The real challenge ahead: Ditch the confrontational attitude

Opinion

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It warmed my heart to read two weeks ago Ms. Donna Ogdon Chen's letter to the editor wherein she described the "magnificent send-off" that her friends threw for her on the occasion of her departure from the position of executive director of Downtown Oak Park ("Thanks for making downtown tenure memorable," Aug. 24). A happier occasion one could barely imagine!

It's really a pity the press was not invited. Thankfully, Ms. Ogdon Chen found time in her busy schedule to report the event.

The "newly former" executive director then thanked these "really wonderful" people and followed up with a round of thanks for all.

Thanks to customers. Thanks to business and property owners. Thanks to staff. Thanks to friends and supporters too numerous to mention who "know who you are." I'm sure you do?#34;except perhaps you customers, who after all these years still can't tell Downtown Oak Park from the Avenue.

Well, as you, friends and supporters, have over the years come to expect from Ms. Ogdon Chen?#34;all this wonderfulness, all this sweetness?#34;was just so much sugar to help the medicine go down. Or the glove.

For the ex-executive, with all of the authority that comes with her position, has issued a mighty challenge to the village board: "to step up to the plate and find ways to make the business community whole." So all is not joy in Mudville?

Surely not now. Not now that our village trustees are up at all hours striving to erase the shame of this stinging challenge from an ex-leading citizen whose ancestors go back "to the late 1800s."

Not now that they must brace themselves against the fear of her return. Yes, she promises to "come back to visit," on which occasion she will no doubt render a terrible judgment on those trustees who have not measured up. She might even take back her old job!

Ms. Ogdon Chen in her parting shot demonstrates, for one final (I hope) time, the confrontational mentality characterizing her tenure as executive director of Downtown Oak Park.

That mentality has left Downtown Oak Park so politically disadvantaged vis--vis the village board. That mentality has driven away most of its experienced staff. That mentality has balkanized Oak Park into umpteen different business associations.

These challenges that Ms. Ogdon Chen glosses over are the ones that her friends and supporters?#34;-as well as her pretended enemies?#34;-must face in the coming months. I hope on her return she may find that they have risen to the occasion. I await with the keenest interest her second coming.

Donna Kenyon
Oak Park

Editor's note: Donna Kenyon is a former staff member of Downtown Oak Park.

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