Abu-Taleb asks the right questions

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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If experience were all that mattered, then I should have voted for the McCain/Palin ticket. Here are four things that matter more:

  1. Unencumbered — Anan Abu-Taleb is a "free agent" and, if elected, did it without the support of the VMA or similar groups.
  2. Entrepreneurial Empathy — Everyone wins if we can make Oak Park more hospitable to certain small business. Does our cumbersome process really lead to a better result?
  3. Dissatisfied — Oak Parkers are known for challenging assumptions. Satisfaction, long-term, can be unhealthy.
  4. Not just an outsider, the right kind of outsider — There are two types of outsiders on a board: The "devil's advocate," who can weaken a board if they can't communicate their vision, and the "conductor," who sees the unique gifts each board member, staff member and citizen brings and knows how to make beautiful music from a cacophony of voices.

The VMA — and Wednesday Journal — vet candidates based on who has the right answers. I vote for the guy with the right questions.

Steve Bankes

Oak Park

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Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 10:00 AM

Jon Hale (April 8th, 5:32 PM) makes an excellent case against a dominant political organization, such as VMA. Hale warns about "self-selected individuals running independently", uncontrolled by the Politburo of the Central Committee (VMA), as if democracy cannot be entrusted to mere citizens. In Hale's ideology, it is better to have uncontested elections, such as for village trustees, rather than freedom of choice, such as the D200 elections, where citizens can choose from 12 candidates.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2013 9:59 AM

Hale states "local democracy is about participation and involvement", as long as it is controlled by the VMA process. He warns us about the perils of the open election process, and that only the VMA nomination process, not the elections, will ensure qualified leaders. According to Hale, to run for village president, one has to first serve on multiple citizen commissions, serve as trustee, and be nominated by VMA, a process that takes a min. of 10 years. Results? Trapani, Carpenter, and Pope.

Murtagh Loves Hale  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:53 PM

"Jon is the best member the board has had in my eleven years in Oak Park. He made a great contribution with his business knowledge and insight. His best trait was his willingness to ask hard questions, go against the tide, and ignore meaningless gesters and patronizing verbiage. He will be missed. Hopefully, the new trustees will emulate his independence." John Murtagh, April 2011

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:36 PM

Let's get straight about Hale and his role in Oak Park. Hale, Pope, Lueck, and Johnson served on the Planning Commission and were the designers of The Downtown Oak extension and expansion. They brag about it all the time. In the 2007 election, when the VMA spent $70,000, Hale joined Pope and Johnson on the village board. In 2008, Trustee Lueck was appointed to the board. That is; all four of the planning buddies who launched the Disastrous DTOP TIF. It was a great victory for the VMA, not so much for businesses or residents.


Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:20 PM

Vote for ANAN tomorrow!

Long Memory from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:20 PM

I remember the last time we elected candidates without experience. It was not very pretty - you watched TV-6 because it was a "like watching a car on black ice and there is nothing you could do about it" (paraphrased quote from Dan Haley). How we could even consider electing a president with no experience in governing is beyond belief. If Anon was really concerned about Village governance, perhaps he should have run to be a trustee. President is a bridge too far.

Steve Bankes from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:11 PM

So true Chris. And attacking a good man, father and businessman who wants to do right by Oak Park is mind blowing to me. Gives me the creeps.

Chris from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:02 PM

I think it's incredibly rich that the VMA crew has turned up en masse to complain about "the machine."

Steve Bankes from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 8:57 PM

And there it goes. "Poof". The last shred of respect I had for the VMA and their character assassins. Good lord. Robert Millstein? Really? Robo-calls from Jesse White? You are the most negative people I have ever encountered. Pulling my support for the rest of the ticket. VMA, what happened to you?

Jane Hedges from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 8:52 PM

Adam, my husband has said nothing negative about Anan, That has NEVER been John's style. Let's just get beyond politics tonight and think of the Smedinghoff family. Their daughter died trying to help others. This makes politics look pretty trivial.

Mary Jean from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 8:52 PM

I got the robocall too. Will someone from Anan's camp attempt to claim that it wasn't a robocall? This is ridiculous. And it certainly is NOT Oak Park. I neither need nor want people outside of Oak Park telling me how to vote. I will vote for Mr. Hedges.

