Stacked Oak Park Plan Commission? Hardly

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Gloria Merrill

One View

This is in response to Anna Churin's letter [Is the VMA stacking the Plan Commission? Viewpoints, April 18]. I am not responding specifically to the Forest/Lake development, but her overall premise that "the village president and board of trustees want the Plan Commission to rubber-stamp what the trustees wanted and not to represent the positions of other citizens."

I served on the Plan Commission from March 1990 through December 2004. I also was, and still am, a member of the Village Manager Association (VMA). I was not appointed by the president and board of trustees without going through the proper prequalification procedures, i.e. submitting an application to the Citizens Involvement Commission for its review and recommendation to the president and board of trustees. The identical process applied when I was appointed to the Liquor Control Review Board and the Community Relations Commission (which I served as head of the Housing Subcommittee that urged a somewhat reluctant board to reinstitute the first-time homebuyers program).

Regarding my voting record on the Plan Commission, as a "loyal VMA member," I voted against the mixed-use planned unit development (PUD) at the old south Oak Park postal facility site on Oak Park Avenue, just south of Garfield Boulevard. After much deliberation, I felt that the materials used in that development were inconsistent with the urban fabric of the neighborhood. In retrospect, I still believe that.

I voted against the PUD at Ridgeland and South Boulevard, primarily because I thought the architecture was unimaginative and pseudo-suburban and, at that time, any rental potential would be difficult to sustain. Looking back, I still think the architecture leaves much to be desired and leasing difficult, although I am hopeful that the latter consideration has been stabilized.

I voted against Whiteco I for many complex reasons, but primarily because I thought the architecture was atrocious, particularly from the west side of the PUD, looking east and I did not believe that the development could sustain such high-end rental rates. Looking back, I am still not a fan of the architecture. However, there does appear to be a niche for this type of PUD; rental rates are at 90-95 percent; and I do love Trader Joe's.

Another really important aspect regarding these PUDs, was the incredibly detailed discussion that occurred, particularly Whiteco I, which went into the wee hours of the morning. This really was not a ploy to wear out those participating against the PUD; plan commissioners were exhausted as well. Serving on that Plan Commission were former Trustee Jon Hale, current trustees Ray Johnson and Colette Lueck, and current Village President David Pope, obviously no strangers to the VMA.

In summary, I do not believe "our government seems to be following an ideology that does not serve the citizens of Oak Park by filling the (plan) commission with one view, the view held by the VMA." There are as many divergent views within the VMA as there are within this community as a whole. How else do you think the VMA has been so effective since 1952?


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proof from op  

Posted: May 18th, 2012 10:46 PM

alert - 1100 N . Lombard. 1200 Too. I am astonished residents aren't up in arms. Big holes?? ASPHALT curbs? You can't justify that neglect. u know what would have happened to TIF bucks if we didn't spend it on 1blk of Marion w/ 90% occupancy? would go to other areas of OP


Posted: May 18th, 2012 10:16 PM

TIFs are, in general, a very bad idea. But I'm more in favor of funding things the old-fashioned way with simple wise spending of revenue. In Oak Park's case, our problem is more that we spend our budget on the wrong things and unwisely. It's nothing some leadership with a better commitment to the whole village couldn't fix. But again, I actually favor putting the decision into the hands of voters with participatory budgeting.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 9:41 PM

TIFS have to use the money in its district. Sorry. When there is money to make upgrades and improvements. Do it. Residential streets dont have the luxury of TIFs. So Sorry again.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 6:21 PM

I'm not saying *ignore* the business districts. I'm saying there needs to be balance that isn't there now. It's not like residents don't pay taxes while commercial does. Your street might be smooth, but most aren't. People have to live here after the stores close. Not to mention it just doesn't work that don't get services in direct proportion to the amount of taxes you pay. lol


Posted: May 18th, 2012 6:16 PM

@@ha: money is made off of residents via property taxes, water bills, waste removal, vehicle stickers and much more including a new fee to removal storm damage limbs from trees. need I say it?idiot.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 6:01 PM

@@ha did you watch the movie? no you did not. Did you realize that you are now quoting fictional numbers are made up, just an example. However they are an example that you are a mindless fool, quoting made up numbers as fact. Idiot. Comcast is not private industry money, it is tax dollars and tax credits, purchased by corporations to lower that tax debt to you and me. Idiot. go back to your hole now, and suck your thumb.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 5:33 PM

The Biz dist's are much more important. They generate tax revenue to fix the other residential streets in the first place.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 3:46 PM

Irresponsible is letting the roads crumble. I'm not against sprucing things up around here. My point is that it needs to be done fairly. Everybody's street gets a little love. The business district is no more important than anywhere else.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 3:42 PM

"reasonably important"- easy for you to say. My street is smooth. Oak Park spends millions on repaving old streets every yr. No we are not going to spend $25 -50 Million in one year to bring all the streets up to par. That would be irresponsible. Ride a bike.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 3:39 PM

As far as the Comcast building, I have maybe less of a problem with it than other people. Even though it's in my neighborhood. I just question whether it would have passed if it were put to the community for a vote. I would have had to think about it carefully, but unfortunately we don't currently get that option in OP. Things get steamrolled through.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 3:34 PM

Yeah, but downtown isn't the point, right? All those people could have their streets paved rather than focusing the money on Marion. I've never said Marion isn't better off, for the record. My point is we have 100 or so miles of road to contend with--yet we did that to a tiny section? DTOP being vibrant is reasonably important. But not at the expense of losing focus that there are 50,000 people in this town who need services. It's sort of "let them eat cake" IMO.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 3:28 PM

$102 BILLION with a "B"! $3.125 Million is NOTHING when compared. JPM Chase just lost 2 Billion and they are saying its equal to a rounding error for them. The Comcast project is a great example of more money helping the poor and getting money from the corporations of this world. Somethings cost more than they will reap. Thats just life. Lets think about what Oak Park would be like had we NOT redone Marion St's and repaved a bunch more residential streets. I dont think dtop would be as vibrant


Posted: May 18th, 2012 1:44 PM

I've thought something similar, John! We have a highly educated population compared to some communities. It's a shame we can't harness that more...even in just simple voter turnout!

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 18th, 2012 1:35 PM

Oak Park has one of the highest percentage of college and advance degree residents. Can you imagine if commission or committees were formed in a less formal manner (No 4 yr term necessary) and had more free thinking. The dynamic would be incredible.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 12:59 PM

The business talk just seemed a nice transition to "what if residents were shareholders?" That goes back to an earlier discussion of whether the Village could put out a per-resident financial statement about how much tax money comes back onto any given street. With the commissions, it's just a fairly clunky way to try to get anything done. I think I'd feel different if their role was finding public opinion to report. We could do a lot better about tallying support/opposition to village business.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 18th, 2012 12:29 PM

Definitely agree with the low profit corp approach to social responsibility. Your thoughts on the commissions and service to and involvement of residents is on the mark. The current structure has too many levels to be effective and too process bloated to have the speed needed to be "advisory" in the 21st Century.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 11:44 AM

I'll play devil's advocate there though, Patricia, & note the rise of intentionally low-profit business models who have a 1st aim of social responsibility where any profits they make go toward the community. (If there are profits since much of the funding is quasi-charitable.) Back on topic to the commissions, but keeping it related...I think the big question is whose interests are being served by the current structure? My contention is that the avg resident sees little benefit.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 18th, 2012 11:18 AM

Business has to balance corporate responsibility against profitability. No profit, no company, no benefit for anyone. Even the most bleeding heart liberal business owners have to make profit motivated choices.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 9:54 AM

I wasn't really paying attention to local politics when that parking was debated, but we always comment that it should have been a garage. I can't tell you how many times we drive by looking for a space and then shop elsewhere. But anyway, theories of gov: it's not necessarily even about what is "right." A bit moralistic for me. I take a more utilitarianist view. lol Hence, parking garage = more beneficial to more people.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 9:31 AM

