The end of the VMA revolution

Opinion: Columns

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By Jim Bowman


My friend Jake is in a lather about two recent Oak Park incidents. One was the commencement-oration declaration (an occurrence at OPRF stadium) by a high school board member who announced that we are progressive (Democrats) and "and it feels great to say it." Depends what you mean by progressive, said Jake.

The other, a few days later, was the e-blasted invitation by the village president to a fundraiser for the progressive governor of our great state, who many of us know is running for re-election in November. The affair is big bucks by most standards, costing from $150 to a cool grand. The latter gets you a place in the serried ranks of co-sponsors.

These sponsors are a distinguished lot: village presidents, president of the high school board, assorted mayors of adjacent municipalities, etc. Here, in fact, they are:

(OP) President Anan & (spouse) Margi Abu-Taleb, (private citizen) Paul Gearen, state Sen. Don Harmon, D200 board President John Phelan, (OP trustee) Bob & (spouse) Vicki Tucker, (River Forest) President Catherine Adduci, (Forest Park) Mayor Anthony Calderone, (Bellwood) Mayor Frank Pasquale, (Northlake) Mayor Jeffrey Sherwin and (Hillside) Mayor Joseph Tamburino

Quite an assortment, to be sure, all but two of them elected nonpartisans. Jake congratulates them for coming out of the major-party closet, shedding burdensome nonpartisanship for the real thing.

You are now electors of Democrats, he tells their respective voting publics, including and especially Oak Park, which threw the rascals out in the early '50s and swore off entangling alliances. 

This was the VMA revolution, which in a 1952 election managed to "wrest control of  … government from aldermen who seemed more beholden to outside interests than to our citizens."

Thank God those concerns have faded away, Jake says with that whiff of irony, which he gives off so neatly, adding his opinion that it's a tribute to the growth of gummint. Now, more than ever, it's good to be connected. Gummint money helps buy lots of good things for local gummint. Buttering your bread on the right (left) side matters.

Thus endeth the VMA revolution and its bold statement of principle, "One of the cornerstones of the VMA [Village Manager Association] has been the belief that the village board can best function if it is independent of partisan influences — whether from local interest groups or from outside political parties and pressure groups."

Forget. About. It.

Email: Twitter: @BlitheSp

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