This, that and the other

Well, the election is over, and as Mr. DiMaria has said, the people have spoken. But the burning questions are; “What people?” and “What have they said?”

It should come as no surprise that there is a deep divide in our citizenry when it comes to naming Morton Grove a “Welcoming”, (sanctuary), village.

Those who operate on feelings and emotions want an “open door” policy, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the “undocumented” persons involved. On the other hand, those who question why we have laws if we refuse to obey them and those who question just who is going to pay for the extra burden placed upon society by the “undocumented” are labeled as racist. As usual, our politicians, like the unprincipled weather vanes that they are vacillate back and forth as the wind blows their non-existent principles hither & yon. I can hear Village President DiMaria in my mind saying; “Half of my friends are FOR a welcoming ordinance while the other half are AGAINST it… and, as everybody knows, I stand with my friends.

With the imminent closing of Produce World, Morton Grove will officially become a food desert with not one food market within the village limits. Rumor has it that the Action Party folks were aware of this before the election, but chose their usual foggy obfuscation over transparent honesty when dealing with the situation. Produce World gone; Prairie View shopping center in shambles and even the Halal Market on Dempster has closed. Gonna be lots of hungry folks in Morton Grove I believe.

Now that the hoopla of the mayoral campaign has come to a close, can somebody explain what has happened to the two major building projects in the village? No action to be seen at the Moretti’s site and the large project on Waukegan is a ghost town. What’s going on here? Is it possible that the leaders of the projects in question had been promised seed money that the village doesn’t have at this time? Perhaps we should keep our eyes open for a new bond issue, (rates based upon our lowered ratings), in order to sweeten the pot even further for these DiMaria sweetheart deals.

And so, life rolls on in good old Morton Grove… giving voice to the old saying; “Same “Stuff”, different day!” 


Morton Grove Melodrama Part 13 – We’re off to see the Wizard!

Village president DiMaria, during his last campaign fashioned himself as “the face of the village”.


Considering that his name and picture are plastered all over the quasi-political campaign literature laughingly referred to as the village newsletter, and his smiling visage appears in almost every local “news” story featured in “the Champion”, you can see that Mr. DiMaria takes his self-styled title very, very seriously.

There has been much talk in the national media lately about the narcissism and ego of a certain politician. Fair enough, but many of the same opinions and comments can be made regarding the Morton Grove Village President.

There’s little question that politicians wield vastly more power and control than the average citizen.

Moreover, privy to non-public, industry-related knowledge affords them all sorts of opportunities (blatantly unethical under Morton Grove ordinances) to substantially augment their income through “insider” trading and investments. For many of them the appetite for material riches can be insatiable.

Large bills fanned out and held in hand
Large bills fanned out and held in hand

Which helps explain why at times the liberty that some of them can’t resist taking with the public trust is so flagrant that (moralistically kicking and screaming) they actually end their careers behind bars. (Does the name “Rod Blagojovich ring a bell?)

One of the primary characteristics of narcissists is their exaggerated sense of entitlement.

It’s hardly surprising then that so many politicians (like our current village president) somehow think they “deserve” to game the system. After all, from their self-interested perspective, isn’t that what the system is for?

In their heavily self-biased opinion, if they want something, by rights it should be theirs. So, nothing if not opportunistic, they take from public and private coffers alike whatever they think they can get away with. (Consider the increase in stipend and “technology allowance” that the current administration granted itself without the benefit of public notice, public input or a public vote).

And given their grandiose sense of self, they’re inclined to believe they can get away with most anything. Sad to say, in today’s politics their judgment isn’t that skewed. Which is to say they’re much more often right than wrong.

Exploiting their privileged position in such a manner hardly leaves them plagued with guilt.

In general, guilt isn’t an emotion they’re prone to. How could they be if they feel entitled to the objects of their desire? In their minds their very ability to attain something must certainly mean it was merited. So it’s only when they’re caught with their hands deep in the till and their various efforts at denial have failed them, that they’re ready to admit responsibility, and posture remorse. But even then, whatever alligator tears they might shed are calculated to lessen the penalties for their misbehavior—or the time that otherwise they might be required to spend in lockup.

