Monday, May 19, 2014

Questions for Sen. Don Harmon, Democrat of Oak Park IL -- a work in progress

1. Is it good to take money from independent spenders so that government officials can spend it instead?
— room here for relevant Illinois data —
2. Do government officials, elected or otherwise, know what's best for non-government people?
— room here for relevant Illinois data —
3. Is gvernment the principal engine of prosperity?
— room here for relevant Illinois data —
More such questions coming . . .

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Marsey lobs no-smoke grenade

OP Trustee Marsey thinks OP is not a developer and does not belong in “complex and constricting” real estate transactions.  He’s clearly a bomb-thrower.  Everyone knows the village is a developer. 
He also wants competitive bidding on projects and wants the village to pony up only small amounts and then only for public infrastructure.  The village can’t afford any more than that and loses its way when it tries, he says.
He knows more about it than I do.  So do others, who disagree with him.  But philosophically, he has it right.
To which opposition-party-candidate Jon Hale responds by email the next day that Marsey’s is a “naive view.”  Suburban-downtown redevelopment won’t happen “without local government playing a key role” that might go beyond Marsey’s "small amounts for public infrastructure," he says.  Bigger projects sometimes require “combining . . . parcels,” which is where the village comes in. 
Without that, you have “parcel by parcel” development — “new buildings built . . . under existing zoning.  In other words, let the free market reign” as the village stands by and watches construction of “$750,000 townhomes and fast-food joints on Madison St.” 
Consistency with master plans is what his slate promises, ever “justified on an return on investment (ROI) basis.”  Complex as it may be, the board cannot dodge its responsibility to direct economic redevelopment, he says.
More to come on this local-regional-national issue . . .

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Who's on first?

"As somebody who has been chair, I will say, I think there is very little public accountability in this process," Kimberly Werner said of the high school board candidate endorsement operation.

She means they choose board members, not board candidates?  Nobody else can run for the board?  There's no election after endorsement?

Look. The endorsers have credibility or not. Their candidates win or not. They are known to the public or not. This time, not. Werner has a secret group known to a few. Whose fault is that?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No more rock refuge

“The latest provocative, ill-considered foray by the Oak Park Village Board of Trustees into downtown Oak Park has now crept into the bright sunlight,” says Anthony Shaker in a Wed. Jnl op-ed opposing historical-district status for Downtown OP.

Crept out from under a rock, Shaker might have said.  It’s an assault on property rights, he says, touching on a very tender nerve. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Where's Marlene?

Ran into Bruce Samuels, one of OP's leading Green Party members, discussed Greens' gains in recent general election.  In course of chat, on OP Ave. outside ex-book store turned real estate office, he said he can't get in touch with the Republican chair for OP, one Marlene Lynch, a travel agent who beat out the (appointed) incumbent last spring.  Bruce had been in conversation with her (elected) predecessor.  We both mourned that good man's passing. 
But where is Marlene L.?  And when is the next Republican gathering and what happened to the regular emailing of alerts to party stalwarts?  Hey, even if you meet in a phone booth, you still meet, don't you?
I'm not the only one wondering:

Has anyone heard from Marlene Lynch . . . ? Does she know there is an election coming up? No news. No email. No meetings. No Signs. No Nothing!

Her phone number isn't even listed on the Cook County Clerk website! She has no official email or website according to the Cook County Republican website. Maybe she doesn't want to talk to anyone?

asked Oak Park Conservatives some time back.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

OP's Don Harmon a go-to man in senate

Ill. state Sen. Don Harmon (D.-Oak Park) is co-sponsor of a new law making it a misdemeanor not to install carbon monoxide detectors.  Enforcement is another matter, but people die from monoxide poisoning, so the lawmakers felt they had to do something.
"The last thing we want is to be known as the carbon monoxide police, meaning we're looking for detectors every time we go in someone's home,"
said Robert Buhs, executive director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, adding,
"But it's the [homeowner's] responsibility, and for the safety of their family, to have these devices installed."
If it's the homeowner's responsibility, why is the state shouldering it, and ineffectually at that?  
"It seems like an easy risk to protect ourselves against, by creating an expectation that you have one,"
said Harmon, offering a garbled but perhaps helpful answer: the state speaks, and homeowners listen.  It's how they make (and score) points in Springfield, with new laws.  But an ad campaign would do the job at least as well, and without giving us the opportunity to ignore yet another one or giving law enforcement something else to do by way of interfering with people's lives.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Walking, jumping, visioning [?]

