Just when you think Oak Lawn board meetings couldn't get any crazier...
This is a story straight from the annals of Hal Lipset. Or Mad magazine's Spy vs. Spy.
Lipset was a storied San Francisco sleuth who “helped elevate, or rather reduce, electronic surveillance to a miniature art,” The New York Times wrote in his 1997 obituary.
He was best known as the man who put a bug in a martini olive, The Times reported.
That brings us to Oak Lawn, where some subterfuge and skulduggery could be afoot.
Brian Schaeflein is not a private investigator, but at Tuesday's board meeting, Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury has accused him of wearing glasses equipped with a hidden camera at last week’s 911 emergency dispatch center open house.
Schaeflein is a writer for an anonymously-owned blog that covers the village and has been highly critical of Bury’s administration.
He attended Tuesday’s village board and criticized Bury for blocking freedom of information requests he has submitted via the village website.
He also upbraided the mayor for using her personal blog to attack him.
“This is really unbelievable, mayor,” said Schaeflein, who threatened to sue the village if it continues to deny him information granted to reporters.
“This is a serious matter,” he said, adding that the village does not have the right to “pick and choose” the outlets than can submit FOIA requests.
Schaeflein did submit a FOIA request by hand to Village Clerk Jane Quinlan after Tuesday’s meeting.
By the way, Schaeflein denied wearing spyglasses to the Jan. 7 open house, but Bury insisted that the glasses looked much different than the ones he wore at Tuesday’s meeting.
“The temple was about three times the size,” Bury said. “They are not the same glasses. I’m an optometrist, and I know a thing or two about glasses.”
Cameras were not allowed inside the dispatch center during last week’s tour. Bury said Schaeflein compromised the safety of the people the center serves by violating the rule.
A handout that included a photo of Schaeflein sitting in the village board chambers on the night of the tour was available at Tuesday’s meeting.
The handout accused Schaeflein of wearing the spyglasses and not taking any notes during the open house presentation. He was not confronted about the glasses on the night of the tour, Bury said.
The mayor would not confirm that she directed emails from Schaeflein or the blog he works for to be blocked, but added “I have no problem with it being shut down.”
“I can’t tell you if he’s on the list. I suspect he probably is,” Village Manager Larry Deetjen said.
Deetjen said the village adds will block an email address if it receives complaints from village employees or officials about messages from that address.