CARE Party of Oak Park

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Citizens Active for Respect for the Environment
CARE Party
Residence Oak Park, Illinois
Born 1985
Known for Environmental Activism in the State of Illinois: preservation of trees, pesticide ban, inoculation of elm trees, combating global warming instruction in schools, forest preserve cleanup, proper mulching, election of environmentally-active candidates

The CARE Party of Oak Park (Citizens Active for Respect for the Environment) had its founding in 1985 in Oak Park, Illinois. From 1989 until the current date, its president has been Les Golden. Under his direction, CARE has achieved numerous environmental successes, including the ban of pesticides, conservation of water and paper, reform of garbage collection, preservation of trees, landscaping, and the election of numerous individuals to positions on various boards to legislate such concerns.[1][2]

Political and Educational Activity

Political Candidates

One of the leading environmentalist spokesmen and activists in Illinois, Les Golden as President of the CARE party in Oak Park, Illinois, secured the election of a majority on the Park Board which on their first day in office banned pesticides in the parks and recreation centers.

Dr. Les Golden of Oak Park, Illinois, has directed successful candidacies for nearly ten individuals and has slated dozens, all with a focus on environmental issues. These include Francis "Bud" Corry, who became president of the park board, Christine Comer, who became president of the park board, Barbara Jepsen (park board), David Ristau (high school board), Steve Robinson (village board), George Doherty (township board), Gary Johnson (library board), Bruce Samuels (library board), and others. Professor Golden has also run as a candidate himself for the park board to bring forward environmental concerns.

Save the Pedestrian Mall

In 2005, Les Golden organized a movement to save the dozens of trees, hundreds of bushes, and numerous floral gardens on the Marion Street Pedestrian Mall from destruction resulting from the plan to put in a street and destroy the pedestrian mall. Flyers were printed and weekly rallies were held at the site for several months. The movement was covered by Chicago-area press and television, including an extensive interviewe on NBC by reporter Derrick Blakely.

As a result of Dr. Golden’s leadership, one of the political parties adopted his Save the Mall position as the major element of its platform. A ban on future streeting of pedestrian areas has now become village policy as a result of these activities.


Citizens Active for Respect for the Environment (CARE) is raising $20,000 to fund a lectureship program in which visiting experts would visit schools and describe to schoolchildren how they on a local level can help combat global warming. The fund would be self-sustaining with annual fundraisers.

In 2009, following Dr. Golden's advocacy, the Oak Park Park District created a Green Committee and enacted a Tree Preservation Ordinance. Although this was done to deflect criticism of the Park District by the CARE party and their supporters because of the lack of environmental consciousness on the part of the park district, the effect will have substantial, unquantifiable benefits for the future of our planet.

Green Building Design

An active animal welfare advocate in the State of Illinois, Dr. Golden argued for compassion toward the coyote population of northern Illinois in a series of columns, and letters to the editor, and press releases.

Dr. Golden has had a leadership role in large-scale commercial development as principal of Holley Court Partners. His proposal features green technology, including LEED, a rooftop garden, and internal recycling.[3]

Childrens’ Educational Activity

Dr. Golden or an associate from the CARE party periodically provide lectures and seminars at local schools and libraries to the schoolchildren. Although the subjects vary, the most frequently requested subjects are how to deal with baby wildlife found injured or orphaned in the Spring nesting season and how the individual can help battle global warming on a local level. Although unpaid for this work, Dr. Golden previously received a modest grant to hire a speaker for these activities.

Since 2006, annual fundraisers have been held to raise a total of $20,000 to fund guest expert lecturers to visit the local schools and libraries. It is envisioned that the fund, once established, will be self-sustaining. The focus of these lectures will be on educating the children on how they can combat global warming by local efforts.

