Park Ridge Dishonored by Blago ‘Sneak Attack'

"Honorary Jim Hendry Way" may be an effort to win friends, town mayor implies

You've seen them all around the city -- those often-puzzling, tourist-baffling honorary street signs.

Imagine: you're trying to get to the Davis Theater for a 7 p.m. show.  It's 6:50 p.m. and you think you're close as you drive up Western Avenue towards Wilson Avenue. But when you reach the corner, you look up and see that you're on Cynthia Eckner Way! What? Where's Wilson? 

It's right there, actually, but there's been a sign posted in honor of Cynthia Eckner, a long-time crossing guard who served students at two nearby schools.

They're honorary. That's what they're supposed to be, but how notables get designated as street sign worthy and who pulls the strings to get those signs posted is a bit of a mystery.

It's less of a mystery how such signs got posted in Park Ridge, a northwest suburb where, according to town Mayor Howard Frimark,  there is a longstanding policy of no honorary signs.

Well,  if there's one thing clear by now, it's that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is a brash, unheeding, potentially off-his-rocker guy. One need only glance at the charges levied against his office for corruption and improper conduct and basically whatever else you can think of. They're all there. And they all make the governor look crazy.

So if you thought the Blago saga (the Blaga?) couldn't get any stranger, consider this latest bit of weirdness: According to WBBM radio,  an "executive order from the governor's office" landed several "Honorary Jim Hendry Way" signs at the corner of Prospect and Touhy Avenues in Park Ridge (Jim Hendry is the Cubs general manager).  The signs showed up just a day before the city council voted to prohibit honorary street designations. Like we said: weird.

Frimark calls the installation of the signs by IDOT workers "a sneak attack."

Now, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley became famous for his sneak attack on Meigs Field in March 2003. After a long fight to gain control of the lakefront property where the air strip was located, Daley ordered private crews to destroy the runway in the middle of the night, bulldozing large X-shaped gouges into the runway surface. 

But the Park Ridge sneak attack isn't being attributed to Daley.  Frimark and others are convinced that longtime Cubs fan Gov. Rod Blagojevich arranged Hendry's street signs. In fact, an IDOT spokeswoman confirmed a recent executive order by Blagojevich that led to the signs being mounted on several street lights poles.

"I think he's trying to probably increase his ratings among the electorate," the Park Ridge mayor told WBBM.

And it's not so much the signs that bother Frimark -- although he says he's worried that they'll distract drivers at the busy intersection -- but it's the way they just appeared without prior notice.

"We love Jim Hendry," he said.  He just thinks "they'd at least give us the courtesy of telling us they were putting the signs up." 

And it's not even like Ron Santo, or Ernie Banks, or Lou Piniella or any modern player. It's just the GM. That, friends, is ballsy.

Of course, so is trying to shake down the Obama campaign for illegal money. Are we surprised? Not so much. 

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