Honestly, we don’t have much patience for local government officials who don’t believe in the ability of local government to solve problems and strengthen community.

In an election week where the very purpose of, and faith in, government was on the national ballot, we’re disgruntled to see two River Forest trustees doubt that there is value in elevating the village’s sustainability committee to official commission status.

First we think sustainability ought to be about at the top priority of every agency of government. Stewardship of this fragile planet is big picture but also reliant on the small, everyday actions of each town and each citizen. River Forest has been slow to understand this and so kudos to the volunteers who have founded and energized this local movement.  

The sustainability committee was created two years ago as a collaborative effort between village government and the River Forest Parks Foundation. It has done good work.

Now a proposal to elevate it to full status as a village government commission has run into static. Two trustees, Mike Gibbs and Tom Dwyer, objected to that step. Gibbs, a once, and possibly future, candidate for village president, said, “Nothing can screw up a group more than government involvement.”

In an earlier email sent to Village President Catherine Adduci and Village Administrator Eric Palm, and obtained via a Freedom of Information request from Wednesday Journal, Gibbs wrote, “We do not need another agenda-driven group making our lives and those of our citizens more difficult by adding opinions to village programs and processes.”

We find that cynicism over the virtues of local government disheartening. In a town as smart as River Forest, including more voices is a healthy thing. More volunteers stepping forward to take on complex and important issues such as sustainability is a healthy thing. Seeing such efforts only as a drain on staff resources or an imposition on an allegedly over-worked village board is looking at local government in the wrong way.

We admire River Forest for its gradual growth toward inclusion and a somewhat more activist government. Gibbs and Dwyer have, once again, proven themselves to be uninspired holdovers from the village’s Sleepy Hollow era.

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