The VMA lays a brick

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

The VMA is inviolate. Pass the word. Impermeable, too. It is also immovable, impenetrable, indefatigable. And possibly inchoate, though I have to look that word up.

In sum, the VMA is unbeatable, unstoppable, unflappable and, surely, it is undefeated. Why, I hear the VMA has never lost a race for village government in Oak Park, not a single spot, and that's over the course of more than 50 years. That's a long time. Why if the VMA were a brick street, it would be time to flip them over. That's old. And sturdy. And dependable. And smart. Bricks are sort of like the VMA. Old, sturdy, dependable and smart.

Could be a bumper sticker. The next election is just 13 months away. Almost time for the Village Manager Association's secret society to convene so they can pre-ordain the next village president and trustees. I'll be mildly curious to see who they have chosen to lead us forward into a continued era of open and progressive governance. Transparent, too.

What, you say, the VMA has lost in the past? Multiple times? The VMA lost a majority of the seats on the village board just a few elections ago? No, that can't be right. The current village president, David Pope, Mr. Bricks himself, was elected to that office as an independent? The VMA must have taken a sabbatical from village-wide world domination that year. Really? The VMA had a candidate for president who lost?

Wow. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it really is possible to run in opposition to the VMA and actually win seats on the village board. Maybe a small child somewhere this morning in Oak Park, possibly in civics class, could aspire to be village president, free of the yoke of the VMA. Someday. Somehow. Someway.

OK. I'm starting to get my mind around this. I'm starting to recall conversations with actual members of the VMA — these are people with faces and physical addresses — who have expressed amazement at their own aura of invincibility. "Sure we're beatable. You just have to have good candidates, some organizational smarts," they've said. And then I said, "Plus they should probably campaign for something and not just be against the big old boogie man of the VMA." I remember gasps. "Don't tell them that. That's the key to the whole wizard-behind-the-curtain gig we've got going. So long as they keep puffing up the VMA, we've got a virtual lock on the village."

I promise I didn't tell but perhaps there are people over on our comment boards at OakPark.com who are beginning to crack the code. The subject, of course, was brick streets (who knew bricks would drive traffic to our website?!). Brick critics want to throw the rascals out next spring, some people said the overlords wouldn't allow it, and then a smart person noted that it doesn't take that many votes to win an election in apathetic Oak Park unless the schools are going for a referendum or some guy named Obama has his name on the ballot. Neither will be the case next April.

It is out of the study of vote totals that rogue campaigns emerge. You start nosing around in precinct results and the whole thing doesn't seem so mysterious anymore. It's just people who live on Scoville or LeMoyne.

Oak Park could stand a good election. Shake the cobwebs out. Find good, interesting candidates who actually have their wits about them. Don't run against the VMA because most people have actually never heard of the VMA. Run for some positive, affirming vision of what Oak Park can become that still feels connected to the pride most people feel about their hometown.

It won't be enough to be against bricks.

Contact:
Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

Reader Comments

169 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Silly  

Posted: March 21st, 2012 8:59 PM

Kyle, sounds like you have to police your alley a little better. Call the police. Take action.....You cant always depend on govt to care for your neighborhood. If those things are happening, you need to report and follow up so the creeps go away!!

Kyle  

Posted: March 21st, 2012 4:35 PM

Silly, Marion looks very nice. Now keep driving a few blocks further south until you come to the chunks of missing road, the trash everywhere, the occasional drug needle in the bushes, and the drunks in my alley at 1am screaming to wake everybody up.

Silly  

Posted: March 21st, 2012 3:54 PM

Drive down Marion Street almost every day. So enjoy the atmosphere that has been created here with the revamped street. Thank You Oak Park. Good decisions lead to good returns. I sure hope we can move forward and receive the TIGER grant and do more in our community.

Silly  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 8:49 PM

Jim coughlin uses multiple names. If I am considered a cheer leader for the VMA than he is a ANTI EVERYTHING. Its always so easy for him to describe me and my actions so well. Maybe he should be a therapist. Everything is wrong with the world and open bidding will fix it all. He's just an disgruntled ex village employee that is so pro union its funny. I guess he thinks he is a sophisticated type. Retired and nothing better to do than bash the Village and the VMA.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 8:39 PM

That would be impossible to enforce, Blah cubed. The forum's resident gadfly uses dozens of screen dubs to post her nonstop nonsense. She deliberately acts to disrupt the public discourse and proceeds to engage in petty and meanspirited personal attacks. Many have repsonded that the gadfly's cheerleading for the VMA and current board have been counterproductive. Much more harm than good.

Blah cubed  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 6:06 PM

I think there should be a one comment per person per article. Don't you people have a life? Blah Blah Blah

Silly  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 6:02 PM

If you did certain projects in more upscale towns and in better economic times, people wouldn't be as concerned. Good design and development is good design and development regardless of where and when.

Silly  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 5:58 PM

The tie in here is that when people are relatively happy, they tend not to vote locally-unless something in the community is directly affecting them and their life here. The Dist 97 ref is a good example. That wasnt so much a ref on improving our schools as much as a vote on raising homeowners taxes when the economy is down.

Taxes  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 5:56 PM

the high taxes are what make or break some peoples happiness in OP. The high cost of brick roads, that quite literally lead to nowhere and the wasteful tax money of cook county going to build a housing project that has been proven time an again to not work...that is what will be the ruin of OP.

Silly  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 5:56 PM

Collectively I think most Oak Parker's enjoy Oak Park and they like living here. I think most can afford to live here. Its those that get to a level where they cant afford to live in this environment that are the ones that start to bark. Which is OK. Thats the system. I just dont like when the picture gets painted that the majority of people are unhappy. I totally disagree.

Silly  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 5:52 PM

again, murtagh if you did your homework you would have known. "I moved here for.....BUT!" But what? Oak Park is great. Has always been great. And will be great into the future. At least thats been my feelings. If you go into most small to mid size communities across the nation, you would find the same issue of low voter turnout. Its the nature of the beast. Brick pavers doesnt make or break someones life in this community. Building a building or not doesnt make or break someone life in OP.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 5:01 PM

If Oak Park wants diversity, and really helping minorities then they need to support minorities with financial assistance. Otherwise everything else is just nice ideas without real change, and this is what the Black man and woman know, and other minorities don't even get counted in with Oak Park so until the liberal White people are ready to make a real change, it will continue to be just some nice thoughts and White people saying they are working for change.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 3:45 PM

Q & OPRFDad - You two have jumped in the OP Complexity Pit. Most of us moved here for the beauty of the village, its diversity, its great schools and library, and location near Chicago, etc. It was a Camelot decision. We wanted to live in a wonderful place. No one told us about the complexities of OP - strange one party politics, affordable housing, TIFs, patronizing communications on "Big" issues, bee debates, seven governments, commissions, partner agencies, the need to throw the word NIMBY without thought while wondering if "damn" is a bad word, and a voting public that ranges from socialist to conservatives seamlessly. It is a village desperately wanting to accept change, but trapped in its glorious past. It is a community that doesn't bother to vote in local elections. When Obama ran in 2008, 90% of OP voters went to polls. Three months later less than 20% voted in the board elections. Essentially, the village said, "Our government works, so why vote!" It's a strange decision in a community that gushes with pride about its civic involvement. Does the "white man's world" elections indicate sexism or racism? Probably not? Does it indicate apathy in a community? Yes, in a community where its diversity demands a constant attention, apathy is always a threat. Who is at fault? Simply put, we all say - "Not Us".