@@ha, please watch the HBO documentary Mann vs. Ford and then get back to me:


Posted: May 18th, 2012 9:17 AM

John, Its about doing whats right and not always what makes you a dollar. Its called corporate responsibility. The same is true in government. Government and business are similar yet very different. If you think every government decision regarding spending money is to make 2 dollars for every dollar. You are mistaken.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 9:17 AM

cont...Tearing down the Colt and making a surface parking lot makes sense at the present time if you look and see how many cars park there! Some may say it was too expensive and some will say thats the price you pay to make for a more convenient shopping experience. Had anyone known, the price may be have been a bit cheaper 6 years later. Whats the magic price to buy and put in a surface parking lot in a crowded DTOP? 1Mill, 4Mill? 15 Mill? Its like economics. Nobody knows exactly.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 8:17 AM

@Ha: and yes the third light, if it save lives, is exactly why we do need government regulation! So there I am not a mean old corporate wonk, but i am one who has fiduciary responsibility to a corporation and understands how business works. I know that is difficult for you to understand as a Silly vma lover.


Posted: May 18th, 2012 8:13 AM

@ha: it does not matter what the GM revenue number was, idiot. they don't want to spend it they don't have to, because it was not mandated. what is you revenue? Now give money! Some people would call that robbery. It is corporate economics, in which life is not a factor but liability is. and if the third light is not mandated then there is no fault if a life is lost. time for you to start thinking and stop typing, Silly.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 10:49 PM


Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 9:52 PM

Silly, like ha said, you don't understand business. Which explains a lot actually.


Posted: May 17th, 2012 6:55 PM

What was GM's total worldwide revenue number that yr?


Posted: May 17th, 2012 6:54 PM

$6.25 per car times 500,000=$3,125,000. Is that worth a human life? Better yet, could you convince the buyers that the $6.50 cost( I'll add .25 for profit) is adding value while still only being .004%(20k car) of the total cost!!


Posted: May 17th, 2012 4:24 PM

I'm a bigger fan of initiative & referendum powers than recall powers. If residents are involved in policy-making it really takes the need for recall off the table. Thanks for pointing out the quarterly report, John, I hadn't seen that yet. Interesting attempt to make it more easy to read than some other documents I've seen.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 4:12 PM

Kudos to village's finance department for publishing a Quarterly Financial Report 2012, 1st Quarter You can find it on the Finance Department home page on the OP Website.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 4:06 PM

Ha, Recall? interesting idea, but one I don't favor. Recall should be restricted to proven conflict of interest violations and malfeasance. There is nothing that the board has done yet that meets the criteria.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 3:56 PM

Typical - Re 3rd light, I was not in a decision making position. My role was to consult. I made my recommendation to the decision makers and my role was over.


Posted: May 17th, 2012 3:30 PM

@Kyle: yes it would be way cheaper to recall all vma trustees and sitting commission member thenletting them proceed with give aways and spending tons of money on things that will do nothing but increase taxes and drive future business people from deciding to establish businesses in OP because the taxes are too high.


Posted: May 17th, 2012 3:09 PM

PS Wasn't it the Ford Pinto where they decided to do a cost-benefits analysis and just pay the lawsuits from injuries since it was cheaper than a recall? Dunno if there's a lesson in there about the way we spend our money in Oak Park or not. ;-)


Posted: May 17th, 2012 3:03 PM

I have no problem shifting funds if it is an emergency. But if we budget $1 million for salt & don't spend it then A) the money should be saved for the next year's salt fund B) it should be spent on a "need" not a "want." To do otherwise is just bad finance in my book. BUT, even more, I find it interesting that the Board is cool talking millions for a couple streets, but the dozens that need actual services get a fraction of that? Money needs to be spent more equitably among ALL of Oak Park.


Posted: May 17th, 2012 2:47 PM

wah corporations hardly ever do things for good that cost money. But you don't understand business do you? I will make it simple: if the 3rd light costs $5.00 for parts and another $1.25 to install and you sell 500,000 cars and you can't really charge more, because it is not a "feature" it is a mandate, how much does it cost you? Can you show me any company that wants to give up $3mil? When SoAm. wanted what they perceived as a "feature" now it became a rev generating tool. Like you a tool.


Posted: May 17th, 2012 2:47 PM

Patricia, If what I read is true, your dad would leave the decision to the people whether or not to have the 3rd light on GM vehicles in Mexico. Not a good way to make decisions regarding peoples safety. Thats it.

Wah Wah Wah  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 2:45 PM

John Murtagh again would have you believe that the village is using funds so if there is snow at the end of the year, there wont be any money to buy it. FALSE AGAIN. The 1st part of the season has PASSED and we DINT USE the amount we projected. It says nothing to the future and the amount budgeted. There is plenty of salt and money to buy salt if the need arises. When I budget for my basement to flood and it doesnt flood, then I can use that money to paint my house. Not to tricky to figure out

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 2:44 PM

Pope has a "shadow budget", which is used to fund his pet projects. Any budget is primarily based on estimates, ending with line item deficits paid from reserves, and surpluses rolled into next years budget. Instead, Pope takes line item surpluses (such as unused salt funds), and transfers them to other unrelated expenditures (streetscaping). For example, in 2008, instead of returning $350K of unused contingency funds for N. Marion St., he spent it on more heated sidewalks.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 2:00 PM

March 5, 2012 Village Board Meeting -- BACKGROUND President Pope visited Washington (Post TIF Remediation) to attempt to find funds for the Greater Downtown Plan. His target was a Tiger Grant which provides funding to municipalities and transportation agencies to advance transportation related initiatives and integration of transportation and land use. OP filed in 2011 and did not receive the grant. During his visit to Washington, he determined that having Unified Streetscape Design Drawings for the Greater Downtown Master Plan (GDMP) would enhance the possibility of getting a 2013. The amount of the grant would be $26 million; The village would have to make an additional $17 million investment. MEETING President Pope stated that, "by investing $108,000 (for drawings) there will be residual benefits; this relatively small amount of money will give the Village the opportunity for a much larger level of contribution and support to help realize the Greater Downtown Master Plan." MEETING Trustee Hedges stated, "There hasn't been much discussion regarding the project as a whole, what the costs are going to be and where the funds will come from. He noted that debt will likely be issued and added that they also do not have a good sense of the community's opinion on this project." MEETING - The board approved the $108,000 expenditure with Pope, Johnson, Lueck, and Brewer voting Yes, and Hedges, Salzman, and Tucker voting No. JRM COMMENTS - The vote allowed the village to meet the March 29 government deadline date for the grant application. While not mentioned at meeting, the plan could enhance Sertus' attempt to find financing.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 1:40 PM

Wah Wah, I don't know if you missed the point of the GM story on purpose or if you read it too fast. Go back and read again.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 10:59 AM

The purpose of transferring funds from salt for village streets to downtown streetscaping (salt for bricks), is because the streetscaping project was never publicly discussed, board approved, or included in the DTOP Master Plan, and therefore was not included in the 2012 Budget. This project is part of Pope's USDOT TIGER grant application, which would further commit $17M of village funds. The Lakota drawings are part of the TIGER application to demonstrate village commitment.


Posted: May 17th, 2012 10:58 AM

Enuf, I'm of the opinion that IF any money is going to be taken from the salt/snow removal fund it should go directly to fixing the roads...or something obviously related. That money is, essentially, meant to be spread evenly the village and they've now squandered it on a special interest.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 10:46 AM

As per the 2012 Village Budget, $375K of the $558K appropriated for Roadway Maintenance (Public Works Dept., General Fund) is for salt for snow removal. The board resolution this past Monday transferred $108K (29%) from salt funds to External Support for Community Planning and Development Dept., in order to contract with Lakota Group to prepare design drawings for the unapproved, unfunded Lake St. streetscaping project (Harlem to Euclid), in an amount not to exceed $108K.


