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Oak Lawn Village Board Goes to the Brink

New board majority overrules on discussion of legal investigation and Fall on the Green in political brinksmanship.

The political brinksmanship continued Tuesday as Oak Lawn Village Board members battled to a tie, with the mayor providing the walk-off homer.

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Dr. Sandra Bury, a local business owner, resident and community volunteer, expressed about the recent completion of the Godfrey and Kahn legal investigation.

“Several recent topics under discussion by this board have raised concerns that elected officials may be putting their own interests ahead of the voters they represent,” Bury said during public comments.

Bury said she filed a freedom of information act request for documents and email related to the former village attorney Tressler LLP. She also asked for the Godfrey and Kahn investigative report, only to have a substantive portion of her FOIA request denied because of a

Part of the reason she was given for the denial was to “prevent dissemination of false or misleading information.”

“I waited patiently for the attorney report which has been estimated to cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands or dollars to prepare,” Bury said. “Where I come from, the best way to prevent false and misleading information is to tell the truth in a public fashion. Not hide it from the voters through legal maneuverings in closed session.”

Vowing to fight the denial of her FOIA request, Bury told Mayor Dave Heilmann that, “adding more lawyers to the mix is not going to do anyone any good.”

Trustee Carol Quinlan’s (Dist. 5) motion to table discussion of the legal investigation on the board’s agenda later in the evening superseded Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2), who was interrupted while reading a statement.

 “I was discussing it,” Olejniczak said.

“We’re not able to discuss it at this time,” Quinlan said.

The mayor deferred to the village attorney, Paul O’Grady, who said that the chairman of the board–Heilmann--controlled the board’s discussion.

Village board members voted 4 to 3 to table the discussion, with Olejniczak and Trustees Tom Duhig (Dist. 4) and Tom Phelan (Dist. 6) providing the dissenting votes.

The village board also battled over discussion of during his tenure the special events committee liaison that oversaw the fest.

For a second time, the village board voted 4 to 3 to table discussion of the fall festival, with Duhig, Phelan and Olejniczak as the dissenting votes.

After the meeting, Olejniczak read the remarks he intended to make during the board meeting to news media, stating that the mayor had asked for a month to review the Godfrey and Kahn investigative report so that he could provide a written response to whatever was in it.

“The mayor told the village manager he had majority support of the board,” Olejniczak said, “but I received no other information and have no idea what the status of the report is.”

Olejniczak continued that he had intended to motion to have special counsel submit the final entire report so that the village board could review it and schedule a special meeting.

“As you can see, Dave Heilmann has a double standard in how he handles people and what he does,” Olejniczak said, contending that the mayor had earlier violated Robert’s Rules of Order.

Referring to the mayor’s public accusations that he had twice tampered with police reports favoring his friends, Olejniczak said he had documentation proving the accusations false.

Olejniczak added he would have liked to have had a month to "prove false the BS allegations made against me."

“Obviously,” the trustee said philosophically, “they had the majority of the board so these are things that I and the rest of Oak Lawn will have to get used to.”

Read more government news:

