Shrubtown was off base this time

Opinion

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Wednesday Journal should retract Marc Stopeck's Nov. 9 cartoon depiction of trustees Milstein, Baker and Brock as club-wielding thugs standing on the "bodies" of the Steering Committee, the Crandall Arambula master plan, process, public input and expert testimony.

The cartoon is mean-spirited and dangerous. Mean-spirited because it smacks of character assassination. Dangerous because its portrayal of downtown development issues is untrue. It appears Mr. Stopeck has fallen for the panicked, high-pressure misinformation campaign of special interests. Four board members?#34;the three portrayed by Stopeck and Elizabeth Brady?#34;do not support roughly 20 percent of the Steering Committee development recommendations. Doing the math, that means this board is going along with 80 percent of what the Steering Committee wants.

But 80 percent is not good enough for the mostly VMAers who no longer find the village hall skids greased in favor of their taxpayer-funded ideas. They claim the sky is falling and that if they don't get their entire way downtown will surely shrivel up and die. Not versed in having to reach out for public support, the special interests have adopted the classic misinformation campaign that demonizes opponents, throws facts to the wind and stirs up the emotions of folks too busy to care.

Accordingly, the message of Stopeck's drawing is contrary to careful and inclusive public statements these board members have made to date. While they support the need for major change, they do not agree to knocking down historic buildings to create an unnecessary new street that primarily benefits the Taxman development. Traffic planners state that the new street will not alleviate congestion on Lake Street. These same board members question rather thoughtfully how this traffic plan impacts existing Marion businesses.

This is thuggish? This is tramping on process? The screamers would like you to think so. Some have been shocked at their tactics. After 52 years, the status quo is scrambling for sunglasses its never needed as the new board lets in sunshine on village government.

Marc's satire is usually "right on." Effective satire exposes truth by turning public opinion on its head and making people laugh. This time around Mr. Stopeck's attempt does neither.

Gary Johnson
Oak Park

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