By TOM PHELAN
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.-- Winston Churchill
I am taking this opportunity to respond to the litany of LIES that Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann has been putting forth in his campaign for re-election, the latest being his April 5th Oak Lawn Patch editorial, but in actuality going back to July of 2009 when my fellow Trustees and I discovered a massive fraud and cover-up perpetrated by Dave Heilmann related to the legal representation of his lawyer friends.
To address ALL of Heilmann’s LIES would require the entire editorial section of the Oak Lawn Patch, and probably every other community Patch from here to the Wisconsin border.
So for purposes of this response I am focusing on the more obvious and despicable LIES, beginning in September of 2005 when Heilmann fired the former Village Attorneys and replaced them with his lawyer friends, friends whose municipal experience amounted to being friends with Dave Heilmann.
To be absolutely clear – EVERYTHING you will read below is supported by extensive documentation and official reports (Legal Investigation, Village Meeting Minutes, Village Audits, etc).
Unlike Dave Heilmann who relies on distortion, innuendo, and outright lies.
I’m tempted to use a Letterman-like “Top-10” format in laying out the Heilmann’s Lies here, but there is NOTHING humorous about what I am going to say. So I am just listing them and asking that you take the time to read all of them, if you truly want to know what happened in Oak Lawn and what the REAL TRUTH is:
Dave Heilmann Lie: “Trustee Tom Phelan hacked into the Village’s Emergency Alert System and sent political emails disparaging to Mayor Heilmann.”
- One of the more bizarre and paranoid accusations and slanders of Dave Heilmann’s campaign, and perhaps could be left at that if he didn’t direct the Oak Lawn police department to conduct a “full-scale investigation”. In other words, he used your tax dollars – and valuable police time that could have otherwise been directed toward REAL Safety issues - to do his political work.
- Regardless, and not surprising to anyone except Dave Heilmann, the police department determined that his claims were absurd:
“After checking the header on the various emails that had been sent, it was learned that none of the political emails had originated from a Village computer system. The Village of Oak Lawn IT Department and the Director of Communications were also consulted and after careful examination it was learned that there was not an unauthorized access/breach of the system. Furthermore there would be no way an individual would be able to access/breach the Village Emergency Contact Service without a notification being made and a record of who and when the system had been accessed / breached.”
Oak Lawn Police Detective W. R. PALMER (2075)
Oak Lawn Police Supervisor M. KAUFMANN (2014)
Complaint #12-08012; January 16th, 2013
Dave Heilmann Lie: “Dr. Sandra Bury’s campaign is being managed by Trustee Tom Phelan whose computer records revealed him to be the author the ‘$10 Million Too Late’ literature”
- Another paranoid delusion where Dave Heilmann would have you believe he has access to my “computer records”. Although it is somewhat believable since he has spent the past 2 years (at his $50,000 a year tax-payer funded salary) prying into the email records of Village employees and elected officials. That’s right, the person jumping up and down and hurling accusations about “hacking” has been routinely breaking into my email account and those of dozens of other village officials and employees. But hey, don’t worry – Dave Heilmann believes he has “the law” on his side, citing a state statute that gives him the power to “review Village records,” and twisting that authority into a belief that he can break into email accounts.
- As to the accusation that I authored Sandra Bury’s “$10 Million Too Late” report, as attorney Burt Odelson just recently said in a letter to Oak Lawn residents, Dave Heilmann is the real author of that report, because they are 100% his words, his actions, and his misdeeds. I did ask Dr. Bury for a copy of her report and converted it into a PDF document that I absolutely forwarded to several friends and family in Oak Lawn. If you haven’t read it yet you should. If you want TRUTH instead of LIES.
Dave Heilmann Lie: “I (Dave Heilmann) didn’t hire the new lawyers in 2005. The Trustees voted on the Village Manager’s recommendation and approved it.”
- Email communications discovered by Odelson & Sterk attorneys show this to be not only an out-right lie, but in fact a conspiracy by Dave Heilmann and his attorney friends to “get around” the issue of the Village Manager hiring the Village Attorneys.
- The Trustees NEVER voted on anything. Village attorneys are hired by the Village Manager, and the Village Manager at the time, Lynn Krauss, told the attorneys handling the Legal Investigation that Dave Heilmann directed him to hire Heilmann’s friends as the Village Attorneys.
