Budget approved by split vote

Council members revisited Forest Park’s annual budget appropriation July 13 after realizing in June that they were too far apart on how much padding to build into the ordinance. Last month, three of the five elected officials balked at giving themselves the ability to spend $36.5 million when projected expenses in each department’s budget totaled only $21.9 million.

Commissioners Rory Hoskins and Marty Tellalian both asked for an ordinance with a maximum cushion of 5 percent. The ordinance presented – and approved – July 13 gives the council $33.2 million in spending power. Finance Director Judy Kovacs said there is about a10 percent cushion in that figure after debt payments and other expenses are taken into account.

During the council’s most recent discussion of the budget, Hoskins and Tellalian reminded Mayor Anthony Calderone of the smaller figure they had requested.

“I responded … maybe a 3 percent or 5 percent cushion,” Hoskins said.

In June, Calderone cautioned that the cushion was there as an efficiency, should the council come across an emergency expense. Approving the extra millions of dollars in advance is not a license to begin spending, he said. Commissioner Mark Hosty supported the mayor’s argument.

Commissioner Mike Curry had voted in June to delay the vote, but later said he would be comfortable with a margin of 10 to 20 percent.

The council approved the $33.2 million figure by a 3-2 vote with Hoskins and Tellalian in the minority.

D209’s state of the district address

High school officials are hoping community and state leaders turn out July 30 for the Proviso school district’s first-ever state of the district address. According to a statement from the schools, Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart will comment on various goals, accomplishments and continuing efforts to improve the public high schools.

District 209 includes Proviso East, Proviso West and Proviso Math and Science Academy.

“We hope to forge partnerships and re-affirm our true commitment to the success of our students, our schools, and our community,” board president Chris Welch said in a written statement. “We look forward to discussing progress and the work that lies ahead.”

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the academy in Forest Park, 8601 Roosevelt. The superintendent’s remarks will be followed by a question and answer period.

Steinbach ruling is mixed bag

In a lawsuit filed by a former commissioner that accuses the mayor of spying, several charges have been dismissed.

A federal court judge ruled July 14 that three of the complaints lodged against Mayor Anthony Calderone by Theresa Steinbach are not valid. In the same ruling, the judge declined to toss out four other counts that Calderone sought to have dismissed.

In August 2006, Steinbach filed suit against three nameless defendants and accused the unidentified parties of working together to forward 11 supposedly private e-mails to the mayor. Calderone and another village employee, police officer and IT technician Craig Lundt, were since named as defendants.

Steinbach ran against Calderone in the 2007 mayoral election and lost. As council members, the two often sparred. They have been – and still are – neighbors.

Lundt was not a party to the mayor’s request to have the charges dismissed. All the charges against Lundt stand.

Two of the allegations against the mayor claimed violations of a federal wiretap law, which has a two-year statute of limitations. Steinbach’s amended complaint filed in March is wholly different from her original complaint, and therefore is not protected, the judge said in his ruling. In a third allegation, Steinbach simply failed to make a civil claim under the laws cited.

In upholding several other allegations, the judge determined that Calderone would have had no professional reason for accessing Steinbach’s e-mail, and therefore is not protected as a government employee. The mayor has appealed the court’s ruling.

Rescheduling D91’s district address

What is expected to become an annual event, Superintendent Lou Cavallo’s state of the district address, was canceled recently, but the schools’ chief expects to reschedule for mid-August.

During a District 91 school board meeting this month, administrators explained that the original July 2, just before the big holiday weekend, date was probably not convenient for many would-be attendees. Dozens of invitations were sent, but only a handful said they could make it.

For the rescheduled event, board members suggested following up with e-mail and phone calls when possible, and using a new invitation to avoid confusion. Cavallo is expected to give his remarks on Aug. 12 or Aug. 19. It would be the second year for the event.

Thai restaurant gets zoning approval

A family of prospective restaurateurs got unanimous approval from the zoning board on Monday night to open a Thai restaurant at one of Forest Park’s busiest intersections.

The restaurant, Bua Hanna, is scheduled to open in November at 7330 Madison. That space has been vacant since February when Treehouse Boutique, a children’s clothing shop, went out of business.

Commercial real estate broker David King told zoning board members that the restaurant would seat 38 people during lunch and dinner hours. Takeout and delivery services are also expected to be offered. King served as the conduit between property owner Jerry Vainisi and Pakdee Yu, whose family would run the business.

According to municipal codes, restaurants require a special permit before they can open in the downtown zoning district.

Another restaurant expected to offer an Asian menu was scheduled for a similar hearing with the zoning board, but was delayed when municipal staff members were unable to complete their report for the board. That business would be at 7616 Madison.

The zoning board is an advisory body; final approvals must be granted by the village council.