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Heilmann's 'Annus Horribilis'

Oak Lawn mayor responds to comments from other village board members that he somehow orchestrated the referendum petition fiasco.

In many ways, the past year has been an “annus horribilis” for Mayor Dave Heilmann— and his wife’s cancer diagnosis shortly after the birth of the couple’s fourth child.

He said as much at last Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new outpatient pavilion at hours before the news broke of a community activist’s indictment that she had forged signatures on an election petition to place a referendum on the 2011 ballot.

The mayor, who couldn’t be reached for comment last week, responded by email to other village board members’ accusations that he was somehow involved in a effort to perpetrate petition fraud or knew about it and did nothing to stop it.

“Isn’t it interesting that someone else was indicted but yet the first comment out of certain board members’ mouths, who claim it isn’t political, is a shot towards me,” Heilmann said.

Myrna Jurcev, the former chair of Oak Lawn Tax Watch, was indicted on charges that she forged signatures on a referendum petition to eliminate the village manager’s position and put an elected mayor in charge of the village.

by thwarting a legal investigation after it appeared that hundreds of signatures appeared to have been signed by the same hand.

Both trustees took part in a pair of meetings at in January to collect affidavits from hundreds of residents who claimed they never signed the petition.

Now, Olejniczak said, Jurcev is the one who will be “held accountable.”

“When someone immediately tries twisting something to make political attacks like that,” Heilmann said, “it becomes very obvious that the person leveling the attacks is really more concerned about his own political advancement, and everything else is a distant second.”

The mayor was not aware of any grand jury proceedings, nor was he interviewed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office about any role he may have played after allegations of fraud surfaced.

“There appears to have been many signatures forged and the states attorney has taken a strong position on stopping that,” the mayor said.

Heilmann said he supported the referendum. “There’s nothing wrong with placing a public issue on a referendum before the voters—is that a bad thing?”

While he believes that the village should have a manager, “the final decisions should rest with a mayor that people have elected and can be removed from office, and not an unelected manager that residents have not chosen.”

Circling back to his “annus horribilis”—the Latin phrase for “horrible year”—Heilmann said the pending referendum was low on his list of priorities.

“If [other village board members] are suggesting that during this period when I lost my father, had a new child born, and my wife diagnosed with serious disease, what I decided to do was tell someone to forge a bunch of signatures of neighbors of mine for an election petition so I could irritate the whole neighborhood and then risk losing my law license to really top off a banner year, they couldn’t be more wrong.”

