This story has dragged on too long. Far too long. The turmoil in the River Forest Police Department has been clear to most observers. But resolving the issues that plague the department seems anything but clear to the River Forest village board, where there appears to be far more concern about saving face and preventing one faction or the other of this fractious board from getting credit or blame for the fallout.


But dragging this out not only keeps the department embroiled in increasingly distracting controversy, it is also getting more and more expensive. The village has already spent a small fortune in legal fees investigating various allegations, on settling lawsuits brought by officers and on assessing police operations.


The latest development in this long-running saga involves the hiring of Brad Woods, one of the consultants who produced a critical report on the department for the board’s police committee-this in spite of the fact that Woods, and co-author Donald Zoufal, specifically noted in their report that it would be ill-advised and inappropriate to hire the authors to conduct the work they recommended in their report.


It gives the appearance of conflict of interest and establishes an undesirable precedent.


River Forest police officers issued their now famous no-confidence vote in department administrators well over a year ago. Yet the issues continue unaddressed and unresolved. Dancing around the issues looks more and more like a charade. The board and village president seem more concerned with behind-the-scenes politicking than resolving the problems.


The public is being poorly served. It’s time to stop the gamesmanship and take action.


Your endangered ash


Conducting research recently, we came across a headline in the
Aug. 21, 1968, Oak Leaves under the tag “In River Forest.”


“Maples and green ash to replace sick elms.”


Oops.


The emerald ash borer beetle is upon us, having been confirmed in both
Oak Park and River Forest. The ash borer wreaks much greater havoc than either the Asian long-horned beetle or Dutch elm disease. There isn’t much defense against it. The fact is, we’re going to lose a lot of ash trees.


Too bad we didn’t just cut them all down a year ago and sell them to Louisville Slugger, which traditionally uses ash trees to make wooden baseball bats.


The two villages are about to spend a lot of money (in a time of budget shortfalls) to take down or chemically treat infested parkway ash trees. But homeowners also need to pay attention to their own property and educate themselves about this infestation. The information is readily available online and in brochures at both village halls.


Standardized screw-ups


A pattern is developing. For the second year in a row, results from the ISATs, the standardized tests that determine whether local schools have achieved “adequate yearly progress,” according to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, have been delayed-this time because of wide fluctuations in grading.


Educators have long predicted that relying too much on standardized testing would eventually prove a problem, and their concerns seem validated.


A functioning democracy depends on two critical components: elections and education. At the moment, it doesn’t look as if this country is capable of competently managing either one.

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