Posted: May 17th, 2012 10:08 AM

Wah wah, part of the prob is that we seem to think we should limit ourselves to CI or the tiny chunk of the regular budget for roads when in reality it needs to be a much higher percent of our spending to make up for the fact that they are in such bad condition. Each st should be getting patched 2x per yr (mine doesn't even get once) with a top coat every other year or so to make them last longer. IMO all funds related to streets should just be in the same place--sweeping, salt, paving, etc..

Wah Wah Wah  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 9:43 AM

The 3rd light saves lives. No more no less. To not include it would be an error in GM's duty. Sometimes decisions have to be made for the good of the people. It seems you are always on the wrong side of Oak Parks govt. Too bad for you John. There are plenty that seem satisfied. Who do you think elects the leaders in Oak Park? Thats right- the residents. Road maintenance is NOT the same budget as the capital improvements and repaving roads. Nice try though.


Posted: May 17th, 2012 7:48 AM

What got me started paying attention was realizing that in the entire time I've lived here I've only seen someone patch my street once. Then I realized that the streets still had leaves & garbage in them despite a day of the week each week with no parking for street cleaning. It just had me scratching my head. Of course, the more I learn the more none of it makes sense. lol It's like living in a black hole of bad services.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2012 12:12 AM

Kyle - got a little story for you. In 1986, the U.S. federal government passed a law mandating a third brake light in the rear of the car (usually) above the trunk. The law only covered the U.S. GM sold its cars in Mexico and throughout South America. The products were identical to the U.S. with local content modification. For the 1987 model year the GM operation in Mexico deleted the third light from its vehicle content list. On a trip to Mexico I was amazed how many cars had third brake lights. I was told that the Mexican consumer had gone ga-ga over the third light and it was being sold like crazy in the aftermarket. They had seen it on TV and thought it was a distinct characteristic that made the car unique. It also made your car appear to be the very latest model adding value to the product. After being in Mexico, I went to Venezuela. They were discussing content and the question of the third brake light came up. They asked my opinion and I said they should check with GM Mexico and do some customer research before deciding. They decided to go with the third light and it was a major success. The success spread throughout South America and was a huge marketing advantage for GM. Purpose of my story -- the only way you can understand customer pleasers is to have a dialog with them. Don't rely on experts to represent the customer. Many of OP's problems result from the near disdain its leaders have for the resident's viewpoint. Sooner or later that disdain will result in change in OP.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 11:56 PM

Just Saying - The surplus referred to the budget surplus for the purchase of salt, not any chemical reactions of salt.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 10:48 PM

Kyle - the village budget is very tight. This early in the year, it is not wise to grab the salt dollar surplus for other uses when a early and heavy snow season in November and December could leave the village short. It is like a family getting a $500 windfall and deciding to buy a big screen television rather than saving for their furnace which is on its last legs. It is worthwhile to remember that the $108,000 is being used as good faith money with the Fed to show we are committed to the Tiger grant for the redo of DTOP. If OP wins the grant, it has to contribute 17M to the project OP does not have 17M, so they would probably have to take a loan - bond sales. It's all as if the family decided to buy the TV, the furnace gives out, and a huge loan with a high interest is needed to replace the damn furnace. You are correct, Kyle. Life is all about bad planning!

Just sayin  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 10:31 PM

JBM, do you know what surplus means? FYI, the more salt used means streets in worse condition. Just sayin


Posted: May 16th, 2012 10:23 PM

I actually would agree that there is a difference between money being "taken" away & the more accurate statement that street repair is underfunded & ignored. That was why I didn't like the word "siphon" either. Of course, the result is the same--bad roads. But, speaking for myself, I say it's simply bad planning. Without evidence of a grand scheme to not pave streets, I'll assume it's other issues at play. lol

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 10:11 PM

@All - No Lie --- May 14/2012 Village Agenda - On March 5, 2012, the Village Board approved a resolution authorizing execution of a contract with Lakota Group, Inc. to prepare unified streetscape design drawings for the Greater Downtown Business Area in an amount not to exceed $108,000. This amendment moves $108,000 from Roadway Maintenance to External Support (streetscape drawings). A surplus in the "Salt budget due to a light 2011-2012 winter season. So we use salt to continue development - clever. That is; if we don't get bombed with snow next year. If that happened and the budget was exceeded, money would be transferred from some other account. You can bet it will not be development money. It is surprising that the DPW did not need the money for Roadway Maintenance programs other than salt.


Posted: May 16th, 2012 8:07 PM

VOP has NOT taken money from street repair/ capital improvements and put it any where else. THAT IS A LIE. Go and check the budgets from the last 5 yrs. Maybe the budgeted amount has changed due to the overall budget number coming down, but dont believe the hype.


Posted: May 16th, 2012 2:51 PM

LOL, John! I see your point, too. How much work are we giving to commissions? Though we do have fewer committees than some municipalities. What concerns me is the flowchart aspect. As a resident in need of village action what do you do? Contact Village Hall probably. But if that doesn't resolve the issue then...? Turn to one of these committees? E-mail the Board? There is too much splatter & not enough firehose "here's how we're going to tackle what the residents want." Where does the buck stop?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 2:34 PM

Kyle - I'm trapped! I agree that when it comes to volunteering, the more the better. On the other side, if you do not have enough work for the volunteers, too many volunteers hurts productivity. My sense is that for the number of commissioners the village has there is not enough output. I don't blame the volunteers. They are talented and eager. A measure of productivity is the amount of recommendations, ideas, and solutions that reach the board. I can only measure that by observation of board meetings. I see a lot more staff and consultants in discussion with board members than we do commissioners. and than we do commissioners


Posted: May 16th, 2012 2:05 PM

I agree about not criticizing the commissioners. It's the system, not them. I dunno about the size part since I'd like to encourage participation in govt. Some of the committees are more useful than others though. But I do agree that the process could be streamlined. I'd love to see a quicker, more responsive way to address resident issues. How that works between commissions/Trustees/Village Manager I don't know. That's the problem is no direct/clear route.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 1:39 PM

I think the best way to describe the commission system is bloated. It is bloated by excessive rule, slow processes, and in most cases too many members. The commissions submit a Work Plan every year to the village board who reviews and approve it. For the current year (2012) there is only one of the eighteen commissions have submitted their Work Plan. All commission are expected to write and approve minutes of all meetings. This year through March, 43% of the monthly meeting are not yet available on the village website. I do not want to criticize the commissioners. They join to provide service and are dedicated to community, but the bloated processes to give service leave many to feel they are wasting their time. The turnover of commissioners is very high. Probably the best organized and most enjoyable event is Day in the Village. It is run by volunteers from the village, commissions, businesses, civic organizations, and residents. It is not bound by stringent rules, formal meetings, Roberts Rules, etc. It is Productive. The village needs to study how it can de-bloat the commission system and make it more productive for the village and those resident volunteers who donate their time.


Posted: May 16th, 2012 12:37 PM

What's funny is weren't they just absolutely begging for people to fill vacancies awhile back & couldn't' find takers? SMH I actually think we'd do better with one giant commission that then does its own work of assigning members to sub-committees for topic work. With the overall membership being open to all. The steering members could then decide what talents they have and suggest where they may best serve.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 12:25 PM

RE CIC RULES - 1)"At present, the only two reasons held to be legitimate are known prior abuse of authority and deliberate misstatements made during the interview process or the application form." 2) For specific commissions (pension, police, etc.) specific qualifications can be applied. 3) The board responsibility for approval of commissions rests with the president, the board serves in an advisory role and usually votes. Disqualification for commission service are not sent to the board, therefore the president or board do not act on them. 4) The decision on approval of a candidate rests first with the CIC and is conducted in closed session. The CIC must vote for candidate approval. As best as I have been able to determine, disqualifications are not voted on in the open session and therefore their they are not mentioned in the minutes. Bottom line, there appears to be no public record on disqualifications.


