Post-election tension between Mayor Anthony Calderone and Commissioner Chris Harris surfaced briefly at Monday night’s village council meeting. Calderone, who defeated Harris in a close mayoral contest, disputed Harris’ characterization of communication between the village and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD).
At the March 23 council meeting, Commissioner Harris suggested the village should resurrect its rain barrel program. During his report to the council, Harris stated, “I was talking with some residents about working on a rain barrel program that we used to have that has gone by the wayside. … Forest Park fits qualifications for the rain barrel program. I’m hoping that the mayor will put his John Hancock on that and we can get that going and residents of Forest Park will get a free rain barrel delivered to their home if we put that forward.”
Referring to the discontinued program, Calderone said, “We had a very active rain barrel program going for a while. For whatever reason, the requests just plummeted. … We discontinued that particular program. … We have been made aware of the MWRD program and the paperwork is making its way to my desk.”
“Seven months later? That’s good.” Harris responded, then accused the mayor of repeatedly ignoring phone calls and emails from the MWRD to restart the program.
Following the March 23rd meeting, the Review obtained a copy of the correspondence between the mayor’s office and the MWRD. The letter, which explains details of the program, is dated Feb. 25, 2015, which, according to the mayor’s office, proves Harris’ seventh month timeline inaccurate. However, it is unclear if previous correspondence between the mayor and the MWRD exists.
Harris again asked about the program at the April 13 meeting. “It has been three weeks and I still don’t see the rain barrel program for approval on our agenda, so I was hoping you could update us. I know you said last time, it was on the way to your desk. Maybe it’s sitting beside your desk now. … Could you give us an update of how much longer we have to wait? Maybe before summer or next fall, we can actually get it done.”
Calderone refuted Harris’ timeline stating, “The communication from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District turned out to be not as far back in time as you had portrayed.” Then he explained the village is still in the process of restarting the rain barrel program.
Harris responded, “I’m sorry, you were being smug. … Oh yeah. That’s Tony Calderone.”
Commissioner Mark Hosty then interjected and asked about the date of the MWRD letter. Calderone stated, “Anybody who wants to see the letter, it is a public document. It was positively, 100 percent dated, February 23rd.” [The letter obtained by the Review is dated Feb. 25].
When asked if he had anything left in his report, Harris responded, “Happy Spring.”
— Tom Vogel