The Oak Lawn Village Board must immediately adopt a formal policy of 100% transparency of government. Conflicts of interest must be disclosed before items are voted on at Village Board meetings. Elected officials must NEVER use their office or public resources for personal enrichment.
I have recently received information from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that reveal yet another blatant and astounding misuse of public funds for the personal and financial gain of our Village President, Mayor Dave Heilmann. The details are well researched and outlined in the pdf documents which accompany this article. A summary appears immediately below.
Mayor Heilmann and “Speeders Fight Back”
In 2009 Mayor Heilmann secretly signed Contracts, Releases and Agreements to allow the “Speeders Fight Back” TV program to be filmed at Oak Lawn Village Hall. The deal that Mayor Heilmann struck would pay him personally as much as $33,000 if the show produced the full 33 episodes, the first time a Village of Oak Lawn employee or elected official ever got paid by the Speeders program.
Mayor Heilmann never consulted with nor sought approval from the Village Manager and Trustees, and it appears he never sought the advice or counsel of the Village attorneys, either, despite the significant legal risks detailed in the contracts and agreements.
Then for a period of almost two months the “Speeders Fight Back” producers used Village resources to film their show, with Mayor Heilmann acting as the point person and even given a “Consultant” designation in the show’s credits. When Trustees learned about the production they were told the Mayor was asked to "fill in for the judge role because the real actor had to cancel at the last minute."
Unfortunately for Village taxpayers Mayor Heilmann forgot to cut them in on his deal. The Village received nothing from the show, except for multiple complaints about the production by people doing business at Village Hall, and bad reviews over how negatively Oak Lawn was portrayed when the show aired.
But my FOIAs revealed something even more inappropriate; Mayor Heilmann personally directed the use of Village employees to be used in the filming, and they often had to work on weekends to accommodate what one producer referred to as “Judge Dave’s very busy schedule.”
This weekend work alone cost the Village taxpayers more than $4,000 in documented overtime costs. This overtime was supposed to be reimbursed to the Village, but records show it never was.
And these weren't the only employees to do work on the show on tax-payer funded time. The evidence shows that a dozen-plus village employees may have done some type of work on the show during their regular work hours, effectively using tax-payer funds to put thousands of dollars into the Mayor Heilmann’s pockets.
And if all this wasn’t bad enough for the Oak Lawn taxpayers, Mayor Heilmann actually directed the police chief and finance director to pay for a traffic ticket that one of the employees of the show received while they were filming in Oak Lawn!
All of this is detailed in the pdf attachments to this document. There is a time-line that makes the events easy to understand, as well as a pdf of emails and copies of all agreements and contracts. It is important information for every resident of Oak Lawn to become familiar with. The attachments illustrate:
- How Mayor Heilmann signed multiple contracts and agreements on behalf of the Village despite having NO AUTHORITY to do so
- How Mayor Heilmann recklessly agreed to have Oak Lawn assume all risks associated with the Program, risks that “may include injury, disability, and death” per the terms of the Agreement the mayor signed.
- How Mayor Heilmann purposely excluded the Village Manager and Trustees from the Production and mislead them about his own involvement.
- How he directed the show’s producers to fax his $1,000 per-episode contract to his downtown law office, instead of to Village Hall.
- How he signed documents as “Mayor” but listed his home address and home phone number instead of the Village.
- How he wanted to blow-off an important meeting with Congressman Lipinski so he could “tape his Speeders show instead”
- How his secretary did so much work on the show that she once lamented how many emails and phone calls she had to make on just one scheduled taping.
- How he directed his secretary to mislead the Village Manager and Trustees about the production.
I publicly call upon the Village of Oak Lawn Board of Trustees to do the right thing and immediately censure Mayor Dave Heilmann for these actions, urge that they prosecute any wrongdoing to the fullest extent of the law, hold Mayor Heilmann accountable for any and all costs associated with the filming of the “Speeders Fight Back” program, and demand immediate reimbursement for those costs as well as a return to taxpayers any monies paid to Mayor Heilmann through the use of these public resources.
In addition, Mayor Heilmann and all other Village Officials must immediately disclose any other instances, past or present, where their efforts are personally benefitting themselves, family or business interests at taxpayer expense.
Sandra Bury, OD
Dr. Sandra Bury is running for mayor of the Village of Oak Lawn in April 2013.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author. Oak Lawn Patch invites ALL candidates running for local offices in the April 2013 election to blog or submit letters to the editor or op-eds anytime. Please contact local editor at Lorraine Swanson at email@example.com.