As a teenager I never should have read Animal Farm. It has colored my view of the world ever since. In Oak Park we loudly proclaim our belief that all should be treated equally no matter the race, gender identity, national origin, creed, ethnicity, immigration status and ability. But apparently in accessing village services, the rich are more equal.

 On May 17, Wednesday Journal had extensive coverage of Mr. Zarate’s bumpy journey through the Oak Park Building Department labyrinth after his family’s home was heavily damaged by fire [After fire, frustrated by permit process, News, May 17]. WJ, in its Viewpoints section, stated that this is a “story that is in the eye of the beholder.” WJ believes that permit requests stemming from a fire loss should be fast-tracked (I agree). Tammie Grossman and WJ point to the improvement in turnaround time for building permits (commendable).

 My viewpoint is that of a former elementary teacher who taught the democratic idea of equality of treatment throughout my tenure. The part of the story I had to re-read three times to ensure I was understanding it correctly was Ms. Grossman’s statement that all permit applicants could move to the front of the line by paying double the application fee. So instead of waiting your turn, which is something else I taught, you can shove everyone else in back of you by laying extra money on the counter.

 Am I so naive that I had no idea this is how Oak Park worked? In public works? In all departments?

 Does the library allow residents, for a slight fee, to jump the long queue for popular books?

 Does the park district allow parents who want to make sure their children are enrolled in summer camps to pay an expedited fee?

 I’m serious here. I’m looking for a response from all Oak Park government departments who practice this expedited feature for a rationale of its implementation.

Pat Healey

Oak Park

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