A little background on the new background

Oak Park spends $2,750 to liven up council chambers

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Residents tuning in to the Oak Park village board meeting most Mondays may have noticed something a little different.

During the board’s winter break, village hall put up a fancy new background where trustees normally sit while conducting business. The wall is beige in color and touts the village’s attempts to save the environment with the phrase, “Oak Park: A leader in environmental initiatives.”

The background is decorated with green-themed images (leaves, recycling logos, bikes, trains) along with green-themed words (restore, urban gardens, recycle, clean air).  The concept was the idea of Village Manager Tom Barwin, according to spokesman David Powers, as was a mural used in another village hall meeting room.

Oak Park spent about $2,750 on the new background, according to Powers, which included applying vinyl graphics to the surface, laying out the design and laser-cutting the acrylic surface.

Adding the new backdrop was well-timed, as the board on Monday discussed whether it wanted to allow more green energy alternatives in Oak Park.

Reader Comments

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Daniel Seltzer from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2011 4:44 PM

WOW! Another BRILLIANT move by our Village Manager. I'm glad he feels the Village has over $2700 to spend on a decorative wall. It's not like the money could be better spent on trivial matters like shortages in the Police budget or perhaps for Village streets and alleys. It's great to know someone is being paid a lot of money to really watch out for the citizens of this Village and ensure that fiscal responsibility is priority number one!

Euf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2011 2:07 PM

USGBC is a private industry-based organization comprised of building industry members. USGBC created LEED as a 3rd-party certification system intended as a voluntary market-based product, and not for adoption into local regulatory codes. For OP to require, or promote on the wall background, the use of a sole-source rating product, such as LEED, constitutes an unfair business practice, as it removes the element of choice for developers to achieve equivalent results from other market products.

LEED for Homes from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2011 2:58 PM

Note that LEED is a consensus-driven standard. All the experts in specific environmental and building science niche fields have input and shape the system. For those that have comments to share about the program, right now is actually your best time to submit feedback as the next iteration of the rating system is open for public comment until Jan 14. Voice critiques at usgbc.org. Note the USGBC logo is one small section. Many other themes that are OP values and assets are included on the wall.

Most Committed Liberal from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2011 2:40 PM

Kudos to the village on money wisely spent! This will definitely help stop man-made global warming.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2011 11:53 AM

There is an ongoing debate on the merits of the USGBC LEED rating system within the design professions. Although a successful market transformation program, LEED is often criticized as being a gross over-simplification of the complex issue of sustainable design, resulting in false and misleading ratings. LEED tends to be used by those with a superficial understanding of sustainable design for purpose of public relations, which is the case with the inclusion of the USGBC logo in the background.

john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2011 11:39 AM

NYC closed off 5th Avenue to vehicles for a couple of miles forty-five years ago. They turned the roadway into a pedestrian mall. It was the First Earth Day. I walked the length of the mall that day. I have walked the environmental path ever since. While the mural is an expression of the village's commitment to the environment,it also pokes the eye of those who are against aspects of the environment agenda. The Village Hall Board Room is a symbol of bipartisan government, not a billboard.

Asthma from OP  

Posted: January 6th, 2011 2:25 PM

JM -- So now you are against clean air too? Environmental bias? Infringement of free speech? Come on.....man.

john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: January 5th, 2011 11:38 PM

How much will it cost for the curtain that will be needed when someone opposed to a village environmental program claims infringement of freedom of speech by being forced to appear before a government body in a facility with evident environmental bias? This is one of OP's all-time sillies. If we sold the wall to Coke or Nike, we would have made money rather than spending it.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: January 5th, 2011 3:59 PM

USGBC Logo Issue #3: USGBC LEED certification has recently been questioned by several independent studies, which have found no significant energy performance benefits relative to conventional buildings. Also, last October, a class action lawsuit (Gifford v. USGBC) was filed against USGBC alleging fraud under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and deceptive marketing and unfair competition under the Lanham Act. Public funding / regulations for LEED certification (as in OP) were included in the lawsuit.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: January 5th, 2011 3:22 PM

USGBC Logo Issue #2: Even if the Village gained USGBC authorization for the use of the USGBC logo and term LEED Certified as part of the background, such reference to any specific third party product, process or service by trade name, trademark, or otherwise, constitutes and/or implies an endorsement, recommendation or approval by the Village of Oak Park. Such endorsement is prohibited by law, as the USGBC LEED rating system is in competition with other available third party rating systems.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: January 5th, 2011 3:07 PM

USGBC Logo Issue #1: The background includes the USGBC logo, which is a proprietary mark owned by the U.S. Green Building Council. Use of the USGBC Logo is governed by federal law, and USGBC requires strict adherence to their Trademark Policy in the use and depiction of USGBC proprietary marks. Also, use of the term LEED Certification is authorized by USGBC only for a project that is LEED certified, which Village Hall is not. See Trademark Policy @ www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=3885.

ann from Oak Park  

Posted: January 5th, 2011 9:42 AM

Realizing all spaces need re-painting / sprucing up at some point, this could be value-added IF enough people in the community begin watching / attending board meetings and are therefore inspired to get involved in their local gov.

mmds from Oak Park  

Posted: January 4th, 2011 11:57 PM

An absolute waste of public funds. Inexcusable.


Posted: January 4th, 2011 5:20 PM

It looks very nice, but I don't see the value in spending $2,750 on this when the village budget is so strapped.


Posted: January 4th, 2011 4:44 PM

This is truly stupid. Will this backdrop spice up the discussions so that the council members realize that $2750 spent for fru-fru is unacceptable when the budget is so stressed? From whoes salary does the money to pay for this come from? Perhaps it was a donation from a private party.

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