By John Hubbuch
You know the local news scene is pretty quiet when the lead stories in last week's Wednesday Journal were about the cost of fixing potholes, and a meeting between the River Forest Township and River Forest village government. For the record, I support repairing the potholes and paying for the repairs, and to be honest I don't care about RF township-village governance meetings.
But I do care about whatever happened in a number of very controversial old issues that certainly, at the time, generated lots of heat, if not light. Now the trail has gone cold. It seems like villagers really get worked up about something, but then the issue just disappears. Think Reverend Wright on a local level.
So whatever happened to the achievement gap between white and African-American kids at the high school? I recall the new 200 board and superintendent were going to begin closing it. How is that going? I think I remember that the Early Childhood Collaboration raised a bunch of money from both District 97 and 200 to address the issue. Is it working? Is the gap being closed? How long will it take? Are there new strategies? How are they working?
Then there were the lights at the high school football field. The neighbors were concerned about the disruption to their lives and impact on their home values. I assume things weren't too bad because earlier this summer the number of games under the lights was slightly increased. But have home prices, in fact, dropped? Did public urination, congestion and fighting increase? Or were the neighbors just being hysterical?
Same questions for the lower-income-housing construction on the old Comcast Building site at Madison Street and Oak Park Avenue. There were interminable hearings and lots of upset citizens. They were worried about crime and vagrancy. It looks like the place is up and running. What happened? Are the neighbors still upset? Or was the reaction typical NIMBY whining?
Finally, there is the issue of high taxes. Our property taxes have leveled off and the caterwauling has diminished, but these taxes are still high. Have lots of people, in fact, moved to DuPage County to lessen their tax burden? And have fewer people moved in because our taxes are too high? Are home prices dropping relative to other communities? Or were all those prophets of doom just wrong?
I suspect in the 21st century our attention spans are diminished, and the pressures of quotidian existence make us very present- minded. I get that. But we do need some new controversies to wake us up. I sure hope something good (or bad) is coming down the road. Just so long as it's not stupid potholes.