Village Clerk Teresa Powell offered one opinion in her letter on the living wage that I share. [Factual errors in letter on living wage, Viewpoints, June 16] She applauds the Oak Park Community Relations Commission for its work on the proposed living wage ordinance for the village. That commission dedicated 13 months to the task assigned them by Village President David Pope: evaluate the impact that a living wage ordinance would have on our village. They ultimately endorsed it by a vote of 7-2.
After that, however, her interpretation of the letter from three people involved in promoting the ordinance goes astray. Their letter [Is the village president stacking the deck against a living wage? Viewpoints, June 8] asks whether President Pope has the fix in against a living wage ordinance.
Powell writes that the letter complains that both the “majority” and “minority” reports will be presented to the board. In fact, the complaint is that “minority” report status was conferred upon a personal opinion sent by then-chair John Murtagh to members of the Oak Park business community and to the village board. This outlined his perception of risk to the community. The commission voted to issue one report to the village board, and before it could be finished, Murtagh released his opinion.
The “stacked deck” letter suggests that Murtagh present his opinion during the public comment session when the village board discusses the ordinance. The board has indicated that it will let up to three people speak in favor of, and up to three people speak against, the proposed ordinance at that time.
Powell also states that the “stacked deck” letter objects to the chair of the commission presenting the report. True indeed. That objection stems from the fact that the current and former chairs of the commission are the only two members who voted against the living wage ordinance.
When I heard that commissioner Cecil Hunt had been appointed chair after Murtagh’s resignation, I contacted three of the current commissioners to find out how this came about. One didn’t respond. The other two said his appointment was announced at a regular commission meeting. In her letter, Powell writes that “President Pope received a great deal of advice about this appointment.”
Through his appointment of Murtagh’s opinion piece to “minority” report status and his appointment of the only other person who voted against the living wage ordinance to chair the commission, President Pope has done what he can to ensure that our board only hears full presentations from the two commissioners who voted against the proposal.
Powell writes that the “chair of the commission is usually the presenter.” The “stacked deck” letter suggests that it would be reasonable to have the two commissioners who authored the report present it to the board. One of the authors voted against the proposed ordinance when it was on the ballot in November 2008, and the other voted for it. This suggestion offers balance and respect for the commission’s work.
Tom Broderick is an Oak Park resident and co-chair of the Greater Oak Park Democratic Socialists of America, which is one of the sponsors of the living wage ordinance.