Jesse White for Abu Taleb  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 8:45 PM

Tonight a robo-call from Secretary of State Jesse White is making the rounds in Oak Park, endorsing Anan Abu Taleb. Unreal. Who has this guy made a deal with and whose interests would he be representing as Village President? Not Oak Park's. This is the first robo-call in Oak Park local election history from a state elected official. And Oak Parker's will reject machine politics trying to influence our Village elections. Who does this guy think he is? Something is fishy here.

Hedges Wins  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 8:36 PM

The reason John Hedges will beat Abu Taleb, and the reason why Jon Hale's voice will always be valued in this community is because when those two Trustees were elected in 2007, they found an unmitigated disaster left behind by . . . Trustee Robert Milstein. No wonder Jon Hale is so concerned by the prospect of an inexperienced grandstander joining the Board. He had to clean up the mess of the last inexperienced grandstander. He knows the risks. So does OP. Hedges- 52% to 48%.


Posted: April 8th, 2013 7:35 PM

I have lost all respect for Jon Hale after his posts over this election. Mr. Hale, you have sunk to a new low. I sure hope you never run for another office in Oak Park, because your words will come back to haunt you.

Don Trump  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 6:53 PM

The sun will rise on Wed either way. Lets hope someone wins and we dont have a run off. Ha Ha Ha haaaa

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 6:07 PM

John Hedges is the candidate with the skills and experience to bring real change to Village Hall. So says the Wednesday Journal- and they are correct. John Hedges is far from the candidate of the status quo. He will bring the residents' primary concerns- the tax burden, economic development, and customer service, to the top of the agenda. Residents looking to for a more nimble and responsive Village Hall need to vote John Hedges for Village President.

Adam Smith  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 5:51 PM

Mr. Hale is right; if you are happy with the way things are; Hedges is your guy. He put in his time like the others before him. He plays by the rules. Personally I think things need to be stirred up, Anan is our best chance of that happening.

multiple representations  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 5:49 PM

oak parkers take themselves way too seriously. two flawed characters are running in a piddly little election and everyone has their underpants in a bunch. i'm voting for the candidate who doesn't call me tonight.

Jon Hale from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 5:32 PM

Local democracy is about participation and involvement. The trouble with it is that it takes up too many evenings for most folks. The VMA doesn't have a bias other than to respect the fact that people who have shown a commitment to the Village through volunteer participation on boards and commissions tend to be good candidates for local elective office. That's not a requirement, but In Oak Park, those people also have tended to have impressive and varied professional, business and educational backgrounds. But I guarantee you to serve on the Village Board, you have to "like" serving on committees and have experience on them or else the position will drive you crazy and you won't be effective. In a place like Oak Park, without a group like the VMA, we would have only self-selected individuals running independently for office. Because there are a lot of positions to fill every two years, sometimes it would be hard to find enough people to run. Many candidates would be inexperienced. Many would be single-issue candidates. Some would be operators looking to use public office for personal gain. It would advantage candidates with a lot of their own money to spend. Many would find, once elected, that they are overwhelmed by the work. Not saying that about every independent candidate, but the VMA ?" and many non-partisan villages and towns have a similar citizen caucus ?" serves an important purpose for Oak Park. You know you are getting candidates who have experience, knowledge of local affairs, commitment, and good character. They are people you can trust to make good decisions on behalf of the community on complex issues.

Pension Man  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 5:17 PM

Hedges is making $130K a yr on his pension. Talk about easy money. Anan works and earns every dollar.

Adam Wallace from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 4:26 PM

@Steve Bankes, I couldn't agree more with your comment! Attacks on candidates character do none of us any good. VOTE ANAN for Village President!

Adam Wallace from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 4:25 PM

Jane Hedges, My comment was about fundraising...it's sad to see so many negative comments directed at Anan. The negativity is not good for Oak Park. I feel your frustration about yard signs being stolen. We've lost many of ours too, sadly it happens in local elections. We will all have to just keep replacing them. It would be nice if we didn't both have to keep spending so much time replacing yardsigns (hope you know our signs have been taken too). I'll keep replanting Anan AND Hedges signs that the wind or kids have knocked over, hopefully you'll do the same. Good luck tomorrow, it promises to be interesting.

