Taglia appointment smacks of personal politics

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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This was sent to the village board before last week's vote:

I am a local architect, lifelong resident of Oak Park, and taxpayer. I am writing you today to urge you to vote No on James Taglia's appointment to the village board.

I do not know Mr. Taglia personally. However, I am aware that he is a good friend of the mayor's. It is public knowledge that the mayor's family canvassed for signatures for Mr. Taglia's petition to run and that Mr. Taglia also made contributions to the mayor's campaign. This appointment very much seems like one driven by personal interest and not one based on the common good.

I'm aware that the mayor is within his legal rights to fill Adam Salzman's vacancy. That said, I think the timing could not be worse, or more telling. It is especially concerning that Mr. Taglia is appointed at this critical moment when so much hotly contested development is being proposed and will be voted on during the next term cycle. 

Based on recent and persistent public outcry, it seems especially important that board members are elected by the people, and not be appointed political allies of an existing mayor with a development agenda. Based on recent debates, it is clear Mr. Taglia is firmly in the pro-development camp. Property/individual taxes make up 80% of the village's revenue, it seems reasonable that our officials reflect the desires of the entire community.

Two weeks ago, the mayor stated in the local newspaper that he was going to wait until after the election to make his appointment. After the recent debate and strong performances by many of the other candidates, the mayor moved his appointment of Mr. Taglia up to the very next day and then rushed for board approval before the election. This is significant because it is not clear that this appointment would be viewed so favorably by newly-elected members of the board. 

State statute says the mayor can appoint a replacement for Mr. Salzman's seat, but he also has 60 days to do so after the resignation, which was officially Feb. 22. The mayor appointed someone new in just 12 days after stating publicly that he was planning on waiting. This smacks of personal politics, not looking out for the community good.

At a time when transparency in our public discourse is so essential, this seems like a move directly against that. I would respectfully urge you to consider letting the people choose through the democratic process. If the people want Mr. Taglia to sit on the board, let them choose.

Brian Hammersley

Oak Park

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