j.oakpark  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 3:23 PM

the tifs have removed many millions of dollars from the taxing bodies of oak park, which is why our taxes are so high. The DtOP tif froze the tax rate at the 1983(4?) rate being paid to taxing bodies...park district, school libraries etc and put it into buying planters and buying the colt building and whatever else was at the whimsy of the village board. point the finger at the tifs, way before the economy, then the economy because the board spent ever last drop of the transfer tax revenue

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 3:10 PM

@Done - very good point.The State owns all of our property in the sense that if we don't pay property taxes, we can lose the property. That means the state can also force you to sell your home by raising taxes. The national rule of thumb is no more than 2% of the home's market value annually in property taxes. In many cases, OP blows that out of the water. Sure, school spending is to blame, but there has to be a limit.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 3:06 PM

Q: and what do you suggest when it isn't the mortgage on the house that is the problem, but the increasing burden of the taxes on that property? I have no problem affording my mortgage, but since 1997, my taxes have become the problem. Every time I have refinanced to try and save my family some money, the taxes have increased to eat up whatever I have saved while the value goes down. I'm guessing most of the foreclosures - yes, foreclosures in OP - are the result of the property taxes.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 3:05 PM

However, I think people in OP don't want to feel like they are disproportionately footing the bill. There is an egalitarian streak in OP, however, even in a town such as OP that has limits. Further, this is still the USA, and people believe in the ability to move up the social ladder. If you yank the rug out from that in a place like OP, you'll not only assure that those with means leave, you'll also inadvertently remove the source of funding for ood that is done for low income people.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 3:02 PM

@Q, not to be crass, but there's a reason there are high income and low income neighborhoods. People who can afford to live in high income don't want low income next door, and no matter happens, that's not going to change. And, if you try to force low income into high income, those high income folks will first move to River Forest, and then they will move to Hinsdale. Now, that's not to say that high income whites mind high income minorities. I think people in OP are ok with that. cont.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 2:55 PM

Cont... Oak Park is welcoming the low income property on Madison street, but it is not really addressing the needs of minorities who need to be in the same neighborhoods as the White people who have the best opportunity to succeed. Until that is done, there will always be a race problem that is based on income levels and not necessarily the race of a person.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 2:53 PM

Cont.... As it is now, low income neighborhoods don't discriminate against any upper income levels and are welcome to move in any low income neighborhood they want so why can't low income earnings have the same opportunity? If property values in Oak Park would lower to what they are in low income neighborhoods then people would be able to move into Oak Park, but as it is now, Oak Park is discriminating based on income level, regardless how you try to explain it, and that is why Cont...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 2:50 PM

OPRFDad, I understand that you don't want to lose the value of your home but it has to start some where if Oak Park ever wants to make it a diverse town. The only reason why the homes and rents are much higher than low income neighborhoods is because Oak Park is a very desirable place to live, and Oak Park should be able to offer low income rentals in all areas of Oak Park to give minorities the opportunity to share equally and that will give everyone an opportunity to give back equally. Cont..

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 2:12 PM

@Q, I'm all for giving minorities a chance by allowing them to pay market price for any home or rental that they want to occupy in the Village. Sorry, but I'm not willing to take a haircut on my house so that those who are less off can move in and feel welcome. Look at the latest census and you'll see that OP is more diverse than it was 10 years ago. That's great, but taking a paternalistic - we need to make it eaasier for "them" attitude, does no-one any good.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 1:08 PM

John Butch Murtagh, the White man does have the controlling power and that may be because there is an unfair balance of minorities in Oak Park, but if Oak Park can lower the prices of homes and rentals, then minorities can have an equal opportunity and can make a difference in the balances of power. White people seem afraid of change so they don't want to give minorities a chance.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 12:56 PM

I agree Q, with regret. The village continuously touts its diversity and fair play, but when it comes to election the Diversity Statement does not seem to apply. The only way the village can move forward is to see itself through the eyes of residents rather than the high of business development.

j.oakpark  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 12:27 PM

I voted today, boy I wish there were more local/village items and people on the ballot. I would be interested to see what a vote on bricks streets, new d97 building, comcast project, new park district projects, setrus, lake street would be. I sure wish oakpark.com would put up more survey monkey, informal, non binding items on their web page.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 12:26 PM

John Butch Murtagh, everyone can run for office and apply for a job and even apply for renting a place to live in, but that doesn't mean they are not being rejected by race, and all of the other things you listed.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 12:16 PM

OAK PARK DIVERSITY STATEMENT - "The people of Oak Park choose this community, not just as a place to live, but as a way of life. Oak Park has committed itself to equality not only because it is legal, but because it is right; not only because equality is ethical, but because it is desirable for us and our children. Ours is a dynamic community that encourages the contributions of all citizens, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital and/or familial status, mental and/or physical impairment and/or disability, military status, economic class, political affiliation, or any of the other distinguishing characteristics that all too often divide people in society." Does this imply that any resident of Oak Park who is registered to vote can not only vote but also run for public office. I HOPE THAT'S WHAT IT MEANS!!

Silly  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 12:08 PM

oshea, how many of them are you? 4, 5, more?

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 11:57 AM

There is so much goodness on this thread. Really enjoying the insights of some of the newer handles - and the older ones too of course. When reading, just have to skip the SILLY-ness and it's all really interesting and exciting thinking!

Silly  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 11:47 AM

Cant wait to see the murtagh ticket next year. Young Hispanic and Asian women and one African American male. All single parents.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 11:23 AM

The answer to changing diversity may be within each race and not the White race trying to tell other races, "I'm trying for you." Who changed the mindset that Black and White can eat together and use the same toilet, and education, and so on? Learn and use history from what has worked. It is to much of a burden for White's to be completely responsible for.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 11:12 AM

@Silly - you've stumbled upon a decent point. Despite what appears to be white male leadership in OP, diversity of outcome is not a problem. At all levels of leadership, OP over corrects for white privilege. Of course, its over correction tends toward over spending and engaging in parternalistic policies that are insulting to minorities, but that is a separate issue.

Silly  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 10:57 AM

Its interesting that most of the people who oppose the VMA are white, older men. They are the ones complaining about diversity? Another oxymoron.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 10:56 AM

I'd describe Oak Park as the midwest's version of diverse: black and white living in the same zip code,not next to each other mind you,but in the same zip code. Notice I didn't say Hispanic or Asian; that's not what the midwest considers to be diverse. Look at the D200's priorities - it tried to hire an African American outreach coordinator - not poor, or minority, but African American. OP's diversity is actualy a form of racism - yup, the biggest fear of most OPrs - being called an "ist."

