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Mayor Outs Village Manager for Inviting Beatty Developer to Golf Tourny

Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen calls mayor's latest accusations "much ado about nothing."

The day after he publicly accused the village manager of holding a secret meeting with developers to discuss the former Beatty Lumber property, the mayor forwarded to news media email from the village manager inviting one of the developers to an out-of-town golf tournament.

“The manager and developer and the realtor all went on a golf trip to Florida a few weeks ago,” Mayor Dave Heilmann said. “During the pendency of a major development proposal that Oak Lawn will have to approve, the village manager invites and then goes on a week’s vacation to Florida with the developer?”

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During his report at Tuesday’s village board meeting, Heilmann revealed that one of the preliminary concepts for the vacant lumberyard at 96th Street and 52nd Avenue was a 9-story office tower.

Heilmann said the developers Tony Ruh and Karl Shea had never disclosed such a concept with him. He further alleged that Larry Deetjen, the village manager, had met with the developers behind his back to explore plans for an office tower in a residential area, before the mayor's meeting with the developers took place.

“[The developers] said they wanted to meet [the village manager] before they talked to the mayor,” Heilmann alleged Tuesday. “The village manager sent an email back saying he would meet them outside of the office face to face.”

READ: '9-Story Office Tower for Beatty Lumber Property?'

Forwarding several communications between Deetjen and Ruh, Heilmann called the emails “public records.” One of them, sent from Deetjen’s village email address to Ruh on Dec. 24, confirming the arrangements for a competitive golf tournament in Tampa, FL. Also copied on the email was Chuck Groebe, the realtor who arranged the sale of the Beatty property.

“Glad you can join us Tony. You are locked in. Chuck [Groebe] can get you details on our early flight out of Midway to Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday January 11th and return on the following Tuesday a.m January 17th. I have copied the President of the PGA Tournament Committee my brother-in-crime [name and place of business redacted by Patch] (Boston underground syndicate) and our practice round and roommate [name redacted by Patch] of [redacted by Patch] who is currently skiing downhill (on his face) at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Tony, be prepared for a lot of fun and excitement. Leave your guns at home in Chicago. Larry.”

Deetjen and Ruh both confirmed the trip did take place, adding that all travel and tournament costs were paid for at their own expense. No public money was used to fund the trip.

The village manager added that Ruh was a last-minute replacement for someone who dropped out of the tournament and had been invited by Groebe, a fellow Rotarian.

[The mayor is] trying to paint a picture that I’m in bed with the developer,” Deetjen said. “I’m in face to face contact with those when funding and growing jobs for Oak Lawn, and getting investors for the community and I do a pretty good job.”

Deetjen said he didn’t know Ruh or his business associates prior to their involvement in developing the new fitness and veterans’ outpatient treatment center at 10201 S. Cicero Ave.

“I am highly offended at any inference that calls to question my ethical behavior in this case,” Deetjen said. “I happen to enjoy competitive golf and through the years have been fortunate to build a large network of acquaintances and friends both professionally and personally.”

Most of the weekend was focused on competitive golf and family, Deetjen said, who still has a condominium unit in Deerfield Beach, Fl, where he once served as city manager.

“I do not vote on these projects. My job is to recommend. Furthermore, this was not a village initiated project,” Deetjen said. “The Beatty Lumber project is not before the board at this point formerly as it is merely in its early planning and feasibility phase.”

Ruh stated that his email communications to the village manager “speak for themselves.”

“I was asked to go down two, three days before the tournament,” the developer said. “I couldn’t get down until a day after the tournament started and played golf down there.”

Ruh added, “Bottom line, I don’t understand all this. I don’t understand what’s being accomplished,” he said in response to the mayor’s forwarding his email to the news media.

The village manager reemphasized that the development was in the preliminary stages and that the developers would spend a lot of money on redeveloping the Beatty property, provided they “adhere to the desires of the people and create jobs for Oak Lawn.”

 “To quote Shakespeare and people in theater who are actors, this is much ado about nothing,” Deetjen said, taking a dig at the mayor who is active in community theater. “I know my ethics.”

