I have no affiliation with District 200 or with the Village of Oak Park. Nor do I have a child attending Oak Park and River Forest High School. And I don’t claim any particular expertise in the area of TIF funding. In fact, before I moved to Oak Park and began hearing the term on a regular basis, I would have told you that “tif” was a mild, marital spat in need of spell check.

In other words, I have no dog in this fight. And by “fight” I refer, of course, to the recent unpleasantness between the school board and the village. But the recent “One View” by the village manager [School trying to ‘extort’ taxpayers, Viewpoints, March 3] prompts me to respond because, while I have no special knowledge of the issues, I do know a solipsistic, ad hominem argument when I read one. And I just read one.

Mr. Barwin’s reasoning is, well, positively Barwinian. Which appears to be Darwinian theory in reverse – whereby the strongest should cower beneath the moral superiority of the weakest. Rather than answer a single one of the core questions (Does the village owe money? Has it failed to make payments? Did it refuse to meet with the high school?), Barwin takes District 200 to task for being a good steward and husbanding its resources. The fact that the school is sitting on a surplus seems to absolve the village of any obligation to pay District 200 what it claims to be owed.

And what a surplus! According to Barwin, District 200 is 130 percent overfunded and, “I’ve rarely seen a local government sock away more than 35 percent.” Well, gee, maybe if he applied the same rigorous, green-eyeshade analysis to his own books as he does to others, the village wouldn’t be in this predicament. Imagine the nerve of someone saving too much.

But now that the economy has soured and the village has frittered away millions on various follies, leaving the local larder bare, Barwin calls a legal request for payment due “extortion.” He feels it is District 200’s responsibility to wait “until the recession is over, the housing market rebounds and all local governments and taxpayers are stabilized.” I wonder what my creditors would say if presented with same request?

In the world of Barwinian evolution, the fable of “The Three Little Pigs” would be turned upside down – the pig who built his house of bricks is the villain while the pig who built with straw is the smart one.

I do have some sympathy for Barwin. Like so many others who have spent a career in government suckling at the teat of the taxpayer, when the milk begins to run dry, the natural instinct is to bawl like a baby.

Just one more thought. I don’t know how many other essays on the tenets of Barwinism he’s written, but perhaps they should be collected in a book. Call it The Origin of the Specious.

Tom Scharre is a 25-year resident of Oak Park.

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