Yes to Girl Scouts peddling delicious cookies. Yes to the Lions Club selling substandard Lifesaver-like candies for a worthy cause. Yes to local firefighters collecting money for Muscular Dystrophy.
But no, no, and a third time no to Illinois PIRG, a non-profit which since last September has sought Forest Park village government approval to canvass the town for money, members and petition signatures. Commissioners Tom Mannix and Mark Hosty have been outfront in blocking any approval. Mayor Anthony Calderone has been complicit in the effort.
We’d stipulate that PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) is somewhere left of center in its political causes. That’s always been our sense of it.
But did our three politically conservative village commissioners use the levers of power to block political speech they don’t personally favor? How appalling is that?
Turns out that even though PIRG jumped through every hoop the commissioners set up in providing voluminous documentation on their organization and their college-aged paid canvassers, in the end the village board didn’t have the authority to block them anyhow.
After actively speaking up for free speech in council votes on this issue last September and October, Commissioners Rory Hoskins and Chris Harris went discouragingly silent when it was raised again at the May 13 council meeting. Neither made a motion for the item to be even discussed at the meeting and it therefore died.
Both Hoskins and Harris have since expressed regret that they didn’t speak up. They should be having serious second thoughts about their silence. Political bullies like Mannix should never go unchallenged. Every time. Every turn.