Quinn signs liquor law at Maya del Sol

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Gov. Pat Quinn came to a packed Maya del Sol Sunday evening to sign the state law which could clear the way for the Oak Park village board to decide Monday night to sync the local liquor ordinance with the revised state law and open a path for Anan Abu-Taleb, village president-elect, to take office without controversy.

While it is unclear what the current village board will do Monday, on Sunday evening Quinn lauded State Senator Don Harmon for his quick work in sponsoring the change to state law. The governor, who lived for many years in Oak Park, touted Oak Park's grassroots democracy and the election of Abu-Taleb, Maya's owner, on April 9.

With many active supporters on hand -- and a larger number of surprised diners on the restaurant's patio watching the governor sign the bill – Abu-Taleb spoke briefly and with emotion. Born and raised on the Gaza Strip, he talked about his father who lived until he was 95 years old and "never had a day of freedom. And now I am an elected official," Abu-Taleb said before tears overtook him.

To make the moment still more poignant, Abu-Taleb's elderly mother came forward along with his wife and sons to pose for pictures with the governor and Harmon.

Beyond campaign backers, the crowd was dotted with notable elected officials including Trustee Adam Salzman, Village Clerk Teresa Powell and incoming village trustee Peter Barber.

A vote Monday evening in the affirmative by the current village board would allow Abu-Taleb to take office without a conflict of interest between being designated by local law as the liquor commissioner while that law currently bars elected officials from holding an Oak Park liquor license. Four votes would be required to pass the local ordinance change.

Another option would be for the current board to suspend the rule of the current ordinance for a set period of time – 90 days has been suggested – while the liquor ordinance is referred to the liquor control review board for study.

After the current board votes on the liquor issue, the Monday meeting will shift gears, moving into the traditional handing over of power from one board to another. Village President David Pope will leave office as Abu-Taleb is sworn in as president. John Hedges will leave his position as trustee having lost his bid for village president. Current trustees Glen Brewer and Colette Lueck and Village Clerk Powell will be sworn in for new terms in office. And newly elected Peter Barber, a veteran of the District 97 school board, will join the village board.

Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

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Confused from Oak Park  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 5:37 PM

@Dan Haley: is this a news article or an editorial? It's getting harder to tell all the time. @ others: of course Anan will take office tonight. The question is just whether he still has a conflict of interest when he does it. Democracy is a slow and messy process. Why the rush?


Posted: May 6th, 2013 3:31 PM

@Bridgett ... as a paid legal consult, Ray Heise's demonstrated his political bias in his personal 'One View' comments, and therefore cannot provide objective legal counsel to the village board in any village issues, and therefore needs to be terminated.


Posted: May 6th, 2013 2:25 PM

JBM, I hope that you are wrong, but worry that you are right. I say the vote will be 5-2. The cause of my opinion was the debate at Irving School. When asked how they (the VMA trustee candidates) would work with Anan if he won, Lueck responded "How will he work with us?" That doesn't bode well for tonight's vote on the ordinance, at least as far as she is concerned.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 1:36 PM

The best solution is for the board to find four votes, to change the ordinance, swear in Anan, and get on with the business of government. Call that the Haley solution. If they the not have four votes but fear the public outrage, they might just move to their alternative without a Yes/No vote on the ordinance. That is; Vote to suspend the ordinance for three months, have the Liquor Control Review Commission make a recommendation and let the new board vote in August. That is the "Sequester" solution. Wait until the public rage subsides, three months should do it, and try to bounce Anan then. Why would the board make such a move. Politics - if they can drive Anan out of office they can restore their cozy 7-0 relationship. That would either force 1) a new presidential election, 2) or allow the new board to appoint a replacement for Anan and vote on a new president. A voluntary withdrawal by Anan would result in #1. 2) A legal removal based on an ordinance violation would lead to a new election. How else can it be. As far as Johnson, Lueck, and Brewer, I have never been able to figure their clique out, but Johnson's dream as always been the presidency. The interesting element is that Anan does not have to be sworn in tonight. I understand he has 10 days before he has to raise his hand.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 1:34 PM

@dystaOPia, Heise was speaking as an individual, though with the weight of having represented the Village for decades. And now, while no longer employed by the Village, he is, like you mention, under contract with the Village. But my understanding is that he is to represent solely for past issues, not new ones.


Posted: May 6th, 2013 1:05 PM

In order to understand the current concern re. certain trustees voting against an amended ordinance, please read Ray Heise's 'One View' ("A potential conflict of interests for Abu-Taleb", WJ, Mar. 12), at http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/3-12-2013/A-potential-conflict-of-interest-for-Abu_Taleb/. Since Heise is under contract with the village as legal consult, ask yourself what prompted him to issue this public comment? Was he speaking on behalf of the village or himself?

