It's been more than eight weeks since the new village board was sworn in. It's been nearly three months since the election. And Oak Park is still left without a complete board of trustees.
As recently as last week, Village President David Pope had yet to even settle on the name of a candidate who would be appointed to fill the seat he vacated. This, to say the least, does not inspire confidence.
The delay is disconcerting to us because it reflects poorly on this board's ability to quickly make time-sensitive decisions. It also worries us that the board is becoming mired in process, and is unable to effectively reach a compromise.
The process established by Pope is certainly well-intentioned. We, too, would like to see the would-be sixth trustee unanimously appointed. To do this, however, would require compromise on the part of all board members?#34;especially the new majority.
We believe it is Pope's right, if not responsibility, to put forward a candidate?#34;and even to establish a process for finding a candidate. Whether the rest of the board likes it or not, the role of president is in some ways distinctly different from that of trustee; that is why the position of president is put up for election.
It would be easier, of course, if the reigning majority voted in whoever they would like to. It would have been done by now. But this cannot be a battle between the power of the president and the power of the board majority. What we would like to see most is a compromise nominee?#34;someone that even Ray Johnson, the last VMA member of the board, could vote for.
This should be the goal that is before not only Pope, but the entire board. But if that has?#34;sadly?#34;proven to be too lofty of a goal, then perhaps it is time to just name someone, almost anyone, soon.
The smoke of 'zero tolerance'
ersonnel issues within government often prove messy, especially when they become public. See the case of Chief Rick Tanksley, or of former Brooks principal Flora Green for two quick examples.
How these problems are dealt with at village hall has been left to the village manager, as they should be under the village manager form of government, which we wholeheartedly support.
To what extent the village board can or should change?#34;at a policy level?#34;how employee disputes are resolved is something we will reserve judgment on for now.
But, we will say that the case of Butch Diederich?#34;-specifically?#34;is one that demands a review by a third party. Ideally village staff will come to that conclusion on their own, though we are not hopeful.
The firings of several employees during a public works scandal three years ago were based, in large part, on a "zero tolerance" policy. Diederich got caught in that policy though his offense was quite minor. It cost him his job after a long career as an Oak Park street sweeper.
We have concerns about "zero tolerance" policies. The approach is too simple, too black and white to discern real distinctions between varied actions. When you are holding a veteran employee's job, pension and health care in your hands the responsibility is greater than claiming "zero tolerance" and walking away.