For many voters, the erosion of trust with our elected boards is the common thread that runs through the April 4 election. Here are just a few examples of questionable board actions:
The village of Oak Park president and trustees have granted controversial zoning variances allowing developers to build high-rises that are more than double the zoned height, and the fate of Austin Gardens looms on the village board's agenda. President Abu-Taleb erodes public trust by personally negotiating with developers in a non-public forum with no checks and balances or transparency. In two deals alone, the village board indebted taxpayers to $15 million in new garage debt while the village fails to maintain its existing garages.
The District 97 referenda are likely flying under the radar for many of Oak Park's 37,753 registered voters in this off-year election. Even though the operating referendum is a tsunami, $740 per a $10,000 property tax bill, the D97 school board did not send out an informational mailer to all households on its two ballot questions. Homeowners must be aware of and understand the referenda so they can cast an informed vote. Renters will be impacted too if landlords pass on the increased cost.
D97's only mailed mention of cost is in the current village newsletter. Pictures of children grace two-thirds of the front of the insert, while the cost is placed on the back and minimized, listed as an increase of $74 per every $1,000 tax bill. The ballot questions themselves are worded such that voters may have little or no idea what they are voting on or their tax implications.
Since 2013, the District 200 school board has wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in its quest to build an oversized pool, a "want" of a special interest group, not a "need" of the school. In 2015, when the board tried to bypass voters and issue non-referendum bonds for a $37.5 million, Olympic-size pool, the board's news release defended its action by falsely stating that a standard competition pool could not be built within the building and touting its nominal $30 million return to taxpayers of the more than $100 million of overtaxed dollars. D200's deceptive marketing of its 2016 pool referendum, falsely headlining it as academic, further eroded trust.
Restore trust and accountability with our elected boards by voting for Matt Baron, Jack Davidson and Doug Springer for D200, Heather Claxton-Douglas for D97, and Deno Andrews, Simone Boutet and Dan Moroney for the village board.