A Loud and Clear Message

In a campaign letter sent out to Morton Grove Voters by the Action Party on 3-16-2015, Action 3-16-15 lettercertain statements were made that show that either these candidates have become disconnected from reality or they believe that the voter of Morton Grove have the I.Q. of a turnip.

Either way, these candidates need to be called out over the inaccuracies and downright misinformation that is contained in this campaign piece.

For example, in the first paragraph, they say that “In 2013, you gave us a loud and clear message to move Morton Grove forward. You told us to maintain our excellent services but keep taxes as low as possible.”

The question here is; “If the message to maintain our excellent services was loud and clear, why didn’t you do that?”  For the prime example of the failure to keep excellent services you only have to look to the downgrading of the many Senior Citizen programs over the past two years. An award winning program that was a good working partnership between North Shore Senior Center and the Village was dismantled. The North Shore folks were strung along on a month-to-month basis until it was no longer possible for them to continue. We were told that the Village President had appointed a committee to review the situation and that North Shore was found lacking… but the report was never made public and due to what appears to be intransigence on the part of Mr. DiMaria, we lost the services that had worked so effectively. Where were the trustees during this fiasco? Isn’t it their job to represent the people, make policy and insure that the proper measures are taken to serve our residents? Seems like the sitting trustees were asleep at the switch.

The next paragraph states; We are proud of the accomplishments of the past two years. We invited all residents to provide input for the village’s first strategic plan…”

Perhaps it would have been a good idea to do some research before making that statement. In 1999, when the village was first contemplating it’s original TIF district that eventually resulted in the Lawnware property being transformed into THE WOODLANDS condominiums, there was much ado over reworking the village’s strategic plan to accommodate the new TIF project. The village attorney, Theresa Hoffman Liston was a trustee on the board at the time. It is curious that she wouldn’t have told these folks that this much touted strategic plan ain’t nothing new for Morton Grove. The one thing that this new plan seems to have in common with the old plan is that it is long on promise and short on results.

The letter goes on to claim; “We enhanced senior programming and social services, allocated millions of dollars for street improvements and are aggressively pursuing options to lower our water rates. We have also made economic development a top priority in order to attract businesses that our community wants and lessen the tax burden on our residents.”

The first question that comes to mind after reading those statements is; “What are you guys smoking?  photo tn1292.jpg

Please share with us just which senior programming has been enhanced. Please enumerate the new social services that are being provided for the village. How many senior programs have been cancelled folks? Since it seems as though the fire department has been put in charge of senior services, please educate us on how they are more qualified than the folks your administration chased away. scamming seniors

What street improvements are you referring to? How many miles of curb and gutter? How many feet of new sewer? On the Action Party’s Facebook page is the following statement;Maintaining our streets is vital. We had to hold back on major improvements during the downturn in the economy, but we’re ready to restart the program. In 2015, we will be spending over $1 million in street improvements and an additional $2.3 million through 2017.”  So what we have here is, once more, an empty promise and a deliberate misleading of what is reality. Isn’t it strange that the previous administration, in the height of the recession, was able to pave over 40 miles of village streets, but your administration had to hold back? Were you lying in the letter or were you lying on your Facebook page? Or, is it possible that the dollars were redirected to some other administration priority? We know for certain that the dollars were not used to pay down the police and fire pension deficits.

Aggressively pursuing options to lower our water rates? Really? Was this increase just sprung on Morton Grove by Chicago or did the administration have some notice… like maybe at least the two years since the last election? What happened to the possibility of the lowest cost option of bringing water in from Wilmette through Glenview? The village didn’t tell us it was off the table, we had to read it in the newspapers.

Economic development a priority? Is that what this crew calls it when they’re hiring multiple consultants? The village has a full-time salaried person who is in charge of economic development. Why do we have that person if we are to depend on outside firms to do that job?

Attracting new businesses to Morton Grove needs to be more than increasing liquor licenses and electronic gambling poker permits. A Waukegan TIF district was approved by this administration. The stated purpose was to increase the sales tax base to relieve some of the burden on homeowners real estate taxes. The best bet for that would have been a cooperative effort between the owners of Parkview Plaza and the village. Mr DiMaria kept saying there was progress… that a major grocery store had interest. Now, we are led to believe that the answer is more condominiums on the west side of Waukegan rd. Sounds like a condo developer has his hooks into the TIF money and the taxpayers are getting more happy talk from the politicians.

