The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick J. Fitzgerald would be the citizens’ choice for an ‘outside evaluator’ with respect to public corruption in the Village of Oak Park. That Barwin and Lesner are the obvious readymade scapegoats in this saga does not clear David Pope from complicity in the matter. Pope is the president of the village and must bear the responsibility of negligence in oversight of the village manager. When did Pope know about the improper funneling of taxpayer monies? What was his seasoned response? The buck stops with David Pope.

Jo Ellen Davey

I’m glad the board, lead by President Pope, is bringing in an outside investigator after taking both the manager and CFO to task in an open meeting. The board is acting responsibly to fully, publicly and independently get to the bottom of this situation.

David McCammond-Watts

Hail to the Village Mismanagement Association!! Look at the village board’s use of our tax money.

Purchase and upkeep of the non-functional computer program, PeopleSoft, $2 million, now to be jettisoned. Millions for a puny fountain, brick pavement and heated sidewalks for a single block on Marion Street.  (Never mind, that was just TIF money, which could have gone to the schools). Library Board refuses to pay years of upkeep on their garage, only $100,000. 

Meanwhile Mismanagement saves in the budget for 2009 through outsourcing public works functions by abolishing long-term employees. Despite long and frequent meetings, mismanagement by board and/or staff is obvious.  

Changes we need can be expected with the five person slate for the local elections April 7: president, three trustees and village clerk. It will take this village to go out and VOTE.

Annabel Abraham

I support the board in its intensity to investigate what and why this $200,000 was handled the way it was. Often in managing a number of projects, or involvement in well over 25 issues per day, this can happen. Based upon what I understand, the investigation was the correct way to go. Also, I think the rest of us should support our local businesses in any way we can and not get so preoccupied in this event. We have a very good village board, and they will handle effectively.

Paul Beckwith

The village board and President David Pope are accountable for these actions by the management they are supposed to control. They cannot wiggle themselves out of it; they cannot put a spin on it. They are accountable to the taxpayers of Oak Park. We want to know why, in these trying economic times, a whistleblower in village hall had to discover the irregularities and not Mr. Pope and his VMA board? Mr. Pope and Trustees John Hedges and Colette Lueck are running for reelection with the VMA. With the budget mess, increasing crime, layoffs of police, lack of salt, horribly pot-holed streets, a Marion Mall devastation that has led to a decrease in sales and which was called “extravagant” by the Wednesday Journal, this latest fiasco only indicates that they do not deserve the public trust and should all be rejected on April 7 by the voters/taxpayers.

Les Golden

I cannot understand why Barwin and Lesner decided not to report to the village board after the consultant fulfilled her $75,000 contract. Barwin’s claim that he misinterpreted the ordinance which permits him to authorize payments not to exceed $25,000 is ridiculous. He’s an experienced administrator who knows the law. Lesner, too, knew that paying the consultant an additional $150,000 or more without board approval was a serious violation. I think that Village President Pope owes the taxpayers a complete explanation regarding his lack of oversight. An independent investigation should be conducted. All village consulting contracts, outsourcing operations and personal services agreements must now be scrutinized. This could turn out to be a very expensive process and wonder which village services will be cut to pay the related costs. An unpaid leave of absence for both Barwin and Lesner seems appropriate until all of the facts have been properly examined.

James Coughlin

Most of the comments posted here sound very political in nature.

It’s unfortunate that people convict others of things when the data isn’t even in!!! Our village board and village administrators are very intelligent and capable folks who make this great village run.

So many times in Oak Park, residents are so quick to complain about things that can be improved, but rarely do they ever look at the solution side of the equation.

Let’s all agree that there is plenty to improve and if we all concentrate our energy and resources on solutions we will all be that much better because of it.

The election isn’t until April, so please tone down the rhetoric and stay focused on the true content at hand.

J.M. Konecki

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