Van Roeyen In The 3d, Shubert In The 4th


Only 2 of the 4 aldermanic seats whose terms are expiring this year have contested races: Nobody even attempted to challenge Ald. Nick Milissis in the 2d Ward, and the only challenger to Ald. Marc Mazzuca in the 6th Ward was tossed off the ballot because of insufficient valid nominating petition signatures.

3d Ward. When we first heard that there were four candidates for alderman of Park Ridge’s 3d Ward, we figured that was a misprint. After all, for the past 25 years or so the 3d Ward rarely even had a contested race. And the nadir was reached in 2011 when NOBODY filed candidate petitions, leaving Jim Smith to run uncontested as a write-in candidate.

None of the four technically is an “incumbent” because current 3d Ward Ald. Rick Van Roeyen was appointed by the Council after the death of Bob Wilkening only a few months into the term we won over Van Roeyen in April 2015. It is the final two years of Wilkening’s four-year term that are at stake this election.

Flooding is basically the 3d Ward’s political one-trick pony, which is why that was the No. 1 answer by all four candidates to the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate’s question: “What are the top issues facing Park Ridge today?”

Pasquale Laudando’s campaign, well-intended as it might be, has displayed the shortcomings of a candidate who has not been engaged very long in City issues. He has a few interesting ideas but they lack both depth and comprehensiveness. On the other hand, for the past four years that Vicki Lee has been a member of the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board, her most significant contribution appears to have been helping provide a quorum – although we will miss her open-mouthed gum chewing when perusing D-64 meeting videos after May 1.

That leaves the race to Van Roeyen and Wilkening’s widow, Gail, who has never run for a City office but who was twice elected to 4-year terms on the Park Ridge Park District board (1997-2005).

Their answers to the H-A’s questionnaire and their performances at the March 2 candidates’ forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters (Laundando and Lee were MIA) were surprisingly similar: They both profess to be environmentally conscious; they both seem to support the creation of the proposed storm water utility; they both speak zealously about infrastructure maintenance, repair and replacement; and they both support Marty Maloney for mayor.

Although Wilkening has 8 years of government board experience to Van Roeyen’s 2, hers is over 10 years old and was for a much smaller unit of government. Van Roeyen’s experience is current and it’s been on the Council dealing with more varied and significant issues, and a much larger budget.

For that reason we give the edge to Van Roeyen.

4th Ward. This race is an inter-generational battle between incumbent Ald. Roger Shubert and challenger Jack Barnette, who was an alderman back in the 1980s when dinosaurs roamed Park Ridge, the Homeowners Party dominated City government, the Council was comprised of 14 aldermen, and none of them could even spell “transparency” or “accountability.”

Shubert ran four years ago as a supporter of then-mayor Dave Schmidt and as an adherent of Schmidt’s H.I.T.A. (“Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability”) platform. For the most part he has lived up to those principles, seeming to stray only on those occasions when he puts “politics” ahead of “government.” He also has a tendency to spread himself a bit thin because of his wide variety of extracurricular activities, although that also can serve to expand his perspectives on City issues.

Another difference between them is that Barnette seems to favor City activism in attracting business and controlling residential development, while Shubert has adopted the more laissez faire approach we favorespecially when government activism involves bureaucrats trying to outsmart the marketplace using taxpayer funds.

Barnette also recently attempted to distinguish his qualifications from Shubert’s by arguing, on Facebook, that he has “owned and lived in three different homes in Park Ridge” – paying the property taxes that the City Council is charged with levying and spending – while Shubert “has no real commitment to Park Ridge” because he “is renting a place here in the Fourth Ward…[and] pays no property tax.”

Sorry, Mr. Barnette, but Ald. Shubert has demonstrated his “real commitment to Park Ridge” by his Council service over the past four year. And at the risk of shaking your concept of real estate economics, property tax tends to be factored into the rent of both residential and commercial leases. If you can’t grasp that basic concept, perhaps the rest of the Council’s business might also be a bit too much of a challenge.

Shubert is the better choice.

DISCLAIMER: The editor of this blog serves with Ald. Shubert on the Park Ridge Holiday Lights Fund committee.

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Maloney For Mayor


Six years ago we “strongly endorse[d]” Marty Maloney in his contested race for 7th Ward alderman. Today we endorse him even more strongly in his contested race for mayor of Park Ridge.

