my answers to the Forest Park Review candidate questionnaire
Several of [Nyberg's] responses at the candidates' forum sponsored by the Review were on point and worth exploring.
Since the FPR didn't mention what I wrote I figured I'd include it here.
I initially wrote my responses to the Forest Park Review questionnaire when I first received it. I assumed Patrick Doolin would be one of the two candidates advancing. I have since modified my responses.
Doolin was the candidate who clearly advanced a proposal to reform the commissioner form of government. In light of the primary election results it’s hard to argue the message of reforming the commissioner form of government resonated with the voters.
1. Would you support efforts to restrict the administrative authority of elected officials?
Either Anthony Calderone or Theresa Steinbach is going to be elected mayor. As I understand their public statements neither sees a need to reform the commissioner form of government by removing administrative authority.
My sense is that both Calderone and Steinbach are “hands on” managers. The pejorative way of saying it would be to call them “micromanagers”.
I prefer to delegate. In the Navy the best leaders were technically knowledgeable of what their subordinates did. However, these leaders would empower their subordinates by letting them do their jobs.
If elected I anticipate there will be tension between me and the mayor. I will not get involved in day-to-day decisions in my department. I prefer to get the department’s leadership “on the same page” on the big picture and let staff take ownership of this vision. I am concerned that the mayor will try to inject himself or herself into my department. This could be direct interference or, more likely, through the village administrator.
I don't want to be involved in day-to-day issues. However, I anticipate I will have to defend my turf from meddling by the mayor at times.
Given Patrick Doolin’s defeat I don’t see the issue of administrative authority being a priority for voters. I will work with reformers elected to the council. I support removing administrative authority, but I doubt there will be a majority in support of this policy.
I think the most realistic next step is to get some form of the issue on the ballot as a non-binding referendum. This referendum could be to either change the form of government or to remove administrative authority from the commissioners. If elected I will put personal effort toward negotiating two more votes to support getting this non-binding referendum on the ballot. Hopefully, having the issue on the ballot will
raise the consciousness of the issue with Forest Parkers.
2.What are the top two or three issues you will address in your campaign?
I will work to get the Forest Park reserve center closed through the tri-annual Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. Almost any other use of the land would generate more revenue for the village, and most uses would generate more revenue for the schools.
I'm glad that the interest I showed as a columnist caused the village to be more proactive on this issue.
However, I'm concerned that the village has accepted the answer that the Army Reserves now own the base as the final answer. Whomever, Mike Curry and Mike
Sturino discussed the issue with, this person was not the ultimate decision maker.
While Forest Park should work the reserve bureaucracy our greatest asset in this project is our members of Congress. As far as I know the village has made no
attempt to enlist the help of Reps. Danny Davis and Dan Lipinski or Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama.
Forest Park needs to be working on both tracks. We should nudge the reserve bureaucracy and we should work Congress on the issue too.
Also, I will work to improve good order and discipline in the Forest Park police department.
Too often police hide behind explanations and excuses like “the police department is a paramilitary organization” and civilians don’t understand what police officers do.
As a former Navy officer who both served as a UN peacekeeper and performed numerous investigations of injuries, mishaps and misconduct I have enough experience to better know when the police are raising valid concerns and when they are just manufacturing
excuses that amount to “we don’t want outside oversight”.
While I wouldn’t hold myself out as an expert in policing, I have taken a basic criminal justice class and Broken Windows, by George Kelling and Catherine Coles. What amazes me about the Forest Park police department is how little their policing strategies are connected to “best practices” in modern policing.
My understanding of modern policing theory is that there are two camps that have produced good results. New York City made significant progress using the “Broken Windows” theory of policing. Chicago made progress using a saturation model.
“Broken Windows” policing calls for the police department to be part of a larger strategy to increase the perception of order in the community. Code enforcement needs to be part of the policing strategy. Also, police officers should do more patrols outside their vehicles, either on foot or bicycle. La Grange Park has been a local leader in this kind of patrolling. While on patrol police officers should be
engaging citizens and getting to know a broader cross-section of the community.
If Forest Park were to apply Chicago’s saturation model it would identify “hot spots” and maintain an almost continual presence in these areas, disrupting the crime and forcing it to go elsewhere. Madison Street may qualify as a “hot spot” late on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Forest Park calls its policing strategy “community policing” which is supposed to be like the “Broken Windows” policing used in New York City. However, Forest Park’s version of community policing emphasizes connecting the squeaky wheel residents with Mayor Calderone or his political supporters in the police department.
Significant differences exist between true community policing and Forest Park’s version. In true community policing there is significantly more contact between
beat police officers and citizens. And the police affirmatively reach out to many more people.
In Forest Park’s version the police department is more passive waiting for complaints and preferring to deal with a small number of residents, mostly squeaky wheels and the politically connected. In Forest Park the mayor likes to be a significant part of the complaint intake process because it’s good politics. However, this dis-empowers beat police officers (hurting morale) and increases the amount of time between when a resident raises an issue and when it’s addressed. Adding the mayor to routine issues also decreases the number of issues that police can address.
There are also serious issues around police brutality and racism in the Forest Park police department.
There should be independent investigations of police brutality. And the village should make more of an affirmative effort to detect police brutality and misconduct.
I hope that implementing a legitimate policing strategy will help move Forest Park police officers away from the “look for the Blacks who don’t belong here” strategy that has dominated the police department under Mayor Calderone and Chief Jim Ryan.
Also, Forest Park should hire more African-American police officers. We have a community in which 50% of the students in the elementary school system are Black, but less than 10% of the police department is Black. Partially, this reflects a lag in hiring reflecting the community. If the average cop has been on the force twelve years perhaps it’s reasonable for the force to reflect the demographics of twelve years ago. But Forest Park has been at least 30% African-American since the 2000 Census (31.2%). Has police department hiring since 2000 reflected the community’s demographics?
Use website to share useful information, like allowing property owners to post parking spaces for rent. I'd also like to use the website to get citizens involved
without making them come to meetings.
And I want the CTA to change the Blue Line exit at Circle to allow entrance through the turnstile.
3.Is it important that the council share a common vision for the community?
One view of government is that it arbitrates between competing interest groups. Why would it be a problem for different council members to be aligned with different interest groups?
Forest Park is a diverse community. Everyone wants utopia: low taxes, great services, good schools, well maintained homes, smooth traffic patterns and great public transportation.
The village council should be able to work with each other respectfully. Commissioners should be flexible in their thinking. However, different commissioners
will have different visions for Forest Park, like different citizens have different visions.