BG president apologizes for mocking recalled trustee

In his apology issued Wednesday morning, Buffalo Grove Village President Elliott Hartstein said he thought donning a black wig to mimic ousted trustee Lisa Stone in the wake of her historic recall Tuesday would be funny.

Now the joke may be on him.

A photo of Hartstein's parody at a recall post-party appeared online and in Wednesday's Daily Herald. Since then, Hartstein said he has been fielding critical e-mails from residents, making him realize it was in poor taste.

“I was just trying to be funny and cute and obviously it was an error in judgment on my part,” Hartstein said. “I got caught up in the moment. It's hard to turn back the clock when you make a mistake.”

Hartstein said he tried to reach Stone on her cell phone Wednesday but got her voice mail. He issued a written apology, adding that despite their disagreements, he respects Stone's passion on village issues.

“I want to apologize publicly to Lisa Stone, to my fellow board members, and to the community, the recall committee and my family and friends for my antics at the rally for recall supporters,” Hartstein wrote.

Stone, reached Wednesday, said she was shocked by the parody, and dismissed his apology as a politician trying to be politically correct after the fact.

“It's full of baloney,” she said. “He did what he was comfortable doing. My disbelief is his complete lack of conscience as a human being. Maybe this is what would wake the people up to understand the judgment of the man that's running our community, and it goes far deeper than a costume.”

Stone, who has been a controversial figure and frequent critic of village leadership, especially Hartstein, noted she has never mocked him in public.

“How could he not have the moral integrity at a moment like that,” she said. “It's a very serious recall.”

For Buffalo Grove and the state, it is believed to be the first vote to recall an elected municipal official.

Voters Tuesday night overwhelmingly favored ejecting Stone from office with more than two years remaining on her first term as village trustee.

Even some recall supporters were disappointed in Hartstein.

“It's unfortunate that a misguided effort to be humorous would divert attention from what really was an important event last night,” said Buffalo Grove Trustee Jeffrey Berman, who drafted the village's recall ordinance.

Berman said it made him uncomfortable to see the parody, but wouldn't comment on the crowd's reaction.

“I don't ascribe bad motives, and I know that in hindsight he regrets the decision,” Berman said. “It was simply, I believe, an effort to be playful and it didn't work. I believe that win or lose, it's important to act with dignity.”

Berman said he hopes the board can put the entire chapter behind it and move forward in a positive manner.

“(Residents) are tired of the rancor and the backbiting, and the circuses,” he said. “They want the village board to do its business and advance the interests of the people in a professional and reasonable way.”

Hartstein's apology

“I want to apologize publicly to Lisa Stone, to my fellow board members, and to the community, the recall committee and my family for my antics at the rally for recall supporters where I donned a black wig and did a parody of Lisa Stone. I was just trying to have a little fun as I often try to do. Unfortunately in my desire to have a little fun and try to be funny, and probably vent a little built-up frustration, I lost sight of what was clearly inappropriate.

“I did not mean to be disrespectful to Lisa and I did not mean to take away from the respectful approach to the referendum by others involved. I should have known better. I know I detracted from the respectful words I and others had tried to share a few moments earlier.

“I respect Lisa's passion for what she believes in even if we may not always agree or if I may not have agreed with her approach. I respect the members of the community who voted regardless of how they cast their ballots. That is what elections and democracy are all about. I am embarrassed and sorry for my foolish conduct. We all, from time to time make mistakes. This was clearly one on my part and apologize sincerely.

“As I said when I was trying to be serious, when elections are over we must put politics and the craziness that goes on in elections behind us. I am sorry I wrongfully added to that craziness. I hope you will accept my apology. I hope now that the election is over, we can all look forward, work with each other respecting our differences from time to time to work for the betterment of our community.”

Bill Zars/bzars@dailyherald.comBuffalo Grove Village President Elliott Hartstein parodies recalled trustee Lisa Stone on Tuesday for supporters of the historic effort to remove her from office. Hartstein issued a public apology Wednesday morning.
Lisa Stone of Buffalo Grove ¬ 2009 Election Candidate