Two Oak Lawn trustees accuse mayor of defaming them
By Bob Rakow Correspondent June 7, 2012 9:22PM
Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:19AM
Two Oak Lawn trustees who are political rivals of Mayor Dave Heilmann have hired attorneys and sent a letter to the mayor, demanding that he stop making what they say are defamatory statements about them.
The May 29 letter was drafted by the Kozacky & Weitzel law firm on behalf of trustees Alex Olejniczak (2nd) and Tom Phelan (6th).
“It is our clients’ position that you have used the media and public hearings to make misleading and false statements about them with the purpose of hurting their reputations in order to make your own political gains,” the letter says.
Heilmann said last week that he had received complaints that Olejniczak interfered with police department operations.
“The clear purpose of you making this statement was so that others would draw the inference that Mr. Olejniczak had interfered in order to benefit (friends) when you knew Mr. Olejniczak had done no such thing,” the letter says.
Heilmann said he was told that Olejniczak called police to complain about the fees associated with a friend’s DUI arrest.
He said he also learned from two reporters that they received an anonymous email from someone claiming to be a village employee and accusing Olejniczak of removing from police reports given to the media a report on another DUI arrest, that of a part-time village inspector who’s a friend of Olejniczak.
“I have learned that Trustee Olejniczak stated that if this report was released, anyone responsible would be fired. That’s why I can’t identify myself,” the email said.
Heilmann said he asked Police Chief Bill Villanova to investigate the allegation and the chief found that the report “had been placed (in the media file) and did not know why it was missing.”
Villanova said he found no evidence that Olejniczak had interfered with police.
Olejniczak denied the allegations, which he called “untrue, unfounded lies.”
“What is (Heilmann’s) evidence?” Olejniczak said. “Dave Heilmann has never approached me. This is my character. This is someone going after my core beliefs. If somebody’s got something, bring the proof.”
‘We are serious’
Phelan said he and Olejniczak were forced to seek legal counsel after Heilmann and Trustee Robert Streit (3rd) defamed them last week in a news release from Streit.
“We felt retaining an attorney was the only way to show them we are serious, that we want the lies to stop and that we want them to retract their false statements against us. If they do not, we will pursue all legal remedies available to us,” Phelan said.
Streit last week called for a forensic audit of the village’s Fall on the Green festival. He questioned the contracting, accounting and management of the event by Phelan, the former chairman of the village’s special events committee, and accused Phelan of using the festival’s perks to reward friends and family and punish political foes.
The annual festival is overseen by the committee. Streit was named committee chairman last month as part of Heilmann’s restructuring of village board committees.