Ironically, despite the steadfast ethical values they profess, these politicians can be viewed as “moral relativists” in that what they adamantly deem immoral for others is yet somehow acceptable for themselves.
In our village, this raises it’s ugly head in playing “bait and switch” with TIF money earmarked for one project but funneled into a sweetheart deal behind the scenes, or changing a zoning/planning ordinance to pressure a landowner to take actions contrary to his/her own best interests, or something as simple as taking credit for increased businesses in town when there are still an overwhelming number of vacant retail properties on Dempster street, (Who are you gonna believe, Village President DiMaria or your own lying eyes?)

00000000-8700-waukegan001     Empty Dempster 1

Whether we characterize the personal “allowances” they make as constituting a double standard or outright hypocrisy, these privileged concessions to self clearly broadcast their overblown sense of entitlement. Which is precisely what enables them to regard themselves as sufficiently exceptional to exclude themselves from the rules and standards they impose on others.

What is hard for us to understand is why the village trustees have forfeited any credit, let alone much of a mention, for any of the “so-called” achievements of the DiMaria administration. Little acknowledgment of trustee Grear, who is, after all, the senior and longest serving trustee. Little acknowledgment of trustee Witko, who, while secure in her seat is defending the position of village president DiMaria while he stands mute and doesn’t defend himself.


Strange… strange indeed.

The saying “Promises are made to be broken” rings particularly true for them. It’s become almost a joke that the devout pledges they made on the campaign trail bear only trifling resemblance to what they’ve done once in office.

The ability to convince voters that they’ll best represent their interests is what defines their success. Actually implementing what they avowed they’d tirelessly work for isn’t really an essential part of their agenda—which is typically well-hidden from constituents. In short, their campaigns measure how well they can dupe the public, not how well they’ll fulfill their responsibilities once declared victorious.

Perhaps the question Morton Grovers need to ask themselves is; “Are the village and myself better off now than we were 4 years ago”?

The Action Party, and village president DiMaria don’t want you asking that question, but, like in the scene from “The Wizard of Oz”, thunder; “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”. DiMaria behind the curtain




Morton Grove Melodrama Part 12- Two plus two equals “dog”

There has been quite a bit of “buzz” lately about the Morton Grove/Niles/Evanston water “deal”. At the forefront of “news” coverage has been the claim by Morton Grove village president DiMaria that this agreement will “save” the residents of Morton Grove some Ninety Million dollars over the next 40 years. Of course, that doesn’t take into account that Evanston has already telegraphed a 12% or so increase between 2018 and 2010.


A Morton Grove Champion article states; “Morton Grove officials said at Monday’s meeting that they expect to save $90 million to $100 million over the life of the 40-year contract, which locks in the suburb’s water rates over that time period. The contract includes the option for two, 10-year extensions.”

Later on in the same article it says; “The two villages are expected to pay about $90 million for a new water transmission main in Evanston at McCormick Boulevard and Emerson Street and other infrastructure needed to deliver water from that city, according to officials from all three towns. That construction is expected to be financed with bond sales.”

Something here sounds like common core new math. Taking a conservative view, assuming that the “savings” projected are accurate, that would amount to a saving of $2,250,000 per year on the water rates, (about $265 per year per household).

However, in order to take advantage of these projected savings, the village will have to pay $90,000,000 to build a new water transmission main and other infrastructure needed to get the water from Evanston to Morton Grove… and that expense is expected to be financed by bond sales.

We need to remember that Morton Grove’s bond rating was recently lowered a second time under this administration which means that borrowing money by issuing bonds will cost taxpayers more money.


In another Morton Grove Champion article on the lowering of the bond rate, it mentioned that the village’s Equalized Assessed Valuation, (EAV) had dropped 22.4% over a five year period. Simply stated, the EAV is a multiplier used to determine what we pay in real estate property tax. A lower EAV means that each individual property owner must shoulder more of the tax burden.

