It made me unhappy to read that Oak Park has paid a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, Nossaman LLP, more than $1.3 million “to help keep tabs on whether the feds look at expanding the Eisenhower Expressway” [Oak Park considers cutting Ike lobbyist, News, Oct. 20]. OK, this is the total bill over the past seven years, but maybe that’s part of the problem. Why do we continue to pay to keep tabs on a possible project that may (likely) not happen in the foreseeable future? Even more troubling, why does it cost so much to keep abreast of the status of a possible project?

The truth is that Nossaman LLP is not a lobbying firm — it is a law firm. The good news is that the firm’s website promises that Nossaman delivers “good value” and “By choosing Nossaman, clients get uncompromising quality at competitive rates.” And more good news from the website! Nossaman’s “invoices are clear and succinct.”

So, I would appreciate direct answers from village leadership to a few questions:

1. How does Nossaman bill Oak Park for this work? If an hourly rate, what is the rate for the Nossaman partner who has spent the most time on this matter?

2. What exactly does Nossaman do to perform this work, i.e., to keep tabs on the fed’s Eisenhower expansion plans, if any. (Sorry, but I just don’t get how such a bland assignment could cost so much.)

3. When did Nossaman send its most recent report on the status of expanding the Eisenhower Expressway and what does the report say?

It is unfortunate that the village seems to be hiding behind so-called “pending or imminent litigation” relating to the Freedom of Information Act to stonewall providing fundamental information about this contract. Oak Parkers have a right to know. I also find it baffling that Oak Park would go at this project alone instead of teaming with neighboring towns with a similar interest in any Eisenhower expansion project, so the cost could be shared; which leads me to another question: How much has Forest Park spent on keeping tabs on this speculative, excuse me, I mean possible, project?

Anyway, I am gratified that Oak Park chose a law firm that provides such “good value” and “uncompromising quality at competitive rates.” It would be good if we could also find out the identity of the public official who selected the Nossaman firm and the other options this public official considered before signing up with the Nossaman firm. One more question: Was this contract formally put out to bid?

It sure would have been nice to spend the $1.3 million on public works.

Steven Gillman
Oak Park

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