Glorified FOIA indeed
After reading Mr. Dwyer’s opinion column in your last issue I fought to restrain my anger and disgust. The statements and implications made by this overzealous reporter were egregious at best. This subpoena he’s referring to was received at the Village via facsimile and not in person. The subpoena is a fact finding device very much like a FOIA, only with a little more kick, which I agree with the Mayor, is a glorified FOIA. Having had processed subpoenas and FOIAs over the years I can assure you, we, the Village of Forest Park, to the best of my knowledge, have never found ourselves physically testifying in a court of law. This particular subpoena, not unlike others we receive here, is seeking information on a person and/or business with which we potentially have knowledge or information useful to the requestor. The subpoena Mr. Dwyer is referring to was drafted by the IRS and was sent to other businesses and municipalities as well. The Village of Forest Park is not being investigated. Mr. Dwyer made strong statements about potential illegalities surrounding the business dealings between the individual being investigated by the IRS and the Village of Forest Park, in particular, the Mayor. Let me clarify for Mr. Dwyer’s edification that the Mayor is not omnipotent. While no allegations of wrong doing has been brought against the Village of Forest Park, he should be made aware that all actions taken by the local government costing any amount of money are done so by Council vote. To imply the Mayor is to take sole ownership of the actions taken by the Village Council is absurd. Additionally, staff can tell Mr. Dwyer and anyone else who wants to know, we at the Village of Forest Park keep meticulous records of our community’s finances. I resent your comments about the Mayor, not only because he has proven himself to be a great visionary and leader, and yes, trustworthy, but also your negative statements speak to the rest of the council members’ actions and the staff which monitors the village’s transactions. I can assure you and any reader of this letter that we at the Village of Forest Park are professional and trustworthy and we will continue to process all requests for records, as the law allows, in a consistent manner. As an old friend and police department colleague used to say, “don’t make more out of this than there really is”.
Deputy Village Clerk
‘Setting the record straight’ on Dist. 209
There are probably numerous readers that might find the tone of your editorial on Wednesday, August 17, 2005, entitled “Arrogance casts shadow over magnet school opening” in fact “arrogant” as well as factually distorted, skewed and politically short-sighted. I know I do, and here’s why.
As one of seven members elected to the District 209 School Board, and as a practicing attorney who represents school districts, I have the highest respect for the rule of law and for the process of democracy. That said, there has been absolutely no violation of the Open Meetings Act relative to Board meetings scheduled in July and August. The law requires 48 hours public notice of the Board meetings and that was met. In fact, the August meeting was rescheduled two weeks in advance. During the summer months, because of scheduled vacations and commitments to family matters, school boards often make adjustments to accommodate Board members. In fact, some school boards cancel July meetings all together so that board members can have time with their families.
Moreover, there’s no truth, and it is a direct insult to other Board members to suggest that I only desire to conduct Board meetings if I have three other members to support me. While it’s a privilege to serve as Board President, I have only one vote, my own. Each Board member has the freedom to vote on policy matters using their own judgment. It is patently unfair to insinuate that I make determinations for individual board members, especially when the Review is basing its stories on accounts from two board members. If the Review is concerned about the democratic process, when was the last time the Review interviewed Mr. Adams, Ms. Henry or Ms. Madlock?
A majority of the board made a tough decision to remove Gregory Jackson as superintendent in July, in large measure because of declining test scores and declining employee morale in recent years, and to replace him with interim Superintendent Robert Libka. Although Jackson is no longer an issue, it’s ironic that media accounts failed to mention that he had no teaching experience and lacked the superintendent’s endorsement certification at the time of his appointment in July 2000. Mr. Ingraffia’s office allowed Mr. Jackson to serve as Superintendent without an endorsement certificate from July 1, 2000 through September 11, 2000, and his office made absolutely no stink about it. Moreover, Mr. Jackson never earned the respect of the teachers, staff, parents or the community.
