As the village election of April 5, 2011, quickly approaches, it’s again time to think about Oak Park village government’s direction under a continuing one-party rule. With a village board moving in lock-step on all the really important issues, there’s been little public policy discussion and a lot of really silly rhetoric going unchallenged.

In the interest of reintroducing public participation and meaningful debate to village hall, a number of us with significant histories of volunteer participation and knowledge of village operations are forming a new organization, “Citizens for Community Conversation.” The initial base for this organization will be a Yahoo discussion group at “OakParkCCC.”

If you question whether subsidizing development through TIFs should take precedence over maintaining basic service levels, we’d like to hear from you.

If you wonder whether diverting property taxes for things like a 20-story hotel with few amenities, expensive new condos in the face of rising condo foreclosures and falling condo prices, and more fancy downtown streetscapes might be a reason District 97 will be asking for a tax increase next spring, we’d like to hear from you.

If you think that today’s economic realities require fundamental rethinking of Oak Park plans made in better times, we’d like to hear from you.

And, most importantly, if you, as an Oak Park voter, would like to be able to participate actively in village government as something other than a cheerleader or apologist for the status quo, we’d dearly like to hear from you.

To start, please email me at

Gary Schwab
Oak Park
Citizens for Community Conversation

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