Vote VMA?#34;at least they're not crazy

Opinion

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Jack Crowe, columnist

I am not fit to hold public office in Oak Park. I am too opinionated. I do not have the patience one needs to listen quietly to the ramblings of nutty citizens. I once ran for local public office and lost. It's a good thing because I do not have a thick skin, and neither does Bob Milstein.

Those of you who have lived in Oak Park for more than a few years will recall Bob Milstein the letter-to-the-editor writer. Before running for politics, Bob regularly took out the flame thrower in the local papers. At one time, he was what he later called a hatchet man for the VMA. More recently, he became an "independent" hatchet trustee looking out for the interests of Greens, Village Hall union-members and anti-development folks.

His official election photo has him in a suit and tie looking avuncular. Don't believe it. Bob often walks out of village board meetings huffing at slights, real and imagined. No one would describe him as what George Bush famously called a "uniter and not a divider." While even mentioning this issue could inflame his supporters, Bob has the Howard Dean "scream" temperament issue. There are things about the guy you want to like, but his style is over the top New York confrontational.

Now, here is what Bob and his party will say in response to anyone raising the "temperament" issue: They will cry foul. They will say Bob is the sweetest man to walk the earth. They will say that this kind of character assassination has no place in village politics. Bless their hearts; they are entitled to their opinions. Simply put, Milstein does not have the appropriate temperament to be village president. That is not so bad because neither do I.

I support Diana Carpenter. I know Diana. I worked with her when I was chair of the village's affordable housing committee. She is a reasonable, business-minded person who is concerned about increasing the efficiency of village government and keeping taxes as low as possible. She is smart and, in contrast to Bob, she has a steady predictable character.

Diana Carpenter's problem, as Bob Milstein knows, is that there is a third person running for village president, David Pope. I do not know David.

From what I read in the press, he seems like a nice guy. From my vantage point, Pope has little chance of winning the election for village president. I am afraid that a vote for Pope is a vote for Milstein, just as in 2000, a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush?#34;at least in Florida. Milstein knows that there is a limited number of fire-breathing Greens in Oak Park and for him to be elected he has to count on rational villagers splitting their votes between Diana Carpenter and David Pope.

Please do not let this happen, Oak Park. I am just getting over the election of George Bush. My delicate psyche cannot take the prospect of Bob Milstein and a band of merry anarchists running Village Hall with spicy quotes in the press each week.

As for the other village trustee candidates, I have a simple proposition: I support the Oak Park First candidates. Their campaign slogan should be "Vote for Us?#34;We're Not Crazy." There are some well-known steady names in that group. Mas Takiguchi has served in various capacities in village government for years. He is a reasonable person. I support Dorothy Reid. From her terms on the District 97 Board she understands how government operates. I support Ray Barbosa who is new to village politics but has solid experience in business.

I do not know much about those running for village trustee on the Milstein slate. I believe one came out of an anti-Whiteco group. But I do know that they are running with Bob Milstein. Remember when your parents told you as a teenager that you are judged by the friends you keep?

Speaking of friends, I know both candidates for Village Clerk?#34;Sandra Sokol, the current clerk, and Sharon Patchek-Layman, a District 97 board member. Sandra Sokol is a legend. She is the village's unofficial ombudsman who has a sympathetic ear for anyone who enters Village Hall with a problem. On the District 97 Board, Sharon Patchek-Layman has long been an advocate for open government.

What tips me in Sandra's favor in this election is Sharon's decision as a District 97 board member to abstain from voting on the newly hired school Superintendent. Sharon did not like the interview process. Elected public servants often have to make decisions, even important ones like choosing a new Superintendent, in less than perfect situations and with less then full information. Sharon should have voted up or down on the new Superintendent. I support Sandra Sokol for Clerk.

One last thing. Before the election, you will be receiving the normal pamphlets and door knocks from supporters. Do not be surprised if you also receive prerecorded telephone messages from Bob Milstein. You can recognize him by his deep FM disk jockey voice. Last election, this new trick in village elections may have put him over the hump. The call should come with a disclaimer that behind the mellifluous voice there sometimes lurks an acidic temperament.

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