Norridge politicians exploit “shop with a cop” for self promotion

Politicians use police-community non-profit charity event to puff themselves

Is it Shop with a Cop… or Shop with a NIP?

The concept of “shop with a cop” is a good one: an event that allows rank and file police officers and the community (especially children) to come together.

It helps to create a positive environment early that will help interaction with law enforcement later in life.

… and less of this

We need more like this…

It’s also a 501c3 non profit, as shown by its registration on the Illinois Secretary of state website.

Non profits are expressly prohibited from engaging in political activity, including political advertising.

Yet that didn’t stop Norridge politicians from perverting Shop with Cop it into a blatant display of self promotion.

Democratic politician Frank Avino, Norridge Improvement Party appointee-mayor Daniel Tannhauser, NIP appointee-trustee Andrew Ronstadt, NIP trustees Jack Bielak and Donald Gelsomino, as well as NIP members and Village patronage employees Joanna Skupien, Katherine Gaseor, and Melissa Poulos were among the not-cops seen photographing themselves at the event.

Is there any depths Norridge machine party politicians won’t stoop to in order to promote themselves?

“Shop with a cop” is great thing for the community. The Norridge PD shouldn’t allow politicians to leech off it, and lose its tax exempt status.

Let the cops, and the kids, shop together – without political interference.

Shame on the PD “leadership” of David Disselhorst and Wayne Schober for letting this happen.

We would say shame on politicians for exploiting it for their own purposes… but, as they have proven time and time again, the current crop of Norridge politicians have neither shame nor good ethics.


Village board votes to hike municipal tax levy by 32%

Village trustees rubber-stamp 32% year-over-year increase in Norridge’s Village tax levy

Nobody expected the Village board to listen to the howls of protest as the Village’s tax levy continues to rise by double digits every year.

Police pension – required vs recommended

In this regard they did not disappoint, as they voted in unison to raise the property tax levy another 32% at the November 13 2019 board meeting, after a 35% hike last year.

Village officials used their usual explanation about how this money was going toward the “police pension”, and money to fund the pensions was unavailable from other sources.

But we know better: Village politicians are spending boatloads on unneeded payroll, and other wasteful spending like $4.2 million dollars to Norridge Marketplace, leaving little to no general revenue money available to put toward the police pension.

Village officials, and their actuary, Lauterback & Amen, were very precise in their language to use the term “recommended”, in their attempted justification of the $2.1 million price tag.

Appointee-mayor Daniel Tannhauser said it was “mandated by the state” to make these payments.

However, this was misleading – while the recommended amount was $2.1 million, the required amount was actually $1.57 million.

The $1.57 million figure comes from a document sent by the police pension fund’s attorney to then mayor James Chmura back in March.

No Village officials, not Daniel Tannhauser, nor the actuary, discussed the $1.57 million number at the meeting, although they did make references toward paying more toward the unfunded liabilities of the pension fund.

Therefore, the $2.1 million seems more the actuary’s opinion of what they believe “should” be funded, rather than what needs to be funded, per state law.

Since the Village was already levying $1.6 million… there was no requirement to raise the tax levy at all.

Gus Rapatas questioned why taxes continue to rise and when it is going to end. Tannhauser responded that the dollar amount of the increases was very small.

Rapatas responded “We have other problems in the Village as far as getting infrastructure going”, he said.

“We bought the property by Divine Saviour… I just foresee $75 dollars here, $75 dollars there, $100 dollars here… while we’re buying properties that we can’t use, and plowing the church with our public service”, Rapatas added.

Other highlights

Wally Biszczuk questioned why the Divine Saviour church parking lot is being plowed for free by the Village of Norridge’s snow plows. Tannhauser responded they do so to maintain a good relationship with the archdiocese.

Biszczuk further questioned why the Village prioritized charity plowing before Village alleys and streets. Tannhauser indicated he would call him about his concerns.

