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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 23, 2012 at 04:37 PM
So... when did the 111th st TIF, the FF lawsuit & the Edgar purchase happen? Just askin'.
QC April 23, 2012 at 05:08 PM
li'l andy Where do you get your #'s and from? Jon Lovitz "3.Tressler paid $ 500k >>PLUS an estimated $250k-$350k in legal fees - <<Does a firm pay $850,000 if they didn't do anything wrong?" FYI - Patch A breakdown of the total $453,541legal fees to date include: •Godfrey and Kahn, $436,672 •Odelson and Sterk, $10,477 •Querrey and Harrow, $6,392 The settlement payout—not including the forgiven $46,360 debt balance to Tressler—totals $470,000. “In January 2010 I did recommend that the board consider trying to get the [outstanding] fees [owed to Tressler] waived for $96,000 without incurring additional legal fees,” Heilmann said. “If we had done that we would have had a net of $96,000, instead of paying up to $450,000+.” "Both parties agreed to not sue each other for future damages. In addition, each party would pay its own legal fees." Also, how long did the former attorneys have to wait for the tape of the executive session that Proved the trustees put their "OK" on the low offer to the FF? This is understandable since it Voided their continual denial and name calling of the previous firm. As I recall they actually had to file suit to get the tape, right?? Correct me if I'm wrong here.
QC April 23, 2012 at 05:12 PM
"8. The last point must be the fact That the former legal strategy created and managed by Heilmann and Tressler cost the Village more than 10 MILLION in Legal fees,judgements,settlemets, and mistakes." Odelson threw out that $ 10 mil number in his supposed report, but No Proof has been forthcoming. What's that about?
QC April 23, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Why did the Trustees OK all of the Billings? Phelan was the Finance Chairman at the time, why didn't he "Notice" the supposed irregularities? I notice he's lost/given up(?) his title since all of this started. why?
QC April 23, 2012 at 05:22 PM
OLG Others are Also running for re-election in the coming months are they not?
andy skoundrianos April 23, 2012 at 05:45 PM
OLG why is it surprising to think that if you want anything done in Illinois ,you have to go through Madigan??? The guy runs the state not the gov or anyone else He been in the legislature for 40 years!!! I agree about constituents not having the ability to call their own shots. The present state of Illinois politics needs to be changed... but when??
andy skoundrianos April 23, 2012 at 05:50 PM
QC as you say so fondly... Look at the bills Tressler even said they did not provide adequate " STANDARD OF CARE "
OakLawnGuy April 23, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Don't find it surprising, just mentioned that my glass-half-full optimism regarding the exit of the Stancik regime was short-sighted. Er, rather, blind. I can't see it changing any time soon.
andy skoundrianos April 23, 2012 at 05:57 PM
QC you are wrong again It cost Tressler $500,000 dollars to pay the village plus Tressler had to spend another $250,000- $350,000 of it's own money for it's legal bills. That means They spent over $850,000 of their own money. That sure sounds like the did something wrong. QC keep deflecting and wishing this event never happened but it did and believe me this is not the end of it by a longshot.
Ginger April 23, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Things will improve, just stay in the loop. The pendalum always swings.
QC April 23, 2012 at 11:26 PM
So Madigan wanted "his" Lawyers and Clients getting All of the work From OL? BUT instead of having having the kahoonas to inform Tressler of the deal, Oh yeah as Phelan put it "There was no quid pro quo" so it wasn't a "deal", they just Publicly Chastised and Ridiculed the firm (without Any proof) to make it look like the Firm was totally at fault. hmmm Actually there's no surprise there since that's what some of this board and the manager do. Remember the last election and what they did to Sodaro and His Family and Friends? CAN'T WAIT TO VOTE IN ALL ELECTIONS!!!!!
QC April 24, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Where does it state that li'l andy? Sounds like your usual BS. And how would you Know how much Tressler spent on Legal Fees?? Kepp on blowin' smoke li'l guy!
andy skoundrianos April 24, 2012 at 04:06 AM
How would you know QC?? All you do is write about smoke and mirror stuff,phantom agreements with Madigan,Dave is always innocent. Where is your proof?? I don't see any investigations I show my facts whether you believe them or not. You blog about articles taken out of context and try to switch the story to keep the heat and blame off of Dave. I have been going to Village board meetings for 20 years I use my name and my picture. I'm not afraid of what some coward writes about me . Your are real big man hiding in secret aren't you QC ?? Use your real name for once at least then people would take your B.S. more seriously
Dave W. April 24, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Lorraine, if people want to scroll down past ANY posting, it isn't exactly hauling logs up a mountain. Even if I don't disagree with QC's post, he/she/they took the time to post, it is relevant, and it is the reason why boards like this exist. reading boredom, sorry if it was too much for you to absorb, or you got, well, bored, but nobody was harmed in the making of those posts. In other words, you'll live.
