Oak Park Village President defends right to make commission recommendations

Abu-Taleb says Plan Commission's vital role creates urgency


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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Village President Anan Abu-Taleb says a disagreement between him and members of the village board at a meeting last week about his attempted appointment to the Plan Commission is a "distraction that doesn't need to exist."

Abu-Taleb had sidestepped the Citizen Involvement Commission (CIC) in seeking to recommend Oak Park architect Garret Eakin to the village board for appointment to the Plan Commission, which reviews economic development proposals in the village. Potential appointees typically are vetted by the CIC in a process that involves meeting with the CIC board, attending a meeting of the commission for which they are being recommended and meeting with the chair of that commission and its trustee liaison.

The four trustees present at the July 7 meeting of the village board declined to advance a series of expected commission appointments because Eakin had not attended a meeting of the commission or met with the commission's chair and village board liaison.

Abu-Taleb said in an interview Thursday that he advanced Eakin's appointment because the Plan Commission meeting for July was postponed, meaning it would take at least until after Aug. 2 – the date of commission's next meeting – before Eakin could fulfill the usual vetting requirement.

Abu-Taleb said the position has been vacant for some three months, since Plan Commission Chair Linda Bolte resigned her position and commission member David Mann was appointed chair by Abu-Taleb.

Village trustees disagreed with Abu-Taleb on Monday, arguing that appointees to the commissions all follow the same vetting process and Eakin should not be an exception.

Trustee Glenn Brewer said at the Monday board meeting that the Plan Commission appointment should be removed from a list of other appointees who had successfully completed the CIC vetting process and were being recommended to the board by the village president.

Abu-Taleb rejected splitting out Eakin from the list, saying, "It's my appointments and you either approve them or you don't. If you want to table it for the next time, then I'm OK with that."

He said Thursday that Village Attorney Paul Stephanides informed him that under village ordinance that it is OK for the president to recommend a commission candidate to the board even if that person had not completed the CIC vetting process.

Abu-Taleb noted that Eakin had been vetted by the CIC years back before his appointment to the Historic Preservation Commission. Further said Abu-Taleb, Eakin understands architecture and development issues and has lived in Oak Park for years. Eakin also write a monthly architecture criticism column for Wednesday Journal.

"I could understand if he moved into town a year ago and didn't know anything," Abu-Taleb said, suggesting that Eakin could have fulfilled the requirement for attending a meeting of the commission by watching a video of one of the past meetings on the village's website.

Abu-Taleb said Thursday he was not aware that Trustee Brewer planned to put the brakes on Eakin's appointment at the meeting.

"He could have called me up and said, 'I have a problem with it,'" Abu-Taleb said.

Brewer said after the meeting that he objected to the appointment not because he had an issue with Eakin but because he was made aware of the vetting situation by CIC Chairman Jim Kelly.

Abu-Taleb said the Plan Commission is among the most important bodies overseeing development in the community and should not be hindered in its work because of a delayed appointment. Two major development projects in the downtown area – the Colt project and Harlem and South – will head to the Plan Commission for review shortly.

"This is not what the community wants us to be bogged down with," Abu-Taleb said.

He said he still is uncertain whether the slate of seven candidates to the various commissions will advance at the next village board meeting.

Email: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: July 15th, 2014 12:46 PM

@No Error, Yes he can "simply appoint." The President under his appointment authority, under state law, can vary from the process. The Village Attorney confirmed this at the meeting (Monday, July 7th). It doesn't mean the person will be placed on the commission, as it takes the majority of the Board for approval to a commission.

No Error Bridget from Oak park  

Posted: July 15th, 2014 12:18 PM

Bridget...there is no error in the agenda commentary. What is described is the process. The CIC forwards their recommendations to the Clerk, who forwards to the President. The President (per Board Protocols and Procedures), brings the names to the Board for their 'advice and consent'. He simply can't appoint anyone he wants and the board should stay with the agreed upon procedures that all names come through an objective, non-partisan review process , which is indeed the CIC.


