All right, we’ll bite. Karen, Chris, what gives?

A most unexpected meeting over the weekend between Rep. Karen Yarbrough (7th District) and District 209 school board President Chris Welch has the rumor mill working over time. We’ll refrain from repeating what the speculators are speculating, but we agree that this could definitely be something worth watching.

For those who don’t have the stomach to follow the ins and outs of Proviso Township politics, Yarbrough and Welch have been rivals for several years. And by rivals, we mean to say that the discourse has stepped into the gutter on occasion.

In 2006, the two squared off in a bid for the state seat that Yarbrough now holds. Since then, she has made it a point to challenge one of Welch’s biggest allies. Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore – for whom this page has plenty of criticism – has propped up Welch’s campaign coffers for years. Coincidentally, he landed a fat insurance contract in District 209 and later saw another of his employees appointed to fill a vacant seat next to Welch.

In the meantime, Yarbrough successfully unseated Moore as the township’s Democratic committeeman, putting her in a position to dole out favors and support for candidates and public officials in Proviso. Some of her most oft repeated rallying cries have denounced the politics of Welch and Moore (and is where some civility has been lost on both sides).

So, when Yarbrough says she’s incredulous that the newspaper is interested in such a non-story as her role in setting up a meeting between Welch and township Dems, we’re not thrown for a minute. There are few genuine favors between friends in Proviso, and none between rivals.

Meanwhile, Forest Park Commissioner Rory Hoskins has been out shaking hands. Everywhere. As president of the organization that actually hosted Welch and his slate of District 209 candidates, Hoskins shouldn’t necessarily be implicated in whatever deal may – or may not – have been hatched between Welch and Yarbrough. In fact, Hoskins is in no real position to begin choosing sides anywhere if he intends to run for higher office, which it seems he does. By acting as a go between for Welch and Yarbrough, Hoskins adds a few more names to his Rolodex, strengthening his ability to garner support when he does decide to make a play.

It would be naïve to think that there isn’t a fair amount of back scratching in politics and, to a limited extent, it’s appropriate. It is how relationships are built. What should give voters pause is there are so many public officials in this area who have dirt under their nails it becomes second-nature to start guessing at motives. In particular, Welch’s specialty is sleaze. The utmost caution should be exercised when he starts talking about an itch that needs scratching.