Back in 2011 we pointed to Maloney’s 8 years (2003-2011) as “the No. 1 fiscal hawk” on the Park Ridge Park District Board, as well as his key role in helping save the City more than $3 million in construction costs by his support of the intergovernmental agreement to relocate the City’s Uptown reservoir to Hinkley Park – instead of to the intended relocation site of the old City garage property at Greenwood and Elm. Doing so kept that site available for its ultimate sale to Lexington Homes in October 2015 for $1.4 million.

Maloney won the aldermanic seat handily over two other candidates.

During his first four-year term, Maloney – along with his Class of 2011 colleague Ald. Dan Knight (5th) – was so instrumental in helping then-Mayor Dave Schmidt turn around a City government left financially staggering and virtually-rudderless by former mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark and his Alderpuppets, that both he and Knight were re-elected in 2015 without a single challenger between them.

Maloney’s support of Schmidt’s dedication to transparency resulted in the City’s receiving two consecutive “Sunshine” awards in each of the two years the City applied for it – 2014 and 2015 – while increasing its transparency scores from 86% to 94.8%. And by our unofficial count, the City leads the other three units of local government in fewest number of closed sessions.

When Maloney was selected by his Council peers in March 2015 to serve as Acting Mayor following Schmidt’s sudden death, he made it clear that the next two years were “the rest of Mayor Dave’s term.” And for the past two years Maloney has advanced Schmidt’s legacy of H.I.T.A.: Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability, the four pillars of good government regularly ignored by previous City administrations and effectively mocked by the boards of both of our school districts.

For that reason alone we could endorse Maloney for mayor.

But there’s more.

As alderman he supported Schmidt’s austerity measures and the tax hikes needed to rebuild the City’s fund balances, especially the General (operating) Fund’s, so that the City could stop tapping the Water Fund just to make payroll. He also supported refinancing the onerous Uptown TIF debt and various other financial measures to return the City’s finances to credibility.

That kind of fiscal management paid off in last June’s Moody’s Investors Service “Credit Opinion,” which removed the “negative outlook” that accompanied Moody’s downgrade of the City’s bond rating from Aa1 to Aa2 in late 2011, in large part because of the low General Fund balance and the TIF albatross. Maloney responded to that news by proclaiming his next goal “to raise the rating itself.” Doing so could save City taxpayers millions of dollars of interest if/when the City decides to issue the boatloads of bonds needed to finance infrastructure repair, replacement and/or improvement, including flood remediation.

Chalk up another reason for a Maloney endorsement.

As Acting Mayor, Maloney has continued Schmidt’s initiative of making Park Ridge friendlier to business while refusing to become a sucker for business. During his six years on the Council the storefronts in Uptown south of Touhy have begun to fill, with Holt’s taking over the long-empty former Pine’s space, Harp & Fiddle filling the long-empty Scharringhausen Pharmacy space, and Shakou converting the old Pioneer Press offices.

Maloney also appears to have learned well the lesson of the Uptown TIF: Being stupid and profligate with the public purse usually has harsh, unforeseen and/or unintended – and almost always long-lasting – consequences. That’s why he and the Council have not let themselves be stampeded into stupid and/or profligate decisions by the various special interests whose unenlightened self-interest would leave the City hemorrhaging cash and hog-tied by debt.

That’s yet another reason for our endorsement.

Four years ago we urged the re-election of Mayor Dave “based on his record, one that has been the most public and transparent of any mayor in Park Ridge’s history.” The same can be said about Maloney’s.

Don’t be confused by the differences in style between Schmidt and Maloney. Schmidt’s was your typical Germanic no-nonsense approach that was aptly described as a “Schmidtzkrieg,” while Maloney’s has the smoother edges of those folks with Emerald Isle origins. While Maloney tends to hide his iron fist inside a velvet glove, Schmidt was the iron fist inside the iron glove. But when it comes to City government we believe their values to be consonant.

Acting Mayor Maloney was true to his pledge that the past two years would be the remainder of Mayor Dave’s term. Now it’s time for him to build on Schmidt’s legacy and define himself while continuing to move Park Ridge forward.

We’re confident he can do so. You should be, too.

Marty Maloney for mayor.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Fuksa’s Ideas Neither “New” Nor “Improved”


Until about 20 years or so ago, manufacturers regularly advertised new iterations of their existing products as “New & Improved!”

But as American society became more youth-oriented and superficial, and less analytically critical, “improved” was subsumed into “new”: So long as something was novel or different from its predecessor, it no longer needed to be better.