Mayor is a liar October 24, 2011 at 11:44 AM
my concern is that all of his closest supporters and friends circulated this petition. he never displayed one ounce of outrage at the massive crime committed. his primary goal was to attack the clerk and trustees who stood up for the residents and pushed the investigation at the States Attorney level where they saw a crime was committed. If he had a bad year its due to karma. He values his own political advancement against the good of the oak lawn people, the same ones who has to witness the forgeries of their deceased loved ones.
OakLawnBill October 24, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Not a massive crime. Anyone who made it on the ballot due to this petition would still have to get the votes to get elected. Now if it was voter machine fraud, I would give a rat's rear end.
Don't stoop October 24, 2011 at 12:37 PM
No way Dave instructed or assisted Myrna in perpetrating a fraud. To think he'd tell anyone to forge signatures is inane. Unless Myrna says differently, the trustees should get back to their other witch hunt that is going nowhere fast, except for the cost.
lookaway October 24, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Sure Myrna did this all solo. Just so happens all his closest confidants circulated and he had the most to gain power-wise from this passing. Dave let us down by just looking the other way. In fact his head turned the other way so hard he should have neck cramps! No one is saying he instructed Myrna but its obvious they all hoped no one would challenge the forgeries and that itd slip in. Theres no way Myrna did all this completely on her own. No way in hell. The states atty thinks its serious enough to warrant prison time so calling it a massive crime is a matter of opinion I suppose. Felony in my opinion isn't something to take lightly.
andy skoundrianos October 24, 2011 at 01:22 PM
Once again this referendum was not to change the village manager format, it was to get rid of Village Manager Larry Deetjen period Dave didn't have the votes so he thinks up this plan to change a format Oak Lawn has had since 1955. He was fine when the manager was first appointed in 2008, then his party breaks up, he doesn't have the power to control the manager now it's a bad system???
Debbie Skelly October 24, 2011 at 03:46 PM
My heart aches at what is happening to our community and especially to our Mayor. Where is the respect that our Mayor is entitled to, and the respect that each and every one of our elected officials deserve. I don't know how any of you have been raised or have raised your children, but I grew up in a small town, just on the other side of the tracks, and in my home, we were taught that God is first, Family is second and Work came last. I grew up respecting ALL adults. I was taught to treat people the way I would want to be treated. I have been married 34 years and have raised 6 children in this community, and my children have also been taught the three most important rules, the same rules I grew up with, but most importantly, I have taught my children to respect others and to treat them as they would want to be treated. I personally know a few of our elected officials, but I'd like to ask each and every one of you, in what way have your parents raised you and how have you raised your children? I know my comment has nothing to do with the politics of our community, but it has everything to do with the Christian aspect of what is happening to this good community. Who says you can't mix politics with religion? Well I think you all need to take a step back, and ask yourselves, does God come first in your home? Read Proverbs 6:16-19...
Oak Lawn Gal October 24, 2011 at 04:06 PM
My question remains the same as last week: Where is the hard evidence that the Mayor was involved with the bad signatures on the referendum petition? The feds evidently didn't find anything because he sure WASN'T indicted. And when Streit and Alex make the comments they made it only makes it look like they're the ones stooping to make this political. If they had a shred of evidence they would have produced it. Fact is they didn't. So all they're left with is innuendo.
Jim Vondracek October 24, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Agreed, OLGal. It's inappropriate for elected officials to speculate on an open criminal investigation. Thanks for writing this important article, Lorraine. Its a good example of the value of Patch to the community.
outtatouch October 24, 2011 at 07:39 PM
No way people of ol want a polititian to serve as village manager to be elected evry 4 yrs. Whod be able to give up their own career and run for this job every 4 yrs? No one worthy of doing the job. The only people that disagree are the mayor and his idiot followers. They couldn't get an ounce of support on this issue so they resorted to forging almost 1000 names. Olhg you are out of touch the people don't agree with you
Grunty October 24, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Although I'm really not for this whole "The Mayor masterminded this plot" stuff, I have to agree with outtatouch. We would only get people with village management experience able to run for mayor, and that would really narrow the playing field. Anyone else would have to "learn" the job each time and that would be a disservice to the residents.
Dist. 2 Curious October 24, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Debbie, Your comment has EVERYTHING to do with the politics of our community. Everything. Thank you for this: (Proverbs 6:16-19) 16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
Oak Lawn Gal October 24, 2011 at 10:04 PM
Here's a list of all of the towns and cities in Illinois and the type of government they use: mayor-council, council-manager or commission. Almost all of them have a Chief Administrative Officer. It doesn't indicate if the CAO is elected. http://lwvnaperville.org/files/form_of_government_cities_in_illinois.pdf
