A formal complaint lodged by an Oak Lawn resident against Village Manager Larry Deetjen charging him with “harassment, bullying, intimidation” and “violating the civil rights” of that resident will not be heard by the Village Board’s “Legislative License and Ethics Committee” according to a letter sent from the Village Attorney to the resident, Jan Schaller.
The Village Attorney’s letter claims that the committee does not hear ethics complaints and only operates for the limited purposes of (1) reviewing the ethics code ordinances adopted by other municipalities and ethics code suggestions brought forward by the citizens of the village; and (2) making recommendations to the president and board of trustees relative to adding additional sections to the code.
The committee is made up of Trustees Tim Desmond, Alex Olejniczak, Michael Carberry and Terry Vorderer. All four Trustees support Larry Deetjen.
Schaller filed an official complaint with the Village’s Human Resources Director on January 17, 2017 claiming Deetjen had embarked on a campaign of political intimidation against her after she spoke out on village issues.
After Schaller sent a letter to the editor to various newspapers, she said that Deetjen attempted to stop her from speaking out about the plans for the Beatty Development. According to Schaller’s complaint, Deetjen “attempted to pressure the leadership of the church I attend, where I am a member, and where I work part-time as a church secretary to force me to refrain from making or writing public comments.”
According to Schaller, Deetjen contacted another church member, whose late husband served on a village commission. The other church member, who is a supporter of Mayor Sandra Bury, allegedly contacted the church leadership “regarding political activities” undertaken by Schaller.
Deetjen allegedly also contacted the Oak Lawn Library Director by copying him on an email message in response to the one Schaller sent to the village. Schaller also works at the library on a part-time basis.
Schaller’s complaint alleges that Deetjen’s “actions constitute intimidation by a public official and a violation of my civil rights, more specifically, my right to participate in politics without discrimination or repression.”
Despite the village attorney’s opinion that the matter will not be reviewed by the Legislative, License and Ethics Committee, the President and Board of Trustees could take other disciplinary action against Deetjen. However, a village official with knowledge of the complaint said it was ‘highly unlikely” that Deetjen will be disciplined because four of his supporters are members of the Legislative, License and Ethics Committee.
The Human Resources Director, Dan Omiecinski, reportedly conducted his own investigation and determined that Deetjen did not violate any human resources policies. Omiecinski reports to Deetjen, who has complete control to hire and fire the human resources director. Omiecinski has recently been in leaked emails providing personnel file information to former Trustee Tom Phelan after the 2013 election. Omiecinski has not been disciplined for any violations of human resources policies or statutes for those actions.
Previously, the Mayor and Village Board failed to take action against Deetjen after he crashed the village owned vehicle in a ditch in Palos Park, left the scene and only submitted to questioning several hours later. The village official, who asked not to be identified, said, “this is just another ethical problem that will be buried by this administration.”