“Let’s talk about actual policies rather than sloganeering words like ‘defund.'”

That’s what Oak Park Trustee Dan Moroney said on the Sept. 24, 2020, episode of his podcast. A little more than three months later, Moroney would have you believe he has no political motive for suggesting a resolution at the board table asking Oak Park voters whether they support “defunding” the police.

On that same episode, Moroney argued that the phrase was meaningless, saying: “‘Defunding,’ whatever that might mean.”

Moroney is right about one thing: public safety is an important role of village government. So let’s talk about actual policies. Let’s talk about what we’d like public safety to look like in the 21st century. Putting forward a referendum that even Trustee Moroney admits is meaningless will not move our community forward.

On Aug. 25, 2020, the village board considered, and voted down, a draft resolution committing to, among other things:

Reducing the number of sworn officers in Fiscal Year 2021;

Funding a non-police response team for mental health crises and homelessness;

Rescinding laws that may be used to unfairly target BIPOC youth;

Removing the construction of a new police station from the 2021 Capital Improvement Plan;

Amending the village code to strengthen the Citizen Police Oversight Commission; and

Acknowledging the harm done by policing.

We can, and should, debate these proposals and any substantive proposals put forward by Moroney, another trustee, or Oak Park residents. Of course, Moroney dismissed the two-page resolution as vague at the time. But now he has demonstrated that this was just another political ploy. Moroney is perfectly fine with vague sloganeering if he believes it serves his personal aims.

Oak Park should recognize Moroney’s politics of division for what it is and turn the page.

If we elect trustees and a village president who represent our shared values and our shared story, we can begin to have honest conversations about issues that matter to Oak Park, including public safety.

As Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb said on Jan. 12, 2021: “We all have a responsibility to lower the temperature. I’m calling on people not to incite divisiveness and hate among us.”

Let’s stop the grandstanding. Let’s stop playing petty politics. Let’s start governing.

Brian Straw

Oak Park

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