We are all well aware that, for the first time in over 50 years, a majority of elected officials sitting on the Oak Park village board were not slated by the Village Manager Association. What's not clear yet is how the fledgling organization?#34;for now called the New Leadership Coalition?#34;that slated the winning candidates is going to carry on relations with the new majority.
From what we gather, it appears the group is busy getting its feet wet and trying to sort out its future, which is good to see. There is, however, already one idea on the table that we find a bit creepy: "monitoring" trustees. According to a suggestion posted by an NLC member on an insider message board that eventually made its way to us, "monitoring" would involve sending a group representative to every board meeting, who would later report board activities back to the group. This concept, to us, seems over-the-top and paranoid. These trustees are now elected officials representing, to use a cliché, all of Oak Park. They are not stooges to be called on the carpet by the NLC whenever it gets its undies in a bunch over a particular vote. This is, in fact, one strategy that CARE employed in the 1980s that only made the group look like squabbling kids. That group, by the way, imploded and eventually veered off the political landscape.
Despite the message posting, a member of NLP downplayed the notion that such an idea was being taken so seriously. There will be no "acid test for allegiance to the platform," he says. This, we hope will be true?#34;that some of the more politically savvy group members can calm those that find it difficult to restrain themselves from micro managing.
Instead, we would hope the NLC would put its energy toward finding a strategy that lies somewhere between the VMA's (of taking no position whatsoever on contentious issues) and scribbling down at what time a trustee sneezed.
The VMA's say-nothing policy is, we believe, in part what has made it hard for average people to relate to it. As the VMA goes through its re-organization process, we would hope they may consider being a more visible entity between elections.
One point made by VMA President Gene Armstrong this week that we agree with is that serving as a trustee should be an ultimately rewarding experience. Having your supporters apply constant pressure on you and scrutinize every move, doesn't sound that rewarding to us.
Let River Forest vote
One contemplated new policy we do support, however, is legislation proposed by Sen. Don Harmon that would allow River Forest residents to join Oak Park and Berwyn in voting for a Cicero Township Trustees of School representative. While we don't recommend District 90 join the organization, School District 200 does serve River Forest and is an important part of that community. Giving River Forest residents the ability to vote may be a small reform to this strange government body, but an important one.