The new Park District of Forest Park opened with a bang last week, when newly elected commissioner Cathleen McDermott butted heads with newly elected president Howard “Bud” Boy.
Following a reception that included cake and soft drinks for the outgoing and incoming commissioners, the board got down to business, reading through the agenda and reorganizing the board.
McDermott voted to abstain four times during the reorganization proceedings, in which Boy was elected president and Greg Kolinek was elected vice president.
Her abstentions, she said, reflected her situation as a new member.
She abstained from reappointing Gerry Sebastian as treasurer and Dave Novak as director.
“I wasn’t privy to the past year, it is a personnel issue and having not been privy to that, it wasn’t appropriate to comment one way or the other,” McDermott said. “I have some questions pertaining to the director, attorney and treasurer, but I wasn’t privy to the information prior to the election and didn’t have the opportunity to get my questions answered and thought it was the safest thing to do.”
Both McDermott and outgoing board president Joe Byrnes abstained from reappointing the board’s attorney, Joe McGah.
Following the appointments, McDermott voiced dissent on spending issues with the board, but was shot down by Boy.
The board received an invitation to the Illinois State Crime Commission dinner, in which Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone will be honored.
Commissioners Boy, Kolinek, Sansone and Byrnes agreed the board should send a representative to the $150 per plate dinner.
McDermott disagreed, asking the other commissioners “Do we have money in the budget for this?” Boy responded, “We’ll get it,” proceeding with the vote, before McDermott could elaborate on her concerns.
“That was the most bizarre meeting I have ever been to in my life,” McDermott said. “I don’t know if we were really following Robert’s rules of order. I found it very difficult to follow. This is how it was six years ago, and this is how it is going to be.”
“There is no reason for anyone from the park district to be going to this [event],” she said. “It is a not-for-profit organization. It goes to the pattern of the way they spend. There is no discussion. ‘We’ll find $150.’ Well, that starts to add up. I don’t want to be petty, but that is where we differ. They thought we needed a presence there. I don’t.”
At the meeting, the board also presented a plaque to former Commissioner Michael Espinosa, for his years of board service, and to Byrnes, for his work as president of the board.
The board also unveiled artwork for the park’s sign, visible while driving northbound on Desplaines Avenue. The artwork boasts the district’s standing as the home of the 16-inch No-Gloves Softball Nationals.
Larry Piekarz, assistant director for the district, revealed during the meeting that Judy Bar Topinka has tentatively signed up to throw out the opening pitch of this summer’s tournament.
At the end of the meeting, the board went into executive session to discuss possible land acquisition issues for the district.