A letter addressed to Mayor Sandra Bury and the Oak Lawn Board of Trustees that purportedly was written by a 911 Dispatcher who worked both as an employee of the Village and then for Norcomm under the outsourced contract, has been ignored by officials.
Trustee Carol Quinlan (District 5) raised the issue of the letter at a Village Board Meeting on November 11, 2014 remarking that the issues raised in the letter regarding a lack of training were “scary.”
At the time, Mayor Bury said the letter was anonymous, implying that the charges were not true as she continued to ask Quinlan if she had checked Norcomm’s website.
The Oak Lawn Leaf has confirmed that the letter was written by a former 911 dispatcher, who originally worked for the Village as a union employee and was one of five dispatchers that were then hired by Norcomm when it assumed control of the 911 Emergency Center due to a private contract approved by a 4-2 vote by the Village Board.
According to her letter, she began working for the village on August 17, 2009, and would have held the position for five years if she did not recently quit the job in frustration over the issues she outlined in her letter.
In her letter, she differentiates the training received when she first started as a village employee and was given “7-8 months of training on the job”. She wrote, “Norcomm had new dispatchers who had never done the job before taking calls after a few weeks of training.”
When Quinlan raised the issue of training at the board meeting, Mayor Bury asked Quinlan if she had “checked her facts.” A voice that appears to be Trustee Alex Olejniczak is heard on the tape stating, “all it would take is a phone call.”
As previously reported, the Oak Lawn Leaf did review Norcomm’s website and ascertained that the training is not spelled out for dispatchers serving in Oak Lawn.
The letter also set forth two major problems for Village Officials who have spent the last ten months denying there was a problem with the 911 Emergency Communications and defaming anyone who raised a question.
It appears from the letter that the number of complaints about the operations were reduced because dispatchers were told to not send emails to each other. Any complaint about a dispatcher was “composed in the Microsoft Outlook software, printed out, and the paper copy was left in the recipient’s mailbox. The paper copy was then shredded,” stated the letter writer.
She goes on to write that she was told that the destruction of the complaints was done “to ensure that the Village of Oak Lawn would not be able to read any of the issues with Norcomm via email.”
If true, the destruction of village records would be a violation of Illinois State Law. The Local Records Act prohibits the destruction or mutilation of village records.
Although the letter was written and delivered on October 23, 2014, at least two Trustees were not notified of the complaint until the letter writer sent it personally to Trustees Robert Streit (District 3) and Quinlan on November 5, 2014. Quinlan raised the issue then at the next board meeting.
The Oak Lawn Leaf attempted to contact Mayor Sandra Bury for comment. Here is a copy of the exchange by email with the Mayor:
From: “Sandy Bury, OD” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Michael Dominic <email@example.com>
Sent: Sunday, December 21, 2014 5:27 PM
Subject: Re: 911 Letter from Dispatcher
Please contact my assistant Carmie to set up a face-to-face meeting. As described in prior email exchanges, I will record this meeting with your consent to ensure a factual record.
Sent from my iPhone
On Dec 21, 2014, at 4:25 PM, Michael Dominic
Dear Mayor Bury,
The Oak Lawn Leaf has acquired a copy of the letter from the former Dispatcher originally sent to the village on October 23rd. We have reviewed the meeting tapes in which Trustee Carol Quinlan raised questions regarding the letter. We would like to ask you a few questions if you care to respond.
1. Did the village review the records to determine who wrote the letter?
2. Did the village investigate the issues raised and what is your response?
3. Did the village make any changes to the operation based on the letter?
4. Is the Norcomm Staffing below the required amount pursuant to the contract?
If you have any other comment to make regarding this issue, let us know. On the tape, you indicated that the letter was anonymous and implied that for that reason no action was taken. Is that a fair description? If not, why not? Thank you in advance. I’m working on a story so I would appreciate a response.
Oak Lawn Leaf
Editor’s Note: Mayor Bury’s response is first and our email to her follows the response as it did on the email chain. We regret that Mayor Bury refused to answer the questions posed. In the past we have made it clear that due to our need to meet journalistic deadlines on a daily basis we cannot capitulate to demands from the Mayor or anyone else who may be a subject of the story. We did provide her with the questions and the opportunity to make any statement. In fairness to Mayor Bury, we wanted to print the response in its entirety along with the four questions we asked. We believe that the Mayor had an opportunity to create a factual record by responding to a few very simple questions, in writing, in her own words. We regret that she chose not to do so.
See a copy of the letter from the dispatcher below.