Hedges vs. Abu-Taleb March 14, Buzz Cafe — Oak Leaves story

This blog missed the March 14 forum at the Buzz Cafe, and so turns to the Oak Leaves account, which features sharp disagreement between presidential candidate Anan Abu-Taleb and two incumbent trustees seeking re-election on a slate headed by his opponent for president, John Hedges, a veteran in Oak Park politics and civic administration.

It was about experience as needed for a board president.

Abu-Taleb: “The experience on the board today, a lot of it is really theoretical, and almost like an academic experiment at times. I would bring practical experience and a new way of thinking that challenges assumptions on how to make policies and to ask questions.”

Colette Lueck, incumbent trustee running for reelection: “I bring real experience.” What’s more, Abu-Taleb, longtime entrepreneur and restaurant-owner with a U. of Chicago MBA, will have to learn from them; and it is his responsibility to learn, not theirs to teach. “That’s in your court,” she said.

Glenn Brewer, another incumbent seeking re-election: A “steep learning curve” awaits Abu-Taleb. “It is not like any other endeavor you can engage in.”

On another issue, Buzz Cafe owner and forum host Laura Maychruck, holding up seven cards on which audience members had written questions: “There’s a lot of outrage on these cards” — about lack of economic development effort by the village and the problems business owners have in dealing with the village. “Why hasn’t that problem been solved.”

Brewer: “We just came out of a deep recession. When that happens, credit markets get frozen and developers can’t get financing they need.”

Lueck: “I don’t know what the outrage is about. The characterization is not fair. Marion Street has been a huge success. It is unequivocally a success, and that’s something this board did. [The recent rise in sales tax revenue] couldn’t have happened if development hadn’t happened.”

Hedges regarding Volvo dealership, Garfield and Harlem: “We worked with (Volvo) since they were at 260 Madison Street. Now they’ve expanded twice.”

Lueck and Brewer plus Village Clerk and re-election candidate Teresa Powell:  Divine Consign resale shop on OP Ave. should be noted. It has expanded in two locations.

Hedges: “As far as the recession, we’ve done as well as anybody.”

Hedges, asked why he ran on a slate (VMA-endorsed, in their case) and not as an independent (like Abu-Taleb): “I never considered running as an independent.”

Abu-Taleb, interjecting:  “It’s a lot of fun running as an independent.”

Hedges: “It’s a lot of fun running on a slate.” An elected slate helps avoid gridlock by bringing people to the board who are ready to work together, he said.

Hedges on Abu-Taleb’s approach to leadership: “You can’t just do it yourself. That’s not how this government works. Anan could have brought three people along with him, and a clerk [candidate]. He didn’t do that.”

Abu-Taleb: Said he’s willing to ask tough questions, scoffed at need for a slate. “I’m a leader that brings people together. I’m a leader who respects people’s point of view. This is not about the board, it’s about the borders.”

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