Barwin heads to Nigeria

Accompanied by pro-athlete son, Oak Park village manager hopes to soak up culture

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Oak Park Village Manager Tom Barwin spends most of his Monday nights at village board meetings, hearing residents protest about parking or trustees squabble over spending. But this past Monday he was 6,000 miles away in Abuja, Nigeria, hanging out with three professional football players.

Barwin’s 24-year-old son, Connor, shipped out to Nigeria last Friday. The second-year defensive end went there with his Houston Texans teammate, Amobi Okoye, along with defensive tackle Frank Okam (of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and defensive back James Ihedigbo (New York Jets).

The four NFL athletes flew off to Nigeria as part of the Amobi Okoye Foundation, started in 2007 to help bring supplies and education to Okoye’s native country. When Connor told his dad about the endeavor, the five-year village manager immediately raised his hand and asked if he could come along.

“I told him I was thinking about going, and he kind of invited himself,” Connor Barwin said from his cell phone at JFK Airport in New York, Friday, as he waited to switch flights.

Along with taking part in the foundation’s humanitarian efforts, the senior Barwin said he hoped to meet with Nigerian officials — including the governor of Calabar — to learn a little about how their government runs. In the 10 days there, he planned to split his time equally between the capital city of Abuja, Calabar and Lagos (the second-most populous community in Africa with nearly eight million residents).

“I just think the great thing about traveling is it opens up all of your senses to just absorbing how other cultures live,” Barwin said last week before flying out.

Connor said his dad’s always been interested in other societies, and he thinks he inherited some of that mindset.

“It’s something that he’s been doing ever since I can remember,” he said. “I think it’s rubbed off on me, as well as my brothers. The idea of learning about other cultures, embracing all kinds of diversity and seeing the good in it is something that we grew up learning about.”


Reader Comments

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JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:08 PM

@ Ray Johnson, if you are the real Ray Johnson, the Village Board had their shot and bungled it. Why would anyone register a comment with the Board when they don't consider the wishes of taxpayers, let alone reflect the viewpoint of the community.

JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:06 PM

Is he interviewing? I hear Nigeria is the Boulder of the third world. The guy is a parasite and an embarassment to the community. The fact that his housing was subsidized, he interviewed elsewhere, and then botched the consultant issue AND was still not fired underscores the incompetence of leadership in OP.


Posted: March 19th, 2011 5:49 PM

Too Funny...


Posted: March 19th, 2011 3:04 PM

Super Funny! You must read the comments posted below.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 11:18 AM

Completely offensive comments here. I thank Ms. O'Shea for being a voice of reason. This is a story about a father and son giving back to those less fortunate, and the personal attacks noted here are completely uncalled for. If someone has a criticism to share, send it to Lets not put personal attacks on the www to live on in perpetuity, to be googled, etc. We can do better. And folks sometimes wonder why more people aren't involved in public service?

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 12:14 PM

This is a story about Mr. Barwin going on a cool trip with his son. Seems like we could step back from the criticism for just a moment. I question with the best of em, but we are a community and need to live/work together.

Jason Rivers  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 8:42 AM

The Nigerian people are very skilled at spotting a fool and an easy target. Mr. Barwin can teach them some best practices he learned while dealing with the Oak Park Village Board.

Marc Simmons from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 8:37 AM

Maybe Mr. Barwin will meets some investment experts while in Nigeria. He can then trust them to safely invest Oak park taxpayer money. I look forward to hearing about how to invest at the next village board meeting.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 8:27 AM

If you're going to scold me for the comment; please elaborate. I'm of the opinion that Barwin should have be fired for his involvement in a deal that resulted in OP taxpayers being on the hook for $250K. He played fast and loose with the rules by making sure that each payment to the computer consultant was just under $25K. That's the threshold for expenditures requiring board approval. He claimed ignorance of the rule but it's not an acceptable defense from an experienced administrator & ex-cop.

Tommy from O.P.  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 8:23 AM

I predict that Mr. Barwin gets a tapeworm while in Nigeria. He'll be off work for months when he returns and tha Oak Park taxpayers will indirectly be paying for his medical bills.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 1:42 AM

OP Resident - not nice.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 11:42 PM

Good for Mr. Barwin and the residents of Oak Park. He must finally have his personal finances in order. Let's hope this means we'll no longer have to hear him complain about not being able to afford buy a fridge or purchase his Village-owned home. I do wonder if he brought along his resume.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 6:53 PM

I wish Mr. Barwin well. But, I am crossing my fingers that he does not meet a Nigerian "prince".

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