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Argue Over Pension, Repairs

Bob Streit Is in Center of Debates with Other Oak Lawn Trustees

Oak Lawn Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) arrived a few minutes late for the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting on Tuesday night.

However, Streit wasted little time in stirring the pot as tempers flared during several debates with other trustees over public policy. strong>{{more}}

Streit said he is concerned about Òmatters that we don’t have enough information.”

The trustee was also involved in several other heated exchanges during the May 28 meeting, which was the first under the new administration of Mayor Sandra Bury.

ÒThis administration has stated that there will be more transparency,” said Streit. ÒThis is an obvious attempt to hide things from the trustees. What is it this administration wants to keep from the public?”

A debate followed over when to bring items to be placed on the agenda for the Oak Lawn Board meetings. Streit felt that some items are being discussed in which he has no prior knowledge.

Village Clerk Jane Quinlan said it is imperative that items be placed on the agenda in advance. If not, it becomes a Ònightmare” and she assured Streit that nothing will get by her at the last minute.

But for most of the evening, verbal battles continued between Streit and Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) and Mike Carberry, the new trustee for the 6th District.

Streit questioned the credentials of Pat O’Donnell, who was being considered as the new village treasurer. He said that O’Donnell’s eventual appointment is because he contributed to Bury’s campaign and is a friend of Tom Phelan, the former 6th District trustee.

Carberry took issue with those comments.

ÒPat O’Donnell is someone I do know, but I think he is qualified,” said Carberry. ÒHe didn’t support me (in his campaign) and I don’t know who he did support. He is a tireless worker. His character is without question.”

O’Donnell was approved later by the board to become the new treasurer by a 4-2 margin. Streit and Trustee Carol Quinlan (5th) were the only Òno” votes. O’Donnell replaces Jim McGovern, who had served as treasurer for seven years.

Another debate ensued over a resolution to terminate the participation by elected officials in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

The board approved the measure to eliminate the pensions but not without some discussion.

Carberry said that pensions for part-time politicians are not necessary. He added that with the ongoing pension problems going on in the state, Oak Lawn could lead the way in helping the taxpayers.

Those officials currently receiving pensions will continue to receive them. Future employees will not.

Carol Quinlan said she has no problem with the decision but does have some concerns.

ÒIf the board makes this decision, there is no going back. It may be fine now, but to speak for people 15 years from now their situations may be different. It’s something to think about.”

She also told Carberry that being a trustee is far from having a part-time job. Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) agreed.

ÒI agree with Carol, but this is a public servant job,” he said.

Streit again verbally sparred with Carberry and later Olejniczak over pensions. But his comments over Carberry’s pension with Cook County drew the ire of the board, although Carberry insisted Streit finish.

ÒYou are a class act,” Carberry told Streit sarcastically.

Even village health benefit came under question as Streit said board members who have approved eliminating pensions are hypocritical. He referred to a trustee who is currently unemployed and has health benefits through the village.

Olejniczak responded that he is currently out of work but plans to drop the plan when he finds employment. He was visibly agitated by Streit’s remarks and at one point referred to him as a Òlow life.”

He also took issue with Streit when he led a committee for the Fall on the Green Festival. Olejniczak said he is going to file a complaint over what he claimed was Streit’s misappropriation of funds.

Distribution of funds for infrastructure projects also was questioned by Carol Quinlan, who thought that Olejniczak’s 2nd District was being disbursed more money than other districts.

ÒWhen we started looking at these numbers, they just don’t add up,” Carol Quinlan said. ÒThat’s why I was a huge supporter of splitting up the reallocation of funds.”

Streit jumped into this fray as well, stating that a full 60 percent of funds are going to Olejniczak’s 2nd District and Òwhere the mayor lives.”

Village Manager Larry Deetjen said that expenditures in the 2nd District actually have been greatly reduced.

ÒRather than an equal distribution, (repairs) were recommended by village engineers,” said Deetjen. ÒThat’s how we came up with the improvements. Next year, we go over the whole process again.”

Carberry stated that trustees should not question the motives of village engineers, who he said do a great job. The decisions made on infrastructure improvements are not politically motivated, he added.

Olejniczak still has concerns with ComEd over a power outage that occurred in his district this spring. He said that ComEd officials been evasive and have given incoherent answers to the power outage that occurred that caused many residents thousands of dollars.

ÒJust because the weather is bad, that does not mean ComEd can’t put out reliable service,” said Olejniczak. ÒComEd is not putting money into our infrastructure. What ComEd hides behind is, this was an isolated incident. We as a community need to stand up to ComEd.”

Olejniczak said he is going to contact the Illinois Commerce Commission about ComEd. He also does not buy ComEd’s explanation that the power outage may have been caused by wild life, possibly raccoons.

In other news, the board approved an amendment to village’s code regarding signs and advertising structures.

Several business owners during the opening public comments segment stated that allowing for no signs to be placed outside their shops have hurt businesses financially.

Some businesses do not have the resources to have marquees outside their businesses, some of the owners stated.

The board approved a parking variation for McDonald’s at 10549 S. Cicero Ave., while tabling a parking variation for Group’s Penny Place, 6346 W. 95th St., stating that they need more information.

Board members were in agreement about Heather Green, the village’s arborist and Green Team Committee member.

All had kind words for Green’s dedication and hard work. Green is moving to New Hampshire.

She will be replaced by Matt Basile, a graduate of Chicago Agricultural High School and the University of Illinois, where he was on the dean’s list.

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