After Oak Lawn officials, such as 911 Emergency Director Bill Villanova and current Police Chief Michael Murray made a presentation regarding the Everbridge Emergency Alert system and changes that will be made in the aftermath of complaints raised by residents and some Trustees, one Trustee chose to engage with a fellow Trustee, taking shots at the Trustee, a former Trustee, other officials, senior citizens and other users while misstating important facts and claiming that others didn’t know what they were talking about.
After Villanova presented changes that will be made to the system and acknowledged problems with the system, Trustee Alex Olejnicizak (Dist. 2) decided to make comments. “There has been some criticism by some board members that quite frankly I don’t think understand how the system works,” said Olejniczak.
Both former Trustee Carol Quinlan and current Trustee Robert Streit had raised questions about the Everbridge alerts. Quinlan, while on the board, asked Village Manager Larry Deetjen to look at the propriety of issuing storm related alerts to people on the phones at 1 a.m. At the time, Deetjen reacted negatively, suggesting that the homeowners had a choice and could turn the phone off. Quinlan noted that some people, including herself, are sandwiched between young adults away at school and elderly parents who may need assistance.
At a subsequent meeting, Streit raised the issue after residents complained that alerts about an armed suspect were limited to some people even in the same household. Deetjen announced at that time that he was investigating the matter. Murray and Villanova then made a presentation at the June 9th meeting, acknowledging some problems with the system.
Nonetheless, Olejniczak followed up the presentation by attacking Quinlan and Streit without naming either Trustee. He also took a verbal swipe at individuals using the system apparently placing some of the blame for the mistakes on individual residents. “It does take individuals to get a profile on there (Everbridge). To make sure that they sign their profile up correctly and make sure that they have all of the things that they want in their profile,” said Olejniczak.
He didn’t stop at that point choosing to make a long presentation longer by telling the gentlemen to flip back on the slides claiming it was very important. He then seemed to blame senior citizens while pointing to the emergency location slide of the presentation. “The emergency locations that’s what I found in dealing with some of the constituents that had problems with that it is a little bit confusing especially with the older citizens who think they signed up correctly and they basically signed up from one or two things,” he said.
After apparently trying to lay blame on Trustees, senior citizens and unknown individuals, he then jumped into an attack on Trustees who have not signed up for the Everbridge alerts. According to Villanova, only 6,000 people have signed up for the alerts in Burbank, Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn and Bridgeview out of all the landlines, email accounts and cell phones in those areas.
Olejniczak placed the blame on his fellow officials, stating, “I’ve got to tell you I don’t know how many Trustees are signed up on Everbridge. But I gotta tell you I’ve never had an issue with Everbridge ever since I’ve been signed up. I think if we are going to be stewards of the community all trustees should be signed up for Everbridge”. He then asked, in disregard of Roberts Rules of Order, “Trustee Streit, are you signed up for Everbridge?”
Streit unsucessfully tried to steer the conversation back to Murray and Villanova, before being interrupted, by stating, “First of all, Trustee excuse me, I want to thank the police chief and Bill Villanova for acknowledging that there are problems with Everbridge that residents have had that are going to be addressed. It’s really counter productive to suggest.”
Olejniczak did not want to talk about the corrections to the system and instead interrupted Streit interjecting, “But are you signed up?” Streit responded, “It’s counterproductive” as Mayor Bury asked that the board not have a “back and forth” between the Trustees.
Despite the Mayor’s urging to stop, Olejniczak continued, “You’re not signed up I get it.”
He then acted as if it was Streit that had interrupted him stating, “I just want to finish my comment as I was finishing my thought process with the Everbridge.”
After claiming that it was other Trustees that didn’t know much about the Everbridge system, Olejniczak launched into a conversation with Villanova, exposing his own lack of knowledge regarding the system.
Olejniczak claimed, “We’ve done the upgrades every year that they’ve offered upgrades. Correct?”
Villanova answered, “As far as I know this is the first upgrade we are doing is this one we are doing now.”
Undeterred from the answer, Olejniczak continued as if Villanova had agreed, stating, “Right, this is the first one they are going to offer which would give us more ability to get a better message out there but the system itself does require upon people to get involved within the system.”
Olejniczak then circled back to once again blame the users and call other Trustees names, “It’s not a perfect system. Nobody said it was a perfect system. I think it is very important that we as Trustees should understand how the system works before making comments that are irresponsible.”
Streit told Murray and Villanova at the meeting that he appreciated that they were acknowledging that the residents had issues with the system. He also addressed Olejniczak’s question regarding whether he is a subscriber noting that he is notified as a Trustee and has staff at his constituent office that also receive alerts from residents and respond.
Streit added that he appreciated that the problems raised by residents were being addressed.
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