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Oak Lawn Village Board Shifts Committee Assignments

Mayor Heilmann says "complaints" influenced some of his decisions to reassign trustees to new committee and liaison assignments.

Tuesday’s village board meeting ended on a familiar crescendo of acrimony in what one trustee described afterward as “more contrived theatrics by Oak Lawn’s biggest actor."

Mayor Dave Heilmann and Trustee Tom Phelan (Dist. 6) took aim at each other after the mayor revealed his recommendations for 2012 board committee and liaison assignments.

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Some trustees found themselves removed from their high-profile assignments and banished to the quality control committee that hasn’t met in six years. The annual doling out of board committee assignments by the mayor is required every May in compliance with the Oak Lawn municipal code, Heilmann said.

“I’ve given my recommendations which the board has no obligation to follow,” the mayor told trustees. “The board can choose to vote on this but we are supposed to make a decision on this tonight.”

Phelan was removed as liaison to the fire department and replaced by Heilmann ally Trustee Carol Quinlan (Dist. 5). Phelan was also removed from the Special Events Committee, that produces such community events as Fall on the Green, and replaced by Trustee Bob Streit (Dist. 3).

Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2) was similarly removed as police liaison and replaced by appointed last year t the former Dist. 1 trustee.

Olejniczak was also removed from the Public Works Committee, despite spearheading the successful Trautsch filled Olejniczak’s former slot on that committee as well.

Moving to table, Phelan said the mayor held no advance discussions with board members. Olejniczak seconded the motion.

“We just received these at 7 p.m. tonight,” Phelan said.

“Those are just my recommendations,” the mayor said. “The board has had a year to prepare.”

Phelan was voted down, with the mayor casting the tie-breaking vote. Trustees Quinlan, Trautsch and Streit sided with the mayor.

Phelan calmly asked the mayor on what basis he made his decisions. Heilmann explained that he had no "singular basis."

“I can tell you that there are a number of complaints that have come to me about what’s going on in committees that impacted my decision,” Heilmann said.

Pressed by Phelan on who filed the complaints, Heilmann replied that the complaints “are not known to you or other board members.”

“It’s about board members exceeding their authority and intervention that they should not have done,” the mayor explained.

Heilmann described that certain village staff members were “livid” when Phelan participated in a conference call with the bond underwriters as a member of the finance committee.

“You were insistent on being part of that when it’s not the role of a board member,” the mayor said.

Heilmann also took Phelan to task for “personally negotiating” contracts and handing out passes to the VIP tent at Fall on the Green to “certain people and not others.”

Phelan said that his purpose for participating in the bond conference call was to discuss the village’s lack of cash balances.

“My purpose was to let the bond underwriters know that there was a reason for that and the reason has to do with the $15 million or so that our coffers lost in legal representation,” Phelan said, referring to with the former village attorneys.

“This is not unlike you talking with and negotiating and recommending lawyers for the village,” Phelan continued. “You want to talk about overstepping our bounds? By the way, I received permission from our village manager to participate in that call and I believe I was very effective in that call.”

Concerning the mayor’s accusations that he had commandeered the VIP tent at Fall on the Green, Phelan said that extra tickets to the VIP area that provides free food and liquor to village staff, volunteers and sponsors, went to people who participated in the fest.

“If you’re talking about a certain elected official or officials who are miffed because they didn’t get their [extra tickets] that’s not what this is about,” Phelan said. “If you’re bringing up these kinds of allegations as a basis its bull.”

“I’m talking specifically about handing them to certain trustees and not to others based upon political affiliation,” the mayor replied.

Further accusing Phelan of personally dispensing VIP passes the mayor again chastised “that’s not the role of a trustee.”

“The fest that used to lose $50,000 now makes $50,000,” Phelan said of his role as special events committee liaison. “I’ll take that criticism from you all day long.”

Phelan also wanted to know the name of the staff member who was “livid.”

