Oak Lawn Village Board Goes to the Brink
New board majority overrules on discussion of legal investigation and Fall on the Green in political brinksmanship.
The political brinksmanship continued Tuesday as Oak Lawn Village Board members battled to a tie, with the mayor providing the walk-off homer.
Dr. Sandra Bury, a local business owner, resident and community volunteer, expressed “grave concerns” about the recent completion of the Godfrey and Kahn legal investigation.
“Several recent topics under discussion by this board have raised concerns that elected officials may be putting their own interests ahead of the voters they represent,” Bury said during public comments.
Bury said she filed a freedom of information act request for documents and email related to the former village attorney Tressler LLP. She also asked for the Godfrey and Kahn investigative report, only to have a substantive portion of her FOIA request denied because of a confidentiality agreement concerning a $500,000 legal settlement favoring the village.
Part of the reason she was given for the denial was to “prevent dissemination of false or misleading information.”
“I waited patiently for the attorney report which has been estimated to cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands or dollars to prepare,” Bury said. “Where I come from, the best way to prevent false and misleading information is to tell the truth in a public fashion. Not hide it from the voters through legal maneuverings in closed session.”
Vowing to fight the denial of her FOIA request, Bury told Mayor Dave Heilmann that, “adding more lawyers to the mix is not going to do anyone any good.”
Trustee Carol Quinlan’s (Dist. 5) motion to table discussion of the legal investigation on the board’s agenda later in the evening superseded Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2), who was interrupted while reading a statement.
“I was discussing it,” Olejniczak said.
“We’re not able to discuss it at this time,” Quinlan said.
The mayor deferred to the village attorney, Paul O’Grady, who said that the chairman of the board–Heilmann--controlled the board’s discussion.
Village board members voted 4 to 3 to table the discussion, with Olejniczak and Trustees Tom Duhig (Dist. 4) and Tom Phelan (Dist. 6) providing the dissenting votes.
The village board also battled over discussion of Fall On the Green and recent allegations that Phelan engaged in questionable management and accounting practices during his tenure the special events committee liaison that oversaw the fest.
For a second time, the village board voted 4 to 3 to table discussion of the fall festival, with Duhig, Phelan and Olejniczak as the dissenting votes.
After the meeting, Olejniczak read the remarks he intended to make during the board meeting to news media, stating that the mayor had asked for a month to review the Godfrey and Kahn investigative report so that he could provide a written response to whatever was in it.
“The mayor told the village manager he had majority support of the board,” Olejniczak said, “but I received no other information and have no idea what the status of the report is.”
Olejniczak continued that he had intended to motion to have special counsel submit the final entire report so that the village board could review it and schedule a special meeting.
“As you can see, Dave Heilmann has a double standard in how he handles people and what he does,” Olejniczak said, contending that the mayor had earlier violated Robert’s Rules of Order.
Referring to the mayor’s public accusations that he had twice tampered with police reports favoring his friends, Olejniczak said he had documentation proving the accusations false.
Olejniczak added he would have liked to have had a month to "prove false the BS allegations made against me."
“Obviously,” the trustee said philosophically, “they had the majority of the board so these are things that I and the rest of Oak Lawn will have to get used to.”
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