“Thank you to all Oak Park civil servants,” says the sign outside the Oak Park Arms. I wondered whether it should read, “Thank you to all you Oak Park workers who still consider themselves civil servants.” There seems to be an increasingly adversarial attitude in some village hall departments. The public needs help earning a living, and keeping up a nice place to live. Village government should be part of the solution.

Three things bother me. I must write.

1) The traffic situation in Oak Park drives me to distraction. A while ago, traffic was stopped on Lake Street at Marion for construction that would “improve traffic flow” at that corner. This is a seemingly worthy reason to expend the time and money of Oak Park’s citizens. Unfortunately, “improve traffic flow” in Oak Park always means slow it to a crawl and then stop it. Somewhere, someone decided that the civils could be best served by reducing the number of usable traffic lanes on all of Oak Parks streets to one, in both directions, through the use of center medians and oceans of traffic paint. Oak Park talks green but paints the streets yellow, and then demands double the time and gasoline when attempting to get about. Maybe OPEC is behind the “traffic pacification” policy that has been imposed on us all without public referendum. Do we really want to offer drivers a choice between standing still on our main streets or racing down our residential streets?

What is in the public interest? Nobody asked me.

2) A recent letter bemoaned the fact that a building permit is now required to replace a broken window pane in Oak Park. The department with the biggest work logjam in Oak Park is now looking for more logs? When a contractor waits two hours for a permit at the Building Standards Department, he will eventually charge for that time. We pay him to wait and we pay someone to slow him down. Is there a measurable impact on the quality of Oak Park buildings by all these permits? Just because a permit can be required in these situations does not mean that the civils are best served by doing so. Is an engineer to inspect my mended pane?

What is in the public interest? Nobody asked me.

3) The parking signs in village parking lots are incomprehensible, the parking enforcement officers offer colliding views about what these signs mean, and hundreds of tickets are written in marginal situations. Just because it is defensible to write a ticket for a car whose tail end sticks out six inches beyond a parking sign does not mean that it is necessary or helpful to write that ticket. They call them the “Parking Nazis” for a reason. And all these silly tickets are being appealed to the Administrative Adjudication Department at village hall. What is that all about? So now we have an entire new department dedicated to pacifying angry civilians who get silly tickets because neither the persons getting the tickets nor the civil servant writing them really understand where we can or cannot park.

I saw a clip of Ronald Reagan on the news the other night saying what is possibly the only thing he ever said that I could sometimes agree with: “The government is not the solution to the problem. The government is the problem.”

What is in the public interest here? Are we dealing with real problems or is it administrative egos that slow us down and complicate our lives?

Walk into village hall and I am greeted by the most cheerful and helpful receptionist I have ever encountered. Beyond this desk, things can get a little murky.

Join the discussion on social media!