Heilmann gaveled the end of the discussion. The mayor was the tie-breaking vote for the second time that evening, backed by Streit, Quinlan and Trautsch.

Asked about his personal involvement in Fall on the Green vendor contracts, Phelan said he worked with business development director Chad Weiler in streamlining costs for bands that performed at the fest.

“[This is] just more contrived theatrics from Oak Lawn's biggest actor,” Phelan said via email, referecing the mayor’s involvement in community theater. “In every single case the village manager was given the proposed terms of the performances and was the signatory on those contracts. Neither Chad Weiler nor I have ever contracted with any band or performer ever.”

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James Peschel May 25, 2012 at 03:55 AM
It would appear that sides are now being taken for the next election. It would seem that the trustees, the mayor and the office manager don't trust each other and the sides are being drawn to see who may not be reelected for another term. Everyone should set their differences aside and start working to help the village. Our beloved officials act more like children who if they can't have their way will take their ball and go home. I believe that maybe all our officials should not run for another election and instead let new people run for office. I now realize why I quit going to these meetings it is the same soap opera as the ones with our state and federal goverment. No one worries about the citizens only about themselves.
James Peschel May 25, 2012 at 03:56 AM
It would appear that sides are now being taken for the next election. It would seem that the trustees, the mayor and the office manager don't trust each other and the sides are being drawn to see who may not be reelected for another term. Everyone should set their differences aside and start working to help the village. Our beloved officials act more like children who if they can't have their way will take their ball and go home. I believe that maybe all our officials should not run for another election and instead let new people run for office. I now realize why I quit going to these meetings it is the same soap opera as the ones with our state and federal goverment. No one worries about the citizens only about themselves
Nlc117 May 25, 2012 at 06:28 AM
F.O.T.G. Should not have a VIP tent in the 1st place.
blippedojx May 25, 2012 at 12:04 PM
So Dave W: You wonder if anyone will ask you to serve. Yet youve been on here blasting all the officials with personal insults and attacks including the Village Clerk using your real name. Youve said you live in the 3rd district and are a real estate agent. It can't be that hard to figure you out. You have the gall to think anyone in their right mind would ask you to serve since you've publicly insulted everyone and obviosuly think you're smarter than all. I think you'll stick to debating idiots on the comment boards and wishing you had more real estate clients. btw good luck building your client base while offending most residents.
Atta boy to Dave May 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM
The bigger points: If new alliance holds, there's now 4 votes to fire the village manager. Did Dave and Bob cut another deal (think back to bob running unopposed in 2007 after flipping on 111th TIF), who will run on heilmanns ticket for clerk? Looks like Dave has 1 year to have some fun before the 9/11 exploiter runs against him as rep for da meatheads. Yep, grab some popcorn.
Atta boy to Dave May 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Andy, pick a side quick. Looks like your master has joined up with your biggest target.
Atta boy to Dave May 25, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Dr bury, your unabashed admiration of the new board minority is sickening. Your accusations against the mayor about advocate are baseless. Keep posting your political prose, but at least come out and say your running for mayor with the dark side. Can't wait to sign your petition and see you face off in a debate with Dave where you have to speak and not copy, paste, and post others words on patch.
fred wiese May 25, 2012 at 01:19 PM
dr berry seems like a challenge to me I think Atta boy to Dave is awaitin with baited breath
Garbage May 25, 2012 at 05:23 PM
The whole Board is an embarrassment to this Village. Hidden meetings, special treatment to certain individuals, legal agreements that are kept from the tax payers, spending money without concern about the welfare of the residents, childish behavior at meetings, yelling, switching sides to make new majorities for political advancement and staging disagreements in front of the cameras. Smile another photo op. We voted out one bad group which has now been replaced by another bad group. The only common denominator is “power.” They are all Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Oak Lawn is the joke of the Southwest suburbs. Time to get rid of the whole group.
