A Holiday Offering

In the spirit of the holiday season, we take a pause from the Morton Grove Melodrama to offer the following, (Morton Grove Melodrama will return next week)

OH CHRISTMAS TREE
    “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,000000grinch-tree
  What deal is Dan D. making?
    In rooms that offer privacy
   He’s got the voters quaking.
    Would his bad deal relieve us from
    Our fund reserves and leave us none,
    Or would he give the store away
    while transparency he’s faking?”

 

 

 

THE WEEK AFTER CHRISTMAS

 ‘Tis the week after Christmas, and all through M.G.

 No reporter is stirring, ’tis still as can be.

Some laws have been passed, neatly stacked, clearly labeled

They’re worded just so, Danny’s cronies enabled.
    
The leaders are nestled at the Bringer with beers000000golf-duck

To toast the most messed-up government in years.

The Action folks bustle with those who still truck

With the notion DiMaria’s not yet a lame duck.

When out there on Dempster there erupts such a clatter,

 They rush from their slot machines to see what is the matter.

 Away to the windows they fly in a flitter,

 To check out the action, then share it on Twitter.

 The glow of their phones on the new-fallen snow,

 Gives a luster of midday to objects below,

 When what should appear like a great apparition,

 But an irate St. Nick and some village politicians.

 While the pols look around, a little perplexed,

The onlookers all take a pause from their texts.

For the old elf’s eyes flash with a furious flame,

As he paces, and shouts, and he calls them by name:
    
by Thomas Nast “DiMaria and Grear!  Witko and Minx!

John Pietron! John Thill! And Ed Ramos, this stinks!

I’ve brought you all here to account for yourselves.

Your behavior this year has confounded my elves.
    
They know how to make every game, toy, and treat.

But the lists we’ve received make that all obsolete.

We’re wizzes at handling all sorts of appeals,

But we can’t stomach incompetence or Di Maria’s deals.

 The voters are miffed about your government phones,000000grinch-santa

 While the seniors are being taxed out of their homes.”

 His brow furrows deep at the thought of their shafting the residents’ pockets with the crap they are drafting.

  “Magic works wonders – its power is stunning.

  But not even it  gets your government running.”

“You tell ’em, old man,” Liston shouts with delight.

Santa turns, eyebrow arched: “I’d hoped you’d be contrite.
    
Then Claus rolls his eyes. “I know children, remember:

Naughty all year ’til it hits mid-December.

With the election next year the future seemed bright:

You had a grand chance to start the year right,

With the threat of a challenge, like an Elf on the Shelf,

To make you do good in spite of yourself.

But you let it take hold with your wheeling and dealing,

Bond rating lowered and wrecked the debt ceiling –”

000000comic-relief“But wait!” Billy cries, “they’ve all earned your disdain,

But me, I’ve done nothing to add to this pain.”

Claus gives him a look that betrays disbelief:

“You, my dear Billy, are the comic relief.”

He then dresses them down with great vigor and verve:

“This isn’t the government people deserve.

I’d fill up your stockings with rocks but it’s plain

that that would do nothing to ease voter’s pain!’

So instead,” the elf says to the folks on the Mall,

“A public rebuke seems the best gift of all.”

And with the air thick with his final dismissals

He springs to his sleigh, which appears when he whistles.

000000clown-shoesAnd they hear his last curse, as he drives out of sight —

“You idiots will never get government right.”

 

 

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR MORTON GROVE!

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Morton Grove Melodrama – Part 4 The world’s 2nd oldest profession

Well, dear readers, when we left our story last week we wondered why Morton Grove officials, (all members of the Action Party) completely ignored the village ethics ordinance. We also wondered why a high powered political operative like Raj Fernando would be interested enough in little Morton Grove to donate to the Action Party. And, finally there was the question of why there have been so many “pay-to-play” deals made by a mayor who claims to be open and transparent?

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As we join our story this week we remember the old saying that you are known by the company you keep and, that in the end, actions speak louder than words.The DiMaria administration has been long on promises and short on performance.

 

 

 

When this administration came to power there was a surplus in the treasury. Since then, the administration has spent money, (your money), like a drunken sailor and the surplus is no longer.

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In a news article, according to the Morton Grove Champion , Morton Grove Village President Dan DiMaria said the 2017 budget will maintain the same level of services without additional fees or increased property taxes.

The village board voted on next year’s budget at their December 12 meeting. The budget expands spending on pension funds, economic development and capital projects.

DiMaria said the village was able to limit expenses by closely monitoring costs and by having village workers take on multiple responsibilities. The budget includes new police radios and a new dump truck for the water and streets department.

000000smoke-mirrors

Sounds good, but is it just smoke & mirrors?  If the fiscal management of this administration has been so exemplary, why have the major companies that monitor government financial affairs lowered Morton Grove’s bond rating twice during this administration?

