16 Forest Park business, civic and religious leaders quizzed for comprehensive plan

Mayor chides commissioners over diversity requests


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By Jean Lotus


Click here to read the memo from Mayor Anthony Calderone on the comprehensive plan.

During May, Forest Park Village Administrator Tim Gillian composed a list of Forest Park's religious, business and civic leaders to speak to comprehensive plan consultants Images, Inc. for what were termed "Key Person Interviews" to get background about Forest Park.

Representatives of Forest Park's taxing bodies were interviewed, including Rodger Brayden, director of the Forest Park Public Library and Commissioner John Doss of the park district. The elementary and high school districts were represented by Ed Brophy, assistant. superintendent of Forest Park Elementary Schools District 91 and Supt. Nettie Collins-Hart of Proviso Township High School District 209.

Karen Dylewski, director of the Community Center was interviewed, along with Kiwanis Club member and Fenwick employee Jerry Lordan. Cub Scout Pack 109 Leader Jill Wagner was interviewed, as was Forest Park Historical Society President Augie Aleksy, also the owner of Centuries and Sleuths bookstore.

Representing Forest Park's religious communities were Pastor Leonard Payton of St. John Lutheran and Rev. George Velloorattil, pastor of St. Bernardine's Church. Kim Clay, business manager of Living Word Christian Church and Forest Park Baptist's pastor, Dave Steinhart were also interviewed.

Representing the business community were Dan Watts, president of Forest Park National Bank and commercial Realtor and Chamber of Commerce member David King.

Requesting more diversity

But Commissioners Chris Harris and Rory Hoskins complained in May that the Key Persons list lacked diversity and that fresh voices should be heard. "It just seems like a lot of the 'same old same old,' Harris wrote in an email to Gillian obtained by the Forest Park Review.

Hoskins also called for more diverse voices, pointing out that St. Bernardine had a large Filipino congregation and that more African American voices should be heard.

Hoskins told the Review he decided to speak to Mayor Anthony Calderone directly about his concerns.

"I approached the Mayor at the All School Picnic [May 23] and mentioned that I thought we should have some more diverse voices in the Key Persons interviews," Hoskins told the Review. At the mayor's request, Hoskins suggested Pastor William Teague of Faith Tabernacle Church and Forest Park Baptist Trustee and local Realtor Akin Famoyegun, both of whom were interviewed by Images, Inc.

Mayor's snippy memo

But a week later on May 29, the mayor sent a tersely worded memo to his fellow commissioners criticizing Hoskins and Harris.

"For some unknown reason, commissioners Hoskins and Harris seem to be perplexed as to why Images is not focusing, zeroing in or specifically identifying minorities to participate in the Key People interviews," Calderone wrote in the memo.

"This is a comprehensive land plan, not a [sic] ethnic or racial plan," he continued.

"The key people are just that, individuals who represent a large sector of others, including all races," Calderone said in the memo.

He then scolded, "Rather than an knee jerk reaction, hypothesizing that someone is being left out," he said, "you can each best serve the community in which you were elected by reaching out [to constituents] to participate in one or all of the meetings/workshops taking place over the next year or so."

When asked about the memo, Hoskins said he was confused because Calderone had requested names at the picnic and seemed to welcome the input.

But last week Calderone said he sent the memo after thinking about Hoskins' request and judging it as unfairly asking for more input than any of the other commissioners got.

"Commissioner Hoskins is trying to turn it into a racial or diversity plan," he added. "As I thought about it, I thought it was not fair for one official to offer up ideas to pick who is on [the Key Persons list] and the others do not get that opportunity."

"My memo was clear and succinct," Calderone told the Review. "This is a land use plan, not a diversity plan."

Calderone said the Key Persons interviews were meant to kick off the plan and real work of the planning process would be at the steering committee level and in following workshops. "That's for the stakeholders of all backgrounds that want to be part of the process." He said that he's the only sitting commissioner who has experience with a comprehensive plan, having helped craft the first one in 2001.

He added, "Did Commissioner Hoskins say I asked him why aren't Italian Americans being sought out for Key Person interviews?"

Calderone said he thought the needs of Forest Park's minority populations would be known by Brophy at the school district, Brayden at the library and Dylewsky at the community center.

"I'm offended that Commissioner Hoskins feels that anyone is being cut out," he added.

