Village Treasurer Demands Public Apology from Streit
Trustee Bob Streit accuses village treasurer of a "conflict of interest" concerning his call for a forensic audit of 2011 Fall On the Green because of treasurer's friendship with trustee targeted in audit.
Oak Lawn Village Treasurer Jim McGovern is demanding a public apology from Trustee Bob Streit (Dist. 3) for remarks he made during the July 10 village board meeting.
The remarks were made during a discussion of acquiring a forensic auditor to look into spending at last year’s Fall On the Green festival. Streit has called for a forensic audit after claiming to have discovered $5,274 worth of missing food and beer vouchers allegedly distributed by Trustee Tom Phelan (Dist. 6) to neighborhood residents and volunteers.
Streit was appointed chair of the village board’s special events committee in May, replacing Phelan who has held the position since being first elected in 2005.
At the July 10 meeting, Phelan asked that the motion to hire a forensic auditor be expanded to include all special events’ spending in 2010 and 2011. Oak Lawn trustees voted down the measure, 4-1, agreeing to keep the scope of the audit narrowed to 2011 Fall On the Green spending.
“I raised this issue more than a year ago in an email,” Phelan said, speaking of the village’s annual donation to Park Lawn from Fall On the Green proceeds. “I believe it’s time to get an auditor’s opinion on giving away taxpayers’ money without really knowing the formula is.”
Phelan said that an ongoing legal investigation also determined “deficiencies in our financial reporting department.”
“We have an issue with taxes,” Phelan added.
Streit said he needed to clarify rules and processes before the next Fall On the Green in September. He called Phelan’s attempt to change the scope of the forensic audit "interfence."
“Several weeks ago literally after the many multi-colored pdf files that were created that we all received, we received right after that an offer by our village treasurer to perform the audit,” Streit said.
Calling the treasurer’s offer a “conflict of interest” because of his friendship with Phelan, Streit said, “In my years of experience this is often referred to as a white wash for many reasons … [McGovern] was told as much and was never asked to perform any work to audit Fall On the Green because of his obvious conflict.”
McGovern, who did not attend the July 10 meeting but viewed a tape of it, said he had no idea to which alleged conflict of interest Streit was referring.
“I am [Tom Phelan’s] friend. I’ve never hidden that fact. We live in the same parish, belong in the same men’s club and have been friends for 10 years,” McGovern said. “I can only surmise [Streit] is referring to that or something else.”
In an email to village board members and officials—including Deetjen and Oak Lawn finance director, Brian Hanigan—McGovern said that “while I do my best to stay out of the political mud, I cannot simply stand by while an elected official publicly makes false statements and attempts to smear my reputation.”
“I asked Bob when I first heard of the allegations to provide me with any information and he has steadfastly refused to talk to me,” McGovern told Patch. “He has not provided an iota of documentation for his allegations.”
McGovern said that since Streit’s insinuations during the village board meeting, he has identified a few areas where the village may want to institute some tighter internal controls and strengthen some policies.”
“[Streit] said I never did that before,” McGovern continued. “Is he saying that because of my ‘conflict of interest’ I was somewhat deficient in my duties in the past and that I shouldn’t be part of the process of reviewing the allegations?”
The village treasurer added that Phelan is supportive of an audit or review “but it’s for different reasons than what Streit's seem to be.”
McGovern said that he’s made it known to village trustees and the mayor that he thinks spending up to $20,000 of taxpayers’ dollars on a forensic audit of Fall On the Green is “a waste of money.”
“This is a guy who is standing shoulder to shoulder pitching business to our neighboring villages like Evergreen Park and Chicago Ridge with a business partner who just got indicted by the feds.” Oak Lawn Trustee Tom Phelan, on fellow board member Bob Streit's past relationship with ex-Cook County Commissioner accused of bribery.
The village treasurer said he has found no evidence of someone stealing beer tickets and food vouchers intended for residents living along the July 4th parade route.
“It’s hundreds of dollars, not thousands,” McGovern said, himself a forensic auditor.
McGovern said that an accountant friend of Streit’s, Joe Murray has been asking staff at village hall to provide records concerning Streit’s allegations.
“I’m rather incredulous that he would have his buddy do the same thing without any authorization,” McGovern said.
Mayor Dave Heilmann appointed McGovern the village treasurer after the Unity Party slate was swept into office in 2005, at Phelan’s recommendation. As village treasurer, McGovern earns an annual stipend of $2,800 per year, and sits on the police and fire pension board and attends village board finance committee meetings.
Asked if he thought Streit’s friend was after his job as village treasurer, McGovern replied: “The thought has crossed my mind.”
McGovern said that Streit has “mislead the public by misstating facts” concerning any review of the Fall On the Green allegations.
In an email to Patch, Phelan called Streit’s challenging anyone’s character and integrity “laughable.”
Referring to Streit’s and attorney friend Dennis Brennan’s electrical aggregation venture which until recently, included ex-Cook County Commission Mario Moreno as a managing partner, whose been accused of bribery on an unrelated matter, Phelan added:
“This is a guy who is standing shoulder to shoulder pitching business to our neighboring villages like Evergreen Park and Chicago Ridge with a business partner who just got indicted by the feds.”
Do you think a forensic audit of Fall On the Green is necessary? Tell us in the comments.
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