I’m not going to repeat the slew of good government reasons River Forest should declare its independence from Springfield by voting for home rule on November 6. They’re explained online at http://www.rfhomerule.info.
Instead let’s address the two elephants in the room that the home rule opponent raises: trust and a handful of fiscally-irresponsible governments.
Who do you trust to set the rules for River Forest government: the Illinois General Assembly or our own River Forest Village Board of Trustees?
Should we declare our independence from the General Assembly by voting to adopt home rule or should we let outsiders like House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, and all those downstate legislators control what our village can and cannot do?
Who do you think has our best interests at heart? The downstate legislators we can’t vote for and who could care less about River Forest or the adverse impacts state legislation often has on us, or our own village trustees whom we alone elect, who are our neighbors, who have a personal interest in River Forest, and who live with the consequences of the laws they adopt?
That’s a pretty easy choice. Why would we want to continue to be among the 20 percent of Illinois residents who live without home rule and are subject to the political whims of legislators who don’t care about the quality of life in River Forest and often deride communities like ours?
Why wouldn’t we want to place control of our village in the hands of our neighbors, people we can call and actually influence, people who care about River Forest because they live here too?
And why wouldn’t we want to have the same control over our local government that 80 percent of Illinoisans have?
The most vocal opponent of home rule keeps bringing up the strawman of bankruptcy of three medium-sized charter cities in California, out of 109 charter cities — their equivalent of home rule. He can’t resist reminding folks of the irresponsible behavior of the governing boards of five of Illinois’ 209 home rule municipalities.
Just like businesses, some governments are well run and others are not. Go beyond the alarmist rhetoric and you realize that 98 percent of Illinois’ home rule villages and cities — and 97 percent of California’s charter cities — have not run into the sort of misconduct the opponent to River Forest home rule raises.
We’ve got everything to gain with home rule and nothing to lose. If we’re unhappy with the decisions of our village board, we can replace at least half of it every two years. If we’re unhappy with the decisions of the General Assembly, we are powerless.
Home rule places us in charge of our own destiny. I trust the people of River Forest and our village trustees who are accountable to us alone to govern us far better than the faceless politicians in Springfield who act as though they are accountable to no one.
Who do you really trust with River Forest’s future? Springfield or our neighbors?