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Why impugn Lombard while bashing condos?
I am a former Riverside resident who now resides in Lombard. I still enjoy reading about Riverside happenings in the Landmark. However, I was shocked when I read Commissioner Chris Robling's comments to the condo developer regarding the Henninger's site ("Cool reception to new Henninger development plan," News, July 20):

"I appreciate the fact that a lot of work was done, but if Riverside is the professor and this is the final exam, you get a C-minus," said Commissioner Chris Robling. "This is something you could find in Lombard, and it's just not good enough.

"This will never be built."

I can't believe "Professor" Robling would say the design is not fit for Riverside while making reference to Lombard. What a way to hurl an insult toward the condo designer!

He must have felt it was a dramatic barb illustrating how such a lousy concept is not good enough for Riverside but typical for Lombard.

If Highbrow Robling didn't like the proposal, why couldn't he just say so without making reference to another community? I'm sure if the commissioner of Hinsdale turned down a building proposal while exclaiming something like that belongs in Riverside, there would be an outrage among Riverside residents.

I hope in the future Mr. Robling keeps our town out of his little zingers and focuses on doing something with the vacant Henninger's site in Riverside. I'm sure Mr. Robling's bantering does not reflect the opinion of the wonderful people in Riverside who are not snobs.

Ted Riordan
Lombard

Federal surveillance grant needs debate
On July 18, the Riverside village board voted to approve acceptance of a grant funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to purchase video surveillance equipment. The casual reader of news reports might think that the issue presented involved simply an opportunity to bolster school security at no cost to the village. However, insuring the safety of our children was not, and is not, in question. Rather, it is the public surveillance of private citizens under the guise of anti-terrorism efforts.

The conditions of the grant state: the funds are "to be used for enhanced prevention security for criminal justice facilities such as police stations, jails, courthouses, etc. Use of these funds and/or equipment is not allowed for non-criminal justice facilities (emphasis added) such as water plants, city buildings, fire departments and other such facilities."

Furthermore, "... all documents, including reports and all other work products, produced by the Grantee (Riverside) under this grant agreement shall become and remain the exclusive property of the Grantor (Illinois/Homeland Security)."

The issue of seemingly being contrary to the terms of the grant aside, the board's decision to approve acquisition of video cameras for placement outside Riverside-Brookfield High School and inside village offices came without having a video surveillance policy in place. In fact, it was made without even a request from the RBHS Board.

Such a policy, if enacted, would include a plan for deployment with priorities and parameters clearly set out. Development of such a policy would require input not just from the village board, but also from school boards, community groups and the citizenry in general.

The concept of a lack of an expectation of privacy in certain locations may be acceptable in the context of a criminal investigation, but not for generic, non-targeted village surveillance, especially since the "next generation" of technology will include sound recognition capabilities.

Talk of Chechen separatist groups and what is done in Chicago's high-crime areas only serves to generate fear, not clarity. Our community needs to collectively decide first whether surveillance is necessary and then at what level, not to have ad hoc installations driven by external deadlines. Freedom, obtained at significant cost, must not be shortsightedly squandered simply to acquire high-tech gadgetry.

The issue presented to the village board has far-reaching ramifications, and calls for serious deliberation, discussion and debate.

Kevin F. Smith|
Riverside

Kevin Smith is a Riverside village trustee. He was one of two trustees voting against accepting the Homeland Security video surveillance grant on July 18.

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