Posted: July 14th, 2014 2:39 PM

Gary Schwab; do yourself and readers a favor get "Facebook verified" like JBM, so that there aren't so many postings.

Don't Kid Yourselves  

Posted: July 14th, 2014 2:25 PM

One awful VMA shill post after another trying to defend their positions. This isn't a democracy in Oak Park and hasn't been for over sixty years. Once in a while someone slips in/elected, but swiftly the VMA makes his/her life so miserable that they have a heart attack or are forced in some way, blackmailed even, to leave office. The CIC vetting is indeed the VMA vetting. We have an entrenched political machine running things here, the good citizens are truly powerless and stay powerless.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 14th, 2014 10:57 AM

No, no one's going to build a "doll house" on every corner. But, we have them, and a lot of interesting, irreplaceable commercial buildings, too. People come from around the world to see our built environment and everything we do to diminish their experience hurts our long-term competitiveness as an attraction and a place to live, Remember, too, that new retail spaces always rent so much higher than old ones that many interesting small businesses are effectively prohibited.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 14th, 2014 10:49 AM

So good again to hear reasoned, polite factual arguments instead of personal insults.


Posted: July 14th, 2014 8:02 AM

Gary you believe there is not one person who knows more about ANYTHING than you. You stick your nose in everything, regardless of your lack of experience. You also have a penchant to stretch the truth to fit whatever the situation dictates. You're a pretty reviled individual in the Village and why you can't get elected. Shut up already.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 11:43 PM

The agenda, the sentence above the list of *all* the names reads: "Names are forwarded from the Citizens Involvement Commission to the Village Clerk and then forwarded to the Village President for recommendation." This is misleading and did not properly alert the Trustees that there was an exception to protocol/procedure. An option could have been for whoever first noticed this error, to have the agenda revised, rather than wait and have it play out the way it did at the meeting.

Observer (continued) from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 11:36 PM

However, it should be remembered that Anan is, in a way, the current caretaker of the position as well as charged with making it his own. He didn't buy all this property. And since he doesn't have to defend those decisions he's in a good place to try to do *something* with it, folks. You can't afford to own all this languishing property. Check your tax bills. Look at the village budget and expenses. Then go find investors who want to build a cute dollhouse on every corner like 1890. Hello?

Observer from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 10:14 PM

You guys are way into the weeds here so I'll just try to skim the surface by noting that there is principle and precedent involved here. Perhaps the Board President, who was taken unawares at the meeting, took a conservative decision in the moment. It's not wise to publicly abdicate the authority of a post without careful consideration. It sets precedent. And I understand those who are worked up that he wasn't observing tradition and therefore perhaps changing a precedent. However . . ..

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 5:43 PM

This is ancient history, but when I first applied to the Village, I asked about the HPC. I was told to try for the Design Commission instead and served six years (3 as chair) and was removed in an early application of term limits. Then I served six years on the CDCAC. One sitting trustee asked David Pope about putting me on the Plan Commission or something similar and was told that it wouldn't happen. I don't see the people picking on the "losers" in past elections stepping up and running.

Again? from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 5:33 PM

GS, really...applicants "asked to pick several commissions they might like and the CIC puts them where they see fit." Once again just putting forth accusations that are totally false. If you are going to repeatedly make disparaging claims about how the volunteer citizens on CIC operate, with nothing to substantiate them, its tough to take the high ground and say you are being "marganalized and ridiculed." This sort of attacking is one of the reasons why its hard to find people to volunteer.


Posted: July 13th, 2014 4:29 PM

Mr. Schwab was marginalized, one can suppose, by virtue of how poorly his slate performed when last in power and his affiliation with the socialists who keep getting worthless advisory referendums on the ballot. Glad we bought that Colt Building!

