Lively crowd turns out for town hall forum

Village president, trustee listens to residents' concerns

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

A vocal group of citizens, who were likely all Oak Park residents, turned out Wednesday evening at the library for the first community forum hosted by Village President Anan Abu-Taleb and Trustee Bob Tucker.

It was evident, based on a quick survey at the start of the meeting, that the group was an actively engaged one. Almost everyone had attended a village board meeting or spoken during the public comment portion. The rest had at least watched a meeting on locally televised Channel 6.

The lighthearted forum started with an important fact, a joke from the witty trustee, who revealed the answer to a less serious debate: "I'm boxers; Anan is boxers," Tucker said, to a drift of laughter throughout the crowd. This set the tone for the meeting.

Tucker and Abu-Taleb explained they wanted the forum to be a casual conversation where people felt welcome to share concerns. Abu-Taleb said numerous times throughout the meeting that the more vocal residents are, the more board members understand what policies they should focus on. He and Tucker presented a united front, remaining positive and taking a backseat, talking only when necessary.

Before diving into the real issues of the evening, Tucker acknowledged an oversight in not extending an invitation to the full village board to take part in the forum before it was announced. More board members are expected at the next forum, which is scheduled for Oct. 8 at the Maze branch of the Oak Park Public Library.

One hot-button issue of the evening was the Lake and Forest development — a long-delayed, 20-story high-rise proposal that has been at the center of many heated debates at the village board level. Residents asked questions about when the board is going to stop granting delays to the developer, one asking when the village will "hold [the developer's] feet to the fire," listen to what people want, and possibly scrap the whole project.

Abu-Taleb and Tucker pointed to the fact that while the project did hit glitches, there has been a serious commitment recently to move the development forward. The next deadline is approaching and should be on the board's docket next month.

"That area needs to be developed. We're happy to have a developer that is willing to invest the money and bring some jobs for residents to our community. We need that," Abu-Taleb said.

The village president reminded the group he is just one of seven votes on the board and said it's up to residents to be vocal and hold board members accountable. He also said people must remember that the board makes the decisions for the community as a whole. Roughly two-thirds of the crowd had questions about Lake and Forest.

"We need to galvanize the community behind decisions we need to make," Abu-Taleb said.

The village president kept up a theme of civic engagement throughout the evening but also reminded Oak Parkers that moving forward as a community can't be done alone. He pointed specifically to negativity about development proposals.

"I urge you to change your mind about how you view developers and developments. Because developers will come in here and invest in our communities, we need them. We need them because they create jobs. We need them because they create vitality. … We need them to help us at least maintain the taxes at the same level they are," Abu-Taleb said. "At the end of the day … I want our community open-minded and welcoming to developments that make sense for our community."

That comment brought applause, which he followed by saying: "As you know, it takes all of us together to make this work. It's not just the board and it's not the staff. We need the community to be engaged and welcoming to the businesses and developers that come in here."

Abu-Taleb and Tucker assured residents that wheels are turning on projects and said village leaders understand that now is the time to make things happen in terms of development and creating a "pro-active" approach to attracting developers and businesses to town.

Lake and Forest, commercial vacancies, economic development on Madison Street and North Avenue, the future of village-owned properties, and concerns about the possible joint administration building involving District 97 and the village, made up the bulk of talking points during the evening. A few odds and ends like red-light tickets, concealed-carry regulations, a living wage discussion, forestry department policies, and parking concerns were also brought up by the lively crowd of about 85 people.

It was clear from the discussion that Wednesday's town hall meeting was about engagement, opening up lines of communication and making people believe Oak Park leaders want to hear from the community. Tucker reminded the crowd that the conversations were just the start of ongoing talks. Abu-Taleb shared this sentiment.

"At the end of the day, each trustee is interested in making the best possible decisions for the community," he said.

The village president had a few brief statements throughout the evening that were popular with the crowd, including this comment: "If you can't think outside the box, make the box bigger."

The audience agreed. Abu-Taleb and Tucker emphasized that the village is ready to think differently and move Oak Park forward — themes from Abu-Taleb's campaign.

Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Posted: September 3rd, 2013 8:52 AM

Legal yes, acceptable not really. It's called a "SideWalk" not a "SideRide". Unless you don't have another option or are going less than a block or are learning to ride it's not really acceptable to ride on a sidewalk.

