Monday, April 4, 2011

Be sure to vote for...

If you haven’t voted already, you need to get out and vote.

More than five months ago, I had asked everyone to refrain from supporting a candidate until she would “officially support and deliver to the [47] HP residents who have been treated so inequitably by the City and the Program and who have already been coerced to pay sums of approximately $5000-$20,000 [in the aggregate $247,000] during the worst economic environment most can recall.” After all, both candidates currently sit on City Council and have been a position throughout these past 5 months to demonstrate that actions are more important than words.

Friends have been asking me for a recommendation on voting and I steadfastly refused to take a stance. Last week, after voting, I began to share my opinion with friends. Terri Olian and Nancy Rotering both have many virtues and have run fine campaigns. Each is extremely bright, professional, articulate and well informed. Highland Park will continue to fare well with either of them as the next Mayor. I am not in one “camp.” I’d like to see both of them continue to serve the City of Highland Park for as long as they have passion and dedication to work on behalf of all residents. My vote last week reflected a desire for that outcome.

Single issue voting is not my style. Yet, I do believe we learned a lot about how the City is managed, how City Council operates, and about the candidates just from examining the history and status of the Sanitary Sewer Program currently "on hiatus."

Does one vote for the candidate who:

· voted in the Neighborhood Sanitary Sewer Program (which was a terrible mistake) yet who listened to community complaints and actively changed her position?


· who was elected to City Council after the Program was in place and who has consistently been outspoken against it, yet who appears to have taken no official action since 2009 to rectify the problem?

Style is a matter of preference and we may each view this differently.

Yes, I remain concerned that Terri, along with Mayor Belsky and the rest of City Council, voted for the Sanitary Sewer Program. Their actions were detrimental to all HP residents. The Mayor and City Council rely too heavily on David Limardi, our City Manager, responsible for this poorly conceived and inequitable program that was designed with complete disregard for the financial burden on individual residents. Yes, one of Nancy’s strengths as a candidate is that she has said she would address this problem.

Yet, at a recent budget meeting, Terri raised the question of planning for the reimbursement of the 47 HP residents. It takes a lot of personal strength to change one’s position on a program. Too many politicians won’t budge from their original positions. Not only did Terri change her position, she took action. When she suggested that the 2011 budget address reimbursement for the 47 residents, not a single other Councilman supported her. Steve Mandel was reported to have been vociferously against reimbursement (and we should definitely remember this when his term is up in 2013!) and no one else spoke up. That “no one” inexplicably includes Nancy Rotering. (And, I verified the facts by checking with another attendee.)

I asked Nancy about this and she explained she hadn’t said anything because it was late in the budget committee meeting, and that Terri had raised it in an inappropriate forum (in the budget committee rather than on the agenda for City Council). Yet, it wouldn’t take much time for Nancy to have said, “While this isn’t the appropriate forum, and we shouldn't discuss it here, I agree with this in principle and City Council needs to address and fix this problem!” Any brief supportive utterance would have given the issue momentum. In the absence of one other voice, the issue fell into the abyss again.

Nancy’s term on City Council began in 2009 (and ends in 2013) and since arriving, to the best of my knowledge, she has done nothing official to address the Neighborhood Sanitary Sewer Program.

At the Ravinia Train Station candidate evening last week, I asked the candidates whether they would commit to getting the 47 HP residents reimbursed. Nancy replied that she couldn’t commit to this because she has only one vote, just like everyone else on City Council.

From my perspective a candidate who may make a mistake but who is open to criticism and change is preferable to one who agrees with me but takes no action. This may not reflect your own thoughts.

We need a mayor who will lead City Council. Critical thinkers are vital to the success of City Council, however, criticism without action isn't leadership.

It would be a terrible shame to lose Terri Olian’s contributions to City Council – her term is up in 2011. She is in touch with pulse of the City, knows all the facts, figures, relevant history, and is responsive to residents. As a former chairman of HP’s Design Review Commission, I had the opportunity to work with Terri. She has unbounded energy and dedication to Highland Park’s success and future. Her term is over in 2011 and we simply cannot afford to lose her. She also epitomizes HP’s “Six Pillars of Character”. She walks the talk.

I hope you’ll consider this information when you cast your vote the next mayor of HP, the City Councilmen candidates and all the other important races and referendums. I look forward to meeting with whomever HP residents choose to ensure that the 47 are reimbursed, and to preventing the rest of us from receiving the letter demanding we pay $5,000-$10,000+ for unnecessary repairs. And, yes, I had sincerely hoped that both of these candidates would have taken care of Neighborhood Sanitary Sewer Program a long, long time ago.

Photo from Highland Park Patch link used in blog entry.

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