In their letter of June 8 [Is the village president stacking the deck against a living wage? Viewpoints, June 8] representatives of the Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice, Unity Temple Social Mission Committee and the Greater Oak Park Democratic Socialists of America raised specific questions regarding processes used by the Community Relations Commission during the Oak Park living wage deliberations.
Why was a minority report submitted with the commission’s report?
The living wage study’s sole purpose was to provide information and analysis to the boards for its members’ use in making an ordinance decision. My view was that the final report, drafted by Bob Kane and Bamshad Mobasher, did not meet the requirements of the study. That is, it was to be thorough and objective. The early drafts expressed a pro-living wage position without identifying risks to the community. I, therefore, prepared a risk report.
The commission voted to exclude the risk report in December 2009, stating, “The report is personal information (of John Murtagh) and should not be included in the final report … ” The risk report became a living wage study minority report after the majority report approval at the February meeting.
Submitting minority reports to commission documents is an acceptable practice in the village. In fact, minority reports are encouraged. They enhance the board’s understanding of issues studied by commissions.
Why was the risk report distributed in the community?
Because of public requests for information on the living wage report, the commission approved posting of the draft final report to the village Web site. Subsequently, I distributed the risk report to people who were interested in a broader view of the living wage issue.
Why didn’t president Pope accept your resignation the first time?
I requested resignation as chairman, but not as a commissioner. That raised a policy issue. No precedent existed for accepting a chair resignation and continuing the resigning chairman on the same commission. President Pope asked me to continue to serve as chair until the policy issue was resolved.
Why did he accept it the second time?
The second time around I resigned from the commission itself. That eliminated the policy issue.
Was President Pope’s appearance appropriate?
Absolutely. President Pope appeared before the commission in November 2009 to explain why he had not accepted my resignation yet, and to reinforce the board’s view that the final report should contain both the pros and cons of the living wage issue.
Was the appointment of Cecil Hunt as chairman outside the norm?
The commission members’ handbook states that the commission may recommend a candidate. I have no idea if the commission proposed a candidate for chair.
Following the acceptance of my resignation, President Pope asked me whom I would recommend for the chair. I recommended Cecil Hunt. My choice of Cecil had absolutely nothing to do with the living wage final report vote. I recommended Cecil because of his professional experience – he is a lawyer and university professor, his background in business and academia, his published essays, his communications skills in a policy forum and his objectivity.
My understanding is that I was not the only person asked for a candidate recommendation by President Pope.
Will the format of the July 6 board meeting be proper?
Your issue here seems to be who will present the living wage final report to the board.
Your letter stated, “We’ll also hear Murtagh offer his board-designated minority report … ” I have no idea where you find your information, but no one from the board or the commission has asked me to speak at the meeting. I have no plans on being a public speaker at the July 6 board meeting.
Closing comments: For the record, during the commission’s study, there was no interference or intervention from the village board. No member of the village board revealed his or her opinion on whether Oak Park should have a living large ordinance. In fact, I do not have any insight of how the board or any of its members will vote on the issue.
In the last paragraph of your letter, you accuse the village board of 1) “creating fiction” (the minority report), 2) promoting a sham (allowing me to present the minority report), and 3) fraud. None of the accusations are true.
John Murtagh is an Oak Park resident and the former chairman of the Oak Park Community Relations Commission.