Updated: November 19, 2012 3:39PM
I’m writing regarding the Oct. 12 story about a secret meeting between Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann and Christ Medical Center officials about developing the old Beatty Lumber site into a new senior citizens center.
Everyone wants the village to have the best senior center, but that’s a separate issue from whether the village should pursue the proposed $1.7 million impact fee from the hospital to cover village costs related to Christ’s $600 million expansion project. A senior center can’t help with the extra police, firefighting and infrastructure costs that Oak Lawn will incur to properly support Christ’s expansion.
These are very real costs that Oak Lawn taxpayers will have to cover. The hospital does not pay one dime in municipal or real estate taxes. Without an impact fee, the additional costs of Christ’s expansion will be paid by homeowners and local businesses, none of which can afford higher taxes.
Oak Lawn’s 2012 budget includes this impact fee, and Mayor Heilmann knows this. His duty to residents and taxpayers is to work within the budget the village board approved. Anything less is irresponsible.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this controversy over Oak Lawn getting the $1.7 million fee or having Christ assist in building the senior center is the mayor’s motivations. It might appear to some that Heilmann is bending over backward to save Advocate Health Care, the hospital’s owner, from having to pay the impact fee.
I call upon Mayor Heilmann to publicly declare whether there is any conflict of interest with Advocate. Taxpayers have a right to know if he personally benefits, financially or otherwise, from his relationship with Advocate.
Oak Lawn taxpayers are hurting and don’t need to be hurt further by actions of their elected officials. The time has come for transparency in this matter and every other matter before the village board.
Labor unions under assault
No other country in the world has ever had a strong middle class such as that of the United States of America. Our previous generations have suffered through the Great Depression and two world wars as well as sweatshops, child labor and other struggles against the robber barons of decades ago.
Much of their working conditions improved because of labor unions. It was the unions that fought hard for an eight-hour day, abolished child labor, promoted workplace safety, achieved a minimum wage and provided health care and pensions. Unions largely made our middle class what we are today.
Now the Republican candidate for president and Republicans in Congress are working under Grover Norquist, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist who is financed by the billionaire Koch brothers to rid our nation of what made our middle class great — unions!