Friday, April 20, 2007

Waiting for the next election cycle

Since Citizen Miller has a focus on candidates rather than issues, this site is now going into dormancy -- until the next election cycle comes around.

The big challenge in local elections is getting enough (or any) information about the candidates -- and hopefully candidates will be a little more forthcoming the next time around.

I remember back forty years ago -- when I was growing up in Cincinnati -- my Mom was a member of the League of Women Voters -- and they presented information about every candidate for everything. Here (Illinois) the League seems to have morphed into issue advocacy.

The internet offers a great opportunity to economically present as much information as anyone wants to gather -- but that's the problem -- no one is doing that work in a reliable, non-partisan way -- and most of the candidates don't even bother to present themselves.

Here in Forest Park, we have a listserv for local politics ( but participants are anonymous and irresponsible - so if there is any good information being presented, it's lost in the barrage of name-calling, rumor mongering, and vicious innuendo.

We also have a non-partisan community action group, Citizens United for Forest Park , but it's really just one man's crusade against Village Hall and over-development.

Hopefully -- eventually -- it will take its mission more seriously, and present an informative, non-partisan website covering local issues and candidates.

And finally, we have local blogger (Carl Nyberg) who's dedicated to "activist journalism" -- but he's not really dedicated to credible journalism -- which takes a lot a work (verifying all the stories that come in) - and since he's not getting paid for this job -- I can hardly blame him for not doing it.

And, of course, we have the local newspaper - (Forest Park Review) and maybe that's the best we'll ever have -- dependent on the skill and maturity of the young journalists who begin their careers with a low-paying job at a tiny, local newspaper.

My fondest hope is that the losing candidates from these recent elections will build informational websites with the time they would have spent going to board meetings if they had been elected.

Is that too much to ask ?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Post Mortem: Election April 2007

Well....... it looks like an endorsement by Citizen Miller is the kiss of death !

Of the 12 positions being filled by election -- only 2 of my candidates ended up in the winner's circle.

(but maybe that's good news -- because hopefully some of them, with extra time on their hands, will start political blogs that will make me better
informed in the next election cycle)

Regarding the Mayor of Forest Park:

I'd say it's amazing that the challenger did as well as she did (if 100 votes had swung the other way -- she'd have won)
given that:

*she was outspent at least 5:1
*she's not a good public speaker -- nor, from what I've seen -- a very congenial, glad-handing sort of person
*the incumbent has been perfectly situated to campaign face-to-face for his last 8 years in office (and there only are 2,800 voters here)
*the economic prospects and appearance of the village have remarkably improved over those past 8 years

So the obvious choice really was to vote for the incumbent -- except that --- the closer you look at what he's done -- the less appealing he becomes.

Even if it's perfectly legal - the pay-to-play American approach to politics is debilitating --- whether it's on a local or national level.


Regarding the Commissioners of Forest Park:

The entire slate of candidates endorsed by the local newspaper turned out to be the winners -- so I guess most voters relied on them when selecting among mostly unfamiliar candidates.

I'm glad that Marty Tellalian won a seat -- he seems to have been the one candidate who was both already engaged in public life and critically thoughtful.

But I am down hearted that all of the other winners followed the incumbent mayor's lead in not endorsing the campaign pledge proposed by our local citizen's group, "Citizens United for Forest Park"

It's just not a good sign -- that yet another generation of politicians is marching lock-step toward a career of self-service.


Regarding Proviso District 209 High Schools:

What a puzzle !

The "Proviso First" slate wins 2 of 3 seats -- but the third seat goes to the one candidate whom their campaign attacked the most vociferously ----
and all this despite the fact that "Proviso First" supported the incumbent administration of a school which has just scored at the very bottom of Chicago suburban school districts.

It seems that the total failure of job performance is completely irrelevant to political success.

Were so many voters just plain fooled by a campaign that pretended to be critical of incumbency ?


Regarding the other races (Triton and Proviso trustees) --- the winning candidates presented nothing about themselves -- via either flier or website -- so how did they win ?

The politics of American education can be a very mysterious thing.

