If ever one needed proof that Forest Park is a curious village, turn to the relationship between Mayor Anthony Calderone and former commissioner Theresa Steinbach.
The two have known each other since kindergarten at Garfield School. Steinbach managed Calderone’s first political campaign. They wound up living next door to each other on Thomas Avenue.
These days, it would appear they’re sworn enemies. Steinbach was elected to a commissioner’s seat in opposition to Calderone’s tenure as mayor. She later ran and lost a direct battle for the mayor’s seat. And Steinbach sued Calderone and the village, charging that her village government e-mail account had been hacked and its contents reviewed for political advantage. (Calderone was dropped from the suit when a judge decided the statute of limitations had passed on any role he might have played.)
Now, oh, so quietly, the suit has been settled. And no one is talking. Not the mayor, not the village administrator, not Steinbach, not Steinbach’s lawyer. The Review attempted to get a copy of the settlement but we have been told that until all the parties have signed the document that it cannot be released – although the village council has voted 4-1 to permit the mayor to sign off on whatever deal has been reached.
This then is the state of Forest Park affairs. Charges, denials, bizarre intrigue, always long-tangled relationships, silence. And when you raise your hand to ask, “Anyone else think this place is odd?” the insiders pretend this is all perfectly normal.
Sooner or later, cumulatively, all the peculiarities add up to legitimate questions about why life in Forest Park politics is so inbred and such a mass of distractions. Good things happen. We readily acknowledge that. But any momentum is thwarted by detours into strange places.
We are 10 months out from a village government election. Will it bring more melodrama? Maybe some voters like all the odd spices in the stew. For our part, we’d like more straightforward, transparent governing and less of a soap opera.