DiMaria crowed about saving money by having village workers take on multiple responsibilities. If that is the case, why was former fire chief Friel given the position of Assistant Village Manager at a salary way north of $100,000.00 per year?

many hats
Why is the village paying the village attorney over $100,000.00 per year for what is a part-time job? Where is all of this tax money supposed to come from?

Just like your family budget, a municipality has two ways to get control of it’s finances. It can either cut expenditures or it can increase income. There is no apparent cutting in the new budget and DiMaria has stated that there will be no increase in taxes or fees. We have seen this type of legerdemain in the past when administrations failed to account for a major sales tax source, (ABT), leaving town and kept kicking the financial can down the road until a hefty tax increase was the only answer.

The Team of DiMaria, Grear and Liston and their cohorts promised a revitalization of our village. We were going to see a new city center focused around the Metra station with shops, eating establishments and boutiques. What do we have? A still vacant lot.

PW-Thx-01

We were in desperate need of a new police station because the old one was obsolete, inadequate and a danger to the surrounding neighborhood. What do we have? An empty and unused industrial building on Lehigh and the same old obsolete, inadequate and dangerous police station.

We were going to form a consortium to source our water from somewhere else besides Chicago because of the outrageous water rate increases. What do we have? No new source, no consortium and still rising water bills… but there is something more to this that we will address later.

money-down-the-drain

Now, one way to increase revenues is to bring more businesses into town, and this was one of the main promises of the DiMaria administration. So, what kind of results have the Action Party mavens produced?

Well, we haven’t seen any new sales tax generators come into town… no new furniture store, no “Big Box” store and no big sales tax generator. But what we DO have is gambling… lots and lots of gambling.

When the team of DiMaria, Grear and Liston took over there were just two video poker licenses in town; one at the Moose and one at the American Legion.

Now, we are in the top three video poker locations in the state, with one holder of two licenses, Betty’s Bistro, (one on Dempster and one on Golf) that promote themselves, (and incidentally Morton Grove), as “a New Kind of Fun” .

Along with the gambling bar “All INN” and other license holders, gambling establishments have increased in Morton Grove 350% since this administration took over. Just a few years ago, our village won national awards as one of the best places to raise children. Now, with our mini-casinos, not so much. And what is the village “take” from this, you ask? On average about as much as would pay about 2/3 of the salary of a village administrator, or assistant village administrator or part-time village attorney.

 

0000000slots

According to a news report, Morton Grove has agreed to hire an attorney to negotiate a water contract with the city of Evanston on behalf of the village and neighboring Niles.

Morton Grove trustees voted unanimously at its Nov. 28 village board meeting to hire the Chicago-based Klein Thorpe and Jenkins Ltd. as special counsel to assist both villages in drafting a contract that would be in effect for up to 60 years, allowing Evanston to supply water to both towns.

Klein, Thorp & Jenkins is an interesting law firm. On November 10, 2016, a law suit, (case #1:2016cv10499), was filed in the Illinois Northern District Court against Klein, Thorp & Jenkins and a number of their clients, including Western Springs, IL. The nature of the suit: Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, (commonly referred to as the RICO act).

KTJ has had some other “interesting” legal adventures.

Since October of 2013, the law firm of Klein, Thorpe, & Jenkins has invoiced  close to $100,000 in legal fees advising the Orland Park Public Library in its fight to maintain the Library as an access point for child pornography.

As bizarre as that sounds, it’s true.

KTJ is a firm that brands itself as an expert in the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act in Illinois, even publishing a book called The Sunshine Laws on these topics. Yet the three KTJ attorneys who most often seem to be directly aiding and abetting the violations of the Open Meetings Act and FOIA appear to be E. Kenneth Friker, Dennis G. Walsh, and James Fessler (with several underlings and attorneys performing supporting roles under these three main legal eagles).

Why is this happening? The simple answer seems to be: money. What a racket!

Thomas Melody, one of the principles of KJT was sued by residents of Tinley Park & removed as village attorney, (case # 2016-CH-03974) The Village of Tinley Park admitted that the tampering done to its Legacy Code zoning ordinance was illegal and void.

And it begs the question : is Klein, Thorpe, & Jenkins the only law firm in our state engaged in this money making scheme that profits off Open Meeting Act and other violations or is this kind of thing happening wherever public bodies flagrantly and unapologetically violate the law?

Perhaps a better question then is; why is our village spending so many tax dollars, (our dollars), on legal fees to these consultants?

