John Hedges for Oak Park Village President

Opinion: Editorials

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It is understandable but unfair for John Hedges to be portrayed in this campaign as the "status quo" candidate. Yes, he has been active and involved in Oak Park government — park district and village — for decades. Yes, he is the candidate of the Village Manager Association — Oak Park Together is the non de plume in the current race — and the VMA has been the dominant political force in town for better than a half century.

But by his actions as a village trustee over the past six years, John Hedges has proven himself to be an independent person with a critical eye, particularly on spending levels at village hall and the lack of forward motion in solving nagging process problems in village government. And so for his experience, and for his fresh eye, we endorse John Hedges for Oak Park Village President.

That said, Hedges and the VMA are getting rousted out of their comfy shoes in this election by Anan Abu-Taleb, an entrepreneurial restaurateur, who has tapped a legitimate vein of frustration with village government. It doesn't hurt that Abu-Taleb — simply Anan to his friends and myriad lawn-sign hosts — is a passionate voice with the credibility of a visible and successful business leader.

The Journal has long made the point that contested elections are good for our community and this one, even as voices are raised and brown lawns are festooned with gold and green signs, is turning into a doozy. Good.

When Abu-Taleb rails against development processes measured in years instead of months, he is right. When he says the village has obsessed about streetscaping in Downtown Oak Park to the detriment of other commercial strips, he is right. When he says Oak Park acts as if it exists in a vacuum and points out the gains in Berwyn and Forest Park, he is right.

"Oak Park is a very progressive town and then we're not at times," is Anan's apt description of our town, which is both groundbreaking and stuck in the mud. "We don't challenge our assumptions," he told the Journal during our endorsement interview, and he is right.

The problem — and it is not unusual among hard-charging challengers — is that Abu-Taleb is better at bringing heat than solving problems. So when at a Journal-sponsored forum he was asked to name specifically the stages of a development process he would eliminate in order to quicken the pace, he replied, "All of them." Sounds good in a heated moment on a debate stage. But try taking that concept out for a test drive when a restaurant wants an outdoor patio backing up to a residential neighborhood or affordable housing is proposed on a main street. That's when annoying process turns into inclusion and compromise and problem-solving.

While Hedges can also get frustrated by government inertia, he needs to go considerably further if he is elected village president. Together with his trustees (and we're counting on Trustees Tucker and Salzman), a Hedges board needs to knock out some props in our village government and send a decisive message that we can do better, faster and we can do it without denigrating the role of government in a community that demands a voice.

This tension between government and commerce is also mirrored in the ongoing debate over the concurrent role of the village president as the legally ensconced liquor commissioner. State and local ordinance clearly make it impossible for the president/liquor commissioner to hold a liquor license as the Abu-Taleb family does for Maya del Sol. These laws may be antiquated holdovers from Prohibition days but they are still on the books.

Abu-Taleb has been both candid and cagey in addressing this consternating issue. If elected, he says, he will transfer ownership of the restaurant. He is not direct in saying who he might shift ownership to and we think he owes the public a clearer answer. He also talks about working to change the laws. That's fine, but it would not solve the problem created immediately upon his election.

Certainly Oak Park could use business owner representation on the village board. It has been lacking for a long while and it shows. So clearing away impediments such as these liquor laws would be a good step. But, Anan, changing laws is a process.

We are completely accepting of Abu-Taleb's heartfelt explanation of his conviction two decades back on tax evasion charges. He is persuasive in admitting his culpability and explaining the many ways his contrition has made him a stronger, better man.

For his part, Hedges is a soft-spoken, tough-minded leader. Don't expect to see any $20 million streetscaping projects under his administration. Don't look for more excuses for why in 2013 Oak Park's village government is without a vision for how technology can solve customer service problems and wring greater efficiency on costs. While he respects Oak Park's history he will ask hard and long-overdue questions of organization's such as the Oak Park Development Corporation.

For us this is a hard endorsement and an easy one. John Hedges is the superior candidate. If he takes his challenger's message to heart, he will be a still stronger village president. As Abu-Taleb says, "Changing before you have to is the way to go." Oak Park's government needs to change. John Hedges is the person who can make that change actually happen.

If with his passion and his tough challenge, Anan Abu-Taleb has sparked the VMA's candidates and not just offended their sensibilities, then he will have done Oak Park a great service. We need Abu-Taleb's energy and his impatience. We wish, in this moment, that he was running for a seat as a village trustee. In that role we would have offered an enthusiastic endorsement.

Reader Comments

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Actions send louder messages than words  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 10:28 AM

A voting record sends messages. So does aligning yourself with a Political party. John Hedges' choice to remain aligned with the VMA is a predictor that should be weighted more heavily than past voting record.

Abu Taleb is Status Quo  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 10:25 AM

It doesn't get more status quo than having Jesse White robo call voters at dinner time. That's status quo Illinois machine nonsense. Vote Hedges. Keep the machine out of OP.

Hedges IS Independent  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 10:18 AM

John Hedges is an independent thinker and public servant. Anyone who says otherwise, is not paying attention to his voting record. Abu Taleb can't dispute that Hedges is his own man. So his campaign attacks the VMA at large. OPers know better. That's why they are rejecting Abu Taleb's arguments today.

