Saturday, March 7, 2015

2015 - Forest Park

Mayor of Forest Park:

Sharon Daly's Opinion column in the 2/18/15 issue of the Forest Park Review has almost made up my mind on the upcoming mayoral election.

This large-type synopsis summed it up:

"Calderone is a thin-skinned authoritarian with  no new ideas"

Which is probably true.  But you might notice that incompetency, corruption, stupidity, or laziness are not alleged.  Apparently the worst that he's done during his current term is fail to create an acceptable "comprehensive plan" -- though no specifics characterize that failure.

If this is the worst that he has done in the past four years,  perhaps he has learned from mistakes made in earlier terms of office.  So maybe I'll vote for him this time.

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But then, I got the Team  Calderone mailer:


It looks like it's targeted at our village's largest demographic:  the subterranean  residents of  our major cemeteries.  And where does the money for  all these  mailers come from?

This, and Bill Dwyer's rants are  almost enough to get me voting for his opponent, Chris Harris.

But what has Chris Harris ever done for the village?  His discussion of village issues is weak on observations and new ideas.  And the Calderone-haters have not presented him as anything more than not-Calderone.

He appears inexperienced and not especially sharp.  I don't want to be responsible for his mistakes. 

So this time I'm voting for the incumbent.
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 Chris Harris continues to present himself as empty headed


With the election less than a week away, a blizzard of campaign mailers has hit local mailboxes.

Isn't there a better way to debate local issues?   I can't attend public meetings because  my evenings are already booked.

Can't some clever person construct an internet debate site that allows candidates to present and cross-critique arguments  -- without the virulent anonymous slander of ForestParkForums ?

Regarding the mailings -- I can't help but ask:   who pays for them?  The deep pockets of an incumbent's campaign fund are prima facie evidence of special favors rendered and paid for.

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Here's a Calderone ad -- which does get points for being candid about his aversion towards independent thinking.


But it's been my experience that group-think is  the number one cause of bad decisions in deliberative bodies.

Especially when so many proposals will come from a  group leader who has many political obligations to his contributors and allies.



Here's another Calderone broadside.  It badly abuses the word "FACT",  but  I'm afraid that I do tend to agree that Harris doesn't have much to offer.





 

If Harris had the opportunity to respond in detail,  we might learn something about these various issues.

Voting records are worthless without context. 

And the more expensive mailing pieces I get from Calderone -- the more conflicted I am about voting for him.

Maybe I'll just sit this one out.



Then, on the final weekend of the campaign, we get yet more mailers from Calderone.

This one, a last minute attack on  the arrest record of his opponent.

But there's no date given to these arrests. Was he a misbehaving college student.  And there's no mention of any convictions.

Rather scurrilous, I'd say -- revealing more about the character of the accuser than the accused.






Finally, there's actually a reasonable flier from a retiring commissioner, endorsing the mayor.

It would be more convincing if some detail or statistic were offered regarding the improvement of the Roosevelt Road business district.  "Poised to greatly improve" is a rather nebulous.

More serious is the claim that Chris Harris "to my knowledge .... does not accept as valid" the results of a 2013 referendum on video gaming in bars.

Harris's website seems to confirm that assertion:

Regarding video gambling, do you stand by the vote of the people to keep video gambling out of Forest Park?

To me this is a great example of where the current mayor and I disagree – public input. We never finished this discussion, it was a disservice to the community to cancel town hall meetings and never have an actual discussion. Our current mayor is not a fan of public input and you can’t make educated decision when you don’t allow for education.

Looks like Hoskins was right. Above, Harris is dodging the question - which troubles me much more than a direct position either for or against.

After all these last two mailings, I can't vote for either candidate.

But in the next election, I will carefully avoid reading ALL campaign fliers. I'm not really the target audience for election marketing.   They should be addressed "to the idiot who lives here"  -- and I should have a better opinion of myself.








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Commissioner, Village of Forest Park
4 Year Term, Vote For 4


Joseph Byrnes
Daniel J. Novak
Tom Mannix
Rachell A. Entler
Mark S. Hosty



This is sad -- five openings and only four candidates.  The only one I'll vote for is Daniel Novak - in the hopes that he will be an independent mind and voice on a council dominated by supporters of the mayor.  Though he hasn't yet offered much to substantiate such a hope. Doesn't even have a website.
 
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Board Member, Proviso Township High School District 209


Nathan 'Ned' Wagner
Theresa L. Kelly
Theodore Matthews
ShawnTe M. Raines-Welch
Claudia Medina
Francine E. Harrell 
Cheryl Anderson


Former Board president, Chris Welch, has made it easy for the voters this time around.  He's running his wife, ShawnTe, on a slate with two other, possibly na├»ve,  supporters, Matthews and Harrell.   That leaves us with four serious candidates.  Three of them are running as a reform movement -- while the fourth, Cheryl Anderson, has nothing to say for herself.  No website. No facebook page.  No Mailer. Nothing.

  Looks like I'll be voting for Wagner, Kelly, and Medina -- though in a large metropolitan area, there is something to be said for a corrupt local school district so bad that only childless couples like us want to live here -- and pay lower taxes for underfunded schools.


 
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BTW - This is the first local election where I've followed Bill Dwyer's blog to learn more about local candidates.  For example, I learned of the connection between State Representative Chris Welch and an $800,000 contract that Tony Calderone's alarm company received from a nearby school district.

Dwyer rises above Forest Park Forums  because he does not hide  invective and rumor-mongering  behind the mask of anonymity.  But still, most every post is dripping with tough-guy mockery and bitterness.

Perhaps such a pose is appropriate in the rough and tumble world of big city politics.   But does it really uplift the public life  of a tiny village like Forest Park ?


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One of the benefits of voting in District 209 elections is the entertainment provided by the former school board President, Chris  Welch. 

As with his internet slander (for which he has been successfully sued), he likes to act anonymously.  Above he has created a fictitious organization that he calls "Citizens for a better Forest Park".

Then he lumps together his slate for the school board (including his wife) along with the independents running for offices in Forest Park.











Here, he again attacks his old nemesis on the school board, Theresa Kelly.

It's the same accusations he has raised in every past election .  We've never been told exactly when Ms. Kelly supposedly took these trips.  She has been on the board for at least a decade.  Perhaps she has taken one trip  per year.





And as in previous elections, Welch accuses his opponents of ruining the lives of Proviso students -- while he himself  controlled the majority voting block on the school board for nearly a decade.

There's a certain cynicism here which, unfortunately, the voters of District 209 well deserve -- for having continued to vote him into office.





According to this new website   the integrity of many suburban school boards has been compromised by professional politicians.  School districts spend a lot of money -- and  politicians want it going to their supporters.

Four years ago,  Mayor Anthony Calderone of Forest Park made this shameful list.   But in this election, he has joined the other side.

Doesn't he deserve at least a teensy bit of credit ?

 
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Aftermath:


The results of local elections have been so depressing for so many years,  I usually can't summon up enough courage to contemplate them

But this year is different!

In Forest Park, Calderone was re-elected mayor -- which is good, because, by now, he knows more about the job than  any living person. But he only won by 70 votes, and  he lost his pal, Hosty, as Commissioner,.  So he'll  have to work a bit harder now  to build consensus.

In Proviso District 209, the reformers won control of the school board, so insider contracts and hiring are a thing of the past. Maybe.

They now must bear full responsibility for our under-performing school district. And with all the money involved, you can expect the professional pols to soon make a strong comeback  unless the schools make noticeable improvements.  Only 500 votes separated the weakest reform candidate from the strongest machine surrogate.

God speed them!  There is little compensation or gratitude for honest service on a school board.