Rice’s column goes too far

“What’s this one?”  That was the question Mohinder Sharma asked repeatedly as his van was loaded each Tuesday night for deliveries.  And that’s the question I ask now – what’s this – the only mention of a co-worker’s death in our papers is a sad story about how a neighborhood might look better because of his passing?  How sad and embarrassing.

Two weeks ago Mohinder Sharma died after completing his deliveries for our company.  As we in the circulation department mourn his death, we have been struck by how little we know about a very private man.  He emigrated from India during the 1970’s, he has family both here in the States and in India.  We know that he worked multiple jobs and provided support to his extended family so that their children could get a good education. 

The people who have filled in for Mohinder (note the plural) in the last two weeks have reported back that our customers have expressed sorrow and surprise at his sudden death.  He was affectionately know as the “Hi, guy” man to some for his greeting each week.  I am still waiting for the familiar sound of our office back door opening and closing and then looking up as Mo says “how are you, ma’am?”  An energetic negotiator, Mo and I had our disagreements.  But he was one of the hardest working, most reliable drivers that we have. 

Humorous stories abound about how the young men in our department, all Midwesterners to the core, and our Indian driver interacted across cultural and generational divides.  They found one another quite frustrating at times, hilarious at others.  But particularly touching were the multiple phone calls and dedicated trip to the office that Mo made when one of these young men left the company for another job.  Mo came in solely to dispense “great uncle” advice about how to succeed at this new job – to dress well, be on time, etc.

Mo, we miss you. I think I’ll “take a cup of tea” in your honor while I consider painting my office “passive- aggressive pink”.

Kathy Hansen
Oak Park
Kathy Hansen is circulation manager for the Forest Park Review.

‘Wrong demographic’ behind the counter

As a nine year resident of Forest Park and a patron of the many businesses on Madison Street I was absolutely disgusted and angered by the recent article in the Review, which reported on the cessation of the trick-or-teat on Madison tradition. When I read the whining complaints listed in the Review by various Madison Street business owners from places like Two Fish, Team Blonde and others about the amount they spent on candy or the fact that they didn’t like children in their stores or that trick-or-treating brings in the “wrong demographic” of people, I was shocked, insulted and disgusted.

My daughter has participated in this wonderful activity since its inception. We had often invited friends who did not reside in Forest Park to join us. Many of them became patrons of the businesses and restaurants as a result. It has been a very fun, family oriented event that has fostered good will engendered by their sponsorship of such activities as Trick-or-Treat on Madison.

The revitalization of Madison Street and the wonderful businesses and restaurants located there have been a major reason that my family decided to stay in Forest Park rather than move to another community. We have often chosen to patronize the Madison Street businesses over other similar, and sometimes better ones in Chicago and other suburbs. We have sung their praises by word-of-mouth, bringing in more customers than they would have had otherwise, and have purchased many items for our home and gifts for others. We have always supported the businesses and have spent much money there.

It is a shame that the businesses now do not want to give back to the community and their customers. These businesses succeed only when consumers are happy. The attitude exhibited by the business community in their decision to stop the trick-or-treating will not, I guarantee, make consumers happy. I, for one, am not so sure that I will continue to patronize these businesses and I am sure many others feel the same way. After all, anything that you can buy on Madison Street, you can find elsewhere and probably with a more desirable demographic of business owners.

Connie Bitter
Forest Park

Candidate’s claims under fire

I have been following the letters regarding the qualifications of “Dr.” Negale T. Jackson, and did some research of my own.

I found that LaSalle University in Mandeville, La., was a diploma mill–it was fake, and is no longer even in existence. According to a U.S. House of Representatives Banking Committee Hearing in 1999, it was investigated by the FBI, closed down, and all school officials were convicted of fraud. These organizations sell phony degrees to those looking to boost their credentials.

Jackson claims he attended this school from 1986 to 1989, but LaSalle University relocated often, and wasn’t in Louisiana until 1992.

LaSalle University is also on Oregon’s list of unaccredited degree suppliers, put together by the Office of Degree Authorization. The degrees from these institutions cannot be legally used because they’re not accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

In addition, a Google search of “National Conference of Black Lawyers Community College of Law” brought up not a single result.

