Pekau calls out political criticism from Carroll over board issues

Pekau calls out political criticism from Carroll over board issues

Pekau calls out political criticism from Carroll over board issues

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau asserts that critics are playing politics with issues at the Village Board meetings. Trustee Michael Carroll reportedly blamed Mayor Pekau for a poorly orchestrated anonymous robe-call that criticized the board for reversing its 2009 vote to ban gaming and approving up to 20 in the village …

By Ray Hanania

Opinion columnist راى حنانيا. Ray Hanania headshot

Opinion columnist راى حنانيا.
Ray Hanania

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau called out political attacks and false allegations from trustee Michael Carroll, the former Democratic Committeeman of Orland Township at the last board meeting. Here is Pekau’s Newsletter report which he sends out after each board meeting to clarify the false claims often made at the board meeting.

Pekau is still dealing with opponents who backed ousted mayor Dan McLaughlin, who voters booted when he greedily tried to give himself a massive pension hike and salary hike. As a result of the board’s actions, Orland Park taxpayers are double paying for a full-time Mayor (what the board wanted originally when they thought McLaughlin would win the last election) and a full-time Village Manager and two expensive deputies.

The Village paying for a full-time mayor and a full-time village manager is a mess that McLaughlin and his board allies created because they took their eyes off of the best interests of the taxpayers and put it on themselves. Now, they plan to eliminate the pay hike — now that their political pall McLaughlin can’t benefit from it, and return to a Village Manager system that they can control.

It’s really pretty sad.

Here is Pekau’s newsletter, which you can subscribe to by clicking here. It’s worth it, a comprehensive overview each time of what is really happening at the board meetings. Here is Trustee Carroll’s Facebook Page.

 

Newly elected Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau

Mayor Pekau’s Newsletter (11-25-18):

Our last Village Board meeting [11-19-18] had only one major item on the agenda which was a consultant’s presentation about the evaluation of our existing fields and a potential new complex. However, at the end of the meeting, Trustee Carroll elected to attack me during his board comments.

As you recall, the Village Board agreed to have consultants look at our existing field complexes, when the Trustees decided to postpone the repairs of John Humphrey Complex. The report examined the John Humphrey Complex, Centennial Park and Cachey Park. The findings were as follows:

Cachey Park is a good size for a soccer complex, but its location would make parking and high usage rates very difficult.
Centennial Park’s layout is good for recreational use, but poor for tournament usage.
John Humphrey has a good layout for tournaments, but has the lowest usage and is in the poorest condition of all of the fields.

The Village’s fee structure is overly complex and we are charging less than market rates for the usage of our fields.
The scheduling of our fields for just a few hours on Saturday are impeding other weekend uses.

The consultant had the following recommendations for our existing fields:

  • Use all of the money allocated for repairs on the John Humphrey Complex
  • Expand field #4 for to a 90’ infield so it can host several different ages
  • Eliminate field 5 so that field 6 can be made into a 70’ infield
  • Make High Point field #11 a full-size field
  • Regrade the fields and infields
  • Install new back stops
  • Recommend installing irrigation system
  • Develop a new field allocation system that reduces the number of tiers to one resident and one non-resident rate (currently there are six)
  • Re-allocate scheduling to keep the Humphrey Complex available for weekend tournament usage

These recommendations make sense for a number of reasons. First, it will make all of the fields at John Humphrey usable for all ages (which it currently is not). Second, our in-house programs will have more fields available during the week with an improved John Humphrey complex and minor scheduling changes can free up the complex for weekend use for tournaments. These tournaments bring 50 to 60 teams (and families) to Orland Park. The families will stay in Orland Park (we have a couple of new hotels coming), eat in Orland Park and shop in Orland Park.

The consultants also looked at the possibility of a new complex. Their report recommends an eight-field baseball/softball complex with full size (330’) baseball fields configured as two 4-plexes with concessions in between. The fields will be artificial turf so they can be used as full-size soccer, lacrosse and football fields as well. According to their analysis, the economics indicate that this complex pays for itself between the weekend tournaments, concessions and economic impact to Orland Park. The study suggests that this is worth exploring further. In spite of what you may hear, this study doesn’t mean that we are moving forward with building a complex but that we keeping this option on the table. If it can be built in a fiscally responsible way (private/public partnership, sponsorships, donations, etc.) then the benefits are many – new fields for our kids, direct economic benefits to the Village to provide services for our residents and indirect economic benefits to our local businesses.

