So now it is August. That would make it 16 months since the last Forest Park municipal election. It was in the run-up to that election that the candidates for village council, in a forum sponsored by the Review and the Chamber, actively put the topic of video gambling back on the agenda.
Despite a lopsided, non-binding citizen referendum just two years earlier opposing video gaming, the candidates all said the matter should be discussed again. We were surprised, but, OK, if the newly elected council wanted to reconsider the issue then that’s what we have elections for.
But the months passed, the issue was not publicly discussed by the council or mayor, the sense grew that a side deal was in the works with local bar owners to approve gaming. Grassroots opposition from residents and some business owners took hold, lawn signs blossomed across town and a genuine divisiveness took hold in Forest Park.
In the near total vacuum of elected leadership, a petition drive was launched by opponents of gaming and, shortly, we will see if adequate signatures have been collected to force either a binding (more signatures required) or non-binding (fewer necessary signatures) on the November ballot.
A couple of weeks back, the village government finally mustered a public forum on the topic. No sense after that of proposed next steps by the elected officials of our town.
So now we are under 100 days to the November election. And we’d respectfully suggest that the mayor and village council have simply abrogated any role in this matter. The people we chose to run the village have dithered for 16 months on an interesting but not impossible decision. Have to say we’ve not seen such a failure of leadership to simply listen, learn and decide an issue. But here we are.
We are not fans of citizen referendums. We elect our fellow citizens to represent us and to make choices. Here, though, our elected leaders have simply failed to act and so the decision must fall to voters.
The mayor and the village council now must sit on their hands and let voters decide — in either a binding or non-binding referendum — whether video gaming is allowed or, once and for all, banned in Forest Park.
This has been sorry and inexplicable leadership but it is where we are.
No gloves dodgeball
In a town defined by 16-inch softball — all hail the No-Gloves — here we are with a dodgeball tournament! The Forest Park Rotary Club is launching the first annual charity dodgeball tourney on Aug. 13.
Organizers, led by Village Commissioner Tom Mannix, say the team registrations are growing like topsy with a goal of 32 teams by showtime. This would be a double-elimination tournament divided into overhand and underhand categories. Seemingly there is more to dodgeball than we recall from grade school where all we remember is balls whizzing toward our heads.
Each team will choose a nonprofit that will benefit from the competition. In addition to teams placing first or second, there will be awards for costuming, cheering and effort.
Great to see Rotary looking to do good by having good fun.