According to Wednesday Journal, I have squandered the chance to be a genuine force for change and have instead become the champion of every grumbling special interest in town. The thousands – yes, thousands – of citizens, whose property taxes are too high are the only special interest group I, and the VCA, champion.

Overbuilding condos; increasing congestion on our streets; allowing building code violations by major property owners to go uncited and uncorrected for years, leading to demolition by neglect; letting Harrison Street buildings stay vacant for years; the probability of having to return $250,000, or more, to HUD because of mismanagement under Carl Swenson; letting a small group of businessmen stop historic preservation in Downtown Oak Park – these are actions the VMA/NLP seem to believe are simply OK.

Destroying our historic fabric, adding cars by the thousands to our streets, and trying to build our way out of the property tax mess are absurd.

A few excerpts from our platform (

-Support small businesses in every business district.

-Preserve our historic neighborhoods while supporting appropriate development.

-Stop inappropriate teardowns and out-of-scale development.

-Provide responsible stewardship of public monies.

-Promote cooperative labor relations at village hall.

-Save and improve the Marion Street mall.

-Fix the crumbling streets.

-Adopt the National Trust Main Street Program (as Forest Park has done on Madison Street).

-Encourage adaptive reuse of historic commercial buildings.

-Establish design standards for new multifamily and commercial buildings.

-Enforce building codes fairly to prevent “demolition by neglect”

All the people who believe that public servants are indeed supposed to be “public servants” should support the VCA. Two out of three NLP trustees resigned from office and the only one left standing has broken promise after promise to the citizens of Oak Park.

The VMA has raised over $57,000 for the election, including over $12,000 for a push/pull poll filled with vitriol toward their opposition. They have accepted donations from developers doing business in Oak Park, Realtors, and building owners who do not live in Oak Park. Some of these same donors have had building code violations for years without any citations or code enforcement. They see a VMA victory as the sign to move in while the middle class is driven out.

The NLP recently held a soirée with Realtors and “raffled” a listing as a prize. The NLP has staked their position as “selective” preservation of buildings. Sacrifice a few to save some. So which of you wants your building sacrificed? This isn’t new leadership; it is no leadership.

For those who value small-town urban feel, historic architecture, fewer cars, safe pedestrian streets, quality schools, open space, fairly enforced building codes, and a board that respects citizens, you have a choice: Vote Vision Community Action on April 17.

Robert Milstein
Vision Community Action candidate


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