News that an ice cream shop on Madison Street is planning to relocate with the help of a local bank owner should read as a familiar story. Ten years ago when no one from outside the village was taking an interest in Forest Park, this scenario began playing out up and down the street and ultimately fueled the economic rebirth that we all enjoy today. It is how small town economies should be built.

Jerry Vainisi owns the space at 7347 Madison St. where Connie and Matt Brown will move their popular business, Brown Cow Ice Cream, likely in May of next year. Vainisi also owns the bank that sits directly across the street. For at least a year, he says, he has sat on the property while waiting for the right tenant to come along. In the Browns, a young couple who dole out cold, sugary goodness to support their family, Vainisi has found the right tenant.

We’re sure, too, that the Browns recognize their good fortune in being able to work in a community where a small group of visionary leaders and private sector folks have understood the potential for Madison Street and have patiently invested in its future. Vainisi, and his past and current investment partners, are not some unreachable conglomerate managing a pivotal financial institution from afar. They’re right across the street. They were here when Madison Street was at its worst and they have been key players in the push to turn things around. Vainisi is still here and he is still doing business on a handshake.

Congratulations and best wishes for continued success to Matt and Connie Brown, and we tip our cap to the Forest Park National Bank.

Strong-arm, not strong governance

It’s a rare sight to see a group of elected officials so united in their vision, so firm in their convictions that they don’t need to debate the merits of the course they plot. Apparently, this is the case in District 209, the abjectly dismal Proviso high schools, where the board plowed through its agenda Monday night without so much as reading aloud the items approved by a sweeping vote.

Of course, we don’t believe for a moment that this total absence of discussion is a sign of strong governance as much as it is a sign of strong-arm tactics. Board member Theresa Kelly cast the lone vote against approving the entire agenda in one fell swoop, but not because she necessarily opposed any of the items on the board’s to-do list. She argued with board President Chris Welch that several items on the agenda deserved more than a cursory glance. Welch, in typical bully fashion, did nothing to accommodate the one person on the board who consistently challenges his leadership.

This ramrod style in which the board conducts the public’s business–not the business of the board, as Welch often insists–is another example of what’s wrong in District 209.