THE STREAMWOOD EXAMINER – MARCH 26, 2008
(Note: Due to an uncharacteristic bout of technical incompetence by the author, the column below did not actually appear in the March 19 edition of the mighty Examiner, as originally planned. It will run in the March 26 edition. However, since I have already posted it, we’ll keep it posted, as a “Rich returns from honeymoon bonus preview” for those readers who frequent the electronic version of the Cheap Seats. Cheers, Rich)
By Rich Trzupek
You leave town for a couple of weeks on honeymoon and it’s absolutely amazing how much you can learn when you get back. Having attended virtually every village board meeting over the last eight years, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the way things work in Streamwood. However, it seems that I had much to learn. For example:
•I now know that it’s impossible for residents to contact trustees directly. This revelation surprised me, since Streamwood residents seem to be able to track your humble correspondent down on a pretty regular basis, through any of my three e-mail addresses, four phone numbers or at a local pub. Apparently, however, when one is elected trustee one is hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar, which makes contact with the outside world impossible, except through the village website of course.
•I have learned that it is a very bad, evil thing for towns to treat e-mails from residents as official inquiries, not personal notes. It is common, of course, for municipalities to do this and the thinking is: if you e-mail the town, then you want the town’s official response, not the opinion of one board member. (Shoot, if you e-mail Cecille, he’ll pretty much promise you anything you want, up to and including a personal helicopter to beat the morning rush).
But we don’t have to worry about that, because there are many other ways of contacting individual board members, right? Oh wait, I forgot about the mayonnaise jars. See, how much I’m learning?
•I see that one William Morris, Esq. has been transformed into a shining light for good government. I can already picture the statue of Bill Morris, triumphantly raising the torch of liberty, that will soon stand proudly in the middle of town. For this is a new Bill Morris, an improved Bill Morris, a Bill Morris that would never fiddle with his nominating petitions, or lie about fiddling with his nominating petitions, or entrust his campaign to three of the biggest low-lifes in Illinois politics.
And, because he has been born again, we can not say that Bill Morris giving advice on openness and honesty is akin to Paris Hilton explaining the virtues of chastity. We would like to, but we can’t, and I for one, am grateful.
•I have discovered that trustees in our town can never, ever debate issues, or propose ordinances, or (God forbid) cast a negative vote under Streamwood’s current form of government. I was surprised to learn this, because I could swear I remember writing stories over the years where trustees debated plans for new developments, purchasing decisions, intergovernmental agreements, road plans, hiring decisions and a host of other things, but – apparently – these things never happened.
We know that these things never happened, and could never happen (presumably because Billie Roth exercises magical mind control that keeps elected officials from exercising their free will) because Jim Cecille and Jason Speer said it is so. And, when you want to learn about the way government works, these are the guys to turn to.
•And I have found out that it is not fair to question Cecille and Speer’s knowledge, just because – oh for example – Jimmy has, over the past eight years, pretty much set the world record for asking questions for which the answers are sitting right there in front of him, in his packet, and for which staff members routinely bail him out by saying “that’s a good question trustee”, when everyone else is staring at the answer in black and white.
But we’re not going to question their grasp of these important issues, nor would it be relevant to tell Jason that the 70’s called and wants its sport coats back (but really, dude, turn off the jackets already), not only because I actually helped these guys in the last election, when they apparently thought the village was being run well and were actually against the guys who wanted to rip the guts out of our town, but because that other paper agrees with them about this whole “how Streamwood is run” question. You know, the paper that – until very recently – either sent no one to cover the village, or hired the semi-literate to do the job (and “nobody” generally provided better coverage), so you know that they know what they’re talking about.
•Best of all, or at least most amusing of all, I am pleased to learn that trustee Speer is on track to win the John McGuire Memorial Trophy. As veteran readers know, this award was established to honor the former Bartlett Fire District Trustee’s love of ride-alongs. Old John was famous for getting all dressed up and riding with the boys out to fires, even giving commands in some cases.
Well, Jason loves his ride-alongs. Police, fire, public works – doesn’t matter. He can’t get enough. I’m not sure if he gets to ring the bell or play with the sirens, but Jason is all about ride-alongs and gets positively pissy when he’s told he can’t go on more. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. Phrases like “waste of taxpayer’s dollars” and “liability risk” and perhaps even “are you kidding me, is he – like – twelve years old or what?” come to mind. But trust me, there’s a plan here. For, the next time his fire-fighter pals bug Jason to hire more bodies, he’ll just join up himself. See? It’s brilliant.
Ah, it’s good to back folks, and it’s wonderful to have a new perspective. Just imagine how much more we’ll learn together in the months to come.