Howard Larkin from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 10:12 AM

"If with his passion and his tough challenge, Anan Abu-Taleb has sparked the VMA's candidates and not just offended their sensibilities, then he will have done Oak Park a great service." The degree to which Mr Abu-Taleb "sparks" VMA's candidates will no doubt be proportional to the number of votes he receives -- which is to say he needs more than Mr Hedges to succeed. If you're happy with VMA's record on development and fiscal management, vote them back in. If not, vote for the alternative.

Nick from NE O.P> from OakPark  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 9:55 AM

This endorsement is all the info I need. Hedges. Who writes 107 comments? You people need to get a life.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:36 PM

H=I, I didn't say the VMA forms the slate. And you know I didn't say that. :)

Hedges = Integrity   

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:23 PM

Bridgett, actually NO. I'm not saying the information from the VMA website is inaccurate. I am saying the meaning you are attaching to the words that you pulled from the website is inaccurate. Just because the VMA recruits, it does not mean that after the candidates are selected the VMA forms the party and the platform. They don't. They select the candidates. Of course they do outreach (or "recruitment" as you so ominously call it). But they don't form the slate. The candidates do.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:55 PM

H=I, based on your comments below, U R saying that all that I cite from the VMA website itself is wrong? There is nothing independent about anyone associated w/ the VMA. The VMA actively recruits people, year round, & then creates a slate to endorse. It says it all right there on its website, under "Selection Committee" I do have to say that I am becoming increasing turned-off by the VMA w/ these comments of VMA supporters denying how the VMA OBVIOUSLY operates.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:42 PM

John Hedges is an independent thinker, a fiscal conservative, and municipal finance expert. He was selected by the VMA because of his skill set. The VMA selects candidates based on skills, not a predetermined political platform. The VMA does not form the slate. The endorsed candidates form the slate. Bridgett, you're cherry-picking words from the website because you are hostile to Hedges and are looking for tidbits to support your argument. Recruitment of individuals is not a preformed slate.

Norbert from Chicago  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 10:26 AM

This shouldn't even be a contest. After reading the Daily Beefing's endorsement of Abu-Taleb, I don't see how anyone could vote for the other clown. Look at this and tell me you don't agree (

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 7th, 2013 10:43 PM

Bridgett - Last Post - now you got it.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2013 10:20 PM

And those "lots of different individuals" are actively recruited by the VMA. "The Vice President of Selections presides over a recruitment committee that works throughout the year to recruit and refer interested candidates to the Selection process." The VMA isn't a passive organization where people find their way to it, seeking their endorsement. The VMA is an active, year-round, political party. Maybe not in the legal sense of the word, but in practice.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2013 10:05 PM

From the VMA website ... "Interested candidates are interviewed by the Committee (or sub-committee) and a committee of the whole then selects individuals whom they believe possess the necessary qualifications to become a Village President, Trustee or Clerk. A SLATE IS THEN FORMED AND ENDORSED."

Slate is state law  

Posted: April 7th, 2013 9:54 PM

@Bridgett. Nope, lots of different individuals come before the VMA Selections Committee (which is itself a diverse groups of citizens who often don't even know each other). That committee selects the best qualified people to run for each of the offices up for election. Those endorsed candidates form their own party and run as a full slate. Not sure what you're not clear on.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2013 9:41 PM

@Slate is state law. The "Selection Committee" section on the VMA website... states: "...a SLATE is then formed and endorsed." In other words, the VMA requires a slate in order for an endorsement. "Requires" is a softer word than "force." ;-)

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2013 9:32 PM

Thanks for the clarification "Slate is state law." Hedges, Barber, Brewer, Lueck, and Powell first formed a slate, and then went before the selection committee of the VMA, as a slate. That's what you're saying, correct?

Slate is state law  

Posted: April 7th, 2013 7:21 PM

@ "Bridgett" the state law governing elections for municipal office requires that candidates either run as individuals or as a complete slate with one candidate for each office up for election. The VMA doesn't "force" anyone to run on a slate.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 7th, 2013 1:02 PM

@waiting. You tagged with a title that I did not seek but have proposed that people who post on this forum present their opinions and positions in a manner that does not, in effect, dehumanize those share a different view. Ray Simpson recently, and correctly, called me out for not practicing what I preached regarding his views on national politics and gun laws and I will attempt to avoid doing so in the future. I don't have a strong opinion of what I viewed as a jab by John directed at Adam. Mr Murtagh shares his personal experiences and often provide valuable insights in to how things should and do or don't work in Oak Park. I don't consider him a flamethrower or cheap shot artist. Others may disagree and some often do. I trust you did not actaully hold your breath for five hours waiting for my response to the jab you directed at me.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 7th, 2013 12:42 PM

I trust Adam Salazman and Jane Hedges do not interpret my attempt to obtain additional information about the Oak Park citizens' advisory boards and commissions as questioning the integrity or motivations of those who volunteer to serve on behalf of our community. That is not the case and nor do I see myself as qualified to pass summary judgement. It is unfortunate that some may view any inquiry of this nature as insulting or inappropriate. Speaking from personal experience and observation, I can attest that this can be a topic that will generate a lot of anger, insults and frustration. Perhaps this forum is not the venue to discuss one party rule in Oak Park or if we would be served better by having more independent voices involved in the decision making process. That is for others to decide. I post comments in hopes of engaging in a civil discourse and gathering information that we can all share to help us better understand how things work in Oak Park. My family and I lived in this village for many years and are proud of our community and how much has been accomplished by dedicated citizens who want Oak Park to be the best. The dialogue has, on occasion, become heated and ultimately counterproductive. If someone asks for more details, it should not assumed that it is being done in order to play "gotcha ya" or give credence to a misconception. If those who can answer questions chose not to respond, that is their perogative and should not be viewed as a confirmation or factual evidence. How many CIC commissioners are also VMA members may indeed have no bearing on the evaluations or findings. There was a comment posted on the subject and I requested some clarification from Jim Kelly. He and others can explain how this is irrelevant or deem the matter not worthy of a response. I just asked a question.

