Telling her mother that she wanted to come to the aid of a library under attack, 11-year-old Sydney Sabbagha stood at the podium before the Oak Brook village board.
"I used to go to the library knowing there were people there to help me find a book. Now there is no one to help me," Sydney said solemnly. "It will never be the same without the people you fired."
Sydney nestled back into her seat, but that didn't stop 69-year-old criminal attorney Constantine "Connie" Xinos from boldly putting her in her place.
"Those who come up here with tears in their eyes talking about the library, put your money where your mouth is," Xinos shot back. He told Sydney and others who spoke against the layoffs of the three full-time staffers (including the head librarian and children's librarian) and two part-timers to stop "whining" and raise the money themselves.
"I don't care that you guys miss the librarian, and she was nice, and she helped you find books," Xinos told them.
"I wanted that kid to lose sleep that night," a grinning Xinos says Wednesday, as he invites me for a nearly two-hour interview in his Mercedes-Benz in the gated Oak Brook community where he lives. "This is the real world and the lesson, you folks who brought your kids here, is if you want something, pay for it."
I won't say I disagree with Xinos's "lesson", but if he thinks he's a great teacher he's out of his mind.
"You may like the library, but when you call 9-1-1, you want a policeman or a fireman before someone to tell you where the books are in the library," says the man who has talked of privatizing, outsourcing or even closing the library.
"I understand that my philosophy is conservative," Xinos says, adding that government just needs to catch bad guys, put out fires, fix the streets and make sure buildings are sturdy.
He campaigned, successfully, against a plan to bring subsidized housing for seniors into town by declaring, "I don't want to live next to poor people. I don't want poor people in my town."
Awesome. Now, by the way, the local librarians are thinking about unionizing... as Teamsters.
And here's a question: how many conservatives would agree with Xinos that government just needs to "catch bad guys, put out fires, fix the streets, and make sure buildings are sturdy"? I consider myself to be a pretty staunch conservative, but I wouldn't expect to win an election on a platform like that, even in the reddest of red states.