Did you know that River Forest has a motherlode of committee/commission/board appointments that are expired or vacant? Probably not because the village board has created no system for actively monitoring these seats and reaching out to recruit residents to fill these seats, thereby missing out on untapped potential value from talented residents from all over River Forest. The totals include 23 commission/committee memberships that are expired, three membership seats vacant, and three chair positions expired, and some unknown totals on other bodies. Here is the list, with the name of the advisory body and the number of expired/vacant seats: 

Membership seats currently expired

Board of Fire and Police Commissioners (1)

Development Review Board (3)

Economic Development Commission (3)

Historic Preservation Commission (3)

Local Ethics Commission (3)

Plan Commission (1)

Police Pension Board (2)

Sustainability Commission (2)

Traffic and Safety Commission (4)

Zoning Board of Appeals (1)

Membership seats vacant

Economic Development Commission (1)

Sustainability Commission (1)

Zoning Board of Appeals (1)

Chairperson positions expired

Development Review Board

Economic Development Commission

Local Ethics Commission

No information available for seats on these bodies

Finance and Administration Committee

Age Friendly Advisory Ad Hoc Committee

Deer Management Ad Hoc committee

Between agenda items at last week’s village board meeting, President Cathy Adduci mentioned she may be coming to the next meeting with some appointments. However, with the appointment process under review by the village board, it appears that holding off on any appointments before the review of the process is completed would be the more prudent and fair and appropriate course of action. 

In January of this year, I and others voiced concerns over a lack of transparency and clear policy on River Forest‘s commission process, including appointments. I explained some of these concerns here: https://www.oakpark.com/2021/01/29/hey-river-forest-citizens-you-matter. Nothing has changed since then, except some added wording on the website that was intended to create the appearance of change without the real substance of change. 

When the issue was then discussed at a village board meeting on Feb. 22 (Zoom recording is on the website here: https://www.vrf.us/events/event/1881) President Adduci and trustees Brennan, Bachner, O’Connell, Vazquez, and Henek all said they were grateful the issue was raised, and they would like a good thorough review to be initiated of the process. Additionally, 20 residents submitted statements to the board for the meeting, supporting a thorough review of this issue, and others made public comments of support for improvements. 

So, in light of the overwhelming consensus and energy toward reforming the appointment process and other aspects of the board’s management of these advisory bodies, let’s hit the pause button on further appointment changes, whether they be renewals of current appointments, or new appointments, or decisions to remove persons from seats they occupy currently, and so on. If we can have an “Acting Village Administrator” for an extended period of time (four months now, without a search for a new administrator initiated by the board — a topic for another day) I’m sure having some “acting commissioners” for a while longer will do no harm. 

Let’s allow the trustees themselves to lead a thorough review of this process, including research by trustees, direction for staff to do further research, and input to trustees by village residents, before we make any appointments or other big moves. 

Tonight, Wednesday, June 2, at 7 p.m., at village hall and on Zoom (or you can dial in by phone), there is a public meeting to hear initial feedback from residents on this issue. Please come with your comments, questions, feedback, etc. You may also submit written comments via email if you can’t be at the meeting. Info about the meeting, including registering to make public comment or other information is here: https://www.vrf.us/events/event/2080. 

Let’s get going on tackling this. There’s no time like the present. The door is open. We need your input and your eyes and ears on this issue, which is critical to the efficient and effective functioning of the village board.

John Grant is a River Forest resident.

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