Kyle  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 10:55 AM

Silly should get to have his say, Enuf. We can all judge his arguments on merit (or lack of) and decide. I kind of think of him as the court jester and enjoy filling in the rest of his profile in my head with little details. Maybe him eating at a restaurant then standing outside on the sidewalk telling everybody they have to come in and like the food. lol

Kyle  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 10:48 AM

I'd also like to throw age in there. We have a large college student population, young families, lots of single professionals. They're under-represented. John, I think "economic strength" in the diversity statement was meant to show that low income is no barrier.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 10:45 AM

Stop responding to 'Silly', whose sole objective is to derail the discussion from the topic at hand of the associated WJ article. This is accomplished by antagonizing and provoking others to respond, which disrupts and misdirects the discussion. Of the 132 comments previously posted, 17 have been Silly, which have provoked an additional 50 responding comments, resulting in over half the discussion being off-topic. 'Silly' is only effective if you engage and respond. Stop it.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 10:07 AM

John Butch Murtagh, what is the percentages for basketball or rappers? It's not easy spending your time to prepare for politics only to find that your chances are very limited because you are Black. What are the percentages for Mexican's, Asian's, etc., to be on the VMA board? Sometimes things are not always Black and White.

Colors  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 12:48 AM

What I mean is very White and very Male.

Colors  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 12:45 AM

Kinda like the WJ?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 12:35 AM

"Bricks are sort of like the VMA. Old, sturdy, dependable and smart." One adjective was missing in Dan Haley Brick Analogy - the word DIVERSE! The VMA wrote in its membership statement that, "The VMA respects the difference in all, including gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, abilities and economic strength." (I have no idea where economic strength fits into diversity). Of the forty-two people who served on the village board from 1989 to 2012, 71.4% were male and 85.7 were white. As an organized political party in Oak Park which claims, "Ongoing and Inclusive Diversity" as a major mission of the organization, the dominance of white males is disconcerting. (http://www.vmaoakpark.org/downloads/VMA_Membership_Brochure_Final.pdf). The VMA's outstanding candidate election victory record over a 60 year period is admirable, but it performance on the advancement of minority groups is disgraceful. The question that all OP'ers have to ask --- Is this the results that were expected when voters went to the polls during the last twenty-four years?

Silly  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 12:35 AM

Too bad you feel that way. I would think a cent is too much for untrue, nonfactual info. Too many times I've seen you apologize after the cat is out of the bag. Think before you type murtagh.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 10:17 PM

Silly, I have been doing civic volunteering for more than 25 years. Not once; have I asked for a penny from anyone for the work I have done. You're comment is insulting.

Unfortunately  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 8:24 PM

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Silly and his/her posts are representative of too many VMA members and their maniacal desire to seek and hold on to power in OP! There are many, many good people who are VMA members solely because they wish for what is best for OP - NOT "what's best" for the VMA! No one on today's board is evil and none are perfect - and all are good people. If JBM and others are wishing to develop a 2nd "voice" for OP - I'll be there assisting them.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 8:16 PM

The hour or so a week would at least cover one conversation on the latest fashion in bricks. Perhaps I should reconsider.

Kyle  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 8:06 PM

Silly, for all the time you spend on here defending the powers that be, I hope they're paying you! lol Right or wrong, at least I can follow John's coherent argument. I have no idea how you can twist my "spot on" position to somehow being a segue to your rosy VMA defense. Let me be clear, I'm of the opinion that solving resident/neighborhood problems should be the future of Oak Park. Which is not currently happening-who or what to blame for that I'm not fully decided.

Silly  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 7:34 PM

Note to anyone thinking about running. Dont hire murtagh as your campaign mgr or a consultant. Whats all the time o'shea speaks of then? Clearly all the time spent on OP.COM could be spent on being a trustee. No?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 6:26 PM

How many hours a month do you think a soccer coach spends organizing, training, and coaching their players? A board members hours might be more, and it might be less. Of course, the time spent socializing all over town representing the village cannot be counted as a board members duty, nor would a soccer coach sitting at home watching pro soccer games on TV count as coaching. The VMA has created the myth that board members have unique talents and education for the position. In fact, the only requirement for a board member is 1)residency, 2)the ability to read, 3)objectivity,4)decisiveness, and 5) common sense. There are thousands of people in OP capable of being a board member.

Silly  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 5:02 PM

Love it how murtagh downplays the role and time a Village Trustee plays. A soccer coach? Really. Its no wonder why he will never run. Thankfully. Everything that Kyle said was spot on. Thats why the likes of Ray Johnson are extremely hard to come by. Dedication. The last thing Oak Park needs is a fly by night person who has a one issue mind and isnt in the job for the whole community. The VMA is not an organization that will produce candidates like that. Their track record speaks for itself

OP Citizen  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 3:46 PM

Silly, this strategy of yours won't work. Your audience is too smart to fall for it.

Silly  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 3:38 PM

So murtagh has properly addressed his mistake AGAIN. Not the first or second or third. Makes ya wonder about all the info he spews that doesnt get corrected. Just sayin.

Kyle  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 2:46 PM

Problems? John, there are no problems in Oak Park...only freshly bricked streets where bunnies and kittens frolic. lol I just hope you're right. That was downright inspiring.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 2:17 PM

Kyle - I ran for a school board seat years ago, won, and believe I was a good board member. I was not connected with political or civic leaders. I was connected with neighbors, PTC friends, and people with a fierce sense that their neighborhood was being neglected. We organized small and expanded based on people's desire to participate in a solution. For instance; the neighborhoods flooded last year, Madison St neighborhoods that have been neglected, and those opposed to huge buildings, high taxes, etc. are bases for civic involvement and can be the heart of an effort. When you build a issue driven base, seek out local candidates. When you find him/her, support them with money, hours, and enthusiasm. When your neighborhood become activated, link with other neighborhoods suffering similar problems. Grow, Grow, Grow and enjoy your revitalized neighborhood. Build an alliance with those "just like you."

Kyle  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 1:52 PM

Even if we go with your assessment, John, we're still talking about a process that's pretty far removed from the everyday residents. LOL

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 1:30 PM

Kyle - I disagree with your sense that the OP board job is arduous and requires a huge amount of time. There job is no different than that of board members who serve D97, D200, Park and Recreation, etc. Part of the problem is the understanding of the powers of an individual board member. The only time a board meeting has power is when the board is in session at an announced meeting. That is; usually three times a month max. In addition board members are expected to stay informed on the going-ons in that village and information distributed by the village for voting purposes. Most important to know is that board members or the board as a whole as no authority to be involved in the day to day decisions of the village. That responsibility is solely in the hands of the Village Manager. Some board members choose to consider the position a full time job -- it is a part time job with hour requirements comparable to a soccer coach.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 12:56 PM

My post earlier this morning was in error as pointed out by Silly. The correction to the post below uses CAPITAL LETTERS to indicate the changes to the earlier post. The portion of the post that was without error is not repeated. I thank Silly for reporting the error and apologize to all posters for my mistake. (CORRECTED TEXT) For the "1989" election, the term of Oak Park Village ELECTION SCHEDULE FOR BOARD MEMBERS FROM EVERY FOUR YEARS TO EVERY TWO YEARS. THE TERM OF BOARD MEMBER OFFICE REMAINED AT FOUR YEARS. Since then there has been twelve elections and forty-two different people elected to serve on the board. The average term for board members serving from 1989-2012 is four years. The Top Ten in service are Pope 10 yrs., Johnson 10 years, Trapani 8 years, Furlong 8 years, Kostopulos 8 years, Hedges 6 years, Hodge-West 6 years, Sherell 6 years, Lueck 5 years, and Gockel 5 years. Five Oak Park board members have served as President during the period. President Pope, ELECTED IN 2005 AND 2009 HAS SERVED EIGHT YEARS AS PRESIDENT TO DATE (HE IS ELIGIBLE TO RUN AGAIN IN 2013). The other four PRESIDENTS(Trapani, Furlong, Christmas, and Philbin) ran for the office ONCE and served four years in the position.