On the Action Party Facebook page we see; Lobbyist –The word lobbyist has a stigma. An NRA or Monsanto lobbyist is very different than a municipal lobbyist. For the $58,000 we paid him last year, he secured $200,000 in cash and a $1million dollar grant for our police facility. Every other surrounding community has had a lobbyist in Springfield representing them. The lobbyist’s job is to know every dollar available to municipalities and to fight to get them for Morton Grove – it’s our turn!

Really? Are we once more into the “wacky tabacky”?  photo big-joint03.jpg   There are no state dollars to be had… none… nada… bupkis. The state is broke and cutting back further. The story about all these state dollars coming to rescue us here in Morton Grove would be closer to reality if it were to begin with the phrase; “Once upon a time”. Meanwhile we are told about Mr. DiMaria’s vision”…Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder have a more viable vision for Morton Grove. Following Mr. DiMaria’s vision contributed mightily to the downgrading of our village’s bond rating.

Once again from the Action Party Facebook page we see;In order for Mayor DiMaria to continue the progress he has made in two short years, he needs a team with the same vision as he and the overwhelming majority of voters have for the future of the Village. We believe that investing in our future with real planning and marketing initiatives, while balancing the budget and maintaining excellent services, is vital to this mission.

There are a couple of problems here. One, Morton Grove has a Village President/Board of Trustees form of government. Morton Grove does not have a Mayor. It is the Village President’s job to preside over board meetings and, with the advice and consent of the village board, appoint the village administrator, village attorney and various department heads. Two, there has been no REAL planning, just Mr. DiMaria’s gunslinger “shoot from the hip” self-promoting rhetoric. It is not now, nor has it ever been, his job to set policy or articulate a vision for Morton Grove. What we see here is a village board of trustees abdicating their responsibility to make policy, pass ordinances, plan finances and, probably most importantly, represent the interests of the people of Morton Grove.

approved-rubber-stamp  What we have here is a board of trustees who are nothing more than a rubber stamp for a village president’s ego.

You have to wonder sometimes if the politicians are unable to smell what they are shoveling.  photo horse_manure.jpg

The election is now less than two weeks away and the voters of Morton Grove need to ask themselves one more question; “Are you better off and is Morton Grove better off now than it was two years ago?” The answer to that needs to be the determining factor in your vote on April 7th.

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It’s Good To Be The King

RARELY have elected officials been held in lower esteem by the voting public than they are now.
There is a growing public perception that our village officials are single-minded seekers of reelection whose desire for job security far exceeds their desire or ability to fulfill the public duties with which they are entrusted.

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Elections are supposed to allow voters to “throw the rascals out”.  So, you would expect corruption to have a strong effect on the electoral performance of the politicians involved in them. However, recent studies show that electoral retribution to dishonest behavior in office is rather mild and that it does not always prevent slippery individuals from being reelected.

Unfortunately, a pattern of old Chicago-stlye politics have emerged in Morton Grove that would make the late Boss Richard J. Daley proud. ap100908063611

For example, after the last village election for mayor a victory party was held at, (the now defunct) Giordanos.

  https://i0.wp.com/cornwallcurling.com/wp-content/uploads/PizzaParty.jpgThe tab for this party was paid out of village coffers. Is it possible that this was one small way that the party repaid the owner of that establishment for his political and financial support? Small potatoes compared to the real estate deal brokered by the political insiders that netted the same restaurant owner a tidy six-figure profit on a real estate deal for the old Maxwell’s property. 

But, it’s just politics…right?

When your party is in control of the public purse strings, it makes political campaigning and political events disguised as governmental communications easier to pay for. https://mortongrovenews.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/30994-screwed.jpg?w=260&h=269<—-MORTON GROVE TAXPAYER

I wonder just how much it cost to produce and mail that nice four-color postcard announcing a “Town Hall Forum” at the condo association?  

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(By the way, Mr. DiMaria, the word “Village” is spelled with two L’s!)

I’m sure it is just a coincidence that this was scheduled within two weeks of the upcoming election… just as it is surely a coincidence that it is being held with a group that represents a large voting block. No shenanigans here… nothing to see… move along.

Most likely, one of the topics of this “town hall meeting” will be to elaborate on the new mid-rise condo deal in the Waukegan TIF district that was announced this week. Does it make sense to build luxury condos across from the nearly defunct Prairieview shopping Center, (you remember, the place that the Mayor was touting for a new grocery store to replace the Dominicks’ that fled)?

