On Jan. 25, I attended a River Forest Village Board meeting to voice concerns about issues of transparency and process affecting the advisory bodies that report to the village board. Today I want to share with RF residents the response I received because I think it shows a way of handling resident input that is getting in the way of real progress on issues from deer management to Lake and Lathrop.
Rather than creating a framework for the board to genuinely address the issue I raised by acting as a deliberative, legislative body, including feedback from residents, President Adduci and village staff handled the matter themselves, outside of the village board room.
Four days after my public comment on the issue, an entire new page of policy was added to the village website where exactly no policy had existed. This detour around the village board was a disservice to my request, and to the community. Not only does it not solve the problem, nor include public discussion, it gives a false impression that there is no problem and never has been.
I hope residents will ask themselves why ideas like increased transparency are welcomed with such robust resistance in River Forest. Residents should be aware that, with elections less than two months away, their vote gives them their own power to decide for themselves if they want their government to resist transparency or embrace it.
I would like to see our village be a place where every voice is heard and treated with respect. We need those voices; they will be a vital part of strong community solutions.
I also still wish for the issue I have raised to be taken seriously. I have submitted a report to the village board with suggested improvements for advisory bodies, along two veins: 1) transparency and accountability, and 2) power sharing with checks and balances. My report is the result of conversations I have had with municipal law attorneys, elected officials, not-for-profit experts, and others.
The report will be included in the packet for the next village board meeting, but if any residents would like to see the report in advance of the meeting, or discuss any questions about these issues of transparency and checks and balances in village government, they may email me at email@example.com.
John Grant, River Forest