By Sharon Daly
The Historical Society of Forest Park may need to eke out a bit more space on April 7, which could go down as a most memorable, remarkable and historic day for Forest Park.
The Proviso Together/D209 campaign produced an "only in our imaginations" triumph and all the cliches apply — David v. Goliath, good v. evil, people v. the machine. The battle was so brief, hatched barely five months ago, most of us missed it — including the Proviso Powers That Be. Or is it the Proviso Powers That Used To Be?
Illuminating explanations and a million words are bursting to be written to analyze this historic breakthrough, and don't expect dry reading with this amazing cast of characters and riveting narrative.
"On Nov. 1, 2014 the Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor in Forest Park, Illinois, a small village of 14,000 residents, hosted a curious meeting of 20 or so suburban parents whose simple notion was that children in their community deserve a proper high school. By April 7, they successfully flipped generations of greed, graft and grift."
This is one for the books, and if the promise is fulfilled, you can take that literally.
A momentous journey is beginning for our current heroes and so, "May the road rise to meet you and may the wind be always at your back" although we're pretty sure you've got this. Thank you, in advance, for your efforts.
Our village race was memorable, too, but not in a hopeful way. Tony Calderone won his fifth term as mayor in what can only be labeled a pyrrhic victory. Toward the end of the campaign, tactics were employed that crossed all boundaries of civil and civic culture.
Two anonymous mailers were especially heinous. The anti-Calderone piece was a twofer, with a nasty attack on Calderone on one side, and a weird attempt at D209 voter confusion on the other. Quintessential Proviso Way style. Take it up with your Proviso enemies, Mr. Mayor, and use FPPAC money to expose the Citizens for a Better Forest Park creeps.
The anti-Harris mailer had a coordinated Facebook page and appeared five days before Election Day, spouting odious half-truths and aspersions. From the darkness of a local hidey-hole, the attacks launched after the last pre-election Forest Park Review was published; to avoid both attribution and fact-checking. Amazingly, fact checking was quickly done and the dark charges were refuted by fact and legal affidavits. The whole saga was published in this newspaper and on local Internet sites.
Yes, Calderone denounced and denied responsibility for such tactics. On April 4, he posted to Facebook that "Nobody on my team is responsible for any negative mail pieces. Each of my team members took a pledge to stay above board and that means each and everyone on my team." Quintessential Calderone style since 1999.
Unfortunately, not everyone got that memo and a vocal member of Calderone's team proceeded to carry every piece of bogus "evidence" from the dark Facebook page, Forest Park Facts, over to the established Forest Park Town Hall group. The info dump only stopped late on election night, at which point the five-day-old Forest Park Facts site went dead. Poof.
There is no plausible deniability here for the mayor.
This isn't our first rodeo, folks. Arm's-length evisceration electioneering has been the trademark tactic toward every Calderone challenger since Lorraine Popelka in 1999. The same tactics have been used against any and all serious opponents, including Steinbach, Doolin, Hoskins, Tellalian and now, Harris.
Calderone's "win at any cost" approach has damaged the very fabric of our community and divided our people. While the wish to forget or deny is understandable, it is undeniably unhealthy. "The Mannix Effect" has been the technological nail in our coffin.
But, but, but … both sides do it! No, both sides do not do it.
At this point, the challenge for each of us is to acknowledge, commit to long-term memory and, only then, move on.
Personally, I'm going with that old stand-by: Trust, but verify.
Perhaps Mayor Calderone will return rightful powers back to the four other officials we've just elected, and the village can get busy governing instead of ruling. Since that possibility is a longshot, our focus needs to be on the three newly elected commissioners — Byrnes, Entler and Novak — who don't need the mayor's blessing to fulfill their responsibilities.
Because three beats two, every time.