Heilmann Claims Insider Contract Given to Company Owned by Village Inspector

Former mayor says village might have committed a felony.

Dave Heilmann, former mayor of Oak Lawn
Dave Heilmann, former mayor of Oak Lawn

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

The silence is deafening.

Oak Lawn just quietly gave contracts to a company owned by a village employee. Thousands of dollars without a word to the public of what they were doing.

On October 25, 2013, the Village made a $3400 payment to a company called Bring It, Inc.

November 27, 2013 another check was cut to that company, this one for $4706.

Bring It, Inc. is a company owned by village employee Steve Radice.  The checks were mailed to his home address.

Apparently no one checked the laws applicable to giving business to a company owned by a village employee.

 (720 ILCS 5/33E-17)

Unlawful participation. Whoever, being an officer, director, agent, or employee of, or affiliated in any capacity with any unit of local government or school district participates, shares in, or receiving directly or indirectly any money, profit, property, or benefit through any contract with the unit of local government or school district, with the intent to defraud the unit of local government or school district is guilty of a Class 3 felony.

Steve Radice, an employee of Oak Lawn, profited through a contract Oak Lawn gave to his business.

Larry Deetjen and Sandra Bury knew it was a company owned by an employee and when the invoices came before the Board in November, they did not disclose to board members  -or more importantly to residents - that Bring It, Inc. was owned by a village inspector. No request for proposal, no bid, no disclosure to the public.

Do the elected officials not have the courage to follow the law when it comes to one of their own?

The payments were for “economic development/outreach services for the Village Manager’s office”, according to the Bring It, Inc. invoice.  

Bring It, Inc. is not an economic development/outreach consultant.  Public information reveals that it is a one person company with a location at the inspector’s home address.  It was formed to sell a sports game where circles are placed on the ground as markers to take basketball shots.  Given the importance of economic development to the future of our community, did anyone bother to ask about background of this new consultant?

A little history. Steve Radice was a member of the planning and development commission in Oak Lawn. He was not reappointed to the P & DC in the end of 2012 due to numerous complaints that instead of acting as an independent member of that commission he was serving as the mouthpiece for Deetjen.

After Radice was not appointed, Deetjen decided hire him as an inspector for the village. Many saw this as Radice being rewarded for his loyalty to Deetjen.

Then, last May, an Oak Lawn business complained that Larry Deetjen improperly interfered with a $1 million contract they had. They lost the deal. The business sent their attorney to a May 2013 board meeting and when that attorney stood up to speak under public comments and state his disagreement with the manager, who was there waiting for him? Village inspector Steve Radice.

Radice attacked that business on a matter completely unrelated to the interference issue and unrelated to any inspection.  A village inspector goes to the defense of Larry Deetjen and publicly attacks an Oak Lawn business and what does our government do? They reward him. Deetjen sets up payments of nearly $50,000/year to that inspector’s sports company.

They actually put the person who researched and attacked an Oak Lawn business in charge of attracting new business. You can be the judge of what kind of a message that sends to companies who are deciding whether to open a business in Oak Lawn.

What about the new conflict of interest policy? The Board is now saying that the village manager can give no bid contracts to companies owned by village employees and allow employees to profit off these contracts, and that is not a conflict of interest. Incredible.

What about tax laws? The factors for determining whether Radice is an employee verses independent contractor would certainly suggest he is an employee under the control of Larry Deetjen. Larry Deetjen wants to classify him as an independendent contractor, yet Radice is listed on the Village Website as the top contact under the Office of Economic Development with a Village of Oak Lawn email address. There are federal and state payroll tax withholding obligations on employers. Are we now ignoring tax laws too?  

Regardless of whether the board majority and Sandra Bury support Larry Deetjen, there still is the obligation to follow the law. What’s alarming to me as a resident and former official is to see this happen and not hear officials say, “wait, we need to look into this, it may be wrong or even illegal.”

It’s very simple. You don’t give contracts to companies owned by Village employees. Period. 

Sandra Bury had absolutely no reservations about making repeated attacks and accusations that village officials were engaged in ‘secret deals”.  It wasn’t true but that didn’t seem to matter. She vowed to follow a “10 point transparency checklist of the Illinois Policy Institute.” 

One of those points deals with contracts and states: “Contracts with third parties are often an area where local taxpayers fall victim to corruption and malfeasance. Third-party contracts should be available to public watchdogs to discourage and expose insider dealings.”  Could it be any more of an insider deal than to give a current employee’s company a contract for $50,000/year? Could it be any less transparent when the bills come before the Board than Sandra Bury and Larry Deetjen saying not one word about this being an employee’s company when they both knew this? 

Take a look at what has been said publicly and what was then done very quietly.

In August the manager and board voted to “eliminate” the business development department allegedly because of financial concerns. Never mind the fact that this only meant the loss of one job, Chad Weiler, who Deetjen told after the election that he would be fired for having a lawn sign against Jane Quinlan.  Never mind the fact that Weiler blew the whistle on Deetjen’s racial comments and his interference with a $1 million contract of a business.  The Village acts as if none of that happened. Instead they took the public position that Oak Lawn, one of the largest municipalities in Illinois, needed to eliminate its business development department to save money.

Within 30 days Deetjen had village inspector Radice hired at $4000/month. 

Next the Village decides to “outsource” senior services and the 911 operators for financial concerns. We are told there is a spending freeze. But at the exact same time the manager is quietly approving contract just under $20,000 for new bushes by I-294 so he can get the landscaping company to in turn “donate” time to the 911 memorial that the manager and Sandra Bury chaired as Rotary club members. How can you possibly spend $20,000 for new bushes on the west side of the 294 bridge at the same time you’re outsourcing the entire 911 department?   Not one word of explanation from the mayor or board majority.

The Village manager then drives a village owned vehicle into a ditch and leaves the scene of the accident. Despite a 911 tape with a witness saying the vehicle was ditched and that the driver (the village manager) may have been drunk, we hear nothing from the mayor. The manager does not have to provide any explanation to the board or the residents of Oak Lawn.  The top village employee leaves the scene of an accident in a village owned vehicle and we hear nothing from the mayor? 

There are many legitimate questions. Is the Village now allowing the manager to enter into contracts with companies owned by village employees? Is the manager allowed to enter into new contracts during a spending freeze? Are tax laws being broken? Is there any investigation about the manager leaving the scene of an accident involving a taxpayer owned vehicle? Are we allowed to ask who is benefiting from insider contracts? We’ve heard nothing.

Silence sometimes screams the truth.