Currently the village’s bond rating is Aa3, and, even if the administration can get a rate of 2.1% that would amount to an interest cost if $1,800,000 on $90,000,000 of municipal bonds, (and that doesn’t count the cost of underwriting the bonds which include such things as “Gross spread”, which is a complicated combination of what is called “take down” [the difference between what the underwriter pays out to the village and what they get for the bonds on the open market];”management fee; underwriter’s expenses and “Other fees”, [which may include such things as Financial/Municipal advisory fees,  Bond counsel fees; Disclosure counsel fees, Rating agency fees, bond insurance/credit enhancement fees, trustee fees, escrow agent fees, feasibility study costs, auditor’s fees and printing costs]. Figuring out what it costs to issue bonds is, at best, complicated.) Spreads are usually quoted in terms of dollars or points per thousand bonds. For example, a gross spread of $5.00/$1,000 bond on a $90 million issuance would be $450,000: [($90 million /$1,000) *$5.00]. If you are feeling “nerdy” you might check out this article that somewhat explains the process.

If the current administration had kept it’s promise of transparency and had held public meetings telling us the upfront costs of the deal, at least taxpayers could have had some input on  spending close to ONE HUNDRED MILLION TAX DOLLARS. Maybe village president DiMaria, trustee Grear and all the other Action Party trustees figured that it would be easier to ask forgiveness rather than permission.


So, let’s recap the math on this deal;

  1. The “savings” estimated by village president DiMaria on the water deal: $90,000,000 over 40 years, ($2,250,000 per year).
  2. The up-front cost of the “build out” for water main piping and other infrastructure: $90,000,000.
  3. The cost of issuing the municipal bonds, (not counting “miscellaneous” “OTHER FEES”): $450,000 [approximately].
  4. The cost of interest on the bonds, (assuming a 2.1% rate, recently Aa bonds have been returning between 3.3% and 3.7%):  $1,800,000.

Wait a minute! What happened to that $90,000,000 savings that village president DiMaria spoke about?

“Savings” over 40 years:                         $90,000,000
build-out cost:                                         -$90,000,000
“gross spread” to underwriter:             -$450,000
interest, (based on 2.1% yield)              -$1,800,000

Net cost to Morton Grove taxpayers:    -$2,250,000, (or about $265 per household)

Doesn’t seem like much of a deal to us… sounds more like a fast shuffle.

money down the toilet



Morton Grove Melodrama Part 10 – Mo money!








In last weeks story we were going through how village president DiMaria self-styled himself as the face of the village and plastered his name on everything but a check to help pay for his political ambitions. Mr. DiMaria seems to have a bad case of alligator arms when it comes to picking up the check.


Last week’s story also recounted how Mr. DiMaria, Mr. Grear and the rest of the the Action Party took political contributions from those doing business with the village in violation of the ethics ordinance that they had all voted to accept and had pledged to honor.

We could easily see what the Action Party was getting out of the deal, but it could be rightfully questioned why the various businesses would ante up. Based on what we know, most likely they look at these political contributions as an investment with a great return.

Let us take, for example, the contributions from Heartland, (the parent of 8700 Waukegan LLC).


For a relatively small sum in contributions to the Action Party coffers, this developer will receive Six hundred thirty six thousand dollars in TIF money, (money that was originally earmarked to revitalize the Prairie View shopping center),                          00000000prairieview003


to underwrite the project which adds high-end rental apartments to an already saturated market. Looks like a smart investment on the developer’s part where their profit on the deal is apparently front-loaded with TIF money. According to Action Party president and village trustee, Billy Grear, in an article in the Pioneer Press on March 19, 2015; “It’s going to bring a new type of person into the village…”. We’re not quite sure what that means unless Mr. Grear is referring to folks gullible enough to think that this type of white-collar patronage is a good idea. It’s also interesting to consider who would want to spend  $1,500 per month and up rent to live on one of the most heavily used major roads in the near north suburbs.

