The great Chicago Tribune Columnist, John Kass, has an interesting column yesterday that contained excellent advice for every governmental leader. Kass wrote, “A friend reminds me that truth is a cleansing thing. And, that when truth is kept from the people, only bad things can happen: Like distrust of public institutions, or the protection of criminals”.
Kass, who grew up in the area, was talking about the debacle in Fox Lake regarding Joseph Gliniewicz, who was once thought to be a hero but now is reviled as a petty crook, who helped himself to funds intended for that Police Department’s Explorer program that worked with youngsters in the community.
Kass made the point that the investigation into Lt. Gliniewicz’s death was done secretly even though everyone in the law enforcement community in Fox Lake knew that the new administrator had suspended the police chief and was auditing Gliniewicz’s explorer account. His alleged criminal activity with that account was the motive for his suicide that he made look like an attack.
An alert reader of the Oak Lawn Leaf told us that the tragic story of “Hero to Zero” Gliniewicz was allowed because nobody, until the new Village administrator came along, was willing to ask questions, demand answers and shine the light of transparency on the police department. The John Kass column makes it clear that Kass agrees with the idea of governmental officials providing transparency and the words he wrote, bear repeating, “And that when truth is kept from the people, only bad things can happen: Like distrust of public institutions, or protection of criminals”.
Unfortunately, John Kass doesn’t run Oak Lawn. Sandra Bury and Larry Deetjen are in charge and they don’t seem to care about transparency at all.
As detailed in a story yesterday in the Leaf, Bury had grandiose plans for transparency when she was trying to oust the previous Mayor. Few, if any of those transparency promises have been kept. At the last budget meeting, Bury sounded like someone who thinks transparency is a bother. She said that Freedom of Information requests were disruptive to the village’s operation. That doesn’t sound like a cheerleader for open and transparent government.
In fact, she’s entangled herself in a debate now about whether police reports should be made public. Prior to that, she supported the Village Manager’s transfer of funds from a drug forfeiture fund to a memorial, that was supposed to be built without village funds, in violation of Federal Regulations. She sat silently as the Village Manager spent just under $20,000, without board approval, on landscaping additions for the tollway overpass, located outside of Oak Lawn. She attacked Trustees who questioned the $26 million dollar giveaway to a developer without any discussion.
When citizens questioned the 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch no bid contract and firing of the union disptchers, Bury said it was sour grapes. When residents raised questions of incompetence by the new dispatchers, Bury called such claims “lies”. She said there weren’t any complaints. Then, we pushed back and one Trustee demanded answers. There wasn’t just one complaint, there were hundreds. Some of those complaints were “misplaced” and not originally provided by the police chief.
At this point the truth is being kept from the people and only bad things have happened as that truth has been hidden. It’s no wonder that people don’t trust Sandra Bury, Larry Deetjen or government in Oak Lawn.