Rumor has it there is a referendum on the March 18 ballot that asks us to approve a ½ cent sales/service tax for the Village of Forest Park to use on “public infrastructure.” If this is news to you, you’re in the majority.

Who puts a tax increasing referendum on the ballot but doesn’t talk about it? Or promote it? This is a stunningly unique voter outreach tactic.

Anyway, depending on who is talking, the village wants more of your Shop Local money to 1) regularly replace alleys (Gillian) 2) use the money only for infrastructure (Calderone) or 3) issue of large bond to put toward a flooding/sewer system overhaul (Mannix.) Harris objects to the wacky legal wording that offers “property tax relief” for the sales tax increase … and he’s on solid ground there. 

The intentions for more of our money don’t seem fully cooked yet, do they?

I’m still suffering whiplash from the 2009 flood aftermath when Christopher Burke told village property owners we were victims of wrong thinking and that, in reality, our basements were only water retention ponds for village system overflow and that we were a bit naïve, perhaps negligent, for not knowing that. I immediately thought of the maniac builders who have installed boilers, furnaces, hot water heaters, washers and dryers in our retention ponds for the past 100 years. Reckless, incompetent bastards – and they’re still doing it!

I don’t recall who Burke blamed for the communal crap forcing its way into the lower levels of our homes, crap from our neighbors and the folks using Thornton’s toilets after they shoot-up. 

Many floods later, Forest Park still has had no proper public discussion, has commissioned no study, has crafted not a ghost of a plan regarding Our Infrastructure. They don’t kick it around during council meetings, they haven’t tagged it for the so-called Comprehensive Plan update, and there is nothing about it on the village website. 

Under these circumstances, forking over more tax money for “infrastructure” improvements can make one quite reticent. 

Having no plan of our own, let’s see what the neighbors we like to associate with are doing. River Forest, like most Chicago-land muni’s, has thrown in the towel on a comprehensive solution, saying both the flooding and the crap is a ‘regional problem’ beyond their means or capacity to fix. Instead, River Forest has commissioned three studies and have real plans to upgrade two seriously assaulted areas. 

River Forest also offers property owners 50 percent rebates (up to $4,000) on devices homeowners install to protect their homes from communal crap.

Since Forest Park is doing nothing else, I propose we do the same. Let’s dedicate whatever funds are necessary to help any and all property owners who choose to invest in defensive measures, because offering $1,500 to 15 homeowners per year (or whatever) if they’re aware the program exists and can find the details/deadlines on the village website is also ‘disingenuous.’

Get with the program, village hall. Compensate property owners generously for the CRAP (Community Rebate for Anti-Assault Program) in their homes and rebuild some decrepit alleys. It’s a start? 

I won’t bring up our neighbors’ to the east the initiatives as it makes some village commissioners so cranky they hired the wrong CP consultants out of spite. And we see how well that’s working out for us.

Vote! March 18.

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