Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Secret proposals, payoffs, divisiveness, scorched earth? OP is hot: Today's Wed Journal column

NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS: Is it kosher for the village not to reveal development proposals (RFPs), as it did when Wednesday Journal asked for them in the matter of Colt building renovation? These are secret proposals? What about the soon-to-be-approved protocols of participation? Would the proposals be revealed to participants? One good thing: this refusal spares our village board any second-guessing by citizens with their own ideas. This is only right. Who are these citizens anyway? What trees do they plant?
PAYOFF: What about Whiteco paying off the village for honoring its agreement? It’s coughing up $400G for unnamed and so far nonexistent village housing programs, to say nothing of another $200G in environment-friendly additions to the already agreed-on building. That would be your cost of doing business in Oak Park, insofar as this village board is a very sensitive creature, and kid gloves are in order. It’s not under the table, anyhow.
TAKING OFFENSE: And hey, since when is it not kosher to ask about conflict of interest, as board President Pope asked a few weeks ago about who would plan the Baltimore Colt redo? You can’t even ask? Trustee Milstein was "offended ... deeply offended ... angered," as if he’d been told his mother wore army boots. Trustee Baker found it "repugnant." But what have board members got better to do than ask about conflict of interest? It’s what legislators do.
NAME GAME: These two are of the board majority, but that’s too tame a phrase for the poets among us. "Milstein majority," in honor of its stormy-petrel spokesman, does have a ring to it, though editor-columnist Trainor has the fetching "fearsome foursome of Bob [Milstein], Baker, Brock and Brady (the killer Bs)." The poets love it. But Milstein’s the man, poetic or not, so we should go with the other one, MM.
Indeed, board meetings and local papers offer us no small array of Milstein moments. For instance, the opposition Village Manager Association (VMA) was part of Oak Park’s "growth machine," until "swept out of power," he said some months back. Yes!
When this paper’s doughty editor criticized the MM, Milstein said the editor had been "smoking something," making a thinly veiled reference to hashish. Worse, this editor is a writer of "divisive columns," he said.
This has to stop, any fair-minded person will agree. And while we’re on the subject, isn’t it grand that we have no divisive trustees?
Two months ago Milstein burst forth with 1,145 words in defense of his majority, taxing developer Taxman with putting out an "unprofessional, scorched-earth press release that debases the integrity of the board." His sole VMA opposition on the board, Ray Johnson, he said "will milk every ounce of this [Colt controversy] for his re-election campaign." Johnson, moreover, wants to be "the knight in shining armor."
The tax appeal process—a county process?—favors businesses and apartment building owners; it’s "an onerous old-boys network."
These are the words of a man with a mission. We need people like that in village government.
Wait. That’s not right. It should read, "We need people like that in village government?"
HOUSECLEANING: Meanwhile, on the school scene, District 97 Supt. Constance C. apparently was not born yesterday. When she hit the ground running last fall, fresh from Zion, she called for an audit of business and personnel operations and found dirt under the rug. Better to find it now than later, when she herself would have some explaining to do. Is this standard for a new super? I don’t think so. But what a good idea in this case, when she succeeded a super of many years tenure, under whom matters got sloppy.
FP CALLS: And then there’s the YMCA getting ready for its big move to Forest Park, where there will be room to roam and then some. The market had to be part of that decision. Sitting on expensive land with no room to roam is a nice incentive to sell and move.
It’s not expensive? So why is Time & Money restaurant—sorry, Thyme and Honey—also moving to FP? Because a big building is coming to take its place, something in line with that land’s market value. Oak Park is hot, you’d better believe it.

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