Neighbor from Oak Park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2013 11:08 PM

It seems to me that many bikers disregard stop signs in busy traffic or ignore stop lights and expect motorists to be more responsible for the biker's safety than the biker. Not always, but too often. No one should be allowed to endanger anyone's safety by being careless on the streets or sidewalks. What does the law say about that?

Not old  

Posted: September 2nd, 2013 5:06 PM

I've already said that the law in the business districts should be followed unless it is changed. But people will still ride there because they feel safer than in traffic. Unless you want to enforce it w/police 24-7, the roads simply need better design. More bike lanes are coming so maybe things will improve. Red lights I agree with though I'm part of the campaign to get Idaho Stops (yields) at stop signs. And bikes can already legally go on red if the light doesn't change within 2 min.


Posted: September 2nd, 2013 4:38 PM

It ain't "their right" in business districts, Not old. You need to get off it, son. If it's illegal, t's illegal. It's not your "right" to choose whether to obey the law, especially where other people's safety is concerned. Just like it's not any cyclist's "right" to glide through stop signs and red lights while riding in the street, though they do that ALL the time. You seem to have a certain sense of privilege and exemption from certain laws, Not old.

Not old  

Posted: September 2nd, 2013 8:08 AM

Clayton, you're entitled to your opinion, but most places riding on the sidewalk is a perfectly legal option for bicyclists. If you don't want those riders on the sidewalk, we have to do more to make the roads safer for them and create more bikes-only infrastructure. Otherwise they're going to exercise their right. (Actually, IMO, some people will always want to exercise that right, but that's a topic for another time.)


Posted: September 2nd, 2013 4:10 AM

" Not all cyclists want to use bike lanes. Some want to use the sidewalk." And those people shouldn't own a bike...Just sayin.

Not old  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 4:53 PM

John, look for a bunch of freshly painted crosswalk lines around the Village. My neighborhood has been on top of it and we finally got some signs and a new traffic light next year even near us. The painting company did a bunch of work in the past week we're pretty excited about. (Thanks VOP!)

Not old  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 4:49 PM

Bridgett, I love when I see an 18 year old elected to office somewhere or groups of students campaigning. Especially at the local level. I try to take the attitude with 20-somethings I know that if you don't like something then fight to get it changed. That's the way the democratic process works is through participation. It turns into knowing who to call when the next problem arises.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 4:48 PM

Not Old - I agree that crosswalks are the biggest problem.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 4:46 PM

Great comments, Bridgett

Not old  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 4:35 PM

John, I think the current bike ordinance is from maybe 1981? I totally agree. I ride as a vehicle in the streets with its own issues. But our public policy has got to change to match the way people actually get around. It's bikes on Metra. BIkes on the CTA. Linking up bike routes. Putting in more bike lanes. As a green community, we could be doing far more to be bike friendly. But groups of us have been fighting for years for better crosswalks. It's a long, slow process.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 4:18 PM

I don't think it's productive to be patronizing and condescending to young people,if the goal is for them to be civic-minded at a young age.When I was younger,I wish I had some "old folks" encouraging me care about local(and then regional,national,and world government.Before there can be involvement,there first has to be awareness and education.And before that,there has to be a desire,a sense of caring.And that comes from having an understanding of WHY these things matter--for both young & old.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 4:10 PM

Not Old - Got a good point about cars in the bike/pedestrian equation. I doubt that our current traffic ordinance gave a lot of attention to the bicycle use explosion or the impact of contemporary bicycle capabilities or the new accessories for family biking. Those bike with a child pedaling and extension are as long as a car and slow to get going after stopping at a major thoroughfare..

Not old  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 3:58 PM

John, I think the current design philosophy of complete streets is trying to do that, but it's difficult. Look at parts of Lake St. They're not wide enough on the sidewalk for pedestrians passing each other let alone a bike being there. But people are going to go where they feel safe. So I can understand why they don't want to be in Lake St. traffic. If people have to walk bikes blocks at a time it is a deterrent to good environmental policy because it discourages bike use. It's a complex topic.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 3:37 PM

I think the current ordinance only being effective in DTOP is insane. We need a set of rules that ensure the safety of bikers and pedestrians throughout the village.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 3:33 PM

A REMINDER RE WJ COMMENTS RULES -- Comments that fail to contribute to the greater community discussion will be removed.

