By Terri Commonwealth

Commentary

  I’ve been told that in Illinois politics, your friends stab you in the front.  However hard that may be to understand, who would expect that really could be true?  Certainly we know it happens.  We picture the person getting the “dagger” probably had it coming or there is more to the story than we know.  Fair enough, but I want to be a bit naïve, artless and ingenuous.  I want to speak to the men and women that take the time to think over the candidates then go to the polls.  I want to address the voter, the one that winds up getting it in the end after the election is over.

  In Justice let’s take a look at the campaign and the promises of the Village Clerk office and the wheeling/dealing that followed it.  As usual the standard rhetoric was brought out, as people were fed a message that focused on the many duties of this office, accompanied with the requisite need for experience.  For the Village Clerk post among the many responsibilities pledged, the collecting of special assessments and fees as well as receiving of monies for sewerage and garbage service were touted.  Billing residents for services and keeping records for those services were talked up as well.  Submitting the required office filings to the Village Board and staying up to date with the many technical filings the county requires, these things too need to be performed by a capable Village Clerk.  Maintain a presence at Village Hall, supervise office staff and negotiate benefits for Village employees. The stakes were high!  That’s how it’s always presented to the voters.  People want to feel good about their vote.  Is that naïve?  Face it we believe a lot of what we read and are told.  But is that how this thing played out?  To a point it did, but not entirely.

  It turns out; there were two components to the Village Clerk office.  There is the filing and record-keeping part legislated by state statute and then there is the collecting, bill paying and bargaining for service contracts part as provided by local ordinance and tradition, the other part.  Three months after election victory was secured and the losers vanquished the now reelected Clerk was told her role and salary would be cut in half.  Because unknown to the voters or even the Clerk, behind closed doors a backroom deal had been cut.  In comes the “blade” held by her political party, ouch!  By a simple yes vote of a surreptitious new ordinance, all six trustees adopted and the mayor granted to him, new powers and authority to appoint the financial and office functions the Clerk had filled.  Isn’t that what they really wanted after all?  Further with no job search conducted an incumbent trustee who unexplainably didn’t rerun for office got the new appointment!  A person the mayor can now control separate from the elected position. Here I’ll be artless, if you run a ticket on promises shouldn’t that be what you deliver?  Shouldn’t we get what we vote for?  Why not tell the voters your true intentions? 

  The answer to those questions is simply the fact that had the mayor and his political insiders spoke the truth, they may have not won the election.  The Clerk has a lot of friends in this town, a lot.  She also gave a lot of her money to the mayor’s party. 

  Of course none of this is going to disorder the lives of the men and woman who vote.  I am ingenuous enough to suffer through our elected officials foibles, we are so lucky they are out there working for us.  As a society we aren’t really surprised over the difference of what politicians promise at election time when they try to make us feel good with our vote and what we wind up with anyway.  The voters see this far too often, but they keep trying and they keep struggling with an imperfect process.

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