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Confidentiality Agreement Hides Truth about Mayor Heilmann’s Friends From Voters

With confidentiality agreement in place, Oak Lawn voters will never know the truth behind the village's settlement with former village attorneys despite promises of the "public's right to know."

It looks like the village’s wishes to settle its legal battles with Tressler LLP (formerly known as Tressler Soderstrom Maloney & Priess LLP) conveniently includes verbiage that forever hides from voters the facts concerning the alleged overbilling of the village by the mayor's friends at Tressler, LLP.

With a sweep of a pen behind closed doors, voters will never know if Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann----put the financial gain and interests over the interests of the village and voters. This is outrageous.

Clearly the legal bills were mounting and one can argue that settlements such as this save taxpayer money. There’s nothing wrong with that.

The issue here is that under the guise of preventing the “dissemination of false or misleading information,” as quoted in the agreement. Huh? It seems to me that the best way to prevent the dissemination of false or misleading information is to tell the truth, tell it in writing, and make it part of the public record. Any 6-year-old would know that. Why was it so difficult for Mayor Heilmann?

If the voters should ask Mayor Heilmann for an explanation, conveniently under the agreement he is only required to say that “the parties have resolved the issues between them,” and nothing more. The facts are forever swept under the rug in a nice and tidy fashion. There is nothing more he can do. It is a legally binding agreement, after all. The taxpayers may have been made into suckers, Mr. Mayor, but the voters hopefully will remember this complete disregard of their right to know the truth for a long time.

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act states that “it is declared to be the public policy of the State of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts and policies of those who represent them as public officials ... Such access is necessary to enable the people to fulfill their duties of discussing public issues fully and freely, making informed political judgements and monitoring government to ensure that it is being conducted in the public interest.”

Taxpayers and voters are entitled to transparency and accountability of their elected officials by law. This agreement states that they are exempt from this law. These kind of legal maneuverings are designed to confuse and obscure the facts from voters. This is wrong.

The big question is whose rights are more important in this issue? The rights of tens of thousands of voters to know and understand the actions of their elected officials, or the rights of attorneys hired to represent the village?

The voters have a right to know the contents of this “confidential and privileged report,” and I call for its immediate public release. People have a right to know if their elected officials conduct village business in an ethical fashion and in the best interest of the voters they are entrusted to represent. This right to know should be considered sacred and not subordinate to back room attorney wrangling.

With this “confidential and privileged agreement,” it seems the mayor yet again put the interests of his friends and colleagues above the interests of the taxpayers and voters. It’s simply outrageous.

QC April 25, 2012 at 04:00 PM
gaj When you say 'You can leave yourself quite vulernable and open to being sued if you openly discuss certain topics openly." Do you mean like the way the trustees did with the Tressler group?
QC April 25, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I would like to make my position perfectly clear. 1. I am not now, nor have I ever been employed by the Village of Oak Lawn. 2. I Don't know Heilmann, never met him and I am actually Not a Big Fan. 3. I am also Not A Big Fan of Con-Artists and Shell Games and Backroom Deals. 4. I am also Not A Fan of the Bullying Tactics, that some Board Members use continually on Residents And employees. 5. I am a fan of Openess and Fairness in Government, which is sorely lacking in this Village Board. 6. I am not a Fan of People Using Others to Fight their battles, OR Letting Others Use their screen names. And Finally.....I Nominate Dave W. OR OakLawnGuy for office. Reply
andy skoundrianos April 25, 2012 at 05:40 PM
QC... I agree with you on 3 through 6 I am a member of the appeals board since 2009. You have NEVER been critical of the Mayor in any of your many blogs!!! I admit I worked and voted for the Mayor but I'm " not a big fan " anymore either. Dave W. or OLG would be better than Heilmann!!
Dave W. April 26, 2012 at 12:02 AM
get a job, Not sure if your name is a slight at real estate people, so I will leave that alone unless you clarify. As for the legal part: I don't recall GIVING legal ADVICE. (When clients ask for legal advice, I have a stock line: "I'm not a lawyer, but I've watched them on Tv...and you don't want that as your legal advice.") I merely asked for more transparency, and now that you mention it, the REASONS for WHY there isn't. Every so often somebody will mention what you did, in some fashon; I won't even dispute it; if only somebody would give the REASONS. Not just saying so. You seem to imply I should just 'trust' the elected officals. THAT is exactly WHY this message board is so amped up: People don't feel that they CAN trust those we have elected. So, please, if you, or anyone else, knows of valid reasons for WHY the attorney would recommend that, I'm ALL ears (they are actually kind of big). Considering how many lawsuits have stemmed from business done BEHIND closed doors, I would LOVE to know how much worse it could be if that stuff was out in the open. Seriously, how much more money of ours could be out the door if every moment was public knowledge? This is all village business; the people are the village, not six to fifteen select people who seem determined to undermine each other at all cost...with us paying the cost! What village business is SO secret that we can't know? That is OUR business. We shouldn't have to file FOIAs after the fact. So please, enlighten us!
QC April 26, 2012 at 04:39 PM
andy, I have also NEVER sung his praises, if you'll notice!!

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