I usually spend my column making fun of the inane things that happen in Oak Park. Only rarely do I get a chance to tweak our neighbors in River Forest. This is one of them.
In a close election for the 7th District state representative, Emanuel "Chris" Welch is up by approximately thirty votes over his opponent Rory Hoskins. River Forest delivered the margin of victory, 260 votes, for Welch.
To those 260 River Forest voters I ask the following question:
Are you out of your minds?
Imagine you heard the following about Village President John Rigas: Imagine that he had hired at least 13 of his close friends and six of his relatives to work for the village, including his brother as a janitor and his best friend as a $92,000 a year "night foreman." Imagine that he had been romantically involved with two village employees and after they broke up, both were fired. Imagine he, wanting to give a friend a job, had ordered the village administrator to "make it happen," saying, "I need her to be hired."
Rigas didn't do any of this. He wouldn't have. He is an upstanding citizen (and a well-deserved River Forest Villager of the Year for 2012). If he had done such things, he would have been hounded from office by outraged River Forest voters.
But according to a recent investigation by the Sun-Times, Chris Welch, the president of the Proviso High School District 209 school board and the soon-to-be state representative for River Forest, did all the things listed above and more.
In fact, according to a Tribune report, Proviso District 209 has paid about $940,000 over nine years to four of Welch's relatives, including an aunt and two cousins. And the brother has a criminal record.
When he gets to Springfield, Welch will fit right in. He will fit in with Chicago state Rep. Derrick Smith, who is facing federal criminal charges for allegedly accepting $7,000 in bribes in exchange for supporting a state grant to a not-for-profit. He will fit in with our Darth Vader, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.
See, Welch's election is why we keep paying the "corruption tax" in Illinois. For every phony position filled by a lazy in-law with the expectation that she or he will kick back some of the salary come election time, we lose.
And what will be Welch's position on curing the $80 billion in unfunded teacher pensions and the billions in overdue payments owed to state contractors? It's easy. He said, "One thing we need to do is increase our revenue. ... It's not rocket science." No sir, it isn't, for an Illinois legislator such as yourself.
And we should not be surprised if the feds come knocking at Proviso Township High School District (if they aren't already). And we should not be surprised if yet another Illinois legislator makes decisions based not on what is best for his constituents but in furtherance of that timeless Chicago mantra "where's mine?"
We may be goofy in Oak Park, but this joke is on you, River Forest.
Answer Book 2019
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