Unfortunately, that type of superficiality has come to typify our politics even more so than our commercialism.

In our last post we talked about the difference in local government experience between Acting Park Ridge Mayor Marty Maloney and his challenger, Lucas Fuksa – a difference so stark and striking that there should be no reasonable choice between the two…IF experience were the only thing that matters.

But as we noted in that last post, great ideas can sometimes be a worthy substitute for experience.

So in this post we’re going to look at some of Fuksa’s more significant criticisms of Maloney and City government, and Fuksa’s ideas behind his slogan “We can do better” and his sketchy-bordering-on-flimsy flow chart that purports to show us what he plans to do without explaining HOW he intends to do it.

Let’s get started.

Flooding: As reported by the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Park Ridge mayoral candidates differ on issues during first debate,” Feb. 24), at the Chamber of Commerce debate on February 22 – the only real mayoral “debate” because the Evanston ladies who run the League of Women Voters apparently fear confrontation and, consequently, ran their March 2d event as a “forum” – Fuksa argued that the City didn’t need any more flooding studies but needed to take action funded by low-interest loans and grants. He also ridiculed the proposed Storm Water Utility (“SWU”) as “an illusion” because the fee structure for the SWU has not been established.

Interestingly enough, Fuksa made no mention of the total amount of those low-interest loans the City would have to borrow for City-wide flood remediation. Maybe that’s because the number has consistently been projected at well over $100 million since at least the end of 2013, not even including the additional tens of millions of dollars of debt service that would be needed to finance such a mega-project. It could be that Fuksa just didn’t know that number, considering how he had been MIA until late last year when he decided to grab for the brass ring and run for mayor.

At any rate, there is nothing new or improved about his positions on this issue: The folks most affected by flooding, especially those who bought their properties in known flood-prone areas (Hello, 2d and 3d Warders!) at a discount because they were in flood-prone areas have been clamoring for the City to do whatever it takes, at whatever it costs, for years. And they don’t give a rat’s derriere whether or not anybody else in Park Ridge gets flood relief, so long as they get theirs.

More Retail: Fuksa took his Chamber appearance – and every other opportunity, for that matter – to deride Maloney’s and the City’s alleged inability to bring more “national” and “regional” retail businesses to Park Ridge. With a mantra of “retail is driven by retail” and the recent closing of the Jos. A. Bank store in Uptown as his poster-child, Fuksa told the Chamber folks that he would push for the hiring of an economic development director and for making the City friendlier to businesses, except when it comes to non-retail businesses opening in the Uptown “retail” district.

We’ve repeatedly pointed out – most notably in our posts of 07.31.09 (about “Farcical Façade Improvements”), 05.17.12 (about retail “crapitalism”), 02.26.13 (about the shoddy EDTF report), 03.19.13 (about retail “quacks”) and 11.30.16 (about retail “bribery”) – and been proved right by the likes of Whole Foods and Mariano’s, as well as by the disappointing performance of what was supposed to be our retail salvation, the Shoppes of Uptown, national and even regional retailers know where they want to be (and why) far better than any bureaucrat, including any six-figure economic development director the City might hire. Which is why Whole Foods was willing to drop its (or its developer’s) demand for a $2 million-plus bribe in the form of “tax revenue sharing” when then-Mayor Dave and that council said “no.”

Once again, there’s nothing new or improved about Fuksa’s “take” on retail: Four years ago mayoral challenger Larry Ryles claimed that he would (a) lure retailers to Park Ridge by showing up at national retail conventions with a promotional DVD, while (b) retaining local businesses with “a hug and a handshake.” He also identified several specific retailers he wanted to lure to Park Ridge. Voters didn’t buy that nonsense, but it’s still far more of a plan than Fuksa has proposed.

Parking: Fuksa told the Chamber folks to “forget about building [parking] decks” because the City’s parking problems can be addressed by “valet stations”: “You just pull your car up to the valet station – and the city actually makes money on these things.”

Will these “valet stations” be run by David Copperfield or Criss Angel, both of whom have been known to make all sorts of vehicles disappear and reappear? If not, then those valeted vehicles need to be parked somewhere, presumably in Park Ridge. If there are no parking places for the owners/drivers, in which parallel universe will the valets stow them?

For those of you still keeping score at home, valet parking is not new; and making cars disappear is not improved, just goofy.