Business wealth

Until shown otherwise, our theory is that there must be something wrong with either our village officials mental capacity or their sense of ethics. It is a fair assumption that there is more than old pizza cheese that stinks about these deals..

skunk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so, dear reader, tune in next week when we will explore if our mayor has announced any more amazing projects, if Babbling Billy, is licking stamps to save money on outgoing mail…

000000window-licker

and we ask the question who exactly is paying for the work being done at the old Maxwell’s site?

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Morton Grove Melodrama Part 3 – In Vegas a high roller is known as a whale.

Well, dear readers, when we left our story last week we wondered why Chaser’s, a bar from Niles was making political contributions to the Morton Grove Action Party. We also wondered why the Village never tried to buy the old Maxwell/Studio property when it first went up at foreclosure sale but waited to buy it from Ted Mavarkis, another political donor, after he bought it in foreclosure. It gave him a hefty profit of hundreds of thousands of dollars and he got to keep one third of the original site, thus making any redevelopment limited, at best. And, finally there was the question of why was the deal structured so that Moretti’s, yet another political donor, could walk away with a prime piece of Dempster street real estate at net zero cost?   

As we join our story this week we continue to question what looks suspiciously like “Chicago Political Machine style” pay to play.

A few years ago, a Morton Grove village trustee, Larry Gomberg, introduced an ethics ordinance for the village. The current mayor, a trustee at the time, voted in favor of that ordinance and it passed and became part of the village code and is in force today.

One section of that ordinance states:
D.  Prohibition Of Political Contributions:
1.   Any person or business entity whose contract(s), and pending bids for contract(s) with the village of Morton Grove in aggregate annually total more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000.00) shall be prohibited from making any contributions to: a) a political organization established to promote a candidacy of an elected village official, or a declared candidate for an elected village office, b) an elected official, or c) a declared candidate for an elected village office in excess of one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) per year per official, declared candidate, or political organization. This prohibition shall be effective for the duration of the term of office of the elected official, or for two (2) years after the date of the election for a declared candidate for an elected village office, whichever is longer.

In addition, all village officials must sign a copy of the code of ethics, ( section 1-8-12 adopted 10-26-2009, effective 1-1-2010), which states, in part:

“F.  ADHERENCE TO ALL LAWS: I shall comply with all state, and local regulations, including without limitations the Village of Morton Grove’s Code of Ethics, the State of Illinois Open Meetings Act, the State of Illinois Gift Ban Act, the State of Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.”

Now, just for fun, let’s look at the following list of contributors that the Action Party accepted donations from that by their acceptance are in violation of Village Ethics Code.

Year 2014:
1. Groot Industries, Inc (source of payments: Morton Grove Village warrants) (proof of donation: Action Party D-2 Quarterly Report 10/1/14 to12/31/14). Groot billed Morton Grove $658,298.59 in 2014.
 
2. G & L Construction, Inc   (source of payments: Morton Grove Village warrants) (proof of donation: 2014 Action Party Sponsor Board. Guy & Lu Batista are owners of G & L Construction, Inc. The minimum donation for sponsor board was $200.00) (This donation was not reported on any Action Party D-2 reports).  G&L Construction billed Morton Grove $158,140.53 in 2014.

3. Terry Liston (Village Attorney).  (source: Village payroll records) (Proof of Donation: 2014 Action Party Sponsor Board, minimum donation was $200.00) (donation was not reported on any Action Party D-2). Ms. Liston’s salary was over $100.000.00 in 2014.

2014-golf-sponsors-2

Looking over the sponsors of the political golf outing it is easy to see why some businesses and individuals would want to contribute. It is called access. Sometimes it is called “pay to play” and it happens at all levels of government.

We saw this recently with the Federal election where a major Clinton Foundation donor was placed on a sensitive government intelligence advisory board even though he had no obvious experience in the field, a decision that appeared to baffle the department’s professional staff.

A prolific fundraiser for Democratic candidates and contributor to the Clinton Foundation, who later traveled with Bill Clinton on a trip to Africa, Rajiv K. Fernando’s only known qualification for a seat on the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) was his know-how as a Chicago securities trader, who specialized in electronic investing.
(SOURCE: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/clinton-donor-sensitive-intelligence-board/story?id=39710624 ).

The son of Sri Lankans who moved to the United States, he was raised in Oak Brook. Fernando, who turned 45 this past summer, is a graduate of Hinsdale Central High School and Beloit College in Wisconsin.

After learning the ropes at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Fernando, a Bucktown resident, founded Chopper Trading, whose high-speed trading is conducted in domestic and international financial markets.

000000chopper-trading

Fernando was a major fund-raiser — a bundler — for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid, funneling $500,000 to his campaign. He also hosted fund-raisers in his Chicago home for Vice President Joe Biden in September 2011 and for Clinton in July 2015 and he made sizable contributions to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s political funds for his 2011 and 2015 elections.