Posted: May 16th, 2012 12:19 PM

There are more, too...Building Codes Advisory Commission: "Membership shall include a registered architect, licensed plumber, licensed electrician, HVAC contractor, codes professional and fire protection contractor. Additionally, three members shall be contractors in any construction trade who currently are licensed to do business in the Village of Oak Park." The problem with "experts" on the panel is, I think, both the diversity & conflict of interest points that have been made by others.


Posted: May 16th, 2012 12:15 PM

The Board of Health does have this: "Membership shall include three health professionals in the following fields: medical doctor, nurse and dentist and all other members shall have a general knowledge of and interest in public health issues. One member may be a high school student." That's my point about the FM is that it needs to be open to more people, too. The current review process for commissions is on the application:


Posted: May 16th, 2012 12:03 PM

@Kyle, there are no qualifications listed for any commission, so I don't know where you got yours. Also, you are not going to find apple growers or farmers in OP. The President of the Board decides serves on the various commissions, not the Board. If the President does not want you to serve on a commission, then you are not going to serve.


Posted: May 16th, 2012 11:20 AM

@Observer, that should have said 1 & 3. @Enuf I don't know that I would use the word "siphon" but I agree with your statement. The focus is not on maintaining neighborhood roads and alleys and is instead on development, business, and downtown. And I DO think the VMA has something to do with that. But I guess I'm saying I am less concerned about the VMA and more so the crumbling residential roads. Regardless of political affiliation that's a necessary basic service.


Posted: May 16th, 2012 11:16 AM

@Observer I could be wrong, but doesn't the Board already vote on recommendations from the CIC for open slots? But I agree w/ 1 & 2. The process should be public and open to all. Re: the Farmers Market...even there, I think they're afraid of an agenda. They're very particular about keeping it grower-only & closed to local artisans. If you, say, weave baskets & don't grow apples they are not interested.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 11:03 AM

@Kyle: if you are concerned about crumbling roads, then I suggest you pay attention to the cause and effect relationship between infrastructure and VMA. It is the policy of VMA-elected officials to siphon budgetary funds from public works infrastructure to downtown development. For example, at the village board mtg. on Monday, a resolution was passed to transfer $108K in the 2012 Budget from road salt funds to consultant's fee to prepare streetscape drawings for DTOP Lake St.


Posted: May 16th, 2012 11:00 AM

Solutions; 1. Make the CIC process open and the CIC votes public. We still do not know why Barsotti was not appointed (rude and disrespectful are not reasons); 2. Have all nominees for the commission go before the Board for a full vote, not just the Presidents. 3. Open the process up to everyone, not just VMA or unknown citizens. The process is closed as is evident with Barsotti not even getting an appointment to the Farmers Market commission. Now get to work implementing these solutions.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 10:43 AM

Typical - it is a well known fact in OP that I am not running for any office in 2013. Because I have an interest in OP does not mean that I have ambitions for public office.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 10:40 AM

Enuf - Sorry, I misinterpreted portions of your post. I agree 100% with your latest post.


Posted: May 16th, 2012 9:45 AM

@Typical Give credit to John for at least trying to identify the problems. It's better than things currently where we have solutions to problems that don't exist & can't seem to understand the problems that do exist. lol Though I do agree, at least, that the community needs to start doing its own problem-solving. Oak Park can do better than A) the current leadership B) the VMA C) bickering about who is on commissions. I couldn't care less about the VMA if my road is crumbling.


Posted: May 16th, 2012 9:20 AM

JBM, you have a purpose? with meaning? It could have fooled me and many others. You dont give solutions? Ha. Another campaign slogan for you or any one you endorse. We identify all the problems (so called) and have no solution's! Perfect. Vote Murtagh 2013

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 16th, 2012 7:35 AM

@JMurtagh: you misunderstood my point. This is not a conflict of interest issue, rather one of exclusion and diversity. The CIC has excluded several well-qualified citizens on the Plan Commission for the perceived reason they had a personal agenda. At the same time, CIC Chair Jim Kelly has a publicly stated VMA pro-development personal agenda, as have other PC members. Therefore, CIC excludes those who viewpoints differ from VMA dogma, disallowing diversity of thought.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 10:57 PM

Typical - I assume I was the target of your post. First, guess what? I am not part of any group. I am as the WJ has called me -- Monolithic Man. My solo goal is to provide facts and encourage opinions. I am not trying to take down anyone or any organization. I am not a fan of the VMA and have provided many facts and opinions expressing that, though I do know and respect many of its members. As far as solutions go, I stay away from offering them until someone asks me specifically for my thoughts on a problem. Feel free to ask any serious questions you have or help on finding solutions to your problems. I offer no guarantees, but the price is free. That's what the WJ Comments is all about.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 9:48 PM

As per your MO- you are, AGAIN, using more energy on someone else and or some other group outside of your own. IF there are so many problems in your eyes, why dont you concentrate on solutions. Clearly you have none. The best option for you is to try to take down the previous, quite successful, group and or people. Shame on you as always.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 7:55 PM

I see no conflict of interest in Jim Kelly being CIC chairperson and a proponent of a Roosevelt TIF. Having an official village position (board, commission, employee,etc.) does not mean that officials should hesitate or avoid expressing their opinion on a public issues. We should be encouraging more residents to speak out, irrespective of viewpoint,not seeking to silence them. Even suggesting the possibility of a conflict of interest requires facts. Jim is an honored volunteer who has served multiple organizations. He is also a crafty politician. I admire his work in both arenas. That does not mean I am a VMA cheerleader!

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 6:32 PM

It should be also noted, that during the April 16 village board special meeting, Jim Kelly opined during public comment that the creation of a Roosevelt Road TIF District should be considered, and the Oak Park Board of Realtors should play a more collaborative role in development. Again, what influence does Kelly's pro-TIF, pro-development views have on his role as CIC Chair in placing residents on the Plan Commission?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 6:15 PM

Jim Kelly, CIC chair, co-managed the 2011 VMA political campaign for Trustees Johnson, Salzman & Tucker. As per his web page at Live Here Oak Park, his least favorite thing about living in OP is "the entrenched (and mostly aging) band of Luddites who think that if we just say 'no' to any type of change in Oak Park we can return to being some kind of bucolic enclave." Is it any wonder the Plan Commission is stacked with pro-development real estate interests aligned with VMA?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 5:29 PM

James Kelly, chair of the CIC posted a comment last week. He stated that politics does not factor in to the approval process. But has there been an ongoing and deliberate action to limit citizen involvement by excluding qualified individuals in favor of those with strong ties to the VMA or the local real estate businesses? Kelly did not go on the record regarding how many postions on the board and commissions are filled by people who are VMA dues payers. That would tell the real story here.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 5:17 PM

OP is only transparent in words, not actions. Every candidate has championed transparency, but they hide behind closed on anything that might be slightly controversial. There are plenty of other communities that are much more transparent than OP, just look at their website. Cicero lists in their regular agenda the law suits in which Cicero is involved in. River Forest lists shows how much they pay individual vendors and payrolls. OP never does nothing like that, just look.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 4:09 PM

Just checking, is what you're saying that we SHOULDN'T involve citizens in as many aspects of self-government as possible? lol Comparing us to neighbors saying "we're not THAT bad" is setting the bar pretty low. Heh. As for voting for Trustee, no rep is going to be perfect. *Just* picking the Board every 2 yrs does not make for a healthy, thriving democracy.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 4:02 PM

We don't need to go into either statistics or theories of government here, but both those statements are suspect. The survey had a huge number of older folks that needed adjusted in the numbers, the sampling was bad, etc.. I'm not saying EVERY issue needs to go before voters. That's why we have a VM, right, is for the daily grind? But the Trustees should be voting on a lot of policy matters based on either advisory referendums of voters, straw polls at town hall meetings, knocking on doors, etc.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 3:50 PM

No more drama!!


