New village board should expect criticism


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For years, or more accurately for decades, the two hallmarks of Oak Park politics were intensity and civility. There were always differences of opinion being expressed by activists on all sides, but one always understood that opponents on one issue would likely be working together on another, or at least sitting on the same side at a ball game or soccer match. It was this understanding that probably enabled the village to keep partisan politics out of local government.

Four years ago there was a significant change. The interests that would eventually merge into the New Leadership Coalition decided to increase the intensity and pretty much eliminate the civility. Of course, decisions made by the village board were challenged; they always had been. That was to be expected. What was new was the vitriol that was spread. Motives were challenged. Good faith was denied. In some cases criminal acts were alleged. If it was possible to do or say something to smear the sitting board members, it was done or said. No matter was too small, no issue unworthy of unending debate.

That's the way I saw it, but I do understand that one man's smear and vitriol is another's fair political debate. What is not open to interpretation, however, is that during the last four years the groups that ultimately formed the NLC considered it to be open season on the then sitting boards.

The smears and the vitriol (or if you prefer the fair commentary) paid off big time for the NLC. Now they control the board and they have made it clear that they do intend to control things. They want to be free of criticism and oversight so that they can put their agenda in place. Within minutes, literally minutes, after being sworn in, new Trustee Martha Brock made clear what we can expect from the NLC controlled Board. "The days of bickering, the days of fighting are over?. Do not fight us. We don't get paid to do this. (Actually they do get paid, although not all that much). Do not cause havoc in our lives." Ms. Brock went through the motions of administering an oath that she demanded of the audience in council chambers to the effect that they would not challenge the NLC controlled board.

In short, for four years the NLC felt free to do and say what it wanted. Now that they control the village board they still feel free to do and say what they want. One of the things that they want is for all of us to do what they say and not what they do. They don't want anyone to disagree with them, at least not publicly. They just want a nice quiet four years for them to do and say what they want. If history is any guide, they are unlikely to get a four-year honeymoon.

Morris Seeskin
Oak Park

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