Comcast project concentrates poor in poor part of Oak Park

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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The funny thing about facts is everyone seems to have one. They're seldom checked but often relied on. As was the case with the board's decision on Comcast [Comcast project gets enthused OK, News, May 25].

If President Pope and trustees Johnson, Hedges and others checked their village files, they'd have lots of data on the "neighborhood" surrounding the Comcast building. The YMCA proceedings provided reams of it. Among the findings the trustees understood a couple years ago, based on U.S. Census data, the neighborhood comprising census tract 8128 was found to be as follows:

Tract 8128 (the "neighborhood") is the most densely populated in Oak Park;

It is the most racially diverse;

It is one of the poorest;

It has one of the highest concentrations of rental units; and

It has one of the highest concentrations of affordable housing in Oak Park.

How's that for meeting Oak Park's diversity goals? Not sure where the median household income statistic came from ("developers say the tenants [who would earn $26,300 or less] will take public transportation, and the development will lead to economic integration of the neighborhood, as the median income nearby is about $86,000," according the Journal article).

But that is just plain false and misleading. Period. Based on data available, the U.S. Census Bureau's American FactFinder estimates the median household income of the neighborhood to be $44,069 compared with Oak Park Township's $59,183 (P53, File 3).

So the reality is the median household income of the neighborhood is 25 percent less than the village average and 50 percent of the developer's estimate. So where were the village's fact-checkers when the developers presented their facts? I guess the reality of the board's decision was to concentrate even more poor into the one of the poorest neighborhoods in Oak Park. Sound planning indeed.

Brian K. Lantz
Oak Park

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john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 12th, 2011 6:45 PM

As long as we remember that all politicians and corporate executives are NOY criminals. Identifying those that are require a rifle not a machine gun. Too often we want to categorize them all as one enemy. Bad move, it creates a bacteria-like hiding place for the bad one to do their dirty deeds. I also think that we should be concentration on incompetence more than criminal behavior. Incompetence can be corrected.

Another OP resident  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 4:28 PM

That's right, Jim.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 4:13 PM

Politicians and corporate criminals love it when the masses are distracted. They want us to engage and energerize over social issues like gun control, reproductive rights, union contracts, flag pins, etc.,. While we are busy arguing and pointing fingers at each other; the real threats to our standard of living have been emptying the national treasury and destroying the middle class. The Bush tax cuts for the top 1% did increase their wealth but negative job growth for the nation. Know the enemy!


Posted: June 9th, 2011 3:34 PM

You're very amusing, epic lulz. You alays make me laugh.

epic lulz  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 3:21 PM

It's quite amusing for someone who thinks that $44k/yr is "poor" to call me a limousine lib. Sure, not all opponents to the project are limousine libs. Some are just plain old fashioned bigots. And to those bigots I would like to sincerely apologize for lumping them in with the limo libs.


Posted: June 9th, 2011 1:43 PM

Good to see limo libs like Epic calling people who objected to this project because of its flaws "limousine libs"....

epic lulz  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 1:33 PM

The only notion more ridiculous than that $26k/yr is "poor" is that $44k/yr is "poor". You limousine libs are completely and disgustingly out of touch with reality.

Brian Lantz  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 12:13 PM

Mr. Borderman. That wasn't my point, but, you know that. This location is better than the "Donut", previously proposed by the same characters. Neighborhoods, as defined by the proponents tend to shrink or enlarege to fit the situation. This project is needed for the region! Or this 86K neighborhood will benefit from economic diversity! Forget the 12 other census tracts in OP. Or forget all the planning and stats OP's paid for previously - it doesn't matter, elections over!!!


Posted: June 9th, 2011 9:13 AM

Last time I checked, there were no consultants that the Village hired or had to hire for the Comcast project. They made the "Wright" decision and we should be proud as Oak Parkers.

OP Resident  

Posted: June 9th, 2011 2:23 AM

John, I'm sure this is not the case with all of the consultants hired by the board but it does seem that the trustees tend to seek an opinion from an expert who's final report will support their position. How often does a consulting report come back to the board that finds a plan/proposal is not feasible? I recall the Park Disrict received an expert opinion who advised spending $100 mil to redo Ridgeland Common. Obviously a ridiculous recommendation but one that taxpayers paid to have produced.

alaCartoon from OP  

Posted: June 8th, 2011 11:39 PM has another viewpoint...


Posted: June 8th, 2011 11:34 PM

I don't live near Madison so I'll just sit back and watch with the rest of the village government and interfaith to see how their little social experiment pans out. It's nice that the decision makers get to put the lab rats all together in their maze and prod them from a distance.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 8th, 2011 10:38 PM

Hi OP Resident - Good point - It is critical on any project for the consultant to exit and an objective body (staff, commission, etc.) prepare the final report before the governing body votes. Of course that only works when the governing body can constrain their project biases. Would such an objective approach work in OP? Who knows, but it would sure make for some improvisation board meetings rather than the staged events we have had lately.

Mr. Borderman from Oak Park  

Posted: June 8th, 2011 9:40 AM

I agree, Brian. The Village should immediately cancel this project, acquire a four lot parcel adjacent to Lindberg Park by Eminent Domain, and build there. This will prevent the addition of more poor folks to Shantytown (as us'n's who live there call it) and give the rich folks up north a chance to make some new friends. In the meantime, we lower class types will try to stay on our side of town and not bother our betters north or Lake Street.


Posted: June 8th, 2011 7:36 AM

Oak Park continues to shine. Never a perfect utopia, but trying to improve day by day. Week by week. Year by year. The peanut gallery never ceases to amaze me. Ha.

OP Resident  

Posted: June 8th, 2011 1:46 AM

What you are describing John relates to a common complaint about the Village board's excessive spending on consultants. How this works is that the board gets an idea and decides that they need to hire an "expert" who'll validate their position. The paid consultant soon returns to the trustees with a report confirming the board is correct and should proceed. And every year and every board continues to spend millions for these reports while our streets,sewers, sidewalks and alleys are neglected.


Posted: June 8th, 2011 1:01 AM

All the things you mentioned make it a great fit for the neighbor hood. I also think the Comcast site/building makes for a perfect fit. I'm sure you'll agree in a short few yrs mi lad.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 8th, 2011 12:54 AM

Hi Brian - great piece of research. (My comments that follow are not applicable to the Comcast Proposal only.) The problem that OP needs to face is its inability to gather facts, verify them, and use them objectively. The existing process of tossing out unverified facts that fit the political moment, massaging them,and using them to pedal pre-conceived viewpoints is a cause of its development losing streak. OP's Info Management and Website is a disgrace as is its analytic capabilities.

OP Resident  

Posted: June 7th, 2011 10:25 PM

Brian, my lad. The village is the developer. Therefore, no need to check facts, silly. They just lied about it.

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