We recently caught a glimpse of just how ugly this election might be and the lengths to which some will go to trumpet a cause.
For the last week, Forest Park’s elected officials, government watchdogs, and agenda-driven political cheerleaders and naysayers have been debating the fiscal responsibility of last year’s Ribfest.
We encourage this discussion, as civic debate is an essential tenet to a functioning democracy and because streetfests are an interesting issue. Unfortunately, this contentious issue has all the markings of a smear campaign.
As discussed in this week’s article, “Politicos beef over Ribfest costs,” Bill Gerst – campaign manager for mayoral candidate and current Commissioner Marty Tellalian – posted a comment on a Forest Park Review Web article last week claiming that Mayor Anthony Calderone hid the “true” costs of last year’s Ribfest, which Gerst said was not profitable.
According to a village accounting report, Gerst and Tellalian – who initially echoed his manager’s claim, then back-pedaled, saying he wasn’t aware of the cost – were wrong. The event netted the village $10,364.35, according to the report, which Tellalian and Gerst still question. At least Tellalian conceded he might have been wrong. Gerst shows no signs of admitting that possibility.
Admit it and move on. Don’t continue posting comments and making statements based on information from a “credible source” unless you’re willing to elaborate.
Politics can get down and dirty, even the small-town kind. At least it looks that way. When pressed to back up his comments, Gerst told the Review he is “fairly new to this” and that he has an aversion to dirty politics.
However, after speaking briefly with the Review, Gerst went home and typed up another manifesto peppered with more accusations he failed to back up. So the jury is still out on his supposed distaste for mudslinging.
Even Calderone was inspired to post a Web comment to address Gerst’s accusations and a statement Tellalian made that $14,000 was spent on “a band.” That money was, in fact, spent on four bands – one of which was the Ides of March – which Tellalian later acknowledged.
But Tellalian also pointed out that neither he nor his colleagues on the village council received any accounting report. This lack of transparency is problematic. Accounting reports for what the village spends should be common knowledge to council members.
There are also holes in one of Calderone’s statements – that the price tag for musical staging was included in the $14,000 entertainment cost. Not true, says the accounting report. That was a separate, $4,396 expense.
“You can bet that information is accurate. Our finance director pays close attention,” Calderone told the Review. “Obviously something’s going on here.”
Well put. Both sides need to be more accurate – and more forthcoming.