By Sharon Daly
Since the somewhat prickly induction, the next two village council meetings consisted of adopting 25 resolutions that paid some bills, dealt with vendor contracts and got new infrastructure going, which, by the way, is funded by last year's sales tax increase.
And Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas was heartily promoted to chief of police. Congrats, Chief.
And Forest Park is finally getting MWRD's rail barrels.
So everything is copacetic with the new village council; the newbies are getting tremendous support from staff and their operating is coming into focus.
Commish Novak (Streets and Alleys) asks the most questions — bright, "how does this work" type questions. For instance, regarding a contract with a new vendor, only by asking the question did Novak and citizens discover that we are hiring a firm to dispose of electronics that are being dumped in our alleys and at Public Works.
It appears this is a sign-of-the-times problem, as the state has mandated that electronics cannot be tossed as garbage, but they haven't funded the mandate, nor has the private sector devised a profitable business model to address the issue.
Commish Entler (Public Property) anticipated having a few weeks to get her feet wet but instead got baptism by fire, what with sidewalks needing fixing and trees falling over willy-nilly.
Commish Byrnes (Accounts & Finance) suggested the council put together a 100 Days report, based on promises made during the campaign and to inform constituents what projects/issues they are working on. The council mostly agreed although it made Mannix a bit nervous (Whoa, cowboy! Let's not get carried away here), so we'll see where Byrnes decides to take his Fine Idea.
New beginnings stir hopeful hearts, so keep those fresh ideas and questions coming. And remember, the five of you are equals in the Commissioner form of government.
Another Fine Idea the three new commish have professed is to involve and unite all Forest Parkers in, you know, Climate Change. It's probably too soon to initiate "We're all in this together" but we hope it is still top-of-mind.
Yes, we're a small town but there are a few things that apply to any town:
1) there will always be disagreements on policy
2) electeds are held to a higher standard
3) it's not personal, it's professional and
4) government always needs oversight.
Regarding government oversight, Vox60130 has just launched a community survey that has received a terrific response rate via direct email. The response to one question has surprised me: When asked which Vox activities were most valuable to Forest Park, so far the top choice is Watchdog Presence.
I did not see that coming but probably should have. Our spring election sprouted watchdogging as we've not seen before and an unexpected synchronicity developed between the entities: Forest Park Review, Facebook's Forest Park Townhall, Lotus' School Board Focus West, Dwyer's Proviso Facts, and even the Better Government Association played a part.
The local watchdogging continues in our schools: Citizens are recapping D209 board meetings on Facebook and a couple of citizens have jumpstarted a solid move to re-evaluate D91's Spanish curriculum in middle school. Very exciting stuff.
Perhaps Vox should offer a workshop on Watchdoggging? You can let us know by taking the Vox survey: only 10 questions, respondents are anonymous, it's facilitated by SurveyMonkey, and the link is on the front page at vox60130.org. Or you can take the survey on Facebook's Forest Park Townhall. We look forward to your thoughts.
Also, if you would like to explore being a board member and/or becoming a member, email Vox at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our annual meeting is 7 p.m., June 24 at Brian Boru's (in the Snug). I will buy any/all newcomers, including David Webb, their beverage of choice.
(Disclosure: I presently serve as a Vox60130 board member.)