Kyle  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 12:32 PM

Patricia, you hit the nail on the head. I know quite a number of people who would make great local leaders...but they're busy either raising a family or working-or both. I think this speaks to the difficulty of finding "good, interesting" candidates...it requires someone w/time & money & energy to burn. The few who have that are unlikely to understand the needs of Oak Park families. There are some 50,000 people in OP right? Most of us don't live in a business district. lol

OP Citizen  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 12:28 PM

Silly, if YOU had any credibilty we might listen to your call for people not to believe John Murtagh. But alas, you don't.

Silly  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 11:45 AM

To all those reading murtagh's other comments. His credibility is shot. Either he doesn't do his homework before posting or he just doent know the truth. Proceed with caution. He has been found to put out inaccurate information.

Silly  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 11:39 AM

Murtagh wrote: David Pope ran for trustee and won in 2003. He ran as an independent.(false)In 2005 and 2007, he ran and won for President, again an independent.(partially false)In 2009 and 2011, he joined the VMA slate and was elected President in both elections.(partially false again) How can he run and win in elections in 09 and 11? That is five elections; not three.(false) What is my point? Good question. WHAT IS YOUR POINT.YOUR DATA IS WRONG murtagh. I hope your not running anyone's campaign

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 11:04 AM

As I have posted innumerable times, I am not running for any office. My sole reason for actively posting on OP issue is to return the village to an era when fairness and objective outweighed the personal desires of those elected.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 10:59 AM

David Pope ran for trustee and won in 2003. He ran as an independent. In 2005 and 2007, he ran and won for President, again an independent. In 2009 and 2011, he joined the VMA slate and was elected President in both elections. That is five elections; not three. What is my point? Considering the erosion of services, increase in taxes, deterioration of the infrastructure and his dismal performance in managing TIF's it is time for taxpayers to consider whether he deserves another term in 2013.

Brava  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 10:09 AM

Brava to Ms. O'Shea. The elected officials we have now were good enough candidates to get elected, true, but they have shown themselves to be bad leaders, half truth tellers, long winded buffoons most of whom follow as opposed to lead, and who can do nothing but spend the village money and allow for rule bending and trust breaking.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 9:59 AM

And I think that people having a voice and calling for change is threatening to you which is why you are downright nasty here. It's a shame that you rarely are able to defend your party with anything other empty platitudes and schoolyard taunts. It is telling though.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 9:55 AM

Silly, where you're confused is by insisting that people have to run to be a part of the political process. There are many different roles. You have accused me of being all words for not running. Fact is I have 2 preschoolers. All I can do is ensure my voice is heard and volunteer some time toward someone elses candidacy. But it's still being involved which is unfortunately alot more than many in the community. If people were just aware and voting and speaking up things would be different.

Silly  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 9:46 AM

People vote for candidates and candidates vote on issues. No more no less. Good candidates make good elected officials which make Oak park a better place. I am proud to call Oak Park home. For the rest of you, you always have the comment section of the OP.com.

Time to Move On  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 9:41 AM

I would vote for John or anyone else who would cycle out Pope, Johnson, and Lueck. They have shown they rule by their own idealogy and not the will of the people. The sad thing is that I don't think they even realize it.

Silly  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 8:15 AM

Correction: President Pope was elected 3 times. Once as a trustee and twice as President. What is your point with all this partially correct info? Are you running John. Your interest seems mighty high. The time you have given to attack the system, the people that have served, the decisions that have bee made is beyond that of a candidate. What's your real agenda murtagh? You will lose.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 1:09 AM

For the "1989" election, the term of Oak Park Village changed board member terms from four years to two years. Since then there has been twelve elections and forty-two different people elected to serve on the board. The average term for board members serving from 1989-2012 is four years. The Top Ten in service are Pope 10 yrs., Johnson 10 years, Trapani 8 years, Furlong 8 years, Kostopulos 8 years, Hedges 6 years, Hodge-West 6 years, Sherell 6 years, Lueck 5 years, and Gockel 5 years. Five Oak Park board members have served as President during the period. President Pope, elected four times, has served eight years in the office. The other four (Trapani, Furlong, Christmas, and Philbin) all ran for the office twice and served four years in the position. Without question, terms in board offices has grown longer in the 21st Century. There are many different "Why-s" for the current decade high reelection levels -- satisfaction with those in office, the need of more technically saavy board members in the age of development and change, the increased tendency of board members to participate in day to day village hall decisions, the low voter turnouts(20% and below in the last few elections), the lack of candidates, or community apathy toward the entire election process. I am not sure what the real "Why" or "Why-s" are or whether longer terms are good for village. I just know that we all should know Why? Those elected have responsibilities that impact not only our day to day living, but more importantly, they determine the future of the village.

Silly  

Posted: March 18th, 2012 9:45 PM

The boys are at it again. Having a 2 person conversation. I guess they must spend their time some how. After all, these are the golden years right? Perhaps a hobby like bike riding or golf or painting might relax the brain a bit. Politico bean bags doesnt seem like the funnest thing for retired folk!

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2012 7:28 PM

For a valid review and discussion, if that is possible post-submittal, the board needs the following documents; 1) the submitted final application to USDOT, 2) the USDOT Notice of Funding Availability via the Federal Register (at www.dot.gov/tiger/docs/fy12_tiger_nofa.pdf), 3) the 2005 Greater Downtown Master, for streetscaping, 4) the Village's 2012 and 5-year Capital Improvement Plans for Lake St., and 5) and source(s)committed matching funds ($17M).

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 18th, 2012 6:22 PM

Enuf - Excellent and important info. I checked the agenda and there were no attachment for the most important issue on the menu. It was also slotted letter "X" on the agenda ensuring that most of the village will be asleep before it gets discussed. Not having any additional information in the agenda attachments indicates to me that the board did not receive any advance on the subject. Is that possible? Obviously, the taxpayers received no in either. It's one thing for the board to keep the Fed in the dark, it's another for the board to threat its constituents that way.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2012 11:53 AM

While the $17M matching fund commitment is not contractual per the application, the USDOT TIGER Grant program requires that local matching funds are identified and committed in the application, with evidence of legislative approval from local officials (see USDOT Notice of Funding Availability at www.dot.gov/tiger/docs/fy12_tiger_nofa.pdf). Given the fact that board review is scheduled after application submittal, this is a question that needs to be addressed by the board.