The $50,000 “Trees: Our Natural Infrastructure for the Environment” Challenge

On January 1, 2010 Dr. Golden announced a program to raise $50,000 to inoculate trees against Dutch Elm disease. Elm trees require inoculation every three years to prevent the devastation of this disease, but governments prefer to cut down diseased trees rather than prevent their demise. In his press release, Dr. Golden wrote: “One of the most effective means that the individual can do to prevent global warming is to secure the lives of trees, the natural cooling infrastructure of the Earth. Each moderate size tree has the cooling capacity of dozens of air conditioners. Trees provide habitat for animals, both in their canopy and in their root structure, food, material for shelter, natural mulch, and prevent water run-off. The longest living and largest of all of nature’s creatures, we should devote ourselves to saving trees.”

Learning of the fate of thirty old growth trees in Field playground at Friday, July 6, at noon, within 48 hours Les Golden printed up flyers, had them distributed throughout Oak Park, obtained speakers, and notified the press of a Rally to Save the Trees. Over 200 people attended on Sunday, July 8, on the hottest day of the year on the July 4th weekend.

Dr. Golden seeded the “Trees, Our Natural Infrastructure for the Environment” or “TONE” program with $5,000 of his own money. Each Arbor Day, Dr. Golden and his volunteers in the CARE Party place exhibits in the parks and raise money to reach the $50,000 goal. Once achieved, the principal and interest will provide a lasting fund to pay for the inoculation of all village trees against Dutch elm disease.


Elich/Swanson Administration

The CARE Party was formed to run candidates in the 1985 village elections. Under Dan Elich and Florian Swanson, an enthusiastic organization was formed, with precinct workers working most of the precincts in Oak Park. Using as headquarters a shuttered automobile dealership on Madison Street, the large-statured, charismatic Elich held a formal candidate convention was held in the ballroom of the Oak Park Arms residence. Three candidates were slated for the open three seats. They swept the election in an unprecedented, major upset against the Village Manager Association candidates, the group which had ruled the village since non-partisan elections began in 1951.

Elich and Swanson utilized three issues that had polarized Oak Park residents. These were unhappiness with the administration of the current village manager, Ralph DeSantis, handgun control, and the granting of liquor licenses. The disparate groups unified under Elich’s lead.

Elected were Patricia Andrews, the popular, manager of the Heritage House senior residence, Susan Helfer, an activist fighting intrusive gang activity in her Harrison Street neighborhood on the south side of Oak Park near the Austin area of Oak Park, and Tom Edwalds, a certified accountant. Florian Swanson was defeated by former park district president Clifford Osborn for village president.

Once elected, only Edwalds proved competent. The flamboyant Andrews, married to an Oak Park cop, quickly bolted over to the VMA. She later had an affair with the Oak Park police chief, notably found having sex with him in the parking lot of a nearby Forest Park church, and moved to Denver with him in disgrace years later. Predictably, neither the Oak Park nor Forest Park police filed charges on moral issues, disorderly conduct, or any other citation against one of their own. The incident was hushed over and not covered in the local press. (Imagine how many fines would have been levied, not to mention prison time, and public coverage, if a non-cop had an adulterous affair in a church parking lot!) Helfer was silent on the board, hardly ever expressing an opinion. Edwalds was articulate and made periodic visits to the CARE Party meetings describing current issues.

Greene/Callahan Administration

In 1987 Elich appeared at a meeting of the party at Cal and Theresa (Tedesso) Greene’s home and announced he was becoming inactive in the CARE Party. Because of his leadership skills, this was not greeted happily. Greene, however, volunteered to become the new chairman and CARE member Dan Callahan, owner of a successful Oak Park plumbing firm, became the new president.

Callahan contributed little, but Theresa Greene was a strong leader. She and her husband had a long history of attending village board meetings and she knew how to conduct a meeting, involve others, and delegate responsibility. Attractive with a good sense of humor, the congenial CARE meetings were well attended. Regulars included the distinguished physicist and former board member Bernard Abraham, his wife Annabel, activist and animal welfare advocate Marge Haddix, who had saved the Oak Park Conservatory from closing, tax reform advocate, actor, and professor Les Golden, attorney Robert Ransom, mathematics professor Richard Compton, Len Mueller, jeweler Bob Ryan, urban studies professor Galen Gockel, who would later bolt to the VMA and get elected to the board as a VMA candidate, infuriating the CARE regulars, and Sue and Hubert Helfer, he a former school board member. It was a formidable, talented group. Tom Edwalds would appear periodically to report on village board issues, and Patricia Andrews appeared once.

