The role of the village clerk has been decimated going back many years. Our clerks have tended to be the guardians of our citizens facing the governing bureaucracy. When a villager, or a visitor, went to Oak Park Village Hall, they were received warmly and often directed to the clerk’s staff. The personality of many clerks, and their good work, made them the top vote-getters for most elections. People trusted the clerks and the clerks respected the people. 

Because a clerk is not a trustee, they are not able to vote on board decisions. As trustees came and went, clerks were usually elected and re-elected. They had enormous knowledge of how things got done for the citizen. The decline in their role has been an insidious effort to take control and power and to mask it as a need to use more technology and streamline operations. 

Yes, the clerk’s office for years fought technology, but the entire government for many years was not exactly high-tech or service-oriented. If you were to ask citizens about some of our past clerks, and our current one, “What department is most helpful?” you would hear things like “Vicki Scaman (or Theresa Powell) and her staff are so helpful.” As far as clerk icons, you have Virginia Cassin and Sandra Sokol. 

The lack of respect for an elected official lies with the legal department, the village president(s) and the village managers. The government can modernize the clerk’s office as a super-center for village services. It can be done and it should be done. 

As to Freedom of Information, the stripping away of the clerk’s role is done only to aid the blocking of the information. Facts interfere with the current president’s agenda, and his silent partner, “Vice President” Pavlicek, supports this view. 

The current and new board of trustees are elected by the people to serve the people. Transparency above all else is critical. The current clerk, and the prior one, knows that the village manager and the president want to control the information. Controlling the information tells voters know you have the upper hand, while the citizens get the back of the hand to the truth.

Robert Milstein 

Oak Park

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