Not old  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 3:32 PM

If someone is on a bicycle in the business districts, I agree they need to get in the street or walk. But it's a poorly written law that maybe needs some clarification. State law generally allows bikes on sidewalks if you yield to peds. And we haven't been great about building bike lanes in business districts to allow safe riding in the street. Everybody needs to work on sharing public ways better. Cars, bikes, pedestrians. The responsibility is on everyone.


Posted: August 31st, 2013 3:20 PM

I'm AM talking about business district sidewalks, Not old. DTOP, Pleasant, The Avenue, South Oak Park, and others. I regularly see people riding bikes there on sidewalks. Some paying attention, others utterly clueless. It's illegal either way. It's got nothing to do with what they WANT to do. Enjoy the day.

Not old  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 3:07 PM

FYI, I think that's a very common misunderstanding about OP ordinances about bikes that I'm glad you brought up. Go read the law. It's only illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in the business districts. In fact, the law has specific provisions for yielding to pedestrians if you're on the sidewalk otherwise.

Not old  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 3:06 PM

@FYI, we still have a lot of age discrimination against young people in this nation. The fact you can buy cigarettes and die in a war but not drink is a topic for another day.


Posted: August 31st, 2013 2:57 PM

"Not all cyclists want to use bike lanes. Some want to use the sidewalk." See, Not old, that's what I'm talking about. That's a very juvenile point of view. Some people want to drink and drive. We arrest them. Some people like to walk around being loud and obnoxious. They risk getting charged with disorderly conduct. Elected officials have worked hard to craft thoughtful bike use policies for Oak Park, and they don't include adults (that's you, right?) being allowed to ride bikes on sidewalks.


Posted: August 31st, 2013 2:43 PM

Try renting a car before you're 25, Not old. Holding a liquor license or being a police officer before you're 21. Try taking out a mortgage.

Not old  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 2:40 PM

@John I think the challenge with creating bike rules and infrastructure *everywhere* these days is the huge range of ways that people use bikes. Not all cyclists want to use bike lanes. Some want to use the sidewalk. It's an ongoing debate in places like the League of IL Bicyclists, Active Trans, etc. about what complete streets should look like that work for everybody...pedestrians, cars, bikes, I think the Village is on the right track with bikes. We're just a little slow implementing.

Not old  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 2:34 PM

@FYI The funny thing about turning 18 is they get the right to have a say in govt and participate in it. They can even vote in primaries if they're 17! Gasp!

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 1:13 PM

I recently began riding my Schwinn again and gained some insight into the bike lane/sidewalk bicycling issue in OP. I found that my leg power is excellent for my age. I can pump out five miles without effort and do ten at least once a week. But, all is not well. I have found that my ability to look over my shoulder for cars is now poor. I also found that my ability to keep the bike straight is weak. The combination is dangerous and scary. Most of my riding is under the canopy (off the main streets). I do use the sidewalks if there is a lot of traffic, but either stop, ride on the grass, or go onto the street for a while. I find that if I approach a pedestrian or bike on the sidewalk, my ability to keep the bike straight is worse. I realize that that age is the big factor. I'll be 70 in January. Maybe practice will overcome the fears and yips, but I think age will be the winner in the race. Ultimately, the decision on use of bikes in the village is a policy issue ?" I feel sorry for the board. I also see a huge challenge dominated by culture. While riding I see bikers seemingly training for the Olympics, 3-7 years old still in semi-control of a bike, skilled young athletic amateurs, parents using carriers for their children, and senior citizen using their bikes because then no longer can drive. The current bike ordinance's rules did not anticipate the bike explosion. The only way to understand the challenge is to get a sense of the joys and dangers of biking in OP. That means bringing people of all ages, of handicaps of fears together to begin understanding what needs to be done.


Posted: August 31st, 2013 12:58 PM

"High school kids and college students should be involved in politics." So, Adam, what do you have against Middle School students? They can read and write too, and are pretty adept at technology. We might have to have recess during committee meetings, but that's OK. :)

Not old  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 7:19 AM

Different era, my admiration for Adam was that he has started a conversation about generation differences, age discrimination that cuts both ways, and getting everybody to have a say in their village govt. Judging by the comments, I'd say we have a lot of work to do (old and young). I was simply thanking him for speaking up.