"While diversity is always a good topic of discussion, a comprehensive plan must be color blind and its main focus is current and future land use," he said in a follow-up email.


Memo from Mayor Anthony Calderone by graham3397

Email: jlotus@forestparkreview.com Twitter: @FP_Review

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 14th, 2013 9:51 PM

I suggest that after 12 years we stop using nebulous words like 'density.' For instance, the NW corner of Adams/Elgin has 40 units and the NW corner of Adams/Marengo has 3 units, but only the latter is considered 'dense.' Perhaps this time around we should not talk in code?

Taxpayer continued  

Posted: July 14th, 2013 9:53 AM

Overly dense in part because of town home/condo developments approved by our mayor (Residence at the Grove comes to mind). Yes, we have enough multi-family housing units in town as it is. We don't need to add more unless we required the owners to also live in town (which I'd guess is illegal, not to mention impossible). Lets work with what we have and go from there.


Posted: July 14th, 2013 8:22 AM

The mayor mentions that the town is already overly dense.

jerry from forest park  

Posted: July 13th, 2013 9:53 PM

Good job Proof, everyone missed that. They also missed that this is about land use which bring in question the key people chosen. I only saw one person that maybe qualified , I mean how is the Super of Dist. 209 qualified, she can't even do her own job. We sometimes forget the story and move right into bashing someone. No matter how "Twisted" the story might be we need to focus a little better. The story is about key(????) people and land use. I believe we have drifted from that.

Proofreader from Forest Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2013 1:48 PM

The mayor and village clerk permitted this memo to be sent with the mayor's first name misspelled. Not too smart, and certainly not careful in their work. The mayor also uses the word "incredulous" incorrectly. Incredulous means unable to believe. People are incredulous. Notions are not incredulous. Incredible was probably the word the mayor wanted to use. Incredible means difficult to believe. A notion can be incredible. Just saying!


Posted: July 13th, 2013 12:20 PM

Just another typo; I'm sure his admin will be blamed like when he sent out an all resident mailing (on taxpayer dime) with wrong info on it.

Bad Eyes from Westchester  

Posted: July 13th, 2013 10:55 AM

My copy of the memo looks like it's signed by Anthory not Anthony Calderone. Are my eyes really that bad?


Posted: July 13th, 2013 8:23 AM

EdwardP, it appears the memo came from Vanessa Moritz as her name is on top.


Posted: July 13th, 2013 8:16 AM

Seems to me that this plan will not be color blind, just blind. For the mayor to decide everything is just plain stupid but then stupid is as stupid does. I still don't get how the key people aren't all people that actually reside here in FP. Business people only care about the bottom line and then they go back to Brookfield or River Forest or Riverside or whatever mostly white, un-diverse suburb they live in. Just doesn't sit right with me.

Edward P from Forest Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2013 11:27 PM

I see the wack-a-doodle Sharon is at it again. And to the other jamoke who wrote grandstanding, how do you grandstand to the other elected officials? Or did Hoskins and Harris collude to have the memo funneled to the newspaper to garner your ill conceived thought? Daly and Haley are certainly a pair. Can't quite figure out the editor yet, seems to be a staunch liberal siding only with the underdog and well under informed.

Concerned Resident from Forest Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2013 4:09 PM

When the Mayor had a delayed reversal of thinking after he asked Hoskins to submit names & decided it was not fair for one official to offer up names & not others, why didn't the Mayor simply go back to Hoskins & privately express that to him (as Hoskins had privately expressed his concern to the Mayor), & then invite the other commissioners to submit names? Instead, the Mayor chose to accuse Hoskins in a disrespectful memo to all the commissioners. The Mayor is just a grandstander.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 11:26 PM

@ Observer. I think we are in agreement :) it appears the mayor is moaning that NO commish besides himself should have a say in deciding key players, and Hoskins and Harris are being uppity for wanting their elected voices expressed.

Observer from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 10:59 PM

Ms. Daly you are correct and I was incorrect. But the mayor's remark leaves me with the same question. He later decided that Hoskins unfairly asked for more input than other commissioners got? How so? It is the mayor who had a knee jerk reaction. Or just a jerk reaction?

