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Proviso Probe

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Forest Park ethics ordinance

Dave Goetz wrote in the Forest Park Review:

It would seem more prudent for [the Ethics Committee] to meet regularly, establishing and clarifying ethical issues as they pertain to the village, rather than acting as a tribunal to settle issues after-the-fact. The potential $2500 fine for frivolous claims should be reduced to a more manageable $500.

This inspired me to get the ordinance from the Village. It's online (click on Title 1: Administration and then "Ethics Commission").

It's actually worse than Dave wrote.

8. The commission may fine any person who intentionally violates any provision of section 1-7-3 of this chapter in an amount not less than one thousand one dollars ($1,001.00) and not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00). The commission may fine any person who knowingly files a frivolous complaint alleging a violation of this chapter in an amount not less than one thousand one dollars ($1,001.00) and not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00). (emphasis added)

So the mayor gets to appoint three of his people to be an ethics commission. And if the mayor's appointees judge your complaint "frivolous" (not necessarily untrue) they can hit you with a $5,000 fine. Something tells me there aren't going to be many complaints against the mayor sent to this commission.

These penalties are completely unnecessary because a separate part of the ordinance provides for referring "false reports" to the state's attorney for prosecution. So the ethics commission would have to persuade an independent prosecutor to pursue the matter and then the complaintant would get to defend her/himself in court.

I called Rep. Karen Yarbrough and Sen. Don Harmon about this. Harmon called back within 24 hours and agreed with my analysis. He said he would have the legislature's researchers look at this.

I'll follow this.

9 Comments:

  • Did anyone call this ordinance a Police State? Calderone and his supporters are about corruption and greed, and they represent Melrose Park interests! Calderone should not be allowed to appoint anyone, instead it should be any independent board! Yarbourgh could care less, since she and her husband,Mayor Of Maywood, want to do the same things in there town!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:57 AM, September 10, 2005  

  • Nonsence, the ordinance is an exact replica of the Attorney Generals. Calderone did'nt write it. Go complain to Lisa Madigan

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:32 PM, September 10, 2005  

  • This is a good common sense law that protects those who may be affected by the law and those who are reckless, and even more so an interferring public, meaning those who have complete and utter disrespect for the laws of the state.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:55 PM, September 10, 2005  

  • anon, I assume you're right about it being copied from the AG. It would be nice if you provided a link.

    What's your definition of "common sense"?

    If the mayor is corrupt enough to appoint three rubber stamps to his/her ethics commission, this ordinance won't work. The mayor's cronies can exonerate her/him and then penalize the citizen that raised the complaint.

    The criminal penalties are sufficient deterrent to false allegations.

    Give an example of when you'd want a "reckless" citizen fined $1,000 by the ethics commission for a frivolous complaint that didn't rise to the level of being prosecutable as a criminal offense.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 4:14 PM, September 11, 2005  

  • This ordinance was passed unanimously. It protects all sides equally. The members of the ethics commission were approved unanimously. They are non-partisan members.

    To cast aspersions on someone's ethics as you have done is just the point. Have you met any of these members? What have the ethics commissioners done to indicate that they will act in a manner that is anything but fair? By all means, let's be reckless and dishonest about innocent people and their reputations -- it's so wholesome for democracy and citizen involvement.

    Think about history...Bill Clinton and this entire nation would have been well served by a provision that would have penalties against false or frivolous complaints. Linda Tripp and Lucienne Goldberg and the rest would be serving time in jail instead of being funded by the right wingers. And Bill Clinton wouldn't have to have been responsible for massive and unwarranted legal bills.

    Does anyone think it's fair that an innocent Village employee should have to pay to hire a lawyer because their neighbor wants to screw with them through untrue charges?

    Let's think about protecting the innocent for a change, instead of assuming everyone is guilty. At least, I thought that's what we were all about.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:49 AM, September 12, 2005  

  • My definition of common sense is that the menbers of the reckless public who have no interest other than to tarnish a persons reputation need to have thier facts in place before they advance thier concerns for sheer political purposes. When you consider the CUFP organization if Forest Park, they are nothing more than a Ralph Nader political organization flying under the radar umbrella of a advocacy group.

    Most's of it's members are reckless nay sayers who have never contributed anything to the community.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:18 AM, September 12, 2005  

  • This ordinance was passed unanimously. It protects all sides equally.

    My concern is that the ordinance is a good deal for insiders and a bad deal of citizens. Passing unanimously is consistent with this analysis.

    The point is not who is on the ethics commission. If I wanted to complain about someone on the ethics commission, I'd complain about that person.

    I'm complaining that the ordinance is bad which is a completely separate issue from who is on the commission.

    I didn't criticize anybody. I'm addressing the problems of the ordinance.

    anon, you seem to want to make the discussion of an ordinance into a discussion about the personalities involved.

    Your parallels to Kenneth Starr are off base. Could you try to keep your comments to the ordinance?

    Expeditious disposal of inaccurate charges is a good thing. Allowing the commission to fine complaintants for true but "frivolous" charges is absurd.

    anon, your dedication to protecting the innocent seems a wee one sided. You want high levels of protection for the people in power while having steep penalties for the people out of power.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 3:43 PM, September 12, 2005  

  • anon 11:18, so your idea of local democracy is only supporters of the establishment should be participating?

    You get all bent out of shape about the theoretical possibility of tarnishing elected officials, but then you trash a bunch of citizens for participating in the process.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 3:45 PM, September 12, 2005  

  • I disagree, the penalties for elected persons are much greater than for those reckless persons who advance untrue (not correct) charges. The public has always had the right to take complaints to the attorney general or states attorney.

    Nothing good comes from individuals who disagree with federal, state and local laws and use or munipulate the public thru the press to advance thier ideals.

    Ralph Nader does it all the time.

    A majority public thru it's representative government has always been the establishment of true justice and democracy. To allow the minority to control government would indeed be anarchy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:58 AM, September 13, 2005  

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