Calling Mayor Anthony Calderone an “autocrat with a perverse sense of democracy,” Commissioner Chris Harris fired back at the end of Monday’s village council meeting in a political volley of parting remarks responding to the Mayor’s criticism of Harris and others on July 23.

At that meeting, Calderone threatened to re-codify by ordinance the roles of different commissioners. In 32 minutes of unprepared remarks, the mayor rhetorically asked if his opponents were “taking hallucinogenics” and referred to himself sarcastically as the “mean old emperor.”

Harris responded with a short, prepared speech.

“Perhaps if we operated top-down with a more respectful attitude for all ideas from all of the people elected to represent this village, this wouldn’t be as big of an issue,” he said. He referred to subcontracting village landscaping work to McAdam Landscaping. The contract was passed in spite of his opposition as Public Property Commissioner. He had complained that village employees could do the work to save the village money.

“I saw the paper trail. Trying to limit the powers of this chair was not a direct result of the village administrator [Tim Gillian] but rather the direct order of the Mayor,” Harris described the village council as “a 3-2 vote means your 1,200 votes for me mean you get a voice – when he will allow it – but you certainly don’t get a say.”

Harris also referred to the Mayor’s description of comprehensive plan consultants having experience in “weeding out the vocal minority” by warning that the Calderone’s election with 53 percent of the vote in April 2011 meant the “vocal minority” was 47 percent. “That’s a pretty big minority,” he said, noting that leadership, in his view, was a matter of “teamwork and inclusion” rather than “isolation and exclusion.” He complained that the Mayor “marginalized” and “cast aside” the opposition.

“I have never been in a job where ideas and a fresh look at things are looked at like negatives, and maintaining the status quo is top priority. I don’t think having ideas that can benefit the village should be limited to our departments,” he said.

To the audience he said, “Don’t back down. Now is the time to be even more vocal. Some of you may feel uncomfortable being in the firing line of a bully. Fortunately, I embrace it.”

The mayor did not respond and made an immediate motion to adjourn.

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Commissioner Chris Harris’ comments August 13, 2013

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Mayor Calderone’s comments July 23, 2012

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...