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I have received several phone calls to continue to address the alleged political corruption that exists in all areas of government in Proviso Township. Several calls last month wanted me to reflect on the political retribution that several Proviso Township High Schools employees said they were experiencing as a result of the April 2005 elections. However, one of the most interesting calls was from a Proviso Township resident wanting to investigate the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission.

The Commission provides funding to community agencies within the fourteen villages of Proviso Township to assist Proviso residents in the areas of mental illness, developmental disability, and substance abuse. The Commission has a seven-member board that was created by the Community Mental Health Act of 1967. The Proviso Township Mental Health Referendum of 1969 allows a tax levy up to fifteen cents per one hundred dollars of the total assessed valuation of all Proviso Township real property. The Commission Board sets policies and reviews expenditures of funds, and has the power to construct, repair, operate, maintain, regulate, and develop community mental health facilities to provide mental health services for Proviso Township residents in Bellwood, Berkeley, Broadview, Brookfield, Forest Park, Hillside, La Grange Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, North Lake, North Riverside, Stone Park, Westchester, and Western Springs.

The following community agencies receive funding from the Commission or provide general assistance and services to adults, youth, and families in Proviso Township: The Way Back Inn, Resurrection ProCare, Centro de Salud, Proviso-Leyden Council for Community Action, Pilsen Little Village, Leyden Family Services, Pillars Community Services, Madden Mental Health, Catholic Charities, Aspire, Community Support Services, Access Community Health, Public Aid, Triton College, PADS Homelessness, and Resurrection Project Win.

The websites for many of these agencies describe their services and staff, but the board members for the agencies are not listed. The caller who was the impetus for this article is concerned about the political wealth gained by the board members of these agencies and the Commission. The administration of the Commission consists of an executive director and four staff. The caller suggests the following concerns about the board members and the administration of the Commission: no representation of the community; no mental health professional; members vying to distribute the over $2 million budget to their allies; the administrative staff is overpaid; and that Proviso Township should create its own agency to provide mental health services to Proviso residents.

I would like to see names and qualifications of the board members on the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission. It appears that the same political factions within Proviso Township infect the Commission. The political names that emerge include Caglinese, Peraica, Serpico, and Calderone as politicians who allegedly influence board members of Proviso Township and the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission.

There was some contention amongst the Commission board members because of hiring family members to work in the agencies and increasing the agency funding. Another issue that caused member dissention was board members attempting to buy property without proper procedure.

The major concern is the way the board members are placed in office on the Commission. The Proviso Township Supervisor nominates a candidate and the board members vote on the candidate. The Proviso Township Supervisor has taken three unsuccessful candidates to the board. The board members continue in office past their term if they do not vote another candidate into office. This process contributes to the political stronghold of the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission.

The most important factor should be the evaluation of the implementation of the Proviso Township Adult Consortium and its Community Strategic Plan created in May 2004. What is the success of the plan for adults, youth, families, agencies, and communities in Proviso Township? I am more concerned about the Children’s Mental Health Act of 2003 and how Proviso Township is working with schools to assist youth with social and emotional difficulties.

The Proviso Township Mental Health Commission should provide a summary of funding and a profile of the agencies with the target ages and services. The important assessment is crucial in the success of these agencies in meeting the needs of Proviso residents in the areas of mental illness, developmental disability, and substance abuse.

If you want me to address any school, community, or Township issues, let me know your thoughts at http://craytonbychoice.tripod.com, gc11057.