- Lynn Krauss also told the investigators that he disagreed with the decision and would not have done it if Dave Heilmann didn’t pressure him to do so.
Dave Heilmann Lie: “When the new lawyers were hired in 2005 no one had a problem with it”
- Several Trustees had “a problem” with it, including me, as evidenced by the questions and concerns we raised in the closed meetings when Heilmann introduced them.
- Former Trustee Jerry Hurckes very pointedly asked what experience they had, and Dave Heilmann and his attorney friends blatantly lied about it.
- Former Trustee Marge Joy was actually quoted in the paper (Daily Southtown) the next day saying what a bad decision it was.
Dave Heilmann Lie: “When the Trustees voted to change lawyers in 2009 I told them they were doing something criminal and I discovered emails between Trustees Olejniczak and Phelan where they used phrases like “This scares the hell out of me” and "are we covered?". I don’t know what they were talking about but it sounds criminal to me”.
- Sad and desperate is one way to describe this statement, a statement Dave Heilmann actually wrote in his political literature. Slanderous and knowingly false is another.
- Below you will find the actual and entire email exchange that Heilmann is referring to, and it’s not between Trustee Olejniczak and me, but Trustee Bob Streit and me, which I forwarded to Trustee Olejniczak.
- Trustee Streit initiated the exchange after the July 14th 2009 Board meeting where Dave Heilmann’s lawyer friends told the Village that we may not be covered (insurance) on the lawsuit filed by a female Oak Lawn firefighter.
- Prior to this Board meeting and for the 4+ years before that, Mayor Heilmann’s lawyer friends told Trustees and Village Management that we did have insurance coverage. But the legal investigation showed that the Village received multiple “Denials of Coverage” letters that the Trustees were never told about, including several that were sent to Dave Heilmann.
- During the 7-14-09 Board meeting Trustee Olejniczak asked the lawyers “DO WE HAVE COVERAGE?” The contradictory answers from the 5 lawyers in the room - including Dave Heilmann – scared everyone witless. And would eventually cost the Village more than $2 million.
From: Bob Streit
To: Tom Phelan
Sent: Jul 15, 2009 6:17 AM
If there was any question in anyone's mind about the need to change attorneys, all doubt would have been removed last night. That was the most unsettling meeting I have ever attended. The single largest potential liability we have ever faced and the two Dave's (Heilmann and Freeman) were clueless. This is truly a rudderless legal ship. They should have been fired last night.
From: Tom Phelan
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2009 2:13 PM
To: Bob Streit
Absolutely agree. It was an embarrassment. And it couldn't have come at a better time as far as demonstrating how dysfunctional and incompetent they are, including Chimenti, who once again argued both sides of the issue, back and forth, until I point blank asked him if he agreed with Larry and he said he didn't, despite telling Larry that he did going into the meeting, during a conversation where he was begging to be retained.
Chimenti also made a not-so-veiled threat to Larry in saying "you would be wise not to align yourself with 'those four guys' if you want to stay in Oak Lawn". Unbelievable. But to me the most significant development was Dave reeling after making one significant blundering statement after another, "correcting" me sternly, then having it dawn on him that all his finger-wagging about "I'm the ONLY one qualified to make decisions on the legal matters" had come home to roost.
How many times did you hear him back-pedal after the wheels came off? "I am not an insurance coverage expert." "This stuff scares the hell out of me". And the best "I haven't even looked at this stuff - Janazewski - for more than a year". I almost vomited.
From: Tom Phelan
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2009 2:55 PM
To: Alex Olejniczak
See email exchange above. I will call you back within the hour. Tied up for now. But we need to move quickly. Your question about "are we covered now" scares the hell out of me.
Dave Heilmann Lie: “The irresponsible votes of some board members lead to two criminal FBI investigations”.
- Dave Heilmann has repeatedly cited 2 FBI investigations in his campaign for re-election and said and implied that his political enemies were the targets.