Bridgett Baron from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 2:04 AM

I don't think the lack of community engagement is a young/old thing. I think it's more of: 1) who has skin in the game; 2) who has the time.

Adam Wallace from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 12:47 AM

different era, I'll continue to shrug off your anonymous comments. In my defense, I didn't cite the 2 year commitment because I'm too lazy to commit for that long. Or because I don't have a long enough attention span. I pointed it out because having a barrier to entry like that hurts citizen participation, especially among our younger residents. High school kids and college students should be involved in politics. They are just as much a part of our community as older residents. But they will probably need a little more help being pried away from other interests to get involved. We need to find a way to make politics more interesting, so we can get more than 10k people to show up on election day! And personally I've found my way to get involved here. I have been wherever I am living since I went to high school. There are ways to get involved that don't require a 2 year commitment, just wish some of those fell more within the traditional government channels.

Adam Wallace from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 12:43 AM

To defend my comments from Tuesday. 1. I addressed the issue of bikes on sidewalks because the crowd seemed fairly focused on it. To me its a non-issue, we have much bigger things to focus on (think debt, environment, businesses, etc). I brought it up in my comment because we tend to only see one side of issues voiced in VOP politics. On Tuesday we heard from lots of people opposed to bikes on the sidewalk. My opinion (probably partially influenced by my age) is that regardless of where a bike is it can be dangerous. By forcing bikes from the sidewalks we are forcing kids to either walk their bikes through downtown (which we know many middle schoolers/high schoolers won't bother to do) or forcing them to ride on Lake St where it can be incredibly dangerous. My issue with the comments on bikes is that we are focusing solely on the concerns of pedestrians. What about those of cyclists? We talk about OP being eco-friendly, a key part of that has to be opening the sidewalks up to bikes/skateboards/etc. Second thing about bikes, when we institute all of these rules we end up making the downtown unfriendly. I really hope we don't put up a bunch of ugly signs citing the bike ordinance throughout our downtown area, it would work against our beautification projects. 2. I talked about the 2 year commitment for boards. First off, I didn't make it up. That's what the Village Clerk told me when I tried to get involved on a board. I understand why it is in place, but pointed out that little rules like that set a high bar for citizen engagement. We need to break down barriers to involvement. We need to continue moving forward and including all in the decision making process.

Adam Wallace from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 12:38 AM

different era, here's my biggest issue. Oak Park (and the US at large) is failing to engage young citizens/voters in politics. I am one of the few who breaks that mold. Across the country, and in Oak Park too young citizens don't vote; they don't get involved, and they leave the governing up to others. I think we (the civicly engaged) need to work to engage others, young and old. But especially the young. Studies (I can send you link if you'd like) show that civic engagement is a recurring and habitual thing. If we can get young people to engage at 16 and 17 they are many times more likely to stay engaged. They stay invested in their community, and they help make changes that will keep them their. We need to find a way to engage more young citizens in politics, the kids of today have the solutions for today's problems. A 20 year old today was born a digital native, often times able to type before being able to write. These tech savy kids (like me!) will come up with different solutions than older adults brought up to think differently. The solution for many of Oak Park's problems (budget, bikes on sidewalks, trees not being cleaned fast enough) can be found in technology. Who better to pioneer those solutions than young people living here? Who better to help decide where to invest money in Oak Park than those that will be paying for it the longest. I think we are only hurting ourselves by not working to include younger generations in politics. And that means more than involving them in committees, it means finding a way to make politics more fun. When Oak Park politics become the cool and sexy thing to do, we will see citizens flock to participate. When everyone is involved, that is when we will have the best solution.

Adam Wallace from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 12:29 AM

JBM, couldn't agree more with all of your posts. And to be honest I'm glad to see the lively discussion. Thanks for the support today.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 11:18 PM

The WJ Pseudonym Fear arises again. There have been many, many people that displayed rage over pseudonyms including our past president of the board, several board members, and some noted citizens in town. The rage is misplaced. WJ Comments is a conversation amongst many. It is similar to being at a party and discussing the news of the day with a whole bunch of people you don't know. Do you stop them mid conversation and tell him/her that you needed his/her name before the conversation can continue? Probably not, but if they did give you there first and second name, is it possible that it is a pseudonym? Yup? Are all the people that post with first and last name using their real name? Do I use my real name? If the WJ forced use of real names and verification, the number of posters would take a huge fall. Everyone has a choice to pick a user name or tag. The choice if it really bothers you is to stop reading all the strangers posts.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 11:05 PM

