The national political picture changed Tuesday as a nation’s voters demanded that leaders work together in an honest and respectable manner.
Of course Oak Lawn taxpayers can tell you that the management of the village has long ceased to be done honestly or respectfully. The reason seems obvious: Larry Deetjen.
Deetjen isn’t a professional manager despite what he tells people on his own website, designed to counter 30 years of embarrassing stories. For the last seven years, those stories have been the result of his take no prisoner approach to management and politics in Oak Lawn regardless of the fights it may cause among others.
Larry Deetjen is divisive. His management skills revolve around keeping enough elected officials in the dark long enough to keep a majority and then trying to reconstruct a majority when the first one falls apart.
His style, or lack of professionalism, if you prefer, is legendary. A local businessman told us that he sat in Deetjen’s office a few years ago while Deetjen took a call from a Village Trustee. Without telling the Trustee, Deetjen placed the call on speaker and proceeded to mock the Trustee through facial expressions and hand signals. That Trustee is no longer on the board and never knew or probably cared about Deetjen’s
opinion. The judgment of a Manager that would do such a thing must be questioned, however.
He fed a group of Trustees information in an effort to take control of the village from the former Mayor. Part of that information resulted in two ridiculous “investigations” of a municipal law firm and threatened litigation. The bigger harm is the irreparable damage Deetjen did in the process to the law firm’s reputation and the relationships between the Trustees and former Mayor. Of course, legal fees didn’t go down but the firm that Deetjen hired after a secret meeting in Evergreen Park solidified that firm and built the successor firm that bills over a million a year to Oak Lawn taxpayers.
Deetjen didn’t seem to care that it caused a major battle because he was able to solidify his power.
During the last campaign, he blatantly joined in political charges with one side over another, promised reforms, participated in bullying tactics of employees in an attempt to criminally punish at least one official, contacted the FBI with unfounded information, and even leaked a confidential federal subpoena after causing the bogus investigation. All of it was done to help his candidates and solidify his position. His methods lacked any understanding that the official lives and works in Oak Lawn. But, the hardball tactics worked even if the facts were fabricated.
Now, he’s working with a new board and a new Mayor but it is the same old Larry. He continuously sends out Trustee Information Letters to these officials with misstatements, political arguments and even bald faced lies. It seems to also work because we’ve heard very little from our Mayor or Trustees regarding Deetjen’s performance.
The public seems to speak clearly on social media, on our website and in other forums. Those comments are rarely supportive of Deetjen, yet the Mayor and Trustees seem to ignore those screams for change.
There are many reasons to make a change and dump Deetjen. He has made major expenditures on no-bid contracts without any board input.
He has led a 7 year battle with the Oak Lawn Firefighters’ labor union and has lost every legal decision. Even after an Illinois Appellate Court case, Deetjen continues to turn his political hoses on the firemen suggesting that they are the reason he can’t seem to balance the budget and provide services. That’s just more divisiveness.
He now has his sights on the Public Works Department union members, where he has threatened massive layoffs. Perhaps he doesn’t have his own car in town to understand how much the residents hated the reduction in snow plowing services last winter.
We know Deetjen has a village car though, since he made news with us and our comrades in the media when he crashed the car in Palos Park one night. He violated policy by transporting an unknown female in the car and violated the law by abandoning the car and not reporting the accident. 911 tapes played by us in one story tell a story of a man with reckless indifference to anyone but himself in that instance. He even involved his own police department and the Palos Park police and only responded to questions hours later when it was too late to test his breath for alcohol.
He’s fought with two Trustees and refused to turn over records to the Trustees. Of course, his allies seem to have records without ever making a request. When the issue of the 911 out sourcing was raised, Trustee Tim Desmond and Mayor Sandra Bury insisted that they had seen personnel records of the union dispatchers and the mistakes made by these individuals were numerous.
When Trustees Robert Streit and Carol Quinlan requested such records, they were told there weren’t any.
The village can find millions for developers in sweet heart deals but according to Deetjen they can’t add police patrols by simply redeploying officers from the office to the street. The people want better police protection but Deejten thinks they want developers to get richer.
The 911 Fiasco should be placed at the feet of Deetjen. Nobody pushed harder to fire the union workers and replace the experienced workers with inexperienced workers from a private company. When a dispatcher recently screwed up in relation to the deadly 95th Street crash, Trustee Streit was told that he was sinking to a new low by bringing the subject up. Deetjen and his allies would apparently like Streit to ignore public policy mistakes.
Apparently, everyone is supposed to turn a blind eye to the poor decision making of Larry Deetjen and his bobblehead Trustees who nod their head in agreement with anything he proposes.
The record is clear. He should be terminated as Village Manager. So why is he still serving as the Village Manager?