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Oak Lawn Gal February 18, 2012 at 04:03 PM
This whole thing could be as innocent as a new born baby but it Looks like old school politics where the fix is in with a developer and they're meeting outside the OL offices and going on vacation together where they can talk privately about how to best award the contract to the developer. I'm surprised Deetjen put himself in this position as he is usually pretty astute.
Oak Lawn Gal February 18, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Does anyone think Ruh has a chance of getting this contract. Set aside the 9-story office building in a residential area. That alone is a problem. But it's hard to imagine any of the trustees voting for Ruh and associating themselves with Deetjen on this.
Oak Lawn Gal February 18, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Yeah the Groebe connection is interesting. I was wondering if maybe Groebe is helping Ruh in this in return for some consideration on future projects or whatever.
Oak Lawn Gal February 18, 2012 at 04:11 PM
The difference is that it looks like Deetjen was secretly helping to prep Ruh for his meeting with the Mayor. And going on vacation with Ruh makes it look like they're more than business associates. Remember Deetjen is the guy who's going to recommend a developer and project for that site. The Mayor can meet with anyone but in the end it's Deetjen who proposes and the trustees who vote.
Oak Lawn Gal February 18, 2012 at 04:12 PM
All good points Blinded.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton February 18, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Blinded by Love - in the corporate world, the Board of Directors does not have to vote on all decision made by the CEO. In the VIllage, the Board of Directors does have to vote on such big decisions. Your analogy is wrong. There is absolutely no excuse for Deetjen to do what he did. He should do us all a favor and resign.
Blinded by love2 February 18, 2012 at 06:25 PM
There were no decisions made. There's no proposal. Just discussions setting the table for a proposal. Larry is the CEO in this form of government. He can meet with anyone while conducting business, but clandestine meetings and vacations are not appropriate no matter how the story is spun. You are right, Larry's time here is just about up.
Blinded by love2 February 18, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Gal, if the proposal is right, Ruh will get the ok. The issue now wilberustic trusting any future recommendation by Larry are in the best interests of the village or a sweetheart deals. Perhaps somebody should be looking at past recommendations by Larry to see if any are tainted or questionable. Andy keeps harping about the investigation on attorneys, but all we are seeing is bills from a trustees frat brother. Where's the smoking gun?
Blinded by love2 February 18, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Gal, if the proposal is right, Ruh will get the ok. The issue now will be trusting any future recommendation by Larry are in the best interests of the village or a sweetheart deals. Perhaps somebody should be looking at past recommendations by Larry to see if any are tainted or questionable. Andy keeps harping about the investigation on attorneys, but all we are seeing is bills from a trustees frat brother. Where's the smoking gun?
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton February 18, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Illinois is known more and more for corruption. We are better than this. United We Stand, Divided We Fall. I call for the trustees and Village employees to stand together and work as a unit, not as a bunch of prima donnas, back room dealers, and hustlers. Have some integrity guys. Be professional!
andy skoundrianos February 18, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Man your right blinded, your unbiased opinion has really made me think, Dave is perfect and really works well with the manager,Larry is wrong to do his job,Dave also met with the developers outside of village hall but there was nothing wrong with that Dave would be better if he was king of Oak Lawn. The last village attorney's Dave recommended did no wrong they didn't over bill anyone. Dave never wanted the referendum to go through even though he signed the petition and had his friends work with Myrna Jurcev who is on trial right now for voter fraud. I think I might have been blinded by the facts but who knows. But you have to come up with a better fake name though....
OakLawnGuy February 18, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Maybe Galveston, TX will take Mr. Deetjen off our hands.
blindedbythelight February 19, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Hey Guys and Girls ask yourself this question why is The Mayor witholding E-Mails he had with Tressler and not giving them to Godfrey and Kahn in the investigation of illegal billing made to the village by Dave's handpicked lawyer buddies Tressler?? Did he have secret illegal meetings with them during this ongoing investigation?? Good enough for the Manager Dave good enough for you
