We were wrong on Austin Pantry

Opinion: Editorials

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Our Views

Several weeks ago on this page, we took the side of the owners of Austin Pantry. That was the longtime convenience store on the corner of Chicago Avenue and Austin Boulevard. It had been temporarily shut down by Oak Park's village government after police arrested the long-employed manager of the store on charges he was selling heroin out the front door.

After a private hearing — more on that soon — Village Manager Cara Pavlicek made the closure permanent. And last week after the shop's owners appealed that ruling to an ad hoc hearing body made up of three village trustees, the original decision was affirmed. 

Austin Pantry is closed for good.

Based on our further reporting and the testimony delivered publicly by business and residential neighbors last week, our original editorial was premature. The evidence is clear that this store had become an active nuisance of the sort we can never tolerate in Oak Park: an ongoing assemblage of young men loitering in front of the store and likely selling drugs themselves, plus repeated calls to the Oak Park police.

Good for residents for going on the record with the Journal with their strong concerns and for turning out in public to testify. 

We acknowledge that the Journal's initial editorial position was hasty.

However, we don't understand why the initial hearing before the village manager was entirely behind closed doors. This was not a personnel issue, no property was changing hands, no lawsuits were pending. So why a need to keep the public and the press out? Even last week, while the testimony was in public, the deliberations of the three trustees were private. Again, why?

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Reader Comments

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 3rd, 2017 11:27 AM

Relax, the WJ has been wrong on so many other issues that no one will hold your feet to the fire on this one.

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