Meet the Leaders: Morton Grove Trustee Larry Gomberg

In this week's "Meet the Leaders" series, Morton Grove Village Trustee Larry Gomberg answers a variety of questions posed by Patch.


What's a favorite publication, book and/or movie?

Gromberg: I read the Wall Street Journal every day cover to cover, and my favorite movie is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington—the young idealist that never gave up his ideals and fought against the establishment and fought against special interests and won. So when I’m disappointed or doen politically, sometimes I go to YouTube and watch the whole movie and go from there. There’s a lot of similarities between what went on in the 1930's and a lot of parts are relevant today.

Who cooks at your house and what do they cook?

Gomberg: My wife and my kids. My wife cooks everything from stir-fries of all types to fish, steaks and hamburgers. My one son likes to cook Tuna Helper and my other son likes to cook macaroni and cheese. All the kids like to bake. And we have pizza a lot. I do the dishes after the meal.

What are your hobbies, sports or interests?

Gomberg: Sports, we watch the Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls and Bears. I probably go to excess to watch the games when I probably should be doing something else. I follow those teams pretty closely. Interests, I like several movies, I’m a big classical music fan. I enjoy going to YouTube in my spare time.
I spend a lot of time with my finances, I watch my portfolio like a hawk. And the village stuff, we have a lot of material to read. I have to do a lot of research.
You have to have the information, and sometimes you have to dig for it.

Where did you grow up?

Gomberg: I grew up on the north side of Chicago, in a neighborhood called Budlong Woods. I went to Jamieson first through eighth grade. I went to Mather High School.

What's your profession?

Gomberg: I substitute teach for the Niles Township 219 school district. I’m not a certified teacher, so whatever they give me. Whatever teacher is out, they call me. It could be giving a test or showing a movie. But I have a Masters Degree in Sociology, expertise in Criminology, so they give me social studies so I have some relevance. I enjoy it. I’ve been doing this for a little over two years. The last several weeks, I’ve been consistently at Niles North. You get to know the Special Ed programs. Previous to that, I was 28 years at the Cook County Adult Probation Department. Eights years a probation officer, three years as a supservisor and 17 years as a deputy chief. In 2002 I took an early retirement buyout and I’ve been retired since December 2002.

What's an important value your parents taught you?

Gromberg: They taught me to be honest. What’s the phrase-you wear your heart on your sleeve, you look at certain people, you know they’re not telling you the truth, or they feel bad about something—I’m a sensitive person. I think my parents were responsible for that, particularly my Mom. I think that’s made me stronger. I think it was Bill Clinton that said he wasn’t very confident when he grew up, and that made him go after things harder than he would have otherwise, and I think I’ve had some of that self-doubt and it’s made me competitive. As we get older, we have that wisdom that life gives us. Whether some of that was instilled by my parents or I picked it up along life’s trail, I don’t know.

Do you practice a religion and/or hold spiritual beliefs?

Gomberg: Yes, I’m Jewish by religion and as far as practicing, we attend the high holiday services with as many of the family members as are around at the time. With extended family, we meet at Passover, it’s a very nice time.

What are you views in terms of national politics, and do you tend to lean Democratic or Republican?

Gomberg: I’ve been a lifelong Democrat. I try to be objective whenever possible. I think I learned that when I was going to college. I got interested in Philosophy. How to take an objective view of a lot of different things. It’s difficult because so many people are one way or another, there’s political correctness—I don’t even know what it means, to tell you the truth. If I’m objective sometimes, I’m in conflict in Democratic views. I may say, I’m objective about this, so I don’t believe it’s right. I don’t necessarily agree with the whole Democratic platform. I was, and still am, involved politically with the Democratic party, I enjoy working a precinct, getting out and handing out literature, knocking on doors, start talking about this or that. Talk about things we have in common. I always thought people should be closer and I try to practice that. That’s probably why I’m on Facebook. Bringing people closer together and trying to be objective are two of my core beliefs.  I had a teacher in college who talked about knowledge for knowledge’s sake.

What are the top issues, in your opinion, in Morton Grove?

Gomberg: I think we still need to have input from not only trustees, but employees, the public and business member, involved with the mayor in what I call coalition government. This is something we don’t have right now. We talked about bringing people together. 