- On April 18th 2011, Attorney Burt Odelson presented the Final Report of his investigation into the former Village Attorneys, Dave Heilmann’s friends. Mayor Heilmann was absent from that meeting, just as he was from 20+ other meetings while the investigation took place. In his absence Trustee Bob Streit served as President Pro-Tem, and after Burt Odelson finished Bob Streit said:
“In my 20 years on the board, I have never seen anything like it. It’s worse than I expected. Clear evidence was presented in the report that indicated a misrepresentation by the law firm and gross mismanagement of the legal team that went to the highest level of village government. We already knew that the mayor brought in his friends to serve as lawyers for the village, but unfortunately the taxpayers paid dearly for it. We are going to pursue this matter to the highest levels of law enforcement.” And a few weeks later the FBI served the Village with a subpoena.
- The second FBI subpoena arrived on December 13, 2012, just 2 days after Dave Heilmann cast the tie-breaking vote to award a $170,000 roofing contract to Trustee Bob Streit’s brother. Despite the existence of 3 LOWER BIDS, clearly marked on the Memo to the Board.
- Do you know who was NEVER accused, brought in, or even interviewed by the FBI for EITHER of these investigations?
- Village Clerk Jane Quinlan
- Village Manager Larry Deetjen
- Trustee Alex Olejniczak
- Trustee Tom Duhig
- Trustee Tom Phelan
It’s a shame the same thing can’t be said for Dave Heilmann and Bob Streit.
Dave Heilmann Lie: “Tom Phelan’s wife got a job at HS District 218 in exchange for Mike Stillman’s firm getting the Village Legal business.”
- It’s difficult to identify which of Dave Heilmann’s many despicable statements is the most despicable, but this one is right up there. Right up there with his repeated use of his own wife’s illness in campaign literature, and accusing his mayoral opponent Dr. Sandra Bury of “lacking insight into the job of mayor” because she doesn’t have children.
- For more than 3 years Dave Heilmann he has hurled this slander at my wife, who is one of the most honest and hard-working people I have ever known. As to the specifics of my wife’s job at HS District 218
- She applied for 4 jobs there going back to 2007 (applications tracked by school’s HR System).
- She didn’t get ANY of those jobs, and Mike Stillman was the Board president the entire time.
- She was hired in January of 2009, several months AFTER Mike Stillman left the 218 Board for a position on the Worth Township Board.
- Her job is part-time (seasonal) and grant-funded and always subject to the possibility of being eliminated due to lack of state funding.
- At the time of her hire, and after paying for our son’s daycare, she netted about $11 per hour.
- And finally, and most significantly, we didn’t discover the problems with the former Village attorneys (Dave Heilmann’s friends) until 6 months after my wife got hired.
- As to the hiring of Mike Stillman’s firm to replace Dave Heilmann’s friends, that was entirely Village Manager Larry Deetjen’s decision, by choice and by law, versus September 2005 when Dave Heilmann forced Village Manager Lynn Krauss to hire his friends.
- For my part I couldn’t have cared less who Larry Deetjen hired as the new attorneys, and said so repeatedly at Board meetings and in written communications, several of them to Dave Heilmann. Some excerpted examples are below (all of which can be found on the Village email server):
From: Tom Phelan
Date: Fri, 3 Jul 2009 03:12:25
To: Bob Streit
I don't care if Stillman's firm gets selected and told Larry that an RFP would be fine with me, with the idea that Larry will need to be the one most comfortable with the attorneys, so he can choose who he wants...
From: Tom Phelan
To: Dave Heilmann
Sent: Fri, Jul 24, 2009 7:12 pm
Subject: Re: Querrey firm/Village Attorney
I have made one thing very clear to Larry, Brian, and the other Trustees who I have spoken to about this issue: I could care less what law firm this Village brings in, as long as the current ones are replaced…
It is CRITICALLY important that you know this again: I could care less who we bring in, as long as it's someone new, and as long as Larry has trust that the firm that is brought in INCLUDES him and COMMUNICATES with him. Because as it stands that isn't happening, and the lawyers have been obviously told to only communicate with you, or with your first.
And given your pre-existing friendships with them, they obviously have put their friendships ahead of their legal obligations to represent the entire Board.
From: Tom Phelan
Sent: Saturday, August 08, 2009 11:22 AM
To: Larry Deetjen
Subject: QandH Proposal
Lar - Reviewed the proposal you sent us yesterday and have some concerns:
These need to be addressed and agreed to in writing before I can buy off on this, especially given all the accusations that I am trying to push QandH. Which for the record, and for the umpteenth time (at least 3 in writing), I want it clear to all involved that I don't care who gets picked, so long as we get new general counsel.
