After weeks of relatively brief council meetings where little business was undertaken, the village board showed signs at Monday night’s meeting that it is in full swing again. In addition to voting on several resolutions and an ordinance, Mayor Anthony Calderone and newly elected Commissioner Chris Harris had a polite, but testy exchange.
Before voting “present” on a resolution approving a $42,000 annual contract with an Oak Park tech company that maintains the village’s computer systems, Harris asked Calderone if that were an appropriate sum for the services. Although their exchange was civil, Calderone responded with a lengthy monologue that covered the tech company’s services, the shape of the dais of other governments (some of which “are not in a ‘U’ and do not face the audience”); and the need for village commissioners to come to the meeting prepared to do the town’s business, not “play to the cameras.”
“If you’ve ever been to Springfield or the council chambers at the City of Chicago … they don’t even face the audience. … They don’t play to the camera. … They don’t face the public,” Calderone said.
He referred to Harris’ questions as “the whole transparency thing.”
“These are just questions that I might want the answer to. … It’s not playing to the camera,” Harris said. He had emailed a number of questions to Village Administrator Tim Gillian and did receive replies.
Harris initially made a motion to table the resolution, but it was denied because he didn’t get a second; as a result, he voted “present.” Rory Hoskins, the commissioner of public health and safety, commended Harris for asking questions but said he thinks the village gets “a lot of bang for its buck” from the company, Techno Consulting, Inc.
The board also tackled approving the removal of a hiring freeze for an office worker, an agreement with several other towns to tackle housing issues, street reconstruction on Harrison Street between Harlem Avenue and Desplaines Avenue, the release of a maintenance bond for construction on The Grove and an agreement with Walmart regarding its plans to modify a storm-water detention area to accommodate new construction.