On Wednesday, Aug. 10, the NLP-dominated village board passed the 100-day mark, a traditional benchmark for an initial evaluation of newly elected officials. While there have been a lot of "new" approaches from this bunch, I certainly haven't seen much in the way of "leadership" so far.
And I've seen an awful lot of contradictions between their actions and what they said they'd do in their campaign.
As I recall from the snazzy campaign materials the NLP dropped on my doorstep, they said "we will delegate more authority to citizen commissions," yet the majority of NLP trustees have so far tabled or voted against recommendations from the Historic Preservation Commission, the Plan Commission, the Housing Programs Advisory Commission (HPAC) and the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Another contradiction is the NLP goal to "foster mutual respect among citizens, elected officials, employees, business community (sic), landlords, renters and developers."
They left out village staff, so their lack of respect toward several key staff members of the village was never a promise they planned on keeping. However, they have shown utter disrespect in recent public meetings toward Village President Pope, the president of Downtown Oak Park, citizen volunteers of HPAC, a major developer partner, and District 97.
Or how about this contradiction? The NLP said during the campaign they would "comply with existing plans?Lakota, Downtown Oak Park (DTOP), etc." Yet the NLP majority voted against a special use permit for filling vacant office space in DTOP, which would have helped to meet some of the recommendations in both the DTOP plan and the Lakota plan by bringing more daytime pedestrian traffic to downtown.
The NLP also said they would "support and promote small businesses in all commercial districts." Our small businesses have asked for increased parking supply and here again, the NLP contradicts their campaign promises by voting against moving forward with an increase in the parking supply downtown.
The NLP said they would "include economic diversity in village policies." But in yet another contradiction, the NLP majority reduced a loan to a multi-family building owner who was completing significant property improvements in the village's rental stock, thus providing "economic diversity" for the village.
OK-?#34;here's a doozy. The NLP said "they would reduce legal costs by minimizing litigation and outside attorneys" in an inflammatory direct mail piece implying that the former board was wasting taxpayers' money on legal fees. Yet, in a mere 100 days, the NLP has requested that we hire another attorney, in addition to the village attorney, just for the board, legal review of personnel issues dating back to 2001, and they have invited potential litigation if the village reneges on a major redevelopment agreement.
Then, incredibly, three NLP Trustees voted against a non-controversial special use permit that could have led to litigation with the federal and state government over the placement of a cell phone tower.
And finally, the NLP presented a "leadership plank" in its fancy marketing materials during the campaign. In part, the plank states, "we will reestablish the board as a policy making body." But NLP Trustees have missed or walked out of at least 6-8 meetings in just 100 days, they have "killed quorums" of the board so meetings had to stop, they don't second motions so discussion can happen in an "open and transparent way" and, overall, have acted with complete disregard for others. They have made several efforts that would take them away from policy and encroach on administrative issues.
If you think I'm exaggerating, tune into Channel 6 sometime and see for yourself. The New Leadership Party is turning out to be the "No Leadership Party" and is putting the village at risk. I'm not sure we can take another hundred days.