Well, we certainly didn’t have Joseph Ballerine retiring from local politics midway through his first term as village president on our Riverside Bingo card.

When Ballerine announced he’d be leaving the post in order to move out of state in the next few months, it no doubt was a shock to those, like us here at the Landmark, who hadn’t gotten advance warning.

Ballerine has been such a fixture as an elected official and tireless volunteer that it will seem strange not seeing him around town.

During his time as a trustee and as president, what has been Ballerine’s trademark approach is his ability to look at conflicts as a neighbor, a peer. To listen to those presenting a problem and really try to find some way to make a difficult situation easier to bear.

A recent example is the decision on how to handle traffic around the soon-to-come cannabis dispensary at Harlem and Berkeley. After initial plans were resisted by neighbors, he spent time with them to hammer out a solution – including agreeing to a stop sign at Byrd and Berkeley suggested by a 10-year-old resident of the neighborhood – that maybe won’t be foolproof, but which addressed the issues residents had.

That neighborly approach will be difficult to replace, but Riverside also has plenty of capable people on the village board, one of whom will be able to slot in to lead trustees through the end of Ballerine’s term in May 2025.

Thanks, Joe, for your three decades of service to Riverside and the indelible mark you’ve made in making Riverside a friendlier, fun place to be.

Harsh decision

In an era when restorative justice is a goal and we seek equity when it comes to providing those who may have found it difficult to access careers in professions like law enforcement, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board’s decision to decertify a Riverside police officer over a 15-year-old retail theft arrest apparently committed during a time of turmoil in the then-22-year-old woman’s life seems more than harsh.

The board contends the offense, for which the woman was sentenced to court supervision, a decision since vacated and expunged, could still jeopardize criminal prosecutions in the future, because the offense could be used to call her credibility as a witness into question.

We find it hard to believe that an offense that might not even rise past the level of a local ordinance violation these days would pose such a hurdle. We’d strongly ask that the ILETSB reconsider its decision, although they’ve already done some possibly irreparable damage to this woman’s career.