Things could get interesting in Forest Park over the next year or so. And not just because we’re coming up on a mayoral election season. There are stirrings of a growing debate over, well, how we debate. In many ways, that growing debate is over the basic nature of our political culture in Forest Park”over the difference between informed and uninformed argument, between honest versus dishonest disagreement.
Of course, that’s just one man’s opinion, and opinions, as Forest Park Post scribe Mary Win O’Connor writes in the latest Post, are like … noses.
“C’mon, let’s be real,” opines O’Connor, stating her belief that the majority of people “don’t have the time or the background” to do the work needed to developed an informed opinion on many subjects. Apparently, according to O’Connor, most of us tend to form opinions that are a mish mash of other folks ideas.
“Is it really our opinion, or a remix of others,” she asks.
Well, gosh, Mary. I guess the easiest answer to that is that it’s your opinion if you truly believe it. And many people, myself included, do often form opinions based”in part”on the opinions of others. But I expect people to at least think about what they’re saying, as opposed to merely regurgitating what others tell them.
I recommend reading actual newspapers to help in the process of forming opinions. Such a practice- in my opinion- helps with forming an opinion on a given issue that hasn’t been pulled out of one’s… ear, as does watching public affairs news programs.
O’Connor also opines that the opinions expressed in newspapers don’t undergo “peer review” by others. But then, whose fault is that? Unlike some publications and government officials, the Review not only tolerates other people opinions, it welcomes them. It is part of what a real newspaper is about, and the Review’s letters section is accessible to anyone with a stamp, e-mail address or fax machine.
Commissioner Mark Hosty actually bothered to write a letter to the Review earlier this month in which he castigated CUinFP co-founder Steve Backman for coopting the website names matching several elected officials.
Frankly, I was a bit annoyed at Backman for handing Hosty a reason to be able to call his ethics into question. But Hosty, not satisfied to simply back hand Backman for his lapse in judgment, goes off the deep end.
“Stealing someone’s identity?” As Mary Win O’Conner might say, “Let’s be real.” First, there’s more than one “Mark Hosty” out there. And there’s more than one way to get your name on an internet site. (markhosty.net, markhosty’07.com or .net, etc.) Funny, by the way, how we didn’t hear a peep out of Hosty or his peers at village hall when someone with an alleged connection to Mayor Calderone “stole” Commissioner Patrick Doolin’s identity.
There’s also Hosty’s laughable suggestion that Backman hasn’t done anything positive for the community. Hosty may believe that holding elected officials accountable for their actions is akin to “standing in the way of those who actually are working to help this village.” I call it helping facilitate people’s right to know what their government is up to.
“Perhaps his intention is to edit out half sentences, (and) post them on a web site in a convoluted attempt to damage people’s reputations and misinform the citizens of Forest Park?” Hosty theorizes breathlessly.
Here’s an idea, everybody. Let’s all wait to see if Steve Backman actually ever does anything remotely similar to Hosty’s weird conspiracy musing.
Backman- in my opinion- needn’t bother trying to damage anyone’s reputation, not that he’s doing so. Because from what I see and read on a regular basis, certain elected and appointed officials here are doing a first rate job of damaging their reputations all on their own, without any outside help.
In that same edition of the Post, Mike Sturino takes on the forces of chaos and anarchy, among other things.
Belittling my call several months back for a change in the form of village government from a Commissioner format to a Village Manager or a Village Administrator format, Sturino sternly writes, “This is the government that the citizens choose, and it’s our job to make it work for those citizens. Staff cannot usurp authority merely because a disgruntled opinion writer at the Review wants it that way.”
“That’s just a recipe for chaos and lawlessness,” he warns in conclusion.
My, my, my. That’s quite a severe reaction to a simple call by one citizen to other citizens to band together to get a referendum on the ballot to change the form of government under which Forest Park operates. Sounds like simple participatory democracy to me. But then again, I’m not a trained village administrator with a full 12 months experience under his belt.
No, I merely live here and pay taxes. Taxes that, nearly as often as not, are grossly misused, particularly at the Proviso Township level. Part of what attracted my wife and me to Forest Park was a fully 40 percent reduction in property taxes. Call me selfish, but we were looking forward to pocketing that savings, not paying for legal fees and settlements stemming from poor decisions by village officials, and for a “magnet school” that’s likely to be little more than a magnet for more of our tax dollars.
Concluding his musings, Sturino opined, “(the) local press can be an invaluable partner in getting out the news.”
Sorry, but the local press isn’t government’s “partner.” It’s a vehicle for informing the public about what’s happening civically, governmentally and socially. Sometimes that involves forwarding the government’s idea of the “news,” sometimes not.
But the Review doesn’t simply take what government officials say at face value and parrot its press releases.
That’s because we’re less interested in being an “invaluable partner” to this town’s government than we are of being of service to its citizens.