The Village of Oak Lawn has blacklisted one of its own Trustee’s email accounts in an apparent attempt to prevent him from communicating with other elected officials, department heads, or any employee of the village for official business.
In an email exchange provided to the Oak Lawn Leaf, Village Manager Larry Deetjen admitted that he had blacklisted Trustee Robert Streit’s AOL email account from communicating with any village email address.
After the Oak Lawn Leaf email accounts were similarly blacklisted by Deetjen, Streit commented to members of the press at the January 13, 2015, Board of Trustees meeting that Deetjen had done the same thing to him. The Leaf has followed up on that assertion and confirmed that Streit’s email was also blocked.
Streit provided a copy of an email from Larry Deetjen, showing Deetjen’s admission.
The Oak Lawn Leaf has filed an official complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office noting that the Freedom of Information Act requires the Village to accept requests by email. Mayor Sandra Bury has told other media outlets that the Village of Oak Lawn has blocked the Oak Lawn Leaf from communicating with Village officials and employees via email. Bury said “I have no problem with it being shut down…”
Deetjen inexplicably told the Daily Southtown, “We have a lot of spam so there are certain sites IT does remove,” Deetjen said. “If they receive complaints from employees or elected officials, they do remove some. We do block some.” Deetjen has not provided the name of anyone who complained about the Oak Lawn Leaf sending emails and the only emails sent were sent by reporters for the Oak Lawn Leaf asking elected officials for comments or requesting public documents.
Dennis Brennan, attorney for the Oak Lawn Leaf Co., called Deetjen’s explanation “outrageous”. He stated that the messages were not “unsolicited bulk emails” but rather specific requests to specific individuals.
Streit stated that he changed his email adding a second AOL account because he uses the account to communicate with residents. “Larry (Deetjen) was playing politics and trying to hurt the people of the third district but we simply changed the email,” said Streit. He added, “We won’t give in to such childish behavior.”
Ironically, Mayor Bury and the Trustees supporting the actions of Deetjen were elected on a promise of providing greater transparency. Streit said, “This group is absolutely the least transparent Mayor and Board that I’ve ever worked with in 23 years.”