The lengthy search process to hire Forest Park’s newest village administrator ended in such a predictable manner. The whole thing feels like a charade.
In the end, after some eight months of interviews with an applicant pool of more than 30, it turns out the man for the job is a friend of the mayor. How tidy. How neat. How insular.
The problem with hiring Tim Gillian as village administrator does not begin with his lack of qualifications for the job. Sure, he’s run a business before, and he seems to genuinely care about the community, but so what. Even if he were the most qualified person in the world, his long-standing personal and political relationships with Mayor Anthony Calderone and Commissioner Mark Hosty should have absolutely precluded him. He’s the only candidate for the administrator’s post who walks into the office with his judgment compromised.
That he has no experience in public administration does nothing for his credibility – or the mayor’s.
Back in 2007, Gillian discussed with the Review his reasons for stepping down from the village council after three consecutive terms. The politics, the disagreements had all become too personal, he said. Coincidentally, one of Calderone’s chief complaints of the last few years is that the criticism of his rule is personal rather than professional.
It is this newspaper’s opinion that both Calderone and Gillian genuinely care for the community. Their emotional investments are not the problem. When politicians appear unwilling to work transparently, when they surround themselves with friends, when they consult only with puppets and when they give taxpayers the impression that village hall is nothing but a tight knit circle, there is going to be criticism. Take it personally if you like, but it has nothing to do with who happens to be sitting on the dais. It is the quality of life in Forest Park that people are concerned with.
And, for now, there seems to be concern.
News of the council’s 3-2 vote to hire Gillian brought a stunning and unprecedented response to the newspaper’s Web site. Nearly all of the comments submitted by online readers were critical of the hire, not because of the names in the headline, but because they recognize cronyism when they see it.
As publisher Dan Haley outlines in his comments in another article, the village administrator’s role in Forest Park appears to be evolving. It was once touted as the way to instill a greater level of professionalism and forward thinking into the commission form of government. Hiring an inexperienced, compromised administrator seems to be the antithesis of why the position was created.