Why did you quit, Espinosa?
Can anyone tell me why Mike Espinosa took himself off of the Forest Park Village Plan Commission?  Was it because with an election for the Park Board coming up, he wanted to remove himself from the post under which he made the unpopular (and unexplained) vote FOR the Roos Project?  I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out why he was able to maintain both roles (Plan Commission member and Park District Commissioner) for such a long period of time, then, shortly after the uproar over the Roos decision, announced his resignation from the Plan Commission. 

Did he think we’d forget his flip-flop, last-minute decision change resulting in a “yes” recommendation to the council?  The voters won’t forget.  The people who opposed the project (I believe over 900) won’t forget when it comes time to vote for a new Park Commissioner.  We want a commissioner who will represent our ideas and desires for what should be done with park money.

And, I notice the new Taxman development already has signs up proclaiming construction dates and condo and town home offerings.  What’s happening with the Roos?

Might be something the paper wants to investigate since there’s now a new editor and a new contested race for the park commissioner spots.
Veronica Kensington Garza
Forest Park Property Owner

Perception is everything
I am writing in response to a letter (Feb. 9, 2005) “Library Clarifies Finances” by Debbie King, President of Trustees, Forest Park Library.

As a frontline employee (i.e. circulation clerk) at the library for almost three years, I had an opportunity to make several observations regarding the Board and some of the problems that have recently plagued the library.

Ms. King states that the $62,000 cost of the new carpeting that was installed last spring, as well as the $25,000 worth of new furniture and the $20,000 moving expense that went along with it came from the library’s capital development fund. While this is true, it is also true that no patron ever complained of frayed carpeting much less a “carpet that was torn or unsafe.” Is it any wonder that, no matter where the money came from, patrons feel it was an unnecessary expense and perception is everything.
In addition to the four employees that were “let go” in December, an additional five employees have submitted their resignations in the past three months.  And isn’t it strange that three of those four employees who were “let go” in December had a strained relationship with the Board President. Here again perception is everything.

Ms. King states the “Library is not short-staffed.” How then can she explain that in April of 2002 when I came to the library, there were 34 employees.  When I left in January there were 20. Of course, 20 employees can certainly staff the 63 plus hours a week if none are ever sick, have a death in the family or go on vacation. Forget about a break. In the almost three years I was at the library, I never had a break. And I was not the exception!

Ms. King will say it’s all about money. And of course it is. She will probably claim that the Forest Park Library employees are paid salaries which the Metropolitan Library System says are “right in line with what they should be for a library our size.” She does state that the “staff at the library is wonderful, intelligent and highly educated.” Here she is absolutely correct. They are all of that and more! And they are also grossly underpaid! Take for example the part time computer aide who recently resigned. Not only did she work with computer users, she also performed several other duties including maintaining the Staff Picks display and the display case in the library’s vestibule. When the minimum wage was raised to $6.50 she was told she would receive a one cent an hour increase to bring her up to the minimum wage. Just one example of how the board treats “the wonderful, intelligent, highly educated” staff at the Library. Yet last year, the Board was able to find the money to pay the Interim Director $50 an hour. His main contribution to the library was to suggest raising the rentals on all the videos, including the under 30 minute children’s video, to $2 and increasing the InterLibrary Loan fees 300 percent from $3 to $10.

Finally I do want to say that I miss being at the Circulation Desk at the Library, I miss all the employees and most of all I miss all the great patrons who brightened my time there. The Library is one of our community’s greatest assets and the employees are the library’s greatest asset. Because the Library Board has a commitment to preserve these assets, I spoke at the January 17 Board Meeting and suggested some steps they should consider. That was my last week at the library. And now, five weeks later, I still have not received my final paycheck. And while it might just be a coincidence …
Barbara Plona
Forest Park