Tarred and Feathered from OP  

Posted: March 18th, 2012 10:43 AM

@Enuf: If you're correct and the commitment of non-existent taxpayers dollars is made (apparently assuming a tax hike?), then it's time that we abolish this form of government and with it the Village Board. I think Pope and Johnson tarred and feathered would also be a good start....

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2012 9:07 AM

The village board meeting agenda for Monday, March 19 includes a presentation and discussion of the village's USDOT TIGER Grant Application. The problem is that the meeting occurs at 7:30pm, while the grant application deadline is 4:00pm the same day. Since the village's application obligates $17M of village matching funds, I would suggest the first order of business is to inquire why the discussion is after the fact, and with whose authority was the application submitted?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 10:07 PM

No argument that the Marion St. redo looks fine. In fact, what's planned for Lake St. promises more of the same. So far, in excess of $100mil has been funnelled to DTOP and there's no limit to how much the board is still prepared to spend. It's DTOP or bust! We should all be so lucky. Why there are so few public dollars allocated for our neighborhoods and other business districts remains a big issue for many residents and taxpayers. The trustees offer reasons that too often sound like excuses.

Unfortunately  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 8:58 PM

@Pleaasnt Dist Shopper. One should NOT have verbal conversations with random people on Marion! Instead, do an actual ROI! Has OP EVER done a ROI? I don't care about "subtle, little things" or if it "looks fantastic." That's how 4th graders evaluate sand projects! Let's begin at the genuine cost of the street repair and perform ROI on the incremental cost increases. We have a finance dept - haven't they already done this analysis? If not, why not? Who on the board actually understands finance?

Pleaasnt Dist Shopper  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 4:12 PM

I was on Marion today. So glad they redid the street. Its the subtle, little things that make Oak park great. Keep up the great work. It looks fantastic. The real question of what people think should be posed to tourist and or out of towners. See what they think and how they feel. I'm sure you all know the answer. Other people spend money in this town.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 3:45 PM

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park, You may not want to do the job, but you certainly could do it, and I don't think you are the type of person that needs your ego catered to or leave a legacy of brick streets.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 3:20 PM

To Q from Oak Park: Your comment on Sat 17 Mar @ 933 am,"Pope and Ray are not honest people". A bit strong.They may be inept,wrong and out of touch.They do the job I am not willing to do, so give them credit for at least that.The size and majesty of the crown they wear is no measure of the brain inside the crown

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 10:18 AM

We let you down Oak Park, and we are resigning because we only cared about what we wanted and not for the good of Oak Park. Signed, Pope, Johnson and Lueck.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 9:59 AM

I understand that truth is often a matter of perspective, and we are all limited by our own bias and incomplete knowledge. I also accept the fact that elected officials are imperfect, and not infallible, as all of us. But the self-serving misrepresentations by Pope, Johnson & Lueck (PoJoCo) are beyond the pale of acceptance for elected officials. We need to demand substantiation and validation, rather than misdirection and manipulation, from our elected officials.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 9:33 AM

All of the talk from Ray and Mr. Bricks how the parking lot at Forest and Lake street is of course wrong. Park in the garage and find out for yourself, and then you will know why Pope and Ray are not honest people.

Rebrickulous  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 9:15 AM

Which leads me back to a point I made earlier . . . Ray Johnson seems to be arguing that we need to spend $43 MM on a $14 MM project. rebrickulous.com

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 8:48 AM

PoJoCo tactics re. the $43M DTOP Streetscaping Project. First, hire Lakota for $5,765 in Sept. for Downtown Streetscape Study w/o notice to the board. Then submit a prelim. application to USDOT in Feb. obligating the village for $17M w/o notice to the board. Then get the board to approve a $108K planning contract w/ Lakota at the 11th hour, w/o approval for the project itself. Then schedule board review of the USDOT final application on March 19, after it was already submitted.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 8:24 AM

@JMurtagh: the tactics of PoJoCo are predictable. First, misrepresent anything in the way of your idea (L/F Parking Garage, water / sewers, streets, etc.) as aging and in need of replacement, even though they aren't. Second, claim a unique opportunity has emerged that needs immediate action w/o deliberation (USDOT TIGER grant, geothermal at village hall, etc.). Third, misrepresent the financial aspects, using cooked numbers. Fourth, claim great success w/o any post-analysis.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 17th, 2012 12:18 AM

Hi Done from Oak Park - I apologize. I had only read three or four of your posts before I gave up reading them. It was not until you questioned my post that I realized the comments were from Ray Johnson. That does mean that I would have read all of them if I had known they were RaySpin. If I had known, I would stopped at two as I have heard all of the comments at the board meeting when three of his peer board members voted No. Ray ranted at the meeting about Lake collapsing, the foundation of buildings eroded, and implied buildings might collapse. It was a pitiful display. If his info was correct, it should not have been coming from a board member -- it should have been coming from an engineer. Collapse would be a serious safety issue that should not be announced without strong information and confirmed danger. Of course it is even worse if the collapse was a tale to gain support from the public and other board members. That would mean that he was willing to exaggerate or lie to keep Brick City alive. When the village lists the streets that might collapse in order of danger to the public, then I might be concerned. Ray needs to start giving proof of his fatalistic comments. Most everyone is onto his glib, inaccurate, and self serving comments.

Retiree wanna be Village Emperor that will save OP  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 10:13 PM

Vote for me. I know everything. I can make all the improvements to get this Village working in a much, much better manner. Really.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 10:06 PM

There won't be an independent audit of the wrong doings, so do you have any idea on how to get that done John? Enuf is Enuf, Pope has his exit plan moving to the county advisory board and if he can get into bigger politics, he would want to pave the expressway with bricks.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 5:00 PM

As his final term ends April 2013, it appears Pope is furiously working on his exit plan, fabricating a resume of 'make no little plans' projects on the public coin. How else do you explain a $43M brick street project self-titled 'Inner-Ring Renaissance: A Model for America'? Blago also went blood simple in his final year devising a exit plan, and look what happened to him.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 4:01 PM

That would be an omsbudman. It's a great concept but probably does not fit OP. The biggest OP problem right now is the "Big Downtown Project" which is vague, complex, and probably "undo-able". The first thing we need is a forensic audit to figure out where the TIF money went over the last 10 years and a projection of revenue, expense, and ROI for future development. We then need a detailed plan that include all financial matters. Seems to me that as much village time is spent hiding info from the public as there is using it to inform.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 3:41 PM

John Butch Murtagh, what do you think about the idea of someone being giving the title of Mr. Wizard, and not Pope, he is busy with his bricks. Mr. Wizard would be the one everyone can ask questions to and he is authorized to answer them all. As it is now, no one knows anything, and they don't know where to go for the answer.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 3:35 PM

Done - Thanks for the response. Simply put, it is the board that restricts information to the village. It is a major problem for everyone.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 2:42 PM