Oak Lawn Gal February 19, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Not sure this is factually correct. I would think Godfrey & Kahn would have the legal resources to get any emails sent through the village offices. It's not up to the Mayor to release them. And how would the Mayor talking to Tressler at any time be illegal? What law would he have broken?
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton February 19, 2012 at 01:46 AM
It seems e-mails between village officials and people they hire are public record. What is being with-held? Was there a subpoena for the e-mails or a formal written request? Did the Village Clerk refuse to release the e-mails? It seems to me that the Village Clerk would be responsible for public records. Also, the Mayor can contact anyone about Village business before telling anyone else as long as he is not negotiating without discussing it first with the Village Board. Also he votes on the Board. He is the CEO of the Village. Deetjen is NOT the CEO and doesn't vote so it would be wasting tax dollars to be exploring or negotiating behind the Board's back. Putting out feelers for information or gathering information requested by the Board would be OK. He must be guided by the Board. If Tressler is a Village attorney, then it is appropriate for Tressler to talk to the Mayor and guide him and the Board. Isn't that what he is paid to do? Blindedbythelight - you are mixing up apples and oranges.
Dave W. February 19, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Good grief! If Deetjen was on the up and up with Groebe and Ruh, he would have disclosed the trip and any other information. Seriously, why go through all of this if he ISN'T hiding something? Even moreso BECAUSE this is Oak Lawn and he should have known better about the recent history of his direct predecessors. Even if he DIDN'T, he should have known better simply with common sense. ANY activity that has the faintest whiff of impropriety should send off alarms with any of the officials; elected, appointed, voluntary; no difference. I don't really care all that much about who paid for what on a trip...I don't care too much who is whose friend...it is all improper. Why? Because it LOOKS improper, and this isn't a private business. This is LITERALLY the PUBLIC TRUST. If ANY of the people involved don't like it, they can very easliy cease being involved. Go someplace where backroom politics are okay. Sure, they used to be in Oak Lawn, but that needs to be in the past. Spirited debate is one thing, but the board has fallen into dysfunction and disarray. Andy, to your point about the mayor's possible transgressions; I don't know and won't pretend that he is guilty or innocent of anything in that regard. I only know that two wrongs aren't helping the city. If guilty, he needs to go away too. Deetjen certainly seems like a smart guy, which only make one wonder all the more about what he was thinking...that he is smarter than everyone else, or is he better than everyone else...
Blindedbythebull February 19, 2012 at 06:28 PM
CEOs do not vote so quit calling the Mayor the CEO. He is the Village President by law, not the CEO, not the King, not even the Lord of Oak Lawn. Deetjen is hired as the Village Manager by the Village President and entire board and can only be fired by that same group. So, saying "I would fire him", ignores the reality that one needs the votes! I think it is fine that the Mayor met with the Developer without telling the board or manager. I also think it is fine that the Manager met with the developer. Let the proposal come forward and if someone did something wrong, their is a state's attorney for investigating such accusations. So far, nobody can point to any law that anyone broke. As far as Tressler goes, please be advised Doc that Tressler is not the Village Attorney and are currently involved in Pre-litigation with the Village over allegations of overbilling, etc. If the Village President met or talked to them during this time, that would be a problem.
Oak Lawn Gal February 19, 2012 at 08:04 PM
I guess you're missing all the points about the appearance of impropriety. The Mayor met with the developer and did share that with the board at the last meeting. Deetjen met outside of the village offices with the developer and notified no one. THEN he went on a 1 week gold junket with him. And Deetjen welcomed him on the trip in his email. Now as far as the Mayor meeting with or talking to Tressler. What law would he be breaking by talking to them in any way? I asked that before and you never answered. You said before it was "illegal." Now you're saying it would be a problem. It's neither imo. I believe you're trying to suggest that the mayor did something similar to what deetjen did and somehow that makes deetjen's actions acceptable. There's no logic to that argument at all. I think the Ruh project is questionable for that site anyway. But after all this it's hard to imagine the trustees voting for it if deetjen does recommend Ruh.
Oak Lawn Gal February 19, 2012 at 08:05 PM
gold junket = golf junket although....lol
OakLawnGuy February 19, 2012 at 08:56 PM
