Trustee Bob Milstein makes noises that he might not run for re-election in next spring’s Oak Park village board campaign. Of course, he won’t be able to help himself. Like a moth circling my front porch light, Bob Milstein will stand for re-election.

Maybe he’ll win. Certainly he started the campaign two weeks ago when he appeared at a protest rally outside village hall conducted by one of the unions representing village hall staff. The union was protesting how one of its members was escorted out of village hall after a suspension (with pay pending a hearing). Milstein, who has made a perceived crankiness among village staffers his cause, did more than stand in solidarity for the suspended worker. He took the occasion to trash outgoing Village Manager Carl Swenson, actually calling him “a liar” and saying, “I’m so delighted he’s leaving.” He went on to suggest strongly that a couple of other senior staff members, Village Attorney Ray Heise and Human Resources Manager Frank Spataro, ought follow him out the door.

Milstein reiterates his points in a letter to the editor today.

Now, before you get to the editorial and the raft of pro and con letters on this subject, including Milstein’s preemptory effort, let’s just acknowledge that what Milstein did was low class. There is no need for a village trustee who has gotten what he wanted?#34;Swenson is leaving after 10 years?#34;to gloat over it publicly. It just isn’t nice. It isn’t fair. It isn’t smart. It isn’t productive.

Oak Park is currently trying to hire a new village manager. It is a small world of potential village managers out there and they don’t take new jobs without doing a lot of research. Milstein’s rude and reckless comments will not be ignored.

Is there upset within the staff at village hall? Undoubtedly. The raft of anonymous letters flying about town suggest issues exist. In part, Milstein was elected three years ago on the basis of that upset. A year ago, a quartet of allies joined Milstein on the board. If there are legitimate personnel issues which need airing, Milstein ought to be in a strong position to make that happen now. Reckless, overly personal public shots aren’t the way to accomplish it.

What Milstein also made clear through his comments last week was that the position of the board majority that the early retirement package it passed quickly last fall was not the cost-saving measure it touted. This program will end up costing the village millions, not saving money. But it will hasten the departure of a generation of top village staff that the board majority wanted out. Swenson’s leaving in two weeks. We report today that Finance Director Greg Peters is departing. Deputy Manager Pete Dame is returning to Michigan. More resignations will follow.

The turnover in staff isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Swenson’s 10 years is a lifetime in village management. The right new hires can bring new energy. But treating people right, people who have worked well and sincerely on Oak Park’s behalf is always the right thing to do.

Take a lesson Bob.

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...