Village Board Tables Renewing Querrey & Harrow's Annual Contract
Oak Lawn Village Board wants to make sure it's getting the most bang for its buck with the current village attorney.
The law firm that has been handling some of the litigation from an acrimonious investigation into the law firm it was hired to replace had its yearly contract renewal as the village attorney tabled by the Oak Lawn Village Board.
Village board members decided to remove renewing Querrey & Harrow’s annual contract—which expired on July 31—exercising a 30-day option to terminate services.
“I’d like to make a motion to table because I’ve had many concerns brought to our village manager’s attention and I’m waiting for replies on that,” Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2) said. “Until I get the replies, I’d like to table that.”
Querrey & Harrow was hired by the village board in 2009 to replace the former village attorneys, who have since been portrayed as botching major litigation and charging twice for legal work in an investigative report by attorney Burt Odelson.
Pulling “a term out of business school,” Trustee Tom Phelan (Dist. 6) called for a “SWOT” analysis, examining the village’s litigators’ “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.”
Phelan called for looking at all attorneys’ fixed fees, levels of efficiency, overlaps and other arrangements to get a better handle on legal fees.
“Because here we are again with the market taking a crapper, if you will,” Phelan said. “Times are tough. They are tough for people doing business. This is a good practice to go back and get the best bang for our buck.”
Village Manager Larry Deetjen asked Phelan for clarification: “Are you referring to the village prosecutor, the village adjudicator, the village general counsel …”
“Anybody who has a law degree who does business with the village,” Phelan said.
Trustee Carol Quinlan (Dist. 5) who voted against the hiring of Querrey & Harrow, said she was “a big believer in receiving proposals from different firms.”
“I think it’s worthwhile if we’re going to take a breather for a month,” Quinlan said. “Our legal bills are high. It never hurts.”
Olejniczak said Quinlan wasn’t being fair.
“I don’t think it’s fair because the information I’ve been provided is that our legal bills have actually decreased,” Olejniczak said.
“I’m saying it’s for the special stuff too, Alex,” Quinlan said.
Mayor Dave Heilmann gaveled the discussion over with.
“Let’s move on,” he said. “We’re past the discussion on this. The motion is tabled.”
Asked after the meeting what his “concerns” were, Olejniczak replied, “I have some questions that the village manager was supposed to provide information on.”
On a separate note, the village board met for 15 minutes in executive session before the start of the regular village board meeting last Tuesday to discuss pending litigation against the village.