Oak Lawn bickers over festival
BY BOB RAKOW Correspondent June 13, 2012 11:16PM
Updated: July 15, 2012 3:26PM
Oak Lawn trustees are moving closer to an audit of the village’s Fall on the Green festival, voting to accept proposals from firms that conduct such evaluations.
The move comes nearly two weeks after Trustee Bob Streit called for the audit and questioned how another trustee — his former political ally — has run the fest in the past.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, Streit reiterated many of the claims he included in a May 30 press release, in which he questioned the contracting, accounting and management tactics by Trustee Tom Phelan, the former chairman of the special events committee. Streit has said that his information came from various sources, including village officials, staff and records.
Streit, who was appointed the special events chairman last month, has claimed that Phelan used the festival as a political tool to punish or reward people based on politics.
Mayor Dave Heilmann said he removed Phelan as special events chairman because he personally negotiated contracts for Fall on the Green and distributed VIP tent passes to certain people while excluding others.
Phelan denies the allegations and has provided numerous documents and email exchanges he says should refute them.
But Streit said Tuesday that the documents only “raised more questions than answers.”
In a Dec. 7, 2011, email to Chad Weiler, the village’s community development director, Phelan wrote, “I also want to stay involved with you (Chad) on entertainment choices and negotiating (because) I think we are good at that and we can play good cop/bad cop when negotiating.”
Phelan said he and other members of the special events committee talked to bands about playing the fest, but “never have I signed a document. Never have I directed a document.”
“I have never denied talking to bands about playing our special events,” Phelan said. “Just like Chad Weiler does or any member of our special events committee or our village manager or our mayor. And every single contract was reviewed and signed by the village managers.”
Streit said that Phelan’s responses are “an attempt to interfere with the audit process.”
Phelan said he supports the audit and called for a similar review during the 2012 budget hearings.
Streit has also alleged that food and drink vouchers were given to non-volunteers. Phelan denied the claim.
Streit has not provided the records he says he has that support his allegations.
In addition to the 365 food vouchers requested for volunteers, tickets also were given to beer tent workers, volunteers from Park Lawn, village employees who worked the fest, sponsors and bands, Phelan said. Vouchers also were used to pay for extra food at the VIP tent, he said.
Streit also claims Phelan gave 130 lunch vouchers intended for volunteers to Trustee Alex Olejniczak, who also was given 780 beer tickets.
Instead, the vouchers were given to residents near the Village Green and the section of 53rd Avenue where the Fourth of July Parade is staged to show the village’s appreciation for the inconvenience the events cause, Phelan said. The mayor said he was upset because it was done without village board approval and the cost of the beer and food vouchers came out of the village treasury.