waiting for mr. civility  

Posted: April 7th, 2013 7:39 AM

I am waiting for Mr. Wed. Journal Message Board Civility, aka Mr. Coughlin, to take exception with Mr. Murtaugh's last comment. I probably should not hold my breath.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 6th, 2013 11:04 PM

Adam - Is living in Fantasyland a prerequisite for serving on the OP Board?

janehedges from oakpark  

Posted: April 6th, 2013 9:43 PM

Bridget,just go to the V.M.A. selection group. Please just know that this is only as powerful as the citizens who live in Oak Park. Just do what I did. Find out what the V.M.A. really stands for. It will take some of your time,but it will educate you. These people are not for anything but good and ethical leadership. Isn't that what we all want for our village? Remember you don't have to belong to V.M.A. to participate all you need is to be a concerned citizen. You seem to be that.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 6th, 2013 8:51 PM

Jim Coughlin, to answer a question posed way down at the bottom of this comment thread, I can emphatically state that our volunteer commissions are not "stacked with political insiders" as you put it. I don't think it's right to list people's political affiliations in the manner you are asking Jim Kelly to do, since these are people who volunteer their time for the purpose of giving back to the community and it would be inconsiderate to toss around their names online without their knowledge or consent. On top of that, Jim probably doesn't even know the political leanings of many folks on his commission, because there is no point in the process at which that question is asked. But I do know of numerous commissioners who serve on our advisory bodies who have opposed candidates that VMA has endorsed. That group includes a prominent commission chair. We have several commission vacancies that we are eager to fill. If anything, we are looking for reasons to include, not exclude. I can see that this thread has gotten far afield of your original question, Jim, but I thought it was worth addressing.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2013 8:49 PM

I am not a VMA hater. I just don't get it. I mean, I appreciate an organization who puts time and effort into getting to know the candidates, and I would consider its opinions. But forcing to run as a slate is, for me, a turn off. We in this state/country have major problems with our two-party system, and a one-party system (which in essence is what the VMA is, a party) is not healthy. And, frankly, I think it's kinda weird to have *any* kind of party affiliation for a town this size.

jane hedges from oak park  

Posted: April 6th, 2013 5:19 PM

33 years ago, I wondered as some of you,"What is the V.M.A.?" So I volunteered to be on the selection committee. All one has to do is be a citizen of Oak Park. I ,with about 100 others ,listened to all those who wanted to run. We had many who wanted to be selected for the slate. What we looked for was service to the community and good leadership qualities. I urge all the V.M.A. haters to do as I did so they understand. The V.M.A. is open to ANYONE who wants good leaders for O.P.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 6th, 2013 1:33 PM

There have been occasions, though rare, when the VMA did not have full control of the Village Board. The results have been mixed but did provide an opportunity for more debate on the issues that impact our community. Independent candidates and rival slates face a daunting task when taking on an entrenched and powerful politcal machine. Serving as trustee requires a significant commitment of time and energy. Board members are subjected to some pretty intense scrutiny and unfair criticism. Their efforts are appreciated and should not be undervalued. This forum provides a venue to express opinions that may differ from those of our elected officials and their supporters and represents the only way for some folks to be heard. That can result in some odd and personal attacks but does not end the discussion.

Not from here  

Posted: April 6th, 2013 1:01 PM

It's been my observation since moving to OP that "one party rule" is more of just the default because there is no viable alternative. Anan comes close, but still isn't really a total package of ideas about how to run the village. My take is that he is winning the complaint vote...we'll see if that's enough. But Anan being on the Board isn't the magical solution or a rival set of good governance ideas to the VMA. Just my two cents.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 6th, 2013 12:44 PM

No sense in trying to make to make sense of such nonsense. Is one party rule beneficial to the democratic process? If you have an opinion, please share.


Posted: April 6th, 2013 11:13 AM

What if the CIC had all Catholics, Jews or Muslims? What if they had all Democrats or Republicans? Its a stretch to make the assertion that people that are INVOLVED in our Village government have political agendas. Coughlin everyone is out to get you. Boo!

It's funny... from Oak Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2013 9:13 AM

...I see anger and vitriol coming from the status quo VMA who seems afraid to start losing their strangle hold on the Village. On the other hand, I see frustration from Anan's supporters that the Village doesn't work well. I'm afraid that I can't just "go along" and vote for the same failed policies can call it vitriol, or you can recognize that change is needed. Change that Hedges is incapable of bringing given his VMA slate.


Posted: April 6th, 2013 8:46 AM

@Sputter--your comments are exactly why I won't vote for Mr. Hedges. So, yeah, I guess I am flip-flopping, too. You made me think whether I really support more of this nonsense from the VMA or I want something different. I will support Mr. Abu-Taleb.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 8:50 PM

Jane - your post is the best! Bring on Wednesday!

jane hedges from oak park  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 8:45 PM

When I see the nasty remarks an vitriol on these blogs, all I can say is "How about those Cubs?"

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 5:15 PM

To get a Facebook Verified, you must have a Facebook account with a verifiable name. The WJ has the ability to identify IRL's as part of the verification.

