'Time kills deals,' says Abu-Taleb

Village president speaks plainly at OPEDC annual meeting

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Anan Abu-Taleb used forceful language Wednesday night to drive home to a room filled with Oak Park business leaders that past village economic development practices have deadened the local economy over the last decade.

"Time kills deals," the village president told the crowd gathered at the Carleton Hotel for the first annual meeting of the upended, retooled and renamed Oak Park Economic Development Corporation.

He said businesses and developers had walked away from Oak Park when "faced with uncertainties, multiple points of entry, higher costs, cumbersome processes [and] endless Plan Commission meetings. And ultimately these conditions are responsible for our current sluggish economy."

The stripped-back annual meeting was clearly a moment of transition for the more than 40-year-old organization. Sara Faust, a longtime staffer and corporation president for the past five years until she offered her resignation, gave a gracious farewell and offered thanks to many in the room.

But it was Abu-Taleb who turned up the burners on his effort to remake Oak Park's business culture. Referencing the recent downgrade in Oak Park's bond rating by Moody's, he suggested it won't be the last unless Oak Park changes.

"If we continue as we have, I see no light at the end of the tunnel. I see an oncoming train," he said.

Abu-Taleb said the choices facing the village are to cut services, raise taxes or actively welcome new business development.

"We need to support all who want to invest in our community," Abu-Taleb said. "We have made some progress but there is much more to do."

Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

Reader Comments

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Janice Patterson from Oak park  

Posted: May 4th, 2014 9:21 AM

Look west young man-to forest park-where the mayor builds businesses and encourages businesses-maybe we could annex Harrison to forest park-something would get done

To the first poster on this thread  

Posted: May 3rd, 2014 7:31 PM

You should thank a "commie" today. If you use that name to refer to liberal progressive Oak Parkers who care about people, that is the group who embraced Anan's candidacy early, while the conservative VMA found him to be to "risky". You're welcome.


Posted: May 2nd, 2014 5:53 PM

Higher density housing in downtown Oak Park will only increase the number of people who want to vote to make those who pay taxes provide a more comfortable lifestyle for those that don't. More spending and more taxes until the system breaks. It's the way of the country and the way of Oak Park,

Problem Solver--one of many...   

Posted: May 2nd, 2014 2:26 PM

Years ago, I recall talk about local "intergovernmental collaboration" to solve local problems. Oak Park has MANY organizations--trying to "do the right thing." But it's tough. How do we get folks to overcome disagreements and conflicts--to "do the right thing"--which Oak Park has many versions of? Let's look at HOW DECISIONS are MADE--for the greatest good. We need to learn how to decide "what to do"--without bullying, clout, giving in, threatening, or giving up. HELP!!!!


Posted: May 2nd, 2014 7:41 AM

OP is in trouble - we just don't know it yet. Going deeper into debt, little business to offset costs, school system with poor board leadership. We are far too arrogant to make the required change which is why the momment my kids get into high school (not in OP), I am getting the fu_k out. Sad we OP was awesome..

joe from south oak park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 9:48 PM

I'd say this village is pretty much maxed out on taxes. Last week i was talking with some friends that own a house about 20 minutes away from my place here in OP. Their house is valued just over twice what my place is, yet they pay about half the property taxes and still have a decent school system. I honestly don't see the 'oligarchies', as john mentioned, changing in the near future. Maybe cutting services won't be such a bad thing. Then again, I've always been a fan of small government.

Bob Heilman from Oak Park  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 7:21 PM


The next step...  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 6:03 PM

I think that Anan has accurately diagnosed the problem. But, how does the village fix it?


Posted: May 1st, 2014 5:48 PM

Oligarchies with command of narrow wedges of OP businesses, social organizations, non profits and government activities has created silos with minimal vision and the speed of turtles. Anan is on the right track but has to remember that the oligarchies as a sixty years of comfort with its ways.

Fresh Air From Anan  

Posted: May 1st, 2014 5:36 PM

Anan's words and the changes he has brought are long overdue in this village. It's Oak Park's time to move away from a central planners mentality to one where the market meets the wants and needs of the public. We've got great land in this village with an enormous opportunity to join the ranks of those suburbs who have embraced thoughtful development. GO ANAN GO!! Keep the commies on the run!!

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