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You have to wonder who is making money off this deal? Since when is there an overwhelming market for upscale condo apartments adjacent to the third busiest intersection in Cook County.It would almost be worth going to this meeting to see how many time various politicians tell us this will revitalize business in this area.

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The smell of fertilizer is strong here.

This administration has thrown money around as if it grew on the trees in St. Paul Woods. That’s unfortunate, because it’s your money… it comes out of your taxes… the taxes that seem to keep rising.

Maybe it’s time for the voters of Morton Grove to stop listening to the flim-flam man and take a look at the little man behind the curtain.

 DiMaria behind the curtain He ain’t the Great and Powerful OZ.

A Fish Rots From The Head

You may have heard the expression that a fish rots from the head down. smelly-fish The top leader’s job is to create the right internal climate for the organization. Organizational climate embodies the intangible feelings your people have about your organization.

You can’t directly control the attitudes of everyone under you. But if you accept the fact that you are responsible, regardless, then you can focus on creating a desirable climate.

Too many leaders abdicate their responsibility for morale within their organization. Dan DiMaria probably didn’t grow up wanting to be a therapist, yet he controls much of the psychological climate within our village.   toxicGood morale is contagious. Bad morale spreads even faster!

Beatings will continue

 

Mr. DiMaria doesn’t seem to understand it’s not appropriate to yell and intimidate.    Bad manager01  You need to work with your people in an atmosphere of respect. Your job is to support them in doing their jobs, which ultimately serves the residents of Morton Grove .

Within 6 months of Mr. DiMaria taking office,several Police officers either quit, were let go, or  retired.
Is it possible that had some bearing on  police moral and had the unintended consequence of increasing the pension debt?

Mr. DiMaria recents stated that the new chief has “fixed” the police department.   Paul-BlartDoes that mean that previously the department was broken? Does that attitude show support to the cops on the street who risk their lives every day? How many more good officers will this apparent lack of support drive from the department?

Jim Quinn, a former member of the Fire Pension Board, ( a banker for 40 years who had great insight into the pension problem), spoke out  at budget meetings on the pension issue and that it needed more funding. Mr. DiMarias’ response was to remove Mr. Quinn from the pension board, (perhaps for a more pliable member?).  panic dollar

So, instead of taking steps to put Morton Groves’ financial house in order,any extra funding or new revenue has gone only into DiMaria’s pet projects.

 

Whether they realize it or not, taxpayers in Morton Grove have a lot of experience with the impact of rising pension costs. Taxpayers contributed $1.4 million to the police pension fund and $1.6 million to the fire fund in 2009. Morton Grove taxpayer contributions have further grown by 9 percent since 2009.

TaxBurden

Increasing pension payments will continue to strain the Morton Grove budget and its taxpayers. Taxpayers will have to contribute approximately $5 into the police and fire pension systems each year for every dollar police and fire employees contribute.

Being a Wall Street gunslinger for many years, DiMaria should have seen this coming.

He DOES insist that he has a plan, but DiMaria doesn’t plan for anything he only talks about HIS PLANS.
The unfortunate truth is plan’s only inhibit  Mayor DiMaria from shooting from the hip and when he does, he usually shoots himself, (and the village), in the foot.

shooting yourself in the foot

The Little Man Who Wasn’t There

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…
invisible_man
When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

With little more than four weeks to go not a whole lot is being heard about the upcoming April 7th Election

Is the New Action Party feeling so secure that they have a lock on those who will go out and vote in local elections and are tired after the battle with Shel Marcus & Maria Toth February 24 th that they don’t believe they need to campaign?

They now seem to be in damage control mode  trying to reinvent themselves  once again. They are painting themselves a being everything to everybody and, as usual, will end up being nothing to anybody but the politically connected. hypocrisy Meanwhile we remain up to our navel in political signs.

There are some independents running in the various races, but who are they?

In the village election there is one truly independent candidate. Mark Albers is a one man show.  IMG_0717

Photo Above Horse Running in Snow
His campaign is like riding a white horse through a snow storm… nobody knows he is out there.

 

  Staackmann and Craig CulverDan Staackmann, (on the right), is back running for the Park Board.
The Park Board seems to have made nothing but bad decisions over the past 6 years. The main personnel policy seems to be a revolving door… a bad parody of the old Abbott & Costello “Who’s on First” routine. The main focus of their long range financial plan seems to be that there is no long range financial plan. boris-natasha

Even if Staackmann and ex park employee Mark Mano do get elected,  the Park District is so screwed up  that it is unlikely that it can be fixed without a major real-estate tax increase… more money out of the long-suffering taxpayers pockets.   screwupfairy

At the Library only one candidate  is running for one open seat along with school district 67 & 70 both have open seats with no candidates running.

