At the same time this newspaper picked up some major kudos (we think) from the mayor, residents of Forest Park were given new reason to wonder whether politicians in Illinois can be trusted to govern themselves. Then again, following the argument presented by Mayor Anthony Calderone during a recent council meeting, maybe it’s not their responsibility.
Readers are familiar with Commissioner Mike Curry’s bungled renovation project in which he performed work on his home without first obtaining the necessary permits. Curiously, Curry got permits for portions of the renovation, but when it came time to put on a new roof and do some other exterior work, he said he forgot to get the all-clear from the building department. Those permits likely would not have been written right away either, because the commissioner first needed to go through a public hearings process for some minor zoning issues related to those improvements.
Curry was caught, forced through a couple of public hearings and finally received the OK from his colleagues on the council during a May 26 meeting. Sadly, that vote was taken almost six months after Curry finished his roofing project in November.
The good news, however, is that the Forest Park Review has been writing about this debacle for several months. We also reported on Commissioner Mark Hosty’s failure to get the permits he needed for a renovation project – just weeks before Curry’s mishap. Because the Review did such a stellar job alerting the public to the wayward ways of these council members, Calderone said there’s no reason for the council to get into it.
“It is what it is,” Calderone said, deflecting a lone commissioner’s call for discussion on Curry’s after-the-fact zoning request. “There’s nothing more there. It’s all been aired.”
While we humbly agree that our coverage was solid, that fact does not absolve the elected officials of their responsibility. Not once, never, in this entire process, has there been a statement from village hall assuring residents that this type of behavior isn’t condoned or that no one abused their office. Not a word.
Homeowners, taxpayers, business owners and anyone else in town thinking about making improvements to their property should forget about calling the building department for permits. Instead, call the newspaper. Tell us what you’re about to do and we’ll write about it. The work gets done without the hassle of waiting for public hearings and the council doesn’t have to be the bad guy and play disciplinarian. Who knows, if we take a picture of your house for our story, you could submit it to the Chamber of Commerce and Development and win an award.