Written by Bob Rakow
Whacking board members’ health insurance and
many hot issues dominate Tuesday’s gathering
Several political hot-button issues dominated Tuesday’s Oak Lawn Village Board meeting as trustees bickered over transparency, the future of the senior center and political fundraising techniques.
A majority of trustees, however, expressed support for a proposal to eliminate health insurance for board members.
The proposal was put forth by Trustee Tim Desmond, who called for “shared sacrifice” at a time when the board is considering several significant cuts to balance the village budget.
Desmond, who joined the village health plan in April, asked that the proposal be placed on the Nov. 12 agenda.
Several trustees and Mayor Sandra Bury currently take full or partial health benefits.
Trustee Alex Olejniczak said he does not plan to participate in the village health insurance plan in the next fiscal year. Bury said she does not take her salary as liquor commissioner, which is comparable to the cost of her insurance and praised Desmond for his leadership in making the proposal.
“I think he sees the hypocrisy, as I did,” Bury said.
While Desmond’s proposal was met with approval, discussion on other topics was not as harmonious.
For example, Olejniczak took issue with Streit’s contention that he participated in a secret meeting with Bury, Village Manager Larry Deetjen, Park Board Director Maddie Kelly and Park Board President Sue Murphy to discuss a plan to transition senior services to the district.
He said Streit misled people by saying that the meeting was attended by a majority of village board members.
Trustee Carol Quinlan, meanwhile, repeated her request for a meeting between the board and seniors to garner feedback regarding plans to outsource senior services and renovate the Memorial Park bathhouse into a senior center.
Quinlan, who previously called for such a meeting, did not receive a response to her proposal.
“I’d love to know what’s going on,” Quinlan said.
Olejniczak also chastised Streit for pressuring residents and businesses to attend his recent fundraiser by calling them numerous times in the days leading up to the event.
“You would think that if somebody said, ‘No, I’m not attending or no, I’m not going to be there,’ that would be enough,” he said.
Three people who placed the fundraising calls attended the meeting and said they were offended by remarks made at the Oct. 8 board meeting alleging that pressure tactics were used to convince people to attend the fundraiser.
“It never occurred,” Streit said. “People have a right to make campaign donations. My campaign fund is in complete compliance with all laws.”
Streit, meanwhile, proposed an ordinance requiring website transparency, which would require a plethora of information such as videos of meetings, public records, budgets, audits, contracts and salary and benefits be available on the village’s website.
The information is similar to items on the Illinois Policy Institute’s transparency checklist, which Bury is following in the development of a new website.