Mayor responds to Dwyer column

Dear Mr. Haley,

I was most shocked and disturbed by Bill Dwyer’s column, “The Tony Principle and Knowing Your Limitations” in the May 23 edition of the Forest Park Review.

In that article, Bill goes on to attack my character directly by implying that I have reached the “Peter” principle, most likely because he was denied access to private and confidential employee information.

The Lt. Johnsen matter was one that drew great attention with respect to the arrest of Jim Shaw who allegedly threatened Commissioner Patrick Doolin.

The Chief of Police recommended that an outside person investigate the matter, mostly and appropriately because of the very sensitive political nature of the persons involved. Subsequently the outside investigation was conducted and concluded by retired career law enforcement professional Lt. Col. Robert Johnson.

After a complete review of the investigative report, appropriate discipline was imposed upon Lt. Johnsen. In these cases, the specific discipline is not public information and is therefore protected from the Freedom of Information Act, as it should be. I am confident that even in your hometown, there are many matters of employee discipline at all levels of government including village, park, and school that are not shared with the newspaper and this is appropriate.

Then Bill goes on to make a mockery of, and feebly attempts to, characterize the Commission Form of government as some sort of Model-T way of managing local governmental affairs. Had your columnist properly researched the facts as they relate to forms of government, and if he had the aptitude to truly understand the several types of government in which municipalities are constituted, he would have learned that there is only one form of government that delegates absolute authority to a “Manager” and that form of government is the Manager Form. Notwithstanding this undisputable fact, there are several other forms of government which do not relegate authority to a manager, and these various other forms are exampled in the predominance of communities in Illinois.

For sake of argument and to debunk the innuendo that a Manager Form of government is the answer to municipal problems, one only needs to look to the immediate west of Forest Park to find a community that has been embroiled in political turmoil for many years and has a very high murder rate.

The Village of Oak Park also operates under the Manager Form and I could point to any number of hot topic issues within that community which have no relevance whatsoever to the form of government. They become hot topics because of the political climate of the day. There exists no form of government that can control political atmospheres.

Forms of government do not determine the progressive or regressive environment of communities. People, specifically elected officials, determine the vision and see that vision carried forward through whatever tools are at their disposal. Some politicians are more creative than others and other municipalities have more money to be creative with.

Moreover, in all communities not operating under a Manager Form the Mayor is the Chief Executive officer. This law can be found in the State Statutes and was made law by great minds many years ago.

Having served in the capacity of Mayor for seven years I have had many opportunities to not only interact with, but also collaborate with, hundreds of Mayors from across this state and most routinely with those in Cook and collar counties. Early in my career I took the time to learn how communities work and what makes them work best and I spent a good amount of time learning about the various forms of government. I studied municipalities which were successful and those not so successful and weighed whether or not the actual form of government played a role. You already know what I found to be true.

Furthermore, I am now in the second phase of a comprehensive learning program produced and taught by the University of Illinois specifically tailored to municipal officials at all levels. This program is complex and applicable to all elected officials. One might wonder, as the press has, why Forest Park worked so well during my first term as Mayor. I attribute a lot of the progress to the shared focus and combined efforts of the elected officials and department heads that took advantage of this unique educational program. Since they were elected to office in 2003, Patrick Doolin and/or Terry Steinbach has figuratively chased away most of the individuals who participated in the program from employment with the village with the exception of Commissioners Gillian, Commissioner Hosty, and Department Head Bob Kutak.

I am starting to wonder if you read your own newspapers because I am perplexed by the very different writing styles between the Forest Park paper and the Oak Park one. The Oak Park paper seems to be more intellectual yet the Forest Park paper seems to be more of an Enquirer format. Dan is this intentional? Is this some way to purposely degrade Forest Park?

You and I have spoken many times about the Forest Park Review’s regular attacks on me and for the most part I don’t mind taking a “whack.” I understand and accept the very public position I am in and the fact that I am, for the most part, fair game, but this one is below the belt.

Regardless of our form of government, while I am the Mayor of Forest Park I will continue to uphold my commitment to duty, and in particular, I will protect those documents that are enacted to protect the employees of the village even if it upsets Bill Dwyer or any other media source. Any other action by an administrative or elected leader would be irresponsible and potentially litigious.

