Mayor Bury and her Trustees pulled off a surprisingly strong victory Tuesday with the help of a strange coalition of supporters outside the community.
Bury, who started her first term with the “Phelan Hit List”, a political manifesto detailing vindictive and mean actions against anyone who supported former Mayor Dave Heilmann, wasn’t held accountable on election day.
Village Manager Larry Deetjen crashed the village vehicle he drives into a ditch, left the scene along with an unidentified woman, and was never disciplined by Bury and the Trustees. Three days ago, the voters failed to blame Bury.
The Mayor has fought the firefighter’s union through countless millions and multiple cases to find herself in the same place the village was before she became Mayor. The union didn’t hold it against her by working against her and the voters seemed to say that was acceptable behavior.
20 union dispatchers were fired two days before Thanksgiving by Bury. But multiple trade unions, with their pocketbooks ready, supported Bury. The public unions sat on their wallets and didn’t get on their feet to hold Bury responsible.
Property values sank by 35 percent under Bury and the credit rating agency, Moody’s, downgraded the village’s credit three times under her term. The voters let it slide.
The Mayor runs meetings like a skit from Saturday Night Live, letting allies rip on opponents, ignoring complaints from residents about crime, and scripting attacks against opponents. The voters said, “four more years”.
A development that promised high end shopping instead delivered fast food chicken fingers, since closed pizza places and an empty lot. The voters seemed to think that was alright because they re-elected Bury.
Bury, who may now be known as the Teflon Mayor, took about $50,000 of support from a local car dealer who benefited from zoning changes but voters didn’t seem to care.
A man the BGA said runs the Chicago Mob donated to Bury but voters didn’t think that was a problem.
Election turnout was dismal but it always is dismal in municipal elections. Bury and her Trustees won because they convinced people that they were the nice guys and the opposition was “mean”.
Four years ago, the Hit List told Bury and the new Trustees to not cooperate with Trustees Robert Streit and Carol Quinlan. Since that time, Quinlan has retired and was replaced by Bud Stalker, who was quickly co-opted and even supported Bury while turning his back on many who supported him. Streit chose a different road and was one of the few to put his own money where his mouth is by spending an estimated $100,000 of his own money.
The community has been divided for about six or seven years since then Trustee Tom Phelan and former Mayor Dave Heilmann split and the Unity Party dissolved. Bury became Phelan’s candidate for Mayor and defeated Heilmann, who has not resurfaced.
Now, Bury and all the Trustees start with a clean slate. But, Streit is still on the board for at least two years. Bury doesn’t have to change because apparently she doesn’t get blamed for anything. Streit doesn’t have to change either. The other Trustees can continue to be “yes” men for Bury and Deetjen.
Larry Deetjen, to his credit, has often remarked at board meetings and elsewhere, that the projects that he would like to push forward can only go forward with the support of the whole board.
Four years ago, Bury told Streit she had no interest in working with him and unifying the board. She told Carol Quinlan to sit down like a good little Trustee. What will she do now?
The Teflon Mayor may not have any issues stick to her but she can’t afford to have more homeowners openly talking about selling and moving out of Oak Lawn. There have been some reasonable voices urging everyone to unite but some have also suggested to “not let the door hit you on the way out”.
No community can stand the loss of people who are disillusioned or believe that the village is going down the drain like so many other communities have elsewhere. The time to lead is now.
More importantly, it isn’t true.
Even the Mayor herself admitted that crime had increased. It took her until the last weekend of the campaign but she did say, “yes” crime is up.
It didn’t effect her because she is the “Teflon Mayor”.