Election results: April 2007

Mayor of Forest Park

Anthony T. Calderone 1,491
Theresa A. Steinbach 1,295

Forest Park Commissioner (pick 4)

Rory Hoskins 1,676
Martin L. Tellalian 1,445
Michael R. Curry 1,411
Mark S. Hosty 1,318

John H. Plepel 1,127
Anthony J. Lazzara 1,004
Carl G. Nyberg 696
Jerry Webster 656

Proviso District 209: (pick 3)

Robert ''Bob'' Cox 6,209
Theresa L. Kelly 5,252
Robin Foreman 5,242

Kevin R. McDermott 4,961
Carla D. Johnson 3,755
Ralph W. Harris 3,575
Janice R. Johnson 3,471
James A. Boyd 2,969
Terrase Craig 1,869

Triton Board of Trustees:(pick 3)

Thomas Gary 22,614
Diane M. Viverito 20,800
Irene Moskal Del Giudice 16,141
Stephen R. Kubiczky 15,673
Alfonza ''AL'' McKinnor 12,407

Priviso Township Trustee of Schools:

Mark Walsh 10,472
John O'Sullivan 5,657

Monday, April 16, 2007

Proviso Township Trustee of Schools: April 2007

Here's a contest that I only discovered at the last minute -- Thanks to a flier from one of the candidates, John O' Sullivan.

There's nothing online about what this job entails -- and nothing has been heard from the
other candidate, Mark Walsh.

So assuming that the one who is silent is a party functionary -- I can only vote for the man
who at least has described the position and the issues that are involved -- which includes
determining whether it ought to be eliminated.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Campaign fliers: April 2007

Very similar to the flier Chris Welch used last November to attack Karen Yarbrough in the contest for State Representative -- featuring a "bad woman" who 's pulling one over on the tax payers (Yarborough's alleged crime was poor attendance at the state house)

In both cases -- it's not much of a crime (board members are supposed to attend relevant conferences - and their expenses are paid to do so)

Note also the reference to the poor performance of the school district - with the suggestion that this travelin' woman is responsible for it

I like these photos of the candidates talking with school kids (similar to the ones shown in their
first mailing) -- because they couldn't look more phony/staged.

What are these adults doing talking to kids in the high school anyway? They're not teachers, they're not incumbent board members -- and there's no indication that they've ever volunteered to tutor or counsel in the school.

This 8-page flier is probably the most outrageous one here -- because it's been paid for by the school district itself -- as a kind of district promotional flier -- that just happens to get mailed the week before the election for school board.

What a coincidence !

But then -- who's paying for the other fliers that support the "Proviso First Party" ?
Here it is, one day before the election, and the party has yet to report its campaign contributions -- which will probably turn out to be the political war chests of the current Board President and his political allies -- money collected from those who do business with the district.

Here's one of the fliers from their opposition: smaller, less frequent, and more poorly designed.

And just as misleading !

Since the "Citizens for Better Schools" have political allies who are sponsoring them as well.
(the same Karen Yarbrough who defeated Chris Welch in the election last year)

Here's a small, but detailed flier from a candidate for mayor of Forest Park.
But still -- how much can be said on a flier ?

I asked her -- by email --- to expand on her discussion of village financial history on her website -- which she wrote me she would do --- but, regretfully , she did not.

Here's the flier from the out-going committeeman who lost the mayoral primary in February.

Again -- the flier is heavy with banalities -- and I don't really care whether a candidate has cute Irish children.

He was the best public speaker in the field -- but was soundly beaten by the other two candidates.

Here's one of the many (a dozen ?) large, glossy fliers sent out by the incumbent --
each one serving to remind us of how much money he's collected from people
doing business in Forest Park over the two terms he's been mayor.

There's been a kind of orchestration to this advertising campaign -- and this is one arrived
the weekend before the election -- giving the candidate in the most stately - regal presentation:

Incumbents get to list their accomplishments -- but that's the problem with the one-sided
arguments found in advertising: the list is phony -- and indeed takes credit for issues (like
fiscal management and eliminating overcrowding) that have been the worst problems of his

All this professional layout ---

I feel like I'm being sold a new SUV.
(that I cannot afford)

Here's a candidate I never heard of
running for an office I never of --
and all I can discover about either one
is printed on this flier.

Why is this businessman (John O'Sullivan) spending $8000
to design/print/mail a flier
to win a dead-end Proviso township job that has no salary ?

Here's the front and back of the flier from the only winner
in the Forest Park election for whom I voted (Marty Tellalian)

(and it arrived in my mailbox 5 days after the election!)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Triton Community College District 504: April 2007

I thought my job for this election was over -- but then I discovered this site

The site doesn't always work -- but when it does -- it shows a sample ballot for every district -- and I discovered that I also need to pick the trustees for Triton Community College.

There are seven trustees with three up for election this cycle. Terms are six years.

I know nothing about the school -- the issues -- or any of the candidates.


