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RADICE: Former Mayor Dave Heilmann Unable To Move On

Former planning and development commission Steve Radice responds to charges in former mayor's letter to Patch on Jan. 13.

Former Oak Lawn planning and development commissioner Steve Radice. Radice is now employed in a part-time capacity for the village.
Former Oak Lawn planning and development commissioner Steve Radice. Radice is now employed in a part-time capacity for the village.

By STEVE RADICE

Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this editorial are the author's and do not reflect the views of Patch.

This letter is in response to Dave Heilmann’s letter to the Patch on Jan 13, a letter filled with so many lies, false accusations and misstatements that I felt a detailed response is necessary.

It’s clear to me our former mayor is still having trouble dealing with his defeat in last April’s election, and after I read his letter I first decided to ignore it and concentrate on more important things like my family and my job. But after my 15-year old son read it and asked “How can someone be allowed to write lies like this?” I realized I needed to respond.

To begin, I have lived in Oak Lawn’s 3rd District for more than 20 years.  I raised my family here and have been active in our community for the majority of that time, because I love Oak Lawn and I want our Village to thrive.

In 2007 my trustee, Bob Streit, asked me to serve on the village’s Planning & Development Commission (“P&D”) which I happily agreed to do.  I served for six years, the last two as chairman. 

In October 2012 the Village posted a help-wanted notice for part-time property maintenance inspector position. This was something I thought I could do and be good at given my experience on the P&DC.  I submitted my resume, interviewed, and was offered the part-time position, which pays $18 hour, provides no insurance benefits, and doesn't qualify for a pension.

Prior to taking the job I asked if there might be a conflict of interest if I remained on the P&D Commission, and the attorneys thought it might, so on October 15, 2012, before my term was up, I submitted my resignation letter from the P&D Commission to the village manager and board  - including then Mayor Dave Heilmann {see the pdf of the resignation letter}.

Afterwards Trustee Streit called me to say he was unhappy with my decision but understood and respected it. He thanked me for my six years of service and said he was proud of the work I did, and so did several other board members, the village manager, and my fellow commission members.  In fact, the village manager asked me to help train the new commissioner replacing me, which I was happy to do.

Compare those facts to the slanderous lie Dave Heilmann wrote about me in his letter, that I was “not re-appointed to the P&D Committee because Heilmann received complaints about my independence.”  He provides no proof or documentation, because none exists, and neither he nor any other Village official EVER told me about ANY complaints, not while I was on the P&D Commission, and not any time after.

In fact, the only real disagreement I ever had with Dave Heilmann was over Advocate Christ Medical Center's $500 million expansion. Heilmann thought the hospital should get a free pass on construction fees, permit fees, and other payments that could have amounted to almost $7 million for Oak Lawn residents.  These are fees that every other business and resident in Oak Lawn pays, and that Advocate Christ routinely pays and expects to pay in ALL the other towns where they have hospitals. 

For some reason Heilmann thought Oak Lawn should be different, that we shouldn't “penalize” the hospital, regardless of how their half-billion-dollar project might affect our Village. Maybe it had something to do with Mr. Heilmann’s law firm (from their web-site) representing some of Chicago-areas biggest hospitals and hospital groups?  Or maybe because Christ Hospital honored Heilmann as their “2012 Man of the Year,” complete with a black-tie event at a museum in downtown Chicago?

Whatever his reasons, I disagreed with Heilmann, and so did the majority of our other P&D Commissioners.  And Heilmann made it very clear to me that he was very unhappy with my position, so apparently if you disagree with Dave Heilmann, you are not “acting independently.”

 Which is backwards and hypocritical.  Especially when the majority of the village trustees, the village manager, the village clerk, and the village attorney also disagreed with Heilmann, and so did the vast majority of Oak Lawn residents as we saw in last April’s election, where the issue of Christ Hospital paying their “fair share” was the number one issue.  

Dave Heilmann and his entire slate of candidates lost decidedly, and within weeks Christ Hospital also said they disagreed with Heilmann, when they agreed to pay the Village more than $3 million for their expansion.

That was the biggest and most obvious lie in Heilmann’s letter, but it wasn't the only one, and bullet-pointing the rest is probably necessary given space constraints:

  • Heilmann wrote that the work I do for the village is a felony, citing - and then twisting and perverting - an Illinois Law that very clearly pertains to people who “intend to defraud the government”. So by doing my part-time, $18/hour, no pension or benefits, inspector work, I am defrauding the village? Or the marketing and economic development work I do, again part-time, no benefits, no insurance and no pension, and where I also pay all my own expenses?
  • Heilmann wrote that the village manager eliminated the “Business Development Department.”  The village didn't have a “Business Development Department” and never had for the eight years Heilmann served as mayor. The village manager eliminated the “Business Operations Department”, a one-position “department” that Heilmann created out of thin air when he was first elected in 2005, and then filled with a friend and supporter who was paid $120,000 in salary and benefits.
  • Heilmann wrote about a board meeting I attended last May where - as a resident - I spoke about the owner of an Oak Lawn business that was threatening the village and the village manager. I felt it was important that residents know that this business owner was convicted of failing to pay more than $250,000 in sales taxes from his business  .  Heilmann failed to mention this fact in his letter, apparently because he’s more concerned about the feelings of a convicted felon than the first amendment rights of Oak Lawn citizens, or the tax revenues of Oak Lawn residents.

I can't deny that after reading Dave Heilmann’s letter I became very angry and frustrated, but as I began writing my response, that anger and frustration turned to sadness.

Sadness for a person who I thought held so much promise for Oak Lawn. We are fellow parishioners at St. Linus parish. I supported Dave when he first ran for Mayor in 2005, and worked on his re-election campaign in 2009.  I attended his father’s wake, and sent his wife a get-well card during her illness.  And I did all of this not because of politics, but because I considered Dave a friend, which makes his attack on me that much more hurtful.  

It’s one thing to disagree with someone, or even to dislike someone, but it’s something altogether different when you purposely lie about someone and malign their reputation and character to get revenge on your political enemies. And it’s not acceptable. Period. 

Heilmann finished his letter by saying “Sometimes silence screams the truth,” and since he appears to believe that, consider my response the answer to that silence.

But also consider something else.  There is definitely one thing that “screams the truth," and not just sometimes but always. It’s called the truth.  

Chaz Stevens January 29, 2014 at 06:37 PM
Mr. Kiefer; Cook County DA. Regarding my existing complaint filed against the City of Oak Lawn and Bring It Inc. (aka Steve Radice), I would like to append the following information to that file. 1. The City of Oak Lawn has turned back the clocks to September 15, 2013 via the backdating of a $75,000 contract to Radice’s company. 2. This contact pays Radice for economic development services and property maintenance inspections. 3. I note Radice has zero previous professional experience with either. 4. I also note, around the Sept. 2013 timeframe, Radice was employed by the City of Oak Lawn. Question: Is medical marijuana legal in Illinois, as it’s readily apparent certain folks up there are hitting the bong. Regards from Florida. Chaz — Chaz Stevens, Hella Famous Inventor, Pabst Blue Ribbon Festivus Pole (as seen on Colbert and The Daily Show)
Time.To.Clean.Up.Oak.Lawn. January 30, 2014 at 06:45 AM
I hear that Deejten's mystery woman in the December accident has also retained her village job. Seem's all of Lar's friends have him to thank.
MD February 08, 2014 at 02:44 PM
It does help being friends with phelan

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