The major accomplishment of the CARE Party under this administration was the placing of a back door referendum on the ballot to stop school district 97, the elementary school district in Oak Park, from raising taxes. The activity began with a meeting at the home of Oak Park Township assessor William (Bill) Shafer on East Avenue, a retired Commonwealth Edison engineer. Attending were Shafer, Abraham, Gockel, Golden, Ransom, perhaps Theresa and Cal Greene and Compton, and others. In the ensuing weeks, they acquired the challenging number of more than 3200 signatures on a petition. In the subsequent election, the tax-increase was defeated.

No candidates were slated during this administration. When district 97 again floated the tax increase at the next election, Theresa Greene was disenchanted. Believing that once defeated the tax increase could never be proposed again, she resigned in disgust at the political process. The CARE Party became dormant for six months to a year.

Golden/Ransom Administration

With the approach of the 1989 local elections, Les Golden contacted Ransom and suggested they reenergize the CARE Party. The two had formed a friendship of mutual respect from the many meetings at the Greene home. Ransom agreed. Golden was chosen president and Ransom chairman. Golden’s responsibilities were to locate, slate, and run the campaigns of candidates and to articulate issues. Ransom was to be in charge of fund-raising and to chair meetings.

Golden had first come to the CARE Party during the 1985 village elections by attending an outreach meeting at the playground fieldhouse near his home. He had been attracted by the possibility of renewing friendship with his Little League coach of Oak Park Trust and Federal Bank, Florian Swanson, for whom Golden became the leading hitter in Oak Park and the cleanup hitter for the All-Star team. Golden had no intention of entering local politics but was smitten.

Golden and Ransom invited Richard Compton and Sue Helfer to be part of their team and an article to that effect appeared in the local press, although they contributed little to the efforts of the new administration.

Although this administration was not to duplicate the success of the Elich/Swanson administration in obtaining election of multiple candidates to the village board, it began the most active period of the CARE Party. Both Golden and Ransom were fervent tax reform advocates, both Republicans. Meetings were held in the office building at 711 South Blvd., the building purchased by Ransom’s father and passed on to Robert himself where the law offices of Ransom and Ransom were located. Ransom was born and raised in Oak Park, while Golden had resided there since he was five years old.

In the ensuing years, Golden perfected a technique for attracting press coverage, candidates, and workers. He would hold a tax reform meeting at either the village hall council chambers or the Veterans’ Room of the main branch of the Oak Park Public Library on Lake Street and invite tax-reform speakers. [4][5][6] These included Jim Tobin, president of National Taxpayers United of Illinois and and economics professor at Elmhurst College, Andrea Raila of the tax appeal firm Raila and Associates, and a tax reform official from Evanston, Illinois.

After the presentations, Golden would introduce various tax appeal specialists and the members of the audience would be invited to meet with them with their property tax bills. Those experts included Bill Shafer and Galen Gockel, who had succeeded Shafer as Oak Park Township Assessor, Raila, and others. Golden would use the opportunity to request those who were interested in running for office to approach him. These meetings generated stand-room only crowds, and numerous candidates came forward to be slated.

Golden would bring along sign-up sheets and with other members of the party would get everyone entering the hall to sign their name. This formed the basis for increasing the voter base of the party.

Golden and Ransom ran full slates for every local elected board from 1989 through 1991. [7] These included both school boards, the library board, the village board, and the park board. The Tax Accountability Party was the name of their slate for village board. By 1991, the CARE Party could count on a number of voters equal to 40% of those who supported the 40-year old VMA.

