'Chumps Like Us' -- Streit Says OL Taxpayers Overpaid for Springsteen Cover Band
Streit alleges village picked up tab for hotel rooms, limos, equipment rentals and VIP tent tickets for band that performed at Fall On the Green under contract negotiated by Trustee Tom Phelan.
Oak Lawn Trustee Bob Streit (Dist. 3) said village taxpayers might have overpaid for a Bruce Springsteen tribute band to play at the 2012 Fall the Green Festival during Tuesday’s village board meeting.
In his near, hour-long village trustee’s report, in which Robert’s Rules flew out the window, Streit told fellow village board members that a contract was negotiated for $10,000 with Tramps Like Us—a Springsteen tribute band out of New York—to play a main stage, Sunday show at Fall On the Green.
The fee earned by Tramps Like Us is more than double of what bands are typically paid to play Fall On the Green, between $400 and $3,500.
The contract also included five free rooms for three nights at the Hilton Oak Lawn, two limos for the band to use while it played Friday and Saturday gigs at 115 Bourbon Street and Hardrock Café in downtown Chicago, and wristbands for the VIP tent.
The village was also to have paid $2,000 out of a $5,000 Budwesier sponsorship for a radio ad package for the band, according to an email Trustee Tom Phelan, then the special events committee chair, sent to Village Manager Larry Deetjen and Chad Weiler, the village's business development director, dated May 25.
“As if this isn’t troubling enough I have now learned that we received a bill for equipment that was used by the band on all three nights at other venues, too,” Streit said. “I do want to point that these contracts were negotiated prior to my appointment as the new chairperson of special events.”
Streit informed the village board that the vendor was told that Oak Lawn would pay the entire equipment rental bill.
“I don’t even know if it’s legal,” Mayor Dave Heilmann said. “I asked our staff not to pay this because I thought it was not a legal expense. I don’t believe the Village of Oak Lawn can pay for equipment for a band playing outside of the village.”
The mayor further shared that Tramps Like Us was paid $3,000 for each of its Friday and Saturday gigs.
“You have ask why are we, the village, paying $10,000 for a Sunday night which everyone knows is a lost night,” Heilmann said.
Heilmann said he checked venues in New York where the band had played locally, for which they were paid $3,000 and $3,500. He also received a letter from the band on Tuesday afternoon, telling the mayor to “cease and desist” because Heilmann was “threatening the band’s livelihood.”
“I don’t mean to slight the band. “They’re great and they do a wonderful job,” Heilmann added. “This has nothing to do with them but what our responsibility is to Oak Lawn.”
Phelan said the hotel rooms—valued at $3,000 for three nights--were donated by the Hilton Oak Lawn, which was given a gold sponsorship of Fall On the Green in exchange. Mancari Chrysler donated both limos for use by the band.
“I thought it would be a nice tie-in for [the real] Springsteen’s concerts at Wrigley Field,” Phelan explained.
The radio-advertising package also never happened, Phelan said. The mayor misrepresented the band’s average fee, which is $8,500. At another Illinois fair, the band was paid $18,000.
Phelan maintained he was able to get Tramps Like Us to reduce its fee to $10,000, with hotel rooms, limos and equipment rentals to make it more affordable for them to perform in Oak Lawn.
He encouraged the band to try and get some other gigs in the Chicago area to compensate for the reduced fee as part of a “pricing strategy” to upgrade the quality of performers at Fall On the Green, and to better utilize the main stage.
Phelan also reminded the village board beer sales on the Sunday night that Tramps Like Us performed were $15,000, more than the year before.
In an email the day after the meeting, Streit said that Sunday beer sales at Fall On the Green were $3,500. In total, FOTG beer sales were $12,755 above last year's.
"Changes made this year in controls and accountability, resulted in the higher sales," Streit wrote.
“It’s important to village residents that millions of dollars not get squandered on legal fees,” Phelan said sarcastically. “That’s not important, what is important is what bands played on Sunday night [at Fall On the Green]. It didn’t cost taxpayer dollars anything.”
All discussions were communicated to Village Manager Larry Deetjen, who had the authority sign the documents, Phelan said.
“The year before we spent $10,000 on rides that we never spent before," he added. "That didn’t come to the board because it wasn’t a big deal for the community.”
Asked how much the equipment rental fee was, Streit said it was included in the email, but no figure for renting "backlining" equipment--organs and drums-- was indicated.
This story has been updated.
Do you think the village paid too much for Tramps Like Us? Tell us in the comments.
Read more GOVERNMENT NEWS: