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Our View: Oglesby mayor showed sense, respect in police flap

Oglesby police chief Jim Knoblauch (left) and Oglesby police commissioner Jim Cullinan (right)
Oglesby police chief Jim Knoblauch (left) and Oglesby police commissioner Jim Cullinan (right)

Dom Rivara’s tenure as mayor of Oglesby is only five months old but already he’s accrued a commendable record for transparency.

As a longtime commissioner and then as a mayoral candidate, Rivara marked himself as a man of direct speech and straight answers, and that approach has spurred notably positive changes at city council meetings. Oglesby now has a public address podium plus microphones to ensure audibility, a longstanding concern in a city where the elderly and hearing-impaired participate actively.

We recognize Rivara’s commitment to openness and applaud him now for knowing when to tap the brakes and to seek a resolution behind the scenes.

Monday’s announcement that the fractured relationship between chief of police Jim Knoblauch and commissioner Jim Cullinan is sensible, well-reasoned and, above all, completely consistent with Rivara’s expansive view of engaging the public.

The open meetings on the police dispute frankly were going nowhere. Sensing this, Rivara tabbed a credible mediator in Gary Peterlin, a former state’s attorney and longtime Oglesby resident who knows the players and has the temperament to work out a resolution once the combatants have quit screaming at each other. Mediation, too, respects both the letter and spirit of the Open Meetings Act.

It is our hope the effort proves fruitful. Cullinan and Knoblauch both have distinguished careers in law enforcement and we vehemently reject the pessimistic view that the dispute can only end in a “him-or-me” vote by the council.

We further reject the idea that mediation constitutes a breach of the public’s right to know. To the contrary, this was a measured decision with the aim of preserving the dignity and lawful authority of the parties and with another, commendable goal in mind.

Two short months ago, Jim Knoblauch’s only son Evan lost a heroic battle to cancer that united the city in mourning and culminated in a July 12 tribute that should leave all Oglesby residents proud. It was an inspiring show of fellowship that should, by all rights, have lent itself to a peaceful resolution of the police dispute.

Rivara was determined not to squander that unity and devised a solution that shows a commitment to transparency and that he possesses an innate sense of when to take charge.

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