CARE candidates who were elected included Christine Comer and Barbara Jepsen to the park board and David Ristau, a nephew of Bob Ryan, to the high school board. With Golden’s life-long friend Francis “Bud” Corry, fondly remembered as “Mr. Oak Park,” Comer and Jepsen formed a majority on the park board and at the first meeting in April 1991 banned the use of pesticides in the parks of Oak Park,

One of the leading environmentalist spokesmen and activists in Illinois, Les Golden as President of the CARE party in Oak Park, Illinois, secured the election of a majority on the Park Board which on their first day in office banned pesticides in the parks and recreation centers.

a policy long espoused by letters, public comment, and petitions by village environmentalists Barbara Mullarkey, Donna Jawor, and Diane Krystulovich, but to no avail without political clout. That ban has essentially continued. Their numerous other reforms resulted in significant local press coverage, including delivering on a campaign promise drafted by Golden to cut the property tax levy of the park district by 5%. That led the National Taxpayers United of Illinois to honor Golden with a distinguished leadership award in 1991.

In 1991, Harriet Hiland, a candidate for elementary school district under the CARE Party, an editor at Encyclopedia Brittanica in Chicago and wife of Playboy magazine art editor and artist Skip Williamson, pointed out to Golden that the character Moe Silver, Chairman of the LOVE Party, in the new comic strip “Shrubtown” was modeled after him. It was drawn by artist Marc Stopeck and published in the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park. [8] Golden’s reputation as a candidate-finder had become legendary. A play by the same name was written by Stopeck and producer at the Circle Theatre in Forest Park, Illinois.

“We’re Resting”

In 1992, local elections were approaching and Ransom and Golden spoke about running candidates. Ransom, however, was recovering from minor surgery and was not to contribute an effort. Golden called a meeting of those who had been active in CARE and prepared a list of tasks needed to run a viable campaign. He challenged those present to volunteer in working on those tasks, his not wishing to “do all the work myself.”

One of those present was Paul Sengpiehl. Sengpiehl was a charisma-challenged Republican who had lost a bid for Cook County Recorder of Deeds, he entire campaign consisting of handing out emery boards. He had approached Golden and Ransom in 1990 with the promise of providing tax-reform GOP candidates for the CARE Party. Golden and Ransom obtained a pledge from him that his goal was not, and never would be, to seek office locally himself. They had learned that the secret to viability was a continuity in leadership, with the implication that those leaders were not interested in slating themselves.

Sengpiehl was a skill-challenged attorney, and soon after routinely visited Ransom’s law offices at 711 South Blvd. to obtain guidance in legal matters. Ransom was never one to turn a friend down, and aided Sengpiehl repeatedly.

At the 1992 meeting, Sengpiehl, without Ransom present, turned the meeting into chaos to achieve his political goals. Golden resigned.

Sengpiehl then held an slating convention at the Art League building, where Ransom and his wife were long-term members. He packed the convention with parishioners from his First Baptist Church, individuals who had never appeared at a CARE meeting before, and would never appear again. They provided proxy votes naming Sengpiehl as the presidential candidate for the village election from the CARE Party, defeating Sue Helfer who was supported by the CARE regulars, and left the meeting. Sengpiehl had violated his pledge to Ransom and Golden for his own personal gain.

In the spring elections, the CARE Party suffered its worst defeat, getting no one elected. The CARE Party was essentially dead. As a further act of non-righteousness, Sengpiehl would henceforth place on his professional resume, “Candidate for President of the Village of Oak Park.”

In a press interview months later, Ransom was asked if the CARE Party would be slating candidates. His published reply was “we’re resting.” Sengpiehl managed to destroy the most viable opposition party in Oak Park that had existed since the transformation from partisan to non-partisan political parties in 1952. Golden had slated nearly 80 candidates, obtaining the election of eight, including those of the TURF Party (later) against the entrenched VMA.

In 1995 Sengpiehl ran unopposed for committeeman of the Oak Park Republican Party, a group with a 15% voter base compared to the 85% voter base of the local Democratic Party. Golden was named to his executive committee. In 1998 he ran again, but was opposed by Steve Meyer, a UPS dock supervisor who had moved from the nearby working class suburbs of Cicero and Berwyn, Illinois. Sengpiehls’ reelection committee consisted of himself, his wife, and Golden, loyal to the incumbent despite Sengpiehls’ destruction of the CARE Party. Meyer, a frustrated athlete, who became a born-again Christian, flooded the election with members of his congregation, the Calvary Church. In an act of retribution, Meyer did to Sengpiehl what Sengpiehl had done to the CARE Party. Sengpiehl became uninvolved in all politics after his defeat.

