Monday, June 21, 2010



This morning’s (i.e., Monday, 6/21/10’s) Chicago Sun-Times treated its readers to the tale of the DuPage National Technology Park, created with $34 million of your money at the insistence of such GOP small government types as Denny Hastert and Pate Philip. The “technology park,” yet another failed experiment in the industrial policy that the Republicans so despise unless such experiments are conducted in their districts and/or on their friends, boasts two buildings, one of which is vacant, on its 800 acres. Net job creation and technology developed are both quite close to zero. We also learned in the same article of Jack Tenison, the former Naperville city councilman (Such plebeian terms as “alderman” are not used out in these “better” areas, don’t you see.) who is now executive director of the tech park, for which he draws a salary of nearly $152,000 on top of his $6,000 car allowance and $118,000 pension for the years he spent on the payroll in Naperville. Besides not achieving much success in developing the park, Mr. Tenison seems to have an aversion to his office; he rarely, according to the report, comes to work. But who can blame him? Managing an empty “technology park” has to get boring, causing the hours to drag. Why not just stay in the house and tell everyone you’re “working from home”?

Mr. Tenison, though, with the type of humility seemingly endemic to our public servants, says he has done plenty for his generous compensation. As he so self-effacingly puts it:

I don’t want to sound arrogant or anything, but I built the tech park. I built the infrastructure out there. I put in the fiber optics. I worked on the design. It’s not a job to me. It’s a passion. I’m always doing work.”

That doesn’t sound at all arrogant now, does it? The man’s an electrician, a wiring expert, a building contractor, a design genius. One wonders why, with his myriad skills and sense of perspective, he wasted all those years on the public payroll when a man of his talents could have made so much more in the private sector. Oh, yeah, I forgot: He is obviously devoted to public service.

In their defense, some of the pols out here, including Gerald Gorski, vice chairman of the airport authority, which is nominally in charge of the “technology park” and other members of the board, tried to zero out both Mr. Tenison’s position and the whole tech park subsidy, only to be muscled by Bob Schillerstrom, DuPage County Board Chairman who ran for governor on, of course, a small government platform, promising to clean things up in Springfield. Mr. Schillerstrom, warning that “Jack’s (Tenison’s) my guy,” vetoed the entire airport authority budget (not a bad idea at that, but for entirely different reasons) in order to protect his pal and former assistant in Naperville city government. Mr. Schillerstrom, displaying the type of courage seemingly imbedded in politicians’ genes, now has passed the buck, saying that Gorski and other members of the airport authority “…are able to handle the daily operations of their post” and blaming them for yielding to his pressure to keep Mr. Tenison in his sinecure.

Further evidence for two by now self-evident truths are contained in this comical tale. First, Republican officeholders, as opposed to most rank and file Republicans, are full of horse excrement when they try to tell us they are for small government. As I said in the first paragraph of this screed, they love big and growing government, as long as its growth is in their direction.

Second, the pols, and many of the people, out here like to cluck their tongues at the corruption in the great city to our east. But they continue to act like, and elect, legions of Vito Marzullo wannabes who have no trouble with lining their own pockets at public expense, making a career out of, er, feeding at the public trough, to put it nicely. At least with the corrupt pols who run Chicago, we don’t (or didn’t, more properly) get a lot of hypocrisy and high sounding rhetoric about good, open, small, and honest government. The aforementioned Mr. Marzullo once told a class at Harvard, “I entered politics to reward my friends and screw my enemies.” These popinjays in the western ‘burbs entered politics for the same reasons, but got to positions of power and self-enrichment by decrying the very politics that Mr. Marzullo so artfully and unabashedly practiced.

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