Let’s now take a look at the Dempster street property that is designated to be the new Moretti’s restaurant. This deal started out when the Action Party elected officials purchased the plot that used to house Maxwell’s and The Studio, two fairly popular Morton Grove eateries.

There were grandiose plans for a multi-use structure, but the original buyer was foreclosed on by the bank.

Through assistance by the village, the property was resold to Ted Mavrakis, a political contributor to mayor DiMaria for the purpose of building a Tilted Kilt restaurant.

Oct 2015 003

Those plans fell through, and the village repurchased the parcel giving the mayor’s buddy a quick $500,000 profit while he retained ownership of approximately 30% of the site.

Subsequently, the Village (Action Party) Board makes a deal for the Village taxpayers to finance a Moretti’s Italian Restaurant and Gambling Café with a fifteen year, zero interest mortgage, (Moretti’s is a political donor to the Action Party).

Moretti’s will pay off the fifteen year mortgage by simply being in business for fifteen years. After fifteen years in business, without paying a dime of principle or interest, Moretti’s gets the property for free!
There was, however, a problem that raised it’s ugly head. This land too, was found to be contaminated and required EPA clean up.
When Moretti’s found out that the property was contaminated and would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up,they renegotiated the whole deal. The Action Party Board of Trustees & Mayor upped the taxpayer’s gift to Moretti’s to pay for the contamination problem to be cleaned up  for the benefit of their political donor.
Morton Grovers are now stuck with an additional $300, 000 or more for clean up and with the other sweeteners, the total may cost the taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars more.

In a Morton Grove Champion article dated February 4th, 2017 it says; “…village officials agreed to sell the property for $1.525 million and loan Ala Carte Entertainment $636,000 to cover eligible tax-increment-financing expenses, Village Administrator Ralph Czerwinski said in a report to the board.If the Moretti’s location stays open for 20 years, Morton Grove officials also will forgive the loan to cover TIF-eligible business development expenses, Czerwinski said. The mortgage the village agreed to with Moretti’s also would be forgiven if the business stays open for 15 years, he said.”


So, lets do some simple math. $500,000 profit to Action Party contributor Ted Mavrokis when the village repurchased to property; a minimum of $300,000 to remediate the environmental problems at the property; a mortgage of $1.525 million on the property which will be forgiven if the restaurant remains open for 15 years and a loan of $636,000 which will be forgiven if the restaurant stays open for 20 years… that comes out to a total of $2,961,000 dollars returned on their political contribution investment with the Action Party.

Village president DiMaria has always bragged about his experience in “high finance”, whether it was when he traded on the Chicago Merchantile Exchange in the past or now in his current career as a mortgage broker. He certainly has provided an astronomical return on investment for those who made political contributions to him and his Action Party… for Morton Grove taxpayers…  not-so-much.







Morton Grove Melodrama Part 6 – Aye, there’s the rub

Well, dear readers, when we left our story last time we were pondering some of the financial facts surrounding the Moretti family- restaurateurs and friends of mayor DiMaria- being given the opportunity to lease the property from the village for a ridiculously paltry sum for an extended period.  Morton Grovers will have yet another pizzaria to enjoy, but they might want to consider when they pay the check that they not only have paid for their pizza, but also for the land under the restaurant… the alleged contamination of that land… and who knows what else.

Today we ask the question; “Does the change in the massage parlor ordinance mean an announcement of exciting new businesses by the Mayor?”


Morton Grove. because of it’s Home Rule status, can license the parlors and make them subject to spot inspection.  (Home Rule allows a municipality with more than 25,000 residents or one whose citizens have voted to become a Home Rule unit to do pretty much anything not forbidden by state law.)

According to The Morton Grove Champion,

Village board members voted unanimously at their Dec. 12, 2016 meeting to adopt the new regulations which officials said are intended to give the village better oversight of massage therapy establishments.