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 4:21 PM

I doubt you'll find anyone in Oak Park who's made more positive proposals, including offering detailed alternative visions for Oak Park, or tried harder to improve the community. To suggest that I'd be happier as part of the system I've worked so long and hard to change is offensive. That system's been happy to have my labor when I kept my mouth shut but less happy when I didn't.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 4:15 PM

I've lived in Oak Park for 35 years. I was active in local politics for many years. I'm the only person who's been listed as the official chair of three DIFFERENT political parties. I've been President of the VMA, run for office twice, and helped many others run for office. I served 12 years on a committee and a commission, volunteered elsewhere, and participated in a LOT of meetings. For this, I've been marginalized and ridiculed. I don't believe you know more than I do about Oak Park politics.


Posted: July 13th, 2014 12:11 PM

I encourage you to make a more educated opinion about the CIC and meet the volunteers. Then make an educated opinion. You ask for the link of CIC members...?? You don't even know who the CIC volunteers are and you are making strong character assumptions about the group. Call the Village Clerk, get more details. You sound passionate, get involved, don't just pass judgment and criticize.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 11:57 AM

Again, I don't know who current CIC members are. I do know that Jim Kelly is a strong VMA partisan and has campaigned against me and my colleagues, often by saying that people like us SHOULDN'T have a significant role in the Village.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 11:51 AM

I never said the CIC considers only certain candidates. I said that applicants are asked to pick several commissions they might like and the CIC puts them where they see fit. They also, I believe, suggest other commissions applicants might consider. I'm not saying one needs to be a VMA crony to be appointed. I am suggesting that known VMA critics are not put in positions of real influence.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 11:46 AM

It's not at all clear, and the Village has never effectively argued, that all the TIF expenditures thus far, have had any real incremental benefit, in terms of either more tax revenue or retail vitality.

Dont Assume from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 11:44 AM

@GS rather than not applying and being "pretty sure" you wont have a voice, try applying and see what actually happens. You might be suprised by how friendly, open and informative the process is. I went through a year ago and i dont know anyone, am not connected to the VMA (i learned about an opening on Mom Mail) and learned a lot.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 11:43 AM

It's unrealistic to expect developers to place community values over their profits. If official Village policy is "give developers whatever they want," Oak Park is letting developers define Oak Park's future for their short-term benefit. Anan says the Village is broke and needs to push development to build cash reserves. He then proposes TIFs or borrowing money to pay developers to build things they don't believe markets will support. Does this make any sense?

Get Informed from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 11:36 AM

Gary, your understanding of the CIC is just wrong. They arent asked to"select a few possible appointment" they interview EVERYONE who applies. If history is any indicator, Eakin will be recommended once he completes what all candidates are asked to do. Then its up to the board. But clealry you already have an opinion that there is VMA favored screening going on. Go to a CIC meeting, look at their procedures before you start throwing out accusations against residents just trying to volunteer.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 11:36 AM

I agree. Anan should let the CIC review Mr. Eakin. I suspect they'll recommend him. My real problem is that Anan repeatedly states that committee/commission processes obstruct "getting things done." Planning, zoning, preservation, and code enforcement have been redefined as "development customer service." If relevant committees/commissions are being told to get out of developers' way, who's representing the community in this process?

Phil from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 10:46 AM

Gary: If what you're saying is true (and I'm not doubting), it's a shame. Seems the best way for Anan to handle the situation now that things have come to a head is to follow tradition regarding procedures, then see what happens. If CIC "rejects" Eakins, Board still gets to publicly vote on Anan's choice in light of CIC rec. If "against" CIC (for Eakins), then CIC loses value. If "for", then there is real/public debate for/against Eakins pitting Anan vs. board. But at least it's more transparent

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 9:58 AM

Each person volunteering is, I believe, asked to select a few possible appointments. Someone not considered safe might get appointed where they have zero voice on policy. Appointments to things like the Plan Commission and ZBA are made very carefully. Even then, these bodies might not vote the "right" way; boards have made it clear they'll then be overridden. If you think that new Plan Commissioners just walk through the door and get appointed based on qualifications and interest, you're deluded

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 9:50 AM

I know where the committee/commission area is on the Web site. I don't see lists of members. I haven't applied for anything recently because I was sort of in the political opposition when there was one and was pretty sure that people who lied and accused me of doing terrible things to the Village would allow me a voice. The CIC has traditionally screened people by putting people they can't "trust" on bodies that don't have any effect on policy.

