EXCLUSIVE: Pekau has already decided to move ahead and eliminate the Village Manager form of government
Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau may not wait to find out if the voters agree with him to vote out the Village Managerial Form of Government in the April 4 , 2023 election referendum. He’s already introduced the ordinance which is on the agenda and spells out exactly what he plans to do to implement the change and revealed how it will work, giving him almost total political control.
By Ray Hanania
I guess Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau doesn’t want to wait to see what voters will do on election day on Tuesday, April 4, regarding his power grab to eliminate the Village Managerial Form of Government and create a position he will personally control.
Pekau has already drafted up the ordinance to eliminate the position and he even has detailed how powerless the new replacement position will be, answering to him directly.
Although, what is significant is that this new ordinance leaves the door open to Pekau actually taking the position, and the salary, himself.
The draft ordinance is posted on the Village of Orland Park website as an ordinance was considered by the Village “Committee of the Whole” which mets Monday, Feb. 20 at 6:30 PM was approved by the Village Committee of the Whole in which they want to be ready if the Referendum goes their way. They don’t do anything if it fails. They didn’t go through the details. Why should they. They just passed it.
In reading it, you can see how arrogant Mayor Pekau is.
Go to the Village website under the Board of Trustees “Committee of the Whole,” for the 6:30 meeting tonight (Monday, Feb 20, 2023).
Open the AGENDA for the meeting under “ITEMS FOR SEPARATE ACTION”
“2023-0140 AN ORDINANCE CREATING A MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT BY ORDINANCE AND AMENDING TITLE 1,
CHAPTERS 6 AND 7 AND TITLE 6, CHAPTER 10 OF THE
ORLAND PARK VILLAGE CODE
Then click the Link that says ORDINANCE and read it!. Seriously, take the time to read it.
The AGENDA link opens a Draft ordinance in which Pekau and his Village Trustees are already declaring that the April 4 Referendum is over and assert that voters have already decided to vote against retaining the Village Manager form of Government.
The election is more than 40 days away.
This Ordinance clearly was either published by mistake (which makes you question Pekau’s honesty) or, it was published intentionally (and Pekau doesn’t care what residents and taxpayers think).
Here is what the Ordinance says:
“WHEREAS, pursuant to the Illinois Constitution and the Illinois Election Code, the Village initiated a referendum, to be submitted to the voters of the Village, on the question of whether the Village should abandon its current Article 5 Statutory Manager form of municipal government and restore the executive, administrative and appointment authority in the elected President and Board of Trustees of the Village; and
“WHEREAS, the placement of the question of whether or not to retain the current managerial form of government in the Village was placed on the ballot for consideration by the voters of the Village, at the April 4, 2023, Consolidated Election; and
“WHEREAS, a majority of the voters of the Village of Orland Park voted that the Village of Orland Park should not retain the Article 5 Statutory Manager form of municipal government and as such the proposition to abandon operation under Article 5 of the Illinois Municipal Code has been approved; and
“WHEREAS, the proposition set forth to be submitted to the voters of this Village at the April 4, 2023 Consolidated Election became effective upon the completion of the canvass as provided in Article 22 of the Illinois Election Code and official declaration of the results of the vote totals on the proposition immediately following the April 4, 2023 consolidated election and the Article 5 Statutory Manager form of municipal government has been abandoned; and
“WHEREAS, the President and Board of Trustees have determined that it is in the best interest of the Village and its residents to amend the Village Code to create the position of municipal Village Manager, who is not an Article 5 Statutory Manager and allowing for the appointment of the same. Although the Article 5 Statutory Manager form of municipal government and the manager or administrator form created outside of Article 5 of the Illinois Municipal Code are separate and distinct, they both share a common purpose in utilizing a single person with the full administrative authority to handle the day to day functions of the Village. 546249_1 2
“WHEREAS, the Orland Park Village Code must be amended to the reflect the vote of the residents to abandon the Article 5 Statutory Manager form of municipal government and to create the new Village Manager position and allowing for the appointment of the same and to set forth his or her administrative duties.”
Ahh, but if the presumption that the voters are stupid and the Mayor can do whatever he wants shocks you, wait until you read this part:
“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Village President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Orland Park, Cook and Will Counties, Illinois, as follows:
Title 1, Chapter 6, Section 1-6-1, of the Orland Park Village Code is hereby deleted and repealed in its entirety.
Title 1, Chapter 7, Sections 1-7-1-1 through and inclusive of 1-7-1-11, of the Orland Park Village Code is hereby amended to delete and repeal in its entirety the present wording and substitute therefor the following:
“1-7-1-1: OFFICE ESTABLISHED:
There is hereby established the office of Village Manager for the Village.
The Village Manager shall be appointed by the Village President with the advice and consent of the Board of Trustees. The Village Manager shall be chosen on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications with special reference to actual experience in or knowledge of accepted practice in respect to the duties of the office set forth in this Chapter. The Village Board may in its discretion choose to enter into an employment contract the individual chosen to be the Village Manager. The Village Manager shall be chosen without regard to his or her political beliefs or affiliations.
The Term of the Village Manager shall not exceed that of the Village President.”
Basically, what the mayor is saying (by error or deceptive intent) is that the new Village Manager answers to him and ONLY to him.
Re-read this part of the ordinance:
“The Village Manager shall be appointed by the Village President with the advice and consent of the Board of Trustees.”
With the “advice and consent of the Board of Trustees” is not the same thing as their vote approval.
Under this ordinance, the mayor would decide if the new Village Manager would get a contract, just like the existing Village Manager. So the idea that the village has more control is irrelevant.
The fact is the Village Board, if Pekau approves, of course, decides to fire the current Village Manager, they would have to abide by the terms of the contract.
The Mayor and Village Board can fire the current village manager, as he essentially did previously, but have to deal with the contract terms. If they give the new Village Manager position a contract what is the difference?
The reason Pekau wants to get rid of the current Village Manager position and replace him with a new Village Manager, Pekau can do whatever he wants.
Let me repeat: Even though we know under the current Village Manager position ordinance, the mayor and board have the power to remove the Village Manager and deal with the consequences of the current Village Manager’s contract.
So, what is the difference in all of this?
The difference is that Mayor Pekau can not only select a new Village Manager with far less powers than the existing village manager, but, Pekau can appoint himself as the village manager.
Also, the ordinance says:
“The Term of the Village Manager shall not exceed that of the Village President.”
So, when Pekau leaves office (he says he supports term limits but everyone know he plans to run for a third term, giving him a total of 12 years if successful), the new Village Manager has to go, too.
That reinforces the idea that Pekau could make himself the Village Manager.
Worse, it throws the village into turmoil when he leaves (or is voted out) because a new Village Manager will have to take control. But first, the village must go through another hiring process and learning curve.
Again, how does that help the Village? Turmoil, many would say.
Regardless of the changes, Pekau has already drafted an ordinance to eliminate the Village Managerial Position and clear the way for himself to take control.
Not addressed is how much in legal fees this has already cost taxpayers, and what it will cost to transition to the new system?
Why wait for the voters to decide on April 4, which is 43 days away, when Pekau can just do what he wants?
Here is the link to the Village Video in which the ordinance is approved by the Committee and they explain (at the 3:18 minute mark) they want to be ready to move forward. But read the details.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. A political analyst and CEO of Urban Strategies Group, Hanania’s opinion columns on mainstream issues are published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers. His Middle East columns are published in the Arab News. For more information on Ray Hanania visit www.Hanania.com or email him at email@example.com.)
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