Politics, business stir Oak Park village president election ethics debate

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Portions of the Oak Park Ethics Ordinance have raised questions for local restaurateur Anan Abu-Taleb in his run for village president.

The longtime Oak Parker — who along with his wife owns Maya del Sol restaurant, managed by his son — is making his first bid for elected office in his run for the village's top elected office. But a recent challenge from his opponent in the race, current Village Trustee John Hedges, about a possible conflict of interest has created some buzz.

In Oak Park, the village president also acts as the local liquor license commissioner, one member of a group that consists of five appointed residents and the village clerk. The president doesn't have voting power on the liquor board, and a chairperson is subsequently appointed by the president/commissioner, with the approval of the village board.

Hedges has suggested owning a restaurant with a liquor license and serving as the local liquor commissioner appears to pose a conflict, as specified by Oak Park's ethics ordinance. He didn't comment specifically on Abu-Taleb's ability to serve in both roles, but he said he'd like the issue cleared up.

"I think the ordinance speaks for itself," Hedges said. "I just think we need to know the answers."

Former Oak Park village attorney Ray Heise, who voiced his opinion in a letter to the editor, believes that, under state and local laws, Abu-Taleb can't hold a liquor license and be village president. Maya del Sol's liquor license technically is held by his wife, Margaret Abu-Taleb, but Heise said local regulations address that too.

"Under Oak Park law, which I think is a very well thought out and good ethics ordinance, that ordinance extends the prohibition to the president's spouse as well as the president," the retired village government attorney said. If Abu-Taleb is elected, Heise said it would immediately put the new president in conflict with the ordinance. The only way to avoid it, he said, would have to be a "very specific action in place to address that beforehand."

"The election is less than a month away and that's a critical issue for the village," Heise said. The only way he believes it is possible for Abu-Taleb to remain a viable candidate is if he and his wife divest themselves of any interest in Maya del Sol and its liquor license.

The alternative? "Vacate the position of village president should he be elected," Heise noted. "It's pretty simple and pretty understandable. It's not unreasonable to prohibit. It's an issue of public trust. I think he needs to address it."

Liquor board logistics

The role of the Liquor Control Review Board is to investigate and review all applications and renewals of liquor licenses. The paperwork for the licensees is processed through the Village Clerk's Office, and the volunteer liquor board acts as a body to recommend whether a license should be approved or not. The group has no final say about licenses, as that is up to the full village council.

The liquor board meets roughly once a month, but attending the meetings isn't technically necessary for the president/liquor control commissioner. The liquor commission asks basic questions and reviews paperwork to ensure the applicant complies with rules and regulations, according to Mas Takiguchi, a member of the liquor board, who is also serving as one of Abu-Taleb's legal counsels for his campaign.

In fact, Takiguchi said current Village President David Pope rarely attends meetings, though he said that is not a reflection of his commitment. He believes the president doesn't serve a vital role on the liquor board but rather acts as a silent leader.

"He's more a figurehead of authority, with absolutely no power. He does not enforce liquor licenses," he said. In Oak Park, he added, there is no enforcement authority for specific violations; it's more of a reporting role.

"You can't help your friends," Takiguchi added. "It's more of a signature on official documents."

Still, Abu-Taleb's legal counsel said, if the restaurant owner is elected, there may be questions about he and his wife divesting ownership. This is something Abu-Taleb has said he'd review if necessary.

Regardless of the potential conflict, the longtime businessman said he thinks this issue is diverting attention away from matters of real importance. He feels the ordinance is an outdated "prohibition type of thing" that doesn't relate to matters facing Oak Park today.

"There is no conflict for me running for office," Abu-Taleb said strongly. "At the end of the day, I will have to reach out and make decisions. If I have to divest myself from the business, I will do so. … If I'm going to be president I have to respect the ordinance and the law."

He called this matter a "non-issue" for him and said he wants to move on and show Oak Park he's got the energy and passion to make a change. He thinks ordinance details like this are what keep Oak Park stuck in the past.

"Let's focus on big issues," he said.

Takiguchi said that as a member of the liquor board, he doesn't see Abu-Taleb's position as potential village president and local liquor commissioner being in conflict. He said no one on the liquor board has the power to vote in personal interests.

"If elected, he'd comply with every ethics code that is out there," Takiguchi said. He said Abu-Taleb has the ability to be both village president and a restaurant/bar owner. "It's a prohibition law. It's not totally prohibitive."

