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Mayor Defers Receiving Legal Report Until Trustees Can Read It

Residents may never get to see Godfrey and Kahn's final investigative report into legal billings by former village attorneys even though they paid for it.

Editor's Note: The headline of this story was changed to more accurately reflect the mayor's response to receiving the final legal investigative report into the former village attorneys. The rest of the story remains the same.

Oak Lawn residents may never get the chance to see an investigative report into the legal billings by the former village attorneys

agreed to table penciling in a date to receive special counsel’s final report in alleged overbillings and malpractice by the law firm Tressler, Soderstrom, Maloney & Priess—now known as Tressler LLP—that served as the village attorney between October 2005 and September 2009.

, whose firm was hired to conduct a legal audit that targeted the mayor and his attorney friend, the village hired the Wisconsin-based law firm Godfrey and Kahn to conduct a second investigation.

in April after a multi-year legal battle. Godfrey and Kahn, that touts white-collar investigations and defense as one of its areas of expertise, helped broker the out-of-court settlement with Tressler.

“I think we have a right as citizens to see the report,” Oak Lawn-resident Andy Skoundrianos said during public comments at Tuesday’s village board meeting. “It involved our community and our money. We should be able to see it.”

Told that the report would remain a confidential document under law, Skoundrianos said he would file a freedom of information act request.

Since the village launched its legal investigation in 2010, the village has run up a tab of $453,541 in legal billings.

Trustee Carol Quinlan (Dist. 5) asked that the item be pulled from the consent agenda. In addition to the settlement, the village board had previously agreed that Godfrey and Kahn would present a final report on its investigation not to exceed $25,000.

“I’m not sure why we have to have this special meeting,” Quinlan said. “[Godfrey and Kahn are] expensive. That’s been my biggest beef.”

Mayor Dave Heilmann after he was accused by some trustees in dragging his feet in firing Tressler amid complaints of mounting legal bills because he had friends at the firm.

“Why are we paying for that time even though it’s conclusive,” Heilmann said. “It’s all being done after this case was resolved.”

Quinlan suggested that board members read the report in advance, and then decide if a special meeting was necessary.

The mayor motioned tabling setting a date for a special executive session until board members could read the report and formulate questions.

“It doesn’t preclude us from setting a meeting date in the future,” Heilmann added.

The village board also discussed the format in which they would receive the report. Trustee Tom Phelan (Dist. 6) asked for hard and electronic copies.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen reminded board members of their responsibility

“I just want to make sure everyone knows that the agreement that was executed does have a penalty clause for distribution to the public without any prior authorization,” Deetjen said. “Just keep that in mind.”

The village board agreed to table setting a date for an executive session until members have seen the report.

Grunty May 24, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I hope to god they put an embedded watermark into each electronic file so it can be traced back to the eventual leaker. It can be removed but it if you make the watermark obvious, then have a less obvious watermark elswhere, they will probably miss the second one.
Oak Lawn Gal May 24, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I think the paper copy has a better chance of being leaked.
Dave W. May 24, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Anything can be leaked. If NOTHING else, a person could just copy by typing verbatim onto an email or word document. I don't think it will matter much if it has some stamp saying 'Official Property of Oak Lawn'. People will know if what it there is official or not. Many parties will have a copy. If it gets out, all the rest of them will be able to refute it or not. There will be a leak, it is virtually a lock. Probably on here, on Patch.
RG May 25, 2012 at 06:48 PM
So the settlement gets Oak Lawn 500,000 back from Tressler. Since the village launched its legal investigation in 2010, the village has run up a tab of $453,541 in legal billings (I assume to Odelson and to Godfrey & Kahn). So in this whole mess about legal overcharges, Oak Lawn nets $46,459. Well its something I guess.
Never wrong May 26, 2012 at 04:13 PM
I thought that all the Trustees voted for the agreement that contained the confidentiality clause. If I am correct, it will be hard to explain why Dr. Bury is running with AO and TP in the next election.

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