Different Era - At 6:47 today Adam Wallace using his real name and stated that he had not signed on to WJ Comments all day. There were several young people at the forum. Anyone of them could be Not Old. You probably owe Adam an apology, but I don't think that is going to happen.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 10:45 PM

AT THE AGE OF TWENTY --Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and cofounded Microsoft--Canadian hockey player Scott Olsen founded Rollerblade, Inc.--English novelist Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, which was immediately successful--Ragtime composer Scott Joplin became an itinerant pianist and travelled throughout the Midwest--Despite a lack of experience, James Cagney fast-talked his way into a vaudeville dancing job--D. H. Lawrence began writing his first novel, The White Peacock--Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, her second and most famous novel--English author Elizabeth Barrett Browning published her first volume of poetry--Polish-born Joseph Conrad, one of the great English language novelists, began learning English, his third language--Charles Lindbergh learned to fly--The Greek philosopher Plato became a disciple of Socrates--Sir Isaac Newton began developing a new branch of mathematics that would help him precisely predict the position of the planets at any given time. Today we call this branch differential and integral calculus--Alexander Graham Bell taught a stray Skye Terrier to talk. By training the dog to growl on cue and then manipulating his mouth and throat, Bell could make him produce the phonemes "ow, ah, ooh, ga, ma, ma," to say "How are you, Grandmama?"--At the age of twenty, Helen Keller enrolled in Radcliffe College as a regular student?"At the age of 20, millions on American men and women went to war during WWII, The Korean Conflict, Vietnam.?"At the age of 20, millions lost their lives in U'S. wars.

different era  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 10:17 PM

Not Old...what admirable thing did Adam do besides attend a meeting and start telling strangers on an online forum to shut up? Peep the wisdom here. He wants to get involved in PUBLIC SERVICE, then uses his REAL NAME ONLINE to berate people for not using their real names, and actually tells unidentified people to shut up and individually berates them USING HIS REAL NAME, while expressing he wants to be involved in public's not a mark of brilliance, that's for sure

different era  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 10:11 PM

You're a whiny baby that makes the same immature statements and thinks the same goofy way we did at your age. There are some kids as you call them that will have real solutions and most of them are probably not going to wait for people to come cheerlead them into action. ADULTS are struggling to get into politics..if a young person can't find a way to get involved in Oak Park with its millions of boards and organizations and forums, they'd be close to hopeless elsewhere.

different era  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 10:03 PM

Adam, first off you sound every bit of 20 and that's not a compliment. "Own up to your own ideas or shut up" listen KID, there are people on here that if they use their real name it could jeopardize their jobs, business, and livelihood. We all get the idea why you don't understand that concept. You'll be gone to school or summer vacationing. If you can't make the commitment now, do it when you can. "Young people have the solutions that we all need." Another laugh at you...

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 8:52 PM

FYI - Yes!


Posted: August 30th, 2013 8:47 PM

So, we agree John. Young people should be able to ease their way into positions of influence, then authority, learning the ropes along the way. Fine by me. By the time they're finished, I assume they'll be able to respect the concerns of weaker, older people who are fearful of walking on downtown side walks without fear of being knocked down by some irresponsible clown on a bike or skate board. It's about being able to understand and appreciate the needs and sensitivities of everyone, isn't it?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 8:32 PM

Young adults today want experience fast and authority now. I don't blame them. They are more educated than we started out to rule the world. They have technical skills way beyond their elders. They are creative, analytic and smart enough to know that they need experience, knowledge, inspiration, and mentoring to reach the leadership roles they aspire. They see civic involvement as one of the paths to success, but few have intention to spend a long time in one slot. The commission system is one path, but not a path for all. When I lived in St. Clair Shores, Mich., community organizations like the Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, etc. had what was junior organization embedded. They were called the Junior Chamber or Junior Rotary. The "Juniors" (have to bury the junior title) were part of the parent organization, but acted independently. They had their own board, their own events and owned respect in the community. The by-laws of the parent organization were the guide for the junior organization. Members of the junior organization usually had an age barrier. In the chamber, they had to resign at 35 years of age. Oak Park needs the "hot blood" of young leaders. It needs them be link the old-timers (over 35) to their spirited youngers. They have a lot to learn but also a lot to teach.

