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Continue Debate on Pensions

Oak Lawn Village Board Also OKs Construction of Bank and a Walgreens

In between heated discussions about Robert’s Rules of Order, the recent decision to eliminate pensions for part-time jobs such as mayor and trustee, and conflict of interest and personnel issues, the Oak Lawn Village board approved zoning variances and other details required to allow a new bank and a Walgreens to be built on 95th Street, near McVicker Avenue.

Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) also gave an update on the efforts of the village to get answers from ComEd regarding power outages in the village in March and June, following a meeting with utility officials last week.

ÒOak Lawn officials requested that ComEd partner with Oak Lawn” to find a solution to the chronic problem, said Olejniczak. He said ComEd has still not provided details about the power surge in Oak Lawn that ComEd blamed on a raccoon chewing wires.

ÒIt’s very obvious that the infrastructure is aged and antiquated,” said the trustee, noting that during a tour of the village with ComEd officials, they saw utility poles dating back to the 1940s and ’50s. Some had not been inspected for 14 or 15 years, when 10 years is supposed to be the longest interval between inspections, he said.

ÒWe’ve requested an overview of infrastructure upgradesÉWe’ll make sure we hold them accountable,” said Olejniczak, who said village officials want residents who lost perishable foods and equipment during the outages Òto be made whole.”

The arguing began when, during his report, Trustee Robert Streit (3rd) criticized the recent 4-2 decision of the board to do away with state pensions for trustees, the mayor and other part-time personnel. He said the pension plan only costs the village $2,000 out of a $50 million annual budget, and will do nothing to solve the state pension reform issue.

ÒThe last thing Oak Lawn needs is a Springfield solution to a problem that doesn’t exist,” he said. ÒWhat you’ve done is pretend there is a problem and offer a solution.”

ÒI absolutely support pension reform, but not political gimmicks,” said Streit, who singled out Trustee Mike Carberry (6th) for criticism, saying the former state representative voted for the state income tax increase but did nothing about the pension reform issue during the 10 months he spent in Springfield.

Carberry, who was appointed to replace retiring State Rep. James D. Brosnahan (D-36th) in March 2010, held the post until the following January. He said he doesn’t mind criticism but took issue with being held up as the Òposter boy” as a former state representative, and contended he had a valid reason for proposing that the pensions for part-timers be dropped.

He pointed out that under the present system, someone could serve on a part-time basis as trustee or mayor for 26 years, followed by four years as a full-time state employee, and then retire with a state pension based on the full-time salary.

ÒA lot of people don’t know that can be done, but it is done. I’ve seen it.” He said he pushed for eliminating part-time pensions Òas a symbolism, so we can ask others to do the same. And it will save the state and pension funds a great deal of money,” said Carberry, insisting his comments would be the last he will make on the subject.

Another heated discussion broke out when Trustee Carol Quinlan (5th) brought up a personnel matter involving Chad Weiler, the director of business operations,

She said she would like to ask Village Manager Larry Deetjen why, on July 2, he gave Weiler Òa retirement and release form, giving him 21 days to sign it, when he is only 53 years old.”

Mayor Sandra Bury and village attorney Paul O’Grady both urged Quinlan to wait until executive session to discuss the topic privately, but Quinlan said Weiler, who was not at the meeting, gave her permission to discuss it. She asked when the board was going to be told of the matter, since it was not on the agenda.

Quinlan also said the move was Òpolitical retribution,” asserting that Weiler was told he was Òin a pickle” because he had a campaign sign for former Mayor Dave Heilmann and Missy Moran, his candidate for village clerk instead of one for Clerk Jane Quinlan, who won the election.

Deetjen did not comment on the issue, but Jane Quinlan told the trustee, ÒThere is absolutely no truth to your comments regarding the matter. This is enough, the election is over.”

A discussion of Robert’s Rules of Order, the directions for running public meetings, also became heated, with Streit and Quinlan asserting that the mayor treats them differently than her allies on the board.

For her part, Bury said she was trying to maintain order and move the meetings along, and said the two trustees were selective in the rules they said should be followed.

After the meeting, Bury said it was Òexceedingly reckless and frankly malicious to speak about the matter involving Weiler. ÒThis seasoned trustee is well aware of the sensitive nature of personnel issues and one can only assume her actions were to make this Village deliberately more vulnerable to litigation, which is shocking and, if true, questions if she is representing her loyalty to former elected officials over consideration to the needs of the citizens who elected her.”

ÒDespite the efforts by a few trustees to turn these business meetings into the Jerry Springer show,” Bury pointed to the Òvery positive things” that happened at the meeting.

ÒWe will have a new and stunning Walgreens and First Midwest Bank building on 95th Street. We will have a robust conflict of interest policy that will stop the pay-to-play in Oak Lawn. We will come together to fight to preserve pension benefits for the next generation of Village employees.”

During the meeting, she also unveiled the new Village of Oak Lawn Facebook page, and noted that during the two-hour meeting, the page received hundreds of likes.

She also led congratulations for Oak Lawn native Brian Bogusevic, whose contract was bought by the Chicago Cubs.

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