Above two letters in today’s print edition of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest was a most apt banner: “Setting the bar higher.”

One letter was written by Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb, in which he apologized for Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla’s slanderous public attack last week of a resident in the moments preceding his appointment to a volunteer citizen panel.

As the mayor wrote, she “would not apologize, so I will.”

“We reject… her labeling of any Village resident. Such labeling and name calling mimics the same behavior from the White House that many of us vehemently reject,” Abu-Taleb wrote, in part. “We must do better.”

The letter, in its entirety, serves as a sidebar to the online version of reporter Stacey Sheridan’s story. You can also read it below, as it appears in print.

I wrote the other letter (above, right), offering my observations about this outrageous outburst. Headline writing is an art form, and having done it thousands of times in my career, I recognize how difficult it can be. Thankfully, via the headline they assigned my letter, the Wednesday Journal nailed a key point I made : “Labeling says more about the labeler.”

My letter appears online, and below in its entirety:

“Very well done, Stacey Sheridan, on your thorough and balanced reporting in the wake of the unfortunate episode at the February 3rd Oak Park Village Board meeting (Headline: Mayor apologizes for trustee’s name calling; Elected official calls appointee ‘racist’ and `misogynist’ at board meeting).

As with any institution, the Oak Park Police Department has room for improvement. The Citizen Police Oversight Committee would benefit from more racial diversity. Getting there won’t happen through petulant, irresponsible character assassination, but by respectful discourse and effective interpersonal communication.

I am grateful that we have a mayor who models the civil, reasoned leadership that any functional home, let alone community, should aspire to achieve. Over the course of my life, I have found that name-calling (or, as in this case, much worse) reveals far more about the individual flinging the labels than the person who is being labeled. This is especially true when it is not supported by facts.”

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