By contrast, Mr. Libka is exceptionally qualified to serve as interim school chief while we embark on a national search for a permanent superintendent. Mr. Libka has a Type 75 General Administrator’s certification, has taught at Proviso, served as an administrator in Proviso, served as a superintendent in a Lutheran School district, and is enormously respected by Proviso teachers, staff, parents and community. In fact, Mr. Libka was recently greeted by the districts over 500 employees with a five minute, uninterrupted ovation when he was introduced at the Back to School Institute on August 16, 2005. Where was the Review? Has the Review interviewed any of these 500 district employees to see and hear how the morale has improved in just one month? Of course not. These kinds of journalistic omissions bolster the political agenda of others.
Not to beat a dead dog, but to set the record straight on the money remaining from a $40 million bond issue to fund the new Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, Mr. Jackson provided the Board with inaccurate financial information which led me to providing an erroneous figure. As one of seven stewards on the Proviso board, this was the type of misinformation and mismanagement that we could no longer tolerate, and it is just one of many reasons why we made a decision to move in a new direction. As a result of that decision alone, there are better days ahead for Proviso High Schools.
The Forest Park Review should be more careful and journalistically balanced and objective before implying that we may have violated the Open Meetings Act, obstructed public participation, or controlled the decisions of individual board members. I guess freedom of speech gives you the right to speculate and float distorted innuendo and rumors about Board deliberations. Thankfully, we sometimes have the opportunity to clarify, educate and correct such views.
D209 Board of Education President
It’s truly sad to see that years of experience and competency count for nothing in our village. I would think that if someone has proven himself by performing well in an interim position for 15 months, he certainly deserves the opportunity of being considered, and I don’t mean going through the motions, for the open position.
Didn’t Mr. Kutak have an integral part in our Madison Street redevelopment? Granted that was a couple of years ago and we’re talking about my memory. Wasn’t that a large project? He may not have head the project but from what I read he was highly involved. I don’t remember reading many complaints on it or if there were, they were resolved quickly and I would assume professionally.
You’re sending the wrong message to employees by saying you’re not competent/qualified unless you have a degree. A degree only proves so much. There’s a lot to be said for work experience and good common sense.
Not in my town
So I was driving down Desplaines the other day and saw a disheveled man urinating on the front of the School District building. On a crowded street full of pedestrians. In broad daylight. Nobody did anything about it, myself included.
The first question that entered my mind was why. Why do we tolerate such behavior? Do we feel no pride in our community or outrage when it’s defiled?
A second question soon followed: What if I hadn’t been driving alone? What if I was with a client I needed to impress or a friend from out of town? What if I was a realtor with a potential buyer in the passenger seat? I would have been embarrassed to admit I live here.
Before dismissing this as an isolated incident, take a look around. Walk down Madison Street and notice the trash in the gutters, the beer bottles in the planters, the cigarette butts everywhere. Check out the conditions outside the CTA station at Harlem and Circle. Then cross over to the Oak Park side. It’s like entering a different universe.
How did this happen? When did Forest Park open its arms to public urinators, unruly drunks, radio-blaring drivers, litterbugs, loiterers and other undesirables? What makes them feel welcome here and not somewhere else?
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I’d find the same rudeness and lack of civility if I moved to another town. It saddens me as a longtime Forest Parker that it may be time to find out.
Swing for Life thank yous
The Harrison Street Café’ would like to graciously thank everyone that helped to make the “Swing for Life” women’s softball tournament a huge success. Thank you to the Park District of Forest Park for the donation of the ball fields. Thank you to McGaffer’s Saloon, Liquor Union Local #3, Ultra Foods, Mohr Oil, Reich and Becker, Jerry Gleason Chevrolet, Gilchrist-Traynor Plumbing, Diana Loyd Laser Removal, Plan B Gallery, Two Fish, Team Blonde, T&R Painting, Designs in Cross Stitch, La Piazza, Chuck and Joan Pelligrino, Top Line Construction, Alt Care Health Care, Bill Louis, Schauer Ace Hardware, Forest Park Liquor, Vince McFadden, Painted Board, Westgate Flowers, Gasse School of Music, Maria’s Restaurant, Mary Vance, Frank Skupien, Louie’s Grill, Phillip Blum, Moonlighters, Bat-n-Brew, Bling Bling, Sloan, Diamonds, Legacy, and Pray for Rain. Thank you to all of the volunteers who worked so hard at making the tournament a success.
Harrison Street Cafe