Late Sunday afternoon I was driving around northeast Oak Park, trying to explain to my wife Mary the finer point of some discussion that had taken place at the office the previous week. Sometimes it is good to just drive and talk. There are no kids in the car. You're not waiting for a commercial to continue the discussion. There are no distractions.
I have, over the years, been tough on Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins. I have criticized her for being invisible in representing Oak Park and Austin on the Cook County board. Yes, it is possible I once offered $100 cash to anyone who ever spotted her in our fair village. I have criticized her for being complicit in the tax-hog, boondoggling, stuck-in-the-'50s approach to running the gigantic government that is the County of Cook.
Joel Sheffel, a lively and pugnacious advocate for people with disabilities in Oak Park and beyond, was found dead in his Oak Park apartment on Monday. Mr. Sheffel was 68 and reportedly suffered from leukemia, according to a spokeswoman for the Oak Park Housing Authority. He had last been seen at The Oaks late on Sunday evening.
Monday evening, the Oak Park village board reviewed the 2005 Downtown Oak Park master plan. This a week after the board had agreed to plunk down a million bucks in scarce TIF funds to buy a building on Westgate that it deemed "strategic" enough to overpay for.
About those crosswalks: The Arts District down on Harrison Street now has fun and, OK, maybe a little gaudy, crosswalks to go along with its collapsed building. The crosswalks are geometric, multicolored, and made out of some sort of plastic bonhomie.
Monday evening I was at Walgreens — the Walgreens, the green Walgreens, the thermo-nuclear-powered one over on Madison. We were there for the essentials. Eye liner. What 15-year-old girl can start the second week of school without new eye liner? And vanilla ice cream. When your wife makes apple pie, you have to be willing and able to go buy vanilla ice cream.
In a drug bust on Harrison Street on Aug. 4, Oak Park police confiscated more than 200 electronic devices — cellphones, fancy calculators, iPods. You know, the stuff we've all been buying for our high school kids. And since the alleged lead miscreant arrested in this case was a student at OPRF High School, the question was immediately raised, "Is that my kid's $179 scientific calculator!?"
What is an orphan? And why is this question being debated on our website? Does the Journal care more about white people who go missing? Or just people well known in the community? Ripped from the headlines of community journalism. Welcome to Oak Park in the summer of 2011.