Three of the village’s four commissioners participated in last week’s council meeting, but it didn’t have to be that way.
On Jan. 10, Rory Hoskins, commissioner of Accounts and Finance, was banned from partaking in the decisions made at that meeting. He was out of town but wanted to participate electronically. His request was denied, on the grounds that his absence did not conform to the specifics of a 2009 village ordinance outlining the permissibility of electronic participation at meetings.
What’s perplexing is the lack of cooperation on display in this incident.
Hoskins was in Springfield for Gov. Pat Quinn’s inauguration, where he was “lobbying on behalf of Forest Park,” as he told the Forest Park Review.
Mayor Anthony Calderone found this hard to believe and told the commissioners and the audience that he, too, had been invited to Springfield, but had turned down the offer. What’s more, he said, at the time of the meeting – around 7 p.m. – only parties were being held in Springfield. In short he suggested, Hoskins’ visit was a social one and of no use to the village.
Marty Tellalian, commissioner of Public Property, noted that while Hoskins might be socializing, it would be foolish to discount the importance of schmoozing with movers and shakers who would no doubt be present at the “parties” Calderone spoke of.
Before the sparring between Tellalian and Calderone at that meeting, the Review received an e-mail from Hoskins: “I just spoke to the director of the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Warren Ribley, about attracting business to Roosevelt Road.”
That conversation couldn’t have hurt the Village of Forest Park in any way.
On Thursday, Jan. 6, Hoskins contacted Village Administrator Tim Gillian to ask if he could phone in to the meeting on Jan. 10. Gillian said he’d get in touch with the village attorney and get back to Hoskins.
Long story short, Village Attorney Nick Peppers said Hoskins’ visit was not mandatory and thus did not constitute “official business.” He recommended that Hoskins not be allowed to participate.
But that’s not why Hoskins was excluded. According to the aforementioned village ordinance, Hoskins couldn’t phone in because he failed to notify the village clerk 48 hours prior to his absence.
Rather than seek a “recommendation” from Peppers, which, in reality, meant next to nothing in this case, Gillian should have referred Hoskins to Vanessa Mortiz, the village clerk.
Hoskins should have known how to proceed, but the village administrator should also have been familiar with it, and, thus, should have told Hoskins to speak to Moritz. Had this occurred, Hoskins might have participated.
Hoskins clearly wanted to be involved, even if he was at some wild soiree, as Calderone suggested.
When the meeting adjourned, Tellalian said the incident discouraged “participatory government.” Perhaps, but how about all sides governing cooperatively?