Village was not reimbursed for reality TV show
By Laura Bollin
Oak Lawn is seeking reimbursement for payments to village police officers who worked overtime during the filming of a "reality" television show nearly six years ago.
Village trustees voted Jan. 8 to approve seeking $4,000 paid to officers who worked during the filming of TruTV's "Speeders Fight Back" in 2007, when show staff members did "ridealongs" with officers. A spin-off of the show was subsequently filmed in 2009, with Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann acting as "judge" in cases against speeders who pleaded their cases in court at Oak Lawn Village Hall.
Oak Lawn Police Chief Bill Villanova told the Village Board at the meeting Jan. 8 that the police department was never reimbursed for what the officers were paid. The show donated $1,000 to the Oak Lawn Police Club.
Heilmann was paid $1,000 per episode and received $6,000. He told the board he "sure got paid" for the work he did.
Trustee Carol Quinlan said she thought putting the reimbursement on the board agenda was "ridiculous."
"I'm not sure why we had to approve it, why it had to be put on the agenda," Quinlan said. "If someone owes us money, call them and ask for it. I found that item to be ridiculous."
Trustee Tom Phelan said the item would only be ridiculous if it "didn't sit for a month and go unanswered."
"So everyone has an understanding, a village resident did an FOIA request, and turned the documents over to the Village Board and the manager, and those documents made allegations," Phelan said. "As a governing body, our obligation is to respond to that. We didn't respond to it for a month.
"In this case, we were provided with documentation of allegations that were true. In the documents, we were told we would get reimbursed for overtime. This is a formal request so there is no ambiguity."
Trustee Bob Streit believes the item was on the agenda for political reasons.
"This isn't here so we can direct somebody to send out a bill," Streit said. "If there's money owed, we can direct somebody to send out a bill. This item is simply here because it seems like today, we are not interested in conducting the business of government, we are here to assess blame and attack others."