Golden remains active, slating candidates under other names such as TOPS! (Township Oak Park Party), UTOP (Taxpayers United of Oak Park), The Park People, and Oak Parkers for Sanity in the Parks. Even through the 2000’s, Golden would hold tax reform meetings and, although they would not appear, he would routinely personally invite the veterans of the CARE Party to those meetings as a show of respect and affection.

The River Forest TURF Party

On December 30, 1991, a tax protest meeting was held in the neighboring village of River Forest concerning an increase in property taxes planned by elementary school district 90. Golden, wishing to extend the CARE Party into River Forest to gain strength for Oak Park and River Forest High School, district 200, elections, attended. He hoped to attract a group to ally with the CARE Party.

After school administrators tried to appease angry taxpayers, the meeting was ended. Golden then walked up the microphone, commandeered it, and addressed the eager crowd, to the chagrin of the school administrators. Golden introduced himself and invited those interested in forming a party to slate candidates to meet him in the lobby. Nearly fifteen people signed up. An initial meeting was scheduled at the home of one of the River Forest residents, Ralph Vivian. The TURF Party was born.

Although Golden preferred the name CARE Party of River Forest, to provide a concrete connection to the CARE Party of Oak Park, the River Forest residents on the board preferred to name it Taxpayer United of River Forest, or the TURF Party of River Forest.

Golden was embarking on his own first foray into political office, running for Illinois State Representative. After a number of meetings, and believing that the high level of talent, intelligence, interest, and commitment would, with the guidance he had provided, leave the TURF Party able to go forward successfully. He left the TURF Party, aware of the need for the fledgling group to gain experience on its own. His admonition consisted of telling the committee that continuity of the organization required that the leaders not seek office themselves, which had been the practice of Elich, Greene, Callahan, Golden, and Ransom.

Unfortunately, Steve Robinson and George Doherty, two leaders in the group, did later seek office in River Forest, successfully. The TURF Party soon thereafter became inactive, as had been the basis for Golden’s continuity advice.

Ban on Pesticides

Ban Put in Place

In 1991, as the president of the CARE party, Les Golden slated and led the campaigns of three individuals who won election. On the first day in office in April 1991 they banned pesticides in the parks of Oak Park. For years a group of women in town had been writing letters and giving speeches to ban pesticides, to no avail. Dr. Golden knew the only way to achieve this was to get control of the park board, which he did. The ban remains in effect to this day!

Prior to the ban, dogs had died of ingesting pesticides and children who had crawled in the grass were developing intestinal problems. Dr. Golden wrote about organizing school kids to pick the weeds instead, which received widespread accolades in the local press.[9]

Weed Picking and Green Committee

Les Golden, of Oak Park, Illinois, is a leading environmentalist and animal welfare advocate in the State of Illinois. He frequently lobbies for these causes in columns, letters to the editor, and press releases. In 2000, he began a program by which citizens can obtain free sod from park district trimmings to beautify their landscaping. The worms and worm eggs are also saved from the landfills by this project.

The idea of weed-picking to control weeds as an alternative to pesticides was slow in becoming reality. After periodic lobbying of the park district by Golden and the members of the CARE party over many years, however, the creation of a Green Committee by the park district in 2009 has finally formalized Golden’s proposal and made weed-picking rather than pesticides the practice at every park in the village. The practice has now been adopted as well by neighboring towns.

Tree Activism

Educating Against Volcano Mulching

As a candidate for the Oak Park Park District, Les Golden suggested an imaginative use for a local park.

With the onslaught of Dutch elm disease, the village plants new parkway trees. But the landscapers “volcano mulch” the newly planted trees for appearance sake and this leads to root-bound trees which then die prematurely. Dr. Golden in 2009 led a movement which led to the Boy Scouts in Oak Park being recruited and instructed in proper mulching and their properly mulching all the newly planted parkway trees in the village.

