The following is a commentary in response to former Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann’s Guest View from last Thursday.
It’s clear to me our former mayor is still having trouble dealing with his defeat in last April’s election, and after I read his (commentary), I first decided to ignore it and concentrate on more important things like my family and my job. But after my 15-year old son read it and asked “How can someone be allowed to write lies like this?” I realized I needed to respond.
To begin, I have lived in Oak Lawn’s 3rd District for more than 20 years. I raised my family here and have been active in our community for the majority of that time, because I love Oak Lawn and I want our Village to thrive.
In 2007 my trustee, Bob Streit, asked me to serve on the Village’s Planning & Development Committee which I happily agreed to do. I served for six years, the last two as Chairman, in October 2012 the Village posted a help-wanted notice for part-time property maintenance inspector position. This was something I thought I could do and be good at given my experience on the P&DC. I submitted my resume, interviewed, and was offered the part-time position, which pays $18 hour, provides no insurance benefits, and doesn’t qualify for a pension.
Prior to taking the job I asked if there might be a conflict of interest if I remained on the P&D Commission, and the attorneys thought it might, so on October 15, 2012, before my term was up, I submitted my resignation letter from the P&D Commission to the Village Manager and Board — including then-Mayor Dave Heilmann.
Afterward, Trustee Streit called me to say he was unhappy with my decision but understood and respected it. He thanked me for my six years of service and said he was proud of the work I did, and so did several other board members, the village manager, and my fellow commission members. In fact, the village manager asked me to help train the new commissioner replacing me, which I was happy to do.
Compare those facts to the slanderous lie Dave Heilmann wrote about me…that I was “not re-appointed to the P&D Committee because Heilmann received complaints about my independence.” He provides no proof or documentation, because none exists, and neither he nor any other Village official ever told me about any complaints, not while I was on the P&D Committee, and not any time after.
In fact, the only real disagreement I ever had with Dave Heilmann was over Christ Hospital’s $500 million expansion. Heilmann thought the hospital should get a free pass on construction fees, permit fees, and other payments that could have amounted to almost $7 million for Oak Lawn residents. These are fees that every other business and resident in Oak Lawn pays, and that Advocate Christ routinely pays and expects to pay in ALL the other towns where they have hospitals.
For some reason Heilmann thought Oak Lawn should be different, that we shouldn’t “penalize” the hospital, regardless of how their half-billion-dollar project might affect our Village. Maybe it had something to do with Mr. Heilmann’s law firm (from their website) representing some of Chicago-areas biggest hospitals and hospital groups? Or maybe because Christ Hospital honored Heilmann as their “2012 Man of the Year,” complete with a black-tie event at a museum in downtown Chicago?
Whatever his reasons, I disagreed with Heilmann, and so did the majority of our other P&D Commissioners. And Heilmann made it very clear to me that he was very unhappy with my position, so apparently if you disagree with Dave Heilmann, you are not “acting independently.” Which is backwards and hypocritical. Especially when the majority of the village trustees, the village manager, the village clerk, and the village attorney also disagreed with Heilmann, and so did the vast majority of Oak Lawn residents as we saw in last April’s election, where the issue of Christ Hospital paying their “fair share” was the No. 1 issue. Dave Heilmann and his entire slate of candidates lost decidedly, and within weeks Christ Hospital also said they disagreed with Heilmann, when they agreed to pay the Village more than $3 million for their expansion.
That was the biggest and most obvious lie but it wasn’t the only one.
I can’t deny that after reading Dave Heilmann’s (commentary) I became very angry and frustrated, but as I began writing my response, that anger and frustration turned to sadness.
Sadness for a person who, a person who I thought held so much promise for Oak Lawn. We are fellow parishioners at St. Linus parish. I supported Dave when he first ran for Mayor in 2005, and worked on his re-election campaign in 2009. I attended his father’s wake, and sent his wife a get-well card during her illness. And I did all of this not because of politics, but because I considered Dave a friend, which makes his attack on me that much more hurtful.
It’s one thing to disagree with someone, or even to dislike someone, but it’s something altogether different when you purposely lie about someone and malign their reputation and character to get revenge on your political enemies. And it’s not acceptable. Period.
Heilmann finished by saying “Sometimes silence screams the truth,” and since he appears to believe that, consider my response the answer to that silence.
But also consider something else. There is definitely one thing that “screams the truth”, and not just sometimes but always. It’s called the truth.
Radice is the former Oak Lawn Planning & Development commissioner.