An open letter to the New Leadership Party Trustees:

Reading Village President David Pope’s letter, the WEDNESDAY JOURNAL editorial (“No white guys, no acronyms for seventh trustee”), and Morrie Seeskin’s letter (“NLP village board should expect criticism”), I perceive that you four are receiving a lot of subtle but intense pressure to “be nice,” allow someone new to be appointed to the board, and not be “political.”

I urge you to be tough and resist this pressure. Just because Pope is smooth and congenial, doesn’t mean he is not trying to manipulate things to appoint someone who fits in more with his agenda?#34;someone who agrees with his idea that “experts” in development should be followed instead of our citizens.

I urge you to remember that a core principle in our platform is that development in Oak Park must be guided by citizens, not by development experts. Judging from his voting behavior and his public comments on the board on this core principle, Pope has been wishy-washy at best, or has a hidden agenda at worst.

The editorial is spouting an antithetical agenda to what the NLP stands for?#34;accountability to the people. That is what is good, wonderful and excellent about democratic elections. Being “political” is not bad when all the people are invited to create a platform or vision for the future of their community, choose representatives for that platform, and elect them in an issue-oriented high-road campaign. You were elected trustees to put into effect the NLP vision and you will be judged by how effective that vision is for Oak Park.

The editorial, as well as Seeskin, have got it wrong. They negatively characterize people, such as Barbara Mullarkey, as being unfit to be a trustee because they had consistent, principled disagreement with the past board on various points of their policy which they contended were not good for our community. Barbara’s presentations were factual, detailed, and always for what she believed was in Oak Park’s best interest. That she, or anyone like her, should not be considered because she spoke often is absurd. The opposite is true?#34;her obvious interest in the village makes her more qualified.

In addition, it is undemocratic that people who gave money to a campaign should not become a trustee. Rather, these people have shown their trustworthiness to care enough and be willing to put their hearts, hard work, and money behind a vision that is faithful to Oak Park citizens’ wishes for their future.

How absurd to tell the NLP representatives, who Oak Park decisively chose to represent them, that they should demur and choose some unknown person who has what the “elitist-leaning” editor, board president, and Morrie Seeskin want?#34;the personality or “vitae” they like. What we are all about is being accountable to the principles of the citizens.

The NLP represents a new paradigm for Oak Park both of open government and of having citizens?#34;not developers or staff?#34;make decisions that the latter have been making for years. This is not going to be easy to change. A lot of staff members are used to the old way. Professional developers, consultants, planners, etc., have their careers, livelihood and egos dependent upon selling us that they know best. They have smooth, persuasive arguments well-honed to sell their ideas.

We see how absurd that old paradigm is, but it is especially absurd when we consider the intelligence, professionalism, skills, and diversity of this community.

Plus, we are talking about what
residents care most about?#34;the quality of their community for themselves and their children. Who turns that over to consultants? That is a bankrupt philosophy.

But beware! Maybe some have learned from our electoral success, to say the right words?#34;”open government.” But hewing consistently, faithfully, with clear insight as to when to listen to experts and when to dismiss them will require appointing a trustee with toughness and diligence and complete dedication to the new paradigm.

I know you are committed to these things but don’t let these others dictate or hijack the agenda by accusing you of not being nice, cooperative, or working together. They cannot distinguish between simply being oppositional and following a community-supported platform that provides a new vision for Oak Park.

Karen Ard
Oak Park

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