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July 14, 2009

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Level Player

Too bad...another empty store. A lot of lost sales tax revenue too. He should be reimbursed, at minimum.

BaristaThomRaeIsAKook

Unbelievable...

The Village does the right thing and stops this type of business from opening, a couple of people think it improper and it gets a headline that says "Shame & disappointment linger". You have got to be kidding me.

My guess is Joan Smothers, Melody Holt, the ever present Mike "I'll politicize every issue I can" Horvath and others like the current quality and atmosphere of downtown LG. I'm sure each of them enjoys the fact that Chicago Magazine just named the La Grange downtown the best downtown in their most recent issue. (you think Smothers will use that fact to help sell homes in La Grange? hmmmm.)

We all know that a pawn shop opening in a high profile location in our downtown would certainly detract from the overall image of our downtown. If that's elitist, count me in.

You gotta love that Horvath tries to turn almost every situation into political gain. He sits on the Village Board with his political ally, Jim Palermo, and criticizes at every juncture, yet offers no solutions. Let's face it, if Horvath & Palermo had been on the ball, they would have worked to close the pawn shop loophole long ago. In short, no one saw this pawn shop situation coming & the Village did the right thing in stopping this type of business from opening. Was there an opportunity to handle it better? Sure, but the situation was moving quickly and commanded action. The Village delivered the necessary result.

You gotta love the fact that the kook that runs this website is totally in bed with the anti-Village government folks. My guess is you won't see a posting from him any time soon about the Chicago Magazine ranking of our lovely downtown. Instead, Thom Rae working with Dobias, Horvath, Palermo, Coryell & others, continues to prove he is not a "journalist" presenting an unbiased look at our village. Rather, he is a front for a vocal minority of knuckleheads.

LG residents that love their village & love their downtown are suffering from neither "shame" nor "disappointment" over this issue. Most are breathing a sigh of relief.

Ahhh LaGrange

Some things never change - The LGBA has once again managed to incite unwarranted fear and concern in the hearts of LG residents. The e-mail chain from Urban Sole's owner clearly did the trick. Now hard earned taxpayer $$ will be used to pay damages for this shameful, embarrassing and completely unnecessary fiasco. Who says the elitist business district doesn't control our town. The LGBA snaps their fingers and our village officials jump.
As to Mr. Horvath & Mr. Palermo - how nice it is to have officials who actually ask questions and speak on behalf of the residents for a change.

valuer

To "Barista,"

The Village did not do the "right thing," and, no, we don't "all know that a pawn shop opening in a high profile location in our downtown would certainly detract from the overall image of our downtown."

To All,

Once again I am underwhelmed by Village Hall and its cast, save Mike Horvath and Jim Palermo. Where else can you have your rights, as a property owner and business owner, trampled? What happened to the rule of law?

Mr. Grayson has an excellent cause of action and I pray he follows through. He did all the right things. He wants to operate a business clearly allowed under local ordinance and is even issued a business license to do so. But wait...

Enter the LaGrange Business Association and Mike Lapidus, its president. The LGBA believes it is their responsibility to protect and encourage businesses in the area. Unfortunately for Mr. Grayson this does not include his business and once word of his plans got out Mr. Lapidus got his knickers in a knot.

The Hollywood Video store sat empty for an extended period of time. Did anybody in the LGBA ever give any thought as to who or what type of business might occupy the space? Apparently not. At least not until Mr. Grayson got his license.

Now, it's one thing to change the allowed uses before a license is issued but quite another to do it retroactively, after the license has been issued. That's just plain unfair, unethical, and illegal.

If it helps, just remember this decision has been brought to you by some of the same folks who believe it's okay to lie in an application for Federal funds for the "Not Commuter" parking garage behind Village Hall.

At the very least the Village owes Mr. Grayson whatever he might have earned by opening his store, and they also owe the building owner the value of the lease signed by Mr. Grayson. Or, they can issue the needed building permit and allow Mr. Grayson's store to open.

The only knuckleheads here are those who think what happened is good.

J Deering

Wow. BaristaThomRaeIsaKook...is the real kook!

Anyone who looks objectively at the facts would realize that the Village handled the Pawn Shop issue very poorly. If Pawn Shops are bad for the Village (and I think they are) then why did the Village Manager issue a business license? Why did a letter go out to the owner welcoming him to the Village if Pawn Shops are bad for the Village? Why did Village President Liz Asperger approve it? What in the world were they all thinking?

As a local business owner, I believe those actions showed incredibly poor judgment and deserve criticism. Is it the Board's responsibility to review the code specifics? Isn't the Village Manager responsible for carrying out the Board's policies? Isn’t the Village President the final sign-off? I think the Village Board has been very clear on the image it wants for downtown La Grange. They built a beautiful parking deck and someday it will bring in stores like Old Navy, the Gap and other top flight retailers. It gave the theater a million dollar renovation grant over funding other community needs. They have increased police patrols in the downtown while neighborhood and community policing activities have cut due to lack of funding. Why in the world would the Village Manager (and President Asperger) think the vision for downtown included a Pawn Shop next to Village Hall. They both should have shown better judgment and have had better processes in place. The Village President is responsible for the operations of the staff. She is the CEO and is involved in the day-to-day operations of the Village.

