Madison Street needs leadership. 

And this week Dan Watts, president of Forest Park National Bank, provides it in an honest assessment reported by Tom Holmes. 

Watts, who served on the village council as a young man in the 1990s, acknowledges the “big trough” the economic implosion of the past decade has caused to Main Streets like ours. And, he said, many retailers struggle to adapt to the new online imperative.

Forest Park, he says, needs active and professional help in shifting and setting the direction of Madison Street. He prefers a consultant who can step in now and help make that plan for the next five years but not become a permanent cost to taxpayers.

This is a voice that needs to be heard. While all the current discussion is about video gaming, there are broader concerns that need to be addressed.

Corrupt or inept?

 Thank goodness the new board majority at Proviso High School District 209 wrested control from Theresa Kelly before she made any more allegedly hurtful and rude comments to her colleagues.

Words hurt, you know.

But then so do totally screwed up, no-bid, multimillion-dollar contracts that aren’t reviewed by legal counsel or voted on by the school board. Or the amendment to said contract which promised a politically connected contractor that the district would pay out any costs not covered by the district’s insurance carrier and that — get this — the district would pay the legal fees if ever the contractor sued the district. Which, of course, it did.

Did we mention that the president of the board at that time and the vice president of the board now after the recent coup, is Dan Adams, not that really mean Theresa Kelly?

Adams defense is that he doesn’t recall signing the amendment to the contract. “Sometimes it’s late and you’re just signing things because you want to go home.” That is his excuse. And, for good measure, he blames the rest of the board and the administration. “You expect the people that work for you to do their job and look these over,” said Adams. 

He also said he didn’t remember if he asked if anyone in the administration or the for-hire lawyers had taken a few minutes to review the document that gave carte blanche to Restore Construction. The district’s current counsel said it has determined the document was never reviewed.

At some point in this larceny, the district’s insurance company, Travelers Indemnity, had had enough, claiming it had already paid out more than the initial estimate, that Restore Construction could not provide documentation for its claims. Of course, Restore then sued the district. And the district’s defense, hysterically, pathetically, was that the contract wasn’t valid because the board had never voted on it.

Adams also denied any political connection in the hiring of Restore, a regular contributor to Proviso politicians to whom Adams owes his living. “It’s absolutely ridiculous. I had no idea who Restore Construction was.”

Sadly, that actually sounds credible to us. Adams has made a legacy in elected office of being propped up and pointed toward.