Where to start on the topic of last week’s very odd village government budget workshop? The legitimate gripe of two commissioners that they were not provided the same budget documents as the mayor and the finance committee chief. Mayor Anthony Calderone’s goofy march-around-the-room histrionics. The absurdity of expecting individual commissioners to provide financial insights into the specific village departments they purportedly manage under the daft commissioner form of government. The question of why all this data wasn’t simply loaded fully and fairly onto the iPads the village government bought for each elected official for this very purpose.
When you hold a preliminary budget hearing and the budget gets three inches in the local paper while the sniping and moaning gets 20-inches you know a meeting has gone awry. And this one went sideways quick.
The concept of the meeting was fine even if a bit different in format from previous years. The idea was to start the annual budget process with a broad overview and to take advice from individual commissioners on their departments.
But then Commissioner Rory Hoskins rightly objected that he and two other commissioners were not supplied with the volume of detail as others. He noted that in six years on the council he had never been given less information than others at a public meeting.
Hoskins’ reference to six years in office led Calderone to reminisce on his long years as mayor. “In the 14 years I’ve been mayor I’ve never experienced this type of drama that I’ve experienced in the last six years because we have a couple of commissioners that like to come down here and like to overdramatize everything.”
With that he stood with his three-ring binder and took a long walk around the tables and stood in front of Hoskins plopping the binder on the table. Then snapped it away when Hoskins said, “Can I keep this?”
Well at least Tony Calderone was not being overly dramatic.
On a council where there are strong political divisions and increasing distrust between the three-person majority and the two-person minority, providing different levels of financial data was a mistake, plain and simple. Hoskins was right to object. Calderone, Hosty and Commissioner Tom Mannix made their bad defense poorly.
Finally, and we know eyes will roll at village hall when we again criticize the obsolete commissioner form of government, but why would anyone expect Tom Mannix to know anything in particular about Streets and Public Improvements, for Hoskins to be expert about Public Health and Safety? The village has an administrator and department heads to know the details of day-to-day operations.