Together we can build a legacy of learning

My heartfelt thanks to Forest Park Review for its wonderful endorsement of my candidacy for Board Member in Proviso Township High School District 209.

I commend you for your accurate report of my vision and solutions to improve student achievement, build positive relationships with the community and enhance the quality of life for all residents in Proviso Township.

As you diligently questioned my ability to promote solutions within the backdrop of politics, I stand firm on my commitment to make decisions in the best interest of students, taxpayers, and Proviso Township residents.

I expect Forest Park Review and all citizens in our wonderful Township to monitor my decisions and actions to ensure that I remain accountable. I expect all of us to identify our roles, perform our respective and collective tasks, and hold everyone accountable with consequences and rewards to improve education for our students, schools and communities.

With the proper direction and training in teamwork and collaboration for all stakeholders, we can provide the positive environment, exposure, and experiences our children need for success.

If the pen is powerful, the Forest Park Review is a powerful tool to inspire our students to achieve success. I look forward to working with you and with our students who may be interested in journalism, through mentoring, job shadowing, or interns.

You have captured my heart and passion for learning on paper and I thank you.

With our daily actions, together we can build a legacy of learning and create a community heart for the love of learning.
Respectfully yours,
Gwendolyn Crayton

McDermott, look in the mirror

As an elected official I am angered and appalled that Cathleen McDermott refers to educational conferences as “Wasteful Junkets” in her campaign material for the April 5 election.

I have served on a voluntary board and it can be demanding, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, for it repays an individual, not in dollars, but in even rarer attributes: the gratitude of those you serve and the inner peace that comes from service given freely for the benefit of all.

I want to refer to information that we as commissioners received from Dr. Ted Flickinger’s book Get on Board: Essential Wisdom for Board Members and Executives. Ted is the President and CEO of the Illinois Association of Park Districts.

Ted states, “most park, forest preserve and recreation agency board members agree that effective participation on a board calls for a certain amount of sophistication and knowledge which cannot be left to chance. An organized, formal and ongoing training program is imperative to ensure adequate performance. It is vital that board members become aware of the issues, trends and products of the park and recreation field to help make informed decisions at the local level. Participation in state and national conferences is not only justifiable, it is mandatory for the effective park and forest preserve district leadership. Even the law recognizes the need for park board members to educate themselves by making park board education a legitimate park district expense.”

While McDermott was on board she attended numerous state conferences and two national conferences. I don’t recall her referring to these as “Wasteful Junkets.”

However, during one of the national conferences in 1991, where airfare, hotel, conference registration and per diem expenses were paid for by the Park District, our tax payer dollars, she turned this into a personal trip to visit one of her relatives and was not seen by the other board members for the entire national conference.

In 1989, McDermott attended a conference in San Antonio, Texas, with fellow commissioners; not once did she call this a “wasteful junket.”

During the years of 1992­96, McDermott attended the annual state conference with fellow board members and staff and, once again, this was not referred to as a “wasteful junket.”

She states, “the Park Board continually spends beyond its means, causing rising deficits in several park funds.”

I need to remind McDermott that the financial deficits that she refers to were in existence during the entire time that she was a board member.

Since 1999, the last time McDermott was a board member, she has had no knowledge of how we have been addressing and reducing our deficits. She has not attended any board meetings until this past January.

As a past commissioner she is aware of tax caps and the way we operate under them. They are the unfounded mandates that the state imposes on us. We jump through many hoops every year to make our Park District the pride of our community.

McDermott has shown to all that she has forgotten what a board members’ responsibilities are. She talks too much and listens too little, ridiculing past and present board members before she becomes a board member and being uneducated on the issues affecting our agency.

I represent our agency not only at the local level but also at the state level. Our community has elected individuals to insure the future of its park. We do this through education; you can’t run an agency without knowing how it works.
Greg Kolinek
Commissioner, Park District of Forest Park

Integrity first

As the States Attorney’s Office investigation continues in the Melrose Park water project scandal, members of Forest Park’s ruling coalition should be very nervous.

The reason they should be nervous is they have allowed the same cast of characters from Melrose Park in to do a Forest Park “water project.” The water project done here is a near replication of the one done in Melrose Park. Since making friends with officials from Melrose Park, our coalition has hired the same engineering company, the same auditing company, the same insurance company, the same lobbyist and the same consultants. Taxpayer money goes out for what appears to be legitimate village expenses and comes back in the form of handsome campaign contributions.