Posted: May 15th, 2012 3:49 PM

Every eligible Oak Park voter has his or her voice every 2 yrs to vote for whomever they choose. If thats not democratic, what is? To put every single issue "to the people" is ridiculous and inefficient. Oak Park is so much more open and transparent than so many communities surrounding Oak park. Be thankful. The survey says so much in which people were more than satisfied with so much of Oak Park. All the naysayers try to convince people that the survey is flawed. As usual.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 3:11 PM

In addition to Barsotti, I have talked directly with two local and very credible architects who were excluded from serving on the Plan Commission. One architect said he knew in the first minute of the CIC interview that he would not be recommended for one of the vacancies on the PC. Instead, after being denied, a local member of the OP Board of Realtors was selected. The other architect was recommended by the CIC for the PC, but was then denied by David Pope.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 2:51 PM

@Jim My wife & I have made several similar comments when driving by. That lot could have been something better--even temporarily--while we hash out what gets built or not. For goodness sake, plant some flowers. Put a bench up. A tent selling lemonade. A community garden. A playground. It's just depressing. That and the half-finished condos at South/Home.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 2:44 PM

Thanks, John, it's good(?) to be back. I had a lovely vacation w/my kids in another state. It was so nice to leave IL we nearly stayed gone. lol Just a word about criticism...we need more of it. We need ideas about how to improve. We have some serious problems in the village & more heads means more potential solutions. I would think smart leadership would be begging for people to come knock on their doors with "what can I do for you?" The lack of that speaks volumes, IMO.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 2:22 PM

Speaking of Sertus, Village Hall needs to contact the developer and order that the overgrown weed patch at Forest and Lake be cleared. We are getting into the tourism season and should not welcome visitors to our Village with what appears to be neglected vacant lot. A homeowner would certainly be cited and face fines if those conditions existed on their property. Come on, Sertus. Be a good neighbor!

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 1:57 PM

Kyle - Nice to have you back in town. Your comments on using the 2013 elections to increase the communications flow to the residents and to loosen the VMA stranglehold on the Plan Commission is on the mark. The posts on this blog by Dave Barsotti and Trustee Ray Johnson are a great example the collusion that goes on in OP. The collusion is not just manipulating the commission appointment process, it includes disqualification of eligible residents. Barsotti was a highly informed, fact driven opponent of the Sertus Proposal. He had one fault -- he was too talented and got under the skin of the board. When he applied to serve on a commission, he was disqualified by the Community Involvement Commission from service on ALL commission. Why? that was never made public. He just received a letter from the Village Clerk saying he was not qualified to sit on of the commissions he had requested. That is he was disqualified for being too qualified!


Posted: May 15th, 2012 12:37 PM

(cont) Increase numbers on each panel & then have quorum rules. Give each commission power to kick members off for ethics with appeals powers to the Board or an oversight panel. There's a million ways you could go to reform. It's something the Trustees could take up, but--again--I'd prefer to see it before the electorate instead. Everything that goes on should be bottom-up, not top-down.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 12:36 PM

Business ownership shouldn't get a say on what happens here, IMO. Too much conflict of interest. I think they should give input, but the deciders should be residents-only. Just because you own a dry cleaners or a cafe you get to steer what happens on my block? Other than that, I think the only requirements should be a registered OP voter without a criminal record. First to apply gets the open seat. But there are other things that could be done to open the process...

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 12:11 PM

Jim C - 8-1 Eligibility The members of most commissions must reside in Oak Park. A few commissions explicitly accept members who do not live in Oak Park but own businesses located in Oak Park, or who hold some specific position within Oak Park. Nonresidents who are employed by a nonprofit organization located in Oak Park may apply. Their nonresidency must be noted on their application and on any recommendation made to the Village Board.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 12:10 PM

And, furthermore, neither of us nor anybody here knows how people feel about how we're being governed...because nobody ever bothers to ask! lol If you think you know how the majority of Oak Parkers feel, you're just guessing. The only way to properly do it is to let people speak with a ballot. Everything else is just hot air. Put more issues up to more votes. Period.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 12:06 PM

That's fine if people like how things are being run. They can choose that. My larger point is that we should all have that choice. More democracy, not less. This whole thread about who is on a commission & who is being left out goes away if you just include everybody. It's not hard. Other communities do it. I'm really less concerned about the result than the process. If it's equitable then the result is less suspicious.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 11:51 AM

Kyle you are assuming people are unhappy with how decisions are made. If your sampling is the OP.Com comment section then you are misinformed. Oak Park is thriving and people are out shopping and dinning. You can hardly find parking in DTOP on any given day. Clearly the majority of people who post here are unhappy and feel disenfranchised. There will always be some who cant play well with others and will play the part of the victim. From my angle i think people are happy with how Oak Park is.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 11:02 AM

Thanks, Enuf. It seems an insider would have a certain advantage and could possibly reap some benefits if all goes according to plan. Reminds me of the $50K payment the trustees approved to the folks who acted as middlemen in the purchase of the Westgate property. It was explained that the way they worked deal actually saved taxpayer money and the cash payment was just a small token of board's appreciation to some very civic minded and well connected individuals.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 10:24 AM

@JimCoughlin: as per Village Code, Plan Commissioners shall be selected "on the basis of their particular fitness for their duty ... ". Despite this charge, for the past 10 years, the Plan Commission has been disproportionately seeded primarily from two pools; members of OP Board of Realtors, and those employed by real estate development firms. Local development provides benefits to most anyone from these two pools, such as realtors, attorneys, appraisers, financiers, etc.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 9:33 AM

(cont) As I've said before, the problem isn't the VMA. The problem isn't even the current leadership...the problem is that more people in this community need to be included in how our money is spent, what our priorities are, and we need better ways for good ideas to filter up from neighbors to Village Hall. Fix that & this whole conversation about who has power is moot.


Posted: May 15th, 2012 9:33 AM

Been reading along while out of town, but wasn't able to respond: My general comment about the whole issue is that almost 100% of our problems could be solved w/more democracy. More citizens, more involved, making more choices about the direction of Oak Park. Not just at "election time" but everyday. The decisions of 100 or 1000 people sit better than the decisions of a few. If democratic bad decisions are made, that's our own fault as citizens. At least everybody had a say.

@ Devfelopment 104  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 8:50 AM

Anyone who thinks every dollar spent in government will generate 2 dollars in new revenue is delusional. You must be living in your barf world again.

Dev 103  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 8:46 AM

Build it ......and they/it will come. Just becasue YOU haven't been to J J's should mean that it doesn't do well? Ha. The barf is penetrating your brain(again)!

Development 104  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 8:35 AM

Development 104: a study of Just how much did it cost and how much did it bring in? Tasty Dog cost he taxpayers $1,000,000.00 dollars. The corner store at the building that across from tasty dog has been empty for how long? I have been tot he jimmy john's 4 times tops. and of the other projects mentioned in 103, how many used tif dollars? Oh, and you need the napkin more than I do;you have something at tip of your nose. Barf, Silly comes form within, you got yours by, oh never mind dirty birdie

Dev 103  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 8:22 AM

How much extra and new tax dollars were generated from just the projects I listed? How many new bodies were brought to Oak Park, that otherwise would not be here? Here's a napkin you have some barf on your cheek.