Employees, too. They should be putting their input into what they feel should be done—how to better operations, how to better the village generally. When I was first elected, I asked if I could sit in on village staff meetings.  The then-village administrators said, they’d rather (me) not. The new village administrators has printed out a list of things he’d like to see come to fruition. There should be more of a cohesive attempt to go forward.

The public—something we don’t do enough of, and I know MGTV will argue with me about this. We get out and make an effort to reach people. At the same time, a lot of people don’t watch Channel 6, or attend meetings. We have that quarterly newsletter that goes out to every resident. That probably is the closest thing to informing all the households, but it’s only so big, you can’t get everything in there. You almost need people getting out and going door to door. I did that when we ran as a group last time for mayor, trustee and clerk.

I helped Daniel Biss in the 17th District, I was going door to door with him. He managed to hit 99.9 percent of his district at least once. I went a second time with him, and I would hear, ‘Oh, I remember you, you came to my door before.’
So it’s that bringing people closer together for communication purposes, and make a democratization. If people don’t come to meetings, then you go to them.

We used to have neighborhood meetings. We’d go to the west side, find a park, have an open meeting, who cares how many people show up. Go to where the people are.

I’m not saying we should all get on Dempster, but we can approximate that sort of democracy.

We’re looking at some infrastructure issues down the road, when we did the last budget in November, December. I think a lot of people missed the fact that Andy DeMonte said we have a lot of aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced, and it will be expensive. This is something that needs to be on our five-year plan, even if it means increased taxes. But as the corporate authority, we have to make an effort to get out to the public and say, this is what we need and we need the money for this, and get a sense of, are you willing to fund the money? Then the public lets us know and as officials, we decide.

I think the mindset of the village should be progressive. You hear that and you think that’s the far left wing of the Democratic party. I’m talking about a mindset of being progressive as opposed to content with what happened in the past. We should be progressive, find out what other municipalities are doing.

We have a tendency to look back and kind of be, content. We should appreciate the past, but look to the future. I’d like to see a village that’s leading the way at a certain point.

I noticed in Boulder CO they’re trying to is get full control over their own electricity. We may have to do that with water, because of water prices. The cost of Lake Michigan water, we signed an agreement with Chicago, it’s an escalator type of agreement, so each year it goes up.

We have to have a one-on-one relationship with our state representatives, state senators, and even our U.S. Reps, and U.S. Senators. There should be a close tie.

john August 09, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Larry Gomberg is the liaison person for the Morton Grove condominium association which includes all the condominiums in Morton Grove. I find Larry to be a very nice and pleasant person but the fact that he can not get the Staackmann Administration to free the Condo associations from the Groot Contract that the Morton Grove's Administration negotiated on our behalf is very troubling to me. Next door to our Condo Building is a nursing home that is almost the exact same as our building but because it is a commercial building they get to have waste management remove they garbage at half of what our owners are paying with the Morton Grove negotiated contract we have with Groot. Mr. Staackmann seem to ignore the condos in Morton Grove and that most likely will be his downfall.
Bethany August 09, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Regarding your dissatisfaction with your garbage service... "Mr. Staackmann" is not a government of one. There is a board of six trustees who vote on issues and ordinances. The mayor does not vote unless there is a tie to break. So, if this issue came before the board for a vote, those six made the decision. You also mentioned "contract" - if you are in a contract, you can't just break it. It must expire and either be renewed, renegotiated, or dropped. Start the conversation now with the whole village board and the appropriate staff to work on an alternative for the future. It's our tendancy, and an easy thing to do, to try to blame something you don't like on one person, but in this instance, your reasoning about who is responsible is just wrong.
Sandi Villano August 23, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I have known Larry Gomberg for nearly 25 years. He is very committed to his values and to the betterment of Morton Grove. Larry has had communication with the Mayor on numerous occasions and is well aware that the Mayor is only one person, however, the Mayor is aligned with the trustees for the purpose of presenting a unified board. Very dangerous for the citizens of Morton Grove. Listen to the lone independent voice! As a former 40 year resident and member of a MG Board of Education, I know how things get done in MG, but it's time for change. It's a new world. I think MG would benefit from some new governance. And MG DOES need a new library!


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