Further, degradation of the Village of Forest Park is not an option in my vocabulary or my vision for this great community and to this extent I often think about the current council majority and why it is what it is. It is this way because the current majority is genuinely concerned about the residents, businesses and the overall quality of life here in our town. I wish I could say the same about the minority council members. What have they done except bring about controversy? What have they done about being creative? What have they done about bringing harmony while maintaining their individuality in a collegial way? Is it automatically assumed that a 3 to 2 vote equates to sinister motives? If so, than why not consider the 2 opposing votes sinister? I challenge you to find a 3-2 agenda item that ended up being a bad decision.

Yet that same agenda item makes headlines for you temporarily and conspiracy theories flourish, hurting my colleagues and me.

Lies, rumors and innuendo have been prevalent since the election of 2003, and those have unquestionably come from the minority side of the dais. To further complicate the myriad of controversies it seems as though the newspaper thrives on this junk because it makes for newsworthy stories, and yet at the same time I wonder if you can point to a good public policy that comes from harsh and sarcastic so called journalism of Bill Dwyer and others like him.

Notwithstanding the undisputable fact is that all across America people get elected to office because of the confidence and belief instilled in the people that elect them, yet somehow the “Peter” principal espouses that only “Qualified” people should be elected to hold office. How subjective is this theory? Qualified how? Is it because they are a doctor, lawyer, journalist, real estate broker or teacher? Just what special ingredients do these hypothetical characters hold to make them uniquely qualified to hold public office, and if this were the case wouldn’t the law require it? Or is the requirement the ability to use fancy words or meanings in an attempt to “out fox” the people?

You see Dan I am a regular and ordinary guy attempting to make extraordinary advancements in bettering the quality of life in Forest Park, which spills into the surrounding region despite the mindset of Political Columnists of the likes of Bill Dwyer and others. Conspiracy theories should be left to the nonsense blogs that are in abundance, your paper can do and be much better than this and our community deserves a quality weekly publication.

Ultimately you are responsible for your writers and the content of your paper. You are accountable and I’ve no misconceptions about the power of the written word but some crybaby journalist who didn’t get his way so he retaliates by writing a mean spirited and scathing article about me won’t bully me into submission.

Maybe you agree with the political agenda of your freelancers thus you turn a blind eye to the myriad of vicious and completely misinformed articles directed at me or someone who is aligned with me. There appears to be a reoccurring theme your paper has taken which almost never remarks on the many good actions taken by my office and all too often I shake my head in disgust and defeat on the number of past statements made by your writers which are negatively skewed and at times, downright untrue. What happened to the journalistic values of writing a fair and unbiased accounting of the facts? Where have the ethics gone?

Mayor Anthony T. Calderone
Village of Forest Park

Library hasn’t proven itself deserving of referendum

As a librarian who has worked in Illinois public libraries for the past 10 years, and a lifelong library user, I strongly oppose the upcoming library referendum. I cannot support giving additional tax dollars to an institution that has neither handled its current situation adequately, nor has it stated a clear case for going for referendum.

Library Director Rodger Brayden claims that the increase will fund higher salaries. Why are higher salaries needed? How does our library’s salaries compare with those of area libraries? Is it low salaries and the need to cut costs that led to the turnover in the children’s department and the firing of the head of reference, or an administrative problem?

Brayden also states that the added funding will increase circulation by 20 percent in the first year. How is an increase in taxes going to lead to an increase in circulation and what does that mean for me? There is no possible way for any library to guarantee that their circulation will increase, especially not by that great of a percentage in one year.

What is going to cause this tremendous increase? Is the library going to buy new materials? If so, what type? Are they going to be hosting new programs to encourage residents to come to the library and perhaps check out something while there? Brayden claims the staff was asked what they would like to have, yet shouldn’t he have also sought the input of the library users and taxpayers before the library even contemplated a referendum?

Has the library exhausted all other avenues to increase revenue beyond fines and fees? Have they applied for state grants, especially those that are designed to help improve library collections? If the referendum committee can hold a silent auction to raise money for publicity for the referendum, why wasn’t one ever held to benefit the library? I love libraries and all that they can give to a community but until our library can prove to me that they are capable of making the best use of my tax dollars in ways that benefit our residents, I will continue to oppose a referendum.

Veronica Schwartz