Dev 103  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 8:19 AM

Tasty Dog, town homes across from Fire station, Ridgeland and N Blvd( Edible arrangements), Cuyler and N Blvd(old Blue cab), Jimmy Johns building (old Tasty Dog), New condos across kiddie corner from old Tasty Dog, Condos (old PO Bldg), Townhouses across from Fitzgeralds, Ave Garage, Parking lot(colt Building), FFC/RSC(Maple Furriers),Etc. Etc Etc....

Development 102  

Posted: May 15th, 2012 7:45 AM

Development 102 is the course that follows Development 101. In this class we will deprogram all the students who took development 101 with Professor VMA. It will be a case study course based on Whiteco, HS Parking lot, SOHO(south and Home) The Colt building, Holley Court Garage and many other "screw ups" ala Jamie Diamon. Barf bags will be provided and there will be a brief safety instruction before each course about placing head between knees as we descend into development 101's teachings.

Development 101  

Posted: May 14th, 2012 3:37 PM

Realestate development equals tax dollars from both residential property taxes as well as commercial sales tax. Residential development also equates into more bodies shopping in our community to again, pay more sales tax dollars. Why would anyone want to develop? Economic viability is the answer. Forward not backward.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 14th, 2012 12:51 PM

Enuf, I was intrigued by your comment regarding the Plan Commission. Are you able elaborate on what you consider to be examples of the influence/impact that the real estate industry has on the process? It's my understanding that only Oak Park residents are eligible to serve on our various citizens' advisory boards and commissions. Is there an exception for non-residents who own property in Oak Park?


Posted: May 14th, 2012 12:43 PM

Because Wah no one votes for them, they get little $$ support so now they come on here an whine and whine and over sensationalize everything and then call people who disagree with them 'childish'. Ever watch or go to a board meeting, you'll never see so many children and they're not on the VMA side. Waaaaaaaaa.

Wah Wah Wah  

Posted: May 14th, 2012 11:20 AM

Then start you own group as you like. Get elected and start a new day in your terms. Will you still be jealous of democracy? Dont hate the player hate the system. Enuf, you care more about the VMA this and the VMA that, then what you can do to make it better for yourself. If your strategy is to defame people and groups, you have succeeded. Now only if you had a minutia of a plan. LoL

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 14th, 2012 10:50 AM

By filtering out diversity & variation of opinions via the Citizen Involvement Commission, the VMA has doomed the Plan Commission and Village Board to eventually become an ideological inbred pool of like-minded groupthink, incapable of providing the creative & adaptive change needed by Oak Park. Cut from the same VMA cloth, VOP leadership from Trapani to Pope and now prospective board president Johnson, are only capable repeating the same mistakes, from Whiteco to Sertus.

Wah Wah Wah  

Posted: May 13th, 2012 12:17 PM

It certainly is amusing to see how much energy and time is given to say what the VMA is or is not by people who have no clue. Why dont people just focus on what you want and can do instead of trying to focus on a group that you clearly dont like or trust. Will the candidate(s) be a VMA hater or someone that has their own plan that just may differ from the VMA. Enuf already. Political baloney at its finest. Oak Park deserves MUCH, MUCH more!! Thats all.

VMA doesn't speak for me (apparently) from OP  

Posted: May 13th, 2012 10:08 AM

Given the childish reactions from Ray Johnson and various VMA supporters, I think my initial reaction to doubt the VMA is affirmed. The line "one party to represent all diverse interests in OP" is scary...especially when it is made clear in actions and processes that any opinions that aren't just like Johnson's (or Pope's or Silly's....whatever, they are all the same) are not welcome. Let's abolish this form of village government and take out these local bureaucrats in one fell swoop.

OPPC from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 9:54 PM

Oak Park Plan Commission is an oxymoron. I suppose the VMA has a plan. They claim the plan is transparent and then they continue to make decisions that amaze everyone (and not in a good way).

Wah Wah Wah  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 5:16 PM

Thank God we have Murtagh, Barsotti and Coughlin to save Oak Park. How would we survive otherwise?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 4:05 PM

If the Citizens Involvement Committee is to serve the interests of the entire community there have to be measures enacted to protect the integrity of the process. This is not to suggest that the current chairperson and members have acted inappropriately.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 2:36 PM

@JBMurtagh ... yes, the Plan Commission is the VMA proving ground for the village board. If one puts in time on the Plan Commission and proves their value by voting to support VMA directives, they are proven as village board viable. Trustee Tucker took a slightly different route via the Community Design Commission, but held a similar capacity as chair of the DTOP Sub Area Plan Steering Committee. VMA is all about control and exclusion, while flying the diversity banner.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 2:21 PM

Enuf - I would go one step further by stating that the CIC is the gateway to a board seat with the Plan Commission being the path. Johnson, Lueck, Pope, and Lueck served "together" on the Plan Commission when the Greater Downtown Oak Park Development was conceived. They all reached the board between 2003 (Johnson, Pope) 2007 (Hale), 2008 (Lueck - appointed by board). In 2009 and 2010, the years of "fiscal responsibility"), their votes on downtown development project showed that "fiscal responsibility" was a resident burden only. Spending on ill-fated TIF money continued full steam ahead despite the lack of ROI on completed projects or a recognition by the board that the TIF were badly underfunded.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 1:37 PM

Thank you, Trustee Ray Johnson (aka 'Spilled Milk') for proving my point with your below response.

Spilled Milk  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 1:15 PM

Wah Wah Wah

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 12:25 PM

The Citizen Involvement Commission (CIC) is the VMA gatekeeper for controlling key citizen commissions, such as the Plan Commission, ZBA and Community Design Commission. There is a reason why Jim Kelly is the CIC chair, same reason as for previous CIC chairs. To control key commissions, VMA only needs to seed them with a chair and a few commissioners, so as to ensure majority control. This leveraging ploy allows a relatively small VMA group to control downtown development.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 11:59 AM

Thanks for the insight, Enuf. We're learning how appointments are actually made to the citizen commissions and advisory boards. Determining whether or not an Oak Park resident is approved or rejected appears to be the sole discretion of Jim Kelly and CIC. According to Ray Johnson, the board doesn't review applications or conduct interviews and serves only to make appointments official. Delegating duties and relinquishing control isn't the best way to promote the process or serve the community.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 11:11 AM

Listen carefully to Ray Johnson words, as it exemplifies VMA's policy of exclusion. While continually encouraging OP citizens to volunteer for citizen commissions, if Ray Johnson perceives a citizen having a different viewpoint than VMA, that citizen will be vilified as having a personal 'agenda', and disqualified from serving on citizens commissions. This is contradictory to the very essence of OP's Diversity Statement "that encourages the contributions of all citizens%

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 10:56 AM

Having tracked the Plan Commission for the past ten years, it is readily apparent that it has been stacked by the VMA and real estate industry, so as to ensure a majority of pro-development commissioners. The VMA uses the Plan Commission for those with aspirations for the village board, such as Pope, Johnson, Lueck, Hale et al. Others are employed in the real estate industry to serve and protect development interests. This manipulation is found in the public record.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 12th, 2012 12:07 AM

The Citizens for Responsible Leadership slate of Pope, Powell, Brewer, Hedges and Lueck all signed on to a promise to lead by being transparent. Campaigning in our last election, Johnson, Salzman and Tucker took it a step further and promised greater transparency. That's why it's fair for people to expect transparency in government. Now, let's hear from our elected officials about what has been accomplished during their time on the board that has increased transparency in Oak Park government.