Evanston Water: Fuksa claims Maloney and the Council sat on their hands instead of actively pursuing a plan to join with Niles and Morton Grove to bring in our Lake Michigan water from Evanston rather than from our longtime source of the City of Chicago. But according to a news story dated September 20, 2016, being promoted by Team Fuksa, Niles and Morton Grove pulled out of the original deal they contemplated with Park Ridge – building a brand new pipeline directly from Evanston – for the reduced cost of getting that “Evanston water” indirectly through Skokie’s existing distribution infrastructure.

We wrote about the fool’s gold nature of the original Evanston water proposal in our posts dated 04.21.15, 07.13.15 and 10.12.15, all before Niles and MoGro bolted for the cheaper – for them – Skokie option that we understand was not available to Park Ridge because Skokie lacked the infrastructure to service the extra demands from Park Ridge. And a March 10, 2017 e-mail from the Morton Grove Village Administrator corroborates that understanding.

Cluless or dishonest is neither new or improved.

76.22% City RE Tax Increase: Fuksa recently produced a “hit piece” mailer claiming that the City’s share of property taxes has gone up 75.22% during Maloney’s six-year tenure on the Council. An article by the Park Ridge Journal’s Anne Lunde (“Fuzzy Math Enters Park Ridge Mayoral Election Picture,” March 22) succinctly depicts most of the errors in that argument.

This kind of bogus math may, indeed, be “new” – but it’s also as clueless or dishonest as Fuksa’s Evanston water comment, rendering it most definitely not “improved.”

Bring Property Taxes Under Control: After saying he wants to move ahead with over $100 million in flood remediation alone, the idea that Fuksa will be better than Maloney at controlling RE taxes is, in a word, ludicrous. Needless to say, the reason there are no dollar signs attached to any of Fuksa’s “Ready, fire, aim!” proposals is likely because he can’t reconcile their costs with his “I’ll end our taxes-gone-wild” narrative.

Besides, the City’s portion of our RE tax bill is around 11%, which is barely the tip of the Titanic-sinking tax iceberg compared to the 70%+ of our taxes that School Districts 64 and 207 gobble up with not even a fraction of the honesty, transparency and accountability regularly demonstrated by the City since Maloney was elected 7th Ward alderman.

We’ll stop here because, frankly, we’ve pretty much covered “Fuksa’s Greatest Hits” – his ideas new and old that seem to be the meat and potatoes of his campaign. Perhaps had Fuksa done something more for this community over the past 6 years than seek a variance for his illegal pergola, he might have something more than the foregoing tripe to offer the voters as counterpoints to Maloney’s wealth of experience.

But he didn’t. And he doesn’t.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Not Even A Batboy (Updated)


Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon never got past Class A in four years as a minor league catcher in the California Angels organization.

But after retiring as a player he became a scout for the Angels, then a hitting instructor and, finally, a manager in the Angels’ farm system where he had an undistinguished 279-339 record in 6 seasons before ending his 15-year stay in the “bushes” and being promoted to a coaching position with the parent club in 1994. In 11 years with the big-league Angels he was a first-base coach, bench coach and interim manager.

He was given his first big-league managerial job with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for the 2006 season, 27 years after his playing days ended.

Despite 2 World Series appearances, the Cubs’ first championship in over a century, and recognition as one of the best managers in MLB today, his major league managerial record is a relatively modest 981-852, for a .535 winning percentage – including last season’s stellar 103-58 (.640).

We were reminded of Maddon’s apprenticeship and journeyman roles as we considered the current Park Ridge mayoral campaign, where Lucas Fuksa is challenging Acting Mayor Marty Maloney for the right to lead City government for the next four years.

Maloney’s road to the “big leagues” has not been nearly as lengthy as Maddon’s, but it is significant: elected twice to the Park Ridge Park District Board – serving 8 years (2003-2011), including 2 separate 1-year stints as Board president; and elected twice as 7th Ward alderman – serving 6 years (2011-2017), including the last 2 years as Acting Mayor.

That’s 14 years as an elected public official, with a 14-year record not just of ideas and positions but, also, of actual real-world decisions and countable votes, both winning and losing ones.

To slightly paraphrase the estimable Yankee manager Casey Stengel: “You can look it up.”

During his first four years as alderman, Maloney, along with the late Ald. Dan Knight (5th), proved to be the staunchest of allies of the late Mayor Dave Schmidt and his “Honesty, Integrity, Transparency & Accountability” philosophy of City government. When Mayor Dave died suddenly in March 2015, Maloney was so respected by his Council colleagues that they selected him as the Acting Mayor.