Phil from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 9:18 AM

As Schwab's claim of conflict of interest in Eakins and Haley/Journal. Hard to argue that a local newspaper isn't reliant on whatever form of advertising is locally available, which is usually pro-business/development retail and realtors. Just not fair to claim Journal/Haley/Eakins are biased as a result. I see no evidence Eakins is writing for the money or "for the man". He just seems genuinely interested in local architectural/realty developments. Sounds like perfect person for this commission

Phil from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 9:13 AM

CIC Chairman was was reasonable telling Board that Eakins wasn't vetted as usual. Board was reasonable saying they'd prefer following standard procedures. Pres. Anan was reasonable in saying an important vacancy needed to be filled ASAP. All acting reasonably, as far as I can tell. Miscommunication, sure. Some minor turf wars? perhaps (but unlikely). A bit of poor form? Maybe. But not a reason to suggest local govt's going downhill in a hand basket. Just some minor friction.

Phil from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 9:08 AM

Are we really so paranoid around here? I just don't get the newsworthiness of this whole thing. It was one of like 30 different resolutions/issues at the board meeting. It's only being reported because it was the sole point of contention between the Board and President. But it's really no "big deal." Where's Bridgett as a voice of reason to step in?


Posted: July 13th, 2014 7:54 AM

Here is the link, right on the Village website. The CIC is not working for any political and the CIC represents a group of diverse and helpful volunteers. Come to a meeting and see for yourself before making such strong assumptions. http://www.oak-park.us/your-government/citizen-boards-commissions-committees

Jill from oak park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 11:46 PM

Gary, does, " I haven't had much to do with the CIC since it became obvious that I was one of those who shouldn't apply for any meaningful Village appointment..." mean you applied and were rejected? When did this happen? What commission did you apply for?

Fact Check from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 11:38 PM

Gary, that is quite the claim that the CIC is screening out candidate that are "divergent" to the VMA. Can you back that in any way? I just took a look at the last few years of CIC minutes and i cant find any candidate that applied that wasnt recommended for a commission. Can you please explain the claim that the VMA is using the CIC in the manner you stated? The body of evidence seems to say otherwise.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 10:27 PM

I haven't had much to do with the CIC since it became obvious that I was one of those who shouldn't apply for any meaningful Village appointment. My impression is that it's been controlled by VMA loyalists. How does one find out who's on a commission? The information doesn't seem easily available at the Village Web site.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 9:33 PM

For the record, I have been to several.


Posted: July 12th, 2014 9:16 PM

GS, have you even been to a CIC meeting and met the volunteers on the commission?

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 9:05 PM

Once the VMA and their elected trustees started blacklisting people who disagreed with their policies, largely around development, the CIC proposed far fewer "divergent" candidates, especially for bodies, like the Plan Commission, with significant roles in the development subsidy process. We need to get back to allowing ideologically diverse candidates to emerge from the CIC. The process should be fixed, not scrapped. Look east to see what a government filled with a mayor's friends looks like.

Gary schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 8:57 PM

There is not and never has been a legal requirement for CIC screening. It is a long-standing tradition, one that once worked well when the CIC wasn't arranged to screen people who disagreed with Village Hall policies. As long as the CIC really contains a wide spectrum of informed Oak Parkers, the system keeps the committees and commissions from being filled solely with the President's allies without having constant conflict between the President and the Trustees.


