Oak Park’s village board was prepared Monday night to pave the way for a new fitness center to open on Madison Street. Assuming everything went as planned, the board’s decision is a triumph of common sense.

Evolution Fitness has already moved its treadmills and other instruments of torture into a portion of the former Foley-Rice Cadillac space. The village, though, refused to issue a business license because the auto dealer still owes taxpayers $400,000 on a renovation loan.

As suggested in this space two weeks ago, a compromise seems to have been reached. A portion of the gym’s monthly rent will be diverted to village coffers. Admittedly, at $1,000 a month, this loan will not be paid off until 2042. But, as an interim step that brings a new business to Madison and some cash to the village, it is a good step for all concerned.

About that field trip money

You’ve got the lunch money and the book fair money and the field trip money and – as Everett Dirksen might have concluded (Google the reference, folks) – after a while, you’ve got enough money to be tempting.

The petty cash fund seems to have tempted at least a couple of office assistants in District 97 Oak Park elementary schools in recent years. Last week, the former administrative aide at Irving School was charged with felony theft. She resigned her post in August after an internal audit found alleged irregularities. The legal system will determine if Deborah Wallace is guilty.

While the school system gets credit for having unearthed the alleged discrepancies, it brings to mind other incidents – minor and major – in recent years at the district where school funds and school assets have been misappropriated.

The frequent turnover of chief financial staff in the district does not provide confidence that the necessary checks and balances have been put in place. Once more the school’s spokesperson says that new controls have been put in place. We want to see the board and administration of the district be more upfront in explaining why keeping track of taxpayers’ money continues to prove such an elusive goal.

Golden’s guilty. Oh, yes, he is

The abject Les Golden, the version of the man about to be found guilty of criminal trespass to property, was a sight to behold at Maybrook last week. Our reporter described him as “contrite and nervous” as he awaited the judge’s verdict on charges brought by the Park District of Oak Park.

He apologized to the judge for lecturing him, admitted that returning to a Field Park construction site after being warned off by park personnel had been “an impulsive act of bad judgment,” and, to our great delight, swore off any further local activism.

But, alas, Abject Les lasted about four days. By Monday, he was back to e-mail rants taking apart the judge who had leniently sentenced him to community service and supervision, calling all of his accusers liars and blaming his lawyer for good measure.

Never, ever, is it Les Golden’s fault.

Well, Les, and to your coterie of supporters commenting on our Web site, a final reality check: The judge said you were guilty. Period. Guilty.

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