John-My posts from 9:31 to 9:35 are the response from Ray Johnson of my email to the board members and TIGER from the Rebrickulous site. Probably a canned response but from Mr. Johnson nonetheless. None of this came from the WJ-maybe I'm missing your point. No reason WJ should be the only place for information. I'm actually beyond impressed the lengths people go on these message boards to post their information. The masses should know all the crap that goes on regardless of where it comes from.

$$<>$$  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 1:23 PM

It would seem that the WJ has a vested financial interest in there being a close, spirited election. The more print ads and eyeballs that the candidates and or groups can generate only help their bottom line. FYI-the track record of the WJ endorsements for Oak Park President has been lousy.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 1:12 PM

sorry - here's the link: http://www.op97.org/board-of-education/documents/011012minutes.pdf It's actually paragraph 4. The view is that D97 wants to get the public to support its wants rather than trying to accomodate the priorities of the community. There's Oak Park in a nutshell.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 1:10 PM

Kyle, check out paragraphs 3-6 on P.6 of the attached, particularly compared to D90 and 200.It tells you a lot about how district 97 views the public, and their view isn't a good one.I think it also tells you a lot about how the Village views the public.We are an obstruction.It wouldn't be too hard to formally request what you are asking, but until there is a seed change in how the Village/D97-public relationship works, information will be on a "need to know" basis.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 12:06 PM

John-One of the best things about oakpark.com is the sharing of information. We are lucky that so many people with expertise and experience are willing to post. The Wednesday Journal is making an important contribution to the community. It appears to be making a difference. People understand that good government has an obligation to be transparent and accountable.

Kyle  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 12:05 PM

OPRFDad & John...re: delegating/e-mails. Why do I never see community forums or monthly/quarterly meetings to get input from residents? What I'd love to see is a regular feedback session where the Board takes input & direction from various neighborhoods on Village agenda/spending, etc.. Rotate among the elementary schools maybe? Take an informal poll of what our concerns and needs are. Then keep us updated. The current meeting/committees structure leads to a tangled mess of non-accountability.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 11:58 AM

Funny analogy, John. And so true!

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 11:35 AM

Jim - great posts and research. You are all over the subject. Suggest you drop the responding to the dubs. All it does is attack new dubs - like swatting a fly seems to bring more flys.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 11:32 AM

Rebrickulous - Congratulations on your site. It's the type of innovation that we need more of. Keep up the good work.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 11:30 AM

Done - I agree with most of your posts but think you are putting too much on the press' back for keeping the public informed. Even the board trustees are saying that they have not been kept informed. I wish the WJ did more investigative reporting, but acknowledge that a small town weekly paper has limited resources for that type work. The board should be communicating important pending issues by its daily e-mail rather than depending solely on the newspaper.

Rebrickulous  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 10:47 AM

So . . . if I read this correctly, the logic is to spend $43 million to do $14 million worth of work? Seems reasonable to me. rebrickulous.com

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 10:45 AM

I hestitate to respond to the comment posted by Moving Forward. It's more than likely just another screen dub used by the gadfly. She's got a million of 'em but all just spew the same, stale baloney. But, yes I do think that government money should be spent in impoverished areas before it's wasted on frills and follies like paving streets with decorative bricks.Oak Park uses it's clout to pay for things it doesn't need while our poorest communities do without the basic necessities.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 10:18 AM

OPRFDad - you hit the nail on the head.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 10:12 AM

Kyle, good perspective. There is a definite lack of ability to develop a budget, develop a plan and prioritize within the budget and plan. I attribute part of this to the Board getting involved in items that should be delegated.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 10:11 AM

Ray Johnson needs to substantiate his claim re. Lake St. water & sewer infrastructure by posting on the village website the 5-year Capital Improvements Plan, which prioritizes infrastructure projects relative to all 102 miles of streets in OP. The current 2011 CIP does not include any part of Lake St. for improvements. The village street assessment report ranks Lake St. as in 'good' condition. BTW: $4M was spent on Lake St. as per the TIF-funded re-streeting project in 1990.

Kyle  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 10:00 AM

For me, it's not about bricks or federal funding or sewers. It's about how it seems our municipal government always has a "project" going on. How about we just get functional basics? We bicker back and forth about these "projects" while the leaves don't get swept out of the gutters, shops sit vacant, the roads have potholes. It's about focus--or lack of it. We have real, daily needs more pressing than (pardon the pun) these pipe dreams.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 9:52 AM

To be clear, the TIF in OP is going the way of the dodo, but it is part of the reason the Village Board has the spending problem it does today. It got used to spending money like it had a money making machine. Kinda like all those people who leveraged their homes to buy cars back in 2005. Now, the money is gone. So too should be the VMA.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 9:50 AM

The greatest fraud perpetuated on the people of Illinois, largely at the behest of Chicago's Mayor D, was the TIF. TIF's are supposed to be used in blighted areas. Not areas that need brick pavers, or areas with over active village Boards, but blighted areas. Using a TIF, you effectively short change schools so that you can spend money on other items ... like brick pavers. Always nice to leverage the future so that people can have a nice patio. Just raise property taxes to covr the differen

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 9:38 AM

Your focus on the $26M grant appears to be a misdirection from the coupled $17M obligation in matching local funds. Please share your thoughts on where the $17M is coming from, in lieu of the fact it can no longer be allocated from the DTOP TIF. The options are transferring funds from existing budgetary funds, more municipal bonds, or increasing taxes and/or fees.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 9:35 AM

Oak Parker's and the State of Illinois send far more money to Washington then we get in return -- and this is an opportunity to do major improvements for a densely populated area, put 21st century infrastructure in place, and provide improved economic opportunity and an expanded tax base for the Chicagoland region.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 9:34 AM

It's unfortunate you copied the DOT with only a very narrow piece of information as presented by the local press. I'm hopeful you would agree that leveraging grant dollars for local work is in our interest.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 9:33 AM

The alternative is a staged process that could tear up the central business district in phases, for years to come --- negatively impacting businesses during all of the construction work. I'd rather we get in --- and get out -- quickly, and build an underground infrastructure system to last for another 100 years. A sewer or water line failure is a potential disaster in the central business district....a risk I'm not willing to take.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 9:32 AM

An additional $7M are dollars which can be targeted from within this district, and would be put back towards the district. Leveraging local dollars for a nearly 2:1 match with federal dollars allows us to get far more work done, which is "shovel ready", than we would ever be able to do within a similarly limited time frame.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 9:31 AM

Unfortunately, the local newspaper focused solely on 'brick pavers', while ignoring the critical infrastructure work the grant would help us complete. Critically important, are the 100 year old water and/or sewer lines which run through the business district. We are going to tear up the street no matter what and at some point -- and replace the underground infrastructure. The total cost for that alone is about $7M, which would be a large portion of the Village's share of the local match.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 9:30 AM

My response from Ray Johnson on my email from Rebrickulous to board members and TIGER.