Where the code comes into play

Multiple sections of Oak Park's code, specifically areas that address potential conflicts of interest, highlight what roles might jeopardize an elected official's judgment. Having an interest in a licensing decision is explicitly stated in the code. Having the power to perform an "official act or action" related to licensing decisions is also prohibited for elected employees.

While the village president has no voting power on the liquor control board, the president does have some authority when it comes to keeping the board of trustees informed about the commission's activities, according to village code.

This includes actions like voicing an opinion about whether a license should be granted, rejected or revoked; authorizing law enforcement to enter a premise at any time to address violations and examine premises; receive complaints from any citizen about violations. Paperwork and fees, however, are dealt with through the clerk's office, and any official vote still needs to be approved by the village board.

While Heise sees this as an issue, Takiguchi argued that the policies aren't black and white. For example, Takiguchi said there are boards in the village, such as zoning and housing that have property managers as members. The power to vote on issues that any commissioner has a direct interest in would pose a conflict, he said but reiterated that, if elected, Abu-Taleb wouldn't have that voting power. Besides informing the clerk's office or police about violations, code enforcement is out of the president's hand, he added.

Heise, however, has a different view of the role of the liquor control commissioner, which he details in his letter to Wednesday Journal.

"If Mr. Abu-Taleb is elected president of the village, he would automatically become the local liquor control commissioner and, therefore, the primary enforcement official for state and village liquor laws. As such, state and village laws would prohibit him from holding a liquor license in the village," Heise wrote.

His letter goes on to explain where he thinks the local problems could arise.

"The village's ethics ordinance would prohibit him from having a financial or personal interest in a business which is incompatible with the proper discharge of his official duties in the public interest or which may tend to impair his independence of judgment or action in the performance of his official duties."

In the end, Heise said he wants a better explanation of how Abu-Taleb will avoid what he calls a clear conflict. Abu-Taleb's counsel, however, doesn't believe his candidate's position as a business owner and liquor license commission gives him any power to abuse the system — which leaves one question on the table:

What does the future ownership of Maya del Sol look like if Abu-Taleb is elected?


OP village code: Liquor license control commissioner

Below are relevant sections of Oak Park's Village Code (chapter 3) as it relates to the role of the liquor control commissioner and elected offices:

"The President of the Board of Trustees, with the consent of the Village Board of Trustees, shall appoint a Liquor Control Review Board of five Oak Park residents to investigate and review all applications, renewals and complaints; to investigate the operation of all licensed establishments, conduct hearings, receive evidence and sworn testimony and make recommendations to the Commissioner.

Members of the Board shall serve, without compensation, for a term of three years. The President of the Board of Trustees shall appoint a chairperson, with the consent of the Board of Trustees, from among the members of the Liquor Control Review Board to serve as chairperson for a term of one year. The President of the Board of Trustees, as Local Liquor Control Commissioner, shall also serve as a nonvoting ex officio member of the Liquor Control Review Board."

"No such liquor license shall be issued to… any elected public official, Oak Park Village employee, or member of the Oak Park Liquor Control Review Board, and no such official shall be interested in any way, either directly or indirectly in any business holding an Oak Park liquor license. Indirect interests shall include, but not be limited to, any business relationship or contractual relationship of any elected public official, Oak Park Village employee or member of the Oak Park Liquor Control Review Board with any Oak Park liquor license holder."

Powers, functions and duties

The Commissioner shall notify the Board of Trustees of the Commissioner's activities and shall have the following powers, functions and duties with respect to licenses:

  • To grant and, subject to article 7 of this chapter, to suspend for not more than thirty (30) days, revoke for cause or to deny renewal of, all local liquor licenses issued to persons for premises within the Commissioner's jurisdiction.
  • To enter or to authorize any law enforcing officer to enter at any time upon any premises licensed hereunder to determine whether any of the provisions of this chapter or any rules or regulations adopted by the Commissioner and Liquor Control Review Board or by the State Liquor Commission have been or are being violated, and at such time to examine said premises of said licensee in connection therewith.
  • To receive complaints from any citizen within the Commissioner's jurisdiction that any of the provisions of this chapter, or any rules or regulations adopted pursuant thereto, have been or are being violated and to act upon such complaints in the manner hereinafter provided.
  • To receive local liquor license fees and pay the same forthwith to the Village Collector.
  • In the event that an application is rejected by the Commissioner, the Board of Trustees may overrule the Commissioner if a motion to do so is made within forty five days of the rejection. If the Commissioner is overruled and the Board of Trustees, by ordinance, has created a liquor license of the class applied for, the Commissioner shall issue such liquor license to the applicant. 

