In 1963 my wife Barbara and I moved to Oak Park and we met Dominic Mayo, who was then the CEO of United Way, also known as the Community Chest. His favorite line was, "Every generation must build its own courthouse."
So here's my ode to the VMA (Village Manager Association):
Born 1952, retired 2018 – 66 years
Lots of good memories, laughs, and tears
Let's reflect, reminisce, socialize, and appreciate
Cause we've done a lot to congratulate
Now let's see, what did we do?
What I'm about to tell you is certainly true.
1940 to '52
We had alderman with patronage and corruption.
Outside interests, party factionalism, alcoholism, nothing got done.
A small group discussed the problem and the changes that needed to take place.
And all the obstacles they were going to face.
Instead of Republicans or Democrats, you know,
We wanted a completely different show.
Let's ask Oak Parkers for complete reform.
The citizens said yes, and it was born.
A professional village manager governed by a citizen board,
A president, six trustees, and clerk. Praise the Lord.
So here is the village manager association. The VMA
Made up of Republicans, Democrats, and independents you say?
Yes, any Oak Parker who wants good government can belong
To the selection committee, no fee, no flag, no song.
Seven people plus clerk were selected
And put them before citizens to get them elected.
From 1953 to 2011
The VMA thought we were in heaven.
Total of 90 seats and we won 88.
Ninety percent and we thought that was great.
But the years 2013, '15, and '17, total seats 11.
We lost five, we were no longer in heaven.
Times have changed, and let's be candid.
The VMA's tired, so it disbanded.
And now we're celebrating good things we've done.
The changes we've made, and new policies we've won,
Over time, thanks to hundreds of different souls.
Each with different skills, and also different roles.
I'd like to mention those who went before us now.
And are no longer with us — and give them a bow.
We're riding on their shoulders for all they have done.
And all the battles they've fought and battles they've won.
Here are their names:
Christiansen, Brown, Campbell, Hanley, Westcott, Cullicott, Fixman, Hansen, Wentzel, and Shea.
This crew took care of renewing the village I'd say.
New zoning, anti-blight
Massive sewer program
Streets and alleys redone
Oak Park ResCorp to rehab properties
Fences over the expressway
Just to mention a few.
Donaker, Gearen, Thomas, and McClure
Callahan, Hoppe, Philbin, Fallon, there's more
McLean, Slaughter, and McMahon.
People who said, "Yes we can."
1968, ordinance adopted, Fair Housing
No for sale signs allowed
Licensing and inspection of multifamily dwellings
Housing Center collaborates with village, what a great crowd
Official Community Relations Department, Sherlynn Reid, we heard from her, yes indeed.
Developing a comprehensive plan
Mills Tower for senior citizens
Racial diversity statement, "Yes We Can"
Ordinance requires lease for tenants
$1.5 million housing bond supports multifamily rehab
Relocating village hall to Madison and Lombard
Equity assurance against loss of home value, village will pick up the tab
Oak Park puts in mall, then takes it out, villagers ask, what's this all about?
Furlong, Staczack, Schultz, Ebner, Kostopulos
The rest are still alive,
But we say thanks, for these great five
Racial diversity task force
Add sexual orientation to protected clause
Historic preservation ordinance implemented
Protection of solid waste disposal – Let's take a pause
Holly Court garage complete
Add more police and local cop beat
Attract more developers to build downtown
Give a smile and drop the frown.
Now on to Madison Street
Hope this gets done without much heat.
And we say to all of you here,
Thanks for all you've done and never fear.
The next generation will build their own courthouse, you see,
And they may even ask for help from you and me.
Congratulations, VMA, for 66 great years.
Answer Book 2018
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