The conduct of a politically connected campaign worker who threatened to call local politicians ranging from Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore to Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone when threatened with arrest is indicative of a larger problem in Proviso Township.

While we’re certain that our mayor and local officials do not authorize abuses by campaign workers, it appears that officials in other area villages do just that. After all, if such tactics had not worked in the past, the offender likely would not have made the attempt.

The incident further confirms what many would say has been common knowledge for years: corruption, cronyism, and even thuggery are alive and well in Proviso politics. Those connected to local power brokers feel that they are untouchable because oftentimes, they are.

The situation in many surrounding towns presents an unusual problem for Forest Park, which, despite some questionable practices, remains light years ahead of some of its neighbors in terms of responsible government.

For the village to succeed, officials must remain on friendly terms and open to collaboration with all surrounding villages, not just Oak Park and River Forest.

Doing so while remaining above the corruption that plagues these municipalities, however, is a difficult balancing act both in terms of reality and appearances. Due to a couple of bad judgment calls, for example, even completely respectable village business that is in some way connected to Melrose Park is often assumed a sign of foul play.

Forest Park residents and officials alike must keep a watchful eye on those in power, both now and in the future, to ensure the atmosphere of graft that pervades much of the area does not infect village hall. Otherwise, residents might one day face a situation where village-sanctioned electioneering prevents them having any say in the process.

No easy solution to high legal bills

The village council’s debate over capping legal bills for the ongoing Sgt. Dan Harder termination hearing included valid points on both sides.

On the one hand, it is difficult to envision a situation where the desired outcome”Harder’s firing”will be worth the impact of the hearing, both financially and in terms of morale.

On the other hand, cutting the hearing short would send a message that the village will retreat from efforts to discipline employees if it proves too expensive, providing a blueprint to other employees seeking to duck discipline. The village cannot afford to set this precedent for the future, but it also cannot afford to continue stacking up legal bills.

All options available contain notable consequences, and there is certainly no easy solution.

In all likelihood, Monday night’s argument was meaningless, as the decision to proceed with the hearings has already been made, and those in charge are unlikely to budge. We can only hope that in the future, the village recognizes the financial risks of initiating a termination hearing and takes more care to ensure that its case is air-tight before proceeding.