VMA party evades transparency

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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The Village Manager Association party has governed for so long that they actually believe what they are doing is correct behavior. By their candidates not going to citizen sponsored events, they demonstrate supreme arrogance [Oak Park board hopefuls say no to Conversation, News, Feb. 9].

Then the current board of trustees, by hiding their decision making behind a consent agenda, denied citizens the right to a transparent government [Not enough discussion at the Oak Park village board table? News, Feb. 16].

When I served as a trustee from 2003 to 2007 (with the Village Citizens Alliance party), then-VMA party President Trapani, and later pseudo-independent President Pope (who has since returned to the VMA party fold), used (and uses) the consent agenda as a tool to limit debate and to block citizens from seeing what is happening.

There has always been a belief among members of the VMA party in marginalizing opposition voices, calling them NIMBYs, hiding behind consent agendas, creating appearances that others are out to get them, and that the ubiquitous "they" are out there trying to derail Oak Park by blocking the future.

Perhaps it's time to have primaries, and return to elections with all board members up every four years! Let the citizens, not a secretive caucus, pick their candidates. Let the electorate decide who will run in the general election. Model the election after Chicago's 50-plus-1 system. With this model, more citizens will run for office, and a greater choice of candidates will be available. The people will decide, not a caucus of the self-selected.

It's time for leadership that incorporates greater transparency, open government, no consent agendas, citizen commissions that matter, an end to cash-cow TIFs, and most of all an end to the Village Manager Association's arrogance.

By the way, Mr. Pope refers to the prior board dotting every I and crossing every T. He led that effort whenever he discussed brick sizes and colors. His words and actions still don't match.

Vote April 2013. It's not a mistake; I mean 2013.

Robert Milstein
Oak Park Village trustee, 2003-2007

Reader Comments

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Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 1:54 PM

@OP Resident...how did this,,,". Perhaps for you this election is not about one issue, but for many it is. The candidates need to take a stand.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 1:39 PM

Really, how can we know if the complaining OP Resident is the real OP Resident or one of the OP Resident(s) guilty of pseudonym abuse. I suggest that all OP Resident(s), with the exception of the real OP Resident, be forced to identify themselves. They can just sign in as OP Resident and confess. I also suggest that the OP Blog Security Commission submit a recommendation to the board on how to control the identity theft of unidentified bloggers.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 11:15 AM

How did this conversation get on the topic of the Comcast development? This opinion title reads "VMA party evades transparency" Written by Mr. Bob Milstein. There is NO mention of this project in his letter. It is the same people who comment about this project on every article. This election is about MANY issues not one!! Please Vote on April 5th......2011!!!

OP Resident  

Posted: March 5th, 2011 12:32 AM

A week or so ago, Village President David Pope posted an angry response to a question posed by "OP Resident". He demanded that this person reveal their true identity. It was very dramatic. The "OP Resident" now goin' toe to toe with John Murtaugh is definitely not the "OP Resident" who was challenged by the village pres. And I don't think I'm the infamous "OP Resident" either. David Pope seems a decent man who devotes a lot of time to Oak Park. Will the real "OP Resident" please stand up?

come on Bob from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 9:01 PM

I never thought I'd call bob a hypocrite, but he is. when I contacted him thourhg a mutual friend to get the name of a neighbor of his who told me she/he wanted to run for office, he told my emissary to Go F Yourself. the 2005 election was spent trying to persuade voters...oh who cares anymore.

P O'Shea  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 7:41 PM

With 51 cookie cutter barely big enough to qualify for the designation "one bedroom" units, this project refuses residents based on income. It is institutional housing. It doesn't matter where it goes. It's a proven failed model. This project is designed based on the fact that it has to be this way for the funding. At approx 333,333 tax dollars per unit to develop it's bad for any community.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 7:34 PM

All your time as a VMA President and you still have not developed a sense of humor. How can you survive without laughing once in a while?

OP Resident  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 7:23 PM

"institutional housing"- Your words not mine. How about being centrally locate to a good number of OP business districts? My point here is you seem to convey that if this was in NW OP that you'd be OK with it? As I've stated before, the NIMBY mentality is dangerous.

john murtagh from Oak Parl  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 7:15 PM

Great point on the trains though I am not sure the Metra will work - it's a bit expensive out of the way and unless you want to go to Lombard, you have to go downtown to get a train to the south and north. But the Blue/Green lines are great. Unfortunately, they only go east to Chicago where there are few low wage jobs. The low wage service jobs are west not east. I have never raised an issue about the person characteristics of possible residents. That type trash talk started with Interfaith

OP Resident  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 6:15 PM

Gee John, Where might one put that housing in NW OP where its close to 3 trains and multiple bus lines? Its called opportunity and location. Hey John, they wont bite. They are just people like you and me. People choose to live near commercial and busy areas and then expect things to be different?!?!? The OP arms is less than 500 yards away.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 5:43 PM

Gee OP Resident, I have to think about that a bit. Off the top of my head I would say that the Northwest corridor is not getting its fair share of institutional housing. Corruption in Chicago - Yes, but also creative government, active participation of voter, and a vivid vision.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 2:52 PM

John, What part of Oak Park has been left out? All seven trustees represent ALL of Oak Park. I suppose you want MORE representation!! More opportunity for corruption. For evidence reference Chicago.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 2:19 PM

The debate on OP government has to go beyond VMA and VCA or any other political unit. The true issue is how we select and vote for board member. Currently all board members are voted "At Large". That limits the voice of neighborhoods and does not guarantee representation of their concerns. The reform needed is election by neighborhood for the trustee seats and "At Large" vote for President. The approach would give us more diverse leadership while reducing the influence of special interest.

