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Letter to the Editor: Morton Grove Village Mayor Addresses The Facts

Mayor Daniel Staackmann responds to recent statements on the topic of Village of Morton Grove's government.

Comment boards allow for open exchange of ideas and opinions. Unfortunately, what is written is all too often unfounded accusations or outright untruths. When those go unanswered, they can shape the reader’s perception and become their reality, which is harmful to everyone. In comments posted on Thursday, March 24,  Joe Brunner made several unfounded accusations that I must correct with fact and truth.

Accusation:”… spending over $6 million for just 20 affordable housing units...”

Fact:  If he is referring to the Essex Senior housing project, the TIF assistance will come in at under $3 million for over 80 units, nineteen of which are affordable units as determined not on federal poverty levels, but closer to Morton Grove level of poverty, thus making those units available to higher number of Morton Grove seniors. 

Accusation: “…doubling your garbage bill.”

Fact: How you pay for your garbage has changed, not the amount. The Village has just renewed the contract for waste hauling in Morton Grove and we were successful in retaining the same service level at the same cost of the last contract.

Before, the fees were embedded in your property tax bill; whereas now the fees are on your water bill. You see the fees now, so it seems higher, but the rate actually remains the same.

Accusation:  “…Mayor Staackmann’s hurtful policies.”

Fact: Asking to fill out a simple form stating your name and what you wish to comment on is no intrusion to anyone’s rights.  The correct spelling of your name is needed for the official minutes. And the time limit ensures that there will be time for everyone who wants to speak to have that opportunity at the meeting. No one has ever been denied the opportunity to address the village board. Village Board meetings are held to do official business and should be conducted as such with respect for the residents, the Board, and the business at hand.

Accusation: “… loss of Senior services.”

Fact: The service providers have changed, yet services have not been eliminated. The Village replaced a number of in-house services with outside providers. Staff was cut staff in the Family and Senior Services department to reduce expenditures, but senior services continue to be offered at our Civic Center. All senior programs and activities are offered through a partnership with a non-profit senior services organization at no cost to the village. Now, more seniors participate in higher quality programs than ever before. This organization also offers Escorted Transportation services in which volunteer drivers transport seniors to medical and dental appointments, at no cost to the Village. Health screenings and services are still provided by a private, local organization every weekday at the Civic Center, at no cost to the village. Furthermore, the Family and Senior Services department continues to offer senior services such as lending closet, RTA passes, taxi vouchers, handyman services, counseling, referrals, and more.

Over the last two years, the Board has had to make some very hard decisions while maintaining vital services. The Village is financed by revenue from property taxes, fees, fines, and sales tax, all of which are significantly lower due to the severe, global economic downturn. Morton Grove is certainly not isolated on its loss of revenue. Recognizing that the plight of the economy has hit its residents, the current Village Board has opted to reduce expenditures on non-vital services rather than keep raising taxes to maintain vital services.

I firmly believe that the first purpose of government is to protect the life, property, and health of it citizens. With keeping that mission, it has become necessary to cut back on some of the non-vital services that were once provided by our village. It may seem hurtful now but if it ensures the vitality of our Village until these hard financial times subside, it is something we all must endure.

Morton Grove has survived many changes and ordeals, and will continue to survive if we, the residents, work together though these changes. Together we can ensure the future of Morton Grove. After the election, I will be calling for a unity meeting of all candidates in this election and those who are concerned by the current issues facing our Village, schools, library, and park district, so all parties can meet to resolve their differences and begin the work ahead of us.

sherwin dubren March 31, 2011 at 06:10 PM
What Mr. Matz provides is excuses for the failures of the Action Party. The benefit I offer to the community is to overcome the propaganda and fluff that the Action Party continues to push on us. The so called experts that have our village in their hands are not always right. We paid millions to S. B. Friedman to advise us on the Leheigh Ferris TIF and it is still screwed up. What we see are big empty lots and unsold condos. I don't think this can all be explained by the bad economy. The last thing Mr. Matz wants to do is rock the boat. Thus, pointing out problems in the village he considers confrontational, while he lulls us complancency with his 'explanations'.
Mark V. Matz March 31, 2011 at 06:45 PM
No matter what the Action Party (or any of its elected officials) undertake on behalf of Morton Grove, Mr. Sherwin Dubren will oppose them regardless of how they benefit our community (and label any success a failure or disavow any opinion from any source that does not support his often weightless musings). May I ask what empty lots and unsold condos are being referred to specifically? I can point to one empty lot; the old Domicile property which was overpaid for by double costing the village a million dollars above market during Caucus' administration and to a company that did not relocate in our village. BTW, I wrote about Sherwin's style as being confrontational.
sherwin dubren March 31, 2011 at 11:55 PM
The lots I was refering to are easily visible from Dempster Street. It includes the site of the former Maxwell's and another restaurant that was just south of it. The reason the deal did not go through on the Domicile property was that it was never pursued once the Action Party took over. It was another case of the Action Party playing politics and turning away a truely dedicated facility for affordable senior housing. If my style is to reveal problems with Morton Grove, you can call it confrontational. I am not just trying to score points, but pointing out what the Action Party is not telling the residents. They can only point to a few questionable successes during their term, but the underlying realities are never mentioned, certainly not by Mr. Matz. I am very suspicious of people like him, who want us to believe everything is rosy and in their capable hands. That's the Action Party style and he defends them religiously.
sherwin dubren April 01, 2011 at 06:07 AM
Gee Pat. Thanks for the medical diagnosis. Do you accept medicare assignment? The facts are that you are not a supporter of affordable housing. I explained about Alden, but maybe you are not bothering to read previous postings. Alden could have brought the region over 80 senior affordable units. The Action Party killed that deal by stalling the voting and eventually letting it die out. This Action Party was ready to close down the Senior Center completely until someone showed up to throw them a lifeline. For them, the seniors are the first to be sacrificed. Both you and Mr. Matz need to go back and look at the history of this village. Action Party had neglected to keep up the payments on the police and fire pension funds for many years, trying to keep property taxes low and get re-elected. I sat in on the budget meetings at that time, and even some of the Action trustees thought that situation needed correcting. I know your motivations are more directed against Krier than any considerations about the health of this village, so your opinions are of no surprise.
Pat Craig April 01, 2011 at 11:39 AM
Sherwin, shame on you! Over the past yeas I have been involved in civic affairs in Morton Grove I have spoken truth to power no matter what crew happens to hold the power. A fact you were well aware of when we worked together during the campaigns of 2002 and 2004. I am well aware of the history of Morton Grove and the missteps and folly of politicians on all sides. Unlike you, I back my actions and opinions on fact and logic. I am not a doctor, I don't play one on television nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but if I did I would suggest that perhaps you re in need of a Cholinesterase inhibitor.

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