In 2009, an election for village president, three trustees and village clerk will be held. The current president, David Pope, (should he run for re-election) has a major decision to make. Will he run as an independent or as the VMA candidate?

In 2005, when Pope ran, he did so as an independent. He claimed he had no affiliation with the other groups that fielded candidates. He claimed to be free of ideological constraints.

In conversations with me, prior to running, he confided that he felt that he had to “control” the decision-making process, that he did not like the way VMA President Trapani was running the village. He wanted to control the process. On these points (
Trapani and control), he and I agreed.

When he ran, he was supported by enough defectors from the VMA to defeat both me and sitting VMA trustee Carpenter. The NLP citizens elected what they thought were three good trustees. The NLP fell short of that goal and, in doing so, it tainted the VCA, too. The margin of victory for Pope was slim, and he is a minority (of total votes) president.

In my re-election campaign, along with my fellow candidates, he chose to endorse the VMA slate. In past elections presidents remained neutral as they were the leader of the whole board, not a faction leader. Pope made that endorsement so it would appear in the local papers before a rebuttal could be made. His lack of courage was evident.

He then selected a new trustee who would toe the VMA line and after he left, Pope selected another longtime VMA supporter who would provide the at-all-costs growth machine in
Oak Park with another vote. Trustee [Collette] Lueck was selected because the VMA does not want anyone to buck the continued overspending of TIF dollars or the continuation of the high-rise mentality. While she received a standing ovation, that’s for show.

Even Wednesday Journal mocked the Whiteco development as a look-alike for the Pravda facility in
Russia. The Journal’s key editor, Dan Haley, admitted that the Whiteco deal was a bad one. This Pope-Johnson administration, with the aid of former village manager Swenson, allowed a housing program to be used poorly, resulting in $281,000 being sent back to the government; led to a Parking Department manager’s resignation following firings and an arrest; allowed vacant commercial buildings to sit; stifled investigations into the mishandling of union-related issues; and hoodwinked one man into selling their family business when they didn’t want to.

The Pope-Johnson administration kept saying the “staff” will take care of it. They kept saying the “village manager” (Swenson) will take care of it. The only reason we now know that the current village software, at a cost of millions of dollars, should be dumped is because we have a new manager and a new finance director who actually serve the public. As to the “budget” now being “so much better” under Pope-Johnson, you were led by the then-manager’s “shifting” and “dodging” on a budget Johnson said was “award winning”-yes it was, for its style, not the content. An audit of budgets under the Pope-Johnson-Swenson years would be interesting.

So is David Pope an independent? Is Ray Johnson going to be the VMA candidate? And Trustee Greg Marsey, where will he be-NLP? VMA?

Dan Haley asked in an issue of the Journal, “Why is Robert Milstein writing letters” (again)? Could it be, although I am out of office, that as a citizen I am practicing my right to free speech? Go figure.

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