As best as we can tell, Maloney has continued Mayor Dave’s H.I.T.A. legacy for the past two years. That offends those special interests looking for personal advantage and profit from local government, but delights the majority of Park Ridge voters looking for good government and good value for their tax dollars. Consequently, the City has continued its recovery from the many failures and general boneheaded-ness of City administrations from 2001 through 2011.

Challenger Fuksa’s record? Non-existent.

No service in a local elective office. No service in a local appointive office. And after a fairly exhaustive Google search, we could find no record of his showing up at any local government meeting or otherwise taking any public position on ANY local governmental issue – City, Park District or School District – until his announcement late last year that he was running for mayor.

In other words, he’s been MIA for his career as a Park Ridge resident.

If one considers Maloney’s 8 years of Park Board service as the “minor leagues” (if only because its budget is just a fraction of the City’s), his first 4 years of aldermanic service as major-league “coaching,” and his 2 years of Acting Mayor as “interim manager,” that’s still a 14-year journey to the “manager” position.

Fuksa, on the other hand, hasn’t even been a batboy.

So what does Fuksa bring to the table in the way of grand plans or great ideas that might counter-balance, even slightly, his having been MIA from every aspect of local government since his days as a student at Maine South?

We’ll talk about that in our next post.

Update (03.24.17) We must correct our statement that Mr. Fuksa has been “MIA for his career as a Park Ridge resident.”

In April 2011 he and his wife appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals seeking a zoning variance for a pergola that was six feet too close to the home they had purchased six months earlier even thought the property had no full certificate of occupancy and the pergola had been built by the previous owner without a permit. The ZBA denied the variance.

So his MIA status has been only in connection with City issues unrelated to his own direct personal interest.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Don’t Vote Early.


Early voting for the April 4, 2017 local election starts today.

Once upon a time Election Day was what the name described: The single day when elections were held and voters voted.

Election Day was intended to be the day when Americans could come together as a community for the purpose of casting ballots for those who will govern us. It served in many respects as a secular “holy” day, a kind of mini 4th of July for the celebration of our right to vote.

Back then you could vote early, but only if you requested an absentee ballot after stating under oath that you reasonably expected to be out of your voting district on Election Day. And only a small percentage of voters availed themselves of that option.

But not anymore.

Early voting is the strategy of political parties, the partisan politicians, and the political class professionals who make their livings by manipulating the electorate. Those folks pushed it through the Illinois General Assembly about a decade or so ago because they found it much easier to herd sympathetic or malleable voters to the polls over a period of weeks rather over a dozen hours on Election Day. Their goal became bringing in more early voters than the competition, and the earlier the better – before late-breaking events or candidate gaffes might stampede the herd in the “wrong” direction.

Because early voting protects the two party system and incumbents above all else, that should be reason enough to oppose it. But in recent years early voting has become more of a factor in our local non-partisan races as well.

So today we make one simple request: Don’t vote early.

And for good measure, don’t respond to pollsters or campaign workers asking you which candidate(s) you might be favoring. Keep ‘em guessing, keep ‘em honest (or as honest as possible), and make the candidates continue to earn your vote until the polls close at 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Sure, it might be easier or more convenient to vote on a Saturday morning between now and Election Day, April 4. But seriously, folks, how tough can it be to get to the polling place between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Election Day?

How many of us line up in the dead of night to be the first to see a new film, or buy event tickets, or get the latest model iPhone? So why is it such an unacceptable burden to get up a half-hour early, or get home a half-hour later, in order to cast a vote on Election Day? Do we really want our kids to grow up believing we value Cubs or Jimmy Buffett tickets, or an iPhone, more than we value self-government?

Our vote is sacred. But unless you’re a big-dollar contributor, a big-dollar bundler, or active in local government, our vote is the only chip we have in the Big Game.

So why bet it earlier than we have to?

By voting early you effectively are saying that you don’t care about hearing and weighing all the information about the candidates – including whatever information might come out in the last days of the race. That would be like a juror at a trial saying he’s ready to render his verdict while the parties are still putting on their evidence.

Free and fair elections rely on voters being fully informed about the issues and the candidates. And, like it or not, that information often keeps flowing right up to Election Day.

So don’t vote early.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Voting One’s Self-Interest Is Not “Integrity” (And A COLA Is Not A Raise?)


