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The only one playing politics is Brookfield's Russ

Opinion

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I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the news story, "Politics infuses crime rate talk in Brookfield" and the editorial; "Political Tools" that appeared in the Jan. 19, 2005 edition of the Landmark.

The story was correct in stating that I requested that the village board discuss a crime rate increase in the Village of Brookfield. During the long holiday break from the board meeting, I had the chance to catch up on some old newspaper articles that I had not had time to read.

It was a July 2004 edition of another paper that we typically get in our board packets that brought my attention to something I deemed important. Based on crime numbers reported by Brookfield to the Illinois State Police, crime had increased in Brookfield 24 percent, according to that newspaper.

This happened at a time when all the neighboring municipalities had experienced a decrease in crime. It is important to note that the trustees were never given any information on the crime figures reported to the state police. I had to rely on the newspapers to learn of this problem.

I immediately drafted a proposal to discuss this at a board session and presented numerous suggestions as to how to stem this increase. At no time did I attempt to blame Bill Russ, his administration or our police department.

I merely suggested that we talk about this important matter. Some of my suggestions included expanding and publicizing the Neighborhood Watch programs, increased use of the bike patrol, mandatory foot patrol on each and every shift from April to October and getting cost estimates for lighting and security cameras for high crime areas like our parks, train stations and the fountain at the Eight Corners.

In December, I made copies for the village manager, village president, village trustees, village attorney and the police chief and requested that it be discussed some time in the future. I never heard any complaints from anyone about the topic being inappropriate, the figures being wrong or any type of comment until the night it was on the agenda.

Quite honestly, I was shocked the subject made it to the agenda. Trustee Ketchmark and I have requested agenda items for topics such as a long-term street plan, a five-year budget plan, a long-term capital improvement budget, water billing irregularities and training for our Zoning Board and Plan Commission members, just to name a few. All of these requests have been ignored.

Bill Russ wants you to believe Kit Ketchmark and I have no ideas and never offer any positive suggestions, but people who attend the meetings know that it is only Trustee Ketchmark and I that offer suggestions on real topics.

When President Russ attacked me at the board meeting for trying to micromanage the police department, I could not help but laugh out loud. One night recently we had an agenda item to discuss what type of letters should be on a park sign?"black or gray, raised or recessed. I apparently have a different view than Bill Russ as to what the duties of the village board are. I think we should publicly talk about what to do about crime.

That fact that Russ allowed the item on the agenda, read a written statement that he made copies of ahead time for the press and then allowed no discussion on crime reduction ideas shows that he was the one trying to politicize the situation.

I strongly disagree with the editorial that stated I questioned the effectiveness of the police force. Crime is everywhere. Our police officers do a great job. I question the effectiveness and the leadership of Bill Russ and his administration, not the police.

Even if you trust Russ's revised figures, crime rose 13.6 percent in the period in question. Russ, who controls the agendas, never suggested any improvements or strategies. To the credit of the police department and Chief Schoenfeld, they admitted that my ideas were good and have looked into implementing the changes I talked about.

Trustee Linda Stevanovich admitted that I raised good points, but thought it was too close to the election to talk about it. She also said she thought the culture of our police department was too resistant to change.

The village trustees are the ones with the responsibility to set policies. To not bring the idea forward because she thinks the police department might resist change is to ignore her duty to the residents.

Every victim of a crime between now and April should call Russ and Stevanovich and tell them to resign if they want to shirk their responsibilities because it is too close to the election to discuss something that does not fit their party's pictures of the state of affairs of the village.

That night showed more than ever than Bill Russ is not about serving the public and bettering Brookfield. He is all about promoting himself and getting reelected.

I can't wait to see how many more of my ideas get ignored or delayed because they show that I am the one who should be leading this village, not Bill Russ. Too bad for Brookfield in the meantime.

Michael Garvey, One View

? Michael Garvey is a Brookfield village trustee and the PEP Party candidate for village president.

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