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 8:29 PM

Thanks, Observer. The mayor's exact words were " he sent the memo after thinking about Hoskins' request and judging it as unfairly asking for more input than any of the other commissioners got." The mayor is forgetting his statutes that he, too, is a commissioner - the commissioner of public affairs/aka, mayor who is only "chief among equals." So, did each of the five commissioners give VA Gillian a list of key people at the get-go? I didn't think so.

Observer from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 8:04 PM

I meant to say, makes NO sense.

Observer from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 8:03 PM

I think it is VERY ODD that the Mayor later thought about it and then interpreted Hoskins's request as an attempt to gain an unfair advantage over other commissioners. How so? What advantage? The mayor makes sense.

Another resident from Foret Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 2:22 PM

Mayor Calderone states: "The comprehensive plan should not target any particular race, religion, or ethnic background." No one suggested that it should! A request to perhaps include African Americans as "key entitites" as the mayor now calls them, did not suggest that the comprehensive plan "target" any specific group. The Mayor's responses here do not answer the questions raised by his sentiments in his own memo, or why he felt it was appropriate to circulate them as he did.

Simon Jester  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 2:00 PM

Comprehensive. Mayor? You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it does. Inconceivable!

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 1:31 PM

@ Mayor Calderone. "We are overly dense now." Population is down, our elementary school enrollment is down so in what ways are we overly dense, and please be specific.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 1:25 PM

The plan is targeting seniors, a classification based on age, because they are an important segment of this village w/particular views and needs. No different than targeting input from our African American community, is it?


Posted: July 11th, 2013 1:10 PM

Mayor Calderone, It is not a twisted view of the newspaper. It is your actions and your words. If you don't like them now that we all know about them, you should ask yourself why you wrote the memo and sent it.

It is the year 2013  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 1:05 PM

and iti s hard to believe that a mayor of a municipality as diverse as Forest Park and facing the challenges it is, thinks this way, let alone put his thoughts in writing and circulated them as part of village business.

Mayor Anthony T. Calderone from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 1:01 PM

The comprehensive plan is not and should not target any particular race, religion or ethnic background because it belongs to all of the stakeholders including African American. Despite the newspapers twisted view, this plan is about land use, zoning, housing, transportation, recreational amenities and of course it should take into account density given the fact that we are overly dense now.

Mayor Anthony T. Calderone from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 12:54 PM

The elementary as well as the public high school were also invited. A more appropriate term may have been "Key Entities" but nonetheless this process is just beginning. I would encourage all commissioners as well as all residents to invite anyone they wish to participate in the many stakeholder meetings that will take place over the course of the next year. Forest Park has been demonstrably diverse since the 1970's and we have been celebrating that diversity ever since then. (cont)

Mayor Anthony T. Calderone from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 12:49 PM

Our comprehensive plan update is a lengthy process that is open to all Forest Park residents regardless of age, color or ethnicity. The 'Key" people interviews were simply a first step in the process as a means of the planning consultants to gain a view of the community from 30 thousand feet. All government type entities as well as the library and the business community were invited to that process. (cont)

Diversity subversity  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 12:30 PM

Besides diverse interviewees, I think it would be nice if also being a resident of Forest Park would be even better. The ones that only have business interests here, leave and go to their homes outside town every evening. They aren't left here with the mess they might leave.

Disbelieving Voter from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 10:31 AM

The mayor first requests names from Hoskins when Hoskins brings it up, and those people are interviewed by Images, yet the Mayor later thinks about it and resents being asked to include them?? It isn't a racial plan but a land use plan?? Really mayor? Cannot racial minorities also be "Key" persons in Forest Park??? You only want their input later? It offends YOU that these commissioners asked for more diversity? YOU should have ensured there was diversity among "key" people. Disgraceful!!!!

Watcher Too from Faux pas  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 12:03 AM

This is a classic case of "he who smelt it, dealt it". Choosing to create a diverse staff in our village is a top down decision/action. IOW lead by doing! It's been obvious for years that the mayor prefers people that look like him. He put Hoskins up in 2007 as his token to get votes. How's that working out for you now Tony?

Forest Park resident  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 11:23 PM

I'm so tired of the Mayor's repeated attempts to turn every issue that comes up in this town into a political issue. I couldn't care less about whatever bone he and Mark Hosty have to pick with the other Commissioners. They were elected, too. The people want their input. I care about the town, not political jockeying, Mayor. When you're retired, do you really want people to remember you for your childish bickering? Right now, that's the future that's staring you down.

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