As Oak Park’s only village board member not running for higher office or leaving the board after the upcoming election, I find myself in a unique position?#34;a position which provides for additional responsibility.

This added responsibility motivates me to communicate directly with citizens and share my perspectives on what you have been reading in these editorial pages over the last few weeks.

Obviously, there is a campaign in town and it is filled with position papers, sound bytes, yard signs, fundraisers, forums, and more. Sometimes in all the excitement of a campaign, the facts are distorted.

For instance, some suggest basic village services are “on the back burner.” The evidence is contrary with the recent independent and scientific Community Survey stating 92 percent of Oak Parker’s rating service delivery as good or excellent.

There was also a recent suggestion that “serious labor issues” exist at Village Hall. Again, let’s review the evidence?#34;11 of 12 multi-year labor agreements are approved, frivolous lawsuits have been thrown out of court, and a reduction in labor grievances coupled with high citizen satisfaction of survey delivery would be contradictory to the suggestion.

Finally, the suggestion that “out of control spending, salary increases and additional staff” is somehow related to members of one party or another is perplexing. In my opinion, fiscal prudence has been a hallmark and focus of village board budgets for many years. Spending priorities from each and every board member are taken into account prior to approval of a final budget. In fact, Trustees Milstein and Pope are the Co-Chairs of the board’s Finance Committee and led the board through the past two budget sessions. If people have a real issue with the village board budget, perhaps they should start with contacting Mr. Milstein and Pope.

Suggesting that FTE has increased by “50 percent since 1997” is a clear misstatement. In fact, FTE has remained flat even as new initiatives have been implemented. Efficient and effective service delivery, expansion of inter-governmental agreements and cooperation, consistent investor confidence, high bond ratings, balanced budgets, a reduction of 2005 general fund expenditures, and more, provide clear and convincing evidence that Oak Park is good and getting better and that we have sound fiscal management.

And don’t just take my word for it?#34;nearly 150 people provided a standing ovation for President Trapani at the recent League of Women Voters “State of the Villages” dinner and were a testament to her statement that, “Oak Park is in the midst of an unprecedented era of prosperity.”

The bottom line is things are so good in Oak Park right now that some critics have to stoop to myths and unsupported accusations to get attention, while creating a mirage of charges, and counter-charges in an attempt to drive the direction of the discussion.

Oak Parker’s witness on a daily basis the exceptional staff at every level of government and I’m confident people will see through misguided attempts to shade the truth, or worse, demonize individuals.

As always, I encourage you to contact me via email or or Village Hall at (708) 358-5788.

Ray Johnson
Oak Park Trustee

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