Forest Park, the bar capital of the near west suburbs, is struggling to find a way to contain COVID-19 while allowing bars to remain in business. And with their mixed record of enforcement, the bars aren’t always helping either.
We get that everyone here is fighting for their lives — or at least their livelihoods. We get there is a level of frustration and prickliness among all of us that comes from nearly a half year of quarantine.
We also see fraying and frustrated political leadership at village hall. Mayor Rory Hoskins sees a public health emergency and wants the executive power to battle it. The majority of the village council sees its authority abrogated by an overreaching mayor. Communication has broken down.
The result is that on a matter of imminent threat to the health of residents, our leaders are pulling apart, not together. We’re frustrated to see a measure to impose reasonable new health restrictions on bars which are not serving food go down to defeat at the village council. Some of the opposition, voiced in part by Commissioner Ryan Nero, has a libertarian streak, opposing the imposition of new limits on struggling small businesses. But Joe Byrnes, the longest serving commissioner, seems mainly frustrated that he was not consulted in advance, that copies of the proposed ordinance were not offered early.
It is a fair criticism of the mayor. And we hope he can hear it.
While we are supportive of decisive executive action in the face of what is still an alarming and deadly virus, the reality on the ground is that those executive powers lapsed in Forest Park in the early summer.
That leaves Hoskins’ strength in areas of persuasion but not imposition. He needs to lead a coalition of at least three members of a five-member body to be able to take the path he seeks. Even then, he may need to compromise some to achieve that goal.
This is a council form of government. It takes three votes to make a mayor a strong mayor.