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Fund-raiser Stirs Controversy

Oak Lawn Trustee Receives Support and Some Criticism

The Oak Lawn Village Board approved several measures Tuesday night, while debates ensued over a senior center and a recent fund-raiser.

During the public comments segment at the beginning of the meeting, several residents spoke out claiming they were criticized over perceived tactics they used when making phone calls on behalf of Trustee Bob Streit (3rd).

The residents were making calls to businesses for donations to a fund-raiser sponsored by Streit. They spoke about how they were criticized at a recent board meeting by Mayor Sandra Bury and Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd), specifically.

Bury and Olejniczak were critical of what they said were some of the tactics of the callers. The two board members said some of the callers implied that if they did not donate to the fund-raiser, they would suffer repercussions.

Streit later came to the defense of the callers. A couple of the residents who made the calls asked for an apology. Olejniczak later responded to the complaints by saying he was indeed sorry if he offended anyone. However, Olejniczak said he did receive some complaints about strong-arm tactics by some callers who, he added, were pressuring businesses to donate to Streit’s fund-raiser.

Olejniczak added that his criticism is more with Streit than those residents who made the calls.

The meeting began to heat up when Trustee Tim Desmond (1st) thanked residents who attended his recent open house event. But he quickly added that Òwe are going to be facing some tough decisions.” He then called for all part-time employees, which includes board members, to no longer accept pensions.

His proposal was met mostly with approval by board members, including Trustees Terry Vorderer (4th) and Mike Carberry (6th). Streit objects to eliminating pensions.

The topic of the senior center was addressed by Olejniczak. Streit insists that a new senior center could have been built if the board approved a plan worked out by previous Mayor Dave Heilmann and his administration with Advocate Christ Medical Center. The village and Advocate would have worked out a partnership in which a senior center could have been built at the old Beatty Lumber site, Streit said.

ÒThe problem we have now is where a new senior center will be,” said Olejniczak. ÒBut there is misguided information out there.”

Olejniczak did say that the previous administration worked out a deal for the Oak Lawn Bank and Trust to locate on 95th Street, which meant that the Oak Lawn Senior Center at 5300 W. 95th St. and the adjacent Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce had to move. The chamber is now located at the Metra Station.

Officials and residents attended the Oak Lawn Bank and Trust groundbreaking that was held Tuesday morning.

The new senior center is temporarily at the old McGugan School site at 5220 W. 105th St. Plans for another senior center are being looked into by the current administration.

Olejniczak said that while the Heilmann administration worked out the details for the Oak Lawn Bank and Trust to come to Oak Lawn, no set plans were made for where the senior center was going to move to.

Streit went to the defense of the previous administration.

ÒThe current board implied that the village wasn’t run well in the past,” said Streit. ÒActually, it was in fine financial condition. They can carry out this agenda of slash and burn, but I know better.”

Streit stated that recent figures indicate that the village is lacking in online transparency, stating that Oak Lawn is listed with a figure of 41.5 out of 100 points. Streit proposed an ordinance for specific online information be provided, ranging from contracts, taxes and fees.

Bury responded to Streit’s complaints about the village Web site, stating that Òit is going to be done.” She told Streit that he is well aware that it is going to be taken care of. She added that Orland Park had problems a year ago before they resolved their issues.

A motion to approve a fixed contract fee for attorney Kevin Cunningham was met with some resistance from Streit. Larry Deetjen, the village manager, stated that Cunningham’s Òperformance has been exceptional” and that he is doing the work done previously by three attorneys.

Vorderer said that consolidating three attorneys into one will save the village money.

ÒGood job, Mr. Deetjen,” said Vorderer.

The board approved the fixed contract fee for Cunningham by a 4-2 margin. Streit and Trustee Carol Quinlan (5th) opposed the motion.

Coincidentally, a flyer arrived at many Oak Lawn homes on Tuesday under the title of ÒOak Lawn News.” The flyer referred to health insurance coverage taken by Bury, Desmond and Olejniczak. The flyer also criticized Bury for hiring Cunningham, stating that he supplied 10 campaign workers for the then mayoral candidate.

The issue was brought up at the board meeting by Streit. Bury responded that she had hundreds of supporters during the campaign.

Another argument took place over funding for the 9/11 Memorial near the Metra Station. Streit insisted that funding came from taxpayers. Streit’s criticisms were leveled against Bury, who was president of the Oak Lawn Rotary Club at the time and led the effort for the memorial.

Deetjen countered that funding came through contributions from local businesses and the fire and police departments, which resulted in more than $400,000.

An emotional moment occurred at the board meeting when a proclamation was read by Bury for the family of Dr. Bart Kostrubala, a longtime dentist from Oak Lawn, who died Sept. 24.

Kostrubala was active in several organizations in the village. He started a speed skating team and was a member of the Marist Fathers Club.

ÒHe was patient, diligent and silently resolute,” said his son, Gary. ÒHe was a great man and I really miss him.”

Clay Gervais, from the Oak Lawn Kiwanis, made a plea to residents at the meeting. The organization is in need of new members. Without new members, Gervais said, the local Kiwanis chapter may have to disband.

The Oak Lawn Kiwanis will hold a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 at the Village Hall. They will answer any questions residents have at this meeting.

The board also approved a referral to the Traffic Review Committee for stop signs at 97th Street and Marion Avenue and 92nd Street and 52nd Avenue.

A public easement agreement at 95th and Kilbourn with Advocate Health and Hospital Corporation was approved. Vorderer had some concerns previously but was satisfied with an explanation from the hospital.

A financial assistance agreement with Advocate Christ Medical Center was also approved.

A request to waive the formal bidding process and purchase of a 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe for the Oak Lawn Police Department from Currie Motors for $31,136 was postponed at the urging of Deetjen.

A Class ÒF” liquor license was awarded to Frankie’s Beef and Pasta, 5719 W. 95th St.

A special use permit to allow an automotive dealership in a C-2 zoned district, 9121 S. Cicero Ave., was approved for Oak Lawn Hyundai.

Bury concluded the meeting by saying that while she appreciates the concerns of residents who complained during the public meeting segment regarding a fund-raiser for Streit, she stands by her objections.

ÒI stand by those comments,” said Bury. ÒI received complaints about some of those tactics. This has to stop. This was one of my motivations for running (for mayor) in the first place.”

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