Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell said his cops do not have time to enforce new vaccine mandates that the county has made. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell said his cops do not have time to enforce new vaccine mandates that the county has made. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park will not enforce Cook County vaccine mandates

By Jeff Vorva

The Orland Park Board of Trustees gathered for a special meeting Tuesday night to voice their opposition to Cook County’s new mandates regarding COVID-19.

The board voted 6-0, with trustee Brian Riordan absent, to oppose the county’s vaccination passport mandate, which was issued Dec. 23 and scheduled to begin Monday.

The mandates, announced by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, include providing proof of vaccination at many indoor facilities including restaurants and gyms.

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said that forcing these mandates is illegal and Orland Park will not take part in it.

He added that he does not want to see Orland Park’s police force taking time from its busy schedule to try to enforce these mandates.

Chief Joseph Mitchell said he didn’t want any part of it, either. He said his officers are spending an abundance of time arresting out-of-towners from Cook County who have been arrested for felonies and let go.

“We are using a substantial amount of resources to combat another poorly researched disaster of county policy of catch-and-release,” he said. “I simply do not have, nor would I devote, crucial resources to this new ill-advised policy.”

Prior to the special meeting, Pekau had written a letter dated Dec. 23 to Preckwinkle asking for data and facts and requested her to provide the law which grants her the authority to implement these mandates.

He said in a news release that the latest order from the Cook County Department of Public Health was a “news dump just days before Christmas” and the county was doing this for political reasons.

“I have a village of nearly 60,000 residents to answer to,” he wrote in the release. “I don’t need extreme politicians in Cook County government telling me what is best for Orland Park.”

The mayor drew a few laughs from the crowd on Tuesday when he showed some facts and data on a large screen and when he said, “This is the data the county provided to us,” the next slide on the screen was blank.

Pekau said that the county did not respond at all to his letter.

Budgets and levies

At the Dec. 20 meeting, the board approved the 2022 budget with revenues expected at $181 million and expenditures at $222 million.

Pekau said the extra expenditures would be covered by reserves and money from past surpluses.

The board passed the levy and the mayor said that tax rates will be reduced by 1 percent and in five years, the rates have been reduced 30 percent.

“I wish other taxing bodies would do the same,” he said. “The library levy increased by 9 percent. I would encourage that the library board stop this practice.”

Next meeting on Tuesday

The next regularly scheduled board meeting, and first of 2022, will occur on Tuesday instead of Monday because Monday is a village New Year holiday. New Year’s Day falls on Saturday.

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