Online endorsements and brief discussion has been offered by a few local newspapers and Carl Nyberg (a local blogger)-- but only one candidate has bothered to present himself and his ideas: Alfonza "Al" McKinnor (who put the info up on the Cook County Clerk's site)

Why would candidates run for office without presenting themselves to the voters ? (unless they're just serving the interests of some political patron)

So I'm voting for McKinnor -- and nobody else.


below I've appended McKinno's info page -- since I'd expect the Cook County Clerk to take it off-line after the election:

I’m running to fill the position of Trustee on Triton College’s Board because I feel that the current system has to be changed, and to change a system, a person must work on the inside to influence the change. The system I want to change is the culture or personality of the college from the present culture of fear and distrust to one of excitement. Employees should be excited to be a part of Triton College.

My main strengths are my experience/education:
Served eight years as a village trustee in the Village of Maywood.
Served five years on the Board of Fire/Police Commissioners.
Served ten years as an advocate for youth in Juvenile Court.
Served two years as president of the Maywood American Cancer Society.
Served two years as President of St. Martin Catholic School PTA.
Currently serving as the Executive Director of the Maywood Park District.
Candidate for a DBA (Doctorate of Business Administration) from Argosy University-Schaumburg Campus.
Advance Certificate in Business from Argosy University-Schaumburg.

The issues I would address are:
1. Organizational Structure- restructure the system to eliminate unnecessary administrative positions, and seek-out more career faculty for new programs. Identify the top programs needed to increase Triton’s awareness to new and former students.
2. Increase partnerships with national and international businesses to establish Triton College as a leader in the global market.
3. Eliminate the traditional way students earn their degrees from Triton.
4. Continue to offer retirement incentives to attract new faculty.

Residents should vote for me because I have demonstrated that I have the stick-to-it attitude necessary to change Triton College. The passion to make Triton better is still in me after thirty years as an instructor. I want to give back to the institution that I helped build; I am qualified, and there is still a lot of work to accomplish to make Triton the #1 institution in the country. I would like to mirror the positive attributes that Mayor Daley has fostered for the City of Chicago.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Proviso District 209: April 2007

This is, by most accounts, the worst high school district in suburban Chicago -- and if parents can afford it -- their children usually go to private schools.

It faces the same problems as the many urban schools immersed in a street culture of poverty, drugs, gangs, and violence -- where the parent (or parents) often cannot motivate their children to become educated.

Meanwhile, it's also immersed in Cook County politics -- so, for example, Eugene Moore, Cook County Recorder of Deeds, is paid $160,000 / year to renew the district's insurance policy.


There are two slates of candidates running for the three open positions (out of seven) on the board -- and here's what one of them ("Proviso First") had to say on its campaign flier:

"We've All Read the Bad News"

*Proviso test scores rank dead last among all suburban high school districts
*Proviso board erupts over petty politics
*Proviso high schools charged with patronage hiring
*Proviso board members travel on taxpayer dollars

And that's the slate that supports the current regime !

(hoping, I suppose, that voters don't know that -- though there
is a certain symmetry here: a school administration that enables ignorance needs ignorance to be maintained)

This subterfuge is really rather shocking -- and says so much about the difficulty of running an American public school where an un-paid school board must run for election.

It's just like in ancient Rome -- the primary motivation for an unpaid public official is to benefit from insider deals -- and the primary participant is a small, but organized army of patronage workers. (in Rome they were called clients)

The opposing slate features two new players -- and one former board president (and former ally of the current president) -- and I suppose the big question here is whether she (Theresa Kelly) should be returned to office. (she's the one accused of "traveling on taxpayer dollars")

But if she's not elected -- the current board majority maintains control -- since no other candidate has announced opposition to them. (and some candidates have announced nothing - no flyers -- no website -- sometimes not even granting interviews to the newspaper !)

So all the responsible voter here can do is vote for the Harris-Kelly-McDermott slate

BTW -- in this internet age, there is no (good) reason that candidates cannot educate voters on all the issues relevant to an election.

Back when mailings or posters or newspaper ads were the only way to reach voters -- there was no way to discuss an issue in depth.

But the only expense of a web-site is the time it takes to assemble it -- and if a candidate does not have the time (or knowledge) to do it -- they should not be running for public office.

How I wish that these candidates would lay before us the finances, programs, and detailed issues of this school district.

BTW II: I really wonder whether the day of the giant, all-inclusive American high school is over -- and whether those who opt out -- for private, religious, or home schools should also be required to pay for an educational system they don't use. (for good reason)

The recent establishment of an alternative test-enter school (the Proviso Math and Science Academy) was a step in the right direction -- but many more steps need to be taken to maximize the educational experience for children from a wide variety of backgrounds with a wide variety of abilities.