Contact:
Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

79 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Brendan  

Posted: March 17th, 2013 7:04 PM

Has John Hedges accepted any campaign contributions from bars or restaurants? Does the VMA selection committee include any bar or restaurant owners? Wouldn't this be a conflict as well? If so, why isn't it?

@Name That Trustee  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 7:24 PM

who is Semi-Lucid Lueck! You know that one who is always eating and drink the 72oz big gulp at the board table. I have a new voting strategy: If I see a Hedges et al. yard sign next to any D200 yard signs I make a note to self to not vote for those candidates, also. My taxes are now three times what they were when I moved here, all other cost have skyrocketed and services have dropped, my street is crumbling and all while we build million dollar streets for pope's friends on Marion.

Name That Trustee  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 7:00 PM

It's time once again for Name That VMA trustee... "Eating and driving is bad, m'kay?" Thank God we have the VMA to address the real issues in Oak Park.

Ms. Hedges, Don't Patronize Us  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 5:25 PM

VMA always views opposition with outrage, contempt and disdain. You need to learn about the history of the VMA. Dwight Follett, Sy Giddings and others didn't create the VMA to END good government in Oak Park. They worked to CREATE good government. For a time they were successful, but now with sixty plus years of one party rule, the VMA has come to rival the "Chicago Style" machine you talk about. It is time to get current, clean house and restore democracy in Oak Park.. Anan can help us do this.

OP Resident #734  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 7:50 PM

Jane, I apologize if I crossed a line and offended. We're all neighbors with a common desire to see Oak Park flourish. If there is a concern with ethics it should have been vetted months ago. I'm not happy with the direction the village leadership has taken and would like the opportunity to vote for change in the only contested race in the upcoming election. The timing of this discussion, in my opinion, demonstrates questionable judgment.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 3:45 PM

Thanks, Jane

Jane Hedges from Oak Park,Il  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 3:34 PM

John M, there was nothing you said to me that was offensive. I don't think you need to apologize . I was talking about people calling names. I don't believe in nastiness, and you certainly have never been nasty to me.

JMG from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 2:54 PM

I bought a house in OP for the schools and agreed they were worth the high taxes at 4900. If I were making this same decision 13 years later I would look at the 14k sticker and go to Elmhurst. David King says there a LOT of interest in OP. Is that before they find out the cost. David Pope was elected because he was independent of the VMA and Trapani so I voted Pope. My family income does not come from the village or schools or favored business so I don't have a voice in OP speaking for me.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 2:32 PM

Actually Jane, I was keeping you informed re Oak Park flat population of 0-17 in the last ten years. Berwyn was just a comparison. I apologize if being so fact based irritated you. That was not my intent.

Jane Hedges from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 2:07 PM

Speedway, it makes me sad to see the lack of interest in the Seopco forum you attended. People need to get informed and get involved regardless of their choice of candidate. I cannot believe the name calling from Resident 734. I will not ever be a part of that type of comment so I guess I'll stay away from looking at comments. I don't like nastiness. John M, thanks for keeping me informed re. Berwyn. Since I refuse to be nasty, I'm out of here.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 1:32 PM

Jane Hedges - According to the 2010 Census Oak Park's population of 0-4 year olds declined by about a half a percentage point and 5-17 year olds increased by bout one half a percentage. For comparison, Berwyn population of 0.4 year old increase by 7.9% in 2010 and 5-17 increase by 7.3%. I am not sure how the numbers relate to VMA education, but they do say that Oak Park is definitely not getting younger.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 1:27 PM

Sorry, but all this back and forth about candidates and what Oak Parkers want and are tired of has no meaning. I went to the forum for Seopco last nite for the Board of Ed candidates and about 20 people showed up, and I think most of those were friends and family of the candidates. The new mantra for Oak Park should be, "Oak Parkers simply do not care". What little caring I see seems entirely self-serving.

OP Resident #734  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 1:06 PM

Fully aware of why the VMA was formed and feel that its values and value have been lost with time. If we're going to dummy down to this kind of politicking, why have elections at all? VMA is trying to invalidate the opponent in the only contested race. Couldn't we just appoint a VMA Emperor and save a bunch of money wasted on campaigns and arrive at the same outcome?