(The main thrust of these new regulations increases the fee for a license to provide revenue for the village)

“The regulation of massage establishments is a matter of growing importance to public health safety and the welfare of residents,” said Trustee Bill Grear. “And is intended to prevent the spread of diseases through unsanitary practices and…abate nuisances and unlawful activity.”

Village administrator Ralph Czerwinski said there are currently four massage therapy establishments in the village and that another application is pending. He explained that none of the current ones are suspected of anything inappropriate, but the village just wants to proactively have measures in place.

“There should be rules because it protects the community and provides a healthy and appropriate environment,” Czerwinski said.

He said Morton Grove started partnering with Glenview earlier this year to have Glenview health inspectors inspect Morton Grove food and restaurant facilities and said the same practice will be extended to massage therapy establishments. So on top of everything else, Morton Grove taxpayers are paying Glenview for inspection services. Where is the oversight by the Morton Grove administration?

Here’s a thought, why doesn’t Morton Grove require the licenses of the massage therapists to be posted (state law, already),  add the requirement that photos with names, addresses and phone numbers of the therapists would have to be posted as well…  as well as, photos, names, addresses and phone numbers of supervisors.

You might wonder why this would even be an issue until you look back over the past few years and find that there have been a number of prostitution arrests associated with massage establishments in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.



A few years ago, prior to the current administration, Morton Grove was winning national acclaim for being a great place to raise a family. Since then, we have seen an explosive increase in liquor licenses and gambling establishments with little, if any benefit for the quality of life for Morton Grovers.

Village officials claim that there is no suspicion of anything inappropriate, yet a website called RUB MAPS
whose motto is “Where Fantasy Meets Realty”, where people literally suggest who to request & other “personal services” info on all kinds of massage parlors, lists three “questionable establishments, one on Waukegan and two on Dempster… one of which  on Dempster  was shut down by the Morton Grove Police.


The frightening thing is that these establishments could be involved in human trafficking, meaning under aged women or women from foreign countries could be brought into Morton Grove and once here, forced to work in these places. It wouldn’t be surprising if drugs are involved in some. The working gals could be drugged up and become addicted, resulting in a dependency and vicious circle. There is also the possibility of gang activity and drug trafficking. All sorts of bad stuff is possible.

What is happening in our once family-friendly suburb? Follow the politicians; follow the legal folks, but most of all, follow the money.

Large bills fanned out and held in hand

This all begs the question; “Why isn’t the press or somebody investigating and reporting on this?”




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)

    “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?”





 ‘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.”














Whose welfare is the Village attorney protecting?

According to the local press, the Morton Grove Board of Trustees held a first reading of an ordinance that, if approved, would result in a number of changes to village liquor laws.

The ordinance would create two new types of liquor licenses – the Class M liquor license for microbreweries and Class N license for “video gaming cafes,” which would establish caps on how many liquor-license holders can have video gaming machines on the premises at one time. Additionally, the ordinance would raise permit fees on certain liquor licenses and increase the maximum number of Class A licenses.

During discussion of the ordinance at the board’s Sept. 14 meeting, trustee John Thill asked if it would be possible to set a more permanent cap on the number of establishments that have video gaming machines. Terry Liston, attorney for the village of Morton Grove, said a cap would not be possible because it would hamstring future boards. That answer just doesn’t make sense. If the Board of Trustees has the power to change ordinances, which they obviously do, why would it not be possible for a future board to change the cap if they so chose?

Thill added that he was concerned about video gaming’s effect on Morton Grove’s reputation, as well he should be.

Originally the home of the Huscher family before it was converted into a “swanky roadhouse.” During the late 1920s and early 1930s, The Dells eclipsed its competition. Located at the northwest corner of Austin and Dempster, it became the best known and most patronized of the roadhouses in Morton Grove, Illinois. The Dells offered live music and entertainment, dancing, fine food, comfort and ambiance.