Not old  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 7:45 PM

Anan and Bob did a great job. It sounds like there will be more town halls...and hopefully we can get some new topics, new people, and new ideas going. Adam, I'm a little older than you, but admire what you're doing. Part of what needs to change isn't just young people, but the attitudes towards younger values. Lots of young people have "better things to do" but those who do decide to step up have every right to be respected. I'm glad this conversation has started.


Posted: August 30th, 2013 7:04 PM

As for political activity in Oak Park dying off if "older people" don't kowtow to your apparent special needs, you're being very narcissistic, kid. You, and many of your peers, will find the time and motivation to become more involved in political issues when you get a bit older and understand the impact government has, pro and con, on your lives. When you discover issues you "can relate to" that are more important than being able to ride your bikes anywhere you please.


Posted: August 30th, 2013 7:00 PM

You'll know who I am soon enough, Adam. As for your continued assertions, I can only say you're still a kid. I saw there were only two "young citizens who came to get involved or listen." Just exactly WHO do you think that's on, Adam? The rest of society isn't responsible for your peers not caring enough to show up. "Young people have the solutions that we all need"? Really. Care to share them? It's not like there are roving gangs of "old people" blocking your way.

Adam Wallace from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 6:48 PM

We don't need a special "youth board" or "student board member" spots. Oak Park has to engage younger generations or political activity will die off within a few years.

Adam Wallace from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 6:47 PM

I wish I had gotten on here earlier to defend my comments from the meeting.. I was the 20 something year old at the meeting on Tuesday. Glad to see a few people remember what I said! First, it would be awesome if people would leave comments with their actual names. Own up to your ideas or shut up, but these anonymous attacks drive me nuts. If you are a trustee commenting under an alias, it ought to be illegal. We deserve to know how our elected officials feel. If you are a citizen own up to your comments and engage in a public dialogue not a hidden one. @NotOld Although I agree that most board meetings are going to be full of old people and boring conversations, that's not why I haven't particpated. I actually tried. On the old VOP website it said to contact the Village Clerk for info about commissions. She told me that I could participate on a short term committee meeting in the spring, or volunteer with various village festivals throughout the year. Other than those options I could get on a waitlist to participate in a 2 year commission. @FYI FIrst off if your going to attack me, how about you post your name. 2nd, I didn't balk at a two year commitment. I pointed out that a 2 year commitment is near impossible for college/high school kids. We go away to school, or spend summer vacations places. I can't commit to two years knowing that I would have to resign a few months later. But both of you have ignored the thesis of my comment. The VOP is failing to engage young people in politics. The meeting on Tuesday was a prime example of this. There were 2 young citizens who came to get involved or listen. That was it. In elections young people hardly vote, they vote even less in local elections. Young people have the solutions that we all need. We understand technology and bring new ideas to problems. We need to find a way to engage young citizens. Not just commissions, but something to pull high school and college students into politics.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 6:35 PM

Anan said at the meeting that their will be different formats as they move forward with the program. The best way to create a more diverse audience is to use subject matter that will attract different audiences.

different era  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 6:14 PM

...this is coming from a 30 something, married with children, full time job, & has been attending municipal and political meetings for a few years because I enjoy seeing what is going on and viewing the process . It's hard for me to get out and I actually want to be there...everybody my age thinks I'm a super geek and I have to agree. Trying to engage and attract all these different people is noble but largely more complex because they do not have the same concerns or to the same degree.

different era  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 6:09 PM

Older people just about dominated the population of meetings in most arenas. It's a generational gap. You can name the town, name the social and activist organization, heck name the religion...and a common theme will generally be they have a hard time getting people to come and fill the seats and when they do...they are older people. Unless an issue is near and dear to someone's heart and really frying one wants to deal with the boss, deal with the wife and kids, then sit in a meeting..