SoSueMe May 25, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Andy, I follow your comments all the time and mostly agree with you. On this subject, I disagree. Whether this is the first time or the 100th time that impromptu changes have been made I applaused Mr. Dave for making them. Trustees should never get too comfortable in their surroundings, believing they are set in their committees for the term of their appointment. I firmly believe that once comfortability sets in, so does overstepping followed by back-door deals. I am NOT accusing any of our trustees of doing anything wrong because I have no first-hand knowledge and hearsay is a virus. What I am saying is that if the mayor just found this rule in the Municipal Rules and decided to act upon it, good for him. It's nice to keep everyone on his/her toes.
RG May 25, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I think the comments to Dr. Bury are inappropriate. Though there are some who post in accordance to their sides "script", it has always seemed to me that she (like many other folks) give their own opinions on the subject at hand.
Oak Lawn Gal May 25, 2012 at 06:43 PM
So what is everyone's theory on why Streit sided with the Mayor? Carol has been joined with the Mayor in the past. I imagine Cindy sees this as an opportunity to get on some high visibility committees. But Bob?
OakLawnGuy May 25, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Because Mr. Streit and Mr. Heilmann both got something they wanted. As in any deal. Mr. Streit has aligned with Mike Madigan, perhaps via arch-rival Jerry Hurckes, so it's just another "politics makes strange bedfellows" moment. I couldn't put my finger on exactly what each of them got, besides getting a couple Trustees out of the way on key committees, but they each get something they need or want. The motivation was politicial, but for Messrs. O and Phelan to whine and complain about it is pot being introduced to kettle. Yet again.
Oak Lawn Gal May 25, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I wonder if Streit's connections to Madigan will translate to any clout applied in favor of the Mayor in the next election? But for that to happen Bob must have gotten something big. It seems like a major shift for him.
Oak Lawn Gal May 25, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Unless with this alliance, if that's what it is, Bob feels he has a voting bloc for some project he wants
anthony May 25, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Sounds like a dare to run for office!!
OakLawnGuy May 25, 2012 at 07:51 PM
I'm not sure he has a connection to Madigan, but in the instance of hiring new attorneys he certainly aligned with him. I believe Madigan also put the stamp of approval on Mr. Heilmann's candidacy, so there's that. What are alignments in politics anyway, besides each party getting what they want or need? Those involved are certainly not as polarized as many of their constituents are. Heck, in order to try to block the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald to the US attorney spot, Republicans in powerful positions were working with Democrats. They, fortunately for us, failed to do so.
Oak Lawn Gal May 25, 2012 at 08:02 PM
I remember a story a while ago about some trustees that met with Madigan on the water project. I believe we hired a law firm with connections to Madigan. And didn't Madigan attend a fund raiser for Bob? I didn't hear that Madigan had put a stamp of approval on Heilmann's candidacy though. Politics is certainly in part about alignments based on (usually) personal interest. We're certainly seeing that here.
Conspiracy theorist May 25, 2012 at 08:40 PM
How about bob publicly does everything he can to get dave re-elected and Cindy elected, then Dave casts tie breaking vote to fire Larry, then bob is appointed village manager after Dave casts another tie breaker. Dave and bob pick bobs successor.....Andy, maybe(lol)? Or how about bob for clerk? Pays more than trustee! Maybe isolated move here by bob, but this could also be signs of something very big.
Oak Lawn Gal May 25, 2012 at 08:50 PM
At this point I wouldn't rule out anything. I didn't think there was any bad blood between Bob and Alex or Tom so this does look like a deal of some sort. I guess the real test is to see how bob and cindy vote on any future critical issue.
OakLawnGuy May 25, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Madigan made monetary contributions to the Heilmann campaign. The story you refer to was published as a Tribune investigative report.
Oak Lawn Gal May 25, 2012 at 09:07 PM