Jane Hedges from Oak Park,Il  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:53 PM

There are so many young people moving here to raise their family in Oak. I can only hope that they research the history of the V.M.A. before they vote. It is important for them to understand why the V.M.A. was started, and how it helped Oak Park become a diverse community and a community that saw politics "Chicago Style" years ago and fought to keep it out. I love Oak Park for these qualities among many! O.P.Resident

Undecided Voter  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:47 AM

I had that same thought, Enuf, about equal opportunity. Beyond the basic qualifications, categorically eliminating a group of people from elected office is wrong. Beyond Anan, I'd like to see this "ethics law" challenged so others in the future don't face this same problem. What's more, I'd argue that being invested in the community through having a liquor license is a benefit, not a conflict. We OPers trust Anan to sell alcohol but not sit as a Trustee? That would be silly.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:07 AM

Part 1: Any village ordinance that excludes certain individual residents from the equal opportunity to serve as village president based on their occupation (such as a business establishment owner with a liquor license) appears to be a discriminatory policy. To be non-discriminatory, this ordinance simply needs to be amended to state that another village board member shall act as Local Liquor Control Commissioner if the village president has a conflict of interest in this role.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:06 AM

Part 2: According to the Oak Park Diversity Statement, "The Village of Oak Park commits itself to a future ensuring equal access, full participation in all of the Village's institutions and programs, and equality of opportunity in all Village operating policies." By denying a resident the opportunity to serve as Village President, the village denies that individual an opportunity of equal access and full participation the Village institutions and operating policies.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:06 AM

Part 3: In addition, how does this differ from President Pope having the authority to appoint commissioners to the Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals, while remaining a member of the Oak Park Area Association of Realtors and board member of the Oak Park Development Corporation?

James  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 7:11 AM

I'm with OP and Clayton. If this was really an issue, Mr. Hedges would have raised it months ago, or would have challenged the petitions. Seems to me it indicates Mr. Hedges lack of vision and, ergo, lack of leadership. We certainly don't need more of that in Village Hall.

OP Resident #734  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 9:29 PM

Clayton nailed it. Why not raise this concern months ago, unless this just a thinly-veiled, classless attack by the 800 lb gorilla in our community? We don't allow bullying in our schools, so why allow it in our elections? Hope David can take Goliath down on Election Day.

Poor Richard  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 8:22 PM

It has been some time since we have had such candidates that were so different in their personalities. Independent David Pope and VMA Diana Carpenter come to mind. We all learn from each other and I am sure that the candidates benefit from the give and take of a debate.

Tired of it  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 12:47 PM

I'm surprised that the VMA is so scared that they would stoop to this crap. Guess what political minds behind the VMA. Most educated adults see through this crap. It's only going to further your current reputation. If I were your campaign manager I would back off this tactic immediately rather than giving my candidate the talking point of his family would have to divest too.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 12:24 PM

I was at the village president candidates forum last night that Wednesday Journal hosted at the library. I'd encourage all residents to vote, and to research the candidates. They are very different--different perspectives, different ways of solving problems, different views on how things are to be done, and different interpretations of numbers and stats. It was an eye-opening evening. Next gathering is a candidates fair on Saturday, 23rd, hosted by the League of Women Voters, at the library.

Clayton  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:49 AM

Ok, on paper there's a conflict no question. But this is dirty pool. This guy has no chance of winning, I would imagine the egg heads at the VMA know that. This guy runs one of the more popular restaurants in the area on a crappy part of the street and you have to work with him after you all your mud dragging. You're going to win John, try to do it with some class.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:34 AM

A certain amount of the outrage over a potential conflict of interest smacks of political gotcha. Too bad there has not been equal concern expressed over our government offficials who take advantage of perks offered to them by companies doing business with the Village or cases where special consideration is granted to favored individuals by allowing them to place their owned permanent structures on the public sidewalks. Should citizens be wondering about the alley repair projects that were approved by and benefited board members' residences? Have the ethics ordinances always been applied equally or exceptions granted to the decision makers and insiders?

Remember When?  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 7:31 AM

Trustee Ray Johnson was a guest bartender at Papaspiros? No ethics complaints then.

Seriously? from Joke Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 7:30 AM

Yes, Brendan, exactly! A great example of VMA lapdogs with shadowy ethics (btw, is Pope on the Ethics committee? Where's the outrage over the conflict of interest of Pope's syncophany and shamelessly trying to get a post-Village President job with Cuneen?). Sickening. But of course the VMA will mudsling at Anan....

