Oh, hell, let's vote on everything

Opinion: Columns

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By Alan Brouilette

Every so often I accidentally read some news. It's always inadvertent and I always regret it, but it happens. I especially regret news when I read it in this particular periodical because local newspapers are for printing names of kids who hit home runs and obituaries with familiar last names and apocalyptic letters to the editor by the same nine people and smiling photos of people you disliked in junior high urging you to let them perform cosmetic surgery on you or sell you a car or something. 

Local newspapers aren't supposed to do hard-hitting journalism beyond publishing minutes of the village board meeting that no one reads but everyone feels better knowing are there, like an untouched salad on the holiday table. The Review is mostly good about staying in this lane, but today I slipped and saw a headline and I heard we're voting on video poker. 

Just for the sake of argument, let's pretend this isn't already decided*. Why are we only voting on video poker? I can think of dozens of things I'd like to vote on having or not having in the immediate area before I'd get to voting on video poker:

Leafleting and petitioning. I understand you feel passionately about whatever is written on the paper you are brandishing at me; so passionately that you believe I should give that cause money. If I wanted to hear what political causes you were passionate about me giving money, I would befriend you and rejoin Facebook. I have done neither. Mindful of the First Amendment, I think we should vote on treating you like smokers: You may have a small area across the street from me to engage your foul and harmful hobby, as long as you are also 200 yards from the nearest school.

Complaining about Madison Street. Let's put aside that Madison's restaurants, shops, and plentiful binge drinking are the economic engine of Forest Park. Madison Street was here first. I don't listen to people from Bensenville complain about noise from O'Hare, I don't listen to people from Wrigleyville complain about drunk yuppies, and I vote we no longer allow complaining about Madison Street by the descendants of Carrie Nation.

New construction projects. I appreciate high-rise condos as much as anybody else who's seen the time it takes to get under the viaduct at Harlem quintuple in the last year, but I don't recall being consulted about how many people were allowed to move into a new house five blocks from me, a new house that blots out the sun. If we are going to demand a vote on whether or not I can play video poker five blocks from my house, I feel entitled to request a vote on whether or not a thousand lawyers and MBAs can set up one of their colonies here. I can hear the lines getting longer at the grocery store already.

Village parking stickers. I am required to pay an annual fee to park in a private parking space I pay for already. I don't recall voting on this policy. I assume it would be unpopular, which would be fine.

That's just the first four things I thought of while attempting to avoid overly disappointing with deadline lateness, but I think those four are a solid start. I'm prepared to support your ideas, too — I'm a man of the people — because I really I think the anti-gambling crazies are onto something with this idea of holding a vote on everything. 

Voting on everything would be the fairest and most just end for the OP-RF-FP trifecta I can possibly imagine. Our towns would turn into Escape From New York in maybe six months. I'm already making popcorn. Let's do this.  

*We're in Cook County, the World Wrestling Federation of electoral results — 100 percent of elections are rigged from the jump. I'd challenge you to change my mind but, as I said, I avoid news.

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Linda Fairbanks  

Posted: August 10th, 2018 10:22 AM

Ah, but we were invited to this party, weren't we? Two ballots and a postcard poll, if memory serves.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: August 9th, 2018 6:37 PM

Setting aside the fact that legalized video gambling in Forest Park is all of about three years old, so whatever precedent that exists is quite thin, if I'm to understand Alan, he's positing that if something once was one way, it has to stay that way forever. Apparently, beside the part in civics class where they explained our democratic system, Brouilette missed everything that's occurred in America since the early 1960s. But I'm happy to see him exercising his first amendment rights- even if he's aware of where they originate.

Geoff Binns-Calvey  

Posted: August 9th, 2018 12:00 AM

This is a well done piece of satire. And as someone who has walked door to door, met with neighbors, gone to Council meetings, learned how local politics is run, and been a small part of some actual changes, like voting out the corrupt School Board, and finally getting the issue of video gambling on the ballot, this humorous take hits home with all of us who are involved with our community. Sometimes it does feel like all the Cook County elections are rigged. But we know it's not so. We've proven we can make a difference. But thanks for a fun take on local politics!

Brian Kuhr from Forest Park  

Posted: August 8th, 2018 6:03 PM

Having inadvertently read your column today I'll just say this: I'm proud to live in a Village where apathy and cynicism are not considered cool. I was one of those annoying people passing around petitions and asking people to vote to wrest the Proviso school board from a corrupt political machine. People told us that was a waste of time. But if you accidentally picked up a newspaper on the right days, you would have seen that we succeeded. Twice. I believe that people should have a voice and a vote in matters that concern them. Like a lot of folks here I'm willing to spend my spare time working make our Village a better place. I'm so sorry that annoys you, lol.

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