Moving Oak Park Forward  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 8:08 AM

Think about your logic. This is municipal government after-all. On one hand you complain about not having money to do what you consider important in Oak Park, but yet you think there are other parts of the US that are more deserving of the funds???? Do you have any idea of how many grant applications are put forward every year and how many are awarded? This isnt a new concept. Receiving federal dollars will be a plus for Oak Park and anyone that would discourage that is questionable in my book.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 7:55 AM

Just to be clear, the $108K contract with Lakota for conceptual drawings was approved by the village board purely to demonstrate to USDOT their commitment to their proposed Lake St. streetscaping project, re. the $43M USDOT TIGER grant application. This commitment is w/o benefit of public discussion or board review. The underlying presumption of this approved contract is that OP will proceed with the $43M project if awarded the $26M, thus requiring $17M of OP matching funds.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 7:45 AM

@JBMurtagh ... the grant has not been approved, as the application is being submitted Monday. @Moving OP Forward ... the application includes $17M of matching funds from OP, which the village does not have, and would need to be derived from re-allocated budgetary items or a tax increase. Despite Pope's assertion, the 2005 Greater Downtown Master Plan does not recommend brick streets or bluestone sidewalks anywhere in OP.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 2:55 AM

@Unfortunately, let's just say it's a long,sad story but Village Hall was so against VOP employees organizing that some were promised a sweet deal if they took a stand against that effort. It paid off for one guy in particular who was promoted from his low level clerical job to actually serving as an assistant to Village Manager Barwin. Nice pay raise too. The Village board got tough with the the union and even sought to portray members as thugs in leather trenchcoats. It got nasty in a hurry.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 1:40 AM

Illinois receives in return less than 75 cents for every dollar we send to Washington. Is it appropriate for Oak Park to be seeking funds for follies and frills when there are so many communities across the state that have serious issues regarding access to clean drinking water, inadequate sewers, no infrastructure and so many other problems that impact the quality of life? These poor towns don't have $300K to pay for a D.C. lobbyist like Oak Park has been doing for years. Clout counts.

Moving Oak Park Forward  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 12:07 AM

Then why write at all?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 16th, 2012 12:00 AM

I would not write to get the Fed to withdrawn an OP approved grant, but am not comfortable that the constant search for grants. They seem to have a major impact the village's spending priorities. That is; if we get a grant, the project is a go. That is; as soon as we find some of our own money to kick in.

Moving Oak Park Forward  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 9:35 PM

Only certain Oak Parkees would actually email the federal government to tell them NOT to give us money. These are the same people that will try and convince people that they can get us out of this bad economy with their magic pills. Shorter meetings you ask? If they micro manage everything like they suggest, the meetings will go into the wee hours each and every meeting. When people dont agree, meetings tend to go longer.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 6:06 PM

@rebrickulous ...good work. According to USDOT, all emails re. the village's application to the USDOT 2012 TIGER Discretionary Grant program, should be sent to Raymond LaHood, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation, at ray.lahood@dot.gov and secretaryscheduler@dot.gov, and copied to Howard Hill, Assistant Secretary of Transportation Policy, USDOT at TIGERGrants@dot.gov. The application reference is 'Village of Oak Park, IL - Inner Ring Renaissance: A Model for America'.

Unfortunately  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 5:57 PM

@J Coughlin. I just now caught this? Your 10:24 post from yesterday read "sided with the VMA trustees against VOP employees on every issue and decision relating to the Village's collective bargaining units." Are you saying that the entire village board of OP, which is quite leftist, was where Walker and the Koch brothers obtained their inspiration for their Wisconsin facism? An example of OP being first in important issues of the day? No recall election proposed by unions - :-)?

Is Oshea Rebrickilous?  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 4:00 PM

I have 10-1 odds that it is O'Shea. She has plenty of time for websites but not enough to run.....

Stumped  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 3:42 PM

HA HA...you will never know because who ever it is registered the domain by proxy... hahaha. I am going to follow on twitter and email it to everyone I know. will someone at mom mail please pick this up?

Is Oshea Rebrickilous?   

Posted: March 15th, 2012 3:31 PM

Your so savvy

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 3:03 PM

Rebrickulous - A thousand thank you's for doing this.

Kyle  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 2:31 PM

Great website, Rebrickulous! lol I'd settle for a little asphalt on my street, no bricks needed.

Rebrickulous  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 1:20 PM

@Jim, thank you. It's sad to see money wasted on window dressing when so many neighborhood streets are in disrepair. rebrickulous.com

Silly  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 12:43 PM

Viva Oak Park.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 12:35 PM

Very funny and original screen name!

Rebrickulous  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 12:31 PM

No more bricks! rebrickulous.com

Kyle  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 11:28 AM

Part of the reason for the voter apathy & VMA constantly getting re-elected is neighborhoods don't have somebody to kick out of office if the potholes on their street aren't filled. The Board is accountable to us all, but that also means you have to essentially clean house to change anything. There's no local focus. The VMA is just gaming the broken system. Nothing wrong with that per se. Oak Park suffers is all. lol

Silly  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 1:08 AM

The board was cleaned out in 2005 and it was a disaster. Each candidate stands on their own merits. The VMA has a great track record for good reason. Dont hate the player, hate the game. Misdirected anger here.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 12:56 AM

Silly, can you image how much better Oak Park would have worked if there were better qualified people then the one's you listed? Keep hoping for improvement and don't give up. We can make it better than you are willing to accept. Clean the board out and bring in the new president and members. I know you are with me Silly.

Silly  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 12:47 AM

...con't Galen Gockel,Sara Bode,Susan Rakstang,Marc Blesoff, Fred Pospisil.

Silly  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 12:38 AM

another murtagh classic: "There ability to select quality candidates is questionable." Here are just a few of the VMA elected persons who have served Oak Park with honor.You may know a name or two in no particular order: Sandra Sokol,Gus Kostopulos,Diana Carpenter,Barbara Furlong,Barbara Ebner,Rick Kuner,J. J. Turner,Carolyn Hodge-West,Bill Fillmore,Fred Pospisil,Virginia R. Cassin,John F. Philbin,Cliff Osborn,William C. Stazak,Frank Muriello,David Sokol,Larry Christmas, Jan Pate, and on and on

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 12:32 AM

Jim, can't say I am surprised to hear your neg. comments re Marsey.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 15th, 2012 12:14 AM

Kyle,I believe Martha Brock is the only "renter" to serve as a Village trustee. Now there's a group that is really underrepresented in the decision making process. Ideally, a cross section of residents would the best way to represent the whole community. That should be doable. I personally want to hear from and learn about people who have a vision for Oak Park that focuses on reponsible development, a strong commitment to our neighborhoods and an open process. What's broken can be fixed.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 10:52 PM

Kyle - I agree with your assessment. The problem is the quality of the board members (not all), and not the VMA. The VMA's problem is that it selected all of the board members. There ability to select quality candidates is questionable.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 10:40 PM

Read the statement again Silly and concentrate on the capital letters. Of the twenty-six, only six did not receive an endorsement from the VMA WHILE IN OFFICE (Kuner, Marsey, Milstein, Brock, and Brady, and Baker.)