He's not. E mails, documents, meeting minutes (open and closed) have been collected for both sides of that circus. (Now that's a story I'd like to hear the latest on, although I won't because it's pending: what's going on among the three law firms and the lawsuits? And what's the Village's tab up to now?)
andy skoundrianos February 20, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Dave has tried his false accusations in court before, he lost. This project by no means is even close to the planning stage yet. Dave is putting up this junk for his re-election campaign. These developers have already started a great development at 102nd and cicero at the old suzuki property. They will have a wonderful area for the va hosipital which was going to leave Oak Lawn. Chuck Groebe is an Oak Lawn buisness owner and resident. These people have now been thrown under the bus by The Mayor to make himself look good in his personal on going war with the Village Manager.We will see how this attorney over billing investigation will go, I just hope we get a development over there that is successful and not political which everything in Oak Lawn sadly turns out to be.
Oak Lawn Gal February 20, 2012 at 03:47 AM
The Mayor reported what happened. The golf trip is public record. The emails from Deetjen corroborate the 1 week golf trip with a developer who was pitching new and lucrative business with the village. The same emails confirm that Groebe selected the developer Ruh for the golf trip. And yes those emails are public record. The Mayor didn't throw anybody under the bus. He didn't have to.
Sam Wilson February 20, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Tom Duhig may have been left out because desolcen is Tom Duhig? Perhaps?
Sam Wilson February 20, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Andy, I agree with you. A successful development there is what we need. I really don't care who brings it to the table, Larry, Dave, or any trustee or community member. Let's do what is best for Oak Lawn. Certainly, the mudslinging attacks on all sides have been an embarrassment to our great suburb.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton February 20, 2012 at 04:40 AM
The last thing we need is a large EMPTY office building. Even if the economy was good and it could be filled up, it is not right for the neighborhood. The train station makes the traffic too congested. There would not be enough parking for anyone in that area if the "office" building could be filled. The project would be a disaster. I oppose it completely. If the developers bought it thinking they could make big bucks after getting the unofficial "OK" from someone in the Village prior to purchase, then whoever was talking to them should be in big trouble. The Village should not contribute a dime to such a project and should limit its height and make NO exceptions to parking requirements. What a mess. They already screwed up with the Target store at 95th and Pulaski area and with so much more. Look at all the empty condos and office spaces in Oak Lawn right now. We need to develop what we have first.
Oak Lawn Gal February 20, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Hmmm wouldn't that be a hoot ? :)
Dave W. February 21, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Andy, I still don't know if you are right or wrong, I still only know that even if you ARE right, it doesn't make what Deetjen did an iota better... OLG, you are correct in stating that it is the PERCIEVED reality that is what matters most. Politicians in Oak Lawn should be under NO illusion that any of them have some sort of cloud of innocence considering the past of this town. Everything that is done, every minute of meetings, should be public knowledge, all the time. There is no logical reason for anything done soley for the public good to be done in private. Again, if any of the officials find such parameters too constricting, they can resign and somebody that wants to operate on the up and up can take their place. I don't care if it is a trustee, and mayor, a clerk, a manager, a janitor... As Dr. Shelton says, we have too many empty spaces now, and the neighborhood doesn't want something there. I know, my house is a block away, literally. I went to all the meetings back when they were building the debacle west of Cook on 95th. the old board bigfooted Veli's and others, knocked down Cook School, and insisted the area was 'blighted'. Now it is starting again...not to forget they are forcing the issue at 111th and Cicero for a mall, at a time when statistics show that malls are declining. I asked three trustees after a meeting who would be the tenants of that mall...not a single one had a firm answer, only that there would be a 'smorgasbord' from which to pick. Great...
Ginger February 26, 2012 at 02:40 AM
All I will add is please keep our village in your prayers, as residents we either benefit or get hurt by the decisions made by these individuals. And, let's stay tuned to see what happens.
Colleen February 28, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Finally, someone who gets it!
wyatt erp March 05, 2012 at 05:18 PM
the mayors fair allegations were poo pooed by one lisa madigan. whod a thought right/

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