The good vibes that reverberated in the Oak Lawn Village Board chambers at the start of Tuesday’s board meeting when the Military Order of the Purple Heart named Oak Lawn the first Purple Heart City in Illinois did not last.
A group of Purple Heart veterans and their families, on behalf of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 575, presented Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury and the board with a Purple Heart flag to fly at the Village Hall. Afterwards, Illinois Military Order of the Purple Heart Cmdr. Daniel Finn gave a speech and thanked the village for its continued support for veterans.
The revelry was, however, short-lived. After the ceremony, Oak Lawn residents who were among the 3,500 still without power after Monday’s storm expressed frustration and disgust with ComED for having not restored power sooner. Some parts of town had power restored quickly after the storm, but ComEd was not projecting the complete restoration of electricity village-wide until Thursday afternoon.
This is not the first time the village has had delayed service from the power company in recent years and several board members, including village manager Larry Deetjen and Trustee Alex Olejniczak expressed, interest in pursuing action against ComEd at the state level. No extensive discussion or decisions on this idea took place.
The board did make a decision about parking, which village officials hope will encourage consumers to shop in Oak Lawn. The board voted unanimously to approve the designation of 20 spaces on the ground floor of the Metra parking structure for customers of local businesses.
The issue was brought up because a businesses franchisee interested in leasing open space near the garage said his company would not allow the franchise to go into a space with so little parking available. The 20 spaces were being offered by the village as a minimal offer to meet the requirements, but once discussion started the idea of opening up more spaces to shoppers began to gather momentum.
In other Oak Lawn news, the contentiousness from the board’s previous meeting resurfaced when Bury announced her appointments of Pat O’Donnell and Jerry Dylan to the village’s Fire Pension Board. Trustees do not vote to approve the appointments, a fact objected to by Trustee Bob Streit, who claimed that the board was given insufficient information about the appointees and no opportunity to determine whether they should be given the positions. He also claimed Bury was appointing people because of the support they gave her during her April election campaign, and not just because of merit.
Streit’s objections were cast aside as irrelevant, but the opposition did not stop there. Immediately following the Fire Pension Board appointments was the approval of adjudication appointments, which were objected to by Streit and Trustee Carol Quinlan but passed 3-2. The village has two adjudication attorneys, Russ Miller and Joe Petco, for handling small legal offenses, and one village prosecutor, Kevin Cunningham. In order to save the village approximately $24,000 a year, the mayor moved to consolidate the three positions and appointed Cunningham to do the job for a fixed fee of $60,000 for two years.
Quinlan and Streit claimed the decision is political, and said not enough consideration was given to other candidates for the consolidated job. They also alleged that the elimination of Miller and Petco’s positions was related to former trustee Tom Phelan’s “hit list” which allegedly listed the two men’s names in red. Bury and Deetjen both challenged these allegations as ridiculous and irrelevant, claiming to have never seen said list and asserting that the decision was made only to save the village money.