Posted: May 11th, 2012 9:25 PM

All you ever ask for is transparency and answers.You tirelessly blame the VMA for not being transparent or forthcoming. When you get it/them, you blame Trustees for giving you what you want? What am I missing. More political BUNK!! Go Home

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 7:26 PM

Ray Johnson, regarding People Soft, you were very upset on the Village channel directed to Page 3. Pope looked at you and you stopped being outraged. Why was that and why had it never been mentioned what was on Page 3.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 6:29 PM

From: PROCEDURAL MANUAL for Boards, Commissions, and Commitees Chapter 11-Disqualifictions (of commission candidates) on page 30 of the manual states, "At present, the only two reasons held to be legitimate are KNOWN PRIOR ABUSE OF AUTHORITY and DELIBERATE MISSTATEMENTS MADE DURING THE INTERVIEW PROCESS OR ON THE APPLICATION FORM. The manual has no evidence that rude and disrespectful conduct unsuitable for a potential commissioner is grounds for "Disqualification". Also in the PROCEDURAL MANUAL 8-12 Voting on (candidate) Recommendations, "The deliberations of the CIC are closed, and therefore can make no final decisions. The recommendations arising from deliberations must be confirmed by vote during an open meeting (or open meeting segment). Recommendations must be read aloud before a vote is taken and recorded in the minutes of the meeting. Nothing is mentioned specifically in the manual regarding whether the reason for "Disqualification" is part of the open meeting portion of the CIC deliberations.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 5:07 PM

Trustee Johnson - As my post was not sent to you, but the WJ Comment readers, I see no reason to have a telephone conversation with you on an issue that you clearly want to limit. Additionally, since the issue has legal implications on malfeasance by the Community Involvement Commission in the Barsotti commission rejections, I would prefer not to be involved in discussions with those that are directly or peripherally involved.

David Barsotti  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 3:18 PM

Mr. Johnson, the Illinois Attorney General said you and the Village Board violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act. The facts do not support your statement to the contrary. In regards to why I was not appointed, I still do not know and your statements are nothing but conjecture for you said that you were not involved in my application. You provide no facts to support your borderline slanderous statements and claims. I left you a message to discuss further and hope that you return my call.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 3:12 PM

@Ray Johnson: I agree with you that offensive comments have been posted on this forum and I've expressed my objections to both the forum moderator and Dan Haley. My concern with your post relates to a belief that the rejection of Mr. Barsotti's application should have been treated as a personnel issue and protected as private and confidential. You and I have engaged in discussions on this forum and I appreciate that you express yourself in a civil and respectful manner. We disagree in this case.


Posted: May 11th, 2012 2:46 PM

Here we go again Coughlin. You don't control the content of this board, moreover you're a huge hypocrite. Ok maybe instead of rude and disrescpectful we can say he's too big of a pain in the rear to be of any value to anyone but Coughlin/Murtaugh and the rest of the people who have nothing better to do all day but hang out here and claim it as their home?

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 2:08 PM

@ Mr. Barsotti: Having a 1:1 conversation with the President of the Village does not violate the Open Meetings Act. @ Mr. Coughlin: There is a litany of examples of personal attacks, some quite vile and mostly posted anonymously, within this forum. I stand by my comment, but of course defer to the WJ to delete posts they find offensive. Frankly, there seemed to be a request for the rationale behind a non-appointment -- so I provided my perspective. Now that folks have it, they want it deleted?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 1:51 PM

I object to Trustee Johnson publicly discussing the reasons that resulted in the CIC's rejection of David Barsotti's application. Rude and disrespectful behavior is unacceptable and can be cited as a reason for not allowing an individual to serve on on a public commission. That information would have better been conveyed via a private meeting or by letter. This forum is offered to promote a public discourse and I request that Trustee Johnson's post be deleted for privacy violations.

David Barsotti  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 1:24 PM

.....Then there is the violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act that you participated in violating, even though you campaigned on transparency. The one thing I will not miss about OP is Johnson's and the Board's misrepresentation of the facts and the need smear one's character on those who disagree with them.

David Barsotti  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 1:20 PM

@Johnson, I take offence to your comments that I am "rude and disrespectful." Questioning the Board's statements and the facts the Board presents does not make one "rude and disrespectful." I have never tried to set or create policy. I just tried to get the Village Board and the various commissions to follow Illinois law and OP ordinances. The PC has routinely ignored various aspects of the OP Zoning Ordinances; Subsection I.3.b, Subsection I.4.a, and Subsection I.4.b, to name a few.....

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 12:36 PM

@ Mr. Murtagh (or any other interested party): I am more than open to a conversation regarding my posting, so please feel free to call me at 708.358.5788. I'm happy to talk by phone, or meet in person. I am not going to debate this issue further via this forum.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 12:08 PM

Johnson quote "David B. knows exactly why he wasn't recommended for a commission, and it is related to multiple instances of rude and disrespectful conduct unsuitable for a potential commissioner." If a person is deprived of serving on an Oak Park Commission the reason should be explained. Who decided that David's behavior was rude and disrespectful? What incidents determined that he was unfit? Who made the decision that he was rude and disrespectful and what is the criteria for the categorization? Who made the decision (three times) that his conduct was sufficiently inappropriate to disallow serving on a village commission? Was the decision made by the CIC and does it appear in the minutes? Was the decision made by the CIC chair? If his name was never submitted to the board, how is that Johnson was so thoroughly briefed on the Barsotti's behavior that he is willing to go public with the details? Has Johnson violated any of Barsotti's rights; particularly his right to interview for a commission appointment in private and with the right to confidentiality?

Ray Johnson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 11th, 2012 10:43 AM

@ Really and others: I have voted to appoint every single person recommended by the Citizen Involvement Commission and formally presented by the President to the Village Board. Indeed, the list has included some really strong critics of the Village, the VMA, and me. I don't mind having a robust set of views represented on our commissions, but I won?t favor appointments of people who by their own conduct and statements have agendas to pursue and aspirations of setting policy. I will say in regards to David Barsotti, (who was not formally presented to the Village board under the Presidents purview and legal authority), David B. knows exactly why he wasn't recommended for a commission, and it is related to multiple instances of rude and disrespectful conduct unsuitable for a potential commissioner.? Since he?s no longer an Oak Park resident, why does he feel compelled to continue contributing his inaccurate stories?

Really David B? from Oak Park  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 10:33 PM

"The Board does not like descent and will not appoint anyone that has questioned the Board's policies." Weather oar knot ewe werr appointted mae half moore too due with other reasons.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 9:46 PM

The question remains and the best way to dispute Anna Churin's charge is for the chair of the planning commission to disclose exactly how many members would also say they are VMA dues payers. "Not that there's anything wrong with that!". Gloria Merrill identifies herself as a "loyal VMA member" who served on the Planning Commission but offered evidence that she did not act to rubber-stamp proposals reviewed by the commission. That still might be the case. Let's clear this up and move on, please

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 9:41 PM

Dear @JBM - I was just responding to a question from Yo Butch Murtagh. Didn't mean to ruffle you feathers.


Posted: May 10th, 2012 9:25 PM

Whats the problem EVEN if there were ALL VMA members on commissions? What if there were none? VMA is a CROSS SECTION of Oak Park. Go over your self. VMA is Good for Oak Park. Just becasue you happen to NOT be a member of the VMA ,you try to paint them with a single color brush. No No. Mr Murtagh, it doesnt work that way sir.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 9:20 PM

To: Yo Butch from Oak Park -- You compare the VMA membership roster to the OP Commissioner roster. The OP Commissioner roster is public record. The VMA roster is private. Because of the private nature, it would have to be a member, preferably a VMA officer, that would have to provide the comparison. That should not be a problem - there is no shortage of VMA officers and directors on village commissions.

