Opposition, please

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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In one of the oddities of local government, Oak Park has been led by the same political party, the Village Manager Association, for nearly 60 years, but every election season the VMA candidates adopt a new banner under which to run.

So last week the VMA announced its slate, its enthusiasm for said slate, and this week the trio of actual candidates — Ray Johnson, Adam Sazlman and Bob Tucker — announced they would run as Citizens for Accountable Leadership. It is a fine name, as these things go, and its professions of inclusive decision-making, transparency in government and accountability to voters are all better than well-and-good. They're great!

There is only one thing missing in this town's homage to democracy. Loyal, active opposition.

Now it is not our place to choose the opposition. Any opposition is likely better than none. But what we'd love to see, and to date see no sign of developing, is a forward-looking opposition with a creative, positive view of Oak Park's future. Recent elections have proven that grumpy splinters off the old VMA block do not produce winners, and that few Oak Parkers see the VMA as an evil cabal which must be turned out of office.

Let's see some independent candidates or slates that implicitly match the VMA's focus on nonpartisan good government, but put forward ideas that differ on substantive issues: approaches to economic development, transitioning to a post-TIF world, ways to market Oak Park cohesively to tourists and locals, innovations in technology that can speed government and reduce costs, and practical ways to mesh local governments and consolidate services.

This village is filled with bright, capable people. An election of ideas without rancor would make this village stronger and its governance better. It would also force a situation where a village board with six white people or six males would be seen as unacceptable. And yet that is where we are headed if an unopposed VMA slate is elected in April.

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john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: November 5th, 2010 1:16 PM

Brad Bartels, VMA President,in Trib Local said QUOTE The VMA is not a political organization because it has no platform and only picks candidates they feel would be best for the job. He said the group does not actively campaign after the selections are made and released to the public. UNQUOTE. Should we wonder why independent candidates would suffer VMA interviews, agree to run as a slate,and run their campaigns with public policy disagreements limited to VCA candidates. Is money a factor?


Posted: November 4th, 2010 11:38 PM

Very funny! Opposition to what?! The Wednesday Journal has been cheerleading the policies and practices of the Village board. Nary a peep until now? I guess a contested election might result in some ad buys but other than that I can't understand the change of heart.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: November 4th, 2010 1:16 AM

Taking shots at Haley is one of the better activities in OP, but let's not ignore his message. The issue is whether we have the leadership to get the village going again. We blew the first decade of this century. TODAY we found out that D97 needs a big loan to survive,that we will use expiring TIF funds to beautify Madison, that a DOLLAR STORE will move into the old Wahlgreens site on Madison, and that the radical Madison SRO is steaming toward approval with little challenge. 1 Day at the WJ.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 1:00 PM

And one more point of clarification from my end: There are six trustees and one Village President. The Village President will be David Pope until at least 2013. Trustees Lueck and Brewer will be on the Board until at least 2013. So if you look at all six TRUSTEES, excluding the President, there is no scenario under which there could be six white male trustees. That is why the piece is confusing and could confuse readers / voters.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 12:52 PM

Mr. Haley, thanks for the clarification. I think my misunderstanding is that your math includes David Pope as a Trustee, rather than President. Either way, it seems this concern may be misplaced, because it says nothing about diversity of VIEWPOINTS. For example- what good is a board that ethnically or "genderly" diverse if everyone votes against a minimum wage ordinance? Shouldn't the point be a diversity of viewpoints and professional backgrounds and not just ethnic backgrounds and gender?

Dan Haley from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 11:37 AM

Ken, please read the final paragraph of our editorial. We are saying that if the VMA slate is elected that after April there will be six men (plus Colette Lueck) on the board. Or looked at another way, there will be six white people (plus Glen Brewer) on the board. I think our math is correct. You can agree or disagree with our concern. And perhaps the phrasing was inartful but I don't see it as inaccurate. Thanks for writing.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 11:08 AM

Colette Lueck and Glenn Brewer will still be on the Board after the April 2011 elections. So no matter what, there will not be an all-white, all-male board. The Wednesday Journal editorial board should retract this statement and print a correction.

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