Brendan  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 7:12 AM

Hedges must be giddy with excitement. Where's the ethics committee when the village board fills the pockets of Gary Cuneen with taxpayer dollars?

REALLY? from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 6:29 AM

Problem Solved? Just recuse yourself and then rule against your wife or child at a hearing. No Problem.... Not going to happen in reality that is why the Ethics Ordanance addresses the issue, not the Liquor Ordanance.

Seriously? from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 6:28 AM

The VMA is questioning someone's ethics? Over $4000 in unpaid taxes that has been pardoned? Ridiculous. Decisions made by the VMA and it lapdogs that I feel have been questionable ethically have cost this Village millions. I'm going to happily vote AGAINST the VMA for their shadowy ethics and happily VOTE FOR ANAN for coming clean about his shortcomings and being a fresh voice that the Village needs.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 11:58 PM

Tired of Politics - Re the unanswered Teresa Powell Questions, Yes, She is a long term member of the VMA and is endorsed by the VMA in this year's election. Are you posting as a private citizen even though you draw a Village salary or as a Village employee? All I can say is that she posts occasionally as a public service when the message has value to the VMA.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 11:50 PM

Voter - I am 100% in agreement with your comments about Joe's suggestion to resolve the liquor commission problem.. It makes great sense!! That might be a negative for the idea. OPV's codes are not designed for common sense.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 11:45 PM

At tonight's WJ Debate moderated by Dan Haley, there was a question to Anan on the conflict of issues related to holding OP Political Office and having and ownership stake in a business with an liquor license. Anan stated that he was prepared to resign from the liquor commission if elected and agreed to relinquishing ownership shares in Maya del Sol. Trustee Hedges rebutted that all members of Anan family would have to relinquish shares as well. Anan said he would not stipulate to that. I looked up the The Village Code Chapt 3, Article 3-3-1:Item N, and did not find any statement that family members must relinguish ownership as well. Are there any lawyers (Attorney Heise excluded) on WJ Comments that can clarify this matter? Text from code follows: "Any elected public official, Oak Park Village employee, or member of the Oak Park Liquor Control Review Board, and no such official shall be interested in any way, either directly or indirectly in any business holding an Oak Park liquor license. Indirect interests shall include, but not be limited to, any business relationship or contractual relationship of any elected public official, Oak Park Village employee or member of the Oak Park Liquor Control Review Board ("LCRB") with any Oak Park liquor license holder or Oak Park liquor license applicant or anyone who such elected public official, Oak Park employee or LCRB member knew or reasonably should have known would be an applicant for an Oak Park liquor license within one year of such business or contractual relationship; (Ord. 2003-0-46, 10-20-03; amd. Ord. 2008-0-046, 10-20-08)."

Voter  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 10:47 PM

Joe from South Oak Park hit it on the head. During Anan's term as Village President appoint another person to the position of Liquor Control Commissioner. Codes and Ordinances are changed frequently. Mr. Heise helped change many codes and ordinances during his many years as Village Attorney. It is obvious though that is not the solution Mr. Heise is looking for.

Resident  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 10:14 PM

Let me jog some memories. Heise was Village Attorney and Hedges Trustee when the Chief Financial Officer (who came from a high ranking job at the City of Chicago) gave a friend of his wife $285,000 as a PeopleSoft consultant. The friend incorporated herself 3 days before she was given the contract. Was that CFO fired? No, he is stil CFO. Heise/Hedges were there when a previous CFO had work done on his house by village crews and equipt . Was he fired? No, but crews were. Good old boys club

John Abbott from Oak Park   

Posted: March 13th, 2013 9:57 PM

Sure there's a potential conflict of interest issue here, but Heise's comments were way over the top. Oak Park politics are dominated by a fairly narrow section of our population -- lawyers, consultants, people in real estate, the usual. Anan's candidacy is good for Oak Park if only because it has broadened our conception of who's qualified to public office. Heise's posturing reflects the rage of a consummate insider incensed that the gates have been opened to someone outside his comfort zone.

Poor Richard  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 5:16 PM

Ethics is of course is a subscription to a set of moral principles. Courage is owning up to actions. Character is taking action based on beliefs and responsibilities.

Citizen X  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 2:09 PM

In my opinion, ethics issues, however minor, should be taken into account when electing people to political office.

