By Dan Haley
Sit through enough endorsement interviews and you are bound to learn a few things you didn't know. For instance:
John Allen, the District 200 incumbent, thinks OPRF can push out the date of its next referendum to 2023. Clearly you have too damned much of our tax money ($90 million in the bank) if you don't need a referendum for a dozen years.
Noel Kuriakos, one of a couple of people bold enough to stand up and publicly oppose the District 97 referendum, has a notion that the most "no" votes will come from east of Ridgeland and south of Madison. His theory for that seems skimpy, but it is his opinion.
Kuriakos also is dropping hints that his very loosely and still pretty secret band of followers won't be stopping with the tax vote. "Some of us decided to coalesce on other issues. We don't want to regroup every time," he said.
Two park board candidates told us the park district is looking at the old Aldi grocery at Lake and Humphrey as the new home to the gymnastics center. Good information. See what the reaction of the public is. Executive session is overrated.
Lynn Kessen, an independent candidate for the Oak Park village board, was uncertain of her opinion on the affordable housing project on Madison. So she asked for a tour of other facilities run by the non-profit organization leading the Comcast project. She came away impressed.
Sharon Patchak-Layman, the District 200 incumbent, is always open to sharing her thoughts. She describes the steady accumulation of cash in the vault at OPRF as "the bulking up that we've done." Her estimate is that we're all paying about 20 percent more in taxes to the high school than is currently justified.
A veteran of both the elementary and the high school board, Patchak-Layman offers the unique perspective that "the District 200 board is not used to working as hard as the District 97 board."
Three thoughts from Thomas Finch, a challenger for the Oak Park park board. Two are goofy, one is oddly intriguing. You get to decide which are which. 1. Ridgeland Common pool and rink need a major overhaul. It could be paid for largely by allowing businesses to advertise on the premises. 2. With open space at a premium in Oak Park, build a turf field for soccer on the roof of a parking garage. 3. The park district might need to "keep the current building at Ridgeland Common for architectural reasons."
The Whiteco building/Oak Park Apartments is 80 percent occupied, says incumbent Oak Park trustee candidate Ray Johnson. And he is frustrated because the building and property standards department at village hall is improved, but not nearly fixed, years after the problem was identified.
Critics contend that Dist. 97 has produced a "scare list" of cuts to come this fall if the referendum fails. I don't agree it is a scare list. I also don't think it is an absolute blueprint of what might happen. But Peter Traczyk, the Dist. 97 president who is running for re-election in an uncontested election, says that in year two of a failed referendum scenario, the district will have to look at converting neighborhood schools into "grade centers." In other words, some of the current elementary schools would house kindergarten to second grade. Others would have third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. The concept is that class sizes would have to increase and grade centers allow the district more flexibility to even out class size.