Trustees are the policy makers. The Village clearly doesn’t have a good code review policy in place. All of them can share that blame with Village staff. However, it was good to see Trustee Horvath propose reforms to fix the system (and show some empathy for the owner and landlord). That is a demonstration of leadership and problem solving. Mistakes were made due to fundamental flaws in Village operations and significant errors in judgment by those directly involved in issuing the business license in the first place. Adopting reforms to address the holes in the system will avoid “pawn shop like” problems from reoccurring. That’s what we need along with people that can make sound common sense judgments and have a sense of fair play.

Fairelections

This is what happens to towns and villages where the village president is anointed and not elected. Until, the voters of La Grange are allowed to have a true election for village president (an election where voters have a CHOICE between more than one canidate on the ballot, giving them the power to vote out an incumbent who no longer represents her constituents) the people of La Grange must accept the fact that the LGBA runs the village. Lapidus is La Grange's true village president and Asperger is merely his puppet.

katparks

I support stopping the Pawn Shop and I'm glad its was able to be accomplished. Perception is reality to many people and Pawn Shops carry a very negative image that would be hard to overcome.

To the "Barista" character who posted his/her rant, your conspiracy theory is way off and you need to check your facts. If anything, the LGBA and Liz Asperger are working behind the scenes to the detriment of La Grange residents. Follow the money. Look at your tax bill.

As far as Mr. Horvath and Mr. Palermo are concerned, I highly doubt that they are working with Mr. Coryell to stop the sale of parkland. They both voted for the YMCA redevelopment that included the park land in question. While I disagree with that decision, I appreciated their efforts to get a pedestrian bridge built over Ogden as part of the project. They actually got something for the people versus the usual taxpayer subsidies government is so used to spending on developers.

Lastly, just because you don't like the message, blaming the messenger makes you look even more irrational. This site provides more information than the Village's own site and often more than the local news agencies. If the facts are wrong, then set the record straight. Your post is riddled with misinformation (I even checked the Chicago Magazine site and your claims there are unsubstantiated as well). I recommend an anger management class and the use of a fact checker.

BaristaThomRaeIsAKook

Where do I start....

Katparks:

My post is hardly riddled with misinformation. In fact, it is just like your post & every other post on this website - it's my OPINION.

As far as your check of the Chicago Magazine, you are simply wrong. Try PAGE 103 of the August 2009 "Best Of Chicago" issue. So there's no confusion about this, I'll quote the article:

"BEST DOWNTOWN - La Grange - Lot's of little suburban downtowns have filled up with appealing restaurants and stylish boutiques. But in La Grange, something unusual has happened: While many hot newcomers have sprouted in the six-square-block village center some tried-and-true old-timers like the hardware store, the art league, and the camera shops have stuck around , too. The 6th Avenue parking deck on Thursdays is the sight of a good farmers' market. It all feels like a Mayberry for the 21st century-and here, the police officers patrol the streets on Segways."

I'll await your apology.

I think my post regarding the bias of the creator of this website is fully warranted. Since it's inception, this website has overwhelmingly had "articles" (this term is used very,very loosely) with a consistently negative slant on Village governance.

The producer of this website is just some guy that, for whatever reason (read "agenda") decided to start taking an interest in and writing about a western suburban town that he doesn't even live in. Trust me, that's odd!

Taking the actions of starting a website, focusing on village governance, filing FIA requests, going to the AG of the state of Illinois, attending all of these board meetings, etc.; all of that certainly speaks to him being agenda-driven.

He tries to position himself as a "journalist", but calling himself one just doesn't square. He is not hired/paid by existing publications to write articles. What he did is create a website and deem himself a "publisher" and a "journalist".

As far as his postings (I refuse to call them "articles" as that would lend credence to them), it truly is obvious that most, if not all, of them present a negative view of how our village operates. Look at the past postings, none of them show any positive actions by the Village board or the LGPD board. Thom Rae doesn't live by the saying "all the news that's fit to print". It seems he lives by the saying "all the negative, slanted news I can come up with". That is a profound journalistic bias that practically screams "AGENDA".

Finally, look at his most recent "article" dated 7/15. He reports on himself! In the third person! And people wonder how I came up with my posting name!!!

Luckily for the Village, his little Citizen Kane-like foray (this website) isn't exactly the next Google News. From the lack of postings it appears that only a small little group of like-minded folks are reading/writing just to validate their opinions/agenda. It's not a news website, it's a forum. All 14 of you have fun with that.

As far as the anger management comment, I love when people disagree with someone else and try, as a last resort, to use the "angry" argument. I'm not angry, I'm bemused & amused at the level of kookiness by the website creator & the majority of posters.

