Trustee Vorderer, after falsely claiming that he is the only elected official to take any action against Chuck E. Cheese, is now ready to take action tonight in a special meeting called to hold a hearing on the revocation of the business license.
However, according to various sources at the Village Hall, Village Manager Larry Deetjen has cautioned Trustees against taking such action. Our sources did not know if Village Attorney Paul O’Grady has provided a legal opinion on the substance of the village’s case.
In past meetings, Vorderer has indicated that he was working with the attorney regarding the Chuck E. Cheese issues and during that period, Vorderer voted against holding a license revocation hearing. Now, after a patron left the establishment and was shot in Evergreen Park, Vorderer has abruptly switched his position going on television newscasts to call for the revocation.
Vorderer has blamed past officials during the last four years but has routinely opposed taking action such as a revocation of the license. As reported by the Oak Lawn Leaf, Oak Lawn Trustee Terry Vorderer, at October board meeting blamed the recent problems at Chuck E. Cheese on his predecessors and past Mayors, stating, “for more than 20 years my personal experience has been problems with Chuck E. Cheese and I think there has been a failure on this board okay to address these issues until I got elected.” In fact that statement is false.
An Oak Lawn Leaf reader pointed out that Vorderer’s blame game statement was in fact false pointing to official records at the village hall and on the website.
The January 8, 2013 Regular Board Meeting minutes indicate that the previous Mayor, Dave Heilmann, and then Trustee Thomas Duhig were taking action when the first incident occurred the previous month.
Village Manager Deetjen discussed a letter he just received from the establishment regarding the incident that Trustee Duhig discussed. Mr. Deetjen stated he will continue to update the Board on this situation. The letter indicates that the establishment is responsive and it addresses three global issue which are capacity, technology as it comes to security and also actual physical safety and security at the Chuck E. cheese establishment. He expected to have more information for the Board by the end of the week. President Heilmann stated if there are recommendations from the Police Department on this issue, to please let the whole Board know.
Similarly, Heilmann and Duhig, who were not allies, revisited the same issue two months later according to board meeting minutes. The March 12, 2013 Regular Board Meeting Minutes state:
Trustee Duhig has been working with the Chuck E. Cheese Corporation relating to capacity issues. Kimco Realty Company, who is the property owner, is also being cooperative in having an off duty policemen and marked police car patrolling the area around Chuck E. Cheese. Trustee Duhig stated that the Village of Oak Lawn conducted a recent inspection of Chuck E. Cheese and was not particularly happy with the results. The capacity of the restaurant is approximately 90% children under the age of ten. He would like to see that Chuck E. Cheese is not able to renew its liquor license because of the problems that they have at this establishment. Village President Heilmann would like the Village attorney to provide the Board of Trustees with an opinion as to the business licensing legal issues with Chuck E. Cheese. Village Attorney Paul O’Grady said that he would circulate a memo to the Board.
That same month at the March 26, 2013 Board of Trustees Meeting, Duhig updated the board, and public, on the work that was being done at Chuck E. Cheese:
Trustee Duhig stated that Division Chief Mike Murray has been working with Chuck E. Cheese to get two Oak Lawn Police Officers working inside the establishment from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and 2:00 – 11:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. We are moving in the right direction. The management company has agreed to pay an Oak Lawn Police Officer in a squad car to remain outside Chuck E. Cheese during busy hours.Trustee Duhig stated that it may be a good idea to revisit the discussion of the liquor license for Chuck E. Cheese. President Heilmann stated that he received a memo on this subject. There is a legal process that the Village needs to go through.
That legal process referred to by Heilmann, was the revocation of the business license. Trustee Robert Streit has repeatedly called for a hearing on the revocation of the license and has received only tepid support from one other Trustee. The remainder of the board has continued to congratulate themselves for changes that apparently occurred under Heilmann and Duhig’s tenures.
Despite the official village records indicating that Duhig and Heilmann, as well as the Village Attorney, Village Manager and Police Chief were working on improving safety at Chuck E. Cheese prior to Vorderer being elected.
Trustee Alex Olejniczak noted that the board had insisted on greater security measures several years ago during the October meeting but never mentioned that it was the previous board under Heilmann’s leadership that instituted changes. Olejeniczak did ask when the board started insisting on increased secruity.
Vorderer defended his actions while attacking previous Trustees from his district and other Mayors. “Just a comment on Trustee Olejniczak’s (statement) when did we start this? We started this when I got elected because nothing happened there for twenty years. People on this board okay just let it slide.”
Despite public records showing Vorderer’s statement was factually incorrect, he returned to the bully pulpit at the November 22nd meeting, repeating his claims while some of his fellow Trustees joined in on heaping praise on him.
Specifically, Vorderer stated, “…it was until I became a Trustee, within my first months that anything was done to address the issues.” However, a quick check of board minute meetings for several months after the election do not show Vorderer ever raising the Chuck E. Cheese issue or the board discussing the issue.
Prior to Vorderer’s election as the Trustee in the 4th District, the residents were represented by Trustees Tom Duhig, Steve Rosenbaum and Mike Walsh during the twenty year period cited by Vorderer. The Mayors that have served during that 20 year period were Dave Heilmann, Ron Stancik, and Ernie Kolb.
A former village official, commenting with the promise of anonymity, said, “Vorderer is taking credit for the work of others and he continues to repeat the same lie that he was the only one working to fix Chuck E. Cheese. In fact, he’s done nothing.”
At a meeting last month, Vorderer criticized fellow Trustee Robert Streit’s suggestion to hold a revocation hearing calling it the “political” solution. Now, with the filing deadline approaching for Trustee candidates and Vorderer preparing to run for re-election, he’s flip flopped on the issue.