A second Village Trustee has come forward to push for a hearing on the revocation of the business license of Chuck E. Cheese. However, the remainder of the board remains playing a game that now has the Mayor and Trustees promising to “monitor” Chuck E. Cheese with an unofficial committee of residents.
Trustee Alex Olejniczak, who remained silent last month, has now joined Trustee Robert Streit requesting a hearing on the revocation of the business license for the children’s entertainment venue. Olejniczak made the motion after a presentation by Chuck E. Cheese’s President, Roger Cardinale, and a round table discussion that centered on giving Chuck E. Cheese additional opportunities to correct problems that have led to over fifty five 9-1-1 Police Calls to the facility in 2016.
Trustee Terry Vorderer took issue with the idea that the fifty five 9-1-1 calls were a major concern, although the number was provided by Mayor Sandra Bury in various interviews with media outlets such as NBC 5, the Daily Southtown, WLS 890 AM and WBEZ.
When Streit said that there were over forty police emergency 9-1-1 calls in 2015 and over fifty in 2016 to the facility, Vorderer defended the facility stating, “statistics can lie and liars use statistics”. Vorderer said there were only two or three incidents that were a “major concern”.
Ironically, Vorderer himself has presented statistics through 2015 to argue that crime is down in Oak Lawn. Despite his disdain for statistics, he has claimed that the 2016 reports are not available.
The motion to hold a hearing failed with only Streit and Olejniczak voting for the revocation hearing and Vorderer, Trustees William ‘Bud’ Stalker and Michael Carberry voting against the motion.
Vorderer said that Chuck E. Cheese has done a “good job” instituting suggestions that he has made since being elected to increase safety. He also said it was “impressive” that the President of a “major corporation” would down here from Texas to address “our concerns”.
At the same time, Vorderer told Chuck E. Cheese officials, “your suggestions aren’t anything more than what we’ve tried to do there…”. He admitted that he had reservations that the village and Chuck E. Cheese could accomplish what they want regarding safety at the facility.
In the same breath he asked a question that was repeated by others, in similar form, throughout the discussion. Vorderer asked what the company would do if there is another incident after the suggestions are implemented.
Chuck E. Cheese officials refused to promise that there won’t be another incident and blamed it on “parents” and the fact that incidents are publicized in the media. Cardinale said that they have made improvements since the issues started “three or four years ago”.
Vorderer then asked what the corporation would do if they were called back after another incident. Again, Chuck E. Cheese officials said that they would address the issues as they are doing now.
Despite hearing the answer, Mayor Sandra Bury asked, “If all of these things are implemented and all of your expert’s suggestions …are implemented….and the problem continues, where do we go then?”
Cardinale said the company couldn’t provide a guarantee but would continue to monitor the activities.
Again, Bury asked, “what do we do if none of these things is stopping the problem. I like while your here, I don’t know”. Cardinale said that he was doing everything he could. Vorderer agreed during the discussion saying that he believes the company is doing a good job trying to fix the problems.
In the end, Vorderer’s suggestion that a “committee” of residents appointed by himself would review incidents going forward. Committees are usually created by ordinance and allow the Mayor and Board to appoint the members. Trustee William ‘Bud’ Stalker said that the committee would watch what Chuck E. Cheese is doing and it would gauge the response.
Vorderer said that he would meet with committee members and they would discuss criteria of how to deal with an incident in the future. Vorderer said he wasn’t looking for an official committee and suggested that maybe the police chief could join him and a resident from each district on the committee.
Vorderer thanked Cardinale for flying in from Texas and said he didn’t have to come back for the next meeting.
Carberry said he wanted to hear from the village’s police officials and claimed the issue had become “political”. He said the group should put some goals together. Carberry said he had not received any complaints from residents and suggested that the issue could be revisited “in April”. Carberry said that he was supporting “Terry” and said action was being taken while respecting the corporation.
Carberry asked if the other officials received emails and asked that they be forwarded to him. Olejniczak told Carberry he would be receiving a lot of emails.
Vorderer said the committee could review the issue for six to eight months. The election, in which Vorderer is a candidate is April 4, 2017, which is about five months away.