QC?? June 13, 2012 at 04:58 PM
QC.. Do you enjoy seeing the entire board act like a bunch of spoiled brats?? You really are hoping for federal subpeona?? The Board is now a disfunctional mess and your happy about it??? Oh yeah I forgot this is what you wanted all along Dave
OL Resident June 13, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Andy, your audience awaits. In the words of Edward G Robinson: WHERE'S YOUR MESSIAH NOW? Feel free to voice your anger; you've earned it.
Is she a candidate? June 13, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Is it true that Sandra Bury is running for Mayor? I'm not sure where she comes from but where I come from a signed agreement trumps her down home thoughts espoused to enhance her campaign for mayor. The board agreed to a settlement that included a confidentiality clause. How does she figure that violating that clause would be a good thing for the people of Oak Lawn. Let's face it, there wasn't anything in this investigation that was pushed forward by Phelan. So, the board settled and took what it could get, which included a confidentiality clause. Where I come from releasing information and blowing up a settlement is not only unethical but bad business. Do you want the village to have to give the money back?
anthony June 13, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Someone bring up Edward G http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=plpp&v=Id6oS3L-D9A
Sue June 13, 2012 at 07:08 PM
I don't doubt for a second that all the people serving on the board and all the wannabees have a deep love of Oak Lawn. I wish they would open their eyes, ears, and hearts and see the damage they are doing to Oak Lawn. Prospective home buyers and business are going to completely avoid this wonderful village because of these huge public feuds. I really hope all of these people can see the damage they are doing and get back to the bulding up of Oak Lawn!! Thank you
Andy, he gone June 13, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Andy, blogger with opinions on every issue and writer of articles about cheeseburgers, the Cubs, and gardening now has nothing to say except he's bringing popcorn to the meeting. Andy, don't bother telling us about your 20 years experience with politics and that you go to every meeting garbage. You had some credibility, but it's all gone now. Your lack of commentary on this issue speaks volumes to the hypocrite you've become. Come out and tell us your thoughts or stay forever gone.
anthony June 13, 2012 at 07:43 PM
How is the truth of the situation or how they negotiated a bad thing? To answer the Village pay no , the trustee's should pay ..
Sandra Bury June 14, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Most of these concerns would never have happened if there was a formal village conflict of interest policy. At the start of each meeting, a simple question would be asked: “Does anyone have a conflict of interest to declare with any item on this agenda?” Conflicts will occur and can be discussed openly. It’s when the conflicts of interest are NOT disclosed that the impression of corruption happens, whether real or perceived. It’s a simple solution and I challenged Mayor Heilmann last night to immediately implement this policy.
Sandra Bury June 14, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Having received no reply, I challenge him again here in this public forum: 1) Mayor Heilmann, will you immediately implement a formal conflict of interest policy in which conflicts of interest to agenda items are disclosed at each meeting? 2) Mayor Heilmann, will you bring to light this attorney report that you have worked so hard at keeping from view of the taxpayers - even when they have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to know the truth? 3) Mayor Heilmann, can you please explain how keeping something confidential will “prevent dissemination of false or misleading information?” 4) Mayor Heilmann, why are my Freedom of Information Act requests being denied on the grounds of “private information” when you are a public official? The truth should not be obscured, Mayor Heilmann. Do you have the courage to answer these concerns in your own voice and on record and not use others to speak on your behalf or create distractions? I look forward to hearing your reply.
Sandra Bury June 14, 2012 at 12:44 AM
The penalty is $50,000. I'm considering having a fundraiser.
QC June 14, 2012 at 12:54 AM
A,he gone Qc?? is li'l andy. Unfortunately he not gone.
prophet12155 June 14, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Oh please, if they had to ask the "conflict of interest" question before every meeting, nothing would ever get done! With everyone's family members, old frat buddies, children, nieces, wives, girlfriend on the sides getting hired by the village, nothing would ever get done! Also, some thing have confidentiality clauses for a reason. Just like on a school board or a park district board, there are "closed session" issues that are not public information. It is not exactly the same thing, I realize, but if your child was getting expelled, would you want it on public record the why, who and what was done. How about your personnel review? Sometimes there are reasons for these things.
QC June 14, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Ms. Bury You are soooo Out There. First of all I think these clowns dodged a bullet agreeing to or insisting on this confidentiality agreement. If you remember, they couldn't contain themselves from slandering and defaming the previous attorneys, and Heilmann for that matter. Remember the infamous "Tape" that exonerated the previous attorneys, you know, when Phelan et al insisted they never ok'd or knew of an offer to the Female FF that was low? Then after they reviewed/heard the tape of that "Executive Session" THEY voted NOT to make the tape Public. They also wouldn't give the tape to the previous attorneys. These clowns forced them to go to court for an order, to prove THAT THE TRUSTEES DID KNOW & AGREED to the Offer. Address the Trustees on this issue of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to know the truth! You only have to look at the way the Thugs relayed misleading information regarding the previous attorneys. Was ANYONE OF THEM CHARGED WITH A CRIME OR WRONGDOING? Remember......the Fed. subpoena is regarding the HIRING OF QUEERY & HARROW, NOT the previous attorneys. Now who started all of this garbage???
QC June 14, 2012 at 01:35 AM
QC ?? Nighty night andy.
QC June 14, 2012 at 01:53 AM
You left out the fact that after the Unity Party took over, Phelan immediately Transferred Oak Lawn's funds to Standard Bank. Which happens to employ one of his very close friends as an executive. Coincidence?
