I received the following from Mr. John Murtagh. Mr. Murtagh has had the unenviable task of chairing the Village of Oak Park’s Community Relations Commission. By way of explanation, Mr. Murtagh has tendered his resignation as Chair of the committee, however Oak Park Village President Pope prevailed upon John to remain at the helm.
In October (2009) when I addressed the Chamber of Commerce’s Living Wage Forum, I promised to keep you advised of the Community Relations Commission’s progress. This note is an effort to fulfill that promise. I am sending this e-mail to you as a private citizen, not as the Chairperson of the Community Relations Commission. You will understand why I cite that further in this note.
Since the forum, the commission has concentrated on the preparation of a final report. Last night, the commission approved for distribution of a Preliminary Living Wage Report to the public in preparation the CRC Living Wage Public Meeting tentatively scheduled for February 10, 2010. A vote on the final report is likely to occur at the February 17, 2010 regular commission meeting.
At the first Living Wage meeting of the commission last February, I stated that the commission’s responsibility was to produce a thorough and objective report. The focus on thorough and objective was the result of a conversation I had with President Pope in which he laid out the village board’s expectation of the Living Wage Review.
A thorough document is one that provides all available information in a decision-ready context. An objective document is one that is free of overt advocacy and reported in an un-biased manner. The first two drafts of final report prepared by a sub-group of the commission were not thorough or objective — in my opinion.
As I saw little likelihood that the commission would be able to formulate a single “thorough and objective” document, I prepared a report that approached the living wage issue from the “con” viewpoint. I then proposed at the December meeting that the commission’s final report contain two separate components – pro and con. The commission rejected the document in the motion below.
“The Con Report is personal information (of John Murtagh) and should not be included final report, though it can be used as additional information components in the final draft.”
The Draft Preliminary Living Wage Report presented last night contained few substantial or meaningful changes based on the “Con Document.” My report had minimal impact on the third and final draft.
With the commission’s vote for exclusion of the con report, the report is neither a commission nor a village document. It is a document expressing my personal opinion based on my research and analysis. I also see it as a community document. My sole purpose and sole role in the Living Wage review process was to represent the community by ensuring that the Oak Park Village Board received a thorough and objective decision-ready report. After a year of work on the Living Wage, I have concluded that there is insufficient proof that the benefits of a living wage ordinance have been proven to be substantive enough to outweigh the risks, burdens, and uncertainties the community would face..
The views in the report are my own and do not represent the views of the village, commission as a whole, or any members of the commission. The report was written as a “Con Report.” As such, it is an advocacy report. I make no claim that it is objective, though I do hope it provides a fair narrative of the risks to the village of a Living Wage passage.
In my concluding comment at the Chamber of Commerce Living Wage Forum, I said, “The assignment given to the commission by the village board is nearly over. By law, analysis, and common sense, the village’s discussion and review is not over. Oak Park historically has had a strong voice in supporting social justice issues and did so again in November. Oak Park historically has had a vibrant business community that is critical to the village’s success. Social justice and business success are not contradictory in Oak Park. The living wage challenge is to use our community’s consensus traditions, creativity, and skills to find a poverty solution that works.” My hope is that the last year’s efforts will result in the community continuing to come together to find solutions to a severe and debilitating problem — poverty
The Preliminary Living Wage Report approved last night will be available on the village website before the public meeting. I urge you to read the commission’s document thoroughly.
The “Con Report” titled The Risks, updated 01/31/2010, is attached. Please feel free to distribute this report in its entirety or in summary form as you see fit, or to anyone inside or outside of the business component of the Oak Park community that will benefit from the information.