So many wonders and graces in these villages covered by the Landmark. Here are three things we like about these towns:
Standing up for Officer Ramos
Had a call Monday from a former police officer downstate who had been decertified. He had been following our coverage of the recently recertified Riverside police Officer Zenna Ramos. We do not know the circumstances of this officer’s decertification. But when he asked us how her comeback had come to happen, our answer was clear.
A good person caught in a patently unfair circumstance. And a cascading realization across all levels of government that an injustice was being perpetrated in real time right before our eyes.
We don’t remember ever seeing such an alignment of public officials coming together so forcefully on behalf of an individual. It began within the Riverside Public Safety Department, got the attention of the village government and elected leaders, rose in the ranks of state elected officials, especially State Rep. La Shawn Ford, and he made the case to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board had no option but to cave and reverse its decision. We expect to see Ford go back to Springfield and tweak the language, part of the momentous SAFE-T Act, to ensure no other officer is sidelined by so ridiculous an early-life error as did Officer Ramos.
This is what success in governing looks like.
Buckley as Person of the Year
Related/unrelated but Matthew Buckley, public safety director for Riverside, stood up strong for Officer Ramos and he is also Riverside’s “Person of the Year,” as declared by the local Lions Club.
Buckley is a good choice. A lifelong villager — well, he moved here when he was two months old — Buckley has worked in Riverside’s fire department since 1988. In 2021, he was the logical choice to lead a newly created public safety department that melded police and fire services.
This is a combination more small towns ought to consider, and they can use Matthew Buckley’s work as a model.
Brookfield’s arts culture
Often we think that good schools, economic development and public safety are the pillars of a vital village. And we’re not knocking them. But in recent years, in various communities our flags cover, we’re coming to see plainly the essential role a vibrant arts community plays in creating spirit and tone in a town.
This weekend is the Brookfield Fine Arts Festival. Since 2009, it has been a lynchpin in the grassroots growth of a local arts community. It is an all-day envelope of 50 local artists displaying and selling their work, yoga, music, food, chalk art. All set in Kiwanis Park.
The Chamber of Commerce is a main player here, but much of the organizing is in the hands of the nascent Brookfield Artists Collective.
We’ve watched in Forest Park as its arts alliance has grown into an innovative and joy-filled force. And we’ve seen the impact of the arts on Chicago’s West Side where we publish the Austin Weekly.
Arts are unifying. Defining. Expanding. Connecting.