Our post about the 3 Hubbies running for the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board garnered some decent attention from commenters on this blog. But it also got a number of commenters from Matt Coyne’s posting a link on a couple of the local Facebook pages: Chris Buckely’s “Park Ridge Citizens Online” and Kathy (f/k/a Panattoni) Meade’s “Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group.”

Three comments from the Concerned Homeowners page deserve special mention because they illustrate how seemingly intelligent residents can be painfully superficial, or simply clueless, when it comes to local elective office and local politics. Or maybe they’re simply campaigning for their preferred candidates and superficial or clueless is the best they can do.

We’ll start with local real estate broker William Cline, who admitted in his Concerned Homeowners comment to being “pretty fed up with crap like this” – clearly referring to our post about the 3 Hubbies’ conflicts of interest in running for offices where, if they win, they will be able to vote on raising their wives’ salaries and benefits (and, indirectly, their wives’ constitutionally-guaranteed pensions) when the current contract expires in 2020. And while waiting to vote on that new 2020 contract they can vote on other issues that also might benefit their wives.

Cline also termed as “crap” our questioning the 3 Hubbies’ integrity “without mentioning a single issue.”

Apparently Cline can’t grasp the concept that running for a public office where you get to vote on your wife’s salary for the next four years IS “a single issue” – one that just happens to raise a significant question about the candidates’ integrity.

Fortunately, our post provoked one of the 3 Hubby candidates, “Norm!” Dziedzic, to respond on his own campaign Facebook page by giving us (and Cline) yet another “issue” that shows the inherent problem with him and the other two Hubbies (Bublitz and Schaab) running for the D-64 Board. According to “Norm!”:

“I will also openly and honestly say that I don’t believe a cost of living increase is a raise.”

Now that’s an interesting thought. If it’s not a “raise,” “Norm!”, what do you call it when an extra 1.5% to 3.25% of your wife’s $107,579 annual salary (that’s between $1,614 to $3,496 of extra cash) shows up in her pay envelope, unrelated to her performance or her 8-month work year?

A tip? Walking around money? A bribe? Or just “Ka-ching, ka-ching, baby!”?

Neither Mrs. Bublitz nor Mrs. Schaab will pick up quite as much from their non-merit COLAs, since they reportedly make a mere $92,802 and a paltry $89,411, respectively, for their 8-month work years.

And those COLA raises require no extra hours or effort, which is why Cline’s defense of the 3 Hubbies’ conflicts of interest by suggesting they could improve their household incomes more by “working a little extra with the spare time they would have by not running,” reveals just how clueless he is.

Unfortunately, we can’t say anything better about Hulting’s “there are much easier ways to make some extra bucks that [sic] giving hours of time and effort on a school board,” and Holmes-Hamilton’s referring to school board service as being “an unpaid long term volunteer position” that “takes countless hours away from family and work”

The time commitment for those offices is not some closely guarded secret, nor is the fact that there is no salary or stipend for that service. And nobody is forced to run for those offices against their will.

So if you don’t want the long hours and no pay, the solution is simple: Don’t run! And if you do run and win, don’t whine about all the reading, or the long hours, or the lack of pay.

As someone who ran and won hotly-contested elections for the unpaid Park Ridge Park District Board in 1997 and 2001 and who faithfully attended lengthy Board meetings and various other District events for 8 straight years without complaint, I can say without a moment’s hesitation or reservation that serving one’s constituents by holding public office is an honor and privilege – not some kind of chore or forced labor.

And that’s the way it should be viewed by every candidate for elective office who is fit to hold that office.

The bottom line is that the 3 Hubbies’ marital status, standing alone, calls into question their integrity by putting themselves – and their constituents – in a no-win position: Either the 3 Hubbies will vote their wives’ (and their households’) economic self-interests, or they will recuse themselves and thereby deprive their constituents of whatever knowledge and other value they allegedly might bring to the Board.

As the estimable Samuel Johnson once observed: “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, but knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”

From their candidacies it appears that the 3 Hubbies have a distinct preference for dangerous and dreadful. And from the tone of their comments it appears that Cline, Hulting and Holmes-Hamilton concur.

Presumably they’re hoping a majority of Park Ridge voters do, too.

Robert J. Trizna

Editor & Publisher

To read or post comments, click on title.

