After extended negotiations which, we've heard, got rather contentious at times, everyone at the village and the police department must have breathed a sigh of relief last night when the village council approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the police department.
We were particularly relieved to learn that an agreement had been reached on a sensible sick-day policy for police officers. Allowing 80 sick days per year would have been ridiculous, even comical, for any police departmentâ€"or pretty much any other job for that matter.
But for a small police department which relies on each officer to be at work as often as possible to maintain its maximum quality of service and avoid paying excessive overtime, such a policy becomes dangerous. As the current Dan Harder hearing has demonstrated, the old policy allowed police officers, who may have taken more days off than they really needed, to contest efforts at discipline by simply saying, "I didn't break any rules."
The new policy, which allows officers to take 18 sick days per year, may still be slightly excessive (Oak Park, by comparison, allows 13 per year). Still, it is at least a return to the realm of sanity which will help create a better functioning police department.
All parties involved deserve credit for working together to eliminate a goofy and unexplainable oddity in the village's policies which, though usually ignored, created a loophole allowing potential for abuse.
Park board remains focused
Considering the controversy that has dominated other local units of government in recent months, it was encouraging to see the park board quickly put to rest a potentially heated issue and move forward to concentrate on matters of greater substance.
When debating whether to cap attendance at an upcoming national convention, it would have been easy for the commissioners to hurl personal attacks at one another and revisit past campaign talking points in order to gain the upper hand.
Instead, the board managed to put personal acrimony to the side and handled the matter as a policy debate. All were given an opportunity to express their views, a vote was taken, and the board moved on with no new grudges created or old ones revived.
In addition, it seems that the five-year renovation project, which got off to a somewhat rocky start due to unexpectedly high construction costs, is back on track and being handled professionally.
We look forward to seeing the district's renovated main building next year.