The Dells was an incredibly popular and successful commercial enterprise. It boasted a spacious dance floor, broadcast its music performances over the radio airwaves, and, because it was not subjected to the musician union local controls within the city, freely imported nationally renowned musicians and entertainers. The Dells had tasty cuisine — steak, poultry, seafood and even frogs legs — in a well appointed setting on a tranquil wooded lot.

There was more, of course, because The Dells’ prosperous run was concurrent, not the least bit coincidentally, with the Volstead Act and prohibition. Additional attractions included beer, liquor and gambling and gangland wars over the profits of the same. The Dells was said to be owned or controlled by Al Capone and his gang. It is commonly referred to as the most notorious of the Morton Grove roadhouses.

Although slot machines and other forms of gambling were banned in Illinois and Cook County before the turn of the century, they remained relatively easy to find.

The hottest place around here was the “Little Bohemia” strip in Morton Grove, on Dempster Street near Austin. While prohibition was in effect, law enforcement was especially scarce and easily controlled in sparsely populated and rural unincorporated Cook County. Roadhouses there included Club Rendezvous, Lincoln Tavern, Wayside Inn, Club Morton, Walton Club, and most notoriously, The Dells, a roadhouse with a small casino on the second floor, stocked with slot machines, roulette wheels, and other games.

The Dells casino chip

Gambling was permitted to operate in the outreaches of Cook County under a hear no evil, see no evil code of inaction and paid protection during prohibition.

During Morton Grove’s gambling heydays operations were protected through political connections. Surprisingly, today, the man who rides herd of gaming interests in Illinois is none other that State Senator Lou Lang (D-16), who represents Skokie & Morton Grove. Whether it’s gambling, booze or tobacco, Lang’s campaign coffers benefit from contributions. Lang’s campaign fund is one of the largest for a state lawmaker, with more than $1 million. During his 28 years as an Illinois legislator, Lang received more than $6.56 million in donations, state campaign finance records show.lou langLou Lang isn’t a household name, but the veteran state legislator is well known to many as the driving force behind one of the biggest changes to Illinois’ law books in decades: The legalization of medical marijuana.

Before his work on medical marijuana, Lang earned a reputation for expanded legalized gambling in Illinois, proposing dozens of bills over the years seeking to increase wagering in casinos and horse tracks, with slot machines, video consoles and the Internet.

He was among the forces behind the controversial 2009 legislation that allowed municipalities to offer video gaming. Since video gambling went live in 2012, thousands of machines sprouted in thousands of locations including florist shops, truck stops, cafes and coin laundries. Even Lang said the law went well beyond the original intention.

Morton Grove village attorney, Terry Liston, says that to cap gaming in town would hamstring future boards. Since Senator Lang is also an attorney, I wonder if it is possible that he consulted with attorney Liston on this opinion?

Refusing to Learn From History

The Morton Grove Village pension obligation is one of the highest for a local taxing body In Cook County. Every full time employee is entitled to get a pension, and Mayor DiMaria has increased the village payroll substantially since taking office, thus increasing the village pension obligation. Even the Village Attorney gets a pension and she works part time.

A pile of cash

When she was appointed to be the village Attorney the village was supposed to be saving money by have an attorney compensated with a flat fee rather than being paid on the hours of service rendered to the village. This might have looked good back in 2004 when then Village Administrator Ralph Czerwinski  wanted her for the village attorney, but  now, ten years latter the village attorney has less duties to perform because, the Mayor hired an outside law firm to handle Village Adjudication Court held on Wednesday’s that was being handled by the Village attorney.  Surprisingly, there was no decrease in compensation or hours allocated to the position so as not to  prevent her from being vested in the village pension program.

With the village pension liability topping one hundred million dollars with no end in sight and with the Village Administrator and the Village Finance Director leaving under mysterious circumstances what does the Village President (Mayor ) do?  He brings back the highest pensioner the village has and puts him on the payroll .

