Non Partisan Committee Makes Big Changes

On Thursday November 13, 2008, Park Forest’s Non Partisan Committee (NPC) held a special membership meeting to consider changes to the NPC’s practices.  Changes had been recommended by a task force convened to address concerns that candidates were running as part of a slate rather than as individuals.  After much discussion it was decided to prohibit those who do not sign the NPC statement or who voluntarily participate in slating from participating in the NPC candidate forums.  The decision also included a provision to include some information on any noncompliant candidates in the NPC flyer, although the recommendation indicated the statements would be with a "format structured differently than for candidates who sign and intend to comply with NPC rules."

Task force members Alicia McCray and Janet Muchnik began the meeting by reading questions expressing their concerns, with their suggested remedies. Clarence Banks, the NPC president, then conducted a lively discussion of whether the committee should adopt the task force’s major recommendation.

Most — but not all — of the approximately 20 members present (which included 6 NPC board members and 2 former village office candidates who joined that evening) supported the nonpartisan principle.  However, many were frustrated that there haven’t been negative consequences to those who don’t "play by the rules" thereby giving those candidates an unfair advantage.  Less restrictive changes were suggested but voted down in favor of dropping the noncompliant candidates from the forums.

The group also decided that candidates who do not sign the NPC statements should be allowed to file complaints against candidates who do but that these should not be considered formal complaints which require a response from the committee.

In some less divisive discussion, the group agreed that during NPC forums, when time permits, candidates should be allowed to rebut misinformation and that a candidate running unopposed should be allowed to take questions.  It was also agreed that current office holders who have signed the NPC statement are expected to abide by the rules during their current terms.

Finally, there was agreement that the NPC’s core mission of providing information to the electorate could be furthered by expanding the committee’s efforts beyond the forums, including the use of electronic and print media, as well as a public survey.  At this point, the NPC board asked for volunteers!