Last week in this space we ran an editorial headlined, “News of the weird.” And we thought, at that moment, it was a pretty good summing up of all the peculiarities and peccadillos consuming local affairs.
Even as we went to print, though, we were working on another story that clearly would qualify as “weird.” Maybe “disturbing.” We might even go so far as to say “counterproductive.”
Readers who receive our breaking news e-mails have known since last Tuesday that the village has reversed course and is now going to attempt to fire Police Lt. Steve Johnsen. Johnsen, will, of course, have to wait in line until the village is done trying to fire Sgt. Dan Harder.
Do we even attempt to offer context and connections? Johnsen is the buddy and former business partner of Patrick Doolin, the commissioner who plans to run against Mayor Anthony Calderone. Calderone now says he sincerely tried to make a deal to keep Johnsen on the job but that Police Chief Jim Ryan, heretofore thought to work comfortably under the thumb of the mayor, couldn’t stomach a deal with Johnsen and is now going to the board of fire and police commissioners to get his job. One of the fire and police commissioners, Glenn Garlisch, will now recuse himself from the Johnsen hearings because he has served for years on the elementary school board with Johnsen. And, by the way, Doolin is vague on his personnel plans should he be elected mayor next April except that “I can state emphatically that I will not keep the police chief.”
We could try to explain the circumstances of the year-old incident that led to the charges by Ryan against Johnsen, but they are all too stupid and juvenile to repeat. Suffice it to say, all of it could have been avoided if there had been any adults in the room to say, “For God’s sake, knock it off!”
Instead we are here. More drama. More ego and personality. More money wasted on lawyers. More distraction from police work, from good governance. This is the reality of Forest Park in 2006.
Class on Madison Street
We don’t know from Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring, but we are impressed by the retail and condo building about to rise on Madison Street. This is the site of the old China Night restaurant, a business which epitomized the backward, unexceptional ways of Forest Park for two decades.
In its place will soon come a Japanese steakhouse operated by a first-rate restaurateur and six large, luxury condominiums. If all goes as planned, prices for some of those units will crack $500,000. It is not like the old days of living above the store on Madison where the units were ratty and the appeal was proximity to alcohol.
These are good days in Forest Park. And if Forest Park’s leaders would stop rolling about in the mud, maybe they could enjoy them.