By Brad Spencer
A man posing as an Oak Park resident named Richard Kullman and claiming to be a member of a group called Residents for Sanity in Oak Park's Parks met last week with Park District Executive Director Jan Arnold to urge officials to reconsider the upcoming renovation of Ridgeland Common fields. But the name was an alias. His real name is Les Golden.
Golden, a lifelong Oak Parker and self-described animal welfare and environmental activist, has a history of concocting oddball names when it comes to dealing with local bodies of government. In the early 1990s while running for state rep, Golden made headlines by changing his middle name to Les "Cut the Taxes" Golden in an attempt to get the moniker on the voting ballot. He did not win the primary. A few years later, Golden pulled the same stunt while running for the Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 school board. He was subsequently thrown off the ballot.
He once dropped off petition signatures using the name Leonard Running Bear.
In 2009, Golden was found guilty of misdemeanor criminal trespass to property after being arrested for entering a construction zone at Field Center in Oak Park two years prior. He was sentenced to a year of court supervision and 40 hours of community service.
Golden unsuccessfully ran for the park district board back in 2003.
Posing as Kullman (sometimes spelled Kullmann), Golden sent several emails and made numerous phone calls to Arnold and members of her staff about the installation of synthetic turf on the fields at Ridgeland Common and plans to flatten the sledding hill. He also did the same to Wednesday Journal staffers and village administrators. On Friday, he led Arnold to believe he was Kullman during a 30-minute presentation that claimed the majority of Oak Parkers were not for the installation of synthetic turf and flattening the sled hill. He also spoke about misplaced rabbits and worms.
"I had no reason to believe he wasn't the person he claimed to be," said Arnold, who had never met Golden in person. "He said he was Richard Kullman, and that's who I thought I was meeting with."
Arnold said she was shocked to find out from one of her staff following the meeting the man's real identity.
"It's unfortunate," she said, "that someone would position themselves as someone else."
Golden (as Kullman) was joined by two other members of his group, Joyce Porter and Lanny Lutz (their real names).
Golden posed as Kullman in a phone interview with this reporter and was quoted in a recent story about the sled hill [Sled hill to be flattened, Dog Park Plus to be moved, News, March 6], stating, "A vast majority of the community doesn't know the hill is coming down or was even made aware that it was a possibility. It wasn't a very democratic way of doing things."
A message left on the cellphone number that Golden provided as Kullman was not returned. Calls to the number listed for Les Golden went unanswered.