Undecided Voter  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 12:16 PM

Ethics Count, I think you've accidentally stumbled onto the real problem..."Ever since the Village Board voted to permit liquor licenses in Oak Park." We used to be dry and still have a lot of puritanical, teetotaler nonsense leftover about the ins and outs of people getting their hands on that evil drink. Graft and corruption? Please. If we're that concerned, let's put liquor licenses to a public vote like other communities. I suspect that the vast majority of businesses would get their permit.

Ethics Count from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 12:06 PM

Ever since the Village Board voted to permit liquor licenses in Oak Park, it has carefully worked to create distance between the sale of liquor and its potential for influence on or by elected officials and government employees. In many cities, this mix has attracted graft and corruption. To date, our Village ethics ordinance has protected us from such abuses. Ignoring the ordinance now for the sake of electing a particular person opens the door to a path we should not follow.

Undecided Voter  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 11:26 AM

I'm sooo with you, Joe. But ten bucks says if Anan is elected somebody files an idiotic lawsuit over this...wasting everybody's time. Either move the role away from the President if the Pres has a conflict or let Anan abstain on a case by case basis if Maya is the subject at hand. Heaven forbid somebody with a liquor license be Village President! You're right, there's nothing to see here.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 11:16 AM

easy enough of a situation to handle. adopt a temporary rule moving the role of liquor commissioner to another individual in the city government during his term, if elected. also the compensation for village president would be lowered appropriately, and raised for whomever takes on the new responsibility as liquor commissioner. Not much to see here.

Res Ipsa  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 11:16 AM

Why not debate the merits? The thrill of negative campaigning is counter productive and takes away from the message. If there is a message, let's have it. Campaigns should sell the message of the candidate and let the electorate exercise their right.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 11:10 AM

As Clerk I help to administer the liquor ordinance. I thought it would be helpful to those discussing this issue to have this information.

Tired of Politicians  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 11:05 AM

Thanks Teresa; did someone on this board ask you to post? If not, how/when do you decide to post? Are you affiliated with the VMA? Are you posting as a private citizen even though you draw a Village salary or as a Village employee?

Unfortunately  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 10:52 AM

I see that it's business as usual by the VMA and their political team: slime, slime, slime the opposition!!! I mean, c'mon, what IS the issue here? That Anan chose to run for Prez because he wanted to obtain a liquor license? The restaurant already has one! Because his wife is secretly a member of the mob and he's running for Prez in order to expand her mob links?!? How about the former D97 teacher's union leader on the D97 board AND he has a son working as a teacher in D97?!?

Undecided Voter  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 10:44 AM

Glad to see Oak Park is joining Cicero in the "slime and muck elections" business! Dirty campaigns are so entertaining. Hey, let's use legal issues and character smears to make the election about anything but which candidate the voters think would do the better job! Too bad a 3rd person didn't choose to run...looks like the perfect campaign for someone to sneak in under the radar while voters are busy complaining about the other 2. lol

Teresa Powell  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 10:38 AM

From the Village Code: Chapt 3, Article 3-3-1: Restrictions on liquor licenses: No such liquor license shall be issued to: (N) Any elected public official...and no such official shall be interested in any way, either directly or indirectly in any business holding an Oak Park liquor license. Indirect interests shall include, but not limited to, any business relationship or contractual relationship of any elected official...

Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 10:15 AM

I think the comments are more useful then the article. WJ you need to do some reporting or posting on the felony charges against Anan. Not of us were here in 1994. If the charges are true and he was pardoned by Blago, it makes it hard to vote for the guy and I really want to vote against the VMA.

Tim Red from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 2:39 AM

I have owned two bars. When I bought one of my bars, I was a part time Police officer. To get my Liqour License, I had to be totally seperated from the Village! I really do not think the Village Manager or President, that serves as a Liqour Commissioner, should not have any envolvement in any established business in the same town! I do not know the man, but it just is not right!

Voter  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 11:11 PM

I thought Heise retired and moved to Florida. No such luck.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 10:51 PM

Franklin - I want the press to report.......objectively!!!-

Booz Hound  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 10:22 PM

What about the situation where the President Elect is a drunk who consumes too much booze? Wouldnt that biased his/her view as to how the liquor licenses are overseen?!?!?!? Get real people.

Franklin from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 9:24 PM

John, I am not sure what is wrong with the law. Ethics laws are created in a nature to prevent a conflict of interest and protect the public. If the President holds influence over the liquor licenses then to be a liquor license holder would be a conflict of interest. That is pretty basic... Rays letter may have been a bit to strong, but the point remains, and voters deserve a clear picture of what Anan plans to do if he is elected. That isn't that hard...

