THE LANDMARK VIEW
The process took longer than it might have, but the Riverside Fire department is now poised to move ahead after the village board terminated its fire chief on Monday night. An issue that had roots as far back as 2008, it would seem that the village board could have moved a bit faster in resolving whatever issue it had with its now-former chief.
But with the village board itself directly involved in the hiring and firing process, any sort of follow-up was lost in the tangle of a village election in 2009 and a changeover in village management.
With their vote Monday to empower the village manager to handle the hiring and firing of the police and fire chiefs, trustees have done something good for village. Public safety chiefs shouldn’t be at the mercy of an elected board in any case. In a strong village manager form of government, which Riverside has, it is completely appropriate that the chiefs report directly to the manager and not elected officials.
It has been a difficult year or so for the Riverside Fire Department. Disagreements among its top officers have resulted in resignations and, in one case, an assistant chief leaving the department for good.
It’s up to Village Manager Peter Scalera and the remaining officers of the department to heal the wounds left by this episode. And while it might be hard for some to accept, opening the job hunt to candidates from outside the department is not necessarily a bad idea at this time.
At times, a fresh perspective can bring positive results. If that’s the direction the village manager wants to go, however, it’s going to take buy-in from a group of firefighters who have been on the force for years – decades in many instances.
The fact is, change is on the way and it’s up to village management and fire department leaders to make that change work.
Here’s a lesson, douse the laser
If there’s anything that the arrest of a Brookfield man for pointing a laser at a plane teaches, it’s the world that brought you little light pointers has also produced some pretty darn sophisticated technology like video recording and Google Earth.
You’re not just a pinpoint of light on a sea of black; you’re a pretty easily identifiable breaker of the law. Kudos go to the pilot of the plane, who took it upon himself to triangulate the location of the laser that kept coming his way as he headed to and from Midway Airport.
Kudos also go to the FBI, who did a little shoe-leathering to come up with their suspect. In this instance, the charges are misdemeanors and rightly so. We don’t believe anything other than mischief was intended in this case.
But be warned. Should pending federal legislation pass, the seemingly innocuous act of pointing a laser at an airplane could get you up to five years in federal prison. Hopefully, stories like this one and laws like the one pending in Congress will start to deter these acts, which occurred 2,800 times near U.S. airports in 2010.