Here's the people running:

Citizens for Better Schools slate: (the one I'm voting for)

Theresa Kelly

Ralph Harris

Kevin McDermott


Proviso First Party slate: (the one that pretends to be critical of the current administration)

Robin Foreman

Carla D. Johnson

Robert Cox


(there are two other candidates -- but since they've published nothing about themselves --what's the point ?. I guess they're just in there to draw votes away from the opposition)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Forest Park Elections: April 2007

A bit of background:

Forest Park has 15,000 souls, of which about 3,000 show up on election day -- so it's not a very large body politic.

Village government maintains the streets, sewers, police department, fire department -- and most controversially - the zoning of property.

It has a Commissioner form of government, with four commissioners and a mayor elected every four years -- and it's so small -- that these are considered part-time jobs. Until recently, the mayor was paid $20 thousand/year and the commissioners $3 thousand/year. (now the mayor gets 40 and the commissioners 10 )

(Given the amount of work/responsibility they have -- I basically consider them as paid volunteers)

Relevant recent history:

Property values have doubled in the past 10 years -- the business district has gone more upscale (but still has it's share of seedy bars) -- reflecting , I think, an overall tendency of people with means to return to the city from the distant suburbs. (Forest Park is a very close-in suburb)

The incumbent mayor, Tony Calderone, is given some credit for this economic expansion -- and he certainly is a go-go, up-beat, pro-business kind of guy -- while still being a down-home
local man who grew up here and has a small security alarm business. I like him -- he's accessible and appears to be very hard working.

The problem, however, is I really wonder how good his judgement has been -- regarding the management of the police department that seems to have more
internal controversies than it should -- and regarding the transformation of the village from low-density single family homes to enormous condo developments (like the one at
the end of my block)

It just doesn't seem like there's any development that he doesn't like (unless residents organize a protest) -- and recently his village manager presented the council
with legislation to approve the use of eminent domain to acquire several village homes to be turned into a parking lot for the business district.

Upon an outcry being raised -- this proposal was quickly dropped -- and he's firmly against any such program -- but what if an outcry hadn't been raised ? What if it were my home that was going to be bulldozed ?

Over the past four years, the village council has had something of a balance -- where two very active, articulate commissioners held the mayor's pro-business inclinations in check -- and if it were possible -- I wish that situation would last forever: keeping the same mayor together with the same adversaries in office.

But this cannot be -- since both of the adversaries ran for mayor -- one was eliminated in a primary election last month -- and the other will face him in the upcoming election in two weeks -- while I'm doubting that any the current candidates for commissioner would be able to fill their shoes.


So my decision for mayor -- is the incumbent mayor's opponent, Terry Steinbach


Regarding commissioner, I think my job is to find who will provide the most effective balance to the incumbent -- who I'm guessing is likely to win (since he had more votes in the primary than both of his opponents combined)

Interestingly -- I think everyone involved realizes that many others will be thinking the same thing -- so, unlike in the last election, the Mayor is not endorsing a *team* of candidates -- even though posters for the following are usually grouped together in the same front yard:

Mike Curry; Rory Hoskins; Mark Hosty, and Anthony Lazzara.

So barring any other factors, I'd be inclined to vote for the others:

Carl Nyberg; John Plepel; Marty Tellalian; and Jerry Webster.

But there are some other factors involved that put me on the fence:

1. Jerry Webster has advocated the use of eminent domain to solve the parking problems for the business district
2. Mike Curry seems smart and feisty enough to be an effective independant voice on council
3. Rory Hoskins seems to be the best representive for the African Americans in Forest Park

So.... I may not make up my mind until I'm in the voting booth.


Whoops - I almost forgot -- one more issue -- campaign finance.

It can't be that important here -- since major media purchases are not an issue for a Forest Park election -- just yard signs and mailings --- but I think that candidates who agree to limits on the contributions they'll receive deserve extra consideration -- and on this issue, I think the candidates are split along the same lines as earlier noted: the major's group -- following the mayor's lead -- will not limit themselves -- while the others will.


The terrible (wonderful ?) thing about democracy is that people get to (should ?) vote whether they know much about the candidates and issues or not.

This blog is attempt to record my thoughts, such as they are, regarding the choices presented to me at every level of government : village-township-county-state-national.

(Forest Park -- Proviso township -- Cook County -- State of Illinois -- United States of America)

I'm hardly well versed in any of these areas --

--- but I will do my best (within the limited time allotted to this project) to identify the issues relevant to a good decision - and reward my vote accordingly to the candidate who best seems to address them.

Input from those more knowledgeable than I is always welcome -- but I do not wish to hear from those who remain anonymous.