Remember, the village government of Oak Park collects only 12 percent of your property taxes. The bulk of your outrageous property tax wallop goes directly to the two local school districts. It is those kids with their smartboards and tablets and chocolate milk for lunch that are gobbling up your property taxes.
When last we visited with Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins, she was explaining why she couldn't possibly take the 10 furlough days she had voted to approve as part of the county's budget for 2011. You remember the furlough day concept, built into the bleeding red budget pushed through last year by Toni Preckwinkle, the still-stellar county board president?
For a second year, we asked Wednesday Journal readers to add their voices to the nominations for our annual Villagers of the Year. There were many ideas posted to OakPark.com and, a few also, sent direct to the editors. A good number were, we think, entirely sincere though there is always the sarcasm factor to consider in evaluating online comments.
Before we close the book on 2011, let's take a look at the stories that made news in Oak Park and River Forest. You won't be surprised to hear that not all of these stories wrapped up tidily in 2011. You'll still be reading about several of them in 2012. And maybe 2013.
It didn't used to be so long ago that I was a boy. The late '50s were just right there. Almost current events. Nikita Khrushchev was real and I told my mom I hated him during the Cuban missile crisis. She told me that I shouldn't hate anyone no matter how mad I got. It made more sense to me when the world didn't blow up.
Again this year, Wednesday Journal is asking readers for their nominations for our annual Villager of the Year award. Previously this selection process was as secret as picking the pope. But we asked for your ideas last year and the world didn't end, so we have decided to ask again.
No way in: Here's the money quote: "You bought a house right near North Avenue. There's traffic." Give River Forester Patty Marino the prize. She lives on Ashland Avenue just south of North Avenue and she opposes a proposal to make it illegal to turn right onto her street.
Oak Parkers used to quake at the thought of stores selling liquor. Especially on Madison Street. "Why you know, it's a clear shot from the West Side to Maywood," went the refrain. White liberal Oak Parkers weren't proud of the images it all conjured in their minds: Scary black people. Pint bottles. Endlessly zooming back and forth along Madison.
He talks about the great principal and the failing principal. And test scores don't come up. No mention of data or technology. Rather, Jean-Claude Brizard, the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, describes walking into two Chicago elementary schools, neither in the affluent neighborhoods of the city, and knowing almost instantly that one principal was a high flyer, the other rudderless.