P O'Shea  

Posted: March 4th, 2011 8:17 AM

Meant vitriol. Commenting with an iPad is a pain in the...

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 11:12 PM

My observations of individuals in the VMA is nice people volunteering to help form the village. As a group..not sure. Such strong alignment makes me suspicious on how much group think is going on. And then, when questioned or opposed it seems VMA supporters come out with such vitrol...on the attack. I'm new to OP politics so I'm being cautious about forming an opinion. VMA spokespeople sure aren't engendering faith in independents.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 10:52 PM

We saw what happened the last time a NON VMA majority won an election. 2 out of 3 left the board mid term and the 3rd was Mr. Bob Milstein. Not a very pretty picture. Complete night mare.


Posted: March 3rd, 2011 9:44 PM

@OPPride: How ironic that you would call me anonymous, huh? Most VOTERS may agree with you, but 80% of Oak Park will not vote, either because they don't care or because they realize that VMA has a monopoly in this town. Let's face it - there is no credible opposition. I'd rather vote for even less than credible opposition than for the airbags that run OP. They won't win, so why not make a statement? In fact, why not rename VMA to PROP, the People's Republic of Oak Park? It certainly fits.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 8:49 PM

If you like Oak Park and how things are, then vote for the VMA. I think the overwhelming majority of Oak Parker's do and therefore the VMA shall win. The VMA candidates are very open to all points of interest and public discussion. Oak Park is a very different place than it was 50 yrs ago. Yet, the VMA has been very involved that whole time and should get credit for alot of what we see today in Oak Park. Thanks VMA.

OPPride from Oak Park  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 8:43 PM

@abc@hotmail.com Aren't you special! I will also vote in the election, and it will be for the candidates who actually offer real ideas and a positive vision for the future, not the perpetual grouches populating this message board who offer plenty of anonymous, personal and unsubstantiated criticism and nothing constructive. And I think, as in the past, most voters will agree with me--which is to say most voters will ignore you.


Posted: March 3rd, 2011 8:04 PM

I will vote in the election and it will be against the machine. I'm fed up with the BS politics from VMA. How can this community continue to sit around and let the VMA make decisions for them while refusing and/or ignoring input from the public? It reeks of a dictatorship as far as I'm concerned. I know it won't make a different, but I'll vote for change.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 7:53 PM

Really John? You say- "What's the use of being in public office if you told what you can say or hear?" Its called sticking to the points and having meetings that are focused and efficient. I would like to turn the question around to you and ask- Whats the use in NOT being in office and complaining about everything?

OPPride from Oak Park  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 6:10 PM

Sorry, I meant the Village gets a lot LESS frightening.

OPPride from Oak Park  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 6:09 PM

Hi John. The Village gets a lot more frightening if you have the guts to step out from behind your computer and actually do something productive. All you do is snipe.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 4:18 PM

If running for office was a prerequisite f involvement in the tommunity, OP would know little about what goes on in the village. There are thousands of OP'ers that freely express valued views w/o interest in running for office. At the 11/20/10 meeting to approve the Plan Com. Study of the Comcast Prop.,the agenda stated that board members could only comment on hgt, density, and land use. The public got NO comments. What's the use of being in public office if you told what you can say or hear?

OP Resident  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 3:17 PM

John, It seems simple to me. Stand for something, meet people that think the way you do, get them to like you and get as many votes as possible. Slate or no slate doesn't matter. You seem to be as active on these boards with your opinions and ideas. Now get out there and walk the walk.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 1:25 AM

I can guarantee that I would never run on a slate. I have criticized slates all my life. They are the tool of power grabbers. If my name appeared on a ballot, it would be alone. Not that that is going to happen -- ever again. Somehow people in OP think you have to be VMA or VCA -- No middle ground, no possibility of consensus, and no cooperation for the good of the village. This village can be frightening at times.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 2nd, 2011 1:34 PM

Last time I checked, the person(s) with the most votes wins! Ex VMAer- Milstein along with Gary Schawb should join John Murtagh and get together and RUN!! Its a new concept in politics. I guess 2 out of the 3 have.....and LOST. The Village has spoken. Losers always seem to have problems with the "system" or "form" of gov't. Dont forget to get out and VOTE April 5th Oak Park.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 2nd, 2011 11:15 AM

I agree with Milstein's assessment of the current state of governance in Oak Park. Bad decisions have and continue to be made with little public transparency. Developer, profit and non-profit, have excessive influence while residents wait at the the podium for their three minutes of obscurity. Consistently developers are treated as special guests at the House of Lords while residents at the podium are ignored. Perhaps it is time for a referendum on the OP form of government.

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