Mary Willard echoed similar comments “we pay taxes, they [the church] don’t… and they don’t allow us to park there”.

Tannhauser promised to talk to the church about the issue. (Willard has brought this issue up at prior meetings, but no action by the Village was taken.)

Kathleen Smith, the renter of the property in which Jonathan Reyes was found hiding, pleaded with the Norridge Village Board to reimburse her for the $1,300 in damage police officers did when they apprehended Reyes.

Smith’s son is currently battling heart transplant rejection, and was forcibly used as a “human shield” by the SWAT team to extract Reyes from the basement of the home, and police broke windows in an upstairs bedroom five hours later, Smith said.

“Village Administrator” Joanna Skupien says the Village does not feel the officers caused excessive damage.

She also said it would set a precedent. “If we reimburse you, we are going to have somebody else come and seek reimbursement for something else”.

“What you guys did was out of line … damages that were unnecessary” Smith replied.

Smith says E-mails from the Village stated they were “trying to help you with the situation”.

“You guys didn’t help me at all … you guys contacted my landlord and tried to get me in trouble” Smith continued. “We have made life changes based on this”.

Tannhauser stated he would “take it under advisement” and would “meet with the trustees and get back to you”.

Maria Lala discussed the traffic situation on the 4300 block of Oketo Ave ever since the X-Sport opened.

“You have is people flying down the streets, nobody stops, we have kids on that street, I have complained to Chmura I don’t know how many times … you guys haven’t done anything on the streets”

“I spoke to the Chief of police, he said he was going to get a cop out there” she said. “I’ve never seen a cop. I even see cops going through that stop sign.”

“Nobody does anything” Lala said.

Other residents expressed concerns about the parking and traffic situation at Leigh school.

Recording of the November 13 2019 Village of Norridge Tax Levy Hearing and Board Meetings (full videos, 6 minutes, and 45 minutes)


Village gives $4.2 million to Norridge Marketplace

Norridge taxpayers forking over $4.2 million in “economic incentive” payments to Norridge Marketplace owners

If you’re ever at the Norridge Marketplace (also known as the show property) at Harlem and Agatite, take a moment to look around you and say to yourself “my tax money is paying for that”. Because… guess what – it is.

Documents obtained from the Village of Norridge show Village trustees in April 2018 rubber stamped now-former Norridge Mayor James Chmura’s agreement to transfer $4.2 million dollars in tax money over a multi-year period, if certain sales conditions are met.

Norridge Marketplace… funded with your tax money

The first payment of nearly $136,000 was made in November 2018… at the same time the Village government was approving a 35% property tax levy increase payable in 2019.

The second of $144,000 was made in May of this year. 

Based on the text of the agreement, we should see another similar-sized payment being made to the Norridge Marketplace from the Village this month, as the Village government plans to raise it’s property tax levy another 32% payable in 2020.

Public tax for private corporate use

Back in 2014, the Village government slapped a 9% “amusement” tax on sales at the show property, which are normally not taxed since it is considered a service business, except for food and drink.

If the Village government expected at least $4.2 million in sales tax receipts from the amusement tax, it could have used this money to make police pension payments.

But instead of taking steps to reduce the property tax burden on residents… Norridge raised the property tax levy nearly 70% in two years.

The documents show the agreement to pay the money was made between the Village and the corporate entity “Hamhic LLC”.

Hamhic LLC operates under the name “Norridge Marketplace”, and is a joint venture between Hamilton Partners (“Ham”) and Michael Marchese’s Harlem Irving Companies (“hic”).

Marchese is the owner of the Harlem Irving Plaza, and has been a Norridge Improvement Party campaign contributor.

The agreement, and the authority to levy the tax, was made under the Village’s “Home Rule” authority.

The Village purchased a piece of the show property, planning on using it to build a new police station on it.

The Village has since backtracked on that decision, putting the property up for sale, with potential buyer Net 3 Real Estate offering $600,000.