Steve Bankes from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 4:22 PM

JH, when you say "coarsens public discourse" do you mean stuff like "We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship."? Lighten up dude. And you too H=I. It is a local election, not the French Revolution.

Joel A. Schoenmeyer from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 4:22 PM

Anan is certainly not a perfect candidate, but I think we desperately need to get away from the idea that a small group of unelected Oak Parkers should dictate who is "allowed" to be elected here. That's especially true when the biases of that group -- in favor of government employees and people who like to serve on committees/task forces -- mean that we wind up with leaders who by and large lack experience with things like economics, law, real estate development and business. I'm not suggesting that Oak Park only elect business leaders, but can't we find room for at least one successful local businessperson on the board?

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 4:18 PM

Jon, I am so with you re: anonymous comments. I understand people's need for privacy, but if you're going to express an honest opinion, you should have the integrity to put your name to it, without shame or embarrassment. And as you say, speaking behind the screen of anonymity sometimes (though far from always) encourages borderline psychotic spewing that no one would want associated with their actual names and public personae.

Jenna Brown Russell from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 3:33 PM

JH, Really? It is exactly the Oak Park I've known. Perhaps you did not attempt to support a Republican candidate. Diversity of ideas is not well tolerated in this town. As evidenced by the vitriolic and specious commentary of our leaders and citizens today.

Jane Hedges from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 3:21 PM

My response to Adam Wallace.: I was in charge of putting out Hedges' signs to those who asked for them. I put out hundreds, Then the calls started. All saying "someone took my sign!" Hedges' signs were also taken from Village Hall during "early voting" when they were permitted. I was amazed that someone would steal signs from private property! This isn't legal, I just got another call -sign taken from S. Grove. This is not the Oak Park I have known.

Jon Hale from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 3:05 PM

One of the reasons I have hesitated to get enmeshed in on-line comments was because I don't believe people should hide behind anonymous comments. It coarsens public discourse and encourages people to say things they shouldn't say. Every word I have written about the candidates or anything else has come from me personally under my Facebook-verified name. They are also very carefully chosen words. I have the courage of my convictions.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 3:03 PM

"Who gets the liquor license" DOES make a difference in the operation of the Village. If Mrs. Abu-Taleb or one of the Abu-Taleb children gets the license, that will still be a conflict of interest under the local ordinance. And that will call into question whether Abu Taleb can legally serve as Village President. This is just a fact. I am sorry it upsets you to the point where you think I am a jerk, but it is naive in the extreme to sweep a legitimate legal issue under the rug. OP needs answers.

Enough! from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:58 PM

H=I, If "who gets the liquor license" really WILL make a difference in the operation of this village, then everyone on staff and the village board should resign and we'll just start over. Point to a record of success, not red herrings of distraction. As an aside, I'd like to mention that you are real jerk.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:55 PM

Bridgett, the fact that you disagree with the content of someone's posts does not make that person a troll. But if you want to post recipes, I suggest you start with a dessert- maybe one of the desserts that Abu Taleb is giving away at his restaurant in exchange for his customers taking a yard sign. Yum.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:45 PM

Steve, maybe you feel gross because you realized that you are attacking a candidate with real principles and that your candidate has yet to answer fundamental questions about his legal background and his plans with respect to his business and potential conflict of interest. That is pretty gross.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:42 PM

Murtagh, hurray that you are so enthusiastic about transparency. So will you join in demanding that Abu Taleb disclose the individual to whom he plans to convey his liquor license? Abu Taleb is the transparent candidate, right? Btw, the hiring of managers is one of the exceptions to the Open Meetings Act. Because you don't negotiate salary in public. Because it costs you money. So those executive sessions were legal and necessary. Hedges and his colleagues followed the law. Abu Taleb broke it.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:41 PM

OK, I am done with the Hale Follies. I read all of his posts on the string and all the Hedges=Integrity post and their is a strong, make that incredible, similarity in not only issues but in writing style. When posters decide to have a conversation with themself, it time to shut the blog down.

Steve Bankes from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:41 PM

If "Hedges = Integrity" and Jon Hale the arbiter of right and wrong, then why do I feel so gross after reading their comments? Here is a tip for the rest of your lives guys: no matter how much you want something, don't attack someone for it. You might be sure you are right and everyone else is wrong and you might even feel like a million bucks when you hit send, but you will feel like crap in the morning. Talk about your guy in a positive way because your candidate deserves better. Everything else it is just plain icky. Hedges is a good man, I just like Anan better for this job. And please don't attack me now. My wife reads this stuff and I don't want you to give her any ammo.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:40 PM

WJ, is there something in your comments policy about not being an Internet Troll? Otherwise, I'm going to start posting recipes (that's what Internet folk do when we have someone repeating themselves over and over and over again, to push their comments to the top of the screen). Oh happy day! :)


Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:38 PM

Lisa Madigan= the daughter to the emperor Madigan?? Hahaha

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:34 PM

@Joe Lyons, are you telling me that the Attorney General's opposition to Abu Taleb's clemency is a non issue? Wow, that's not the Oak Park that I know and love. Also, it's a non-issue that Abu Taleb won't tell the voters who gets his liquor license? Because that WILL have an impact on how Village government works. It WILL bring up all kinds of legal issues and administrative problems for our Village. He should deign to tell us how he'll address it. Shame on him for avoiding it.


Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:34 PM

Im sure a big percent of early voting was for Anan. Anan will WIN the Day!!

Carrie Marling Bankes from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:29 PM

Candidate choices aside, I find it interesting that someone who has already posted 15 comments here under the pseudonym "Hedges = Integrity" is snidely poking fun at those who have posted far fewer comments under their surnames.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:28 PM

My Quote re John Hale - "John's is a great trustee. I just don't think he has the leadership skills or transparency the village should expect from its President." I feel like I am hanging on a line, I respect John and believe he has been heroic on occasion in fighting the Pope Cabal. But at the same time, he has participated in closed board meetings that do not report what they discuss. I was particularly galled by the board members, all seven including John, agreeing to keep the hiring of the Village Manager after having stated from the board table that the discussions were open. My problem is that I believe in open and transparent. I believe in a government that responds enthusiastically to the resident, that thinks resident before thinking about board politics, and has a solid understanding of his role as the representative of them all. Knowing both John and Anan, I chose Anan.


Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:27 PM

Anon for Anan!!

Joe Lyons  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:24 PM

It seems that the VMA's last ditch, desperate move it to re-hash a non-issue. So a clemency petitioner's law firm gave money to the governer? It would be tough to find a law firm in the Chicago area that doesn't contribute to political campaigns. Let's stick to the issues and skip the personal attacks.

Jon Hale from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:21 PM

As I stated in my One View, if Mr. Abu-Taleb had spent even one moment of his time involved in local community affairs I would have some basis for discounting his prior activities and some basis for entrusting him to public office. But he was convicted of a felony that to me shows the most profound contempt for government (tax fraud) and then somehow convinced Blagojevich to grant him what is a highly unusual form of clemency. It was opposed by the Attorney General's office, which argued that he had engaged in "calculated illegal conduct"; these were not accounting errors. Everyone reading this knows how Blagojevich operated while in office. It is simply not credible to conclude that this was not pay-to-play politics. And the Wed Journal never covered it in any detail at all other than to ask Abu-Taleb if there was anything untoward about his clemency. It is ironic that this was his only previous foray into politics. If people want to conclude that the criminal record and the circumstances surrounding the clemency are of zero importance, fine. I'd like to hear the rationale. Most people I've talked to about it have shown a lot of concern. And finally, I feel strongly about integrity in public service. We get into trouble when we elect charismatic people who have questionable ethics. I can only imagine if a VMA-selected candidate had the exact same background as Mr. Abu-Taleb what all the anonymous comments would be.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:19 PM

Donor information will not be disclosed in its entirety until after the campaign. How convenient. And in the meantime, no amount of "research" will uncover who Abu Taleb plans to convey his liquor license to if he is elected.

