'Don't screw up the town'

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:

Equal time: It was my intention to try to even up our coverage of Oak Park and River Forest's political seasons by writing this column about the exit and entrance of village board members Monday night in the village by the river.

Unfortunately my plan to skip the early portion of the meeting, which, based on years of agenda watching, looked to be at least 45 minutes worth of governmenting, did not account for just how quiet and efficient River Forest officials had become. I walked into the meeting room at 7:30 expecting to hear droning on about releasing executive session minutes and instead Village President John Rigas was about to bolt from the board table having repeated for the new trustees a piece of advice he received decades back when he first joined the board. "Don't screw up the town," he said. And that was that.

The new trustees and village clerk were all invited to speak, and I settled in with my Bic pen ready to record their stories of childhood and epiphanies about giving back and advice received from their grannies about democracy and small-town living.

Instead, the sum total of the speechifying of Halperin (clerk) and new trustees Cargie, Dwyer and Colwell-Steinke was "Gee. Thanks."

My note-taking hand was twitching, waiting for new Village President Cathy Adduci to speak. Here goes: "Thanks. Family. Forward. Honored. Proud. Safety. Sustainable. Collaboration. Listen. Cake."

A week earlier, Oak Park's outgoing Village President David Pope was just getting warmed up in comparing and contrasting the terms mayor and village president in a lengthy summing up, and the cake baker was wise enough to just be whipping up the batter. The cake and coffee reception was still hours away.

The presidents: It is going to be interesting to watch our new village presidents — Adduci and Anan Abu-Taleb. They seem to know each other and they have been actively talking since well before the election. Adduci was in the Oak Park council chambers for Anan's swearing-in a week ago. Both come from business backgrounds and that is going to inform their approach to processes and decision-making. Both seem determined to find tax-dollar-saving collaborations within their towns and between their towns. Both are strong networkers and unusually natural politicians.

Food, glorious food: Pilgrim Church, the donut church, the Farmers Market church, the nursery school church, and, I'm sure, the church church, is now making a bid to become the food truck church. Last Saturday, one week ahead of its Farmers Market bow, Pilgrim recruited a dozen food trucks from the city to its parking lot for a Food Truck Rally.

It was a bit of a flyer but a sold-out success. David Hammond, our food blogger, says the vendors were told to prepare for 200 servings per truck but, amid very long lines, ran out of food quickly.

Now, inevitably, come the cries for more food truck rallies and for melding the market and the rally into an all-day food scrum each Saturday. But wait, a plaintive cry is coming from our friends the restaurateurs, the engine of economic development in Oak Park, the ones paying the gross property taxes on all the pretty old buildings that food trucks don't pay.

If this ever gets to the village board for an OK of some sort of expanded presence, it will make Anan Abu-Taleb's conflict of interest over being liquor commissioner seem like small taters.

Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

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Posted: May 14th, 2013 10:57 PM

Adduci said a good deal more than that, actually. It's on line.

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