What a dispiriting edition of the Wednesday Journal (Sept. 2). Few reading experiences could convey the dysfunction of Oak Park government so well. First was the report of protester misbehavior at the Mayor’s house, and Dan Haley’s commentary on the same. From this we learn just how divided and dysfunctional our village board is. The board cannot even agree among themselves to express disapproval of the protesters going into the Mayor’s yard and breaking pots and committing similar mischief. All of this was triggered by a proposal by Trustee Walker-Peddakotla to “defund” the police. The mayor blames this trustee for being behind the unruly protests and the trustee denies. This is just embarrassing.

Next, we hear how restaurants in our village are struggling and how many are reliant on outdoor dining. I myself have marveled at how lively Lake Street just east of Oak Park Ave. is, with so many restaurants with outdoor seating. Finally, the village government has delivered! But no. We hear, for example, of Kettlestrings — a most pleasant place — which has been granted the privilege of keeping outdoor dining open until mid-November. But no later! 

If the owners of that establishment are clever enough to attract outdoor diners later into the year, why not let them try? Surely, a motivated village government could find a way to deal with snow removal. 

The bad news from the village continues. That vibrant section of Lake Street? Those restaurateurs must close their outside seating by Sept. 8 because the village engineer previously scheduled street work after that date. Nothing later is possible, according to that same (unelected) engineer. (The engineer did offer to speak with the restaurateurs to clear up “confusion,” but not to compromise, and he apparently did not even do the former.) 

How many of these businesses will close for good and how many people will lose their jobs, all because village government and its engineer are not sufficiently motivated or clever to make all of this work?

Our village government and bureaucrats have forgotten that the village exists to serve the residents. The residents do not exist to facilitate construction projects. 

Jerry Bowman

Oak Park

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