OakLawnGuy January 14, 2014 at 08:41 AM
Jim Fletcher, I am also no ex- or current employee, don't know any of the Board personally, none of that. When it was announced that Mr Deetjen was hired, I thought I'd hit the magical internet and try to find out about him. I even had a strange one-on-one contact with him when Veolia first got the waste contract, but that's another story. I found Mr Stevens' site myactsofsedition.com that held a treasure trove of info, along with a couple tales from his days in Grand Haven, MI. The picture was ugly. Mr Stevens can be over the top, some will consider him rude and crude, but one thing I haven't found him to be: wrong. When former Deerfield Beach mayor Al Capellini finally comes to trial, I'm pretty sure Mr Deetjen will be called upon to testify for one side or the other and that's going to be yet another distraction for the Village and its governance.
OakLawnGuy January 14, 2014 at 08:46 AM
Time.to.clean.....you are correct. Short of asking for anyone's dismissal, the power of potential votes is the strongest voice. If the Board continues its "move along, go forward, nothing to see here" MO, they might be in for a surprise. Mr Streit placed himself above everyone else during the last D3 election, and he beat a write-in candidate by 11 (!) votes. Complacency or continued wool-pulling is going to come back to bite anyone who practices them. Consider also that the senior vote is pretty alienated right now, with the mishandling of the senior services and the Board's partronization of that voting bloc. There are quite of them still around, and they vote more often than the under-50s. (I'm sure campaign manager Phelan is observing all this, though.)
andy skoundrianos January 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM
OLG you live in d3 why don.t you run??
OakLawnGuy January 14, 2014 at 10:46 AM
No way, politics holds no attraction for me. Besides, I'd have to run up the Dem ladder for approval.
JoeCool January 14, 2014 at 11:24 AM
Nothing has changed in Oak Lawn. It has always been this way. The only difference is now we all know every little thing that’s going on. And people love to complain about everything that affects them personally. The Patch, Facebook, televised meetings, that’s the only thing that has changed in Oak Lawn in 30 years!
Luther January 14, 2014 at 11:52 AM
OLG, it would be a waste of time to run. By then andy will have switched sides again and have your nominating petitions thrown out. But then again, what if doesn't flip back? Given his hatred of Streit, his keen insight of why everyone is REALLY complaining and his new found friends backing, I think he would make an excelent candidate for 3rd. District Trustee.
andy skoundrianos January 14, 2014 at 11:57 AM
Couldn't take the pay cut Luther
john artis January 14, 2014 at 01:49 PM
Epley/Brennan it was a closed hearing you know that because you were there with your buddy Streit. It didn't stop some rag piece of crap from talking about it since you wrote that story as well get back in your hole please
Bob January 14, 2014 at 02:39 PM
There are no stories on the Patch because it is not a biased newspaper when it comes to Oaklawn politics. The Patch is in Mayor Burys corner as much as the Oaklawn Leaf is against the mayor. It would be nice if we had a paper in Oaklawn that just covered politics here equally.
Time.To.Clean.Up.Oak.Lawn. January 14, 2014 at 03:39 PM
Andy only you would figure going from not working and drawing a government check to working and drawing a small salary to taking a pay cut. Again given the opportunity your true colors come shining thru.
andy skoundrianos January 14, 2014 at 04:42 PM
Hey Time you and Epley the same person?? You both can't take a joke I guess. You are pretty nutty and you worry a bit too much about my personal life and finances, but I get it . I must be on some " hit list" right?? Hey tomorrow is a brand new day, carpe diem and all that good stuff ya know?? Enjoy...
Honestly IPO January 14, 2014 at 05:09 PM
Curious of the 83 something posts here how many will go to meeting tonight? It starts at 7:30. And yes I know that there are accusations that
Honestly IPO January 14, 2014 at 05:10 PM
Mark January 15, 2014 at 04:20 PM
Was Andy led out of the Village Hall in handcuffs or are you just saying that? When did it happen if it happened?
Mark January 15, 2014 at 05:44 PM
Thanks for the link! Wow! A person must be real special to get tossed out of something like that.
andy skoundrianos January 15, 2014 at 05:48 PM
I wear it as a badge of honor guys, Mark you knew about it already you don't have the Streit amnesia do you??
Mark January 15, 2014 at 06:07 PM
No Andy, I did not know about already. And to say that you wear it as a badge of honor is kind of sad.
Mike January 15, 2014 at 07:09 PM
Badge of honor ?
John January 15, 2014 at 11:50 PM
I want to say it happened with Andy in June or july meeting taken out in hand cuffs . Was being a jerk
Joe Skibinski January 19, 2014 at 11:37 PM
Perhaps we can add all these "legitimate questions" to a similiar long standing and extensive list created by the six figure legal and consulting fees we have had to bear under the author's administration.
Mike January 21, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Whos on whos side ? Present and past trustees ?
Billy Bulldozer January 21, 2014 at 02:29 PM
I am still tending to believe Mr. Heilmann more than Mr. Radice, Mr. Deetjen, and Ms. Bury. Because of his occupation I doubt Mr. Heilmann would just toss something like this against the wall to see how much of it stuck. If it is sour grapes on the part of Mr. Heilmann it's sour grapes but that doesn't eliminate the possibility that law(s) were broken. I am hopeful that a candidate will come forward in the next mayoral election who will pose a serious challenge to the current mayor and her administration. Until the mayor and the ENTIRE board act in complete unison for the betterment of our community; Oak Lawn will be the cause of much head scratching by outside observers.
David W. Kackert Sr. January 30, 2014 at 11:17 AM
I miss Ernie, resident since 1969.
MD February 08, 2014 at 01:44 PM
Can I get a contract with oak lawn the 50.000 would be nice. They can keep the additional 4000 a month I know the budget is hurting. LARRY ? !!!
Ron Williams February 10, 2014 at 01:43 PM
Repeat after me : It is not what you know, but who you know, this is the simple truth, if your a friend of the administration there are benifits to be had, a new administration equals new friends with benifits and a slew of upset disguarded friends. Why do we act suprised when this is the nature of politics, esspecialy Chicago style politics. I give up, I pay my taxes and wait until my wife can retire, then were out of here.
Judie February 10, 2014 at 02:39 PM
And remember Ron, you'll have to pay oak lawn for moving out. That sounds so illegal these days. Why do we have to pay oak lawn for moving out? Can anyone tell me.
OakLawnGuy February 10, 2014 at 02:53 PM
It was some sort of "use" tax type of thing enacted way back when, I believe in the Kolb administration. But you get a refund if you subsequently buy a home in Oak Lawn! Whee.
Judie February 10, 2014 at 03:18 PM
What's a "use tax". How do us citizens go about getting it abolished. Anybody have any ideas. We pay our taxes, still sounds so illegal in this day of age tp pay taxes to oak lawn for selling house.
Tom RS. February 10, 2014 at 03:55 PM
Use Tax just equals another excuse for the politicians to get their collective hand in your wallet. Same thing with Red-Light cameras, No Turn on Red except between 6:59PM and 7PM. etc. How about writing some tickets for not clearing the snow from the sidewalks along 95th street and 103rd where people walk in the streets. At least that I could agree with..
Billy Bulldozer February 10, 2014 at 05:13 PM
Adding to Tom S. - How about ticketing the Advocate Christ hospital employees who openly ABUSE the 2 hour parking time limits set up on the side streets surrounding the hospital? These workers are charged a nominal (as in $1.00 per day) fee to use the parking towers but yet they park ALL DAY next to the 7-11 and other on street parking. TICKET THESE PEOPLE!!! How quickly does the OLPD slap a ticket on your windshield if you miss having a village vehicle tag on your car?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »