My offer to Tony was direct and generous: let’s do a sit-down interview, both of us will choose issues and form an agenda, I’ll record the chat, write a column and post the unedited audio on the Review’s website. But even tapping out a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in response was too much for Tony.

Tony Calderone thinks himself a master politician, but he seems to have missed the class on statesmanship, which is harder than politics.

As a long-time reader, and sometimes a critic, of the Review, I believe there was a time, for a long time, when Tony quite liked talking to the Review: his years as a “progressive” commissioner, his mayoral campaign against Lorraine Popelka notable for a two-page (!) story reporting election slings, arrows and innuendo starring Tony as the victim, his early mayoral years as he greased the wheels for the Madison renovation and working the refs to bolster his budding battles with anyone who didn’t agree with him.

About midway into his second mayoral term, Tony’s relationship with this newspaper turned a bit testy: when the Review expected deliverance on his promises of openness and transparency, when the Review questioned his new-found fondness for our extinct commissioner form of government, when the Review (and residents) rejected his push for Home Rule, when the Review reported the chronic problems of his police department, when the Review tried to make sense of zoning-gone-wild machinations, and when the Review should have wondered harder about Tony’s bullying battles with anyone who didn’t completely agree with him.

The relationship has not improved. Only three years ago Tony ranted in his not-newspaper, The Post, about the evils and untruthiness of the Review, even pitching a boycott.

Most recently, Tony would like to direct our attention to the self-publishing TribLocal for his news. While so useful for our community groups and non-profits, TribLocal is not a newspaper. We know this because not only can the village write its own news, the village can delete its own news. And we know that because Patrick Rollens at TribLocal replied to my inquiry on a flooding story with, “The story you’re referring to was posted by the Village of Forest Park, and it looks like they have deleted it from” Yikes.

Our council meetings and minutes are devoid of substantive discussion. The Mayor’s Office of Public Avoidance doesn’t want to talk about anything. The village website is stuck on “Hello? Anybody home?” We get email announcements with ‘news’ best left to the Ladies Auxiliary and TribLocal won’t be assigning a reporter to Forest Park. So much effort spent on constructs to suppress discussion and hide opposing viewpoints, eh?

With his fourth mayoral term, Tony is leading Forest Park down the dreadful path of all the other broken towns of Proviso Township.

Good God, this is so depressing.

Suspecting Tony might not want to be constructive and offer up an interview this month, a cheery back-up idea was in place – The Annual Commish Holiday Challenge!  Where I come from, proof of community spirit is your home’s outdoor holiday display, i.e. what your neighbors can see. Indeed, the spirit of the holidays is to twinkle your neighbors’ spirit through our dark night of the soul, i.e. Chicago winters.

The five commish would be advised that nothing extravagant was expected, just a twinkly message to show they’re thinking of us a couple of weeks a year. The pics would be posted at the ReviewOnline to cheer us with ooh! ahh! and delicious gossip.

Imagine … Calderone would pull in HUGE lighting favors from, um, dedicated friends and go for the coveted King Herod Award. Hosty would string only a line or two – as he doesn’t like folks looking at his house. Hoskins’ kids would run a riot of lighting and Santas. Mannix would install a giant Santa billboard and go for the Herod Jr. Award. Meanwhile, Harris would install exactly 450 LED lights in the most efficient fashion.

Alas, this idea was killed dead by the Mayor’s Office of Festive Regulations, aka, I’ll Decide What’s Fun, Ya’ Little Pipsqueak Department.

In other news, Commish Chris Harris is hosting a get together at Jimmy’s tonight at 6:30 p.m. It’s a combo of Food Pantry Love, drinks and dinner and wide ranging discussion on the state of the village. Food Network star Jeff Mauro will be in attendance. Read the fine print:

(Peace and) Cheers (to you and yours.)