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Letter to Editor: Deciding Our Future Next Tuesday

Resident John Mauk, a former village trustee, submitted the following letter to the editor.

Who will sit in these seats come April?
Who will sit in these seats come April?
No matter what anyone says to the contrary, the runoff elections in the POAs next Tuesday come down to one basic issue:  Who is going to decide the future of St. Paul’s?

Is the decision going to be made by trustees who will take an informed and balanced approach to achieve an outcome in the best interests of the residents?  Or is that future going to be determined by one-issue candidates, who are advocates for the costly and incomplete proposals continually advanced by the Committee to Save St. Paul’s?

As the title implies, a trustee is someone we empower to act on behalf of the residents in making important decisions about village operations. Selecting a trustee is a matter of deciding where to place our trust - and not only with respect to the future of St. Paul’s. Trustees have to master and deal with a variety of complex and important issues during their tenure. They need to bring a sense of commitment to the task. And we should also expect them to demonstrate the perspective and balance needed to make decisions for the benefit of the Village as a whole, as well as for their individual POAs. I wonder if the one-issue challengers of the current Trustees have even thought much about that?

In the Estates, Trustee John DeMaro is being challenged for his position by Greg Blair. I heard Mr. Blair speak last week at the Estates POA meeting (reportedly the first one he has ever attended). I wondered then whether the “talent” and “new ways of thinking about old problems” he maintains he would bring to the office could ever substitute for the benefit of having John DeMaro as an Estates trustee.  It seems highly unlikely.

In some recent mailings to Estates residents, Mr. Blair tells us about his qualifications, and lists some general, non-specific actions he wants to take once he becomes a trustee. His background shows promise, but his failure up to now to even check-out his POA, or to otherwise get involved in village government during his 15-year residency, should raise a lot of concern. Yet he wants us to believe he has the qualifications now to be elevated to the board of trustees and entrusted with resolving village issues. Thanks, but no thanks!

Mr. Blair’s comments reveal that he has barely more than a superficial knowledge about important village issues and how they have been dealt with in the past years – and even months. If he had attended a few board meetings during his time in the village (reportedly he has only had time for one) he might even have learned some things that make his challenge for office more credible. He might know that his general ideas for improving village operations have already been considered, albeit on a more specific level. Action was taken on many of them long ago by more actively involved residents.

Judging from his statements, Mr. Blair doesn’t even have much understanding about that favored subject ‒ St. Paul’s. I find it incredulous that, during all his years in the village, while all of the many public discussions were taking place regarding the future of the building and alternatives for its restoration, Mr. Blair never developed much awareness of the issues or of the many options considered. How else can we explain it when he tells us about the “new ideas” for St. Paul’s that he would have us consider once he ascends to the board? Those of us who have worked over many frustrating years trying to find an acceptable way of restoring St. Paul’s know that there are very few ‒ if any ‒ new approaches for saving the building that have not already been thoroughly tested and explored.

The difficulty in resolving the St. Paul’s problem is not a lack of will or commitment on the part of the trustees Mr. Blair and the CSSP seeks to replace. Rather, the issue, quite simply, concerns the immediate and long-term costs of any project for restoration and reuse. It’s all about the money ‒ or lack thereof. Despite years trying to craft a solution, St. Paul’s remains in its state of disrepair because no one has yet been able to come up with a comprehensive and credible plan for restoring and reusing the building that is acceptable to the residents, and that can be financed without excessively taxing the residents, both now and into the future.  The incomplete proposals and misinformation disseminated by the CSSP – and those who believe them - only makes matters worse.

That’s all the more reason why it doesn’t make sense to select another candidate for our board of trustees whose primary focus is on the salvation of St. Paul’s, and whose loyalty in this regard is to the CSSP ‒ not the residents in general. Mr. DeMaro, on the other hand, long ago demonstrated that he is a person who deserves our trust. He deserves another term on the board of trustees.

The forthcoming runoff elections in the POAs are important to all of us, and to the future of the village. In the West, loyalists to the CSSP have already orchestrated the removal of one incumbent trustee. This assures increased dissension on the board over the St. Paul’s issue, no matter what. What’s worse, replacement of the two incumbent trustees now being challenged, Trustee DeMaro, and Trustee Dennis Donnelly in the East, would swing the balance of the board in favor of the CSSP.

Be sure to vote on Jan. 29 to select trustee candidates that deserve our trust. In the West, the challenger for the mayoral position, Trustee Larry Quinn, also deserves your vote ‒ for all of the reasons Mr. Quinn has indicated so well in his statements.
Leo Stimmler January 28, 2013 at 10:16 AM
Well said, Mr. Mauk. Greg Blair was not at last Saturday's capital budget meeting at village hall. Over the past three years I have rarely seen Mr Blair (or Francine Ryan) at trustee or budget meetings. If they are elected to represent their districts in tomorrow's election, as John Mauk points out, how will they make informed decisions on village matters if they haven't been attending meetings?

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