Posted: July 12th, 2014 8:12 PM

As I read it Anan isn't passing anything up in his nomination; that is all it is "a nomination". The candidate would still have to be approved by the Board. And, if I read the Village Code correctly, Anan votes as a tie-breaker after the other members of the Board have voted; so he cannot "ramrod" anyone on to any Commission. Finally, can anyone cite the section of the ordinance that gives the CIC any authority to deny a candidate for any commission from receiving a vote on his/her nomination?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 7:50 PM

My apology to John Sheiss, Glen Ellyn, the Local Architect, and Gary for any headslaps I made without thinking. Headed out of town for a few days. By the time I get back, these post will be long forgotten. Have a good week.

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 6:37 PM

JBM- as long as you insist on making excuses for Anan Obama and discounting other people's input, you won't see how the village pres. has duped you. When can you trust a businessman to manage YOUR business? When he doesn't have a financial interest in it and has never been wronged by you.

local architect from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 6:36 PM

@JBM ... exactly my point. Allowing any village board president (with board consent) to hand-pick members of the citizen's Plan Commission, essentially bypasses a citizen-based vetting process, thereby compromising the core idea of citizen-based commissions itself. Even if I personally agree with Anan's selection, the process itself is flawed. Hence by example with Pope / Schiess. I suggest we focus our attention on fixing the CIC, which has been corrupted by the VMA for decades.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 6:33 PM

I don't think it's fair to pick on John Schiess for letting his license lapse. I do think it's fair to criticize him for his local leadership in squeezing more mediocre housing units into given spaces than I might have imagined. Anan, your crusader, is pushing for two Schiess banalities and saying we should be grateful for them. Who knew that people wanted townhouses with no street addresses and views only of the backs of other buildings?

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 6:27 PM

John - Please tell me how Anan has "stood up for all of us." As far as I can see. he's stood up for the organized business community (the Chamber, the Business and Civic Council, developers wanting to be paid to build things which won't pay for themselves). As for whatever is legal being OK, I guess we have different views. Those in power have a way of making whatever they want to do legal.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 6:19 PM

Re previous post - my point was that Scheiss was an architect who was an employee for a developer with contracts in Oak Park. Eakin is a free lance writer doing some work for Wednesday Journal. Huge Difference.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 6:07 PM

Hey, local architect from OP -- it really ain't fair to compare Scheiss with Eakin. READ BELOW! WEDNESDAY JOURNAL Tuesday, December 13th, 2005?" HEADLINE Construction Halted On Six Major Oak Park Projects -- Architect John Schiess called his business associates and family members last week to say he'd done something terrible. Exactly how bad remains to be seen. Work on all Schiess-designed projects was stopped by the Oak Park village government on Friday when it learned Schiess' state architect license had been in "non-renewal status" since November 2004.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 5:54 PM

Gary -- So - Whatever's legal is OK? - Yes. Heterodoxy? ?" Irrelevant to the issue. I understand your angst of having collided with the OP political fiefdoms. I appreciate the efforts you expended in attempting to reign in the VMA juggernaut. I do not understand why people have not grasped that Anan stood up for all of us. After years of VMA manipulations on the board, at village hall, and in the commissions, someone (Anan) stood up and said, "Stop claiming authority that you do not have!" Should a respected candidate who is a well known member of the community, prior experience as a commissioner, and excellent credentials be treated as a child? Should the President of the Village Board be treated like an underling by a Commission Chairperson? Should individual board members act as the commission's messengers? Should a commission (CIC) be allowed to defy the Village Code? Have we forgotten the board's cone of silence that ignored expert's recommendations and went forward with developments that failed? Let's not forget that the same cabal that tried to remove Anan before he was sworn in has close ties with the CIC. There are some really tough issues for the village in the next six months that will decide the future of the village. The days of fiefdoms making up their own rules and manipulating existing rules must end if OP is to move forward.

local architect from OP  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 5:39 PM