From: Tom Phelan
To: Dave Heilmann
Sent: Tue 8/11/2009 2:05 PM
I have made it pointedly clear to you, Larry, and everyone else involved that my desire was simply new counsel. I could care less if it's QandH or anyone else, and have said so repeatedly.
I went through every detailed Tressler invoice on both the Janazewski case and the Insurance/SRO case. No where will you see Gail Paul's name. Nor Ron Heller. And nowhere on the details of the Nov 2008 invoices do you see any "communicating" with the Village on this issue.
Which means they are lying about this. Which I believe means we have a basis on which we can go after them for legal malpractice. Maybe we tell them that they can keep the $1 million I fees, but they are now responsible for all future costs of settling/fighting the case, and the legal work required to do either/both.
I also saw in looking at the invoices a clear case of duplicate billing, where the same work - same attorney, same day, same work - was charged to the Januszewski invoice and the SRO Napa invoice. I stopped looking for more as I believe a formal audit is necessary.
I share all of this with you so that you have a better understanding of this situation and, from at least my perspective, why I am so angered over how this is playing out. My hope from the beginning was that all of these matters would be handled professionally and diplomatically with all parties involved, and not play out constantly in the news. That remains my hope going into tonight's meeting and beyond, all personal, political, and party feelings and loyalties aside.
From: Larry Deetjen
Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 8:13 AM
To: Dave Heilmann-Forward
Cc: Tom Phelan; Jerry Hurckes; Alex Olejniczak; Carol Quinlan; Tom Duhig; Robert Streit
Subject: Re: Legal
Mayor, with all due respect there has never been any confusion on my part. I have spoken to the Illinois Municipal League "twice", 3 out of state law firms, and no less than 10 Illinois law firms. In addition, the references for Querrey and Harrow were impeccable. The original information you provided me in early July regarding the appointment of village attorney and Illinois was inaccurate, however, I chose the high road and sought to do my best under the circumstances and direction given by the Governing Body and move forward with a recommendation for the Board's consideration. I accept the decision and will do my best to implement adopted policy in the very best interest of the residents of Oak Lawn. Larry.
Dave Heilmann Lie: “The allegation that $10 Million was lost is a Lie. It would show up in the Village’s financial statements.”
- It is not a Lie, and it does show up in the Village’s financial statements.
- And the actual cost and economic damages would have been closer to $15 MILLION if the new attorneys didn’t discover and correct the mistakes and blunders made by Heilmann’s friends.
ACTUAL COSTS OF LEGAL REPRESENTATION FROM DAVE HEILMANN”S FRIENDS"
*Note: Includes full settlement of female FF lawsuit
ADDITIONAL COSTS & DAMAGES FROM LEGAL REPRESENTATION
Cost / Damages
Mishandling Target Incentive Financing (1)
Home Depot Bonds
Home Depot Bonds - Mishandled Tax Collection (2)
OLFD Arbitration Award - OT Back-pay (3)
OLFD Arbitration Award - Rehiring of Laid Off FFs (4)
*Notes: Amounts above don’t include the legal fees charged by new attorneys to correct the mistakes and blunders of the old attorneys.
(1) TARGET cost/damage could have been more than $4 million if new attorneys didn’t discover and correct the screw-up, a screw-up that Dave Heilmann clearly knew about but kept silent.
(2) Home Depot cost/damage could have been more than $1 million if new attorneys didn’t discover and correct the screw-up
(3) Amount could have been more than $1 million (OLFD Demand) but for the excellent work of the new attorneys
(4) Amount could have been $750,000 if one laid-off FF wasn't on permanent disability
Dave Heilmann Lie: “Trustee Hurckes is telling LIES for political gain.”
*March, 2009 - Mayoral race between Jerry Hurckes and Dave Heilmann, in response to Jerry Hurckes’ political literature alleging that $1.6 million was spent on legal fees in 2008
Fiscal Year 2008
Legal Fees Reported to Trustees
Actual Legal Fees
Hidden Legal Fees
2008 Village Meeting Minutes & Internal Financial Statements
2008 RSM McGladrey Village Audit
Dave Heilmann Lie: “We didn’t raise your Property Taxes for 6 straight years.”