Kate Arias  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:15 PM

(cont'd): In addition, campaigns have to report their donations, and their donors, to the State of Illinois. Anyone who wants to know who the big donors are - and I would encourage you to research both campaigns - can do so. It's public record. Come Wednesday, we will all still be neighbors. We still have to work together to create the future we've dreamt out loud about. Those who think their screen names provide them anonymity don't realize their character speaks for itself.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:14 PM

It's not hate and ugliness. It's actually just facts. About Abu Taleb's record. To quote Harry Truman, "I'm not giving them hell. I'm just telling the truth and they think it's hell." I am sorry to tell you that your candidate pled guilty to tax fraud. I am also sorry to tell you that he has not stated on the record the person he'd transfer his liquor license to. That's truth. Not hate.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:11 PM

Thanks for the "challenge," Murtagh, but this election is actually not about you. I wouldn't encourage anyone to waste their time trawling through your reams of ugly comments on this website to "prove" your comments aren't factual. This is a discussion about the Village. And your comments about John Hedges not being transparent are laughable in light of your candidate's blatant refusal to state which party he would transfer his liquor license to once elected. That is brazen lack of transparency.

Kate Arias  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:08 PM

There is so much fact-twisting on this post that adding another entry is a gamble. But I'll take it because I feel that strongly against the attacks on Anan Abu-Taleb's character - and on those of his campaign team. To the VMA poison-pen-wielders: stop. Stop already. I can't imagine anyone feeling good about voting tomorrow to support the kind of hate and ugliness you're offering. Check your facts thoroughly about Anan's background - all of it. The good along with the bad. (cont'd)

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:06 PM

Re - John Hedges's no votes on the board, I agree that he is the board person most likely to vote No against the Pope/Johnson Cabal. The problem is that when he was in opposition, he never won. More problematic is the fact that he maintained the VMA Code of Silence throughout. This election is about "leadership" My decision to support Anan was based on his leadership skills. John's is a great trustee. I just don't think he has the leadership skills or transparency the village should expect from its President.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 2:00 PM

I challenge anyone to prove that I have made any comments during this election that were not factual.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:57 PM

Wrong, Enuf. You must be spending most of your time online without following what's going on in Village Hall. Brick streets- 4 for, 3 against- Hedges was one of the three. Madison Avenue Housing Proposal- 5 for, 1 against- Hedges was the one. Hedges has the courage of his conviction to go against the grain when he thinks it's right. You have the courage of . . . Wait, you have no courage. Because all you do is sit back and sling unsubstantiated barbs.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:52 PM

I think John Hedges is a fine person, and based on his past performance as village trustee, would appear qualified as board president. That being said, I am not convinced Mr. Hedges has the wherewithal to counter some of the VMA extremists that control DTOP, as already represented on the village board by Trustees Johnson and Lueck. Mr. Hale has always been civil and rationale, but his uncharacteristic attack on Mr. Abu-Taleb demonstrates the adverse influence VMA has on good people over time.

You doth protest too much  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:51 PM

@ Mr Murtagh and Mr Wallace: What's this? First, you and your crew spend weeks spewing vitriol and hurling false accusations at the VMA and at John Hedges. Then someone posts factual information about Anan's guilty plea to felony tax fraud and suddenly you cry foul?! So only candidates you oppose are supposed to have a thick skin? Oh, please! Looks like you just don't want any publicity to your candidate's actual record.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:49 PM

@John Murtagh, I am really sorry that you are galled. By the way, I know it gets a little disorienting sitting at your computer all day, but it's actually 2013 and not 2007. And we still don't know how much money Abu Taleb has raised, and where he has raised it from. We also don't know to whom he is going to transfer his liquor license if he gets elected. Because he doesn't see fit to condescend to tell the voters that he claims to be accountable to.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:47 PM

Of all the post, the most humorous and galling is the claim that the Anan campaign has spent more in this election than any previous election. Has everyone forgotten that the VMA spent $70,000 in 2007 to elect Trustees Hodges, Hale, and Johnson.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:47 PM

@Adam Wallace, nice way to divert attention from the issue. You work for the campaign. Where does the money come from? And while you are crying about the anonymity issue, why don't you address the question to Sharon, Jimmy, and all the other pseudonyms your campaign keeps trotting out? How much has Abu Taleb raised, and from whom has he raised it? Littering people's porches with such shiny stuff takes big time dough, no?