Franklin from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 9:21 PM

You all make it seem like this came out of the blue. The reason for this is because it was brought up in a Candidate forum and not thoroughly addressed. Do you NOT want the press to report? Do you NOT want to know about possible issues with your local election? As with any election, its best to get the issue out of the way and move on. Anan says he wants to move on the the important issue, then explain what you would do if elected and lets move on. Its simple.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 8:46 PM

Lisa - I agree with you that the tax issue is valid, though I doubt that most OP'ers are as honest with taxes as you are. My post, and use of the word slimey was not directed at the candidates' tax issues, it was directed at partisan interpretation of law by an ex-Oak Park Legal Counsel with the help of the blood seeking press. Fact is; if there is a law that says that a restaurant owner with a liquor license cannot be the president of a village, then there is something wrong with law. A lawyer with integrity would have recognized that and first considered whether the law can legally be enforced before assailing an opponent. ..

Lisa Butler from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 8:10 PM

I am by no means a VMA supporter, but this is a real issue. It isn't slime. Oak Park voters deserve a full answer on this from the candidate. If someone is thinking of voting for Abu-Taleb, they need to know that he could actually hold office. But for me the tax conviction issue is a much bigger issue. That smells like some other communities, but not Oak Park. I pay my taxes, and I'm honest about how I report them. Get over your political differences and acknowledge these are real issues.

Oak Park Voter  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 7:48 PM

Mr. Anan Abu-Taleb you are a breath of fresh air! When have we heard any prominent person in America admit he or she has made a mistake and is contrite? Hardly ever. Americans are some of the most compassionate people in the world and we love this rare kind of honesty. We love second chances. We love competency. And, we love Maya del Sol and the lively contribution it is to Oak Park. Buckle your seat belt, it's going to be a bumpy ride! Good luck to you. You've got my vote!

FELON from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 6:57 PM

This is a conflict of interest. How Pope has or hasn't used this postion is NOT relavant. If elected this CONVICTED FELON, PARDONED by Blago though connections AND MONEY will have too much influence on the Liquor Board.. No one can assume what he would or wouldn't do because he has no track record of public service. I do like the food at Maya though.

Dan from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 6:25 PM

Seems to me that Mr. Heise is doing what he can to advance the candidacy of a former colleague. I'm sure Anan's attorney would argue that Heise is overstating the severity of the issue. Regardless, this is one of MANY relevant issues in this race, and it is disappointing that WJ sent this out as a dedicated news blast. Let the voters decide the election without making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Long time Oak Parker from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 6:19 PM

Whether we like it or not, the Ethics Ordinance is the law in Oak Park. It is specific with respect to the conflict between holding a liqor license in the Village and being Village President. Do we really want someone as Village President who cannot tell us precisely how he will resolve that conflict BEFORE we vote? He is willing to go ahead with his candidacy, and potentially put the Village through the (legal) wringer for his own ambition? Wow!

JRM from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 6:16 PM

I wonder why the President Pope is on the Liquor Commission. If the village needs representation on the Liquor Commission should't it be the village attorney? I can't imagine what role a Board President would have except possibly influencing the voting commission members.

Merrill Weber from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 6:05 PM

Your article states without comment that Mr. Abu-Talal's wife holds his restaurant's liquor license. According to your article of May 5, 2009 called "Hard to say when it's pay to play," he is prohibited under state law from holding a liquor license based on his 1994 guilty plea related to his business practices in his pizza chain. Yet this man, if village president, will be head of the liquor commission. I think this should have been reported in the article above these comments.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 6:00 PM

I'm with Charles K on the idea that a discussion on ethics is in order. There are a host of the issues in the village that have occured in the past decade that have not been vetted..

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 5:59 PM

This smells like a obvious effort to keep power in the same hands. Oak Park needs more businesses. The current power structure has been woefully unsuccessful in attracting them. Their opponent is the owner of a successful business. And now, that's the reason he CAN'T be elected? What a joke.

Random Citizen from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 5:57 PM

"Since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its misrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even intend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to deceive us about is his enterprise. His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to." Harry G. Frankfurt

Random Citizen from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 5:46 PM

There is no shame in Ray Heise having been a Village employee while Oak Park was under VMA leadership (when has it not been?) And there is no shame in being on the VMA board today. So I am surprised that Mr. Heise is not so identified in the Wednesday Journal's article. It is the VMA which, under any other name, opposses Anan.

