A bit of agenda housekeeping at the Forest Park Village Council meeting resulted in emotional responses from commissioners Mark Hosty and Tom Mannix about another government body: the District 91 elementary school board.
At issue was the rescinding of three-party agreements with Redspeed Illinois LLC, to install traffic cameras on stop-arms of D91 school buses. The village had voted for the agreement with Redspeed, but the school board rejected the contract in February, saying they didn’t believe there was sufficient data showing that stop-arm cameras were effective deterrents to traffic violators.
With one leg of the three-legged stool gone, Mayor Anthony Calderone asked to rescind the open ordinance and cancel the agreement with Redspeed.
Hosty and Mannix said they were disappointed. At a December 2013 meeting attended by Redspeed representative and former Melrose Park State Senator Greg Zito, they were firm supporters of the agreement.
Redspeed controls the red-light cameras at Forest Park intersections and is a generous donor to the campaigns of Mayor Anthony Calderone and the Forest Park PAC, donating $750 in September of 2013, shortly before the stop-arm camera contract was first proposed.
In December, Mannix said he wanted Forest Park to be the first municipality to install the cameras after new legislation went into effect.
At the May 12 meeting, Hosty proposed keeping the toothless ordinance on the books, and took a shot at the school board.
“If the school board were to change their mind in the future and decide to actually care about the safety of the children, we’d have to pass this ordinance once again, so why is it necessary to remove it?” he asked.
Mannix was also critical of the school board, stating — incorrectly — that the other government body hadn’t even voted on the contract.
“They have no spine and simply tabled it indefinitely,” he asserted. He was corrected by Calderone who read a letter from Supt. Louis Cavallo saying the school board took action not to approve the contract with Redspeed.
Mannix, commissioner of traffic and safety, said residents attend his committee meetings and complain about drivers “driving like it’s the autobahn” near schools.
“I think the school board is vehemently wrong on this issue,” Mannix said. “There’s apparently a disconnect between child safety in the street and what the school district views as child safety.”
But Village Attorney Nick Peppers said there was no point in keeping an ordinance on the books if it is not in play.
“The village doesn’t run the school buses; you need the school district,” Peppers said. “There’s no point in having a tri-party agreement out there that is not going to be approved.”
Commissioner Chris Harris said he thought the school board took the proper action.
“My understanding is [the school board] asked for research showing if [stop-arm cameras were] a deterrent, and they couldn’t even get research from Redspeed.
“All it is is a cash-grab and you know it,” he said.