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Trustee Is Upset with Mayor

Phelan Is Angry That He Is Removed from Oak Lawn Committee

Tempers flared during the Tuesday Oak Lawn Village Board meeting.

During the Village President’s Report, Mayor Dave Heilmann announced his 2012 board committee recommendations. Committee membership must be approved each May, though the Village Board can accept or reject the mayor’s recommendations.

Trustee Thomas Phelan (6th), who was apparently removed from the Finance Committee, asked Heilmann to explain the basis for his recommendations.

ÒThere isn’t a singular basis for anyone on the committee, but I can tell you there have been complaints about what goes on in the committees that impacted my choices,” Heilmann explained.

ÒIt’s about board members exceeding their authority by intervention,” stated Heilmann, specifically referring to Phelan’s participation in a bond underwriting session that Òhad staff members livid.”

ÒThat is not the role of a board member…you do not have the right to interject yourself into that just because you feel you have specialized knowledge,” he continued.

Heilmann also announced that he has received complaints that certain trustees were receiving VIP passes to special events in Oak Lawn and others were not based upon political affiliation.

Phelan was visibly and vocally upset that Heilmann waited until the night’s meeting to give his recommendations, but nevertheless addressed the issues that were raised.

ÒThe reason I participated in the bond call was to explain to the bond underwriters the reason for the village’s lack of cash balances because it was clear that the staff members may not have conveyed the information correctly,” Phelan explained.

ÒBy the way, that’s a field I actually work in, not unlike you, talking with, negotiating with, and recommending lawyers for the village,” said Phelan. ÒYou want to talk about overstepping your bounds?”

Phelan said he received permission from Village Manager Larry Deetjen to participate and said he thinks he was very effective.

Regarding the VIP passes, Phelan said he only gave extra tickets to those who gave their time and effort, namely Director of Public Works Steve Barrett and Director of Park Lawn Jim Weiss.

ÒNow if you’re talking about certain elected officials who were miffed because they didn’t get their extras, that’s not what this is about,” said Phelan. ÒAnd if you want to bring these types of allegations as a basis, it’s bull. It’s flat-out bull.

ÒOnce again, you don’t bring them up until now, in a blind-side 7 p.m., no basis, no rationalization,” Phelan continued.

Despite the debate, the motion passed and Heilmann’s recommendations were approved.

Earlier in the meeting, the Board attempted to get one step closer to ending the ever-continuing controversy surrounding the legal storm between the Village and law firm Tressler, Soderstrom, Maloney & Priess.

The legal dispute ended in April after the Village agreed to a $500,000 settlement after complaints of rising legal fees, but the controversy surrounding the settlement is far from over.

Godfrey & Kahn was hired to conduct a second investigation into alleged billing inflation and legal malpractice after Burt Odelson’s firm concluded the Village suffered serious economic consequences under Tresssler.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, however, attorney Paul O’Grady announced that the report would be discussed only during executive session because of a signed confidentiality agreement.

The Board tabled a motion to approve a date for a special meeting without first seeing the report, though it is expected to be held within the next two months.

Long-time Oak Lawn resident Andy Skoundrianos asked whether residents will get the opportunity to see the report during the public comments portion of the meeting.

ÒI think we have a right as citizens and taxpayers to see that report. It involves our money and we should be able to see it,” he stated.

O’Grady explained that there is an exception under the Open Meetings Act that allows executive session meetings to remain confidential.

Skoundrianos says he plans to make a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to gain access to the report.

In other news, the Village will be switching from Veolia Environmental Services to Allied Waste Management after the contract went out to bid.

Both companies are working with the Village to make the transition as smooth as possible, and Allied has agreed to fund a written communication that will be sent to the residents notifying them of the change.

An Allied representative said the company is committed to making the transition as smooth as possible, even following current routes to keep pick-up days/times as similar as possible.

The transition should be final by October.

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