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 5:18 PM

I wish the poster had not said. "sitting in a meaningless, boring meeting with old people working on dull topics." I did not find the meeting boring or the subjects dull. I did think the question were mundane and too self-serving. Instead of a robust discussion of the state of Oak Park, we heard complaints, stale issues, and more laughter than an important meeting deserves. If the goal was to make everyone feel happier, the forum gets high marks. If the goal was to let residents know that there are serious financial that have to be addressed ?"now, then the forum gets low marks. Those who think that the forum was representative of the village residents are fooling themselves. The issue is not of age, it is of the viewpoints expressed. The viewpoints were too one-sided. The forum was a great start, but it can be a lot better.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 5:11 PM

FYI, you seem to think younger people have nothing to offer, and should go back to playing video games. What about the average 20 year old fighting in the Middle East. Do they have anything to offer you? When he made reference to older people, it may have been that older people like yourself, are stuck in your ways. He wants progress, not a bunch of talking and not doing which is the common trend for Oak Park. When a person signs up for Military Service, they keep that commitment.


Posted: August 30th, 2013 4:30 PM

No, "Not old." You're not ageist because you were in the minority age-wise Wednesday, and I didn't say you were. You're ageist because you choose to refer to your distain for "sitting in a meaningless, boring meeting with OLD PEOPLE working on dull topics." If what bothered you was the meaninglessness and boredom, or the dull topics, fair enough. If that's the case, what purpose does the reference to old people serve?

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 3:29 PM

JBM - Wow! This gets uglier all the time!

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 3:15 PM

I'm less concerned about the ethnic diversity at meetings & on committees than I am the quality and commitment of those choosing to participate. Those staying on the sidelines are voting with their feet, and delegating to their neighbors. They also give up the right to moan about the outcomes.

Northeast Oak Parker from Oak Park  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 3:05 PM

Back on the article's topic, I went to the library more out of curiosity and I was very pleasantly surprised. Both men were very engaging and informative. I give them a lot of credit.

Not old  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 2:50 PM

You're proving my point, FYI. I'm "ageist" for being in the minority at the meeting the other night? Not everyone in OP has the same set of issues we care about as the people in that room. Sounds like I'm not the one who needs to grow up.


Posted: August 30th, 2013 2:28 PM

Wow. "Sitting in a meaningless, boring meeting with old people working on dull topics." Now THAT'S maturity. "Not old," you need to grow a bit older and grow up some before you have much to offer. Government isn't a video game or a set of lyrics to "relate to." And your ageism is showing, kid. Frankly, I don't what to be in a room discussing anything with some 20-something spouting a bunch of half-baked, self-involved ideas that ignore the legitimate concerns of fellow citizens.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 2:28 PM

Several people at the forum implied that money existed to solve OP problems. It does not and things just got worse. Sertus faces a $4.9 million foreclosure lawsuit from Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank N.A. Sertus failed to pay off a $4.5 million mortgage when it came due in March 2012, according to a complaint filed in July in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Sertus has transferred or sold its right for the Lake and Forest Project to Goltz Realty, a partner of Chody Real Estate. Mr. Goltz is a Vice President at Chody. Chody's specialty is Commercial Acquisitions and Retail Development. According to the photos on the Chody website ( Chody specializes in strip malls. The OP project is a twenty story apartment house. The transfer of the development property from Sertus to Goltz/Chody requires village board approval. It is not known if Goltz/Chody has financing, how risky their lack of hi-rise experience is, whether they will want to make changes to the plan, and how long would it take for Goltz/Chody to absorb the Sertus project plan. Realistically anticipate further delay. Actually, we should hope for a delay. The board and the residents have a lot of homework ahead of them.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 2:04 PM

Not Old - On the Mark

Not old  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 1:34 PM

Agreed, John. As far as young people, FYI, I think being less a waste of time would help. There's the not-untrue perception that you'll be sitting in a meaningless, boring meeting with old people working on dull topics. Let young people work on village issues that they can relate to. The 22 yr old at the meeting specifically mentioned bike policy as something his generation may feel very differently about. His friend mentioned bringing back the old village shuttle. I like both their thoughts.


Posted: August 30th, 2013 1:17 PM

"Involvement in running OP should look as diverse as the people living here." So, what exactly is stopping younger people, "Not old"? Besides the onerous two year minimum time commitment? There was the same thing expressed a decade ago about African Americans on the village board, as if people were supposed to beg for minority involvement. Oak Park now has two highly qualified, effective and committed black men on the board, because they WANT to be there and took the time and made the effort.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 1:12 PM

As troubling is the lack of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, etc. One success measure for diversity in OP is the diversity of meetings in OP.

