Protester uses alias to score meeting with Park District of Oak Park executive director

A gadfly by any other name is still Les Golden

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Brad Spencer

Staff Reporter

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.

Email: Twitter: OakParkSports

Reader Comments

35 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Mrs. P. Wickie from OP  

Posted: March 26th, 2013 9:08 PM

My hat off to the very notable Les Golden. Again, he was the guy speaking up for the little guy, the guy without representation or clout. I'm sure he doesn't use the sled hill, but he started the movement to bring its impending destruction to the public's attention. A rare treasure, our most colorful resident.

Rick from Chicago  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 9:54 PM

Hey Spence, you can shoot the messenger but that does not kill the message. "Oak Park Green" and "Oak Park Liberals" top my list of oxymorons. Ask any toppled 3rd grade sledder...but do not ask the money people behind this farce. That is for the U.S. Attorney's investigation.

Norman Thayer Jr.  

Posted: March 9th, 2013 8:06 AM

Les is a fine man. He has one of the finest ponds in the land. I should know. I have been on his pond many times.

Typical Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2013 9:51 AM

Does anyone else see the humor in the fact that an article about Les Golden's crazy antics is written by the sports editor. The real protest about removing the sled hill should be coming from the OPRF students who will be losing a favorite place to smoke.

Platt Niebur from Tampa  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 11:08 PM

oh, I get it now after reading other articles on this site. this "news" site is a propaganda machine. You'll have to excuse me, it's been a while since I moved from oak park. enjoying the freedom of florida (and the sunshine.) bye bye.

Platt Niebur from Tampa  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 10:25 PM

"Score" a meeting with the PD? Who cares about the PD? You all act like that is some feat, and the park director is on a pedestal. Since property taxes pay her salary, anyone should be able to meet with her.

Ln Golden from It aint easy being Green by Les Golden  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 8:46 PM

The problem with crazy Uncle Lester is he happens to be 100 percent correct. Ripping out trees and grass. Replace them with plastic and cement. Put a fence and a lock around the park. Keep the public out. Only let private soccer clubs in the park. I guess I am crazy too. I do not like green eggs and ham.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 4:09 PM

What's will all the use of the word "gadfly" on this site? Seriously, I don't think I've ever heard it used in 21st century conversation outside of Oak Park.


Posted: March 7th, 2013 3:11 PM

He should change his moniker to Les "Go Big or Go Home" Goldman. He's hilarious. Why so serious, Oak Park?

Matt Baron from Oak Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 3:03 PM

This story is, in Blago's parlance, bleepin' Golden, baby! How fiting that it's an 18-year-old file photo that goes with the story....Next time, perhaps a 21st century photo will help prevent future alternate identities on the part of Mr. Golden. More or less, this is the Les I have come to know about over the years, as a resident and in my former days as a reporter.


Posted: March 7th, 2013 2:52 PM

I am outraged that he tried, and also that leadership was duped. (Isn't Les knowledge part of job orientation day?) I am outraged that Board members' personal bias rule. I am outraged that the PD and Board made these decisions to avoid public outcry. I am not outraged by any result (including this one) that is part of a consensus, this was not.


Posted: March 7th, 2013 2:47 PM

Outraged? No. Amused? Yes. I have no opinion on fake turf, sled hill, dog park...put whatever in. But the typically over the top Oak Park antics? Hilarious! Who knew a sled hill could spark this kind of outrage? Oh, right, we live in Oak Park!

Are you kidding  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 2:39 PM

No one is outraged that this nut case was able to meet with an Oak Park executive under an assumed name? This was "ok" with the people who attended the meeting with him? You loose all credibility now ms. Porter. I sure hope that Jan Arnold filed a police report. I think Mr. Goldman's antics against the pd are becoming a little frightening.

Inexcusable from Oak Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 2:06 PM

I have no problems with people disagreeing with some of the policy choices made regarding RC. But those who don't recognize that gaining access to the PD director by creating a false identity is inexcusable (and kind of troubling) instantly lose all credibility with me.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 1:34 PM

"Oak Park Dad from..." - Did you really just suggest that the creation of additional soccer fields on park district land equates to fascism? Seriously?

RealOPRFdadNotLes from Oak Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 1:14 PM

Um, the field would be closed because it's a construction site. As others have tried to point out, RC is now & always has been an athletic field, not a park in the true sense. Field Turf is made from RECYCLED tires, a green reuse indeed. The comments made about Scoville are also misinformed. If you actually look at the plan the only added paving is for the small stage, which beats that ugly metal platform they used. Many more new trees planted for future users too. It's not all about you.

