We are not chemists at Wednesday Journal. But we do pride ourselves on our powers of observation. And that leads us to question the scientific theory put forward by at least two Oak Park trustees last week that the ice storm a week ago Monday was accompanied by such frigid temps that salt was rendered ineffective.

How then could it be that the salt spread on streets in Forest Park seemed fully up to the task of melting ice?

Forest Park-streets are safe. Oak Park-streets are crazy slippery.

To our eyes Oak Park now has two salt-related problems. The first is credibility. This started a year ago when, due to a heavy winter of snow and ice, Oak Park began to run short of salt and couldn’t, due to a market manipulation right up there with gas prices, replenish its supplies. Instead of fessing up and saying, “We’ve got a problem, here’s Plan B to get us through the last 60 days of winter,” the village went all green on us and told us they’d suddenly discovered salt had some downsides for the flora and the fauna. It does. But car crashes have a downside for the fauna driving Camrys into each other.

Now another winter is here, everyone knows in advance that salt is in short supply and for some municipalities, like Oak Park, the cost has been artificially jacked up. The village has said it would be conservative in salt use. OK. But when there is an ice storm, being conservative isn’t really an option. And the observations of our own staff and the readers who e-mailed us last Tuesday raise doubts that the village was in any way ahead of this storm. The morning exit from Oak Park was like a Slip ‘n’ Slide. We did not see salt trucks until mid- or late-afternoon.

So be straight. And just telling villagers to drive slower after an ice storm, while advisable, isn’t an adequate response.

The second issue is prioritization. It seems clear by the response to date that having streets plowed and salted is in the top three services expected by residents of their local government. Pick up the garbage. Provide cops and fire. Make the streets safe during winter.

Seems to be Local Governance 101. Time to learn the lesson.

Quinn for governor … now

Hyde Park has the president-elect. Could Oak Park soon lay some claim to an acting governor? We can only hope.

As we’ve said previously of our current governor, we’re not particular. Indict him. Impeach him. Commit him. We wish the state supreme court had removed him. Whatever it takes to shunt Rod Blagojevich to the side is a good and necessary move.

Any such accomplishment will raise the status of Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, a former Oak Parker and now a resident of the neighboring Galewood section of Chicago. Quinn is a good man with determined good-government credentials. We have, over decades of covering him, sometimes been critical of his populist methods of steering this corrupt state toward cleaner governance. But we would never question his motivations.

And wouldn’t that be a refreshing change in Illinois? If we could disagree with a governor on the particulars but not worry that his primary motivation-in the case of Ryan and Blago-was to steal our integrity, our hope, our future.

Pat Quinn for governor. The sooner the better.

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