Difficult issue. As I can attest from personal experience, the CIC has long been a filter for pro-VMA individuals on the Plan Commission. On the other hand, having the village president try to ramrod his personal choice on the Plan Commission by bypassing the CIC is not acceptable either. Can you imagine Pope trying to place someone like John Schiess on the Plan Commission in a similar manner? Anan may recommend Mr. Eakin to the CIC, and Mr. Eakin needs to resign his post with the WJ.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 4:10 PM

So - Whatever's legal is OK? As for not letting someone on a committee/commission because of heterodoxy, I know from personal experience that, after I'd been read out of the VMA (as immediate past-president), I became persona non grata for any serious volunteer appointment (after 12 years of service on the Design Commission and CDCAC).

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 3:25 PM

Unfortunately - I agree with every word of your post.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 3:23 PM

Gary - I know a lot of nastier of commission action or inaction. In fact, I posted one last week regarding a candidate who received a letter from the Village Clerk telling he was not qualified. I know a lot of VMA horror as well, but none of those issue have anything to do with Eakin or the Village Code. We both know that a person cannot be restricted from public office as a result of a different opinion. It there were not difference of opinion, we would not need more than one person. As we know well, high rises get a lot of attention. I doubt Eakin can slip through a high rise.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 3:16 PM

Gary - Moral? Ethical? Right? None of these virtues appear in the Village Code section on Commission Selection.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 2:59 PM

John - How much conflict of interest is OK? Frank Heitzman, whose credentials, integrity, and commitment to Oak Park are beyond reproach, wasn't allowed to be the consultant on reusing the Goldberg Arcade (Colt) building because he was a known preservationist. Mr. Eakin, in one of his columns, has happily envisioned a future Oak Park full of luxury high-rises. Might this suggest he's already made up his mind on this aspect of Oak Park's future?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 2:47 PM

There is a big difference between a free lance writer and a business partnership.

Anan doesn't care about Commissioners or their work  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 1:46 PM

Anan doesn't care about the commissions and the fellow citizens that volunteer their time. He clearly lacks respect for the CIC volunteers and all the volunteers he refused to vote on at the meeting who went through the the process HE APPROVED!! Lack of leadership for sure. And disrespectful to fellow citizen volunteers.


Posted: July 12th, 2014 1:36 PM

I should note that my previous post was in response to what Gizmo Dog wrote earlier today.


Posted: July 12th, 2014 1:34 PM

"I always thought the CIC was just an arm of the VMA to make sure 'their people' were the decision makers and keeping others out." Bingo - exactly. And some members of that same VMA don't seem too happy with not having "one of their own" right now as the Village Prez. My opinion on this "tempest in a teapot"? It'll hopefully be a fair warning to Anan in the future. I'm actually more bothered witht Anan's affiliation with Governor Quinn - he should be non-partisan in this position.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 1:18 PM

Anan has, under Village ordinance, the right to propose commission members without going through the CIC. The Village Board also has the right, under our remarkably friendly Planned Development ordinance, to bypass the Plan Commission and give a developer all the zoning relief he wants themselves. They haven't done this recently, because it just looks wrong. Hence the charades of having public hearings with long-predetermined outcomes. Not everything that's legal is moral, ethical, or right.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 1:12 PM

Mr. Murtaugh - If an internationally-renowned architect who happened to live in Oak Park was directly involved in one of the Village's "partnerships," should he be allowed to sit on the Plan Commission and review his own project? Regardless of Mr. Eakin's qualifications, he has a conflict of interest as long as he takes money, or has recently taken money, from someone who tirelessly advocates for every subsidized development coming to town.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 11:05 AM