Oak Lawn Gal June 14, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I don't know. The meetings are weirdly entertaining now ... in a bizarre way. The Mayor seems to have secured a majority. It also seems that he's somewhat supportive of Larry D now. The other thing I noticed is that the Mayor seems tougher. I'm just wondering (as usual) what was said behind the scenes to bring the Mayor, Streit, Trautsch and Quinlan together and why the Mayor seems so confident.
Joe Skibinski June 14, 2012 at 03:04 AM
To be charitable, I would say that people have lost their way. The problem is that they may have never been seeking the proper path in the first place.
anthony June 14, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Watch out for Professor .A.D menimoH. Dr Bury i submit you have made a few enemies.....
Dave W. June 14, 2012 at 03:38 AM
The answers to your questions Oak Lawn Gal, are that deals were made...the 3 Bloc was identified, and somebody from the other Four decided to coalesce those other four for some greater (self)good. Between the seven of these folks, there cannot possibly be an itchy back left amongst them. Perhaps the mayor seems tougher knowing that he is the veto/swing vote/power broker now. That can often do it. Same for his confidence, obviously. What we all want to know but never find out is the WHAT and the WHY of this all happening, and especially now, after so many other things went so differently. Were other alliances sought and denied? Will these hold up? Will some or all or none of these same people get re-elected? We will all stay tuned, I'm sure, just in case we ever find out. Politics as sport CAN be fun...too bad our town's actual welfare is at stake and it would be better if these people could all be rational and cooperative to get the people's work done. Oh, but a lad can dream.
andy skoundrianos June 14, 2012 at 03:45 AM
You want me to say something, Okay I'm not QC,QC1,2,3,4,or ? ?? ??? Hey Mayor you talk about how getting impact fees on the new bank will be great... How about asking your buddies at Advocate to fork over some impact fees for the monster development they are building or do you only ask businesses who don't give you awards to fork over??
andy skoundrianos June 14, 2012 at 03:47 AM
The mayor would not know the truth if it hit him in the face,You will be waiting a long time for your reply Sandy...
QC3 June 14, 2012 at 03:57 AM
How would the conflict of interest policy be different than current law? I'm assuming that as a candidate for public office you understand that the state statutes contain a law that prohibits conflicts of interest. Do you want each person to tell you that they aren't violating that law or did you not know it existed. Would it be a conflict of interest to vote to hire attorneys who are your friends? Would it be a conflict of interest to push a loan through a bank where your friend is a high ranking official? Would it be a conflict of interest to hire an attorney who was your frat buddy? We need more details dr bury before we can expect the mayor to answer your demands.
Sandra Bury June 14, 2012 at 11:49 AM
QC3 - a robust conflict of interest policy, in which conflicts are disclosed at each meeting would have diffused all of this nonsense that you whine about if the Mayor had the courage to implement it years ago. It would allow the Village Board to worry about Village business. What a concept! It would diffuse petty attacks. It's the right thing to do. What say you, Mayor Heilmann? Do you think it's a good idea? If not, why not?
Dist. 2 Curious June 14, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Prophet 12155 is right. Not practical or feasible. Besides, what the good doctor seems to be talking about is not conflicts of interest but self-dealing by pols. Can you even define a "robust conflicts of interest policy"? Law firms have entire teams and staffs to check conflicts, but a true conflict of interest is when a lawyer may get into the position of either representing someone whose interests conflict (hence the term) with another (pre-existing) client OR when the interests of an individual lawyer and/or law firm are in conflict (again the term) with those of a client or in conflict with ethical rules. It's not a "conflict of interest" when an elected official makes his government do business with his friends (especially on a no bid basis) - that's just unethical and illegal, and there are already ways to deal with that. Ask Rod Blagojevich how that works.
Oh, Great one! June 14, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Didn't Heilmann run in his first election accusing the former administration of spending too much in legal fees and he was going to change that?
Dan June 14, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Can someone please help me find out how i can get my slob neighbors to finish painting the house.
Oak Lawn Gal June 15, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Good points Dave W. The What and the Why are of course what would be so interesting to know. My guess is that Cindy is the weak link at this point. Her votes are tentative at best and when it's a 4-3 scenario she hesitates every time. One interesting thing is that the "3" are all up for re election next year along with the Mayor. I think Tom is a fellow traveler but not a target. Raising questions about Alex's and Bob's ethics at this point will stay visible until the audit is done. How long will the audit take? What if they do find questionable practices? What impact will that have on voters? Maybe that's the answer to "Why now?" Maybe it's a well-planned house cleaning.
QC June 15, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Dan Contact your trustee. Good Luck with that!
Legally curious June 15, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I don't think there is a law against doing business with a friend. The Mayor's friend was in the first law firm and then Phelan's friend's law firm took over. The illegal part that you refer to with Governor Blagojevich was whether the public official receives bribes. Most of the employees and contracts in previous years were friends of the Coalition and that didn't change much. Who do you think the unity party hired or contracted with? Friends
scouter June 18, 2012 at 07:10 AM
Suggestion - Have you asked them if they need help? Sometimes someone becomes ill, works too many hours, has physical or mental issues that interfere with basic health, little children that claim all of their attention or are elderly and need assistance... or just need help to get things done because of family problems (sick member or child)... Or they have lost their job or run out of money or can't afford it due to medical bills or other bills... Sometimes it's because the person has become injured and just has no one else able or willing to help. Maybe you can be a good neighbor and ask them why it isn't done and maybe offer to help... Good neighbors are hard to find and are a rarity... IF they are rude in response to your genuine caring concern, then, by all means, complain and make their life hell... and hope that it doesn't come back to bite you on the b***...

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