If you have been reading the Chicago Tribune, you know that another home rule community has bitten the dust. This time it is a small municipality located very close to River Forest. Investigative reporters have found that before he retired in 2009, Bellwood village administrator Roy McCampbell drew a yearly salary of $472,000. This salary was obtained by simultaneously holding 10 different village positions.
Today he faces indictment on eight felony counts of theft, and four felony counts of official misconduct. Village officials say that, at the time, they did not know the administrator was making so much money. On the other hand McCampbell told the Tribune that village officials signed-off on all of his pay. He added, “I didn’t hold a gun to anybody’s head to get this.”
Aside from his salary, McCampbell received a car and gas paid for by taxpayers, who also covered his pension contributions and premiums for health and life insurance. (Chicago Tribune, 8/16/12)
We all know who the ultimate victim will be after the blame game has ended — the Bellwood taxpayer, the working stiffs who faithfully pay their taxes, raise their kids, and hope to stay above water on their mortgages.
This situation is not, of course, an inevitable result of home rule, but a possibility created by unfettered power in the hands of elected officials and an uninformed electorate.
Lest any River Forest resident pooh-pooh the possibility that such a catastrophe could ever visit our community, may I ask this question, “How many village board meetings have you attended in the past three years and with what frequency?” I’ve attend more board meetings than I care to remember and can attest to the fact that, with very few exceptions, most attendees are the occasional newspaper reporter, some RF employees, and residents who are requesting a variation on a building permit. It has also been my experience that the average resident is woefully uninformed about village government; a surprising number do not even read a community newspaper.
I only hope that those residents who are inclined to vote in favor of home rule are also inclined to spend the second and fourth Mondays of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at a board of trustees meeting in order to monitor its proceedings.
Should you not be so inclined, please vote “No” on home rule.