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:43 PM

Message to John Murtagh: Mr. Hedges is not listening to you. He is out talking to voters while you hang out on this message board spinning yarns about his integrity and ignoring the fact that your chosen candidate pled guilty to tax fraud. Ironic, isn't it?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:36 PM

Message to John Hedges - John, The last thing I would ever do is accuse you of lacking integrity; so I find the attack on Anan the day before the election to be contrary to your long term record of service. When you allow your supporters to use your name while attacking your opponent you are condoning dirty politics. The craziness of the behavior is that the originator of the dirty posts is the VMA, the political party that lives on its claim of integrity.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:35 PM

Helen brings up the straw purchase deal that resulted in tens of thousands of public dollars reportedly being slipped to a small but select group of some very well connected folks. This seemed on the surface to be somewhat of a fishy deal and I cannot recall that it has ever been adequately explained. Maybe former trustee Hale would be willing to provide some details regarding the board's reasoning for supporting this method of purchase and if there were any expressed concerns about what appeared to be a fairly substanial payoff for a real estate transaction that did not expose those involved to any risk. We should all be so lucky. It has to be a concern if this is the type of business practice and use of tax dollars that the Village Board has no issue with and will continue to support and promote.

Oak Park Can't Be Bought  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:35 PM

Abu Taleb is running a helicopter campaign, dropping glossy fliers from on high, having robots call people in their houses. He's throwing money at this election at an unprecedented rate. But he won't win. In Oak Park, message beats money every time.

Adam Wallace from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:35 PM

@Hedges=Integrity. The attacks on Anan's campaign are getting ridiculous, it's time to realize that mass money = mass support. When you see green yard signs throughout Oak Park, that means hundreds of people are supporting (and donating) to Anan's campaign. How about your next post is accompanied by your name? Anonymous attacks on someone's character don't exactly scream integrity.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:31 PM

Abu Taleb's $: Where does it come from? Those mass mailings cost major moolah. Gotta wonder where all this money comes from. Hedges is going door to door, talking to voters individually. I'll take grassroots activism over gobs of money from god knows where any day. That's why Hedges will win. He's doing this the Oak Park way- not the Chicago way.

Oak Park voted for Blago from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:30 PM

I find it so ironic that many who are railing against Anan on this non-issue all voted for Blago. TWICE. I think Mr. Hedges would be a fine president, but I am voting for Anan just so that Johnson, Hale and their posse may realize that their arrogant and condescending ruling of the lemmings is not so certain an outcome. I'd love Hedges to stay on the board, perhaps Ray could give up his chair for the gentleman?

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:28 PM

Good question, Willy. Clemency doesn't mean you aren't guilty. Clemency means that the state is "taking mercy" on you. But the crime remains. Here's another question: If Rod Blagojevich was pardoned for some reason by Pat Quinn and wanted to run for office again would you vote for him? What if he said he was really, really sorry? Wouldn't make a difference, would it?


Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:28 PM

How much is Hedges?VMA spending on his campaign?


Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:24 PM

What does clemency mean?

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:23 PM

Abu Taleb admits that he DELIBERATELY underreported his income. He may regret his mistake now. But he wants Oak Parkers to trust him with their money. Seriously?

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:18 PM

Bridgett, the only old fashioned Chicago politics here is the candidate whose cousin's law firm contributed to Governor Blagojevich's campaign, and then miraculously received clemency from a governor who is now in Federal Prison. *Hint* It wasn't Hedges. And btw, AG Madigan opposed his clemency. And $4K is a lot of money to some people. Maybe not to Abu Taleb.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:15 PM

@ Mr. Murtagh Utter nonsense. The issue hasn't been thoroughly vetted. No one has raised the issue that AG Madigan opposed the clemency. No one has raised the issue of Abu Taleb's cousin's law firm contributing to Blagojevich. So actually, your comments are well below the ethical standard of a typical Oak Park election. You must hate the VMA so much that you are willing to let a formerly convicted tax felon get within spitting distance of the Village Presidency. Good thing he's not going to win.

