Abu-Taleb hosts fifth public forum

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Coming off a mixed week of newsmaking, Oak Park Village President Anan Abu-Taleb will face the public on May 7 at his second public forum of 2014. He will be joined at the event by Andrea Ott, the recently appointed village trustee, and John Hedges, the former village trustee recently appointed as executive director of the reformulated Oak Park Economic Development Corporation. 

The forum is open to the public and will take place on Wednesday, May 7 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Veterans Room at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St.  

"I invite all Oak Parkers to come and discuss local issues that they are concerned about," said Abu-Taleb in a press release. "Your feedback at past forums has helped me and the board shape our direction on a number of issues, including economic development and parking."

The next forum will follow news cycles in which Abu-Taleb and other village board members have been vociferously criticized for their votes on electrical aggregation. But Abu-Taleb has also seen recent successes on the economic development platform on which he campaigned a year ago, ironically against Hedges. On Monday night, Hedges was expected to present to the village board a pact with a developer to build on the Colt site in Downtown Oak Park. There has also been reported progress on development projects at Lake and Forest and at Harlem and South Boulevard.

This is the fifth public forum held by Abu-Taleb since he took office a year ago. "I am committed to continuing these forums as a part of my promise to create a more transparent and engaged government that not only listens to the residents of Oak Park but responds," he said in the release.

Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

Reader Comments

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Mimi Jordan from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2014 9:11 AM

Looking forward to seeing you all at the forum. Past forums have been a conversation not only with our elected officials, but among fellow citizens, about the issues we all care about.

Fed Up  

Posted: May 4th, 2014 3:02 PM

w/Bill Dwyer. I would like to know why the paper allows this to go on. Endlessly. I think it is possible that banning the entity "Bill Dwyer" and forcing him to post anonymously would solve the entire problem. Mr. Dwyer seeks the spotlight (not that he may not be posting all these comments he is then school-yard bullying too); not getting attention as the "real" Bill Dwyer would most certainly damp down his appetite for these insulting, degrading, inflammatory performances.


Posted: May 4th, 2014 2:38 PM

@bridgett, I am not against the forum. Just as Forum Watcher said, they are not used for board decisions, so all the discussions are simply discussions that influence very few. So, why have them? You can voice your opinion at the Board Meetings in the Public on record so that you can influence the Board's decision. Again, open conversations are good, but to have them without record is just that, a political discussion or political stunt!

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 4th, 2014 2:01 PM

@Joan, I'm curious, are you, in general, against opportunities for the community to voice their thoughts in a free-flowing group setting? As an example, are you against the Community Conversations that Library Executive Director David Seleb has initiated? I guess I just don't understand the purpose in discouraging any person, from gathering and sharing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. It's okay for you not to attend. It appears though like you want to do more than just not attend...

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 4th, 2014 1:48 PM

@Forum Watcher, three of the four forums have had another Board member with Anan (this fifth one will too). And one forum also had a Board member in the audience listening. And the information is shared with the Board. What the Board members choose to do with the information is up to them. You are correct, per the Open Meetings Act, no more than two can discuss. They already meeting almost every week, so I can see why they wouldn't want to call yet another meeting of the Board.

Forum Watcher from Oak Park  

Posted: May 4th, 2014 11:57 AM

@Bridgett - while the forums may inform Anan, they do not influence board decisions. These are not public meetings in the truest sense: they are not posted or advertised by the Village, nor allow for all Trustee's to participate, because these forums are not posted. If more than 2 board members were to discuss an issue, they would violate the Open Meetings Act. Until these forums are part of the public record and not advertised through 'Anan for Oak Park', there is limited value for the board.


Posted: May 4th, 2014 9:05 AM

really, Bridgett? That decision was made at the board table because Anan and others know he needs to make progress on that issue..it was what his campaign was all about. It did not matter what the residents really said it was all about getting that development up and going. Again, tell me what the forums have done to CHANGE the direction of the board?

