BOARD BORES IN: Like Will Rogers, all I know is what I read in the newspapers?#34;"and that's an alibi for my ignorance," he added. But from what I read, new leadership is making a splash at Oak Park Village Hall.
For instance, the new president, David Pope, discussing a request for free money by a business owner willing to move to the 6200 block of North Avenue, where business is sparse and parking plentiful, had the gall to say he believes "in the market," adding self-deprecatingly that it's an "odd peculiarity" of his.
For sheer inexactitude, however, one must chide New Leadership Trustee Martha Brock, who complained at a recent meeting that she "couldn't go to [a seminar] on African American economic development," when she meant to say the village would not pay her way. Boo-hoo.
Another brickbat goes to Brock for urging less executive-session time for the sake of increased openness in government without addressing legal mandates in the matter?#34;whether the board has a choice when to go executive and when not to?#34;and whether a cut-off on discussion would improve decision-making. Indeed, it's a serious accusation if she wants to make it, that the board uses executive session as cover-up. But no one took her up on the idea, so not to worry.
Brock also urged calling a "community meeting" whenever incidents occur such as the D'Agostino slaying, so that citizens would know that trustees care?#34;apparently to calm widespread fears that they do not care. Again, however, complexities: Such a meeting would presumably be called by the board president, maybe in a conference call (executive session!), based on severity of incident or crisis of community confidence in trustees as parent figures.
This could take some debate, and if the debate went too long would (a) collide with Brock's goal of fewer, shorter executive sessions and (b) perhaps violate her requirement that the community meeting happen "immediately [in] emergency mode." It would be a case of emergency mode clashing with openness of government, alas and alack! But who said it's easy to govern a village?
CLERK NO SPEAK: Meanwhile, New Leadership Trustee Geoff Baker said the (non-New Leadership) village clerk should participate in board deliberation, providing "her input at every step." The clerk has not done this historically, however, keeping her mouth mostly shut at meetings, her job description being that of staff though elected. This is one reason voters have not turned a clerk out of office in at least 35 years. As mostly behind-scenes administrators, clerks have been judged on ability with no points for public speaking and no demerits either, which is crucial. A talkative clerk would get quoted too much and maybe end up in defensive, if not emergency mode.
PROFILING SHOPPERS: Continuing along, in debate about the proposed tenancy of Corinthian College, a trainer of newcomers to the job market, Trustee Brock cited "classism" in Oak Park, characterizing the issue as "all about us" trying to "reach out." Trustee Ray Johnson agreed, calling the Corinthian tenancy?#34;in the Marshall Field's building at Harlem and Lake?#34;a means of "fostering diversity downtown." Apparently it would do that. Ninety percent of Corinthian students would be earning less than the minimum wage, testified the president of the Taxman Corporation, a developer, opposing the college. But that's no selling point, he said. "This is not the shopper profile we'd like to bring to downtown Oak Park."
SOLVING A PROBLEM: Meanwhile, owners of the Maple Tree restaurant building are declining to sell to developer Alex Troyanovsky, thus blocking westward expansion of the Lake Theatre?#34;DesPlaines River, here we come! This is a setback for uber-development, but again not to worry. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court in its recent eminent domain decision?#34;what's good for the tax base is good for property owners, even those forced to become property sellers?#34;the village board can condemn this property.
Down would come Maple Tree?#34;sign, al fresco dining permit, and all. Up would go melodramatic movie posters. Where there's a will, there's a way, but not if a spineless, gutless village board is unwilling to snatch a parcel in broad daylight!