VMA can't keep their supporters leashed again  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 4:46 PM

VMA. Your supporters have gone rabid again. We know you're threatened, but try to get em back in the leash eh?

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 2:38 PM

The forum comment policy is rarely enforced and you are taking advantage of that unfortunate situation by posting personal attacks that do not contribute to the discussion. No sense in continuing to engage with someone who is not interested in a civil discourse. I'll leave you to your thoughts.

Sputter and Coughlin from Sputnick, Coughland  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 2:15 PM

Please, anyone can set up a Facebook page, that's no proof of identity at all. I'm just a citizen who follows the news, and therefore, as a reader of this newspaper, can not escape seeing your name and ill-supported, innuendo drenched, asinine commentary. I've finally had enough. Does that answer your question, o grand inquisitor? I am an interested citizen. Who are you, Mr. Coughlin? Got a birth certificate? I think it's so sad that you won't come clean and answer the questions put to you.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 2:08 PM

All I've got for you is the Facebook Verified tag provided by this forum. Something you are obviously unwilling to demonstrate. Why is that? Please answer the question. You must have some notion as to who I am by citing what you claim is a "favorite Coughlin tactic" or are you used to talking to and about phantoms? It does seem that whenever the questioning about the VMA and local politics starts to get too hot; there's always someone intentionally trying to derail the public discourse with cheap shots and personal attacks. Trying to hide the truth along with yourself?

Sputter and Coughlin from Sputnick, Coughland  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 2:05 PM

(Wringing hands piously) Oh, how unfortunate that Mr. Coughlin refuses to answer the pointed questions that he so regularly (and irritatingly) foists on everyone else in this arena. What level has our public discourse sunk to? LOL. So, people should use their real names except when they say things that you like? Real clear thinker there, Coughman.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 1:54 PM

You have me at a disadvantage, sir or maam. I've have no idea who you are; if you even live in Oak Park or are interested in engaging in a civil discourse. Enuf is Enuf has provided some very interesting information and insight regarding Village Hall operations. You've offered nothing of that nature. Cheap shots are just the lazy product of someone who lacks the conviction of their position. Prove yourself or sneak back into the shadows.

Sputter and Coughlin from Sputnick, Coughland  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 1:31 PM

To use another favorite Coughlin tactic: Perhaps Mr. Coughlin can answer a question: Should Enuf is Enuf reveal his real name? If Enuf does not reveal his real name, does Enuf lack conviction? Please answer the question Mr. Coughlin. By the way, Mr. Coughlin, can you provide evidence that you are a real person? Please provide evidence Mr. Coughlin.

Flip Butch Flop from Fliptown, USA  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 1:27 PM

Ah, good old Mr. Coughlin. Practitioner of that time-honored tactic of calling a person who interferes with his narrative "nasty." Jim- read up on Butchy's positions- he is a supporter of people's rights to hide behind pseudonyms while attacking people. This is in the great Butch tradition. By the way Jim, I notice you don't attack Enuf for not using HIS name. Could it be because you AGREE with him? Incidentally, none of the below posts are personal. They simply trotted out Butch's own words.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 1:20 PM

John, I believe that many people who read your comments and post responses appreciate the thoughtfulness and knowledge you offer when sharing your insights and opinions. We have disagreed on occasion but you have always been respectful and willing to engage in a civil discourse. It is unfortunate that someone who directed a couple of real cheap shots at you for the decision you've made about the upcoming election lacked the strength of their conviction to address you with a real name. All we are left with is to question their motivation. Those nasty postings certainly did not benefit candidate Hedges.

Flip Butch Flop from Fliptown, USA  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 1:10 PM

So when you announced in September that would endorse and support John Hedges for Village President, you weren't telling the truth, right? That's some credibility you have there. Or . . . maybe you weren't lying but you had a hidden condition on your endorsement (that there would be an independent candidate for trustee). And you didn't tell anybody that you had that condition. Not very transparent, Butchy. Couldn't be that a sexier candidate came along and you just wanted on the bandwagon . . .

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 12:50 PM

I Flip-flopped. Last summer, my biggest concern was that David Pope would choose to run again. I felt that would be the worst outcome of the election. I also thought that there would be independent trustee candidates running, but felt that it was unlikely that an independent presidential candidate would emerge. I told John Hedges that I felt he could win the presidency as an independent. John told me he could not do that. I then told him I would support him anyway, but would not support the VMA slate. My reason for supporting John at that time was my respect for the work the board's financial committee had done in the last year. When the candidate's were announced in December, I was dismayed that there were no independent candidates for board trustee. That meant that the VMA trustee candidate's would be unopposed. Ironically a presidential candidate emerged ?" Anan. At the same time, a VMA releases indicated that the slate had common beliefs ?" Status Quo with some moderations. Not knowing Anan's vision for the village, I continued to support John Hedges, though I was concerned about the way in which the Village Manager was chosen. There was no discourse on any of the candidate's interviewed or the person chosen. I considered that an ethical violation of the board's statement that the selection would be public. In February, I met with Anan. We had agreement on the issues in the election, but I was concerned about his inexperience with village government. I decided having Anan as president would bring the energy, focus, and vision the village needed. I contacted John Hedges and told him I was withdrawing my support. I apologized. John understood and we remain friends, though I am concerned if the friendship can survive a contentious village president race. Anan does not have all the characteristics I hoped for in September, but he has grasped issues quickly and has added enthusiasm that has been missing for years in Oak Park elections.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 12:21 PM

John, that's useful information. It does appear that political party affilliation plays a significant role in the advisory process, especially in the appointment of chairpersons. The issue remains unresolved as to how this is beneficial to the democratic process in our community. No one from the VMA seems prepared or willing to address specific questions. It is always troubling when the group in power shuts down and closes ranks. So much for the notion of transparency.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 12:11 PM

@Exposed! from Oak Park. Please put your detective skills to work and tell us the real names of the countless others who post anonymously on this forum. Include yourself in that report or are we to conclude your just taking a dig at Bob Milstein without any evidence to back it up? Having read a number of the posts offered by Enuf is Enuf and Bob Milstein, I've observed two distinct writing styles. I could be wrong but will wait to see if you are be able to make the case.

