The Village, led by Mayor Sandra Bury–head of the Oak Lawn First Party–could soon dump a local Oak Lawn business after 17 years of “excellent service.”
The Village of Oak Lawn has opened bidding, looking for a towing services vendor. Unfortunately for local business Jack’s Towing, it looks like Village Manager Larry Deetjen is showing them the door, in a move that may put two Oak Lawn residents out of work.
In a letter addressed to the Village Board members, Mike Queenan, owner of Jack’s Towing, Inc., wrote “Village Manager Larry Deetjens raved about our service and how efficient we are. I ask, if it is not broken, why fix it?”
Village Manager Larry Deetjen recently wrote in a Trustee Information Letter “the current service provider [Jack’s Towing] has serviced the Village for 17 years with excellent service.” But, according to an “administrative review team,” Jack’s Towing doesn’t rate as one of the top three possibilities for a future contract.
Jack’s Towing is located at 4440 Southwest Highway. The Village Manager has expressed interest in selling that property for a restaurant use, though the location has been deemed an “unlikely fit” for a restaurant.
Mayor Sandra Bury was first elected in 2013 as head of the Oak Lawn First Party, with a slate of candidates including Tim Desmond, Alex Olejniczak, and Mike Carberry.
Mike Queenan’s letter to the Village Board can be read below.
February 18, 2016
To the Mayor and the Village Trustees,
My name is Mike Queenan and I am the owner of Jack’s Towing, Inc. We are privileged to be the official towing company for the Village of Oak Lawn for the past 17 years. As some of you may or may not know, the village towing contract is up for bid. In a letter I received from the Village, the business model may be changed to a system with two towing companies.
If I may, I would like to explain we started doing police towing some seventeen years ago. We were approached by the police chief and asked if we were interested in doing the police towing for the village. Although I was very honored to be considered I replied that I thought that the village had TWO companies already doing the police towing, upon which the chief stated that these other two companies had other police and commercial accounts, therefore, many times there would be a long wait.. He also stated that when you would wait at 95th and Cicero to clear a crash, time is of the essence in terms of officer safety and traffic movement. After, considering my options, I told the chief that I would appreciate the opportunity and was assigned half of the village. A short time later I was again contacted by the chief and told that if I wanted the entire village I could have it. It was at this point that Jack’s Towing Inc. started to tow exclusively for the Village of Oak Lawn.
After we started towing for the entire village, we stopped towing for all other accounts so that we could provide even better service to the village. As all of this was going on, I was asked by then-Village Manager Joe Faber if we would consider cleaning up the site at 4440 Southwest Highway and operating out of there.(at this point in time the sight was a blight on the village.) He stated that the property could not be developed because it was next to the Water Department and that if the village ever wanted to expand the Water Department they would already own the property necessary for expansion. He suggested putting up fences, lights sewers and working out of a trailer. I was not too thrilled at working out of a trailer, so we then discussed putting up a building. After much discussion with the village, we decided to put up a building. The village did a loan agreement with Jack’s Towing, Inc. in the amount of $146,000 at 8% interest per year for 15 years. This agreement was signed in August of 2001, with the first payment of $1396.69 due in October of 2001, and the last payment due in September 2016.
As all of this was taking place, the staff of the Police Department would make comments to me that it was nice to have a towing company that was out to an accident scene. As times have gone on, much in police towing has changed. We now tow and store seized vehicles and process unclaimed vehicles, which creates a lot of paperwork. My employee, Ed Forsythe, who is president of the state towing association does all of this work for the village. Although this does cost money and provides no additional income, I stepped up to the plate and took responsibility, thereby saving the village on payroll, postage fees for certified letters, and such. I have an outstanding staff and they are a credit to the village.
I have always been and will be loyal to the Village of Oak Lawn. I was asked in a recent e-mail from the village, if I would consider doing half of the village towing. My response to the e-mail was that we could not entertain this idea. When we started doing police towing, there were months that we would do up to 200 cars per month. Times are different now, laws and legal procedures have changed, and now it gets all the way down to 80 cars per month being towed. A reduction of 50% of the revenue for my company would be devastating as I would still have to pay insurance and other operating costs. In addition to this, Chicago, Chicago Ridge, Worth, Palos Hills, Bridgeview, Burbank, Evergreen Park, Hometown, Hickory Hills and Justice all use only one towing company. An advantage of Oak Lawn using Jack’s towing exclusively is that we tow for Oak Lawn and only Oak Lawn. We do not have any other police accounts, or commercial accounts. Nor do we have a body shop or mechanical shop. 100% of our attention goes to serving the Village of Oak Lawn. No other towing company in the area can offer the same type of service.
In pre bid meetings with other towing companies, Village Manager Larry Deetjens raved about our service and how efficient we are. I ask, if it is not broken, why fix it? It is my sincere hope that we can sit down together and resolve this issue to everyone’s satisfaction. For more details attached is a letter that was written to Larry Deetjens in November of last year and attached to our towing contract bid. This will explain in much detail the tasks we perform for the village and also, show the huge benefits to the village for keeping Jack’s Towing, Inc. as their official towing company.
Mike Queenan, Jack’s Towing, Inc.