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Dispatchers Worry About Jobs

Attorney Says More Discussions Are Needed with Oak Lawn Officials

Budget recommendations that were raised during the Aug. 13 Oak Lawn Village Board meeting have drawn concerns from 911 dispatchers who believe their jobs may be lost through outsourcing.

Attorney Ronald Cicinelli, who represents the Metropolitan Alliance of Police (MAP) that includes the village’s 911 dispatchers and non-police personnel, is aware of budget concerns in Oak Lawn. {{more}}

But Cicinelli, who grew up on Chicago’s Northwest Side and is a former suburban police officer, said that 911 dispatchers should not be exclusively targeted for outsourcing and that there is room for discussion.

Cicinelli said that MAP is under contract in Oak Lawn through Dec. 31. He said discussions on coming up with alternatives may begin as early as Monday.

ÒWe ratified the existing contract right around November of 2012,” said Cicinelli. ÒThat took about two years of long negotiations.”

However, in December the village advised the chapter that they would like to talk again. It was about a month later that Cicinelli said that he was told by village officials about their budget concerns.

Cicinelli said that he was told that the village retained the services of Ronald Bloom, of PSAP Concepts and Solutions. Bloom is a partner and managing director at PSAP.

Bloom has garnered several awards. He was first elected private sector director of the National Emergency Association (NENA).

But Cicinelli wonders why he had to learn in late January or early February that the village had retained Bloom’s services. It may just be a coincidence, but discussions about the village budget and talk of outsourcing began during this period, according to Cicinelli.

ÒWhy wasn’t this brought up earlier,” wondered Cicinelli.

During the Aug. 13 Oak Lawn Village Board meeting, a lengthy pre-budget presentation was given by new treasurer Pat O’Donnell in which he provided projections of finances during the next five years. He suggested a 90-day freeze on hiring and beginning new projects.

Pension contributions was brought up and O’Donnell alluded to an antiquated system that dates back to the 1970s that he said is no longer adequate to record future projections in terms of pensions.

ÒWe can no longer kick the can down the road,” said O’Donnell, a phrase that was later repeated by Larry Deetjen, the village manager.

Cicinelli is aware of the concerns of the village.

ÒThey want to outsource (911 dispatcher) jobs,” said Cicinelli. ÒBut they still want to maintain the same center the (current dispatchers) work in now. The equipment is antiquated. How much is that going to cost?”

Both Cicinelli and Deetjen are in agreement that the 911 dispatchers, who also assist Burbank, Evergreen Park and portions of Bedford Park, do an outstanding job.

ÒBut every day we do the status quo, we are losing money,” said Deetjen at the meeting. ÒMy preference is (for the union) to work with us to keep them.”

Cicinelli said it is more complicated than that and further discussion is necessary.

ÒI can only take Deetjen’s presentation on its face value,” replied Cicinelli. ÒHe brings up $369,000 in costs. Without having an auditor going over the books, I just cannot say. But why just the dispatchers? What about the fire, police and other departments?”

Cicinelli added three telecommunicators have resigned and have not been replaced. Kathy Hansen is director of the low level telecommunicators and oversees team leaders, which is part of the contract work force.

Since the three telecommunications positions have not been filled, it calls for additional manpower to replace them, Cicinelli said.

Cicinelli said that without the team leaders, overtime has skyrocketed as other telecommunicators have to pick up the slack. He estimates that it has cost the village $100,000 in overtime.

ÒDuring the (President) Clinton era when I was a police officer and things were going well, you did not see municipalities say that we are going to give you more money,” added Cicinelli.

However, despite their differences, Cicinelli said that he is optimistic that a more civil tone will develop and that some of these issues can be resolved.

ÒIt’s not like we are unsympathetic,” added Cicinelli. ÒIt’s not like we are thumbing our noses at them. We know there are costs. We get it.

ÒWe have another chapter meeting on Monday. We plan to go forward with the possibility we can reach an amicable accord.”

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