Politics in North Riverside can really be something. In our decades of experience covering political campaigns in municipalities around the western suburbs, never have we seen defamation lawsuits filed by candidates against other candidates, or political opponents, by political surrogates against their opposite numbers, or by village vendors against political campaigns.
In two of the last three North Riverside mayoral elections we’ve seen all three. Just what is it about North Riverside politics that causes this to keep happening?
Part of it, we think, is the result of the decline of party politics after Richard Scheck’s retirement after 20 years as mayor in 2009. He set an expectation that somehow individual politicians can solve individual resident complaints rather than establishing the village board as a policy-setting body and empowering staff to implement those policies through even application and an eye to the community as a whole.
It has resulted in some local politicians seeking to be that kind of leader, even when they are incapable of it, and also incapable of thinking strategically about municipal policy, its costs, and how to fund those initiatives.
It’s easier to make someone happy by personally taking up their gripe than addressing the root cause of the problem by having staff look into it and make a recommendation. It also far too often treats residents like children, promising municipal services without any financial sacrifice, as if public safety, municipal management and public works improvements are funded through a magic revenue stream.
It’s politics of personality rather than policy that drives the easy insults and back-channel campaign rumors that wind up in court. That approach needs to end and adults need to step up.
We know that everyone would like to put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror after two years of restrictions, masks and lost moments. As more and more people opt for vaccines and boosters, certainly the impact of COVID-19 has diminished, with hospitalization and death rates, fortunately, lagging behind increasing case numbers.
The number of new cases locally pretty much mirrors what’s happening statewide, where we’ve gone from pretty munch universal low transmission to “medium” transmission and case rates that look more like early February as the omicron surge started easing.
The new omicron BA.2 variant appears to be driving the new case spikes. In Brookfield, for the week-long period ending May 9, there were 95 new cases of COVID-19 — likely an undercount as people test at home and don’t report experiencing mild symptoms. In Riverside, the weekly case count was 69 and in North Riverside it was 33, again numbers not seen locally since the beginning of February.
Good news from the Illinois Department of Public Health is that the seven-day rolling daily number of COVID deaths statewide remains very low. As of May 9 — the second day running in which no COVID deaths were recorded in the state — the rolling daily average stood at seven. That remains among the lowest daily death rates in Illinois throughout the pandemic.
For us, that’s a sign vaccines have really made a difference. Let’s all continue to do our parts to keep this thing under control.