See Alive and Kicking part 2  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:15 PM

@Jimmy, again, he didn't just underpay his taxes by a few thousand bucks. Anan plead guilty to tax FRAUD. See Alive and Kicking (part 2) below.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:13 PM

I was at the WJ forum at the library and heard the entire scenario about Anan's tax issue. It was 23 years ago. It was $4K. He paid it, as well as a gob of penalty and interest. He humbly went before the committee, NEVER met Blago, and was pardoned. The WJ doesn't seem to have a problem with it (as written in their village president endorsement). This just feels like ol' fashioned Chicago politics mudslinging. Yuck.


Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:09 PM

Predictions for tomorrow? I say Hedges wins by around 2,000 votes.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:09 PM

Jon Hales attack on Presidential Candidate ANAN is clumsy, crude and capable of very few people in Oak Park, a community renowned for its civility and honesty. The subject of Anan's legal issue has been vetted thoroughly since December when Anan announced he was running for president. The Wednesday Journal has done several articles on Anan tax evasion conviction and his successful appeal to the state for clemency. Anan addressed voluntarily about the conviction and clemency at every coffee or debate he attended. There was only one accusation of the clemency made by Rob Warden, the director of Northwestern's Center for Wrongful Convictions. When he wrote a spurious article for the Chicago Sun Times, neither the Sun Times nor Mr. Warden pursued the accusations further. Warden's accusations have been examined by others and debunked. Why would former board Trustee Hale raise this issue at this time? I don't know, but I am certain that he knew the subject had been vetted in the village for four months before he wrote his letter. Perhaps it is his strong moral values. Perhaps it is his political biases. Perhaps it is a personal stake in the election. Irrespective of his reasons, his behavior is well below the standards of conduct normally seen in Oak Park elections.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:05 PM

Abu Taleb may not think $4K is a lot of money. The residents of Oak Park certainly do. Imagine the impact of an extra $4K on a real estate tax bill. We don't need a Village President who thinks that shading the truth to the tune of $4K is no big deal. John Hedges will scrutinize every last tax dollar. You can bet that he will not "misplace" $4K.


Posted: April 8th, 2013 1:01 PM

The tax issue was 4K! I'm guessing his total taxes paid were in the hundred of thousands. Sounds like a rounding error to me. What does a retired person living on a fat pension paid for by tax payers bring to the table? Controlling cost in government and controlling cost in business have 2 very distinct different outcomes if you get it wrong. In government you ask for more money from the never ending free spigot. In business you fail and go out of business.

Deborah from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:59 PM

I read the comments on this website from time to time, and I rarely comment. I've lived in Oak Park for 12 years, and this is important to me. I was thinking about voting for Anan. I like his restaurant, and at first I thought he had good plans. As I read more, I realized he just has complaints with no real plans at all. I have to be honest, the tax conviction is a problem for me too. Hedges strikes me as a good, honest man who will vote his heart. He will get my vote.

Alive and Kicking (part 2)  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:58 PM

SunTimes on what Anan calls his "mistake": "Abu-Taleb's legal problems stemmed from a 1994 guilty plea to a state tax-fraud charge, a conviction that barred him from later holding a liquor license. Abu-Taleb admitted to participating in a scheme in which he and an associate illegally pocketed profits from a chain of pizzerias in 1989 and 1990, shorting the state of sales taxes and another business of franchise fees. As part of his plea deal, Abu-Taleb paid $8,732 in restitution to the state."

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:58 PM

Abu Taleb and Blagojevich may not have communicated directly. But that's not how these things are done. We know that Anan's cousin and lawyer worked for a firm that contributed significantly to Blagojevich's campaigns. We know that Attorney General Lisa Madigan didn't think he should get clemency. But he got it anyway from a governor who also happens to be a convicted felon. If it smells funny, that's because it's a genuine blot of Abu Taleb's integrity that can't be apologized away.

Alive and Kicking  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:54 PM

@ Horse: How can you say Anan talks "openly and honestly" about his "tax mistake" when he makes it sound like he just underpaid on his taxes and leaves out the intentional FRAUD part?