Saving Old Growth Trees

In 1991, Les Golden, as president of Citizens Active for Respect for the Environment, achieved a ban on pesticides in the parks and recreation centers of Oak Park, Illinois.

In about 1998, Dr. Golden discovered that all the trees around a school parking lot were to be destroyed by staff members of the Oak Park Park District, working on taxpayer time. He organized the local parents and their children, and notified the Chicago television media to cover the protest. Diann Burns of ABC Channel 7 famously reported, "Why don't they just move the fence?!"

In 2007, Dr. Golden discovered that all the old growth trees in a park in Oak Park were to be destroyed for a ball field. The construction was to be paid for in part by a matching grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Within 48 hours, he organized a resident rally in the park for which he notified the Chicago Tribune, Chicago television stations, and the local media, arranged for speakers including the Green Party candidate for lieutenant governor, wrote a flyer and had it printed and distributed throughout Oak Park notifying residents of the rally, and contacted the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the local state senator.

As a result, the Department of Natural Resources called an emergency public hearing, and forced the local park district to save many of the trees slated for destruction. The DNR spokesman verified in the press that no notice of the impending destruction was made in the application for matching state funds. The parents of school children who played around the trees paid for a marker which was placed under the largest tree in the park that was saved. The marker reads, "The Field Playground Tree, Saved by Dr. Les Golden, July 2007." [10][11][12][13]

Prevention of Deforestation

Another tree-lined park in Oak Park was to be deforested as part of “development.” Dr. Golden organized a movement to save the trees in that park, and they have now been preserved as part of the redesign.

Organization of Neighborhoods

Les Golden notified the State of Illinois in July, 2007, of the unannounced plan of the Oak Park Park District to destroy all thirty old growth trees in Field playground. The State cancelled their matching grant and held emergency community meetings. As a result, numerous trees were saved.

Les Golden has for many years organized neighbors to pay for preventative treatment of elm trees against Dutch Elm disease and ash trees against Emerald borer-born disease and this has led to the saving of many trees in Oak Park. The village provides no money for such preventative measure, and the CARE party continues its lobbying for the village to provide a cost-sharing program with residents for future inoculation.

Water Quality

In 2007, Leslie M. Golden discovered the plan by the Oak Park Park District to destroy all the old growth trees in a local park. Within 48 hours, on the July 4th weekend, he organized a committee to hold a Sunday rally, wrote a flyer, had the flyer distributed throughout the community, obtained speakers, and notified the press. Over 200 people attended on the hottest day of the year.

The village had intermittently published a “water quality” pamphlet, which was poorly written and poorly organized. Dr. Golden suggested that it be done annually and commented in the newspapers about the quality of the pamphlet. It is now published annually with a very professional presentation, containing vital information about testing procedures and the level of contaminants in the water.

Landscaping and Conservation of Resources


When a park was developed, Dr. Golden lobbied the contractors and the park district to save the dozens of flowering bushes and to make them available for homeowners to plant in their gardens. He obtained the services of landscapers for no charge and those bushes now thrive surrounding numerous homes in the area. This also saves ground water.

Sod Distribution

Beginning on January 1, 2010, with $5000 seed money from Dr. Les Golden, the TONE goal of raising $50,000 for inoculation of elm trees against Dutch Elm disease has reached about $38,000 as of February 1, 2012.

Each Fall, the park district resods worn portions of soccer and baseball fields. Les Golden met with park district officials and arranged an annual “Sod Distribution Week” during which the trimmings are made available to homeowners for use in their lawns rather than driven to landfills.

Trash Removal

Since 1995, Dr. Golden has worked with a local Boy Scout troop for “Saturday Morning Trash Pickup” days. He drives the scouts to the local forest preserves and works with them and their scout leaders to pick up discarded bottles, plastics, paper, and other trash. Not only does this beautify the parks, it prevents creatures from ingesting the material or using it for nesting material.

Bird Kill and Road Kill

Bird Kill

When a new library was built in Oak Park, it was constructed with a large façade of glass windows, which led to massive bird kill. Dr. Golden brought this to the attention of the public and library board and the library installed shields that the birds view as an obstruction. The bird kill has ceased and village leaders became aware of the need for such protective measures in new commercial buildings that were built.

