Elections, not referendums

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Here at the Forest Park Review, we've long preferred Election Day to the citizen referendum as a means of governing a community. Over 35-plus years, we've nearly always recommended against referendums — the exception being legally mandated citizen votes on tax issues.

Our view is that villages such as Forest Park elect mayors and council members, school boards and park boards with the expectation that those elected will spend more time, have greater perspective and take a longer view than citizens riled up over a single issue. Besides that, we elect officials for fixed terms and always have the opportunity to vote out those who work against a majority view.

If you want less lurching about, and elected officials who are looking ahead and not always over their shoulders then go to the polls every four years, get involved in a campaign or actually run for office yourself.

That's democracy. Messy and imperfect. Glorious and powerful.

An exception to our long-held view has been the long, and so far in vain, effort to get Forest Parkers a direct vote on video gaming. Just last week a Cook County court ruled against locals who sought that vote. The court upheld the ruling of the local electoral board — a triumvirate of conflicted interests in our view — that there were deficiencies in the way petitions for a referendum had been handled.

Our support for a gaming referendum has always been based on the village's early reliance on seeking citizen votes on gaming. And twice voters overwhelmingly repudiated video gaming for their village. To then ignore the input it had sought and to willfully block another vote was just wrong.

Proponents of the referendum, generally aligned with video gaming opponents, are now using online crowdsourcing to raise money for a further appeal. That's fine and we understand their determination to fight on. Elected officials in Forest Park, specifically Mayor Anthony Calderone, have repeatedly put a stick in the eye of the thousands of sincere locals who petitioned for a vote. Using technicalities governing the headers on petition sheets, allowing (and not outright squashing) the bogus efforts of a gaming partisan and gaming beneficiary to clog the ballot with nonsensical ballot questions, the sitting officials have, in our mind, sided against their own citizens.

And there ought to be hell to pay.

We are now 13 months out from the next municipal elections. April 2019. The office of mayor and the four council seats will all be up for election. It remains unclear which, if any or all, of these officials will seek a new term. Certainly though it is not too soon for those with a more transparent view, a more inclusive view of small-town governance to begin organizing.

Now is the time, we'd say, for a loyal opposition to begin work on a platform far larger than gaming, to solicit a diverse slate, to organize and raise money and to actively, positively campaign for the bright future of Forest Park.

Reader Comments

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Michael Cormack  

Posted: March 9th, 2018 10:23 PM

I didn't know that we have a budget deficit. I'm not surprised. No one is taking seriously the fact we have no economic development. If you don't bring in more then you're.spending then you have a deficit Sorry to say the village of forest park just wasted millions of dollars on two projects that will never make alot of money and an idea that was a potential investment for the village is still waiting for a study. C'mon people wake up!

Amber Ladeira from Forest Park IL  

Posted: March 8th, 2018 10:10 AM

Memo to Dan Haley: Shame on those who keep commenting via tired and incorrect verbiage! The United States is not now, never has been, a democracy--it is a republic, a representative or indirect one if you will, but not a direct democracy. AGAIN, when you Pledge Allegiance to our flag, you'd better say "...and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands...", or others will turn and look at you funny. (Oh, please). As to the "messy" cliche, yet another way to appear au courant, but this is not Kansas City. The editors or publishers at the FP Review were not in attendance at village meetings where many filing errors were disclosed--these errors are not just silly, unimportant little mistakes, they have the force of law. You can't just grab some petition forms, run outside, and then rationally claim you are accurately (therefore effectively) participating in our "democracy". Elections vs. referendums? It depends. One last thought: Perish forbid that an elected official changes his or her mind re: an issue. It is public knowledge that Forest Park has a budget deficit, a reality which could change anyone's mind. We will have to watch the gambling situation here to see if our village rapidly declines into the seedy place it was 20 or so years ago. So far, so good: the awful signage at gambling spots in Berwyn and elsewhere doesn't exist here--I hope it never will.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: March 6th, 2018 7:42 PM

The mayor has run from election to election on anything that will help him get elected. His photo should be next to the old saying, "Watch what I do, not what I say."

Michelle Andres Fitz-Henry  

Posted: February 28th, 2018 8:19 PM

In the last election the Mayor ran on an anti-gambling platform. So much for that. It seems now - such a ruse. I have a very hard time getting over that.

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