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Closing Out Constituents

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To the editors:

Reading Ben Joravsky's piece on the debate about the Edgewater strip mall [Neighborhood News, January 15] gave me a queasy sense of deja vu. Again, Alderman Osterman was making decisions without the counsel of her constituents, and again, she doesn't understand why any of them would have any reason to be upset with her.

Ms. Osterman seems amazed that there is opposition to the proposal to build a strip shopping center at Broadway and Berwyn. What could possibly be wrong with providing "public improvements for our community"? the article quotes her. But she shouldn't be surprised by the outcry. When decisions are made behind closed doors, without any input from those people most affected by those decisions, there's bound to be some very upset people.

Alderman Osterman regularly makes decisions that affect her whole ward (and the city) with input only from her close circle, or solely according to her whim at the moment of the decision.

During the election of the Acting-Mayor, for example, she convened a meeting of 15 aldermen (flouting the Open Meetings Act) in her ward office. Behind the closed doors of that office, she and other aldermen made decisions affecting the whole city, and not one constituent had any idea what was said or agreed upon at that meeting.

Multiple calls were made to her office by the voters of her ward, attempting to make their concerns about the Mayoral election voting process heard, but amazingly, during this crucial week, the phones at both her ward office, and her City Hall office were unmanned for most of the time leading up to the vote. Concerned elected officials and community leaders tried to express their opinions about the election, but she reportedly rejected their input with the statement, "Well, none of you voted for me, so why should I listen to you?"

Although this statement is not true (most of the people did vote for her, and some even worked for her in the runoff election against the remnants of the old Tuchow organization) if it were true, is it Alderman Osterman's policy to only represent those who would vote for her? Is this the kind of good government position that the alderman used to champion?

The, literally, back room meetings during the election of the acting mayor; the reported request from her for her personally supported candidate to drop out of the Ward Committeeman's race in favor of her own candidacy, because Osterman was supposedly afraid of the fact that there was not a strong candidate to run against the remnants of the corrupt Tuchow machine. Then, the Tuchow candidate dropped out to support Alderman Osterman's campaign.

Although Osterman vowed that she would not run for Committeeman, she jumped in the race when the 48th Ward Progressive Democrats elected to support James Exum for Committeeman: Alderman Osterman did all of these things without any public discussion.

I don't understand. The Alderman always seems to be surprised by the reactions of the people in her ward, but if she discussed things in open forums neither she, nor her constituents, would be "surprised" by the events that transpire. Talk to the people, Alderman, but more than that, listen!

Robert Bartell

W. Ainslie

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