Oak Park's equity effort

Opinion: Editorials

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It took way too long, at least two years too long, but Monday night Oak Park's village board approved hiring a third party to provide equity training for its staff. Of course there was dissension among board members and the final vote was 5-2 in favor of choosing the National League of Cities to implement its Race, Equity and Leadership (REAL) program in Oak Park.

Critics, including Trustees Arti Walker Peddakotla and Susan Buchanan and some members of the Community Relations Commission, said more input should have been sought from the commission. They favored hiring the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) to do the training. However, while Oak Park became a member of GARE early this year, it did not submit a proposal, allegedly because its services are overtaxed as other communities have begun to focus on equity. 

Again, an indication that Oak Park's village government has been far too slow in bringing legitimate equity thinking into its day's work. 

That said, let's move ahead. Hiring a single consultant for a specified batch of training is just one component of what will need to be a much more inclusive reordering of village priorities related to race and equity. 

Perhaps the REAL program will be strong. Perhaps its interconnection with municipal governance will be a bold stroke.

The genuine question is, "What else is Oak Park's village government doing to lead on equity?" What is the plan to affirmatively tackle police reform, especially as it relates to transparency in discipline issues and expansion of citizen oversight of police?

We're waiting with impatience to see leadership on that issue.

Meanwhile, let's enter this overdue equity training with an open mind and determined expectations to do better.

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