After a really long time, Mayor Calderone has gingerly acknowledged that his Forest Park government might “consider” it has a role to play in “being able to protect the community from natural disasters” and tried to soften the blow that new sewers will cost us a fortune.

Then we learned State Rep Chris Welsh and Proviso poobahs met with the all-powerful and opaque MWRD to vent their (re-election) fears and threaten lawsuits by muni’s (our money) to pay for ruined-again carpeting and drywall but not a new sewer system. Hopefully Welsh wasn’t kidding when he said he was mostly kidding about HB1049.

The great Proviso beast seems to be wakening to the notion that underwater housing is unsustainable but it’s hard not to imagine this tiptoeing is all show for the 2015 election and besides, they’ll be retired or dead in case the 20-year plan is a screw up.

Presumably, doing nothing is still an option, but 20 more years down this road and our village is toast. No high school! No sewers! is a hard sell.

So we’re talking Real Money, whether politically attuned Burke Engineering takes on the ‘region,’ the 7th District, Proviso or only Forest Park. The complexity, scope and price tag of the project boggles most minds, so let’s jump to the other bottom line – who and what can we trust to get this right?

Burke Engineering has been developing sewer options for River Forest and appears to be doing a solid job. Burke Engineering is now preparing a tiered sewer proposal for Forest Park.

Here’s a problem: Chris Burke addressed Forest Parkers after our 2010 floods and identified the problems as Mother Nature, the MWRD, Deep Tunnel, and us – for not knowing that basements are essentially reservoirs to hold water that the village’s system cannot handle. It was a singularly patronizing presentation, paid for by the Elected sitting on the hotseat.

Burke’s local consultant was generally over-involved in village projects, what with insulting citizens at public meetings and trolling our online community bulletin board.

River Foresters have not been treated so unprofessionally and so we must ask ourselves why we were.

Maybe Burke and Co. feel a sense of possessiveness about Forest Park? Can we follow the money and see that Burke is Calderone’s biggest and most consistent campaign contributor – even during the off-season? Mostly four-figure gifts to Calderone between 2001-2007, totaling $10K.

Burke and his company are prolific campaign contributors – to both Dems and the GOP. The engineers have a special sweet spot for Proviso political campaigns like those headed by Chris Welch, Stone Park’s Neighbors in Action PAC, Maywood’s Eugene Moore and Elmwood Park’s Skip Saviano, oh and Anthony Calderone.

In Forest Park the cash flows both ways. Burke, LLC is on speed-dial as a go-to consultant. The company billed $536,755.65 from the village in the 2012 fiscal year alone.

What we don’t see are Burke’s campaign contributions to River Forest politicians over the years: Frank Paris, John Rigas or Cathy Adduci.

We’d better be confident in these engineers because even though folks quite like Anthony Calderone, voters have shown again and again: they don’t trust him with large amounts of money.

Tony Calderone’s core competency is being a politician and unfortunately his metrics for decision making are his political fortunes. Controlling an $80 million village wide sewer project, to put it politely, is not in his wheelhouse. We’ve allowed our local government to morph into an autocracy, so let us pray our sins of negligence won’t require an $80 million penance.

We have a monumental reckoning in our immediate future and it is strongly recommended that we: 1) Trust but verify 2) Demand a full accounting of our by-referendum VIP infrastructure fund, and 3) Under no circumstances, vote Calderone a majority caucus in the 2015 election.

If there’s a silver lining in this autocracy, Public Opinion will keep Commish Tom ‘Streets and Public Improvement’ Mannix forever away from the $80 million collected and allocated. Fair warning, gentlemen: if our money is used for a Best! Sewer Program, there will be torches and pitchforks. Possibly guillotines – it’s hard to predict.

16 replies on “Something smells in sewer-land”