“I hate to vote on something that wasn’t in the packet. I personally believe it (the ordinance) is fine but I’d like to see it in the packet before we vote on it.” Those were the words of Oak Lawn’s newest Trustee, William “Bud” Stalker as he questioned how anyone was expected to vote on issues at the village board meeting when the proper documents were not provided.
At the same meeting, on another issue, he also said, “I don’t understand why we are seeing this now and not earlier. That’s my only question.” He was referring to documents this time that didn’t match up with documents that he was provided.
Village Clerk Jane Quinlan, who has the legal responsibility to keep all records and whose office compiles the board packets defended her actions while trying to blame Stalker. Quinlan said, “Thanks for letting me know. I wish you would have let me know ahead of time. I could get it to you instantly.”
Well, he was saying that he wanted the documents in order to review everything before the meeting. Providing it to him “instantly” should mean providing it in the board packet the Friday before the Tuesday meeting. That time frame gives Trustees a chance to review the documents to determine how they will vote. One Trustee shouldn’t have to ask when it wasn’t in anyone’s packet.
This isn’t the first time that documents have been incomplete and board members have been expected to vote. Last year, Trustee Robert Streit (Dist. 3) noted that a agreement with the 111th Street develolper didn’t include the attachments. In effect the “guts” of the issue was left out of the shell bill leaving some to guess what was in the resolution.
Quinlan isn’t the only Oak Lawn official that can be criticized here although she certainly deserves her share of the blame since this is not an isolated problem.
The Trustees are not much better. Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2) made a motion that was seconded by Trustee Terry Vorderer (Dist. 4) even though neither one had the right documents in front of them or even understood the contract that they were voting on. The video of the board painstakingly shows that some people were willing to make a vote without any information as they searched from help from the Village’s Finance Director and Attorney.
If you watch the video and cringe, you may be even blaming yourself for electing some of these people.
Mayor Sandra Bury claimed that the momentum would be lost if the vote wasn’t taken that night. That strikes us as a terrible reason to plow forward when you don’t have the documents.
Stalker said, “I want to have time to read something before I vote on it.”
But it wasn’t a problem for Trustees Olejniczak or Vorderer, who appeared ready, willing and able to push the vote forward, with Vorderer stating, “but weren’t these discussed in the legal and ordinance (committee)a couple of weeks ago at length?”
The Legal and Ordinance Committee only has three members and has been a subject of debate in the past with charges being leveled that the board is “sneaking” issues through that committee without debate.
Stalker reminded Vorderer that the board did not get two documents until “tonight”. As Stalker said the word, “tonight”, he held up two documents.
Vorderer agreed but still excused the conduct stating, “yes, that’s a fact but we just got the contract signed.”
Sorry but that’s not a good reason to rush something through the board without everyone being able to see it. It’s called transparency when candidates are seeking votes and promising to be good stewards of the tax dollars.
It should also be called common sense and it is woefully lacking.