When I read the Review last week, one of the largest articles in the paper reminded me of how lucky I am to live in Forest Park. The arrest of Vincent Jones for mixing it up with police after he refused to remove political signs from private property where he didn’t have permission to do so, reinforced just how boring Forest Park is and just how lucky we all are that it is so. The story, which evolved into related items, took up three fourths of page three. No stories about murder or pillaging, just some overzealous goof trying to please some politico.
No doubt the Review, like any other legitimate news organization, would succumb to the marketers and go with the motto “if it bleeds, it leads” if it had too. Forest Park is not immune to crime as the weekly police blotter reminds us. However, the biggest stories remain things like political sniping between elected officials, lack of parking, and the debate about density and overbuilding. How boring. It’s this boredom that has the larger Chicago based news organizations ignoring us. I know that Carol Marin shows up every decade or so, but for the most part reporters would need to use Mapquest to find us.
In that vein then, here are the biggest stories that will happen in Forest Park during 2006 that will be overlooked by the mass media.
1. Prepping for the 2007 municipal elections. Candidates for mayor and commissioner will need to announce their intentions by the fall. The mayor, if he chooses to run, will face up to four opponents in the primary. The platforms will essentially be how good Madison Street looks versus Brunogate. More complex will be who will run for the four commissioner slots. I totaled the number of names that I have heard will be running or are likely to run. Sixteen! Talk about a free for all. There were nine for the last primary so while I don’t believe 16 will be reached, a number in the lower teens should be expected. This race will come down to which mayoral candidate they are backing. A truly independent candidate will have a good chance to win a spot.
2. The village will begin steps to take control of the Roos property. Unable to interest either the school district or the park in joint venture, the village will negotiate with the owner, using the threat of eminent domain as a bargaining chip. The pending arrival of the YMCA will generate a source of funds for the purchase. Final determination of the fate of the property will not occur until after the 2007 elections.
3. The spat over the legal bills the village incurs will intensify. With the Harder hearing as the ” poster boy ” for this debate, the village council as a whole will be forced to release to the public the amount spent on all legal issues, and to explain the philosophy the village uses in determining whether to settle certain suits or to take them to their legal conclusion.
4. Proviso High School District 209 will make the case that the new Math and Science Academy is the answer to many parents’ prayers about a public high school alternative for Forest Parkers. Because the school board is viewed with a wary eye, they will be forced to have current students and their parents make the case for them. Much like a movie, word of mouth from people with first hand knowledge will make or break the high school. The pending financial mess associated with the schools’ birth will largely be ignored except in certain political circles.
5. The political hopefuls in the village will heavily scrutinize turnout for the spring primary and fall general elections. As usual, more time will be spent analyzing trends and creating databases and mailing lists than developing a coherent platform than can be explained easily to the voting masses.
6. Much of the preliminary scrum prior to the fall announcements will be held in cyberspace. The knives are already out on Forestpark.com. Battles over domain names, sweetheart deals, and ethics are once again raging. While the debates are often juvenile in tone, the content is generally important. This opinion board will play a large, if unintended, role in the 2007 election.
Not much sex appeal in our news. It’s a boring place for most outsiders. That’s just the way I like it.