Road Kill

In 2007, Dr. Golden discovered the plan by the Oak Park Park District to destroy all the old growth trees in a local park, notified the state senator and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and convened a rally which was covered by Chicago television and media, leading to the saving of many of the trees.

Dr. Golden has organized a “road kill” brigade. For years, he has written a column each fall and each spring asking motorists to slow down and “stop the roadkill.” He and other volunteers from the CARE party regularly monitor the main streets in the community, pick up the roadkill, and bring it to the proper location. This prevents other critters from going onto the road and trying to eat the kill and getting killed themselves.

He is currently lobbying the village to place speed bumps on the streets next to the forest preserves where many critters live[14][15] and is lobbying Cook County to put restraining fences along those roads that pass through unincorporated areas.

Animal Welfare

Twice each year, in the fall and the spring, the local newspapers publish a long column by Dr. Golden reminding drivers to slow down to prevent the devastation of wildlife.

Believing that the Earth belongs to all its creatures, Dr. Golden writes frequently about animal welfare and is an activist on their behalf. This includes combating dog fighting, opposing incarceration of large mammals in zoos, wildlife advocacy, and supporting animal rehabilitation facilities.[16][17][18][19][20][21] [22][23]

Toxic Chemical Removal

In the Fall of 2007, Dr. Golden, who has degrees in engineering as well as astronomy, observed children in the park playing with a large bucket of the extremely toxic construction chemical, crystalline silica. Among other indicators, the State of California requires a label noting it to be a carcinogen. It had been left by workmen outside a daycare center in the park. After receiving no aide from municipal officials, Dr. Golden took matters into his own hands and at his own health risk removed the bucket, covered it up, and drove it to the local waste management site for proper disposal.

Intergovernmental Cooperation in Environment

Government Mulch

In 2002, Dr. Golden suggested that the chipped-up mulch from dead parkway trees be used in the parks and school grounds for landscaping rather than driven to landfills, with the waste of gas and associated pollution. He contacted the school district, the park district, and the village and organized them to cooperate to make this their policy.[24]

Citizen Mulch

Over 200 attended the Save the Trees Rally. Speakers included organizer Les Golden and the Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor of the State of Illinois. Children were well-represented and spoke eloquently of their love of trees and the creatures who inhabit them. Chicago television stations were present and carried the news on the evening broadcasts.

When a tree in his neighborhood is cut down (usually for Dutch elm disease), Dr. Golden contacts nearby residents and notifies them of the availability of the chipped-up mulch. He then moves bushels of chipped mulch to the various homes and helps the homeowner lay down the material. This saves the gas of the trucks carrying the wood chips to landfills and provides material for mulching trees and landscaping.

Water Conservation and Waste Reduction

Water Reduction

When the park was installing a splash pad, Dr. Golden argued that a mechanical on-off switch would lead to massive waste of water and persuaded the park district to install an electric eye switch so that water would be used only when kids were in the splash pad area. This saves approximately three million gallons of fresh water every summer season.

Saving Newsletter Waste

Over a period of years, Dr. Golden wrote letters and spoke to the various elected boards in Oak Park about the need to save paper by combining newsletters. As a result of his efforts, the library and the grammar school district combined their newsletters with that of the municipal government.

Waste Reduction

In 2007, Dr. Golden discovered the plan by the Oak Park Park District to destroy all the old growth trees in a local park, notified the state senator and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and convened a rally which was covered by Chicago television and media, leading to the saving of many of the trees.

Golden and the CARE party lobbied the village to provide two sizes of garbage cans with different monthly fees to encourage recycling. The village finally instituted this policy in 2010.

He is now working with the village to begin community-wide composting of vegetable kitchen waste. He is also discussing with village officials a mean to institute a garbage collection scheme in which people pay only for the garbage they generate. This would reduce waste beyond that resulting from the two-garbage -can size program.

