Plan Commission decision should have been respected

Opinion

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Dear President Pope and Village Trustees:

I'm slowly working my way through my taped copy of Monday's board meeting, and last night I watched the discussion on Corinthian College. I was so disheartened that I couldn't continue watching.

Some of you ran on a platform calling for re-empowerment of the commissions and committees, and last night you slapped one of them in the face. This decision should have been a slam dunk, had some of you not mucked it up with largely irrelevant questions and concerns.

The Plan Commission's determination was so sound and convincing that none of you really challenged any of its conclusions. True, the commission's recommendation was based in part on parking projections that Trustee Greg Marsey finds suspect, but without having any tangible evidence that the projections are wrong.

Why do you or should you care how other businesses in the district feel about a college occupying the upper floor of a building? Whenever office space is rented, do all downtown businesses get to vote on who moves in?

Corinthian's earnings are down. OK, one bad quarter. Most analysts still expect the stock to perform in line with the market or outperform the market, which often reflects the idea that a stock has been oversold due to some recent bad news (so it's a bargain). According to a friend of mine in a brokerage firm, here's how eight analysts rate the stock as of today: Strong buy, 4; Buy, 1; Hold, 8; Under perform, 0; Sell, 1.

More than 400 public companies saw their earnings fall more than 30 percent last year, including the Tribune Company and Comcast. The alarmist statement about earnings down 35 percent is useless information over the long term, and says nothing about the company's fundamental financial health. Besides, that's a consideration for the landlord, not the trustees. Businesses go out of business all the time in Oak Park, and not just for reasons of insolvency. You have no control over that.

What tuition students pay is not your concern either, and is completely irrelevant. The rate quoted for Triton is for in-district students, and Triton doesn't serve the geography from where Corinthian expects to draw its students. There are reasons why private and public schools co-exist and provide choices.

I think the building owner made a convincing case about why that space is not rentable for offices. What possible interest could the landlord have in deliberately keeping that space vacant for 2.5 years? What possible interest of the village is served by forcing a building owner to keep looking for a tenant?

Martha, thank you for your comment about the potential beneficial impact this student body would have on our community. Talk about a risk-free way to welcome more economic, social and demographic diversity into Oak Park!

Some of you are complaining about the heavy workload you have. I know it's true?#34;that's why I refuse to even think about running for office here! Your time is precious to you, and to us?#34;the citizens who expect you to govern. You will never succeed at this unless you spend your energies creating the commitment and mechanisms to keep yourselves at the policy level of governance.

In this instance, the Plan Commission did its job, and did it well. You, on the other hand, did not.

Jim Kelly
Oak Park

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