Good sense and good management. A rare combination in governance. Yet today we applaud the District 97 school board and administration for having both. We’ll start with the school board’s declaration last week that it will not go for a property tax hike vote at any point in 2009.
It is a prudent political decision considering the worrying times we live in economically. The severe turn in the housing market nationally and locally make the prospect of adding any extra tax, especially a tax on our already burdened homes, unsupportable. Uncertainty over jobs, the resurgence of inflation, and we could list several more economic conniption fits, simply make this a rotten moment to consider a tax hike.
So even though-if you’re keeping track as we are-it is the Oak Park elementary schools’ “turn” for a tax increase vote; even though, and we’re not forgetting any time soon, that District 97 got aced out of its turn by a backdoor tax swipe by the high school district a few years back, it is the right choice for Dist. 97 to wait as patiently as it can for better days.
This delay is only possible because over the past several years this school board has aggressively and thoughtfully cut its own spending. Year after year, the elementary schools have methodically reviewed all aspects of spending and made precision cuts. They’ve done it carefully and fairly quietly, not making threats or seeking pity. These boards have realized there were cuts that could be tolerated without demolishing the educational program.
The result is Dist. 97 will have stretched its current resources, with some reasonable help from village government, by several years longer than initially expected.
We appreciate those efforts and respect this district for it. And when the moment is right for a tax referendum to get a fair hearing in Oak Park, we are plainly predisposed to consider that case.
A week ago in this space we urged a short delay in angry parkers storming village hall in outrage over increased parking meter rates. Since then, the Oak Park village board has rolled back hikes imposed a month ago to more moderate levels. Several other adjustments were also made and will continue to be made.
No one died. Let’s move on.
But remember the village’s parking fund is still under water. Someone, someday is going to pay that bill. It could be you.
RF cop shop flop
In one of the most bizarre and tortured departures of a public servant we have ever witnessed, Nicholas Weiss is no longer the River Forest police chief. Just like that, just 15 months after his fall began, Weiss is gone. And presto-chango, the River Forest village board just happens to have his replacement right here in the wings. Welcome Police Chief Frank Limon, until Friday a high ranking official in the Chicago Police Department.
We’re happy to see Weiss go. He was a failed leader caught in a political maelstrom of a kind that can only seize a small town. If Limon is to succeed, he will have to open communication in a troubled department and assess top appointments that have proven problematic. The village board will also have to shape up and shelve their power plays. And police officers will have to prove that the problem has been in the leadership and not in the ranks.