Dave W. April 24, 2012 at 10:04 PM
People on both 'sides' have good points. In many cases, they are arguing the SAME point, with the only difference being who any one person is 'rooting for'. Regardless of who I may vote for, I don't believe that ANY of these people are squeaky clean, not for a moment. Do I KNOW anything about them? Nope. Is there so much smoke ther forest is on fire? Sure seems like it. We need more transparency, all the way around, from every person on the public payroll, responsible for the public trust. The whole town needs to be as engaged, though, as the same twenty people who respond to these boards. We can all yell and belittle each other all we want on here...it won't mean very much at all if we re-elect bad people for office. (With the definition of 'bad people' varying as widely as possible between every possible voter's own opinion.)
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) April 24, 2012 at 10:28 PM
QC, next time you want to bring up another news story in the comments section, which you are welcome to do, just include the link to that story. You don't need to copy and past the whole story into the comment stream because it becomes cumbersome for other readers.
QC April 24, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Read 'em and weep li'l andy. "You blog about articles taken out of context and try to switch the story to keep the heat and blame off of Dave." "phantom agreements with Madigan,Dave is always innocent. Where is your proof??" #1 No article has been taken out of context. As a matter of fact I always include the links to my info. Check for yourself. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-01-21/news/1001200799_1_public-records-private-clients-ethics ex. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/ct-met-oak-lawn-mjm-20100626,0,6319109.story BTW - Maybe you and "reading boredom" can start a We Hate Reading Club?
andy skoundrianos April 25, 2012 at 04:12 AM
First off QC I'm not reading boredom. Unlike you I don't hide like a coward behind fake names and personally attack people. You got a problem with me QC?? Come to a meeting and we will talk about it or are you afraid to show your identity?? Maybe a village official,employee or a family member is using the QC moniker. Once again I will state those articles prove NOTHING. Where are the investigations?? The FBI?? The only legal stuff on saw on Patch was the $500,000 payment to the village by Dave's buddies at Tressler. I know truth hurts doesn't it?? You shouldn't be afraid of ole li'l Andy
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) April 25, 2012 at 04:16 AM
I don't mind commenters posting links to other news organizations in the comment stream. There is no need to copy and paste stories in pieces. It is distracting for readers.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) April 25, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Andy and QC, I want you both to cool off. Some of your banter sounds vaguely like you're calling each other out. Please do not use Patch to arrange a fight. That may not be your intention, but to the casual outsider it could certainly be construed that way. Be nice.
andy skoundrianos April 25, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Dave I respect your comments,I truly believe some are more squeaky clean than others?? Remember I campaigned for Dave in 2009. I personally know all of the Village Officals. I personally believe there was some serious wrongdoing in the Tressler Case. Some may not agree that's fine all I want is for the agreement to come out in public. If you read the Odelson Report there is some pretty bad stuff in there. Was it all a political Witch Hunt?? I don't believe so..
andy skoundrianos April 25, 2012 at 05:18 AM
Sorry lorraine, no threats, Qc will never tell us who he(she ) is anyways!! Sorry won't happen again!!
Dave W. April 25, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Andy, I DID (somewhat unbelievably) read the whole report. I seriously believe there is something seriously wrong in Oak Lawn politics. I have followed the boards for a long time now, and took up commenting in recent months. I haven't gone to EVERY meeting, but I have been to quite a number. I think that almost NOTHING gets done at this point, that isn't an angle for SOME sort of revenge, payback, payoff, etc. It is sad I need be so cynical, but the more I read, the more I get disgusted...with ALL of them. Everybody seems to want to pick a side, pick a winner...we the citizens of Oak Lawn are the real losers in all of this. We should vote everyone of them out. Not one of these people has even TRIED to take the high road. I don't care who posts on here as who. I don't really understand why so much subterfuge helps anybody in the big picture anyway... What I have called for again and again (and OLG rightly pointed out I am daft and dreaming) is for 100% transparency. No 'executive sessions' behind closed doors. Nothing should be buried. No more settlements that lock away facts from the voters. If companies don't want to comply with those rules, they can turn down business with our town. Times are tough, somebody will step forward and take up the standard. Aside from political backdealiing, there is no reason. WHY do we stand for it? No reason to 'leak' anything if everything is public to begin with. So much skullduggery, surprised the streetlights stay on.
get a job April 25, 2012 at 11:37 AM
DAVe W I'm sure many of them would like to discuss certain topics in the open but they are forced to listen to the advice of the municipal attorney to not do it in public. There are some valid reasons for certain items to be talked about behind closed doors beleive it or not. You can leave yourself quite vulernable and open to being sued if you openly discuss certain topics openly. Lets leave legal advice to people with law degrees not real estate licenses.
QC April 25, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Lorraine, I apologize if it appears that way, but I can't see where I have ever been threatening to andy. Sincerely sorry, QC
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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