By Dan Haley
I don't like Chris Welch, the newly-sworn-in state rep from the 7th District. Not a lot of people I don't like. But Chris Welch makes that list. Now he represents River Forest, Forest Park and other Proviso Township towns in Springfield. Given politics in Illinois, he is likely to be there a long time.
And right out of the gate, Welch makes the kind of arrogant, right-in-plain-sight move that I'd expect from him. He appointed a convicted felon — a corrupt cop — to run his district office in Westchester. Guy "Ric" Cervone was a high-ranking police official in Melrose Park until a few years ago. That's when he, along with Police Chief Vito Scavo and several other cops were indicted by the feds. What had they been up to? Scavo and company were running a private security company out of the police department, and they were using Melrose Park cops to staff it on village time, along with using police cars and the necessary gasoline.
Now that's a bold thing to do. Stupid. Wrong. But bold. Just the sort of thing that would appeal to Chris Welch.
Cervone changed his plea to guilty the day before his trial was to start and wound up going to prison for just four months along with garnering a fine and community service. He told the judge he was afraid and had made a mistake. I'd say. And when grown men in positions of power consciously abuse their government office in a corrupt plot to enrich themselves, then there are consequences. One of those consequences ought to be that you don't turn around and get rehired by a government body. Ever.
He was on the inside and he did wrong. He was on the inside and he could not be trusted.
Don't let him back on the inside, especially of Illinois state government which is already known for its sleaze.
Now over on our ForestParkReview.com website where we first broke this story — since we've been covering Chris Welch for over a decade as he has run the Proviso Township High School District to dust — we are receiving dozens of comments. Most of them are appalled that we aren't Christian and American enough to believe in second chances.
That three dozen of those anonymous comments came from a single IP computer address perhaps suggests a certain stoking of public opinion.
A 17-year-old kid who steals a car gets a second chance. A young man who gets caught up in drugs gets a second chance. A guy in his mid-40s who has reached the upper levels of the Melrose Park Police Department and then chooses to commit crime against his oath, well, he gets a second chance, too. Just not in government.
Unless he is a friend of State Rep. Chris Welch.
Hiring friends and family is standard operating procedure for Welch. That is one of the hallmarks of his tenure running the Proviso schools as a fiefdom. Then there are the distinctions of a school system with about the worst test scores in the state, where the finances are so out of control that the state government stepped in several years ago to take over. So which is more ironic? That Illinois, perhaps the greatest fiscal basket case among all 50 states, steps in to run Welch's school district's finances? Or that Welch now draws a paycheck from the state?
Chris Welch is not a good person. He is all that is wrong with politics. And he is out to prove it as our new state rep.