“I do feel that what’s proposed tonight is not feasible because it does ask for contributions from the general fund. The City of Highland Park would not make that contribution right now. This hybrid … I would support if we could get to a consensus number and work towards feasibility. Fiscal responsibility aside, a deal is a deal. – Highland Park Mayor Michael Belsky
Soon to be former Mayor of Highland Park, Michael Belsky, has carried the ball for the Fort Sheridan golf course as effectively as running back Devin Hester carries the ball for the Bears. Shifty & elusive. Denying all assaults. Arguing the calls. Mayor Belsky aims to score a golf course. With only months left in his term after almost 8 years as mayor and 8 more on the city council, what the hell does he care anyway?
When the Fort Sheridan Advisory Committee convened, the Mayor tried to remove the Park District of Highland Park and Park District of Lake Bluff from participation. At another moment, when the public came to speak against Fort Sheridan at a Highland Park City Council meeting, he interrupted their presentation and denied the presenters accuracy and understanding of municipal finance. When Highland Park City Council members asked to be consulted before he made his final Advisory Committee decisions, his mouth piece, City Manager Limardi smirked that there would be plenty of time for their input. Then, with the orchestra playing “A Deal is a Deal” softly in the background, the Mayor ignored the public requests, the council requests and the smirking city manager’s false confidences and opted to support a golf course in Fort Sheridan. Shifty.
Are you familiar with doublespeak, sometimes called double talk? When the Mayor spoke at this advisory meeting, as you can see from the video, we’re not sure if he was simply unprepared in his thoughts as he had hurriedly scribbled his comments during the presentation of others. Or was he just so masterful at continuing to couch his unjustified golf course support in obfuscated reasoning that nobody could deny because nobody could track what he was saying? You be the judge.
One must watch this Mayor as he holds his thumb and forefinger together saying, “we’re pretty close” when referring to a colossal annual $640,000 revenue shortfall. It is the same tone the Mayor took when dismissing the astounding $604,000 2010 annual losses at the existing city-run golf course facility. And then, in the face of all the data that’s been reviewed declares with a straight face, “the numbers I’ve taken out of … the audits… shows this can be funded out of the Enterprise fund if we can get it to a reasonable cost. And we’re not far apart.” None of which is accurate. Or true. Or even, to a large part, a coherent position as the mayor concludes in a fractured and mysterious way with these random and incomplete thoughts:
- “Golf courses are open space and people will be able to walk on them”
- So a golf course is the mayor’s idea of accessible open space?
- “We don’t have long golf seasons, most of the time it is winter.”
- So the golf course is just a minor interruption in otherwise unfettered use of the land during the interminable winter we endure?
- “We should have discussions about, would you contribute the land?”
- But we’ve been meeting for a year and a half on this. Is this the time to bring up some general strange and half-baked idea?
- “And provide some sort of financing”
- Financing? What kind of financing? The public does not want to invest in golf course futures. Period.
- “Because that could be set up to fail.”
- Almost any effort to operate a golf course is set up to fail.
And we’re not entirely sure what Mayor Belsky was talking about. But we’re pretty sure whatever he said, it will fail. Because after you get past the chorus of a deal is a deal, there are just no words left to justify this golf course.