The only other eventful item was Trustee Carroll’s rant, personally attacking me, which can be found by clicking here, at 45:35 seconds. here are the excerpts (my editorial comments in italics, my board comments follow):
“In the last 30 days it appears the campaign season must be starting up again. The mayor’s blog posts, his supporters repeating those blog posts all over social media, fake news are up and running, and illegal robocalls have started all over again. Some of the things, I have to point out because they slander me”

(I guess the Regional, Prairie and Daily Southtown are now fake news)

“Post on September 10th, posted during regular business hours, a political post that was completely false.” (News flash – posts can be scheduled at a date and time)

That I wrote in the post that “we will have no reserves for 4 years, so this is great progress”. (Trustee Carroll conveniently left out the rest of the wording. The entire written word is as follows: The good news is if we adjust the budget by the $2.85 million presented, we will maintain a healthy operating reserve for 5 years. If we do nothing, we will have no reserves for four years, so this great progress.)

He says that staff has not been given clear direction. (I encourage anyone to go to the meeting audio and see if the direction was clear)

Trustee Carroll states that every time someone on staff comes up with a cut, someone has a problem with it. He wants me to “show some leadership and identify what cuts he’s comfortable with because every time the team comes up with a cut, there is as problem with it and it hasn’t gotten anything accomplished” (The was only one cut that the board disagreed with — was cutting the Veterans Programs to save $7K. Trustee Carroll made it clear that he supports cutting the Veterans Program.)

“You can’t do a budget unless you know how much money you make.” (This is true, but you do your budget based on money you know is coming in, not on taxing our residents more to make up the shortfall as Trustee Carroll would like to do)

“Time and time again we’ve asked staff to come up with more and more cuts… At the last meeting he was asked to come up with another half million in cuts.”

“I don’t know how we can discuss throwing $600,000 at a concert.” (Conveniently, Trustee Carroll fails to identify that those are the expenses for 3 concerts, but doesn’t mention the offsetting revenue which is over $600,000 and could be as high as $850,000.)

My response at the meeting was as follows:

Trustee Carroll should do a little more research before attacking me. The robo-call, which was also sent to me, attacked Trustee Carroll for his gaming vote. Last I checked I voted the same way. I am also against an aldermanic form of government. If he has a problem with it, we’ve been through this before, call the FCC. I repeat again, I have nothing to do with the robo-calls. As you all know by now, if I have a problem with an issue I address it directly, not anonymously.
Regarding the reserve requirement, our reserves in 4 years will be below zero. That chart was never shown to the public until my State of the Village, though it existed for 4 to 5 years before I was elected. We have a good reserve policy but we need to make some changes to keep the reserves at those levels, which is exactly what we are trying to do.

The budget direction was very clear. $2M in revenue and $2M in cuts. Trustee Carroll agreed to that. At the last budget hearing we were given $1.27 Million in cuts, of which 350,000 was a funds transfer not an expense cut.
The only cut that we did not agree to was a $7,000 cut to the Veterans Program which would have cut the person who does our Memorial Day Program, our Veterans Day Program, our steak fry, our fishing derby, our Liberty run and who just did our wildly successful golf outing. This person, along with our Veterans Commission raised approximately $25,000.

I thanked Trustee Gira and her husband for volunteering at a hole during the golf outing, Trustee Ruzich for coming to dinner, Trustee Calandriello for purchasing a dinner ticket and Trustee Dodge for playing. I failed to acknowledge Trustee Fenton for sponsoring the drink cart – I apologize for missing this at the board meeting.

At the end of the day, budget discussions are difficult, particularly when costs are rising faster than revenues. This means that hard decisions have to be made. Yes, services that are extremely costly and benefit only a few, will likely be cut. However, I believe that the Village has a long way to go to become more efficient and many of our cuts will have little to no long-term impact on our core services. We have a lot of excellent staff and they will find better, less expensive ways to provide our critical services.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.

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