Not old  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 1:06 PM

The avg age in the room for the town hall was...maybe 60? That should say something right there. Involvement in running OP should look as diverse as the people living here.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 12:19 PM

y point was that many leave because commission work does not suit there service needs.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 12:16 PM

I doubt there are many 18 year olds reading and posting on WJ Comments.


Posted: August 30th, 2013 11:42 AM

If you're over 18, live in OP, and have a desire to serve on a commission then there should be something to do. Better to not have openings constantly begging for volunteers like we do now.


Posted: August 30th, 2013 11:35 AM

John, just because some people don't bother with basic due diligence on what commission service entails doesn't mean towns should just invite people to take on that responsibility, then leave after a few months. There are lots of folks who DO put up with the downsides of commission service, and serve out their terms. People who volunteer for a few months then leave when it suits them serve little purpose. Instead, just sign up for public comment at board meetings. That's a 3 minute commitment.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 10:30 AM

Yes, there has to be standards. Yes, I am familiar with the commission. I was the chairperson of the Community Relations Commission. I resigned from the commission after two years. I resigned because I found commission service to be too political, too bureaucratic, too slow, lacking in any authority needed to lead, and dominated by people with pre-conceived views on issues and incapable to listening and discussing the other viewpoints. There are some high quality commission that are assertive and accomplish their goals. Unfortunately, less that half the commission meets that standard. There is a huge turnover of new commission in the first year when they find out that commission work does not suit them. The two year service rule does nothing to stop them. So why do we need the two year rule in the first place?


Posted: August 30th, 2013 10:06 AM

So, John B. Murtaugh: Are you in favor of ANY standards for serving on a village commission? Sorry you find it offensive that I find it laughable that some young people think they can just drop in for a while and call it public service. If you've followed commission functions, which I suspect you have, then you know that it takes a while to get up to speed on the issues, and that those issues take time to work through. Hence a minimum time commitment. It's not like posting on Twitter, kiddies.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 8:39 AM

I apologize to Suzette. my post was intended for FYI.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 8:37 AM

Suzette ?" The young man name is Adam. He has been active in political campaigns, has performed honorably in public service, and has knowledge of the village exceeding most residents of the Oak Park. He has viewpoints that are different then the bulk of the audience. That should not be a surprise since he has spent most of his life in the 21st Century. His ideas are different then yours. He, unlike most of the people at the forum was not groomed for decades in the ways, rules, habits, and bureaucracy of the 20th Century Oak Park. He has the right to ask why he has to commit to two years of service to serve the village on a commission? It is a good question. It should be respected.


Posted: August 30th, 2013 7:44 AM

No reason to mock someone sincere in wanting to get involved. He had a valid point about the time required to serve when we can never fill vacancies on the commissions. There's always open seats. It's a shame.

John from RF  

Posted: August 30th, 2013 5:46 AM

RF could take a nod from its sister city, and begin to schedule and hold its own regular town halls - not just on single pressing issues like the sewers (which happen to impact those residents in a park that Paris screwed up when he put in crap sewers. Why not talk about that -- his missteps with that park, are now costing the village big time!!


Posted: August 29th, 2013 9:38 PM

Had to laugh when I heard the 20-year old who complained that he had trouble getting on an advisory board, then admit that he balked at an offer to serve after learning he had to make -gasp!- a TWO-year commitment.

Suzette from Oak Park,IL  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 9:09 PM

Well attened and a courteous crowd. As a new Oak Park resident, I was pleased to hear the many issues brought forward and the response from our Village President and Trustee. I would encourage residents to attend upcoming forums.


Posted: August 29th, 2013 5:35 PM

Where is the article about Danny Davis' "lively" town hall meeting Tuesday night in OP that I read about in [COMPETING NEWSPAPER]? Does not sound like everyone around here loves Obamacare after all from what I read....

Laura from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 10:22 PM

I attended tonight and thought it was great. Anan and Tucker were excellent.

Mike Lennox from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 10:13 PM

Great night with Anan and Bob Tucker. Those who missed it, make a point to go to the next one. Thank you for idea.

Anna Lothson   

Posted: August 28th, 2013 8:41 PM

Hello, readers. Check out our article about the forum on Thursday, Aug. 29, on

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