OakLawnGuy October 24, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Many municipalities around the country have a mayor-centric form of government, and the manager (or the person who holds those responsibilities under a different title) is nominated for the position. The nomination then goes before the trustees or council members for approval. It's a tough way to go because it can mean you are changing managers any time a mayor/president is voted out of office, so you potentially lack a continuing plan for your community. It can also breed controversy and corruption: you would have the interests of two people at stake in any election along with the people that back them. I believe for Oak Lawn it would be a lot to untangle to change a form of government right now.
OakLawnGuy October 25, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Although there is no concrete proof, I agree with Andy that Mr. Heilmann's main motivation to presenting a referendum to amend the style of government would be launch Mr. Deetjen. I don't believe there is any evidence at all that he participated in the apparently fraudulent collection of signatures on the Jurcev petition. As such, Messrs. Streit and Olejniczak are out of line in pointing the finger at him, and insinuating that he had anything to do with the petition. Besides, Trustee Streit's seemingly damning accusation of "hard ball" politicking is a classic case of Mr. Kettle meeting Mr. Pot, each being black.
OakLawnGuy October 25, 2011 at 12:02 AM
Mr. Deetjen was approved and hired by the entire board, including the Mayor, and I believe his appointment preceded the breakup of the Unity Party by something like 8 - 10 months.
outrage October 25, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Mayor: “There’s nothing wrong with placing a public issue on a referendum before the voters—is that a bad thing?" Yes it is Mayor H when the community does not support it and must forge almost 1000 signatures to illegally get it on the ballot. Where is your outrage mr h?
Debbie Skelly October 25, 2011 at 01:22 AM
while reading all these comments throughout the day I can't help but wonder why no one signs off with their name? If you believe in what you are commenting is so important, then what are you hiding from? Just CURIOUS......
Grunty October 25, 2011 at 01:31 AM
I'm from the old school gamer clans and we used tags for everything. When I posted on the southtown star, so as not to have to deal with trolls that might come from southtown star into my gamer world, or from my gamer world into the southtown star I chose a different tag, Grunty: A lovable murloc marine from World of Warcraft. http://images.wikia.com/wowwiki/images/2/20/Grunty_facing.jpg For a long time, every time I posted some guy would post this long list of names and say I was one of either Tom Phelan or Dave Heilmann's many "sub names" but instead of registering a new name when I came to patch, I just kept the old one. In some cases it is certainly about anonymity, but in many other cases its just about keeping stuff separate. ★THE MORE YOU KNOW==
Oak Lawn Gal October 25, 2011 at 01:48 AM
Anyone who's been around the internet for a few years knows you take a big risk by putting any personal identity information on any board. There are nuts in every community. With a real name it doesn't take much to find a real address. I'd rather be safe than sorry...especially where my family is concerned.
Tom October 25, 2011 at 02:09 AM
I checked, and my name was not on the forged documents. If it was, I would be furious. Honest residents cannot support this.
andy skoundrianos October 25, 2011 at 02:36 AM
Ms. Skelly I always use my name and even include my picture. Most of the bloggers use fake names because they work for the village, are realtives of elected officals, or the elected officals themselves. They are cowards and bullies I believe what I comment on, whether you like it or not at least you know where it comes from.
OakLawnGuy October 25, 2011 at 12:51 PM
I'm like Oak Lawn Gal (although no relation), I'm not a coward and I'm not a flunky for either side. Just don't want to put personal information (yes, even my name) on the net. If you hang around the comment areas long enough, and post as well, you'll be able to separate the people who are really interested in these goings-on from the goofs and buffoons.
QC October 26, 2011 at 01:32 AM
And YOU KNOW ALL OF THIS HOW??? Show some proof of your accusations. Remember Karma goes both ways, liar.
QC October 26, 2011 at 01:49 AM
How's Janie's neck doing? She did an Awful Lot of looking away starting in 2009. She too committed Fraud and Perjury with the voting disrict maps in the last election, you know, but then again the Thugs did buy her. So just forget that huh? Doesn't the States Atty. have connections to "Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan", you know Madigan's (The wizard of Oak Lawn) step daughter??? Just askin.
Tom October 26, 2011 at 02:16 AM
QC, Why do you leep calling him Lil Andy, He is much larger than you. Are you now going to lead the Fire Union to support the fraud crowd?
QC October 26, 2011 at 03:11 AM
Trustee Tom You talk about being honest out of one side of your mouth, (for the cameras and public,) and then bully, degrade, and drag people through your mud for kicks. What a weasel. Oh, BTW I'm quite sure the "Fire Union", that has the Integrity that you're so envious of, would NEVER SUPPORT YOUR FRAUD CROWD.
andy skoundrianos October 26, 2011 at 05:05 AM
QC, you need help man too much Venom and outrageous lies in your words. I have been going to meetings since 1993. Bob never once mentioned a petition drive to get rid of the manager, You sure like attacking our village clerk at a moments notice. She was never charged with any of your bogus claims. Blame Madigan that will get ya real far.. Maybe that's why you hide behind a name you gutless coward, afraid of a defamation lawsuit from the Madigans?? Just askin.

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