Flip Butch Flop from Fliptown, USA  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 12:05 PM

"When I saw the WJ article I was pleased to see he was going to seek the presidency and wanted to express that I think he would be a great choice." John Butch Murtagh, September 26, 2012. And he's not a great choice now? Hmm . . . Or did he not stroke your ego enough to make you stand by your position? Love that you were for him before you were against him, John. Guess you got bored with good government.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 12:02 PM

The commission system is complex. First, I have no criticism of residents who serve. They genuinely want to contribute. The problem is also not solely the fault of the Chairperson of the Community Involvement Committee (CIC) or Jim Kelly the chairperson. The problem is that the the CIC reports to the President of the Board who approves all selections. That enables the political side of the process to influence assignments. Of particular interest to the political side is getting their choice on chairpersons. In most case, the chairpersons are politically involved and most frequently members of the VMA.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 12:01 PM

You are correct about the information posted by Jim Kelly but he did not detail the political afilliations of the members of the Citizen Involvement Commission. That's what I've been trying to get on the record. No luck, so far. Hopefully, it's not just party insiders. If the only people willing to serve on these advisory boards are also members/supporters of the local political powerhouse, there needs to be an improved effort towards recruitment and community outreach. We need more than just individuals with personal agenda or a vested interest participating in the discussion.

Flip Butch Flop from Fliptown, USA  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 12:00 PM

"I want a village president that knows how government works, has a strong knowledge of the community, and the trust of the residents." John Butch Murtagh, September 25, 2012 But now, not so much, right John? What happened? You decided there wasn't enough conflict to satisfy your craving to be king rabble rouser?

Flip Butch Flop from Fliptown, USA  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 11:56 AM

"I will endorse and support John Hedges for Village President." John Butch Murtagh, September 25, 2012 Flip flop much?

Exposed! from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 11:37 AM

Enuf is Enuf IS former Trustee, Bob Milstein.


Posted: April 5th, 2013 11:37 AM

Jim, didn't Mr. Kelly previously state on this thread that applicants aren't asked about their political inclinations? Furthermore, I have direct personal experience with the Transportation Commission as a resident & frankly couldn't have cared less what their political leanings were. I was more interested that they listen to the neighborhood--which they did--in making decisions. And, honestly, their decision then needed to be sold to the Trustees. It was far from pre-determined.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 11:36 AM

Re following post. I used the word aggressive to describe Hedges platform on financial development. I should have used the word "assertive" or no adjective at all. The problem with Hedges' platform as continuing to use large developments (Sertus, Whiteco, Madison Highlands, etc.) as a path to increased tax revenue. Twenty-three years of that strategy has resulted in no or minimal tax receipts from the large development approach. At the same time, resident taxes have increased, services have been cut, and housing values have plunged.

Dave from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 11:31 AM

Of course. This isn't a newspaper. It's a newsletter for VMA and its junta that could care less what people impacted by their decisions think. They know better than you. Do you know anyone with critical thinking skills who is happy with Oak Park government? That's Hedges and his cronies. Tax and tax, is their motto. Efficiencies? An analysis of how we can do government better? Have you ever seen that? Voting for Hedges is a vote for the continued deterioration of a viable Oak Park.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 11:25 AM

It was not my intention to portray negatively any citizen who volunteers to serves on Village commission. Their efforts are appreciated. My question pertained to how many members of the Citizens Involvement Commission are affiliated with the VMA. Jim Kelly should know and be willing to share that information. It must be acknowledged that one political party has had a stranglehold on the democratic process in our community. Whether that's good or bad is subject to debate and I did attempt to solict any opinion from Gail Moran on that subject. She chose not to respond which unfortunately has been an issue with her in the past. The details provided by Enuf regarding the influence of local real estate interests on our Plan and Trrafic Commisions should be of concern to those who believe that advisory boards must represent a broad base of community members and not serve as a rubber stamp.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 11:25 AM

Charles - you have the candidates backwards. It is Hedges (VMA) that endorses continuing aggressive financial development to solve OP's problems. In February of this year, the board voted Financial Development as its number one goal. The problem is there is no money to finish projects underway for years. Anan's view is that you have to reduce OP's debt and get the village's fiscal house in order before new developments are pursued.