Below is Blair Kamins Resume. Like Garret Eakin, he has the skill set that fits incredibly well on a Planning Commission. They should not be rejected based on Political Paranoia. RESUME One of the nation's leading writers on architecture and urban design, Blair Kamin has been the architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune since 1992. He is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism and continues a tradition of accessible but authoritative criticism begun by the Tribune's first modern-day architecture critic, Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Gapp. My Biography Born in Red Bank, N.J., Kamin is a graduate of Amherst College, from which he received a Bachelor of Arts with honors in 1979, and the Yale University School of Architecture, from which he received a Master of Environmental Design in 1984. He was a Regents Park Fellow at the University of Chicago in 1998. In 2012-13, Kamin was a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Kamin holds honorary degrees from Monmouth University and North Central College, where he serves as an adjunct professor of art. He has lectured widely and has discussed architecture on programs ranging from ABC's "Nightline" to WTTW-Ch. 11's "Chicago Tonight." The University of Chicago Press has published two critically-acclaimed collections of Kamin's columns: "Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago" (2001) and "Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age" (2010). He also wrote the commentaries for "Tribune Tower: American Landmark," a guide to the newspaper's neo-Gothic skyscraper published in 2000, and co-authored "The Gates of Harvard Yard," an e-book published by the Nieman Foundation in 2013. Kamin is the recipient more than 30 awards, including the Pulitzer, which he received in 1999 for a body of work highlighted by a series of articles about the problems and promise of Chicago's greatest public space, its lakefront. He has twice served as a Pulitzer Prize juror.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 10:47 AM

Mr. Eakin is a paid opinion columnist for the Wednesday Journal. It is my personal observation that Dan Haley doesn't pay people to express opinions contrary to his. Does anyone have any counter-examples?

journalism and commissions  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 10:25 AM

Garret Eakin is employed by the WJ as an architectural critic, whose main revenue source is real estate ads, and therefore, has been pro-development and an advocate for the local real estate industry. Because of this conflict of interest, Mr. Eakin cannot objectively serve on the Plan Commission while maintaining his current WJ position as an architectural critic. As a professional, Mr. Eakin should know this. Can you imagine the Tribune's Blair Kamin on the Chicago Plan Commission?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 10:16 AM

I will not take the Eileen Fein bait. I will not take the Eileen Fein bait. I will not take the Eileen Fein bait. I will not take the Eileen Fein bait. I will not take the Eileen Fein bait. etc. etc. etc. etc.

Eileen Fein from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 10:06 AM

Gizmodog, you had it backwards. The CIC and other committees & commissions are there to provide citizen expertize & to the board. They analyse & investigate the matters that come before them & make recommendations to the village board. That preliminary work, saves the Trustees lots of time. A side benefit is that the citizens who serve gain knowledge of some piece of how the village works creates a natural pool of candidates for Trustee. That background is desireable to all slating groups.


Posted: July 12th, 2014 6:46 AM

I guess I will have to look at the Village Code Book. If the interview and recommendation by the CIC is not required in the Code then Anan has the ability to make nominations without that "step". I always thought the CIC was just an arm of the VMA to make sure "their people" were the decision makers and keeping others out.


Posted: July 12th, 2014 3:53 AM

Interesting how it's critically important to bypass procedure to get Eakin on the PC ASAP, but Anan is just fine with delaying the appointment of the rest of the commission members. No one should be surprised to see Anan's authoritarian nature revealed, as those of us without blinders on warned you about this during the election campaign. Let's just hope he doesn't damage the Village too much before we can vote him out of office.

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 1:07 AM

JBM- You lost me, but If you say you find it difficult to believe what is posted here, that's a fact. No need to convince me twice, again. Thankfully, I'm reminded of one of my Tabula (OPRF HS year book) themes: It Takes All Kinds But, never completely trust anyone who says he can get along with anybody and the moment a person claims to have humilty, he doesn't. No, I don't live in Oak Park now, my hometown (since I was 2), where Marshal Fields, (Wiebolt's,) Walker's and Blase's once thrived.

