River Forest welcoming resolution still weeks away

Residents call for transparency, inclusion

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By Thomas Vogel

Staff Reporter

Work continued, July 10, on a welcoming resolution for River Forest as village trustees discussed a working draft at their board meeting and took public comments from some of the roughly 100 residents gathered at Roosevelt Middle School.

As planned, no official vote was taken. The July 10 meeting was the latest step toward adopting a resolution spelling out protections for undocumented village residents and visitors, as other neighboring communities — including Forest Park, Oak Park and Evanston — have in recent months. Village President Catherine Adduci said she was unsure if a resolution would come to a vote at the board's next meeting in mid-August, but she is leaning that way.

"The point we hope to accomplish tonight is that we'll have this open conversation with all of you here and understand where all the trustees [stand], what they like, what they dislike," Adduci said. "The hope is that if we can build some reasonable consensus around language we can adopt, I see this going to the next board meeting, perhaps for a vote."

At times the meeting turned into a back-and-forth between seated residents and village trustees. Some residents urged transparency and inclusion in the drafting process, asking to see a copy of the working draft, which village officials have not made public. They did, however, read out portions of the draft.

"There is nothing to hide. We are just trying to get through it," Adduci said. "We're not trying to do this in the dark. … I promise you will get a copy of this way ahead of time so you can comment, you can critique, you can do whatever you'd like, way before we vote. I promise you that."

Process aside, a handful of residents, including local clergy, local activists, a Dominican University professor and a local pro bono attorney, pressed for a more strongly worded resolution. Other residents said Oak Park's ordinance should be the example for River Forest, not Forest Park's recently adopted resolution, which trustees said they've used as a framework.

"The Oak Park resolution is much stronger and much bolder," River Forest resident Tim Brandhorst said, to loud applause. "That's the model we should be following."

Adduci stressed that the board needs to "build some consensus" around a draft document.

"You can tell the concern is that the welcoming resolution will be a bit weak and not as strong as we'd like it to be," River Forest resident Mark Carroll said. "This is the second meeting, President Adduci, I've heard the word 'consensus' and I'm just a little concerned that you're looking for a unanimous result and I think we should look for a humane result."

This was the first opportunity for trustees to discuss a working draft, which they first saw on July 6. Trustees said the draft includes parts of the Illinois Trust Act, a bill currently before Gov. Bruce Rauner, as well as language based on trustees' suggestions from the board's last meeting in June.

At that meeting several trustees suggested tweaks, including clarifying certain terms in the draft and using consistent language throughout the document. At the July 10 meeting, Trustee Respicio Vazquez again advocated for specific language preventing village funds to be put toward "immigration matters" unless explicitly directed by federal or state law or a court order.

"I want to limit our local taxes for local use," Vazquez said. "We have plenty of other federal and state unfunded mandates."

Village Trustee Susan Conti, Adduci said, was on vacation and not in attendance.

 

Reader Comments

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Bruce Kline  

Posted: July 16th, 2017 12:39 PM

I agree Tom, it is confusing in that we enforce borders of school districts as to where students reside but we are not going to enforce the borders of the USA. And I agree with Barbara, we should respect the law. And we should obey the law of the land - even if inconvenient. If we don't agree then change the law. And the inconvenient fact here, the law of the land, is that communities such as Oak Park and River Forest are obligated under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to provide free education - from K thru 12 - to the children of illegal aliens (Plyler, 1982). And that - as inconvenient as it is - IS the law of the land!

Barbara Joan  

Posted: July 16th, 2017 11:49 AM

Tom--oppressives doublespeak on issues of great importance in a manner that always gives THEM a way to protect what is important to them;; this kind of disregard for law & order rarely effects said elites..free education & services are provided for visitors with visas--many overstaying and thus here illegally, illegal aliens, and some from Chicago. No worries, keep taxing people until they can no longer live here so those who don't belong here get a free ride.

Janet Saeger  

Posted: July 15th, 2017 5:19 PM

Thank you Ed McDevitt. I was at meeting the other night, too, and I agree w/ you completely

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: July 15th, 2017 10:56 AM

Should we assume that the local schools no longer verify if a student lives in the school district before allowing them to attend the school. Because it would be silly to enforce the borders of the school districts if we are not going to enforce the borders of the USA.

Ed McDevitt from River Forest  

Posted: July 14th, 2017 11:05 PM

Very disappointed in some of my friends and compatriots who are in a snit about the Village of River Forest Welcoming Resolution deliberations. One of them has a Facebook post addressing the Village President as "Madame McConnell," and in Mitch This is not only totally uncalled for, it is completely inappropriate. Several who were present at the meeting are still snarling that they were not given copies of the draft of the resolution. There was neither the intent nor the need to present an audience draft. It was a draft that the Board was deliberating about in open session - as they legally must - and they needed to have the opportunity to do just that: deliberate. The Board took many comments from the audience prior to their deliberations. This was a first draft. Not a presentation product: a DRAFT to be worked on by the Board. The promise is and was that once they have a draft they like, they'll present it to the public for input and feedback. What is it about people that they do not understand how such bodies must work? The Board is elected to do the business of the electorate. The public is not the "Committee of the Whole" at such meetings, and these meetings are not free-for-all public forums. The angst during and after the meeting was and is misplaced. The name calling and characterization of the Village Board President was and is an insult and an apology is in order. Get a grip, people. We're getting what we want, however slowly. This is an important and serious resolution and is being taken seriously. We need to bring our best civil and mature selves to these meetings and to the deliberations.

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