Posted: April 5th, 2013 10:56 AM

Correlation does not imply causation. There are always vacancies on the various commissions and never enough people to fill them. Even if they ARE full of VMA members, perhaps it's just that people likely to volunteer for these thankless, boring, bureaucratic committees also tend to be members of other civic organizations? Also, clout isn't the same thing as conspiracy and shenanigans.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 10:54 AM

The only appearance of seeding is with key commissions, such as the Plan and Transportation Commissions. Also, it only takes a simple majority of members to control a commission. I have tracked the Plan Commission for the past decade, and there has been a high proportion of members affiliated with local real estate interests, and a low proportion of architects and planners. I know of two local architects that applied for PC vacancies that were denied, later filled by real estate interests.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 10:46 AM

VMA claims only those with citizen commission experience are qualified to serve on the village board, which excludes the majority of residents who do not have the time for this level of commitment, thus keeping control within VMA. I offered 4 current board members as prove of my assertion (Pope, Johnson, Lueck, and Tucker), all who have served double terms on key citizen commissions. Mr. Kelly, chair of CIC, was also VMA campaign manager in 2011.


Posted: April 5th, 2013 10:41 AM

@Dave: And where do you think your friend Anan will get the money to fund all this new investment other than raising taxes? (By the way FP uses $$ from its Walmart and K-mart to fund investment for its "downtown" - that is, Madison, Is Walmart Anan's plan or is it raising taxes?)

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 10:09 AM

I did attempt to find out information about the Citizen Involvement Commission membership via the VOP website but received an error message and there's scant information on the other pages I tried to reference.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 10:03 AM

Still wondering if Jim Kelly is able or willing to provide information about the Citizen Involvement Commission on which he serves? Does he know how many of the current commissioners have any VMA affiliation? I was hoping for an answer since Kelly responded promptly and angrily to a claim by Enuf is Enuf regarding the selection process for the Plan Commission. I'm also still waiting for Enuf to provide more details.

Dave from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2013 9:16 AM

I moved to Oak Park in 2010 and have since wondered why Lake Street is in such good shape commericially but not Roosevelt, Madison and North (especially Roosevelt and Madison when you look at what our neighboring towns have done on those streets). I view it as negligence probably due to favoritism. It looks like I'll be voting for Anan.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 3rd, 2013 3:03 PM

Is Enuf able to share information that supports his claim about the Plan Commision being seeded with party loyalists? Jim Kelly indicates that his is only of nine commissioners on the Citizen Involvement Commission but not how many of those who serve with him have any VMA affiliation. I would hope that independent voices are being represented.

Jim Kelly from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2013 2:41 PM

Enuf is Enuf -- your comment about me is both baseless and slanderous. I am one of 9 commissioners on the Citizen Involvement Commission who strive to keep filled 150 positions on 18 different commissions. Applicants are NEVER asked about their political inclinations. Of the 60-some applicants in the last 10 months, I was previously acquainted with just two of them. You are welcome to apply for commission service. I doubt you will because real names are required on the application.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 1st, 2013 2:08 PM

You have become a great contributor to the WJ Comments.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 1st, 2013 12:21 PM

I appreciate Anan's candidacy, as it has woken me up, and has encouraged me to actually think I do have a voice. This election has shown me how clueless I've been about the town I've lived in for almost two decades. Shame on me.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 1st, 2013 7:52 AM

In order to maintain status quo control, the VMA selection process starts with the Citizen Involvement Commission, currently chaired by VMA regular Jim Kelly. It is here that possible threats are filtered out, and key commissions seeded (i.e., Plan Commission) with VMA loyalists. If allegiance is proven after a citizen commission tour of duty, a VMA loyalist will be nominated for trustee (Pope, Lueck, Johnson, Tucker, et al), and if proven again, eventually board president (Pope, Hedges).

OPRF Achievement  

Posted: April 1st, 2013 6:09 AM

@Voter from OP, what is it the Anan does not know that is so upsetting? The trustees are the onese with the Power. The President sets the agenda - and is the "offical" face of the village and needs to sign off on items - along the clerk - that have been approved. Really, you need to stop scaring people. If people want change, you vote Anan. If you want more of what you have seen the last 10 Years - HIGHER TAXES - vote Hedges

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 31st, 2013 10:03 PM

So inexperience is the only thing that kept Anan from getting the WJ endorsement. At the same time the WJ says they would have supported Anan if he had run for trustee. Oddly enough, the VMA Selection Process also decided that Anan could get trustee support, but not presidential support. Seems to me, the president and trustees have the same powers except the president has a gavel and signs documents "the board" has approved. Really, the nasty part of the endorsement game being played is that it implies that if John Hedges only runs for one term, we will get another VMA President in 2017. Since 2009, no one but VMA members has been on the board. That is there will be no one else in the village with the WJ/VMA standard for selection of a president, unless the WJ and VMA decides that village commission members have the needed experience to skip the trustee step. Those who believe that OP needs change, better vote Anan now. The political movers and shakers are getting ready to slam the door in the residents face for a long time. The experience cop-out is bogus. This is a village of 50,000 people with a staff of nearly 200. The president's job is to lead the board and village; not manage it. Without even stopping for a breath, I could name 25 people who could be excellent presidents of Oak Park despite having no more experience than Anan.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 31st, 2013 10:01 PM

So inexperience is the only thing that kept Anan from getting the WJ endorsement. At the same time the WJ says they would have supported Anan if he had run for trustee. Oddly enough, the VMA Selection Process also decided that Anan could get trustee support, but not presidential support. Seems to me, the president and trustees have the same powers except the president has a gavel and signs documents "the board" has approved. Really, the nasty part of the endorsement game being played is that it implies that if John Hedges only runs for one term, we will get another VMA President in 2017. Since 2009, no one but VMA members has been on the board. That is there will be no one else in the village with the WJ/VMA standard for selection of a president, unless the WJ and VMA decides that village commission members have the needed experience to skip the trustee step. Those who believe that OP needs change, better vote Anan now. The political movers and shakers are getting ready to slam the door in the residents face for a long time. The experience cop-out is bogus. This is a village of 50,000 people with a staff of nearly 200. The president's job is to lead the board and village; not manage it. Without even stopping for a breath, I could name 25 people who could be excellent presidents of Oak Park despite having no more experience than Anan.


