinois. Besides honing his hockey skills to the point where the talented left-winger earned a scholarship offer from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, however, Michael worked hard enough in the classroom to complete his high school studies in only three years while earning a 3.3 GPA.

As a member of the Badger’s team he distinguished himself early enough to be drafted by the Kings in 2011. But as a fourth-round pick he chose to stay in school and work on his game at that level. He played 157 games for the Badgers, scoring 67 goals and 53 assists, developing into the kind of player who made amazing plays while earning his degree finance in the regulation four years in 2014.

His Wisconsin coach, Mike Eaves, regularly spoke of Michael’s work ethic, his focus and his mature goal-oriented approach to the game. His strength and conditioning coach, Jim Snider, called him “just a quality human being, a quality kid” who is “very genuine.” Not surprisingly, those are the kinds of characteristics needed for that long climb to a professional career.

Last year, his first as a pro, his Kings-system “farm team,” the Manchester (NH) Monarchs, won the Calder Cupt,  the minor league equivalent of the Stanley Cup. He followed that up with an outstanding performance earlier this season with the Kings’ American Hockey League club, the Ontario Reign, to earn a call-up to the big squad in December.

In an age where mere activity – and often modest activity at that – is so regularly mistaken for achievement that it is customarily rewarded with those uber-lame “participation” trophies (that delight only the non-achievers, their parents, and the trophy sellers), Michael Mersch’s journey from the Oakton Ice Center to L.A.’s Staples Center is notable in its own right.

To think he did it while skipping a grade and earning a degree from Wisconsin makes it even more notable.

So we salute Michael’s success and wish him a long and successful career of all-star performances.

Except when the Kings play the Blackhawks.

UPDATED 01.15.16.  We have been informed by one of our readers that Craig Anderson, goaltender for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, is orginally from Park Ridge. He was with the Blackhawks organization from 2001-2006.

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