Most communities have a valuable person who keeps a close eye on the local government body, attends most meetings, reads the ordinances, looks at the audits and generally lets the elected leaders know what the person thinks. That self-appointed gadfly or concerned citizen or pain-in-the-you-know-what is no less valuable, and often more so, than the average elected board member.
The politicians may groan when the person speaks, but they should be grateful that someone cares so deeply that they invest at least as much time as the elected leader. Not to mention, most elected leaders often start out as that member of the audience who cared enough about an expenditure or weed-choked lot or string of burglaries to show up at a meeting.
Stookey Township apparently has one of those folks in Dan Weaver.
The problem is that Supervisor David Bone has been trying to silence Weaver. He claims Weaver harassed township employees and thus forfeited his right to talk at July and August meetings, but Bone’s unwillingness to discuss details leaves you wondering.
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Weaver, on the other hand, is full of details about threats made against him for questioning hiring decisions without advertising the position and equipment purchases.
It appears there is too much testosterone circulating in the township hall, with a rematch on Monday. Both sides could be less abrasive or arrogant, and both owe the other a respectful, civil ear — flies and vinegar, you know.
That said, when in doubt, the concerned, involved, taxpaying resident should be given the advantage.
“Democracy can be loud. Democracy can be noisy. Democracy can be inefficient, but you don’t get to shut people down because you don’t like the way they look, the points that they make, whatever objections you might have … Public officials simply have to learn to patiently listen even if they don’t want to,” said Illinois Press Association lawyer Don Craven.