Charles K. from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 5:37 PM

I don't know. Hedges seems like he's onto something. I think he might be right on this. The voters need an explanation BEFORE the election about what Anan would do. Also, I agree with the earlier Charles, this is a legit issue. Ethics matter!

Maggie from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 5:31 PM

Sounds like business as usual with the good old boys. I have lived in the same HOME in Oak Park for 50 years. Nothing ever changes for the better in Oak Park. I feel the Village has constantly been afraid of change. Especially if it is for the better. Mr. Anan you have my vote. I do not care if you sell liquor in your restaurant. Mr. Heise should mind himself. He is no longer a village official. Mr. Anan I will pray you win this election so we can see some changes for the better.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 5:30 PM

There is political slime all over this article. It was a cynical question raised twice by John Hedges at the BCC debate. Anon replied that he had an attorney looking into the issse,and wouid follow the attorney's advise. HIs response was clear, if the attorney said he could not serve in both positions then Anan would resign from the liquor commission. The ex-village attorney raises more bogus issues and the WJ jumps in reporting "British Tabloid" style without even getting an opinion from the Oak Park Village Attorney, Are there children on the street yelling "Extra, Extra, President Race in Chaos." This story is nonsense and three people with last names beginning with "H" owe an apology to us all.

Concerned Business Owner from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 5:23 PM

If it is okay for Democrat Mike Madigan to be Speaker of the Illinois House and also be a partner in a law firm that does real estate tax appeals, then it should be okay for an owner of an Oak Park business to run for office, whether or not he has a liquor license. Can't he recuse himself if Maya came in question?

Let's Focus on the Issues from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 5:04 PM

I realize that the question of Anan owning a liquor license is important, and Anan laid out his answer. If he's elected he'll divest himself from the business. This question has gone far enough. Is Oak Park really better off having a Village President who also owns a resident, or having one whose campaign is driven by smear tactics. Let's talk about the issues. Let's talk about the candidates vision. Its time Mr Hedges talk about issues rather than just keep smearing Anan. What's his plan?

Charles Meyerson from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 5:01 PM

Totally legit questions. Citizens who want their votes to count deserve clear answers. It'd be a shame for Oak Park find itself, for whatever reason, with a president-elect who can't serve, or who'd assume authority under a cloud. Mr. Abu-Taleb should spell out clearly, before the election, how he'd navigate this issue. Voters considering casting their ballots for him deserve to know the plan is above legal reproach. And I say that as a guy who considers both candidates friends.

Undecided too  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 4:47 PM

I don't know who I'm voting for yet, but if Hedges agrees with Heise that this is a "critical issue for the Village," I think Hedges is out of touch. There are many, many more important issues that are "critical" to the village, and this is not one of them. Have some respect for the voters and stick to matters that truly impact the people of this community.

Dan Hurt from Elmhurst  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 4:42 PM

This is only the begininning for Anan. While I admire him for being truly committed to helping Oak Pak it will just haunt him as a business owner. Hedges is an idiot..... let's note: "He's more a figurehead of authority, with absolutely no power. He does not enforce liquor licenses," " there is no enforcement authority for specific violations; it's more of a reporting role." It would be a simple matter for the council to remove the president from the liquor commision role after Anan wins!!

Heard Them at the BCC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 4:40 PM

Correction: Mr. Hedges was NOT the one who raised the issue at the BCC forum. I was there and heard a questions from the audience. Hedges only commented when Mr. Abu-Taleb gave an inadequate answer. Please check with Dan Haley, who was also there, and issue a correction.

OakPorker from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 4:38 PM

What. A. Joke. Who cares what Heise has to say? Under his logic, the guy can't run for village president because he owns a restaurant that serves liquor? Get out of here. This ain't prohibition, pal. And shame on oakpark.com for giving him a platform.

Undecided Voter  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 4:18 PM

More than bringing up problems on Abu-Taleb's end, this strikes me as a dumb attempt at "ethics" and we need to fix the Village Code. Forget *this* election...who cares, in general, if the Village President has a liquor license? It shouldn't matter that he's also enforcing liquor laws while holding a permit. This isn't Prohibition.I'm sure everybody writing traffic laws also drives a car. It doesn't make you automatically biased. And why couldn't he stay President but transfer the liquor duties?

Citizen Kane  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 4:11 PM

I have lost all respect for Hedges - let the election play out. God forbid we elect a citizen with skin in the game instead of masters of Utopian plans spending other peoples money.

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