In his first public remarks since sending out a press release of Fall On the Green, Oak Lawn Trustee Bob Streit, whose been accused of being cagey with the press, laid out his evidence at Tuesday’s village board meeting.
“Last week I called for a forensic audit … after being made aware of some very serious issues,” Streit said, Oak Lawn’s longest serving trustee and president pro temp.
“I was told that one trustee personally negotiated contracts with the bands. I was told that a trustee gave another trustee 130 free food vouchers and 780 beer tickets worth over $2,500,” Streit added.
Appointed the new chair of special events by the mayor, whom he lauded for taking the “first step toward cleaning up the special events committee by appointing Independent Village Trustee Robert Streit as chairman” and replacing “Trustee Thomas Phelan amid allegations of favoritism and wrong doing.”
At the May 22 village board meeting, Mayor Dave Heilmann said he had for Fall On the Green and excluding other elected officials because of a political vendetta. The annual community fall festival is funded by donations and sponsorships made to the village.
Phelan has since released Phelan said his “vender negotiations” were limited to soliciting bands, and that his name never appeared on any vendor contract connected with Fall On the Green.
“His seven pdf files actually raise more questions that answers,” Streit said.
Citing an email by Phelan to another village staff member dated Dec. 7, 2011 included among Phelan’s in-depth documentation, Streit said the correspondence actually proved that his village board colleague was involved in negotiating contracts "worth thousands of dollars."
“He writes and I quote, ‘I also want to stay involved with you on entertainment choices and negotiations because I think we are good at that and we can play good cop, bad cop when negotiating,’” Streit said.
Streit also repeated allegations he made in his press release that Phelan gave Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2) food and beer vouchers worth $2,455. The vouchers were distributed to 65 neighbors living adjacent to the village green as a token of thanks.
Streit said Phelan and Olejniczak made the decision without village board approval and that there was no record of residents receiving the vouchers.
In a letter from [Phelan’s] attorney threatening Streit with litigation for defamation and slander, Streit said that no village records matched the documentation provided by Phelan.
“I have requested those records from staff members in the village who have those records,” Streit said. If those records existed, they’re not in village files.”
Phelan disputed Streit’s remarks as “garbage.”
“In the seven years that I’ve sat here I’ve seen a lot of stunts and this is by far the ugliest, most slanderous and blatantly false,” Phelan said. “I do support forensic auditors looking at special events not just Fall On the Green because we’ve been in the practice for at least of a couple of years of comingling money … that’s a concern for me.”
The village board voted 5 to 1 to seek an independent forensic auditor, with Trustee Cindy Trautsch being the dissenting vote. She later expressed concern over the costs of paying for such an audit.
After the meeting, Streit said the Phelan, by issuing his documentation, was trying to interfere with process.
“He’s trying to control it up front,” he said.
Asked if were angry that he wasn’t given VIP tent tickets last year because he wasn’t a volunteer at the fest, Streit said he wasn’t invited to participate.
“We heard [Phelan] say tonight he’s been calling for an audit,” Streit said. “He’s been the special events and financial committee chair for years, he could have called it. You guys have to see through that.