Norridge has since borrowed $1.5 million to buy part of the Divine Savior property.

Pensions not property funded, but corporate welfare still going

This is the third time the Village has signed an agreement with one of Marchese’s companies to divert millions of public dollars in corporate welfare to his profitable company.

In the 2000s the Village of Norridge government transferred millions to Marchese’s Harlem Irving companies to build the Target store.

In 2012 the Village signed another agreement that would pay Marchese $1.5 million for the X-Sport and then-Sports Authority buildout.

The Village is still paying for the X-Sport construction, having recently made a $120,000 payment in April to Marchese subsidiary “Forest Harlem Properties”.

Chmura commented last year to the Norridge-Harwood Heights News publication that sales taxes weren’t enough to make the police pension payments.

But, dear neighbors, taxpayers, and pension fund retirees, you’ll be happy to know – there’s always enough of our money in the Village treasury to further enrich Michael Marchese.


Village to hold 32% property tax hike hearing

Village board to hold hearing that will see municipal property tax levy rise another 32%

Notice at Village hall of 32% tax hike

The Village of Norridge has been on a tax spike frenzy the past two years, raising sales taxes and gasoline taxes in the past year.

On top of that, they borrowed $1.5 million to finance their purchase of the Divine Saviour property, and have begun to pay the interest on the loan.

And now, for the second time in two years, they are raising the property tax levy another 32%, on top of the 35% last year.

That’s nearly a 70% increase in just two years.

No referendums have appeared on the ballot asking voters to support or oppose the tax increases; the Village instead relied on its “Home Rule” authority to impose the taxes without voter approval.

The hearing on the latest property tax increase will take place Wednesday, November 13th 6:00PM at the Norridge Village Hall.

Patronage employment agency

Despite claiming the additional taxes are only going to fund the “police pension“, the Village of Norridge’s budget continues to be weighed heavily down by its massive patronage army.

Patronage employees are hired based on loyalty to the Norridge Improvement Party, rather than jobs that needed to be filled.

Such individuals exist to shake down Norridge residents for votes every two years, or for money via a smorgasbord of fees and penalties; most penalties, too doubled in 2018.

In addition, the Village continues to pay employees well beyond competitive wages, driving up their pensionable salary and therefore, increasing the cost of pension benefits.

With such levels of unnecessary spending, it is “unable” to make the police pension payments from general fund revenues, even in part.

In 2009, the Village of Norridge was putting over a half a million dollars from general revenues into the pension fund.

The general fund includes tax money such as Illinois income and sales tax sharing, replacement taxes, use taxes, home rule sales taxes, plus fees and penalties.

In 2019, the amount of money the Village budgeted from general revenues to pensions… was zero.

Relief coming from state mandates on pensions?

The State of Illinois has exacerbated the issue by requiring Villages to fully pre-fund these unsustainable pensions by the 2040s.

Illinois Democrats are currently looking at ways to consolidate local pension funds to achieve less overhead and higher returns.

Illinois Democratic governor Prizker floated an idea to string out the 2040 deadline to give pensions a chance to catch up, but backed off after resistance from other Democrats.

Regardless of what the state does… if history is any indication, the Village of Norridge under the Norridge Improvement Party will continue to blow taxpayer money on nonessential spending, while sticking it to property owners.

There were hopes interim mayor Daniel Tannhauser would take a different approach to the tax and spend policies of his predecessor, James Chmura.

However, Tannhauser, a Democrat backed by Robert Martwick and the Chicago 38th ward Democratic organization, has not given any indication he intends to take any meaningful action to rein in wasteful spending at the Village.

Perhaps it’s because he needs the taxpayer-funded NIP patronage army to go door to door propping up his regime against a rumored third challenge in 2021 by Tom Benigno.

So in other words… it’s business as usual… and we all get the “honor” of paying more… to bankroll the privileges of a select few.