Chris Walsh

@BTRIAK

Why does it matter what Rae's reason for blogging is, and whether he has an axe to grind, or whether he is paid?

I have some news that may shock you. The small-time newspapers that "cover" towns like La Grange rely on their advertisers to pay the freight. If you anger advertisers, they might spend less. So you rarely see investigative pieces and instead are treated to fluff -- "Local man turns love of trains into lifelong hobby", rather than "Civic organization pressures government to withhold business license from possible competitor". The gap is filled by other information sources. In a small town, many of these are informal, but with a near-zero cost of entry a blog like this one is unsurprising.

We're all intelligent enough to understand that publishers have viewpoints (or biases, if you prefer). In traditional small-town journalism, the bias is toward boosterism, feel-good articles, and a police blotter. In this blog, it is toward muck-raking and suspicion. What is the big deal? It isn't like it's a secret.

I don't know much about your stance on issues, but on the pawn shop matter it seems to be that if the end result is better for downtown, then the right thing was done. Others would say that an equally good ending for both the downtown and for the pawn shop applicant could have been arrived at if the village had done a better job. You highlight the first, Rae highlights the second. It's a free country, and in this case, both positions are correct!

Finally, what you call kookiness I would say is more like quirkiness. A kook is an irrational weirdo. Someone quirky is weird in a harmless way. I don't see Rae as irrational. I don't share his opinions on alot of things, but he isn't out there barking at the moon or asking us to vote for Lyndon Larouche, either. I say let him write. If 75% of the time he stirs a bunch of cranks to fits of impotent rage, but 25% of the time he hits on something worthwhile, what's not to like? It is, as you say, amusing if nothing else.

By the way -- if your quotation from Chicago Mag is accurate, they need to hire a copy editor. "Sight" and "site" mean different things, and the plural of "lot" does not contain an apostrophe. I guess even paid "journalists" aren't perfect.


WilliamDobias

Chris - Thanks for your thoughtful response to BTRIAK. Over the past year or so you and I have engaged in several dialogs on this blog which I have found enjoyable and beneficial. It was far easier to do so on the blog, and we were able to do so because we both clearly identify ourselves. I'm always skeptical of someone's views, like those of BTRIAK because he (or she) lacks the strength of conviction and self-confidence to readily identify themself in their posts.

Over the past two years I have gotten to know Thom Rae a little, although I can't say that I know where he came from or why he is here. I do know that he started this blog to satisfy a personal desire to provide such a community service, probably eventually for profit, not because he had some personal agenda or ax to grind. He had studied a number of similar blogs in different parts of the country and knew what he wanted to publish and referred me to several of them as examples of what he thought were good community news blogs.

As to living in Brookfield where he can afford an apartment and starting a blog called "Everything LaGrange" - that's probably very reasonable. Would anyone start a blog in Brookfield and then try to enlarge its coverage to include LaGrange? That's probably not a very good business model. Starting in LaGrange and spreading to Western Springs, Brookfield, etc makes more sense.

The editors of The Suburban Life think highly enough of Thom's journalistic abilities to take him on as a stringer whenever they are short-handed on staff.

Thom hasn't just spent his time covering our disagreement about Gordon Park or the Village Board's continuing lack of "sunshine" in their meetings. When a La Grange Park boy went missing, Thom posted it right away. We all read about the tragic accident on 47th Street and its aftermaths here long before any other of the media had it. Unfortunately our Gordon Park disagreement and our Village president and her staff have given Thom compelling stories that have dominated the news blog at times.

As to the value of the "Everything LaGrange" blog in our community, when did you ever see The Suburban Life submit FOIA's and work at scooping another news organization as they did on Friday with the latest episode of the pawn shop saga. It appears that Thom Rae is setting a standard by which electronic media in our town will be judged.

Perhaps what BTRIAK and others are trying to do is discredit Thom, who seems to have a growing number of readers before the next Village President election. It appears that we already have the next "LaGrange Business Assoc. candidate" on hand to try and succeed Liz Asperger.

Matt

Bring back Tim Hanson. He ran the village well.

WILLIAM SMITH

LA GRANGE ILLINOIS LIKE MANY OTHER SUBURBS OUTSIDE OF CHICAGO ARE CORUPT I KNEW SOMEBODY TRYING TO OPEN A BUSINESS THERE 10 YEARS AND BEFORE HE WENT TO THE BOARD HE SPOKE TO ONE OF THE VILLAGE TRUSTEES AND SHOOK HIS HAND AT THE END OF THE MEETING THE TRUSTEE REPLIED WITH A GRIN ON HIS FACE NEXT TIME MAKE SURE THERE IS MONEY IN YOUR HAND YOU WILL LEARN THAT QUICK THATS HOW WE DO BUSINESS AROUND HERE NEEDLESS TO SAY MY FRIEND BACK OUT OF OPENING A BUSINESS IN LA GRANGE

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