David Pope's smart choice

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

David Pope came to our offices Monday morning to talk about why he is not running for a third term as Oak Park's village president. He spoke without notes. He hardly even paused for excessive periods of time to consider and reconsider his words. He did draw us one chart, which is a low number for him, and made me wish I'd kept all the charts he's drawn at the small round table in my office over the years.

This chart had to do with the level of village spending during the eight years he has been village president. Take away the cash being shoveled into the pension funds, a situation out of the control of the village Pope would be clear in stating, and spending is actually down by a million bucks a year.

That is a measurable thing and David Pope likes to measure things. And after he measures that thing, he likes to compare it to another measurable thing. So the actual drop in village spending is compared to the community surveys of recent years that show locals are happier with village services, even though the village workforce has been reduced by 20 percent in recent years.

Conclusion from all that measuring: Oak Park's government is getting more professional, more efficient. And that is why, when he is asked to explain projects he wishes he could stay on to complete, David Pope starts with "performance measurement" as a process and standard for making choices and decisions for the village going forward.

The village president regularly tells me that he has sworn off reading the comments at our website at OakPark.com. But he allows that he did take a peek last week after we posted the story that reported he would not run for re-election. And it is not the anonymous mopes questioning his virility and values that gets him jabbering. It is the lady on North Hayes complaining about the village wasting money on this or that while her street gets rutted with potholes that has him upset.

Doesn't she know, he says, that Oak Park has set a goal of 70 percent of something or another related to smooth streets and that we have now climbed to 69.5 percent as measured by a third party that evaluates every street and alley with a laser device and ranks them?! Her street is on the matrix to get fixed, but repairing streets faster would mean spending more money, and that would endanger the flat-spending model which indicates greater professionalism and efficiency.

That, friends, is David Pope. And you've got to love the guy. Even when he is annoying. Maybe especially when he is annoying.

David Pope loves Oak Park. He feels blessed to have arrived here as an adopted kid in the 1960s. His activist mom inculcated him with the Oak Park gene. And he and his wife, Beth, feel blessed to be raising their two daughters here.

So scotch the rumors he is moving out of town after he leaves office. They just spent two years renovating a house. They're not moving. Scotch the rumors he wants to run for Congress or the state legislature.

"I have no interest in ever serving in a legislative body," he said.

He came to the right decision not to run for a third term. Oak Park isn't about 12-year presidents. But David Pope will be around, and he will be active, and he will continue to make Oak Park and the area surrounding it a better place.

Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

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Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: October 27th, 2012 8:47 AM

Pope's single skill is conveying the appearance of being knowledgeable despite being clueless. His self-confidence is consistently greater than his expertise, his patronizing arrogance greater than his grasp. Pope is over his head, out of his depth, and wholly unaware of the fact. He does not facilitate policy, he lectures and micro-manages. Eventually, the village board felt like window dressing and withdrew their support, leaving Pope alone in his own world of delusion.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 24th, 2012 1:24 AM

Most officials are patient and confident enough to wait for their peers to give testimony to their good works when they leave office, but not David Pope. David chose to list his accomplishment in his resignation statement. His statement lists no failures guaranteeing he will get no praise for humility. The sad thing about his statement and the two articles written about his decision in the WJ, was that there is no recognition of any help he received along the way. No comments about the efforts of Village Manager Barwin who deserved the prime kudos for the budget cuts of the 2000's. No mention of the 15 trustees he served with who must have given him some support, help, and maybe even friendship during the Pope years. No thank you to the village staff, commissioners, or people who helped him get elected. David's problem as president was that he had trouble listening to suggestions from others. He is a man with supreme confidence - in himself - That OK, but it is a serious and dangerous characteristic in leadership positions. Hopefully, David has learned some lessons from his time as a civic leader for use in his future endeavors. He is a good person and I always enjoyed his company. I wish him a world of success in the future.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 23rd, 2012 11:58 PM

Hopefully, OP is not about twelve year trustees as well.

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