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There are bigger fish to fry

A story in the Review says a taxpayer received a citation for trespassing and the evidence includes photographs of a commissioner’s house that’s about three feet from the public sidewalk? It’s an incredible story, among so many others reported in the paper.

According to the Review, we have suffered the federal conviction of a Forest Park police officer, we lost $300K to settle a lawsuit with a police officer, we’ve heard claims of sexual harassment within the police department, we have had officers arresting each other for using foul language, and a mayor accused of tampering with a former elected official’s e-mail. What’s happening to our focus? The Review outlines so many serious problems facing the village-from drug use and burglaries to the unsolved murder of a man in his garage. We should do more with our resources than ticket a guy with a camera.

Mary Witte
Forest Park

Inequity on all fronts

I simply do not understand.

Mark Hosty and Steve Backman are engaged in a longstanding feud, the Dec. 23 Review informs us. (“Hosty files complaint against new neighbor.”)

The facts of the story appear to go like this:

Hosty is having work done on his new home on Warren

Backman, also a Warren resident, believed the rehab went well beyond the scope of the posted permits

Backman took photos of the vacant home, documenting the alleged expansion and posted them on ForestParkForums.com

Hosty then filed a trespassing complaint against Backman with the police

Backman denies the charge and is scheduled for an administrative hearing for his alleged ordinance violation.

Most readers will have to tease out those facts, as the heart of the story is to tell us that Backman is irksome to some elected officials by demanding transparency, accountability and consistent enforcement of our laws. Apparently the Review thinks this is a bad thing for our town. Except when they do it.

Simply put, this was a hit piece on a citizen; a character attack on a whistle blower.

I do not understand.

Most of you will be surprised to know the Review wrote an additional piece about the legal problems of Hosty’s rehab, but that story only appeared online on the paper’s Web site. That story reveals that the scope of Hosty’s rehab did indeed greatly exceed his permits. The story attempts to track Hosty and the building department retroactively straightening out the paperwork.

I do not understand.

I idealize newspapers but know they are not perfect.

But I have never mistrusted my local newspaper, and I hope the Review can justify its news choices.

Our building and zoning codes and their capricious enforcement have been a significant problem for at least 10 years. In 2005 the Review wrote a series of investigative pieces that ended with a call for clarity and consistency.

In 2006, the Review followed the very serious but loony epic of 417 Circle, in which the owner almost lost her two-flat and coach house to a zoning law. The Review acknowledged our laws were bizarre and our enforcement inscrutable, but doggone it, it was the law and must be enforced.

In 2007, the fact that 70 percent of our housing was legal non-conforming got the attention of many candidates, some who pledged to rewrite our zoning laws.

In 2008, the Review treated an alleged significant code abuse by a lawmaker as a juicy personal squabble and then blamed the whistle blower.

Enough.

It is 2009, and like Mark Hosty I am a homeowner currently in the process of rehabbing my home and petitioning for a zoning variance. My experience with Mike Boyle and the building department could not be more different from Hosty’s. Mine has been extremely exacting, letter of the law enforced and any mistakes penalized.

The mayor, the village council, the building department and the Review know all this-and in detail.

So, are y’all supporting a two-tiered system of law and justice in Forest Park?

If so, it is not acceptable. It cannot stand.

Sharon Daly
Forest Park