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 11:44 AM

John, I don't understand why Johnson, Luecke and Brewer would vote "No" to amend the local ordinance. What purpose would that serve? The voters have made their choice. Abu-Taleb is the Village President and any attempt to challenge his right to serve in that office would have to be seen as counterproductive. We simply cannot financially afford to seek to have this decided in court.The new state law should address any concerns about conflict of interest. The fact that there has been no public comment from our elected officials is surprising, especially by Ray Johnson. He, more than any other local elected official, has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to engage with citizens on a wide variety of issues and concerns via this forum. Trustee Saltzman also regularly makes use of these pages to provide clarity on board actions and policies. It is somewhat strange that they and other board members have been so reluctant to offer a public position regarding this matter but I am hopeful that they will accept the need for a quick and fair resolution. The village board has many important decisions to rule on in the upcoming months and getting bogged down over this matter would provide no benefit to the community.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 11:30 AM

If some Trustees decide to go the suspension resolution route, while absurd, it wouldn't be surprising. Wasting time and energy to "study" this issue, and possibly even money if the Village gets sued over it, makes this whole scenario the quintessential example of what is wrong with our local government, and why we need change. It's really quite perfect, actually. A lovely example for all of us to witness.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 10:48 AM

It's a fairly common thing for Governor Quinn. Most of his appearances state-wide are in restaurants. The Maya del Sol appearance was easy -- he only lives a mile away.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 10:45 AM

Jim - there have been no public quotes or statements by board members about Governor Quinn's signing of the new state ordinance. There were also minimal comments re last week's tabling of a vote to adopt state's revised ordinance. There has been a considerable amount of conversation that indicates that it is a real possibility that four board members will oppose the ordinance. I have heard that from both sides of the fence ?" Anan's team and VMA members. It appears that the solid No's are Johnson and Lueck, the likely No is Brewer, and the swing vote is Hedges. A 7-0 is feasible if four members vote for the ordinance. That would break the apparent deadlock. Hopefully, all seven board members will keep President Kennedy's statement in mind, "Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."

Elizabeth from Oak park  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 10:35 AM

Not sure Taleb shouldn't rule, but what kinda clout do you need to get the Gov to sign a bill in your restaurant? Our business could use that boost. Maybe I'll run next time. Who am I kidding. No clout here...

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 10:18 AM

Why is it "unclear what the current village board will do"? It now appears there is not a legitimate reason to prevent Abu-Taleb from being sworn in as Village President. Has any trustee publicly stated that they intend to oppose changing the ordinance? To promote a spirit of fairness,cooperation and unity; I hope the vote will be unanimous.

Tired of Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 7:49 AM

In this past election, the VMA ran a whole slate versus one independent. If cooler heads do not prevail on this, the VMA might find themselves squaring off on a whole slate next time. And not the usual Green opposition, but a group representing small business owners and families.

OPRF Achievement  

Posted: May 6th, 2013 7:02 AM

And people wonder why so many do not participate in elections. COME ON...get on with it, put in the proper controls and move forward. It is like they got beat on the court and now want to take the ball away so the winner can not continue the progress. WOW!


Posted: May 6th, 2013 6:56 AM

JBM-all interesting questions, but not unprecedented answers. Anan will take office tomorrow regardless of board action on the ordinance. The "conflict" is only theoretical and Anan likely will not take any action as liquor commissioner. Ray Heise, VMA legal troll, will surely file protestations at the behest of Johnson, Lueck, Hedges, Kelly, Kane, Kamenitsa, Broerman and Hale, and will provide the death knell for the once revered, now vilified VMA. This should be interesting to watch.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 5th, 2013 10:46 PM

The Illinois House and Senate passed a bill changing the state's rules regarding liquor license administration and the Governor has signed it. If the village board changes its ordinance to apply the new state bill, OP President Anan Abu Taleb would take office tomorrow night. There are rumblings in the village that four board members are opposed to adopting the ordinance, despite the fact that at last week's board meeting the board tabled the issue pending the bill's passage and signing by the Governor. If the new OP ordinance is not adopted, there are some serious issues to resolve before the swearing in ceremony. 1) Would Anan be in violation of the existing ordinance when he is sworn in? 2) If sworn in, could a violation of the ordinance be taken immediately against Anan? What is the legal process if that happened? Would law suits ensue? Could he be immediately removed from office? Would law suits ensue? The same applies to the idea of suspending the existing ordinance pending a review by the OP Liquor Control Review Commission. If the commission recommended (to the board) that the current ordinance be continued, could that result in his immediate removal? Oak Park had one of the most dynamic, informative, and interesting elections this year. Issues abounded and were discussed professionally by the candidates. The results were clear. Nearly 60% of voters chose Anan despite the public discussion of the possible ordinance conflict with an ordinance that had never been applied in its forty years on the books. Will those board members who are threatening a no-vote, give the voters a clear understanding and acceptable rational for their opposition. We hope so. Many Oak Parkers believe Holding Anan's presidency hostage is a distasteful and unfair to the residence of Oak Park. Governor Quinn stated last night that OPV has been a leader in ensuring that democracy rules. Let's keep the leadership.


Posted: May 5th, 2013 9:27 PM

"Booorrring" Steve? Well, then, go back to Game of Thrones and your Facebook posts and let the adults do what they need to do, child.


Posted: May 5th, 2013 8:00 PM


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