The taxpayers of Forest Park were caught off guard by the Melrose Park style of politics and by the time we caught on, the coalition ran through nearly $6 million in reserves. When Mayor Lorraine Popelka left the dais for the last time, she hinted at future scandal and said, “time will tell.” I regret saying I didn’t believe her.

In meeting with concerned citizens from other villages surrounding us, I have learned that Melrose Park is attempting to infiltrate them as well. Same vendors, same consultants, same bad politics.

Because I believe community leaders should be ethical in all they do and government should be run at no profit to those elected by the taxpayers, I have decided to run for the position of Proviso Township Trustee.

I have aligned myself with a slate of likeminded candidates and we have called ourselves “The Integrity Party.”

My goals for running for this position are twofold: First, I want to help safeguard the township’s $10 million annual budget from those who can’t resist spending it with their “friends” and, secondly, I want to help change the culture of Forest Park politics so that honest and ethical people will be encouraged to seek office in two years.

If you believe in the things I believe in, please vote for members of The Integrity Party next Tuesday. If your interested in talking to me, feel free to call me at 708- 514-6112.
Steven R. Johnsen

Candidates show their commitment through participation

I hope Forest Park voters will go to the polls on April 5 and remember to vote for the two Park District candidates who appeared at the Candidates Forum sponsored by Citizens United in Forest Park.

While all five candidates were invited to the forum according to the REVIEW (March 24) only Cathy McDermott and Marcy Wozniak returned their questionnaires and answered questions from the audience.

It seems to me the other three candidates, by their absence, indicated that they have no respect for the voters of Forest Park. Makes you wonder how well they will represent the citizens of this community.

I know neither McDermott nor Wozniak but at least now I know where they stand on park district issues and they will get my vote on April 5.
Natalie Martin

Student’s First Party

I am writing this letter to sincerely thank the Forest Park Review for endorsing my candidacy as I seek a second four-year term as a member of the Proviso Township High School District 209 Board of Education. As you pointed out in your endorsement, I am dedicated and committed to being the best steward that I can be on behalf of all Proviso Township residents and I will continue to make success for all students a primary goal.

With that as our goal, over the last four years, the Proviso High School District 209 Board has been committed to making the tough choices. As a team, we boldly initiated tough and, at times, controversial programs to improve the education of our children. These tough choices have led to significant gains in enrollment, attendance and parental involvement; however, I truly believe that we can do better.

We can do better when we all work together as a team because as a team, Together Each Achieves More. With that in mind, I am asking your readers to please vote for the entire Students First Party team when they go to the polls on April 5, 2005.

Please vote for myself, Emanuel “Chris” Welch-271, Daniel J. Adams-273, Reatha “Sue” Henry-275, and Guillermina “Tina” Alcaraz-277. We represent stability, experience and diversity and, if you trust us by sending us to office, we promise to continue putting students and education first in PTHS District 209.
Emanuel “Chris” Welch
President, PTHS D209 Board of Education

REVIEW contradicts itself in its endorsement

I would like to thank the Forest Park Review for their kind words about me in their endorsement editorials last week. I agree that I have a lot to offer the taxpayers of Forest Park and would truly be an asset to the Park District.

However it was disappointing that one of the candidates they endorsed repeatedly contradicts the REVIEW’s own views on certain park issues.

Over a period of several years the REVIEW has written editorials denouncing the practice of using taxpayer money to finance trips for Park Board members. These trips to Reno, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix for conferences were called “costly and unnecessary conference junkets” by the REVIEW, the most recent trip being labeled “Reno-gate.” The REVIEW further stated, “tax dollars should never be spent frivolously.”

Both Espinosa and Sansone defend these “vacations” as networking opportunities. The headline article in the February 9 issue of the REVIEW has Espinosa specifically pointing to the use of funds received from the billboard rental as justification for attending these conferences, claiming the dollars used weren’t taxpayer dollars.
The REVIEW’s editorial the following week was titled “All public money is tax money.” The editorial said “hooey” to Espinosa’s assertion, saying of his and Sansone’s justification; it is “insulting to watch the park board justify a spending error by suggesting they have a stash of play money to throw around.”

I understand that all monies received are taxpayer monies whether received through rental fees from the billboard or from the quarters used in the lockers.