I think there may have been a falling out after the last election. This is strictly conjecture But the meeting with Madigan about the water project didn't include Dave. And I have a hazy memory of Madigan reportedly calling Dave promoting something (the law firm hiring maybe?) It seemed that Madigan was supporting Alex, Tom and Bob. Again my memory is hazy on the details but my impression was that Madigan was supporting the guys who had grown critical of Heilmann.
andy skoundrianos May 25, 2012 at 10:59 PM
You know Theorist,A 13 year old girl from Oak Lawn middle school died today for no reason but a tragic accident. Her school mates are crushed her parents have lost a daughter,the driver sadly will have this incident with him the rest of his life. Do you think they care what kind of deals are being made in the village?? I am only for Oak Lawn and its residents and today we lost one of our own....
QC May 26, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Here's the article you are referring to. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/ct-met-oak-lawn-mjm-20100626,0,6319109.story
Allan E May 26, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Andy, what happened to that poor young girl is indeed tragic. Being a parent, I cannot imagine the anguish and grief her parents are dealing with at this moment. You tying that horrific accident into this discussion is in poor taste and simply irrational.
QC May 26, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Madigan sponsored a fund raiser for Streit. Madigan agreed to serve as a sponsor of a fundraiser for Streit, a staunchly conservative trustee who acknowledges never before in his 19-year political career has he enjoyed the speaker's political support.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) May 26, 2012 at 03:46 AM
I think Andy is just trying to put local politics into perspective.
Oak Lawn Gal May 26, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Thanks QC that was what I was trying to remember :)
Dave W. May 26, 2012 at 05:03 AM
blippedojx, A few things. One, while you assail my character, you do not accurately portray my positions nor do you properly state the facts of what I've said. I never singled out any one trustee, for example. I think the whole board is open for suspicion because of the actions they have taken. Just as many others on this message board have. I guess calling them potentially crooked or disingenuous could be contrued as personal, so I guess you have me there. I never insulted anyone's intelligence...to the contrary, I've said that they insult OURS with how they act and with what they say to us. Perhaps they/you will figure out my 'secret identity'...congratulations? It isn't a matter of intelligence, either. I'm far more concerned with honesty and integrity. I actually think there is too much a premium put on how smart, how many degrees people have for elected office. I KNOW people that ran for a few things in town, and they were decent people who turned themselves into weak-kneed synchophants in the pursuit of being elected to ANYTHING. So I know it isn't about qualifications. Maybe I'm not qualified anyway. It is a whole more about who you know. It IS politics, after all. The public statments probably didn't help, either, but again, only IF they actually know who I am...really, only another agent would know who I am. In real life I'm pretty unassuming and quiet, even. I believe myself to average, but what would be so wrong with average people on a board?
Dave W. May 26, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Also, blippedojx, I would like to note that while you seem to 'out' me, you do so from a created 'just to bash Dave W.' profile. There is nothing on your sheet save for this solitary post. YET, you clearly read enough of these posts know what I've written before at least in concept, if you didn't actually get things like facts right. Now, LOTS of people use fake names on here...with rare exception. You are right, it probably wouldn't be that hard to figure out who I am. Okay...so what? You are such a coward that you changed your name just for this post because why? Because your regular screen name is one many regulars know, right? You are afraid of blowback from pouncing on me...which, is not only CRAZY, but seriously who CARES if you are jerky to me? This is a message board where the same 10-15 people come to complain with 10 or 15 others about the same 5-10 subjects. IF EVERYONE was mad at you, it would be maybe 25-30 people...oh no, how would you EVER recover? I'm actually doing better this year than last year but a good margin. (Last year was really bad, to be honest, so the standard isn't THAT crazy high...) I have clients from all over, I go anywhere, with plenty from outside of Oak Lawn, as well as plenty inside. Not really familiar with how real estate works, are you? Also, offending most residents? When did I EVER slam the random residents of Oak Lawn? Saying we get what we vote for is just the truth...which apparently you cannot handle.

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