The controversy involving the City’s decision to terminate the school crossing guard program is yet another example of Mayor Graham trying to avoid responsibility for his decisions by trying to place the blame solely on the Aldermen. In his recent press release, he stated, “It is important to note that at every step of the budget process….no member of the council…questioned or asked to amend the budget to include funding for the crossing guard program.”
The fact is, the Aldermen never knew that after 25 years, the program was no longer being funded. Last Summer, the Aldermen were presented with a Crossing Guard study which provided 3 options for them to consider: 1) Remain status quo; 2) Fund the program and have the school districts administer it; 3) The City no longer funds or administers the program. No action was taken, and the topic was never discussed by the Aldermen again (at least not until recently).
Instead, during the staff level budget discussions involving the Mayor, the decision was made to go with option 3, and to cancel the program. He was the only elected official involved in that decision, and therefore, it was up to him to aid the Aldermen in determining whether or not to amend the budget and include the funding. He was absent for the 1st reading on April 4th during which Alderman Kevin Hagarty made a motion to use $50,000 of gambling revenue for items such as flashing stop and yield signs. Aldermen Gene McCosky and Jerry Albrecht both spoke strongly in opposition to this motion, and it failed in a 7-7 to tie. During the 2nd reading on April 18th, Mayor Graham had the opportunity to tell them about the unfunded program, but he remained silent. It is disingenuous for him to now blame the Aldermen for not doing something they never knew needed to be done.
The reality is, 20 years is far too long for any one person to maintain control of a City. Even in Chicago, there is a push underway to institute term limits on the Mayor. Absent legal term limits, or an elected officials’ willingness to impose their own term limits, then voters must do it for them. Mayor Graham is up for re-election for his sixth term in April 2017. Take time now to let him know, it is time for new Leadership in O’Fallon. He can be reached at City Hall, 632-4500, press 2, and then 1.
Alderman, 2007-2015 (Self-imposed 2 terms)