After we broke the story this week on our Web site that a childhood friend and political pal of the mayor’s will be granted an interview for the village administrator’s job, the Review had a conversation with Mayor Anthony Calderone about the hiring process. He offered several stunning remarks.
Under a line of questioning about clouded judgment and impartial decisions, the mayor flipped the conversation and asked whether it’s appropriate to dismiss an applicant solely because of their relationship to the hiring body. Answering his own question, Calderone said such a move would “would not sit well” with him. He prefers to evaluate people on their merits, not on who their friends are.
Mayor, with all due respect, you’re wrong.
It is precisely because you and Tim Gillian – who is one of nine semi-finalists for the job – have campaigned together, voted together and supported one another for so many years that Gillian should not be hired. Personal relationships and political affiliations absolutely influence how decisions are made.
Meanwhile, you’ve argued that the next village administrator should be given a smaller role in Forest Park. Municipal governance in this town is cozy enough. Voters and council members should be pushing for greater independence. Hiring Gillian would be a step in the wrong direction.
In the mid 1990s, Gillian and Calderone ran together for village council. They wanted changes and were certainly effective in bringing new methods to Forest Park when they were elected. Calderone, obviously, set his sights on the mayor’s seat and he and Gillian continued to campaign together.
Gillian, meanwhile, secured a trustee position on the Proviso Township board. He was recently re-elected and can thank Calderone for helping him run a successful campaign. The mayor was Gillian’s campaign manager.
Those who know Gillian – and there are many in town who do – know that he is a smart and likeable guy. He is sincere and no doubt has a strong record of public service. With that reputation he should have no problem securing any number of influential roles in town. He could run to serve on the council. But his bid to be the mayor’s right-hand-man is inappropriate.
As for the screening process that has put Gillian in contention for the administrator’s job, we’ll absolutely extend the benefit of the doubt that his application was advanced in good faith. There are undoubtedly strengths that Gillian brings to the table, including his familiarity with the community and village hall. But we’ve no indication that there was any discussion among the council members about the potential for conflict. This should have been obvious and should preclude him from the job.