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 4th, 2014 8:41 AM

"Tell me what one decision the board made due to these forums?"--At the second forum, there was a lot of talk about the Lake & Forest development. And some very insightful comments were made by residents, some who are "pillars in the community," that gave context about the developers, the history of the property, the actual value of the property, and suggestions on how to proceed. What was shared did have influence on the Board's decision re: how to move forward with that project.

Joan from Oak Park  

Posted: May 4th, 2014 7:42 AM

Call it what you want.....these forums are nothing but a political stunt. Tell me what one decision the board made due to these forums? Or does residents just like to talk? That we are good at. Decision making is much more difficult.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 7:55 PM

Ahh, Joan, the tired old, 'I have 1st Amendment rights' gripe. You exercised yours making your flimsy, shallow attack on an elected officials's genuine effort to respond to the citizenry. I exercised mine questioning the shallowness and flimsiness of your comment. By the way, dear, I have no formal connection with WJ, do not reflect their views and do not speak for them in any manner. I'm a part-time free lance journalist.

anonymous blogger from south oak park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 4:52 PM

joan - I have no idea.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 4:08 PM

@Joan,I don't understand your point.Are you saying that the community didn't have the ability and time to express their views before the vote?This energy aggregation issue was discussed at the Jan 21st Village Board meeting and then at the March 17th meeting.That seems like enough time before the vote(originally scheduled on April 7th, then pushed to the 11th) to contact the Board via email or in person.Forward-looking, if this is an important topic to you, then I encourage you to attend on Wed.

Joan from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 3:29 PM

@joe, then why hasn't WJ allowed annoymous bloggers, if it is private than they can..right? @Bridgett, my point exactly, if Abu-Taleb knew this was going to be a topic at the board table why would he not bring it up at one of his forums so that he got resident input? Forward thinking...right?

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 11:07 AM

@Joan, the green topic hasn't been discussed at past forums. Each forum has a certain main topic that is discussed for the first part, and then it's open to talk on any other topics that the residents bring up. I don't recall anyone bringing up green energy in the past. This forum is focused (at least for the first part) on giving residents the opportunity to ask questions and make comments about future decisions & direction regarding sustainability. These forums are forward-looking focused.

RF Dan  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 11:04 AM

Who says the Board was wrong on Green Energy. If residents want to pay more for what is really a symbolic choice, they can. I feel for the President who has to put up with attacks from a small but vocal minority. You'll see the small % of those who opt in as most OP residents understand the facts here. The minority wants to force all to pay extra, no choice. That's not fair.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 10:50 AM

joan- the freedom of speech prohibits the government from prosecuting based on speech. for example, I can say publicly that both Bush Jr. and Obama have proven to be terrible presidents. I'm not going to get a knock on my door from the police or the secret service for saying so. OP.com is a private business and if they choose to stifle conversation by requiring Facebook verification, that is their right. I wouldn't agree with it, but in doing so they would not be stepping on anyone's rights

Joan from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 10:27 AM

@bill and dan haley, so now we all have to use Facebook to use our constitutional rights of freedom of speech? Really? Again, if these forums were productive, then how was the Board and President so way off on the green energy topic?

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 10:02 AM

I've attended three of the last four of these forums and they've all been worth my time. Much of the talking was done by the residents attending. And we have some very insightful people in this town. It's a time when folks can come and ask questions and make comments, in a less formal environment than at a Village Board meeting. There has been a moderator to keep people on track, and keep things moving, and ideas collected (written down on a giant flipchart).

June from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 9:48 AM

I don't think it's a waste of time & I'm looking foward to attending because I missed the previous one.

To Bill and Dan Haley  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 9:28 AM

Can you change the comment section to must be facebook verified, please, so we can get rid of some of the nonsense people post.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 7:42 AM

It's a political stunt and waste of time WHY, Joan? He's making good on a promise he made during the campaign. Has Abu Taleb done something since taking office that you feel justifies your "political stunt" characterization? Or is your comment just yet another instance of someone who shouldn't be posting after midnight?

Joan from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 12:33 AM

Waste of time. Political stunt. Look what happen to the green energy....you mean our President to hear how important this was?

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