Here we go again. The new village board is not a month old, and there are already signs that council wars are looming.
Forest Park can’t afford four more years of distraction passing for governance. Now is the precise moment for Mayor Anthony Calderone to step up and lead. His fundamental message ought to be: “OK. Some of us don’t like each other. No one cares about that except us. So knock it off. Act like adults. Govern like pros. Let’s move forward.”
Short of that clear expectation being set, we are in for more unnecessary roughness.
Witness the actions of the past two weeks when Commissioner Mark Hosty repeatedly accused his nemesis, Commissioner Rory Hoskins, of leaking a copy of the preliminary and incomplete village budget for fiscal year 2012. He condemned Hoskins and called his actions “irresponsible.” Hosty might have had a case if there was any truth to what he was saying. There wasn’t. He was given bad information. He spread it. He should apologize but so far won’t. What are you going to do about that Mister Mayor?
Last month Pat Segel, human resources director for the Village of Berwyn, spoke about public finance at a meeting hosted by local nonprofit Citizens United in Forest Park (CUinFP). Audience members received a packet with information from the Village of Forest Park’s budgets from three past years. Segel had contacted Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz and obtained that information, both Segel and Moritz told the Review. There was no information about next year’s tentative budget.
Judy Kovacs, the village’s finance director, who attended the CUinFP meeting, said she had given Hoskins, the former commissioner of accounts and finance, a copy of the preliminary FY 12 budget (the one in question). She added that he was the only commissioner to have the document at the time, and she also told Hosty that the information that she gave Hoskins appeared at the meeting.
Here’s the kicker, though: No information from the new budget was presented at the meeting, which means Kovacs was wrong and Hosty’s statement was incorrect.
When we contacted Kovacs she acknowledged her folly. She said that when she spoke with us last week she mistakenly thought the budget detail presented at the meeting was from next year’s document.
“I owe Commissioner Hoskins a big apology because I didn’t realize the [FY 11] document had been [requested from Moritz],” Kovacs wrote in an email, in reference to Segel’s request. That is a graceful and appropriate response.
One would expect Hosty to make a similar response. So far, no. On Monday he shifted the blame entirely to Kovacs.
“I’d say that it was unfortunate that the director of accounts and finance [Kovacs] had bad information,” Hosty said. Not exactly a stand up response.
Calderone had pledged to call a summit to make sure this council is not as dysfunctional as the last one. Now is the time.