Three Shameless D-64 Candidates Fail “Caesar’s Wife” Standard Of Integrity


The ancient historian Plutarch, in his Life of Julius Caesar, related how Caesar divorced his wife Pompeia solely because of rumors of her adulterous behavior – believing that her standard of conduct should be such that it not be susceptible to even the mere suspicion of untoward behavior.

That is the origin of the “Caesar’s Wife” proverb of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.

Unfortunately, that proverb appears wasted on three of the seven candidates for the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 school board: Greg Bublitz, Norm Dziedzic, Jr. and Michael Schaab. We’ll call them the “3 Hubbies.”

Each one of them has a wife who is a teacher at D-64 and, therefore, presumably a member of the ironically-named Park Ridge Education Association – a teachers union whose only education-related purpose is to put more money and benefits in the pockets of D-64 teachers while minimizing teacher accountability for student achievement.

If all three of them are elected, they will represent 3 of the 4 votes needed to approve the next PREA sweetheart contract in 2020. In other words, the 3 Hubbies will be in a position to vote on a contract that will increase their respective household incomes by thousands of dollars – while likely raising their respective property taxes only a few hundred dollars.

On Wall Street, that’s what is called an “arbitrage”: a risk-free investment opportunity based on the differential between cost and gain.

They also will represent 3 of the 4 votes needed for any other D-64 Board action addressing such important issues and policies as teacher discipline, accountability, work hours, scheduling and other matters where their decisions could directly benefit their wives and, indirectly, themselves.

In a December 23, 2016 article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“3 school board candidates married to District 64 teachers”), the chairwoman of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys Executive Committee warned that while, in her non-binding opinion, it is not an outright conflict of interest for the spouse of a teacher to sit on the board of the spouse’s school district, it is advisable – but not required – that they abstain from voting on such issues as contracts.

Advisable, but not required.

According to the H-A article, Bublitz said that his “first inclination would be to recuse [himself],” suggesting that recusal would be his “commitment.”

That’s an unenforceable “commitment” that Bublitz can ignore with virtual impunity if he chooses not to stand for re-election in 2021 – like the four current Board members (Vicki Lee, Bob Johnson, Scott Zimmerman and the Screeching Dathan Paterno) who rubber-stamped the latest secretly negotiated, secretly discussed four-year sweetheart PREA contract and are walking away from it without a care in the world.

Schaab reportedly said he “probably would have to recuse [himself],” although he wasn’t ready to offer even Bublitz’s unenforceable “commitment.”

And Dziedzic – whose “Norm” campaign signs either are borrowing from the “Cher” school of first-name branding, or seeking the nostalgia vote in harkening back to the t.v. show “Cheers” – isn’t even pretending that he might recuse himself, relying on the non-binding opinion that there is no legal conflict of interest.

Back in Caesar’s time, and not all that long ago in this country, the appearance of impropriety of a husband or wife running for a public office where they could put public money directly into their spouse’s pocket – and, thereby, indirectly into their own – would be enough to discourage people of integrity from seeking such positions. Unless, of course their name was “Boss” Daley and they were shameless enough to steer millions of dollars of government insurance contracts to their kids while blithely excusing such unethical behavior with: “If a man can’t put his arms around his sons and help them, then what’s the world coming to?

Since the 3 Hubbies are obviously shameless and apparently lacking in Caesar’s Wife-style integrity, their candidacies present D-64 voters with the following questions:

  1. Can they be trusted to actually recuse themselves from the PREA negotiations and voting on a new contract for their wives three years from now?
  2. Do they bring anything to the D-64 Board of sufficient value as to over-ride the substantial risk that they’ll vote their wives’/their own pocketbooks – before riding off into the sunset in May, 2021, with no accountability to the taxpayers?
  3. Does it make any sense to elect candidates who either will negotiate and vote on their wives’ salaries and benefits, or will recuse themselves and thereby deprive their constituents of the unbiased representation they deserve?

Fortunately, there are four other candidates – Rick Biagi, Larry Ryles, Fred Sanchez and Eastman Tiu – for the four D-64 Board vacancies, and none of them are afflicted with either the same conflicts (de facto if not de jure) or the same Caesar’s Wife-style impropriety that’s infecting the 3 Hubbies’ candidacies.

That leaves it up to you D-64 voters to decide whether you are content with the prospect of the 3 Hubbies selling out the D-64 taxpayers to put extra cash in their wives’ (and their joint?) bank accounts, and/or selling out the D-64 students in order to further reduce the already minimal accountability of the PREA teachers for our underperforming schools.

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