Posted: March 31st, 2013 3:11 PM

Is Chas private country club lingo for the name Charles?

Chas from Oak Park  

Posted: March 29th, 2013 9:11 PM

Wow, this endorsement really draws a big contrast between these two candidates. Based on this, I'm voting for Hedges. I want the guy who understands how this all works and is committed to fixing what's wrong. I don't want some guy who's all about criticism but doesn't seem to have any solutions.


Posted: March 28th, 2013 5:23 PM

I was feeling apathetic about the whole election this go round. Until now. Will be racing to the polls to vote for Anan. Thanks for this.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 28th, 2013 3:56 PM

I will be voting for Anan. Embrace Change.


Posted: March 28th, 2013 2:24 PM

I've noticed a lot of Anan signs around OP. That's a good thing. Given the results of the current leadership, can it really be any worse? Most of the spending is on auto pilot without question. A new person might actually come in and ask why we've been doing something for the last 30 years.

Oak Park needs change from Oak Park  

Posted: March 28th, 2013 2:10 PM

So, if my take on the article is correct, the VMA has been "in charge" for the past 5 decades and simply watched OP get eclipsed by Forest Park and Berwyn on being business friendly, rubber stamped all the stupid building debacles - built and likely never to be built - and we are supposed to re-elect one of them yet again? I fully expect that if Hedges is elected that he'll revert to ignoring the public and retreat to Village Hall, where, unless you're a developer, you're not welcome...


Posted: March 27th, 2013 11:50 PM

So predictable. And, does the opinion of the Wednesday Journal really count? Not in my house. We are all voting for Anan.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 11:22 PM

My problem with voting for Anan is that he is in the convenient position of having many residents already hating the VMA etc... So being that he's a business man, all he has to do is say he's going to do better business, but I still don't know what his plan for other village issues are. Problem with Hedges is, I also don't know if experience translates into progress. What are their plans for education, crime etc...?

Chris from OP  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 8:28 PM

I am shocked, shocked that the WJ endorsed the status quo. But at least now I am even more convinced to vote for Anan. The sheep will probably prove me wrong, but I hope to celebrate his victory in a few weeks.

john murtagh  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 5:54 PM

Franklin - your comparison of business and government is absurd; especially in OP where the residents view means nothing.

OP Resident #734  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 4:20 PM

@Franklin - Thanks for the lecture. I've attended enough Village Board meetings and followed enough local news to see that the Board is not, in my opinion, responsive to the community. If I wanted to be involved to the point where I'm attending VMA meetings I would volunteer for a committee and get involved directly. I have neither the time nor interest (God bless those who do). I'd prefer to vote for the candidate who appears willing to change the status quo.

Leadership is transferable   

Posted: March 27th, 2013 3:23 PM

The good news about leadership is it crosses functions. Anan doesn't need govt experience to lead there. I'll miss Mr Hedges on the board as he has had the guts to vote for his convictions, but change is needed in this community and it has to start with this election. Otherwise we are sending the message that the status quo is ok and it isn't ok. Another vote for Anan.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 2:56 PM

I'm sorry, John doesn't write the 11 cents on the dollar here. It's on his Viewpoints/One View piece from today. Just wanted to clarify. Thanks.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 2:51 PM

If anyone can answer that'd be great... At the WJ candidtates' forum, John Hedges said the Village budget was 11% of taxes. And here he writes the same, 11 cents on the dollar. I'm looking at my tax bill with the percentages of each taxing body printed on it (the 2011 one, not the recent one that shows debt numbers). Mine says, "Village of Oak Park....13.48%" So, just wondering which number is accurate, 11% or 13.48%. Thanks.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 2:46 PM

@Franklin, I hear you and I agree with you. On the flipside, the argument that experience trumps everything else (I've been a mom for 10 years, but isn't the more important fact *what kind* of mom?), or the assertion that there are no transferrable skills as a business owner so a person lacks experience, is equally "just plain stupid."


Posted: March 27th, 2013 1:36 PM

To all of you who are anti-VMA, have you ever gone to any of their meetings? I doubt it. I as well challenge that we need independents, but simply voting against someone because they are endorsed by a caucus is just plain stupid. Especially if you have NEVER had any in-person interaction with the group. its made up of Oak Parkers, that want to be included in the process of picking good candidates. Actually, when up against independents they have been vetted by MANY of your fellow residents


Posted: March 27th, 2013 1:31 PM

Vote Today, How can someone "Walk the Walk" if they never served in government? That makes no sense. We have a Village Board, not a Mayor. Anan strikes me as a leader and singular decision maker, great in business. But Government is much more different than business. Government is about bringing together voices, ideas, and people to have input...


Posted: March 27th, 2013 1:28 PM

Give Me One Good Reason - Have you been to any of the Candidate Forums? Can you articulate good reasons to vote for Anan? Except that he isn't a VMA endorsed candidate, and stated his frustration with the status quo?

john murtAGH from OAK Park village  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 10:52 AM

In fact, Anan is correct. The entire development process needs to be suspended until a deep review of the TIF disasters and the failures of the village to attract any major businesses. More than 20 years of bad planning, poor execution and million sent and the WJ, again, go's with Status Quo.