The most important race in this election is the 219 School Board. This one decides who will controls over 50  million  dollars of tax payers money and the Teacher Union is on top of this election like icing on a cake  all you see is frosting. There are some independents but who are they? Jon Heinz of Skokie is relying on his  old family ties and the fact he thinks like a businessman. This should give him a spot on the board but, the union wants no part of him.

On the surface, it seems as those challenging the status quo are Quixotic folks tilting at windmills. Quixote

Somehow, none of this is any surprise.

“Daddy, what is the difference between ignorance and apathy?”
apathy
“Well, son, I don’t know and I don’t care!”

“Apathy at its best” describes the Morton Grove Village and Local  Elections.
…and people wonder why Government cost so much and really does so little. In government, as in many facets of life, the results you get are the results you deserve.

Wack-a-doodle Governance

directv_poordecisionmakingroblowe_ispot_3x2It has been said that good leaders make good decisions.

On the other hand, bad leaders make poor decisions…

Everyone will make a poor decision once in a while, but if you have a governmental leader who is making poor decision after poor decision, you have to ask yourself if this is the type of leader you want to follow.

Unfortunately, here, in Morton Grove, we seem to have a leader who has had more than his share of poorly thought out,  to downright bad, to absolutely terrible, (and most likely illegal) decisions.

On February 6th Morton Groves’ bond rating was lowered from Aa2 to Aa3. The village consultant from Wm H. Blair & Company, (the folks consulting for the village on issuing bonds) said the downgrade was nothing to worry about.

On a video of the board meeting, officials  said it was “no big deal?”

 JunkYardBond  No big deal? Really?

Consider the following; if you are taking out a mortgage on a property in the amount of $350,000, one point on that loan would amount to $3,500.

Likewise, a downgrade in the bond rating means that the village will have to pay more to borrow money. How much more is difficult for the lay person to figure out, but it is not difficult to figure out that if the municipality needs to pay more to make their bonds more attractive to investors, it is going to take more tax dollars out of the residents’ pockets than a higher rating would. Consider how much more it would cost the village to borrow money on a bond issue of $10,000,000!

Trustee Grear can, perhaps, be somewhat excused for his ignorance, but Mr. DiMaria, who has spent much of his working life in the commodity and mortgage industries has no excuse for thinking this is “no big deal”. Is it possible since it is not his personal money, but your tax dollars is why to Mr. DiMaria this is “no big deal”?

On election day, Tuesday, Dan DiMaria logged into his Facebook page and  posted a picture of his completed ballot. DiMaria ballot 2-24

The state’s election code doesn’t explicitly ban photographing ballots, but it does prohibit voting in a way that can be observed by others. Ken Menzel, deputy general counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections, said posting photos of completed ballots on social media is a clear violation of that provision.

Written before the age of smartphones, the law wasn’t intended to punish social media-obsessed voters. Rather, Menzel said, lawmakers enacted it to discourage vote-buying.
Its classification as a felony — carrying a one- to three-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of $25,000 — reflects how seriously Illinois officials take the practice.
“Having a picture of the ballot is an important cog in vote-buying schemes,” Menzel said. “The buyers want to know they got what they paid for.”

As the highest office holder in Morton Grove, with unlimited access to the advice of the village attorney, wouldn’t you think that someone would have advised
Mr. Di Maria that he had perhaps committed a class IV Felony under Illinois law, punishable by 1-3 years in jail and a $25,000 fine, and posted the admission and documentation of it on a public forum?
Poor decision making and a show of arrogance and disregard for the law and the office he holds.

arrogance-cat

In 2005, Mr. DiMaria wanted to run in a primary election. To do so required a certain amount of signatures collected in a certain way. It was suspected that Mr. DiMaria did not follow the law and his petitions for candidacy were challenged, (see Cook County Board of Elections decision Niles Decision-DiMaria 05COEB TC 05 )  As a result of this challenge Mr. DiMaria was removed from the primary election ballot.

In its decision, the election authority stated; “ On another, deeper level, we are appalled at the behavior confessed to by the candidate. It has no place in the public arena”.

It seems as though Mr. DiMaria has established a pattern of disregard for the election laws.

one party rule