Opinion: Orland Mayor accuses me of writing fiction over public meeting
Orland Park’s controversial Mayor Keith Pekau is upset that I publicized his angry personal attacks against Trustee Dan Calandriello from a public meeting he held on April 6 and accused me of writing fiction. But the truth is on the audio tape that the village posted and then mysteriously became corrupted. It was reposted and corrected after I inquired about it. Here’s the story of Pekau’s thin-skinned attacks against anyone who dares to challenge his failed leadership
By Ray Hanania
Published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group Thursday April 16, 2020
Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau verbally attacked Trustee Dan Calandriello during a Committee meeting Monday April 6 after Calandriello urged the board to address the concerns of small businesses in the village and adopt a “short term” plan to help them.
Pekau then, in his political campaign eNewsletter, criticized me for writing a column that extensively quoted his criticism of Callandriello calling it “highly fictional” and asserting the information was made-up.
I listened and recorded the meeting, and then transcribed every word that Calandriello and Pekau said, accurately.
I wrote an Opinion column posting it on the online news site SuburbanChicagoland.com that night. On Tuesday, I updated the column and posted a link to the village audio file so readers could hear the audio file of the exchange for themselves.
Pekau released his eNewsletter attacking me on Wednesday calling my column “highly fictional” falsely claiming this was an “orchestrated political attack” suggesting I had spoken with Calandriello, who I criticized in the past.
I updated the column urging the public to decide for themselves by listening to the audio file posted by the Village. But several people later told me the village audio file was “corrupted” and only played the first seconds of the meeting before re-looping and starting again so you couldn’t hear Pekau’s shocking, abusive language during the meeting.
I wrote another column challenging the Pekau administration over the corrupted audio file, which I had accessed previously without a problem but now found that it was impossible to access. (The audio file of the board meeting that followed was also re-looping the first seconds.)
I questioned whether or not this was done intentionally. The audio of the meeting of nearly 18 minutes reminded me of the 18 ½ minutes of audio President Richard Nixon deleted to prevent the public to hear his words involving his role in Watergate.
Pekau’s ridiculous assertion that I would make up the story fed my concerns the audio tape had been somehow manipulated, too. Who else had control of the village audio tape? With no audio tape for the public to compare, Pekau’s attack against me would seem justified.
After emailing the Village Staff Thursday morning, they claimed the file was not manipulated. A staff person re-uploaded the file, the Village Manager said. I checked and it worked. I updated my column to let readers know the file was available without problems.
Of course, the village attacked me, again, saying I couldn’t access the file because of “browser issues,” which is not true because I had accessed it prior to the incident.
But that’s Pekau’s way. He asserts Calandriello never offered specifics on how to help small businesses in Orland Park, but the truth is that after Calandriello introduced the discussion. It was Pekau and the four other board members present (one was absent) who refused to entertain it or permit a discussion.
Astonishingly, Pekau also voted against allowing a discussion but never asked Calandriello for his vote. Pekau then went on a verbal rampage against Calandriello declaring “five votes” against Calandriello proved Calandriello was grandstanding, was irresponsible, and didn’t care about local businesses.
Calandriello protested demanding to be heard, but Pekau declared that Calandriello was “out of order.” When personally attacked, every trustee has a right to respond.
It was the most outrageous abuse of power I have seen since Chicago’s Council Wars in 1983.
Both the village audio and my audio file of the meeting are now up on SuburbanChicagoland.com for all to decide.
When you listen, it’s obvious Pekau has extended his own powers, giving himself the right to vote on any issue – as Village President, Pekau can vote only to break a tie vote.
Pekau also eliminated the committee system and created one “Committee of the Whole” where everything from health to zoning is discussed and decided to give him complete power over every idea that is brought to the village board. Under the old system, committee’s created to discuss different issues would discuss ideas and then present them to the board for review and approval.
Pekau’s subsequent thin-skinned conduct attacking me because I criticized him only emphasizes how abusive and undemocratic he has become.
Pekau can challenge my opinions, claiming I am wrong. That’s his right. But he can’t say I made up the issue, and then call my employers, as he did afterwards and has done twice before, demanding I be fired. The public should be aware of his personal anger issues and behavior.
I won’t be silenced in exposing poor government leadership in Orland Park, where I have lived and paid taxes for the past 35 years.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. This column was originally published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers. For more information on Ray Hanania visit www.Hanania.com or email him at email@example.com.)
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