Getting swept away by the emotion of the moment, saying things we may regret later?#34;most of us would put that in the category “we’re only human.” But when the human also happens to be a village trustee, we hold him or her to a slightly higher standard.

We expect our elected officials not to get swept away by the emotion of the moment because the nature of governance is deliberative. We expect officeholders to keep their heads and think before they speak. By that measure, Trustee Bob Milstein came up far short of expectations recently, when he went off half-cocked after a union-organized protest at village hall, where he called the outgoing village manager a liar and urged other high level staff members to seek employment elsewhere.

First the caveats: Milstein had every right to be at the protest and show his support. In fact, that kind of dedication and involvement is laudable. And his behavior doesn’t diminish the issue he was trying to draw attention to: management-labor relations at village hall.

It’s the way Milstein drew attention to it that makes him the target of well-deserved criticism. Not only did he over-react, but in his response in today’s Viewpoints (p. 30), he shows no awareness of having gone too far and fails to concede that he probably could have handled the situation in a more effective way.

That reinforces the longstanding perception of Bob Milstein as a stubborn, over-emotional, loose cannon. Milstein has worked hard to overcome that reputation in order to be seen as a credible leader. But he keeps suffering relapses, and this was a big one. His failure to recognize that is troubling.

The other longstanding rap on Milstein is that he panders to the unions at village hall, something his opponents will be only too eager to brand him with again.

Village hall is currently in transition. The village manager is departing, as are several top staff members. Now is not the time to unsettle things even further. Village trustees in particular need to keep their heads.

Bob Milstein faces re-election (if he decides to run again) a year from now. He is the leader of the board majority. Voters have a right to expect more of him than he showed recently. An effective leader does not get swept away by the emotion of the moment. He calls attention to perceived injustice in a deliberate, pointed, persuasive?#34;but not outrageous?#34;manner.

We would like to see Bob Milstein acknowledge publicly that he went too far. Then we would like to see an open and honest airing of labor grievances (if any) at village hall.

A badly botched election

On the other hand, Cook County makes Bob Milstein look like a consummate professional. Last week’s primary election even made Florida look competent by comparison. First Cook County Jail escapes, now botched election returns. And a full week later, they still haven’t finished counting all the votes.

It’s yet another reminder that local taxpayers are not represented well?#34;indeed hardly represented at all?#34;by this cesspool of ignorance and inefficiency. Instead of accountability, voters chose a 76-year-old machine hack who may be permanently impaired by a recent stroke over a promising, young, healthy reformer as the Democratic nominee for board president. Suburban Cook County voted one way, Chicago voters another. It’s no wonder the Cook County board virtually ignores us.

If John Stroger proves incapable of holding office, the Democratic machine picks his successor, and the status quo is preserved.

But none of that will matter come November if Cook County can’t figure out how to tally all the votes.

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