Anan is right, the title “mayor” does carry greater weight — and that’s precisely the problem with this proposal. Words and titles have connotations beyond the technical definition attached to them, and “mayor” suggests a degree of autonomous authority beyond that of “president of the board of trustees,” a fact of which Anan is painfully aware. 

This is undoubtedly why it is difficult and embarrassing for him to explain his title: it all too fairly and precisely describes the job he has, but not the job he wants. For that reason, I think this is a potentially dangerous proposal that could all too easily lead to greater friction, and even divisiveness, with the village manager and the board of trustees. 

Working full-time from a permanent office with a personal secretary would only accelerate this potentially disastrous dysfunction. A commentator on OakPark.com noted that he was led to believe that this effort, “initiated by Anan and some board members, is about outing the village manager. She is a strong executive who sticks to the village rules, defends the employees, stands for fair play and is not hesitant to remind Anan of the limitations of his role. She is in Anan’s way. Becoming mayor would allow Anan to eliminate much of her authority and responsibility.” 

Such a move would be tantamount to a first step in the dismantlement of the Manager form of government Oak Park has enjoyed since 1953, when a dissatisfied electorate voted out a patronage-ridden partisan mayoral system. 

I’m aware that elevating a strong man to a central leadership position can create efficiencies and stimulate economic growth, as Mussolini capably demonstrated in Italy. But moving toward a mayoral form of government is something that should be put to a referendum, not undertaken by subterfuge and board fiat. 

Dick McKinlay 

Oak Park

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