* Seen in the morning while walking down Randolph, Ridgeland to OP Ave.: massed arrays, sometimes whole blocks, of Johnson Pate Hale Hedges lawn signs. In the afternoon, same scene walking south of Madison: on Clarence, Jackson to Van Buren, Johnson Pate signs galore. Scattering of NLP, one or two Balanoff Milstein Schwab Abraham (VCA). NLP signs bunched on Grove, here and there from Washington to Pleasant. Upshot: VMA candidates are winning the sign campaign. They are well-funded, to boot. Those signs cost money. The village’s commercial interests almost certainly are chipping in generously.

* Meanwhile, in 3/28 Wed Jnl columns, Balanoff et al. refer to “so called experts,” “presumed regional market forces [that] allegedly dictate,” in each case demonstrating suspicion of conventional wisdom. They espouse “real participatory processes” and intend to devise their own Downtown Plan to displace the latest one and discourage teardowns so as to preserve old housing that is also affordable, that is, cheap.

Johnson Pate in the same issue, on the other hand, emphasize getting things done and having enough experience to do them. They have an “action agenda,” they say, vs. mere “traditional platforms.” They also lump NLP and VCA together as NLP/VCA, putting the alert reader on the alert for con and producing a nagging uneasiness about their various claims. If they distinguished VCA’s Milstein from NLP’s Marsey, both sitting trustees but Marsey only halfway through his term, for instance, one would be more inclined to take VMA folks at their word, even in the somewhat technical, bureaucratic lingo they seem addicted to.

On the other hand, they wisely and I think reasonably hang the Colt building business on the non-VMA trustees (a better term, for their purposes), two of whom are gone. These two came out of the VCA part of the New Leadership Coalition, rather than the NLP part. NLP is not VCA (never was) and is no longer allied to it. VMA says village spending is up 33% under this mostly non-VMA board. Is it? We can check this claim. Most won’t. But the question is, should we take the word for it of those who lump the two parties now opposed to each other? Can we trust this VMA slate when they play this game?

Indeed, they “go negative,” says Nile Wendorf for NLP, who goes that way himself, claiming (oddly) that there is no Downtown Plan. Moreover, the village under VMA governance spent $90 million for revitalization and has nothing to show for it, he says. Here’s a good point: Downtown’s problems are of long standing. VMA was in charge all these years, not the same individuals but the same organization and, we are tempted to say, the same mindset, which has less to do with experience and competence than with misplaced self-confidence.

* Speaking for the VCA in a letter in this issue, Milstein puts “debate” in quotes, referring to the 3/23 morning forum at the Carleton, then talks about it as if it were one. Huh? He also notes the $91 [sic] million spent in 20 years of VMA-led TIF’ing. It’s a point he and the NLP’ers should keep making: the village has problems now at which VMA threw money to no avail. All of a sudden, they know what they are doing?

He, Milstein, was rude to developers who came before the board? he asks, picking up on a VMA criticism. Impossible, he says: We represent (are) the people, he says. The people, c’est moi? This is typical Milstein talk: first, never ignore a slight, and second, claim your divine right of people-dom. Actually, he continues, NLP/VMA people (now there’s a lumping) were rude to the 1,200 villagers who oppose restreeting Marion, as if NLP/VMA voted to restreet with a sneer and a “So’s your old man.” Civility is the issue here, not a 6-to-1 board decision that 1,200 people don’t like. He devotes most of this letter to his slate’s “simple” message — in 12 parts!

* Another letter is from NLP candidate Mary Shiffer, writing about spring in full bloom at the OP conservatory. Why is she writing about this in the middle of a campaign? She’s a candidate, for gosh sakes, trying to prove herself to voters as someone who can deal with the hard realities of village government. She is not running for the Village Courtesy Committee. But here she bids a conservatory staffer a fond farewell, etc. Not a good sign. As pretty much an unknown commodity, she has better things to do.

* A CPA/VMA supporter, Jennifer I., goes after NLP in a clever letter picking apart some NLP phrases, as “over-analysis and endless discussion,” asking what about those 1 a.m. board meetings (maybe look to board president Pope and the voluble Milstein here?) and their being “ready to . . . get to work,” asking what about their two years as board majority (note again the mischievous NLP/VCA meld) and they’re not yet working? They are well-meaning, she writes, but are they well-qualified? Which is a key VMA point. The letter is clever and not done with sledgehammer, which is always appreciated, but the question arises: Does VMA worry more about NLP than the Milstein slate, thinking that’s the competition to worry about?

* A pro-Dolan (NLP candidate) letter-writer makes much of Dolan’s marketing experience (she’s applying for a staff position?) and her energy as shown in her skating for Team Fury in the Roller Derby. We’re asked to believe in her as a wonderful person. But can she govern?

* A tough anti-Hedges letter, by an apparently knowledgeable critic of his park district tenure, gives grim details that do call for rebuttal. VMA is vulnerable here. Hedges, also a nice person, engendered no groundswell of popular support while on staff. And he made his living from the village for many years. Something there is that doesn’t like his now, in retirement, going for policy-making elective position.

* A good pro-Johnson letter forgives him his support of the hated Whiteco but cites credibly his “intelligence, common sense, courtesy, and dedication.” Ditto a second pro-J letter.

Coming up: citation of the 3/23 morning forum at the Carleton, which I missed because I could not tell a.m. from p.m. and discovered my disability too late in the day . . .

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