- Over the course of 6 years (from 2006 to 2011) Dave Heilmann repeatedly stated that the Village DID NOT RAISE YOUR PROPERTY TAXES.
- He said this in writing (A Community United newsletter, political mailings) and verbally during Board meetings, State of the Village addresses, etc.
- Below is the Village Property Tax Levy for the years 2007 through 2009. Note the $1.7 million+ increase from 2008 to 2009, at exactly the same time that almost $1 million in legal fees were being hidden from the Trustees (see “LIE” above)
Property Tax Levy
Source: Cook County Treasurer's Office
- When I discovered this in October 2010 (after receiving the 2nd installment of my own 2009 Tax Bill) I called for a Forensic Audit of the Village’s Legal Fees & Tax Levy.
- The lawyers handling the legal investigation advised that we wait until their work was complete before doing this, and in July of 2012, upon completion of the legal investigation and receipt of the $500,000 settlement from Dave Heilmann’s attorney friends, I again called for a Forensic Audit of the Village’s Legal Fees & Tax Levy.
- But by this time Dave Heilmann and Bob Streit had joined forces, and with the Mayor’s other new ally on the Board, appointed 1st District Trustee Cindy Trautsch, Dave Heilmann had a new board majority who voted AGAINST THE AUDIT.
- And voted instead to audit the Fall on the Green Festival, with Cindy Trautsch – a CPA – casting the deciding vote in both cases.
Dave Heilmann Lie: “In 2005 I (Dave Heilmann) proposed the redevelopment of the 111th & Cicero property”
- Arguably the most brazen of the Dave Heilmann Lies, and also the most sad and desperate.
- Dave Heilmann’s contribution to the 111th & Cicero Development amounted to a lawsuit where his lawyer friends made $300,000 and angered every property owner on the site.
- There is a litany of people who did the real work on this, and Heilmann doesn’t even make the top 10: Larry Deetjen, Gus Sundermeier, Ed Folliard, Chad Weiler, Carol Quinlan, and on and on.
- But as far as who PROPOSED the idea, below is my FIRST political mailer from March 2005, followed by an excerpt of a Village Board meeting in August 2005:
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES #2005-15 - TUESDAY - AUGUST 9, 2005
On the 110th & Cicero property Trustee Phelan discussed redeveloping that whole area…Trustee Phelan talked about possibly trying to bring in “Lifestyle Development Stores”, which would be a mix of specialty shops and thought that this concept would be good for the area. Instead of just trying to fill odd lots Trustee Phelan suggested developing all of the property instead of lease signs here and there throughout the property.
Dave Heilmann Lie: “Tom Phelan is a disgruntled Trustee who just wants to be Mayor.”
- This actually is partially true, although disgruntled doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about what Dave Heilmann has done to Oak Lawn. On the “wants to be mayor” bit, he couldn’t be more off base, and to me this speaks to his arrogance and insecurity, because in Dave Heilmann’s world there are only 3 kinds of people: co-stars, jury members, and political threats.
- To be mayor of Oak Lawn you need to be truly committed to Oak Lawn, not in words and photo opportunities, but in deeds and actions. You need to be there for the people of Oak Lawn, especially when no one is looking or cameras aren’t rolling. You need to be collaborative and welcoming, open to alternative opinions and competing ideas. You need to attend meetings where matters important to Oak Lawn are discussed and decided, like the Southwest Conference of Mayor’s Meetings and the “Meet the Legislators” day in Springfield.
- And Dave Heilmann isn’t ANY of those things. He is an Actor. And a Phony. And a Pretender.
- And one of the DRIVING forces behind my decision NOT to run again for Trustee was to be able to say this to Oak Lawn residents and not do it for my own political gain or re-election. Which is not stopping Dave Heilmann from trying to make this campaign about me, based upon his obsession with me in his political mailings.
These are not matters of Opinion, but statements of Fact, first-hand Facts borne out of my 8-years of service along-side Dave Heilmann.
Tom Phelan is the outgoing two-term, Dist. 6 trustee on the Oak Lawn Village Board. The views expressed in this rebuttal are those of the author.
All local candidates are welcome to post editorials, blogs, events and announcements on Oak Lawn Patch. For more information, contact editor Lorraine Swanson.