Opinion: For Pekau, it is always about him, even in closing Secretary of State’s Office
Once again, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau puts his own political interests above the interests of the residents of Orland Park in his ultimatum that forced the closure of the Secretary of State’s Satellite Office that was located in the Village Hall board meeting room which most of the time is otherwise empty and unused. Pekau has attacked everyone, and now he is attacking the Secretary of State.
By Ray Hanania
Most residents of Orland Park only go to the Village Hall to do one of two things: pay their excessively high water bills, or use the Secretary of State’s Satellite Office that was operating in the Village Board room.
The Satellite office was a definite convenience, especially for senior citizens. Instead of driving miles away to other communities, Orland Park residents could quickly and easily use the Orland Park center.
But not any more.
Mayor Keith Pekau, one of the most self-centered, self-serving government officials I have seen in more than 40 years of covering politics, forced the office to close when he demanded that they pay the village rent.
Pekau’s administration obviously needs the money because his poor leadership is driving the village economy into the ground. When Trustee Dan Calandriello suggested the Village do something to help commercial businesses, for example, whose sales taxes are a major source of revenue, Pekau attacked him viciously. And then, many weeks later, came up with the same plan. Pekau didn’t want Calandriello to get credit for the idea and he wanted it for himself.
Last week, in a poorly worded press release, Pekau announced that the Secretary of State’s Satellite Office, which was in the Village of Orland Park for years, would close.
Pekau claimed incredulously that Secretary of State Jesse White, one of the state’s most popular public servants, decided to close the office. But what Pekau was apparently hoping you wouldn’t know is that he forced White to close the service. The satellite office was in the Village Hall Board Room, which is otherwise empty and unused almost 90 percent of the time.
Pekau issued an ultimatum to the Secretary of State, either pay the village for the unused space in the Village Hall, or leave.
The Orland Park Patch documented Pekau’s stupid, decision in this story on June 2. Click here to read that story.
In his political release, Pekau couldn’t resist slinging his limp political sword, attacking the State of Illinois for their “dire financial situation.” He justified the forced closure by asserting, “the residents of Orland Park and surrounding communities deserve a full-service Secretary of State facility.”
Really? That’s what we need? Talk about a politician who is out of touch with the needs of his constituents.
Pekau is basically saying that all of the popular services offered by the Secretary of State at the Village Hall were not worth the exchange for the free space.
The Secretary of State’s Office was one of the most popular services that the Village of Orland Park ever offered to its residents. Residents could go to the Village Hall every day and renew their drivers licenses, get a vision test, change the address on their licenses, and renew license plate stickers. All in a Village Board room which was basically empty and unused most of each week.
Pekau called those popular services “inadequate.”
What does “full service mean” as Pekau is demanding? Taking the driver’s test and the behind the wheel test.
Oh yea, that’s just what residents need. And imagine a “full service office” in Orland Park, thanks to Pekau, that has truck drivers and cars driving all over the place taking their road tests, many for the first time. Yea, just what Orland Park “needs.”
“For a quarter-century, the taxpayers of Orland Park provided the Secretary of State’s Office rent-free facilities in exchange for a very limited number of services,” Pekau said. “In addition, the taxpayers of Orland Park contribute approximately $250 million in tax revenue annually to the State of Illinois.”
What does that have to do with the Secretary of State offering a service that directly benefits Orland Park’s residents? Without these services offered locally in the Village Hall, Orland Park residents will have to drive long distances to get to other satellite offices, or they can go downtown.
The Patch noted that Orland Park residents are left to go to the Secretary of State’s facility at 14434 S. Pulaski Road in Midlothian, or to other facilities in Bridgeview, Joliet and Lockport. They are all very crowded. In all the years that I went to use the Village of Orland Park’s Secretary of State satellite office, it was fast, it was quick, and it was convenient.
Secretary of State spokesperson Dave Druker responded to Pekau’s wild accusations and lies, telling the Patch, “The intergovernmental agreement between us and the village of Orland Park actually dates back to before Jesse White was Secretary of State … They (the village of Orland Park) made it very clear they didn’t want us and asked us to leave.”
Pekau turned the issue of the Secretary of State’s Satellite Office into a political debate, claiming once again that he is the victim of a massive political conspiracy, ganged up by dark forces to attack him. In his political eNewsletter, Pekau whined that he is the poor, sad little victim of “coordinated political attacks.”
In fact, Pekau attacked White. He attacked former Mayor Dan McLaughlin. He even attacked the integrity of WGN Radio claiming a question to Druker while on the show was “clearly staged.”
Pekau has attacked everyone in public office including all of the local legislators and former Cook County board officials, Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady. This list is endless. Attacking others and destroying bridges is Pekau’s only real talent.
Pekau has made enemies out of everyone and guess who will suffer? You, the taxpayers. But Pekau doesn’t care about the taxpayers. He really believes his own press releases and he only cares for himself.
In his political eNewsletter, Pekau opined, “As I have said many times, character is not developed in times of crisis, it is revealed.”
Yes Mayor, you certainly are a character!
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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