Reading can bring inspiration. So, I took a few hours off to read Mayor Calderone’s lengthy letter to the publisher. As usual, it was very well written.

The mayor was inspired to write after he read Bill Dwyer’s column equating Tony’s rise to power with the Peter Principle. This principle that every employee rises to their level of incompetence may be true but it casts workers in a negative light.

I hope Bill doesn’t equate my rise to the presidency of my one-employee company as an example of incompetence reaching the top. It was a struggle for me to be born into the family business, claw my way past sisters and brothers and outlive my parents. Incompetence had very little to do with it.

So, I can see why the mayor was perturbed. However, I don’t agree with everything Tony wrote. He complained that the “Wednesday Journal” was more intellectual than the “Review.” Our masthead doesn’t say “Newspaper with the intellectual touch.” It says, “Newspaper with the personal touch.” Wait, it doesn’t say that anymore: now our slogan is “Growing Community.”

Ok, but it certainly doesn’t say “Enquirer,” as the mayor implies. Sure, the “Review” did go through a scandal sheet phase when we printed anonymous letters but that only lasted a few weeks.

There are two things we don’t want in a community newspaper: intellectualness and scandal mongering. Big words would force readers to look them up in the dictionary, where we found them in the first place. And, with the 24-hour rumor mill in Forest Park, printing innuendo would force out the hard news.

Actually, I resent Tony taking shots at the “Review.” Doesn’t he know we were named the second best newspaper in the country with circulation under 5,000? Or, as one of our staff put it, the second best paper that nobody reads.

But let’s get to the crux of the argument: does Forest Park have incompetent leadership? Well, if it does, we only have ourselves to blame. Most of us avoid running for public office and many of us don’t vote. We get exactly the leadership we deserve.

I do see room for improvement at the top, though. There’s so much drama in our village government that daytime soap operas wouldn’t touch our plot lines – they’re too tacky.

When Tony first ran for mayor, I supported him. Our village was going through so many changes it needed new dynamic leadership. I knew the council would have to perform a delicate balancing act – encouraging investment while preserving the essence of our community.

Forest Park has lost so much of its character already. I was on a guided tour of the village and most of the historic spots we visited were no longer there. Now, the mayor’s childhood homes face destruction to make way for condominiums.

Our leaders should put the brakes on this kind of development. We need to preserve the heritage we have left. The Peter Principle also applies to architecture. We can’t let “incompetent” condos rise to dominate our skyline.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.