Transparency in Oak Park

More than a campaign promise?

Opinion: Columns

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David Barsotti

In most village board elections, including the one last month, candidates campaign on the importance of transparency in government. Transparency in government is one of the campaign promises that most candidates make, but very few practice once elected. The Oak Park village board routinely claims they are transparent in their actions, but the recent ruling by the Illinois Attorney General stating that Oak Park violated the Illinois Open Meeting Act paints a very different picture.

Many on the village board feel that the Attorney General's Office was wrong in its ruling. Their dissatisfaction with the ruling was expected, for it is embarrassing when those who strongly claim to be transparent are caught deceiving the public. The village board complied with the Attorney General's ruling, but not without instructing Ray Heise to send a letter, stating that the village was right in closing the meeting to the public and the Attorney General was wrong. Heise's letter is the equivalent of a thief who tells the judge, after he is sentenced to prison, that the judge was wrong in her ruling, but the thief is going to go to jail anyway because he does not have a place to live.

Everyone on the village board claims to support an open and transparent government, but their actions point to a board that likes to close the door to public scrutiny. The board closes 50 percent of their meetings to the public, which makes one ask, what are they trying to hide? The board's claims of transparency appear to be based on the belief that if they say it enough times, people will eventually believe it.

This is similar to the tactic that David Pope has used with the Lake and Forest parking garage. Pope continues to claim that it must be torn down, based on a conversation he had with the construction project manager, who said the garage was designed to last 30 years.

When asked about the specifics of this conversation, Pope is unable to provide the name of the construction project manager, where they met, when they met, or who the project manager worked for at the time the garage was built. It would seem that this conversation never occurred.

Now consider that the village commissioned a study by a professional engineer who proves the garage has a much longer life than President Pope and the alleged project manager would like us to believe. Nonetheless, Pope, who is not an engineer, continues to say the garage must be torn down, hoping that people will eventually believe his claim.

Ray Johnson, Adam Salzman, and Bob Tucker all campaigned on a more open and transparent village board. Trustee Johnson was among the board members who violated the Open Meetings Act, but hopefully he has mended his ways and will now keep his campaign promise of transparency.

We all hope that first-time trustees Salzman and Tucker will honor their commitment to an open and transparent government and convince the other trustees that they should do the same.

Reader Comments

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john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 12:42 AM

See post below -- I think I nailed part of the deal. Gotta, think that there will be some government subsidies for the New Sertus.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 22nd, 2011 12:16 AM

Hmmmmmm! Has Sertus considered contacting HUD for an affordable hoteling loan?

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 21st, 2011 12:49 AM

The ghost is just that- A ghost. I dont believe a word you say. You speak gibberish. You keep going on and on about nothing. Ha.

The Ghost  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 4:54 PM

David Barsotti was proven to be right. Oak Parker was proven to be dishonest. The only way he can show any support for his ludicrous positions is by employing numerous fake identities or ripping off the names others use when posting comments.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 4:38 PM

The answer to j.oak park's question is that the project is not moving forward. It may not go forward at all if the developer cannot obtain financing. That should be an issue of serious concern to both proponents and opponents of the project.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 4:14 PM

j.- I hope so. I hope the financing comes through so we can have a state of the art hotel and great new commercial space in a great part of town.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 3:58 PM

Concerned ? He shows it in a very funny way. Ha Ha

The Ghost  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 3:49 PM

David Barsotti is a concerned citizen. Oak Parker is a confused citizen. It's the same old song. Whether he is posting as OP, O..P, OP Resident or, in this case, as Oak Parker, the mindless babbling goes on and on and on.....

j.oak park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 1:17 PM

Hi, @ OakParker, is Lake and Forest moving forward? I hadn't heard/read anything about that, other than the extension of the financing deadline. What have you heard?


Posted: May 20th, 2011 12:09 PM

David Barsotti seems to me a disgruntled neighbor. Lake and Forest is moving forward and damn it he wants the old garage to stay. The fix is in. The back room deals are being done and he will expose all the mischief. Yea Please-

The Ghost  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 11:34 PM

So, it's a coincidence that you, OP, O..P and OP Resident share the same phrases along with common punctuation errors and misspellings when each is supposedly directing personal disdain towards all of the same people. Tough sell. Explain why each of you tends to overuse CAPITAL letters in your postings and all choose to cite the same FDR quote ("nothing to fear....")? And what is it with all you guys telling people "to pick up the litter"? Not a clever line but real popular in your circle.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 10:06 PM

Thanks for the laugh.

The Ghost  

Posted: May 19th, 2011 8:38 PM

I suspect that "Oak Parker" is just another one of the names used the local gadfly who also posts as "OP". "O...P", "OP Resident" and most recently "Marco". This VMA wannabee hurls wild attacks at David Barsotti, John Murtagh and Patricia O'Shea on a regular basis. He's the one who posts in such a crude and disrespectful manner. People who are actually members of the VMA never respond with such spitefulness. Let's see if "Oak Parker" also overuses capital letters and pumps the standard FDR quote

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 1:41 AM

Whats that expression? A dogs bark is bigger than its bite! If you cant handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. murtagh,golden, milstein and barsotti 2013- coming to a tent near you.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 1:13 AM

As the WJ Comments has proven, No longer do you have to run to be heard in Oak Park. Welcome to the 21st Century, Oak Parker.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 12:42 AM

Mr. Barsotti, What is your MO? Why dont you just bite the bullet and run for office so you can make it transparent instead of finding fault with everything David Pope does. Clearly the Village elected David to 2 terms with a decidedly good margin, yet you continue to complain, all as a result of your failed attempt to block the Lake and Forest project. Time to move on.

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