Megan Dunn from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 10:34 AM

Congrats, John, on the endorsement! I look forward to celebrating your victory!

David Schiavone from Oak park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 9:45 AM

Your reasons why Anan is "right" are the reasons why I will vote for Anan. Anan has tapped into a discontent among villagers about which Hedges and the VMA do not have a clue.

Highland Resident  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 9:20 AM

The proposed development was simply to make more money for the developer. There wasn't any store plan for the space. It was a parking lot with an overhead walkway across the two streets. The gymnastics center talked -- yes? no? -- about moving there. There was not a plan that made any sense yet the trustees ignored the Planning Commission's recommendation. And if you notice, nothing has still been built at Madison/Highland but the developer keeps getting extensions.

OP Resident #734  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 9:18 AM

The real shame is that the other seats are uncontested. The VMA has built such a high wall around our government that Anan is the only one who was willing to run against them. The board is so disfunctional that no one else wants the job. John Hedges is the best Trustee on the board, but I will not vote with the VMA. The status quo, which he represents, is unacceptable to me. I wish I could vote against the other trustees, but the ballot is set. Another vote for Anan here.

30 year oak park resident from oak park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 9:08 AM

As trustee, Hedges voiced some much-needed independence on the Board. But care of the parks under the leadership of Hedges deteriorated with the hiring of many unqualified contractors and neglect of architecturally significant park buildings. Going from Pope, for whom the sky was the limit on a few pet projects, to Hedges whose track record with the parks led in part to the massive, costly overhauls at nearly all of the parks, is not the answer. Oak Park sorely needs a voice outside the VMA.

results speak loudest  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 8:56 AM

@voter - Thanks voter, I also agree against the land banking by the Village. Here's the reason, it hasn't worked. It has increased taxes by decreasing revenue as the properties sit idle. This and the continued endorsement by Ray and other VMA members makes it easy to vote for Anan.

Voter from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 8:53 AM

The proposed office building at the site is much better than the U Store it facility. The neighborhood would have no input if Anan were selling off property and giving "By right" developement to the highest bidder. Finding a good fit for both a comercial street and a neighborhood doesn't happen by speeding up the process.


Posted: March 27th, 2013 8:27 AM

But John Hedges was one of the trustees who decided against what the planning commission recommended and went ahead with the development at Highland/Madison because they all are in bed with the developer. The neighbors didn't want it, the planning commission said no but the village trustees were all in favor. That's not listening to the people at all. And there was no interest from any viable store for the space.

VOTER from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 8:02 AM

After going to the WJ forum I came away with the exact, well-expressed, impressions of Anan and John Hedges as written in this endorsement. What Anan doesn't know about Village government is staggering. The path that John Hedges wants to follow is clear and reflects the best of our Village. One issue stuck out to me, the dispossession of Village owned property. Anan wants to sell it off and let developers do what they do, sounds good, but in reality its something different. Years ago the?

Voter from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 8:01 AM

? land at Highland and Madison was put up for development and the ONLY interested party was a U-Store-It facility. Had Anan been in charge at that point Madison would look even worse. Experience and careful deliberation are important; that is why I am supporting Hedges.

Vote Today  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 7:42 AM

Hedges talks the talk. Anan walks the walk. You decide.

Contrarian from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 6:36 AM

Mr. Hedges is a kind old man, with lots of Oak Park Village experience, who tows the VMA line. That's all the reasons I need to vote against him. VOTE ANAN!! Vote for an Oak Park that actually works!

Mary L from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 6:24 AM

I've been on the fence a bit in this election and only recently decided to vote for Hedges. This endorsement summarizes well my thoughts on the election. I like some of our current trustees, and Hedges is one of them. He's careful with spending, and I like that a lot. There just isn't much substance to Anan's campaign, but I do like his restaurant!

Give Me One Good Reason from OP  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 5:28 AM

No one seems to be able to articulate any good reason to vote for Hedges except that "he's been around, so he has experience" or "he's the VMA candidate." Neither are good enough given my frustration with where Oak Park seems to be headed. I'm voting for Anan and look forward to getting the rest of the VMA bums out as soon as possible,

Voting Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 2:52 AM

Interesting that this article has numerous quotes from the Anan but none from the person they are endorsing--odd to say the least.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 1:10 AM

This is one of the oddest pieces of writing of an endorsement I've ever read. I'm left scratching my head. It's as clear as mud.

Robert Milstein from Oak Park   

Posted: March 26th, 2013 11:50 PM

Anan is right. Anan is correct. Anan challenges the sensibilities of the VMA. Anan makes sense and if Hedges listens to Anan he will be a better President. Why no elect the source of John's greatness by voting fir ANAN for Village President. The Wjinc endorsement was a foregone conclusion. We need a new voice, a fresh voice and that is ANAN.


Posted: March 26th, 2013 11:43 PM

I too support Anan. We need a new direction for this village I love and I do not believe Hedges is the right leader.


Posted: March 26th, 2013 11:32 PM

My vote goes to Anan. It is time for change but it wont happen unless we get out and vote. Early voting is going on now at Village Hall, Monday through Saturday from 9 to 5 all the way through April 6th.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 26th, 2013 10:27 PM

Congratulations John! This is a strong endorsement and a testament to your skills as a leader. You are the most qualified candidate to lead the village board, and this endorsement provides many specific reasons why. Residents can learn more at

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