Last week’s NLP/Nile Wendorf misleading attack letter in Wednesday Journal was about emergency school funding. Perhaps inadvertently, Wendorf proved the point we have been making:

His NLP slate opposes the agreed-upon plan to provide financial help to our elementary schools. By contrast, Johnson, Pate, Hale and Hedges support the Council of Governments plan to provide emergency funding for District 97 schools.

Our team isn’t alone. The Council of Governments (COG) plan was reviewed, analyzed and supported by the leaders and chief financial officers of District 97, District 200, Oak Park Township, Oak Park Public Library, Park District of Oak Park and Village of Oak Park.

Our own Trustee Ray Johnson supported the Council of Governments plan as did Village President Pope and trustees Gockel and Brady. In the minority were NLP/VCA trustees Marsey and Milstein. There’s nothing negative about pointing out real differences. In fact, voters need to know the differences. Here, the distinction is a bright line:

We support the emergency school funding plan endorsed by the Council of Governments; the NLP/VCA slates do not.

The emergency school funding plan provides for the short-term extension of the Madison Street TIF so that resources are available not only for District 97 schools but also to implement the Madison Street Master Plan. Of special note, the Madison Street Business Association testified that this was a prudent approach for both District 97 and Madison Street.

The NLP/VCA trustee candidates continue to wrongly claim that with the approval of the plan as agreed to by all the taxing bodies listed above, the Madison Street TIF would be bankrupt and that no master plan could ever be implemented. That argument was rejected by COG and outside counsel as unconvincing.

Similarly, the NLP/VCA scheme to use funds from the downtown TIF was rejected as unworkable. In large measure, that’s because of the NLP/VCA board majority’s failure to move forward the Citizen Steering Committee plan for downtown. That failure led to the purchase of the Colt building and surrounding properties for $7.5 million. Debt payments for that $7.5 million will total $1.2 million, with payments beginning in 2008, thus leading to a deficit in the Downtown Oak Park TIF.

Wisely, the Council of Governments, the leadership of all the local taxing bodies and, ultimately, a responsible village board majority, recognized the NLP/VCA idea was a non-starter and chose the more prudent and pragmatic approach.

This decision is a great example of improved intergovernmental cooperation that’s needed to make our community’s tax dollars go further, which has been on our action agenda from day one of our campaign for the village board.

Ray Johnson, Jan Pate, Jon Hale and John Hedges, Citizens for Progressive Action candidates for village trustee

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