Life over plastic and recycled tires  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 1:08 PM

It's so hard to believe in this age of climate-warming and inundation of our bodies with plastics that we will remove such a large bioactive area from our environment. Jokes about worms really reflect the larger ignorance about the life that is in our soil and grass--soil is filled with beneficial microrganisms, contributing to our health. It's tragic that our kids will spend even more time amidst plastic and concrete.

Lew Saltzman from Highland Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 11:07 AM

It's abut time someone is worried about the rabbits and worms. Thank you Les...errr Richard.

Oak Park Dad from The Park is now Closed!  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 9:26 AM

The soccer clubs are private. You can bet the park will be locked down. Good bye open space. Hello fascism. You will go where you are told. You will do what you are told. No looking at a tree. No dreaming in the blue sky. Obey the fence. Oh, but be inclusive ... As long as you stay on the other side of the park fence.


Posted: March 7th, 2013 7:18 AM

The vocal minority is ok with lies to get a meeting, yet claim all the community meeting never happened. Only in Oak Park would someone complain about only having two sled hills.

Bruce Samuels from Oak Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 1:02 AM

I agree with OPRFDad. What's really shocking here is that this "Green" community is replacing grass with plastic, destroying mature trees, and a sledding hill, increasing the concrete footprint (Scoville Park), planting trees with the burlap around their roots, and putting tile over concrete. All this while butchering parkway trees and calling it trimming!

I am FOR the kids  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 10:45 PM

Boy, you guys don't get sarcasm. Let me explain, it so easy to complain sitting on your La-Z-Boy typing away telling everyone how wrong they are. So just like the State Farm commercial, you guys are as real as the French model, or the Nigerian banker that keeps sending me emails. I suppose it is harmless entertainment. So if you want to be heard, get to a meeting. I did.


Posted: March 6th, 2013 9:15 PM

Nice attempt to discredit the messenger and the message here. How long will the WJ carry the Village's water rather than act as journalists.

Brent from Oak Park  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 8:24 PM

Save the Mall...err, Save the Hill!

Brent from Oak park  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 8:18 PM

Boy the kids were enjoying sledding at the Ridgeland hill yesterday and today.

Chief Wahoo from Cleveland, Ohio  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 7:29 PM

I remember when Les went by his original name "Cut The Taxes". Boy, those were the days!

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 7:25 PM

To for the kids - Lets get this right now. 98% of Oak Parkers are unaware and uninformed about the hill or the turf field. Probably less than 1% attended any park district meeting on this forum, and the pro- hill people are probably less than 1%. Let's be realistic here most of Oak Park really doesn't give a damn about anything in OP.

Ned Ryerson from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 7:24 PM

Dear "I am for the kids"; you mean 98% of the kids are against removing the hill. Surely the only thing 98% of Oak Parkers are for is more taxes.

I am FOR the kids  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 5:18 PM

98% of Oak Parkers are against removing the hill at Ridgeland. Where did you hear that? In the Internet. 100% of Oak Parkers are in favor of more outdoor synthetic fields for the kids. Where did you hear that? At all the PD public meetings.


Posted: March 6th, 2013 4:29 PM

I'm more shocked about the removal of the sled hill. Less shocked about the turf field; Aschelman ran for the board with this in mind, it was all over this paper. And I'm not concerned about golden; this is not news.


Posted: March 6th, 2013 4:12 PM

Not THE Les "Cut the grass" Golden?

Worms Are People My Friend  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 4:09 PM

People of Oak Park, we must heed Mr. Golden's call and raise our voices against the innocent victims here. The victims who have no voice but choose instead to keep their heads buried for fear of oblivion. Those small, but wonderfully helpful little creatures. Someone must speak up for them. Let us all rally behind the slogan. FREE OUR WORMS!!

And so.....  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 2:51 PM

The meat of this story, Wed Journal, really should be questioning the sanity behind the plans for the turf field and removal of the sled hill. Jan Arnold is shocked that LG used an alias? Maybe it was the only way he figured she would hear his concerns. She certainly hasn't answering to the voices posted in the Journal comments lately or the survey that was taken prior to making the plans for the field. This has nothing to do with gender by the way.

Brian Chang from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 2:44 PM

Misplaced rabbits and worms? Seriously?

"John Doe" from Oak Park  

Posted: March 6th, 2013 2:20 PM

As long as the guy is indeed from OP, what difference does it make in what name he gives? I'm not wearing a tinfoil hat, but hey, if you feel more comfortable giving an alias when dealing with folks for whatever reason, who cares? This is news, why?

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2017

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2017 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad