A disappointing letter from a new trustee

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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My personal opinion on the Oak Park Diversity Statement aside, I'm disappointed in the weak argument being set forth by Susan Buchanan, a new village trustee, in her recent op-ed piece, "Just pass the update." (For the record, I did not vote for her.) 

She asserts that the purpose of her letter is to "address the concerns" of both the trustees and Oak Park residents who have reservations about the updates. 

If by "address" the trustee meant "continue to disagree" with the reservations, then she probably achieved that dubious objective. However, if by "address" she meant to refute the underlying assumptions of the reservations by data and facts and, more productively, show that the concerns behind the reservations were unwarranted, thus showing that the updates were both good and necessary, she sorely failed.

The biggest flaw in her letter overall was a failure to present, much less show, understanding of the other side's reasons for their position. That's absolutely not a way to promote dialogue, much less change minds.

Breaking down the structure of her letter, she "addresses" the reservations by restating her opinion, based on what she considers obvious conventional wisdom, arguing that some statements shouldn't be questioned (and shame on you for questioning them) and exhorting the trustees to vote unanimously because "it's important" but also because they have "real work to do," and finally, scolding everyone because, really, why is this letter even needed from an elected leader who was put in place to address the needs of the Oak Park community?

I'm not one for ad hominem comments, but this letter made me really upset. Is this the best we can expect from a new trustee, especially one who is a practicing physician and should do a much better job of listening and relating to others — whether she agrees with them or not?

John Frenkel

Oak Park

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Reader Comments

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Bruce Kline  

Posted: June 12th, 2019 10:33 PM

John: I don't think Trustee Buchanan has any interest in the least of promoting dialogue. It seems her main interest is to lecture her fellow board members as well as the rest of us who are obviously too stupid to see the errors in our ways.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: June 12th, 2019 7:22 PM

One of the new Trustees has decided that she is right, no further discussion is ever going to happen and that is that. And the other new trustee wants to rubber stamp it because that must be why she ran, to be the rubber stamp. Maybe if they threaten to hold their breath until they got their way. Or there is name calling those who don't agree, which has already started.

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