Political Lawn Sign Recycling

Dr. Golden has consistently lobbied against the use of political lawn signs during election cycles.[25] After the polls are closed, he contacts the schools, churches, and other polling places to gather the yard signs. He also has organized volunteers to walk the neighborhoods to pick up yard signs from the lawns of homeowners. He then delivers the yard signs and their metal spines to orphanages, schools, and libraries for use by children for art and architecture projects.

This activity is accompanied by letters to the editor[26] providing suggestions for using the lawn sign material. In addition to the use of the plastic material for school art projects, Golden suggests using it to create insulating boxes (for example, a summer project for the kids before going on a picnic which will teach them the value of reusing material in a conservation effort) instead of using Styrofoam. He also has suggested using the metal spines for gardening, either, for example, to support tomato plants or to provide structure for the growth of vines of climbing vegetable plants.


  1. ^ (2001) Golden, Les, “It’s not easy being green, but here are some ideas”, Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, April 11, p. 40
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ see, for example,(2006) “Oak Park tax gripes to be discussed”, September 26,; (1987) 200 turn out at CARE tax forum, Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, October 7; CARE tax forum adds speakers, Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, September 9, 9;
  6. ^ (2003) Golden, Les “Cut the Taxes” Golden, How to turn the Barrie negative into a positive,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, February 26
  7. ^ see, for example, (1989) CARE joins school board fray, Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest , July 31, page 1; (1989) CARE tries to seek new identity, Oak Leaves, October 11, page 7; (1990) CARE endorsements have defeat the "incumbent" goal, Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest , October 31, page 21; (1991) CARE challenges shake up village races, Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, February 6, page 1; (1991) CARE: a party in search of an image, Oak Leaves, August 14, page 8; Thomas, Sherry (1995) “Is Runningbear really ‘Cut the Taxes’?”, Oak Leaves (Oak Park, Illinois), August 23, p. 13; Linden, Eric (1995) “New OPRF ‘slate’ reads like a hoax,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, August 9, p. 7
  8. ^ see, for example, Stopeck, Marc (1991), “Shrubtown,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, July 24, p. 17; Stopeck, Marc (1991), “Shrubtown,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, August 14, p. 22; Stopeck, Marc (1991), “Shrubtown,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, August 21, p. 23; Stopeck, Marc (1991), “Shrubtown,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, August 28, p. 21; Stopeck, Marc (1992), “Shrubtown,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, August 12, p. 24; Stopeck, Marc (1993), “Shrubtown,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, August 11, p. 22
  9. ^ Linden, Eric (1991), “’Dandelion Dig’ idea blooming,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, May 29, p. 7
  10. ^
  11. ^ Dwyer, Bill (2007), “Tree Fury at Field,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, July 10, p. 1;
  12. ^ Noel, Josh (2007), “Oak Park tree-removal plan heads for debate,” Chicago Tribune, July 12, p. 7;
  13. ^ (2004)
  14. ^ Golden, Les (2002), “All it would take is a fence to keep critters alive,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, June 12, p. 41
  15. ^ Golden, Les (2000), “Les ‘Cut the Roadkill’ Golden says, Slow Down!”, Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, April 19, p. 25
  16. ^ Golden, Leslie M. (2005), “Elephant deaths are a matter of physics,” Chicago Sun-Times, January 28, p. 24
  17. ^ (2000) “Trailside needs a champion,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest (editorial), November 1, p. 32
  18. ^ Vincent, Ed (2002), “The Lost Chukar,”, August 10
  19. ^
  20. ^ Golden, Les (2000), “Hey, Sylvestri, save our furry and feathered friends,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, October 25, p. 34
  21. ^ Little, Rebecca and Trainor, Ken (2000) “Silvestri responds to Golden, Trailside,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, November 1, p. 2
  22. ^ Golden, Les “Let’s Save the Dogs” Golden (2002), “Ask politicians to make dog fighting a felony,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, May 22, p. 32; (2008)
  23. ^ “Inside Report: Les ‘Cut the coyotes a break’ Golden,” Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, January 23, p. 5
  24. ^ “Oak Park Environmentalist Persuades School to Save Taxpayer Dollars, Intergovernmental Cooperation the Key to Recycling Dutch Elm Mulch,”
  25. ^
  26. ^