You might rightfully ask; “What does all this have to do with Morton Grove?”

If you look at the Action Party Golf Outing sponsor board for 2014, you will find Chopper Trading’s logo in the upper left hand corner. This is the trading firm that was owned by Raj Fernando, (however, once again, the contribution does not show up on any of the Action Party D-2 reports).

2014-golf-sponsors-2

So, the question that now comes to mind is what is there in Morton Grove that would be of such interest to a heavy-duty political contributor and donation aggregator like Rajiv K. Fernando? What kind of access or consideration or favor could there be in a small Chicago suburb that would interest a high-power individual who rubs elbows with the upper eschallon of the Clinton Foundation?

Until shown otherwise, our theory is that there must be something in town that’s a reward for yet another big political donor. It is a fair assumption that Mr. Fernando is looking for something more than a large sausage and mushroom Moretti’s pizza with extra cheese. Garbage-Pizza

And so, dear reader, tune in next week when we will explore if our mayor has announced any more amazing projects, if Babbling Billy, disappointed that Moretti’s hasn’t opened yet has resorted to eating library paste,  000000kid-eating-paste

and if their trusty counselor, Ophelia Ordinance finally researches the definition of ethics… and we ask the question why was the new consultant in the water deal involved in litigation over child pornography?

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Morton Grove Melodrama – Episode 2 Real Estate involves dirt

Well, dear readers, when we left our story last week we found that the village attorney ordered a Phase One EPA study to be done on the old Pequod’s property… and that they canceled the agreement with Peqoud’s on the grounds that they did not want to be liable for cleaning up the property.

As logical as that sounds, the village did not do it’s due diligence in making that final decision.

We also found that Chaser’s, a bar from Niles was making political contributions and the talk around town was that the village and Chaser’s were negotiating a deal to for the site where Pequod’s was planning to build.

As we join our story this week we wonder why the Village never tried to buy the old Maxwell/Studio property when it first went up at foreclosure sale!

Why did it wait to buy from Ted Mavarkis after he bought it in foreclosure? It gave him a hefty profit of hundreds of thousands of dollars and he got to keep one third of the original site, thus making any redevelopment limited, at best.

Why oh why?

Could it have anything to do with the fact that Ted Mavrakis, the owner of the Giordano’s property is a political donor?Oct 2015 001
(See this link  Dempster Ozark Corporation $360.00; Giordano’s $510.90; Ted Mavrakis is the Principal of both these business entities.)
One would think that an “investment” in a local politician that resulted in over 1/2 Million dollars in profit was a pretty good “bang for your buck”.

Business wealth
Adding insult to injury, why didn’t the village do an EPA Phase One Study on the Maxwell/Studio property before paying and taking ownership of it?

They made the environment an issue with the Peqoud’s deal. Who dropped the ball on this, and more to the point, was the ball dropped intentionally?

Were they willfully ignorant, only finding out the property was environmentally contaminated when the owners of Moretti’s had  a Phase One Study so they could secure financing?
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Why was the deal structured so that Moretti’s could walk away with a prime piece of Dempster street real estate at net zero cost? 
 
Why do an EPA study on one property and not the other?  Was the Phase One EPA Study waved? If it was, who made the decision to do so?

Isn’t it the responsibility of the village attorney to protect the interest of the residents by making certain that all of the legalities are accounted for?

(The Village bought the Domicile property eleven years ago the same way on Ferris and Capulina that has environmental issues and will cost hundreds of thousands to cleanup.)

Is there a pattern here? Was it incompetence or ignorance or malfeasance… or was there some other reason?A P foxes in the hen house

The answer here will go to the grave with the powers that let that happen, unless there is an investigation to uncover the truth.

Why has the Village gone to such great lengths to renegotiate the TIF agreement to keep the Morretti’s deal alive, sweetening the deal with more TIF dollars and paying for the EPA cleanup?

Why?

The Morton Grove News has a theory.

Since Moretti”s is another political donor and there is an election coming up, Dan DiMaria, Terry Liston  & Bill Grear have to do make it look like they have done something besides catering to, and taking money from big political donors.

…regardless of how much it cost the people of Morton Grove.

Until shown otherwise, our theory is that the Village bottle-fed the Moretti’s deal as a reward for another big political donor. As the old Illinois politician Everett M. Dirkson once said; ” a million here and a million there… and pretty soon you’re talking about some real money.”

And so, dear reader, tune in next week when we will explore if our villain, Dubious Dan has made any more backroom deals,   000000crayon-up-noseif Babbling Billy, amuses his collegues by stuffing crayons up his nose, and if their trusty counselor,  Ophelia Ordinance finally realizes that her assessment might be hanging out

… and we ask the question who is Raj Fernando?

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