Party of None  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 8:21 PM

Saying someone is a member of a group when there is only one group(that is organized with legs) in Oak Park is like asking which OP Newspaper do you read? You have a big selection of '2"! God forbid the board stack the commissions with Oak Leaves readers. Errrr

Yo Butch from Oak Park  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 4:26 PM

Hey Butch....if the CIC doesn't track political affiliation, how do you propose the information be collected? You seem to now suggest the CIC should ASK every commissioner their political affiliation?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 4:24 PM

Patricia, rather than get in to the specifics involving the application of Mr. Barsotti; I was hoping that Mr. Kelly would be able to provide an explanation of how CIC makes a decision to accept or reject a candidate. The particulars of a case may and probably should be protected by a confidentiality agreement.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 2:51 PM

Silly, I'm sure that's not the only person who called/calls for something outside of the party line you would say that about.


Posted: May 10th, 2012 2:46 PM

Real Simple. Look no further.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 2:23 PM

Jim, actions speak louder than words. It seems in the Barsotti case, the action taken sends a message quite different than what Mr. Kelly is stating below. I hear what Mr. Kelly is saying, but it's the action I really listen to. And no one who is responding to these calls for information is commenting (on either thread) on why Mr. Barsotti was denied an appt. Truth too ugly to state?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 2:08 PM

I appreciate James Kelly providing more information regarding the application and approval process. I'm not sure there has been an explanation of why a person might be rejected by the CIC. It is however welcome news that political affiliation is not a consideration. Perhaps Mr. Kelly would be willing to provide some additional details and address questions relating to the number of VMA members who currently serve as chairs and how many of the 160 commission slots are filled by party loyalists.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 1:03 PM

Hi Jim - I think the real question that is raising angst is Dave Barsotti's comment that he sought three different commission appointments and received none. I doubt that David was denied a position due to lack of skill. His work on Sertus proved he was capable of serving on any one of the commissions. While I understand how difficult it is to track the comings and goings of commissioners, question re Barsotti appointment and how many chairperson are VMA members seems to be fair information that residents have a right to request. Best Regards.

James Kelly from Oak Park  

Posted: May 10th, 2012 12:09 PM

I've been a member of the Citizen Involvement Commission for 5 years, the last 2 as Chair. To keep 160 commissioner positions filled, we market broadly - including in the FYI sent to EVERY household in Oak Park. We interview applicants and forward appointment recommendations to the Village Board. We NEVER ask applicants about political affiliations and NEVER make determinations on that basis. There's an online application at


Posted: May 10th, 2012 8:37 AM

The question isn't about amounts of VMA-backers & opponents on a commission. The question is whether said commission is an independent voice to the Board that has gotten a realistic gauge of public wants/needs on policy. They don't work for the Board, they work for citizens. There's the issue.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 11:47 PM

@Patricia - feel free to ask me any questions you have. Yes, I became a member of the Community Relations Commission in April of 2008. In October 2008, I was chosen by the other commissioners to be chairperson in October 2008. The board approved the appointment in November 2008. Spectacular rise because of my skills? Hardly! Five of the members on the commission were VMA. None of them ran for the chair. They treated the chair role as being a ceremonial and clerical role that they distained. Their thinking seemed to be, Why be chairperson when the five VMA votes controlled the commission I stayed on the commission until January, 2010 and resigned. My resignation was 100% caused by the political manipulations of the VMA commissioners. I am proud of my time on the commission. If you would like to name the VMA commissions, just ask. I would be happy to answer any questions you have.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 11:24 PM

David Barsotti did an incredible amount of research for two years on the Sertus Project. His research was spot on. His presentations to the Plan Commission, board etc. was outstanding. He should be getting a citizen's award for service to OP, not a blast from those who contribute little to the village's discourse.

OP Resident from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 9:54 PM

"...the VMA has been so effective since 1952." At what? Running the board on elections that nobody bothers to vote in? Seems that there's a whole lot of people here that aren't too happy with the state of the village. So what, other than filling seats and serving its own agenda, has the VMA been effective at?

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 9:32 PM

As usual you talk in absolutes. I am with Jim Coughlin. What are the percentages? Also, important to point out that my Dad was on a commission before he became outspoken. When appointed he wouldn't have been considered a threat.


Posted: May 9th, 2012 9:29 PM

Mrs O Shea, was your Dad, John Murtagh a Chairperson of a committee? Is he a VMA member? As far as I know there is only one party that is OPEN to ALL in Oak Park. That fact that the boards and commissions are filled with "active " Oak Park people is not alarming. The VMA has roots in Oak Park. Whats so alarming here?

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 9:22 PM

LOL Silly! If the Village President/Board were looking for unbiased people commissions wouldn't be so seeded with one party! It was so obvious during the Comcast hearings with the plan commission it was laughable! VMA members could barely contain the verbal winks and slaps on the back. Good grief. Also, confident governors welcome conflict as a vetting tool. Those who are threatened by the thought of their plans being truly vetted don't.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 8:56 PM

D Barsotti has been an out right vocal critic of projects that this board has approved. Why would any good natured person want to have an enemy or someone that they disagree with be a part of any process? They arent asking for drama, they are asking for unbiased approaches. David Barsotti IS NOT THAT! Thanks

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 8:30 PM

Gloria Merrill's description of herself as a "loyal VMA member" should not have been a determining factor in the board's approval of her appointment to the Plan Commission. Nor should the fact that Daid Barsotti does not belong to the party resulted in a rejection of his application. It certainly appears that VMA membership is a factor in the approval process. Let's see the actual numbers! The reported actions of Village Clerk Powell in the screening of applicants should be of great concern.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 8:00 PM

The VMA does appoint non-VMA candidates. If they are any good, they then try to recruit them. David Barsotti is not the only person I know of that was outright rejected by the CIC. Perhaps since commission appointments are an agenda, so should rejections. As far as skill sets for the commissions -- not much!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 4:36 PM

David, your experience in trying to obtain approval to serve on Oak Park citizen commissions indicates a troubling policy. I hope you have kept a copy of letter you received and that Village Clerk Powell agrees to explain her decision to reject your application. Are you a rare exception or is this SOP under VMA control? What exactly has been the board's position regarding appointing a citizen who is not a VMA member and has it requested input from their political party's leadership?

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 4:27 PM

I'd be willing to bet that at somepoint someone said to you, "If you're not involved you don't get to have an opinion." You were vocal and as a result you were not allowed to be involved. Interesting.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 4:22 PM

That is shocking David. What qualifications are required for Farmer's Market exactly? Must have VMA or be a farmer perhaps?

David Barsotti  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 4:12 PM

The Board does not like descent and will not appoint anyone that has questioned the Board's policies. I applied for 3 vacant commission seats (zoning, planning, and farmer market) 3 years ago. I met with the CIC and Linda Bolte. I then received a letter from Teresa Powell stating that I was not qualified to sit on any commission in OP. This was disingenuous for she could not provide a reason(s) why I was not qualified. I would not be rubber stamp for the VMA which seems to be a prequalifica

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 3:17 PM

Gloria Merrill's response to Anna Churin raised an interesting question. How many citizens who serve as chairs or members on citizen advisory commissions and committees also belong to the VMA? I'm sure membership in any political organization is not a prerequisite to an appointment by the board. If Ms. Merrill is correct that stacking does not exist in any form, it would seem easy to prove. I'm sure the directors of the VMA should be able to provide that information.


Posted: May 9th, 2012 9:07 AM

Observer, you hit on the true problem...which is not the views of members in the commission system. The problem is the commission system itself needing to be more democratic. To be effective, it needs to run outside the Village Trustees & advisory opinions need to have more weight with Board members. Or there are other ways to make the process more resident-run. As it is now, why would anyone want to sit on a meaningless panel?


Posted: May 9th, 2012 8:36 AM

All commissions serve at the pleasure of the President, hence the process is only open to those that he/she wants. The CIC is a front to pretend that the process is open to everyone. If it was truly an open process then the CIC could tell an applicant the qualifications needed for serve on a Commission. The CIC cannot tell applicants the requirements to sit on a commission. Consequently the commissions are staked contrary to Ms. Merrill's view.

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