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Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau showed displeasure with the state and thanked Cook County officials and U.S. Representative Marie Newman at Monday’s village board meeting. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau showed displeasure with the state and thanked Cook County officials and U.S. Representative Marie Newman at Monday’s village board meeting. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pekau blasts state and thanks Newman and Cook County

By Jeff Vorva

When Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau has an issue with someone, he comes out with guns-a-blazing.

He did not hold back about his opinions of the state of Illinois at Monday night’s village board meeting.

But in between the bits of bile, he also gave some kudos to people whom he has had issues with in the past.

Pekau publicly thanked some people whom he has had disagreements with. They have come to help Orland Park and Pekau said he was grateful.

The mayor was thrilled to receive a phone message Monday night during the village’s Committee of the Whole meeting from U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-3rd), saying that Orland Park was allocated $9.2 million for the first phase of a 143rd Street project.

During the local election earlier this year, Newman was at a Metra Station in town to talk about what was happening in the state and nation and told residents to vote for Dan McLaughlin, Pekau’s opponent.

“Everyone knows we have had our issues and differences but unlike Bobby Rush [a representative who also serves Orland Park], she is still representing her constituents, which includes us.

“I want to thank Congressman Newman for going to bat for her constituents and our residents here in Orland Park.”

Pekau has also been critical of Cook County government over the years and, on Monday night, he had nothing but praise because of another road project in the future.

“We certainly had our differences, but I want to give credit to where credit is due, as we are beginning a multi-year program where we are expanding 108th [Avenue] to three lanes from 159th [Street] and 167th [Street] so I want to thank Cook County and thank president [Toni] Preckwinkle and Commissioner Sean Morrison for getting that to happen.”

When it came to the state and the budget and other items it passed last week, Pekau was not so magnanimous.

He is upset with the new redistricting map, which slices the village into four Senate and four House districts. He said the village would not be well represented. He also is still mad about the 2019 Capital Bill, which gave the village no money for infrastructure and other items.

“It was the most glaring example of gerrymandering and nepotism in the United States, let alone Illinois,” he said. “We received nothing. Nothing.”

According to the mayor’s facts and figures, Harvey was given $9.1 million, Orland Hills $8.6 million and Richton Park $1.9 million. He added that neighboring Tinley Park received $750,0000 and Mokena $335,000, which he felt was low.

After crunching the numbers, Pekau said that Orland Hills received what he called a “whopping” $1,214 per resident, Harvey $341, Richton Park $141, Mokena $16 and Tinley Park $13 to go with Orland’s goose egg.

“From the state’s perspective, Tinley Park and Orland Park and their combined 38 square miles of our towns and infrastructure that completely surround the one-square mile in Orland Hills simply are not nearly as important of an economic driver for the state of Illinois,” he said.

The mayor and board members had been outspoken about the state proposing to cut the Local Government Distributive Fund, which funnels some state income tax money back to local municipalities.

The state, which had cut the fund from 10 percent to 6 percent in 2011, decided not to cut any more in 2021 after an outcry from mayors throughout the state.

“They expect us to give them a lot of credit for this,” Pekau said. “I will not. They need to restore it back to the 10 percent before they raided the municipal coffers in 2011.”

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