Ralph Czerwinski, Czerwinski the former Fire Chief, has left Morton Grove employment twice before after qualifying for not one, but TWO pensions. You can rest assured now that those pensions will be honored and paid promptly… regardless of cost to the taxpayer. 3 pigs trough

Ask yourself this question; if you are already getting 75% of your salary of over $100,000 after 30 years of service and then put in another ten years on  another job with a different village that would qualify you for hefty additional retirement benefits, would you need yet another source of income at taxpayers’ expense? What you have here is not a double dipper but a triple dipper at the public trough.

Municipal  Pensions that continue to burden and drag down  the State of Illinois are alive and growing in Morton Grove.

Ask yourself another question; “Why was the village bond rating downgraded?” One answer; “PENSION DEBT”; another answer; Mismanagement of Local Government… or maybe, with the recent Chicago Tribune article showing how Morton Grove is becoming famous in the drug culture for a codine-based cough syrup manufactured in town, mixed with Skittles candy and a soft drink  to make what they call Sizzrup or Purple Drank… the administration got curious and tried some. Codine sizzrup

It has been said that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Unfortunately, those of us who have learned from history are doomed to watch our unenlightened elected officials repeatedly mess up.

born ignorant

King Danny the Diminutive

Once upon a time, not so long ago in the kingdom of Morton Grove there were two public houses.

Once upon a time

One house, the Studio was known for fine food and drink while the other, Maxwell’s was more suited to the common citizen. Maxwell’s was known as a public house where many of the older serfs could get a decent meal for few dollars and this pleased the populace.

It came to pass that during the reign of King Daniel the Frail these public houses were placed into a District of TIF because the advisors to King Daniel the Frail convinced the King that this would modernize and improve the kingdom without asking the serfs for more taxes. Since it was well known that serfs hated paying taxes to the Royal Treasury King Daniel the frail decided this was a good thing. old king

As time went by, the people became restless with King Daniel the frail, and replaced him with Prince Richard the slick, who was a vassal of King Calvin the Connected.

Prince Richard the Slick promised the people many good things. evil king

He promised better services; he promised lower taxes; he promised open government, but his promises were empty. He did not remove the hated tax of the refuse; he and his varlets increased the taxes on the serfs’ hovels by 28%. It seemed as if all of the bad things the serfs had complained about under King Daniel the Frail were compounded twofold under Prince Richard the Slick.

In time, a real estate speculation guild purchased the land upon which the public houses stood. They petitioned Prince Richard the Slick to tear down the public houses and replace them with luxury hovels for the serfs. The guild assured the prince that they would not require any money from the public treasury to perform this miracle; and that by building these luxury hovels they would increase the taxes paid into the prince’s treasury without taking any more taxes from the current serfs. The varlets advising Prince Richard the Slick thought this was a wonderful idea, since at least one member of the real estate speculation guild was experienced in assessing risks, and so they advised the Prince to go for it… which he did.

Much time went by and no hovels were built. Plans were changed many times and still no hovels were built. Finally, the real estate speculation guild came to Prince Richard the Slick and said; “We need money out of the Royal treasury before we can build the luxury hovels for the serfs.”panic dollar

Prince Richard called for a hearing on the matter, which is a funny name for a meeting where neither the Prince nor his varlets listen to anything because they have already made up their minds beforehand.

Eventually the people once again became restless with Prince Richard the Slick and replaced him with Count Daniel the Fair. Count Daniel the fair was, well, bland.

good king He did not give rousing speeches. He did not make grandiose promises, but quietly plodded along working to try to undo the damage that had been done to the realm by Prince Richard the Slick. He eliminated the unnecessary positions at the palace that had been given to vassals of Richard the Slick, which made the vassals very unhappy. He cut the budget of the many departments in the palace and caused the knights and their pages to work hard, which caused grumbling amongst the knights and pages. Even though it was a time of recession and economic scarcity, his actions caused the kingdoms’ bond rating to rise. But after a time, because Count Daniel the Fair was seen as boring, some of the vassals who were still loyal to Prince Richard the Slick saw a way to remove Count Daniel the fair.


Firstly, they plied Vassal Danny the Short  DiMaria behind the curtain with flattery, telling him that he would make a much better king that Count Daniel the Fair.

