“This is not Forest Park. We are better than this.”
This is a common sentiment when folks witness behavior that threatens to destroy their cherished beliefs and culture. In this case it was also a plea to vandals to stop their malicious insanity as it unfolded before our eyes. This was one of almost 450 online comments in the now infamous Letter to the Editor Witch Hunt.
Perhaps we used to be better, perhaps we will be better again, but right now we are surely not better.
To recap, in the July 16 Forest Park Review a newer resident wrote of her disenchantment with Forest Park after realizing the Mayor’s speed-bump/guardrail installation for his home was an abuse of taxpayer resources and trust. The Letter was not a screecher, simply well written and disheartened, with the harshest criticism being: “Just another small town, with a small town mayor, whose past success has led to a sense of entitlement that, apparently, has blurred the lines of responsible public service.”
And then the Orcs attacked.
It was something to behold. Non-stop, for almost two weeks, comments launched insane conspiracy theories, dished buckets of foul mud-like substance and basically lied, cheated and trashed the joint. IP addresses revealed that one person made most of the almost-450 comments under various pseudonyms.
Mind you, these were not attacks from competing candidates for office, but attempts to savage the reputation of a Forest Park citizen who had critical words for the mayor.
This latest vilification of a critic is notable only for its stamina and that it happened in public, in traditional media. It’s been happening for years – and is the reason we are not better.
Here’s a thought experiment: name a Forest Parker who publicly challenged or criticized Tony Calderone who has not been Marilyn Hill’ed? Take your time, we’ll wait.
I’ve read through miles of old Forest Park Review news and editorials, years of Calderone full page “editorials” in The Post, closely followed and commented on Forest Park Forums since 2006 and been quite attentive to the past two elections. I have pretty good connections to locals quite willing to share village hall’s designs on their enemy du jour, as do many of you.
It’s always the same story – ‘those people’ are attacking ‘me’ because they are jealous, bitter, malcontent, grand-standing, mentally ill, outsiders, and ‘those people’ hate Forest Park.
In fact, the vast majority of ‘those’ citizens have spoken out regarding village hall’s official decisions and behavior, which is their right and responsibility. You only think it’s ‘personal’ because you are dangerously confused as to the proper role of elected officials and treat village hall as your private club.
Forest Park already loses much of its normalcy (families w/kids) due to our non-viable public high school. Half our population is transient and often not rooted in the community. Our property taxes have skyrocketed in the past decade. (Neighbors in their owner occupied 3-flat pay $15kc are you kidding me?) Adding insult to injury, too many residents have dropped out, burned out, tuned out or moved out because village hall has lost its way.
We’re eating our own.
Some of our weaknesses are beyond resolution at the moment, but village hall is damned well fixable.
There is an election next spring, and vote we will. Perhaps in droves.
In the meantime, for the sake of all that is holy, can we all tap into our courage quotient to reclaim our civic pride – this is our community and these are our neighbors.
So at the next Fest, when one of them is whining about someone on their enemies list, one could say, “Please (always be polite), just shut up. That’s my neighbor you’re talking about. Now tell me, why is the Altenheim still lying fallow?”
Be sure to record this on your phone, ’cause we’re gonna need some laughs along the way.