Well, since you don’t want to hear all about my summer vacation, swell as it was, I have returned to my desk here on Oak Park Avenue and have these observations:
There is a profound change underway in how River Forest is being governed since the April election. The Frank Paris as uber-father era is over. While he has done a lot of good as village president, Paris can either accept the voters’ edict in placing critics on the board and make peace with it or he can continue to thrash about in ways that are unbecoming and unproductive. Either way, the lid is going to be lifted off the private ways of running a public government.
The park board in Oak Park has made some revisions in its plans for Maple Park. The changes came as a result of intense, but not particularly widespread, local upset over the master plan the park district and its consultant had crafted. After listening and adjusting, park board members called the new plan “much improved.” Here’s the point though: After voting for a sizeable tax hike 18 months ago to redo worn out parks, there ought to be no surprise that parks are being redone. There’s a planning process underway. It is completely public. Your neighborhood park is probably on the list. Take a look. Show up at the meetings. You’re going to be listened to. It may not turn out exactly how you want it, but you will have influence. I’m getting bored with “the outcries” from citizens too busy watching “Friends” reruns.
District 200 is considering a strategic plan. Same pattern as in District 97. New superintendent. Time for a strategic plan. Good thinking. Dist. 97 board members seem effusive in praising their own recent efforts. Old-timers at the high school, though, will look back at their last effort at strategic planning-in the early 1990s-as a debacle that mainly exposed all the existing fault lines in the power structure at the institution.
New District 200 Superintendent Attila Weninger gets points from me for his determination to increase the percentage of minority faculty at the school. Currently at 11.4 percent, it likely didn’t increase with the modest effort made with the opening of this school year. And the superintendent is going to also have to look at diversifying his administrative team which is looking more, not less, like middle-aged white guys like me.
Tom Barwin is good. The Oak Park village manager wrote a letter to the editor after last week’s typhoon. While weaving in praise for his hard-working village staff, Barwin focused the letter on thanking local residents for all they did to help each other out in tough circumstances. A nice touch.
Ed Hadac, the Oak Park Avenue beat cop, gave me a lesson on his Segway this afternoon in our parking lot. Not much else to say but, “cool.” And unlike our president (Bush not Pope), I did not fall over and bump my head. On the other hand, Officer Hadac had the courtesy of turning the contraption on for me, unlike George Bush’s handlers.
Finally, in last week’s paper we carried the valedictory of Drew Carter, one of our talented young editors. Drew has decamped for a fine position at Crain Communications, publisher of Crain’s Chicago Business and dozens of other pubs. We wish him well and thank him for his dedication to the Journal.