A WALK IN THE PARK: I think I was a hate-crime victim. Guy called me a white faggot as I walked through Scoville Park in the gloaming a few weeks ago. I didn't stop. He and his friends were irritated at my NOT stopping. They were desperate for my attention, and I refused it. This was my offense, and so I got victimized. Or was I?

All the guy did was toss out a "white faggot" to an unassuming white fellow trying hard to mind his own business. I had passed them earlier. One was jawing at another, three or four others stood chatting each other up. It's a free country, I thought, go ahead and jaw. I got a few steps past them and heard, "Hi, brother." Who, me? I'm not a brother, I thought -- except to an octogenarian in Gurnee and a septuagenarian in Arlington, VA -- and kept walking.

Again the call: "Brother." I'll bet it's me, I mused. But out of 40-year-old misty memory came a guy yelling, "Hey, you with the collar!" in an open field at 13th and Loomis on a midsummer night in 1966, as helmeted police gathered all down Roosevelt Road. The caller had me cold, I wore the clerical collar. I ignored his cry for attention. Twenty-something and intent on mischief, he had an audience of five or six teen-aged boys, to whom he would have given a lesson in how to deal with the likes of me. No, thanks, I muttered, continuing my way towards the Baptist church at the other end of the project, where do-gooders were gathering ineffectually.

Ignoring this Scoville Park greeting came easy, therefore. But my response rankled, and when I returned 15 minutes later heading the other way, I was accused incontinently of being "a snob" who "wouldn't talk" to them. I was "Sherlock Holmes" in my floppy hat (heh). I was told to commit an indecent if not impossible act. These were truly disgruntled youth. Later on Lake Street, I ran into them again. This time they tossed the N-word at a fellow African American, who was also told to commit an indecent if not impossible act. Now I ask you, were we all victims of hate crimes?.

JUMPING TO CONCLUSION: You hear a lot about the school achievement gap, but what about the basketball gap? White kids can't jump, but so what? So they don't suit up or if they do, they warm the bench. That's what happens to the American dream in a dog-eat-dog society. Look, white kids are grossly underrepresented on basketball teams not just in Oak Park and River Forest but nationally. I say enough. Let's train our sights on this gap too. And nuts to this can't-jump stuff, which is transparently racist. It's environment, folks. How many white fathers shoot hoops with their sons?

THROUGH A PRISM DARKLY: The Oak Park District 97 strategic plan draft calls schools "the educational prism through which students realize meaning and purpose in their lives." It says they are "to guarantee that each student achieves optimal intellectual growth while developing socially, emotionally and physically." That's all?

How about the prism through which students realize how to read, write, and do long division, not to mention shut up when teacher is talking and otherwise cooperate for the more or less common good? And who says schools are a prism in the first place? In what respect are they "a transparent optical element with flat, polished surfaces that refract light, the exact angles between whose surfaces depend on the application"? Beats me.

As for "realizing" -- learning? achieving? both, splitting the difference? -- the meaning and purpose in life, oh my. Are these schools or houses of worship? And there's a guarantee of optimal growth? Listen to that carnival barker. Maybe we would all pay more attention to a plan that made more sense. Or did not belabor the obvious, favoring "a culture of inclusion that respects and promotes diversity." This deftly undercuts the powerful exclusion and uniformity lobby, but it's also grand language impossible to disagree with, reeking of groupthink and lack of imagination, cobbled together in meetings. The good news is, it's a draft. So hello Baby, give us rewrite.