Obviously, “Dr.” Jackson is not all that he says he is.

Megan Nutley
Forest Park

Another oversized development

On Monday, Oct. 9 the village council approved the townhouse development proposed by Barney O’Reilly for 233 Des Plaines Ave. The development was approved as proposed by Mr. O’Reilly with a few minor conditions imposed by the village.

The property at 233 Des Plaines has frontage on Des Plaines and Rockford and is zoned R-2 which is a medium density residential district. To meet the zoning requirements for an R-2 district, a townhouse development must be no more than 35 feet high, must have no more than two and one half stories, and must have at least 2,000 square feet of land for each unit. The lot at 233 Des Plaines has an area of approximately 13,500 square feet. As such, no more than six townhouses can be built on this property without a variance to the current R-2 zoning.

The comprehensive plan recommends five residential zoning districts for Forest Park and recommends that the property at 233 Des Plaines be in the highest residential zoning district. Currently, townhouses are only allowed in R-2 zoning districts. Mr. O’Reilly proposed a seven unit townhouse development for 233 Des Plaines with each unit having three and one half stories and a maximum height of approximately 43-feet six inches. Due to these requested variances to the zoning requirements for R-2, the development was reviewed by the zoning board of appeals before being presented to the plan commission.

The ZBA voted individually on the three requested variances and approved the variance for seven units but overwhelmingly denied the variances for increases in the number of stories and total height. The plan commission did not vote individually on the requested variances but instead recommended approval of the development. However, the plan commission’s recommended approval contained a number of conditions including conditions to reduce the number of units to six and to require two visitor parking spaces on-site. The plan commission did recommend approval of the variances for the increased number of stories and height.

As a member of the plan commission, I cast the only vote against the development. I agreed with my fellow plan commissioners that no more than six units should be allowed but I did not agree with the increased number of stories or increased height for that portion of the development along Rockford. Although the plan commission and the ZBA did not specifically agree on the method of reducing the size and density of the development, both the plan commission and the ZBA recommended that the development be reduced in scale.

The staff report issued to the village council prior to the council meeting recommended approval of the variances for seven units even though the plan commission unanimously recommended a maximum of six units. The staff report also summarized the deliberations of the plan commission and the ZBA but presented a sample motion to approve the development with the three variances proposed by the developer and with a few minor conditions. The motion was passed by the village council without any discussion.

As a member of the plan commission, it is disappointing to have our recommendations essentially overridden by staff. It is also disappointing to have a majority of the village council disagree with the recommendations of advisory bodies like the plan commission and ZBA. And without an open discussion at the council meeting, it is difficult to know the rationale behind the decisions. However, as it should be, important decisions on our zoning and development are made by our elected officials, the mayor and the village council.

Our job, as residents, is to be informed on the issues facing our community and to make our desires known to our elected officials, village staff, and volunteers that serve our community. Developers have learned that Forest Park is a desirable place to live and new developments will continue, as they should. In fact, a new planned unit development for the Roos building will soon be proposed. Based on the preliminary Roos plans, density and height will again be important considerations in the final approval. Although many residents became involved in the original Roos development, few residents attended the preliminary Roos presentations made at a CU in FP meeting and at the plan commission meeting in August. Forest Park needs informed and active citizens to ensure that future developments enhance our village, especially when variances are being granted for increased size and density.

Marty Tellalian
Forest Park

Freedom of speech is fundamental

I have missed something. Are we not allowed to express opinions without someone telling us that if we don’t like something shut up, sit down and mind our own business? I find politics to be shady at best and when campaigning starts it gets down right stupid. Name calling and innuendo seem to be the thing to do. The things I hear turn my stomach, no one wants to talk about real problems, they just want to point a finger at someone and say it’s their fault.

So Ms. Daly, does this mean I should cancel the Review, stop going to meetings, stop getting involved in our village, in short bury my head in the sand again? I welcome anybody to stand up and express their opinion as long as they are not preaching hate; it is their right and duty as a citizen of the United States. I wish more people would do this; we might not have quite as many problems. I have not always agreed with Mr. Bachman, he has not always agreed with me and I surely don’t agree with your statement, Ms. Daly, but you are entitled to your opinion just like everyone else.

Jerry Webster
Forest Park