As a citizen of River Forest and a taxpayer to the River Forest Park District, I wonder when the RFPD board became the Politburo? First, Chairman Dudek sacks board member Holly Hirst as board secretary because he decided she wouldn’t be around much longer. Then he conducts the bulk of the meeting in executive session. What’s next? Will the chairman declare Ms. Hirst a nonperson and photoshop her out of any picture in park district publications?

On another note, it is obvious to anyone paying attention that Mr. Dudek plans to sue the village over the lights at Keystone Park issue. While I favor the installation of lights, I believe that a suit on the matter is a waste of time and, more importantly, tax dollars. The Illinois Supreme Court has already decided in Wilmette Park District v. the Village of Wilmette that a park district must comply with the zoning requirements imposed by the village. While I am not a municipal law attorney, I can read. The only difference between the Wilmette Park District case and the present dispute between the RFPD and the village board is the names of the parties to the suit.

Nonetheless, Mr. Dudek seems hell bent on suing the village. Even as an outsider, it is clear to me that he is dedicated to suing more to vindicate himself than anything else. He has made it plain that he is unwilling to compromise since he has decided that the lights are a must. Unfortunately for Mr. Dudek, the Illinois Supreme Court has held, in essence, that his opinion in this regard does not matter. The village has the final say about whether the park district can install lights.

I believe that the main responsibilities of any elected official are to conduct the public’s business in as transparent a fashion as reasonably practical and to be cautious when it comes to spending the taxpayers’ money. With the exception of Ms. Hirst, Mr. Dudek and the RFPD board fail on both counts. Too much park district business is being done outside the rightful glare of the taxpayers under the dubious cover of executive sessions. Moreover, the bill for legal fees over this lights issue is already large and is sure to grow exponentially if the RFPD decides to challenge the decision of the village on this issue.

At bottom, Mr. Dudek is free to tilt at all of the windmills he desires if that is what it takes to salve his bruised ego. He just shouldn’t expect the taxpayers to pay for his mount and lance.

Thomas Cargie
River Forest

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