Oak Park Chronicles

OP district 97 over-subsidized, says front-pager in lede to story [subscription only] about how tax caps lead to special help, leaving district’s first-responders with lotsa work to do.

Oak Park’s pricey homes, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and array of shops and restaurants generate billions in property wealth, funneling a bounty of tax dollars to its elementary school district.

That kind of local affluence usually means fewer dollars from the state to help cover school bills. But Oak Park Elementary School District 97 also receives millions through a little-known state subsidy aimed at fattening its budget.

OP not the only such district:

Oak Park was among those on the receiving end as Illinois quietly doled out some $6 billion since 2000 to boost state aid for select school districts — many in the Chicago region — that couldn’t get more money from property owners because of laws that limit tax…

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Oak Park Chronicles

Re: structural deficits

Abu-Taleb: Village expenses exceeded revenue seven of last 11 years. General and enterprise funds — environmental services, parking, sewer, water — are short $94 million. Answers about this are to be sought from the board. Wait too long before fixing this, you risk acting in panic later on.

Hedges: Not structural. Finances are in “very good condition.” Ill. Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), a non-state fund, is fully funded. Police and fire funds, 59% — comparable to other such (state-based) funds in Illinois (a state in deep financial trouble). OP has to 2045, the state tells us. (Before funds run out of money, presumably.) Debt situation — also similar to communities our size among inner suburbs. (As goes Cook County, also in deep trouble, so goes OP?)

Re: Two most important issues

Hedges: Economic development, Eisenhower x-way expansion another. As for the latter, the Ill. Dept…

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Oak Park Chronicles

Village president candidate John Hedges tore into his opponent Anan Abu-Taleb in a March 19 forum sponsored by the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce, labeling him a Johnny-come-lately to village politics.

“You’ve lived here 22 years,” he said, raising his voice. “Where have you been? The rest of us have been working hard. You jump in without a sense of the community” and without realizing that “what’s important is community consensus-building.”

“What are you telling me?” Abu-Taleb responded. “That I’m not committed to Oak Park, after moving here [23 years ago] with my family and my business? Voters are not going to buy that, John,” adding, “Just because you have been on the board” does not justify that.

Abu-Taleb — Anan per his signs — has neither held office nor served on a committee while running two restaurants successively in 17 years in the center of Oak Park and…

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Oak Park Chronicles

Comments following Wednesday Journal article about 3/13 forum at the library:

From Oakparkbob:

I’m for Abu-Taleb. . . . As a homeowner for 33 years in OP, I understand the frustration of dealing with the village. The permit process is ridiculous. I had a fence replaced & had to pay an $80 permit fee & went to the village to get the permit. I was asked to draw a schematic of the fence which they said no one would come to check. I could have drawn a line around the whole village and they wouldn’t have cared!

From James:

I have another one, also indicative of this group’s (Hedges and Co.) clueless leadership. Wanting to replace an old garage, staff said I needed a permit. After three months of delays, the garage I was DEMOLISHING was cited for peeling paint and I was denied the permit to DEMOLISH it…

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Parochialism exposed: Sun-Times, the new pope, and Chicago nuns

Dennis Byrne:

Everyone undoubtedly sees the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis I through different prisms. The broader view takes in much more than whether he will listen to Chicago’s nuns. A narrower view was taken by the Sun-Times editorial board, which said precisely that: A hope that will Francis I will listen to Chicago’s nuns . . .

It’s the first thing that came to their minds, I guess.

Oak Park Chronicles

* The liquor commissioner item:

Anan Abu-Taleb, on that day featured on Wed. Journal front page as alleged ineligible for village board presidency he seeks in the April 9 election, said he would divest his liquor-licensed restaurant if elected.

To whom? asked forum moderator Dan Haley, Wed. Journal publisher, with view to former village attorney’s that-day published opinion that his whole family could not be owners either. “Not your business,” said Anan, repeating this when Haley registered surprise and repeated his question. Anan was not budging.

Haley to Anan’s opponent, John Hedges, a sitting board member: Are you satisfied with that? To which John: If he divests from his family, yes.

Anan: I said I would no longer be the owner if elected. To which John, in shrugging tone, quietly: Then it’s an issue.

* The tax fraud conviction:

Anan admitted to tax fraud 23 years ago to the…

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Ongoing coverage of the Oak Park (IL) village board president’s race before the April 9 election day . . .

Oak Park Chronicles

. . . it was forum #2 featuring the two candidates for village board president, sitting board member John Hedges and Oak Park Avenue restaurateur Anan Abu-Taleb. Let’s take it from the start.

Anan A-T: We have to change perceptions of Oak Park among developers. They see OP as “undecided,” too fussy and hard to deal with. A developer has to move fast. “I speak their language,” am aware of the importance of “cash flow.” OP has its “head in the sand” about this problem, should take a “more aggressive” sales approach.

John Hedges: We develop in Oak Park “for the community, not for the developer.” In Oak Park a project requires “a lot of input” from citizens. “We cannot [simply] give the developer his way.”

A: Yes, we are different in Oak Park, as John H. said, but we have to show OP’s value to the developer. (sell him)…

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New Pope: Same-Sex Marriage ‘A Machination of the Father of Lies’

Pope Francis on same-sex marriage:

“Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”