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:36 PM

@Horse This horse is very much alive. When a candidate has a tax conviction in his background, and was assisted in obtaining clemency from a disgraced and now imprisoned former Governor, Rod Blagojevich, who is well known for granting political favors in exchange for contributions, then the issue remains alive. Especially since Abu Taleb's law firm contributed to the governor's campaign. And the Attorney General opposed his clemency petition. Trust Lisa Madigan? Or Rod Blagojevich?

@Jon Hale - This Horse is Dead  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:33 PM

Are u serious with that comment? Anan talks very openly & honestly RE: his tax mistake of 23 YEARS AGO & Hedges himself says it's a NON-ISSUE. Plus u don't even have your facts straight. From Anan "The suggestion I received special treatment from former Gov Blagojevich is absolutely false. I never contributed in any way to him or his campaign. No one contributed to him or his campaign on my behalf. No one ever asked me to contribute to him or his campaign." This horse is dead, quit beating it.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:32 PM

Abu Taleb is not Bloomberg. Bloomberg is strictly regulating liquor and tobacco in New York City to protect his citizens. Abu Taleb won't even tell Oak Parkers how he'll deal with the liquor license issue.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:28 PM

The reason John Hedges will win tomorrow is that he is a straight shooter with a clear agenda for Oak Park of sound fiscal management, ethical and open government, and sustainable planning for the future. Oak Park does not need pay to play politics in its backyard. We haven't had it since 1954. Let's not start now!


Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:13 PM

I think Mr Bloomberg is doing a fine job in NY, NY. Is what the VMA board members did with the straw purchase of the Westagate bldg ethical? Hmmm Now it seems like politics rears its ugly head.

Jon Hale from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:08 PM

Since a couple of the commenters mentioned it, another key point in this discussion is that Abu-Taleb ran at least some of his restaurant businesses ILLEGALLY. Which is why he was convicted of tax fraud and why he somehow arranged for Gov. Blagojevich to grant him an unusual form of clemency. I know we live in Illinois, but that's not the kind of record that is appropriate for someone to be Village President, or trustee, for that matter. We call it "trustee," for a reason. And Abu-Taleb's background does not inspire trust. Also the comment that anyone who can run a million dollar business can run a government is just wrong. I can't think of a single example of a "successful businessman" becoming a successful government leader. Completely different skill sets. We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:07 PM

Oak Park has a Village Manager form of government, in which the village board hires a professional manager to administrate the day-to-day operation of government services and programs, while the board's duty is one of policymaking. I find it curious that many VMA supporters are questioning Anan's experience, when the VMA board just selected an inexperienced Cara Pavicek as Village Manager, esp. in light of the Pope / Barwin debacle. The choice in this election is one of Control vs. Leadership.

Steve Bankes from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 11:39 AM

Frank, you raise a good question and here is my "for what it's worth" response. They key here is that we have a village board, not a mayor. I'm a for-profit guy who is on 2 nominating committees for 2 non-profits organizations. And on each board I look for the right mix of people. I look for both experienced people and people with fresh perspectives. And I've found that board presidents are better when they are committed to the mission but come from the outside like Anan. I like Hedges but feel he is too connected to entrenched village management and he lacks entrepreneurial empathy. He is good but as the old saying goes, "good is the enemy of great." Anyone who knows Anan personally knows he listens to people, is fair, and can see the gifts the other board members bring.

More info  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 11:35 AM

Another point is that Anan used to own some of the restaurants with his siblings so he knows how to make decisions amongst a group.

Neal from Oak Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 11:03 AM

I just read the editorial in the Daily Beefing that Norbert mentioned, and I agree that Anan is the better choice.


Posted: April 8th, 2013 10:28 AM

If you can run a million dollar restaurant business then you can run a government public body. Yes, Maya De Sol is only one of his many restaurants that he has had or has currently. The man knows how to get things accomplished, unlike many in the government sector that talk the talk and we know what talk is in this town. Cheap!


Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:34 AM

Difference between McCain and Obama is that Obama had spent years involved in civic, government and public life. Anan has not. Not even part of his own business association, not even voted in all local elections. How can you be "in touch with the community" if you havn't been involved in the public life of the community? Makes no sense. I wish he would have ran for Trustee. I am concerned about his ability to lead a government public body....

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