It was with great pleasure that I learned of Mayor Heilmann’s remarks to the press which appear to support my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the release of the Confidential Legal Investigation Report.
The Village of Oak Lawn has denied my prior requests, even though this information was prepared at taxpayer expense and concerns our elected officials.
Tressler (Oak Lawn’s prior legal team) was contractually appointed to be responsible for the defense of the agreement should FOIA requests occur. Their communication with the Village on September 29th stated they would not fight my FOIA request. The Village of Oak Lawn is now free to release it or fight it at their own expense. There isn’t a living soul who thinks that more legal bills to be paid by the taxpayers on this issue is a good idea.
At this point I believe it is critical that the residents of Oak Lawn have access to that report so that they can see and understand the truth about a series of events that by some accounts have cost the tax-payers more than $10 million dollars. The ultimate goal of this knowledge is to learn if the present system of checks and balances is broken, and who might be responsible.
I would like to publicly thank the Illinois Attorney General for standing up for those of us who believe in honesty, transparency and good governance. The Freedom of Information Act gives voters a powerful tool to understand the actions of their elected officials. I am so appreciative that the Attorney General’s office recognizes that informed citizens are a key element of the democratic process.
I would like to thank Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann, who said in the press last Friday that he now supports my request for the release of the Confidential Legal Investigation Report. Mayor Heilmann has been fighting the legal investigation from the moment it was first proposed in 2009. In April of this year, the Village of Oak Lawn received a $500,000 settlement as a result of this investigation. The settlement also clearly states that that a presentation of the findings is to be made in closed session.
All six trustees voted to approve this, yet Mayor Heilmann has allegedly worked since April to prevent it from being written, allegedly delayed it repeatedly and allegedly worked behind the scenes to prevent what was contractually agreed upon from occurring.
I now call upon Mayor Heilmann to schedule, attend and support the contractually agreed to final report in executive session by Godfrey and Kahn. And I am also asking, in the interest of honesty, transparency and good governance, that the Village Board also release all of the executive session minutes related to the legal investigation and settlement, especially any minutes where the need for the confidentiality clause was discussed.
The former Village Attorney is obviously not worried about Confidentiality, so why should the Village be? I look forward to the Village acting quickly to satisfy my FOIA request and the release of the Report so that I can share it with other interested Oak Lawn residents.
Sandra Bury is an optometrist and local business owner. She's active in several local and international organizations including the Oak Lawn Rotary, Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce. the Illinois Optometry Association, the Chicago South Suburban Optometric Society, and Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity.