First posted 1/22/2009 11:55 a.m.
During a two-hour discussion of how the village council will fill a vacant administrative post, Mayor Anthony Calderone sparred with elected officials bent on challenging his opinions – and his authority.
Did he just say what I think he said?
Calderone has said he wants to shrink the amount of oversight the next village administrator will have, which would allow the council to reduce the salary tied to the position. All of the commissioners agreed on the potential for saving money, however, the mayor’s attempts to belittle the role of the administrator were met with opposition.
“I’m wondering if anyone can tell me what has the village gotten in return and what have the residents gotten in return,” Calderone said during the Jan. 21 meeting.
Since Forest Park created the administrator’s position roughly a decade ago, taxpayers have seen an excessive increase in local government’s operating costs, along with spikes in the number of lawsuits filed against the village, said Calderone. Furthermore, any grant revenues that might be used to offset municipal spending can’t be credited solely to any of Forest Park’s previous administrators, he said.
Following the meeting, Calderone qualified some of those statements and acknowledged he has not analyzed whether civil claims against the village were a result of actions taken by any of the village administrators.
Commissioner Mike Curry suggested that if Calderone needs a refresher as to why the administrator’s job is important, he should “look no further than the proclamation” that was read during the Jan. 12 council meeting celebrating former village administrator Mike Sturino’s accomplishments. Sturino announced his resignation Dec. 10 and his last day at village hall ended with that council meeting during which he was thanked by the council for his work.
Calderone attempted to distance himself from the praise that was heaped on Sturino and said it was Sturino himself who authored that resolution.
“We all, including yourself, voted for the proclamation, so that’s neither here nor there,” Commissioner Mark Hosty said in response to the mayor. Hosty also said the mayor has never before shown an interest in redrawing the boundaries for the village administrator.
Each of the commissioners offered arguments for retaining the position, though Commissioner Marty Tellalian said he favors redefining the job’s responsibilities to focus on matters of urban planning, zoning and construction management.
In 1997, Calderone actually helped create the village administrator’s position. Three people have since held the job.
“I truly believe that the expectations that the folks had when the position was created versus the delivered results over three administrators, I think they’re inconsistent,” Calderone said.
Last week’s meeting was called specifically for the purpose of hiring a new village administrator and was expected to be held behind closed doors. However, the council did not retreat into executive session. Several topics that Calderone had said would be the subject of the closed meeting were instead vetted publicly.
No agreements on the scope of the administrator’s position were reached, but council members did reach a consensus on how to solicit resumes. That accord, however, did not come easily.
Commissioner Rory Hoskins earlier this month posted an ad for the job on two Web sites, though council members had not met to discuss filling the vacancy. One day after it was posted, Calderone yanked it. During last week’s meeting, Hoskins repeatedly challenged the mayor to prove the commissioner needed anyone’s approval to post the advertisement.
Commissioners Curry and Hosty sided with Hoskins on the issue, while Tellalian agreed with the mayor that Hoskins overstepped his authority. Village Attorney Mike Durkin was asked to weigh in and said that although Hoskins may not have violated a specific ordinance by posting the ad, the decision should not be his alone.
“Show me something that says I don’t,” Hoskins said of having that authority.
No official action was taken during the Jan. 21 meeting, however, council members voted Jan. 26 to post a revised advertisement.