If elected I would vote to curtail the practice of all commissioners attending these so-called conferences. The $12,000 spent on the 2004 vacation would have paid for a lot of fireworks, soccer nets and balls, chairs for the pool, etc. Multiplied over 10 plus years of conferences . . . you do the math.

In endorsing Espinosa the REVIEW sites that finding more park land for the district is one of his “long-term goals.” How long is long? During his six years in office the park board has acquired no land and seems to have no plan to do so in the future. I realize that patience is a virtue, but time is money!

If elected, I will immediately begin the process of acquiring more land for the park district by first insisting that a plan be developed for acquisition of property, be it village owned lots, current available properties or a section of the Altenheim.

Lastly, I must question the REVIEW’s assessment that Espinosa is approachable.

Approachability isn’t just volunteering at park events. I too have been a visible volunteer at park events. Approachability also comes in the form of availability to the public. There are five candidates on the ballot. As one of two candidates who chose to attend the only open forum, I subjected myself to public scrutiny so that the voters would know where I stand before heading to the polls.

I have nothing to hide and am always available to discuss issues and ideas with the members of this community. I will continue this practice if elected on April 5.

On April 5 voters will have the opportunity to select a candidate who will work for land acquisition, plan for the future, and maintain an “open door” policy to the members of the community. I would appreciate your support and hope to serve you in the future.
Marcella “Marcy” Wozniak

Buckley responds to criticism

I would like to take a moment of your time to introduce myself to you, my name is Mary P. Buckley and I am running for one of the two open seats in the election for Commissioner at the Park District of Forest Park, on April 5.

I have lived in Forest Park for 15 years and our family name has been a part of Forest Park for well over 90 years. I have two sons, ages 11 and nine, and our entire family is very active with the Park District as well as in the village itself.

I would like to tell you some things about myself. First and foremost I am a mother and homemaker, I care deeply about the Park District, its current board members and employees. I have been active in Forest Park for many years, I have worked with the children and teachers in our schools as a teacher’s aid. I am currently a realtor in Forest Park and I have volunteered in many Forest Park events. My children basically live at the park in the summer, are involved in Little League and swim like fish in the park district’s pool.

Currently my husband, Larry, is an employee at the Park District and has been for the last 16 years. The question that might arise, in my running for Commissioner of the Park District, could be one of a conflict of interest. But I can promise you it would not be!

The board is made up of a five person quorum and, in any decision regarding a potential conflict, I would naturally recuse myself from that part of the decision-making process.

The Board of Commissioners job is to manage the Park and not to involve itself in its day-to-day operation. That is the responsibility of the director and assistant director. The main focus of a board member, in my opinion, is to set policy, develop safety guidelines, listen to the ideas of the people and to bring those ideas to the board. I am open to all ideas of all Forest Park residents.

As a Park Board member I will work hard to keep the Park District as beautiful and functional as it is today.

We have a wonderful Park and park building. One of my goals as Park Commissioner would be to make the second and third floors of the main building available to any recreational organization, any seniors group, any young people’s organization and to any other interested parties through the installation of an elevator.

So, on April 5, please punch 159 and vote for me, Mary P. Buckley, as Park Commissioner. Thank you for your support.
Mary P. Buckley

REVIEW dropped the ball

One of the best things the Forest Park Review does is to serve as a constant reminder to get involved in our community. That’s why I think you missed an opportunity in last week’s issue to report more deeply and editorialize on why three candidates for the Park District Board failed to show up for the forum hosted by Citizens United in Forest Park, or why they did not submit a written statement when that option was also offered to them.

The two candidates who were there, Marcella Wozniak and Cathleen McDermott showed a lot of class by not using the forum to bash the candidates who weren’t. They also showed that they have great ideas and an impressive sense of financial responsibility. The forum itself was fair and well thought out.

I’m willing to hear why the other candidates skipped the forum, and I hope you provide space for their explanations, either before or after the April 5 election. In the meantime, the citizens of Forest Park”and the REVIEW”have to ask ourselves a question.

If we want dedicated, responsive elected officials, can we afford to vote for people who are unwilling or unable to share their thoughts with us or answer our questions?
Ken Snyder

Vote for fiscal responsibility

Registration fee ….. $2240

Air fare ….. $2128

Hotel ….. $3465

Food, beverages and other misc. ….. $3500

Five days in Reno with your buddies at taxpayers expense ….. Priceless!

Vote for fiscal responsibility at the Park District, vote Wozniak and McDermott.
Steven Backman