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 10:24 PM

John, I can tell you that Greg Marsey, who sought and received the endorsement of Local 48 of the IAM union, failed to honor his campaign promises and sided with the VMA trustees against VOP employees on every issue and decision relating to the Village's collective bargaining units. We requested to meet with him but were told he was and would be unavailable. A VMA trustee did agree to sit down with us and offered some support. Marsey may have had good intentions but was basically ineffective.

Kyle  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 10:04 PM

I'm less "anti-VMA" and more anti our Village Board being so...white and old(er) and male. Our govt should look like Oak Park. Board members should be better in the know about the community on a block by block basis. Right now they're out of touch...the VMA is creepy, but not the real problem.

Silly  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 9:45 PM

*********FALSE*****A VMA endorsed village president has been in office for all 15 years. During 2005-6, VMA endorsed board members were in the majority.********FALSE*********

Silly  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 9:43 PM

murtagh, wrong again. David Pope won as an Independent for president in 2005. Sandra Sokol was the only VMA person on their slate of 5 to win. The trustees who won that year were Marsey, Brock, and Baker. Milstein ran for president and lost but still retained his trustee spot for 2 more years. Then losing a bid for re-election.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 5:14 PM

Throw a Brick -Dan Haley's has some work to do on his analysis of village elections. Twenty-six people have served on the Oak Park Board since 1997 (15yrs). Of the twenty-six, only six did not receive an endorsement from the VMA while in office (Kuner, Marsey, Milstein, Brock, and Brady, and Baker.) During the fifteen years, VMA endorsed board members occupied 6.7 of 7 board seats. During ten of the fifteen terms, VMA endorsed board members had a unanimous majority (7 of 7). A VMA endorsed village president has been in office for all 15 years. During 2005-6, VMA endorsed board members were in the majority. A major effort, endorsed by the WJ, to return the VMA power resulted in their holding 6 of the 7 seats in 2007. There were four seats open in that election and the VMA spent $70,000 to ensure VMA candidates were elected. The two slates opposed -NLP and VCA spent $18,000 and $4,000. The VMA "whole wizard-behind-the-curtain" is a function of ready business money and a lethargic electorate doesn't vote in foregone conclusion elections. The outcome of the last fifteen OP politics has been a depleted financial reserves, debt increases, failed Tifs, and developments that have produced little or no ROI. Maybe the last ten years of bad spending, and bad development decisions is not the VMA's fault, but it sure is the fault of the people they endorsed.

Silly  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 3:12 PM

What Dan failed to enlighten the readers here is that 2 out of the 3 non VMA candidates that were elected in 2005 did not fulfill their 4 year commitment. Another note is that with out the VMA involvement of David Pope 2 years prior to his Presidency in 2005, he may not have had the outcome he had. The VMA is a smart, hard working group of people who tend to know Oak Park pretty well and they work their butts off to boot. Single issue elections rarely help any community for the long haul.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 1:55 PM

Dan Haley - "Bricks are sort of like the VMA. Old, sturdy, dependable and smart." Interesting analogy; though I think the VMA is a bit smarter than Bricks!

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 1:25 PM

I would add to Patricia's post. Electronic Social Networking!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 1:09 PM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, you are correct if there was an independent press, but unfortunately that isn't the way press works. They will side with someone, and of course the W.J. sides with what the board people do. You can still win without the press, and when you do, they will be on your side too.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 11:25 AM

Patricia, this interesting discussion is soon going to be hijacked by the gadfly so I'll try to address your issue before she cranks up the claptrap. The time committment is a real concern for some. But, that's something that could be addressed and resolved if an independent majority gains control of the board. Your idea of conducting a campaign that involves electronic media is certainly intriguing.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 10:48 AM

Dan Haley ... the emergence of non-VMA affiliated candidates would benefit greatly if the local media, such as the Wednesday Journal, better fulfilled its role as the fourth estate. Unsubstantiated claims by David Pope and Ray Johnson that have misrepresented the facts of village policy and budget need to be investigated by the higher standards of an independent and objective free press, rather than blindly accepted as truth. Shed some impartial light, and candidates will emerge.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 10:48 AM

That's the rub, John. Voter turnout is the key but I do believe that people would rally around candidates who pledge to open the process and seek to engage in an honest discussion with the commmunity. Conducting the people's business behind closed doors and refusing to open the TIF books has helped create an impression that Oak Park lacks a commitment to good government. Wasteful spending, no bid contracts and sweetheart deals further erode public confidence in the process.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 10:31 AM

Jim, it's not just money that matters. There's alot that can be done with the internet. I'd be happy to volunteer to support a candidate I believe in with a website and writing support to ensure the messaging is clear. If other people volunteer their time lots can be done. I am with OPRF Dad though. I could not even begin to consider running because of the time committment. If it were more efficient maybe - I do understand that it's a chicken and egg problem though.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 10:23 AM

Jim - I am seeking fair elections with every candidate receiving an equal chance of winning. The basis for selection is what the candidate brings to the community, not the community (VMA) that brings the candidate to the voters. The VMA chose 60 years to make candidate selection a closed door affair managed by the VMA rather than a election primary to identify the best candidates to run for election. To improve the board selection process, we need more involvement of all citizens in the candidate election or we will continue to have voter turnouts of less than 20%.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 10:15 AM

I agree, John. The village board needs an independent voice. But, the results on most votes would still favor the VMA majority. My real hope would be that we elect someone who is truly committed to accountability and transparency. Oak Park should have an elected official who understands that good government means an end to no bid contracts, stopping sweetheart deals for developers,consultants, experts and outside legal counsel, and a willingness to challenge the status quo.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 9:49 AM

Jim - One or two new independent board members is fine, as long as one of the positions is president.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 9:43 AM

It's money that matters. Lawn signs, four-color brochures, direct mailings and full page ads in local media are expensive. The VMA can and will raise enough to maintain control. An independent candidate or two may be able to garner enough votes to win a seat at the board table but would likely not be able to yield any significant influence or bring change to the decison making process. We don't like to think about a powerful machine being in control of politics in Oak Park but it is our reality.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 8:47 AM

Not bad thoughts, but how about focusing on significantly decreasing the amount of time spent and wasted at village board meetings and otherwise? You'll never attract quality people from the community who either run businesses or have professional careers due to the time spent by the board beating every issue to death. I imagine this is by design.

Silly  

Posted: March 14th, 2012 8:45 AM

I think David Axlerod should watch out. You may have another career Dan.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2012 11:43 PM

Sure this is a very good article and even points Mr. Bricks. It's very simple to win in Oak Park, but you do have to have those two ingredients and as I have said in other posts, it does not take much money. So who has the experience or the gift of being a leader and a decision maker who can decide more than just more bricks for Oak Park.

epic lulz  

Posted: March 13th, 2012 11:28 PM

The VMA is more like the 100 year old sewers that need to be replaced all over the village.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 13th, 2012 10:38 PM

Good article Dan and timely. Those who want to consider running should be organizing already. They don't have the advantage of interviewing with the VMA, winning the candidacy, and having someone run your campaign for you.

voter who votes local elections  

Posted: March 13th, 2012 10:13 PM

Please rerun this editorial in April 2013.

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