They further courted the favor of Vassal Billy the Bufoon,  dwarf jestertelling him how smart he was and what a great prime
minister he would make to Vassal Danny the Short. The conspirators, known then as the Party of Caw Cuss, executed a coup de tat and Count Daniel the Fair was deposed and vassal Danny the Short was installed as King Danny the Diminutive.

dwarf prince

King Danny the Diminutive made sweeping promises of new businesses for the kingdom. Danny the Diminutive made flowery speeches and his picture was spread about the realm copiously. But, nothing got done. No new good new business came to the kingdom, (there were a few houses of questionable morality where lots were cast and dice were rolled electronically). pigs at the money trough

Money that was supposed to go into improvement in the kingdom was spent for hiring political consultants that once again, Danny the Diminutive promised great reward, and, once again, nothing happened. The streets of the realm were not fixed. The cost of water to the peasants hovels kept going up and up. pay-to-play

And yet, King Danny the Diminutive kept making promises that were empty. He had no road map to follow in governing the kingdom. He had no compass to show him the compass

This on again off again approach is exactly how King Danny the Diminutive governs  Morton Grove. One minute he supports this and the next he supports that. The one finite mode of governing is King Danny the Diminutive’s Kingdom of Chicago style politics. If you not with him 100% then you are against him. He warns, “Don’t cross me or I will destroy you!”  He is 100%  in control of a out of control kingdom.

King Danny the Diminutive, in quiet moments, knows that he has not improved the lives of the peasants in the kingdom, but he also thinks like one of his royal heroes:

“Let them eat cake!”.   let them eat cake

Beating a dead horse


A recent news flash was sent out by the Village of Morton Grove last week informing those who need to know that; “Morton Grove Fire Chief Tom Friel in now the acting Village administer.”

The question is…WHY?

We can only assume that after  a tight midterm election, Village President Dan DiMaria is reacting to the sounds of  discontentment with his administration and lack of progress in addressing the real needs of the residents.

Mr. DiMaria came into office with Big Ideas & Promises. Now, two years later there is little or nothing to show and it appears that DiMaria might need a scape goat for his increases in spending and the increases of staff at village hall.

What happened to “Moving Our Village Forward”?

If you tally, point by point,  what has happened in Morton Grove since the DiMaria/Grear takeover of the Action Party you are hard pressed to find anything to be proud of.

*The Village bond rating went down;

*There was a complete dismantling of Family and Senior services;

scamming seniors
*The Emergency Management Agency has been effectively dismantled with only a couple of volunteers remaining;

* In Village Hall there are filling cabinets filled with consulting fees and plans that are going nowhere;

* There is an over 100% increase in staff in the building and economic development department with little or no increase in new development.

Move along

Changing the horse that  pulls the load you want carried is good, if the horse can’t pull, but Is changing the horse the answer in this case?

Don’t forget Mr. DiMaria was involved in selecting the last horse from the paddock.

Let’s look at the load this same replaced horse pulled with the previous driver of the wagon:

1. Completed 40 miles of repaving local streets

2. Brought McGrath Audi to Morton Grove (without an Economic Development Department)

3. Completed over 20 major badly overdue infrastructure improvements

4. Increased Village Bond rating

5. Reduced cost of Civic Center operation from $600,000 to under $200,000

Why is it that with Mr. DiMaria at the reins of the wagon, suddenly the horse can’t pull the load anymore.

Why is a reasonable question to ask.

Maybe the load currently being piled on the wagon is so heavy that no horse can pull it.


So Mr. DiMaria’s answer is to hook up a new horse that is already carrying  a big load with the weight of the Fire Department and the Civic Center. That sounds like the most likely outcome will be to destroy a useful and productive horse that has served the folks of Morton Grove well and faithfully for many years.

Is it possible that the problem is not the horse pulling the wagon but the Jackass holding the reins?


Perhaps if Mr. DiMaria is looking for the reason for the failures over the past two years, he needs to look in the mirror.