There is poison in the politics of Forest Park. It has been there for a decade. It is seen in the divisive splits on the village council, in the unduly personal nature of that divide. It is seen in the fierce antagonism shown to critics by village leaders. It is seen in the marginal choices made by Mayor Anthony Calderone in whom he slates and whom he backs for the village council – the Mark Hosty, Mike Curry, and now Tom Mannix line of council members.

(And here we will take a break to say that Mark Hosty confounds us. Clearly he is a man who loves his town, works wonderfully hard on terrific events that make this town better, runs a popular business. But as an elected leader he is so bellicose, so personal, so thin-skinned that it makes him a poor public official. We’ve waited for him to grow into the role and mostly he hasn’t.)

But Mannix is a new level of political poison. A paid political operative engaged in local elections across the region, Mannix is the sort of political animal who makes all politics feel dirty, that breeds distrust of anyone crazy enough to put their name forward in the public square. And, as we reported last week online and this week in print, Mannix always operates his political viciousness from the shadows. He digs purported dirt from public records but doesn’t use his own name in filing FOIA’s. He publishes anonymously on the web from behind the many veils of websites and domains he creates.

This spring he seeks to extend the local political influence of his backers into the until now non-political realm of our local schools by running a slate of suspect candidates including Thomas Brad Keefner, an old college roommate who moved to town in just 2010 and has no children. And pre-election he attempts to soften up the well-respected school superintendent with some sort of nonsense that this man has scammed the school district out of an iPad. And, for heaven sakes, he sends his mom out to challenge petition signatures of other candidates.

We have reported that the anonymous local website Forest Park Truth Squad shares the same unique Google advertising account number as two other websites linked to Mannix. That didn’t stop this fellow from initially lying to The Review when we asked him to confirm the connection. He denied running the site and said he didn’t know who did. A day later he moved away from that lie and told us he had built the site on behalf of a client. Wrapping himself in the cloak of ethical behavior he said he could not possibly disclose the identity of that client.

Right. Ethics first, Tom.

This is a key moment in Forest Park. Mayor Calderone and the good people who have his ear, need to speak out for a Forest Park that is truer to its kinder and fundamentally positive roots.

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