Insulting to other Commissions from Oak Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 11:52 PM

"Abu-Taleb said the Plan Commission is among the most important bodies overseeing development in the community and should not be hindered in its work because of a delayed appointment." So what about the other appointments that seem to have been needlessly delayed by Anon for a while now? Those all represent unfilled seats that what, aren't important to fill? How insulting to those hundreds of other volunteers.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 11:20 PM

Glen Ellyn - it is very hard to believe you do not live in Oak Park. That's particularly true of the last 8 years, a period of challenge for those building a fiefdom.

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 10:13 PM

I truly hope the Pres. can learn something from this misunderstanding and get some sleep or something. It's going to feel like an extra long term for him and everyone else involved if he doesn't.

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 10:01 PM

JBM- How in the world do you conclude that the board was wrong in upholding the procedures, that the president even formally approved himself recently, for the one unvetted candidate, the only one in at least 8 years, and excuse the president for withholding the appointment for his remaining 6 by his objecting to the board's request? In just a single meeting, on a single easily remedied issue, he has shown NOT to cooperate with the board twice. What's absolutely clear is in the drinking glass.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 9:24 PM

The Village Code and the CIC operating recognize all residents are not equal when it comes to commissions. Different commission require special skills and experience. The code protects the need for differences.

Eileen Fein from Oak Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 8:59 PM

Process is important. Following the same process for all apointments is what allows residents to believe that getting on a committee or commission is possible for all and not just the well connected. Otherwise it is easy for government to appear to be rigged. meetings with chairmen etc. can be expedited when necessary but not ignored. ......and Gary.... an employers view does not create a conflict of interest unless the newspaper policy is that all employees must agree or be fired.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 8:06 PM

Gary Schwab - Incredibly picky!

Student Volunteers!!  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 8:04 PM

Sounds like Anan is playing unnecessary GAMES. He approved a procedure for commission appointments and then just tries to go around it and holds up the appointment of six others including STUDENT volunteers!!! Unprofessional and unnecessary.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 8:02 PM

It is absolutely clear that the trustees of the board who challenged Anan on the CIC appointments had not bothered to read the governing laws before embarrassing themselves and the entire board. Not having discussed the decision with the president is disloyal sabotage. After a year of village voter trust recovery, the board is headed in the wrong directions again.

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 7:10 PM

Abu-Taleb didn't need to get defensive. Just problem solve, Dude! Admit the simple mistake and cope. Sheesh, when will presidents learn that they lose favor when they start acting as if they are too good to be bothered by rules of their constituents? Again, Dude, "Don't feel offended. Just be honest."

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 6:45 PM

Is Abu-Taleb really this short-sighted regarding procedure and standard policy? Granted, Eakin is not an unknown, but 1) it's a simple vetting 2) it's not a new vetting 3) dumass president knows this procedure 4) one exception becomes a precedent and negates the point of standard 5) the point of the procedure is to catch something wrong with the match of the appointee and the position, right? And when is it most likely to miss something? In the rush while sidestepping the procedure. Like, duh.

Back to Planning Long Term  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 6:04 PM

The colt and south and harlem projects need not happen. We can not afford more congestion in this small area!!!!! When will the powers to be get a grip of reality? After built and choking up Harlem IS TOO LATE. This is NOT brain surgery to figure this out!!!!!!


Posted: July 11th, 2014 5:57 PM

Dan Haley for Village President!!!!

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 5:44 PM

Regardless of his qualifications, Mr. Eakin works, in some sense, for the Wednesday Journal. As Dan Haley has endorsed every major Village-subsidized development being considered and ridiculed all the critics of same, shouldn't Mr. Eakin have to recuse himself from voting on projects on which his employer has spoken?

Curious from Oak Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 5:38 PM

So if expediting appointments is the reason for bypassing the CIC and Village President Anan Abu-Taleb is so concerned about making appointments to fill open commission seats, I'm a bit perplexed as to why he has failed to put the other seven candidates on the agenda until now. Many of them, according to the CIC minutes, look like they were recommended months ago.

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