Sheets Out As Fire Chief In Oak Lawn as Chicago Ridge Cancels Chief Sharing Agreement
Oak Lawn Fire Chief George Sheets, who has pulled double duty as Chief of neighboring Chicago Ridge, is out as the Fire Chief of Oak Lawn. The specifics of how, why, when and where are being sorted out but the who in the story so far is Sheets. The Village of Chicago Ridge’s Mayor, Chuck Tokar sent a letter to Oak Lawn’s Village Manager, Larry Deetjen last Thursday informing him that Chicago Ridge was ending the arrangement that has been in place since July of 2014 and which allowed both village leaders to pat themselves on the back for “thinking outside the box”. Tokar’s letter did not have an explanation although according to Village of Chicago Ridge sources, Tokar met with Sheets and another employee of the village last week. Shortly thereafter, Sheets met with Oak Lawn’s Village Manager Larry Deetjen. Sheets has been Chief in Oak Lawn for nine years and has 36 years of fire service in various fire departments.
Sheets appeared in a controversial piece of literature paid for by Mayor Sandra Bury’s campaign in 2017 and is considered a favorite of Deetjen. However, Sheets dropped the other shoe and announced to the fire department that he is retiring as of July 2018. But wait, there’s more because on Tuesday Village Manager Larry Deetjen is asking the board to approve an agreement that removes Sheets as Chief but places him in some kind of “advisory” role that doesn’t exist in the Illinois Municipal Code for a fire department employee. That’s a very long transition period and not standard operating procedure. If you’re confused, stay tuned because the Village Board will be asked to vote for this agreement even though it isn’t on the agenda for Tuesday. If you look at the agenda, it states, “Action on Executive Session Items”. Who’s hiding what and where are they hiding it?
Oak Lawn Homeless Have Rights; Will Chicago Case Be The Copied In Oak Lawn?
A homeless couple in Chicago is using a relatively new state law to sue the City of Chicago. Anyone paying attention to the “debate” about Oak Lawn’s homeless population should be paying attention to the lawsuit. The Chicago couple claims that Chicago violated the 2013 Illinois Bill of Homeless Rights Law that guarantees homeless people access to public services and the right to move freely through public spaces such as sidewalks, parks, and public transportation.
The City allegedly targeted the couple and forced them to move from their spot downtown to other locations. Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen has been keenly interested in the homeless population of Oak Lawn and that population has been referred to as the “homeless problem”. Sounds like the start of another lawsuit.
Oak Lawn High School Teacher Named Coach of the Year
Kelly Rumel took a high school girl’s bowling program from its inception in 2002 to today and built a winning tradition. Rumel, an Oak Lawn Community High School Special Education teacher was approached in 2002 by students with the request that she help start a girls bowling program. By year two of the program, the Spartans were competing in the Illinois High School Association State Finals.
Now sixteen years later, Rumel has taken the program to a high level overall and in the South Suburban Conference Red and was recently recognized as the best at what she does. For the first time in her career as head coach, Rumel was named the South Suburban Conference Girls Bowling Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season. The Spartans finished the SSC season with a record of 10-3 this year and finished second at the conference meet, falling just four pins short of winning a title. The highlight was a season-high game of 1,021 pins at conference, which was an average of 204 pins per bowler. And in the end, four Spartan bowlers were named as all-conference members.
Harold L. Richards Bulldogs Take Third at Regionals
The H.L. Richards Varsity speech team finished in third place in the regional tournament and advanced to the sectionals in 11 of 14 categories. The team is coached by Sean Harrigan. Individual highlights included three second place finishes, six third place finishes and three fourth place finishes. Taking second place were Brian Carpenter (Humorous Interp), Saja Hamad (Declamation), Sajjid Odeh (Original Oratory). The third place winners were Ali Mohamed and Noor Awaidah (Dramatic Duet Acting), Sajjid Odeh and Michelle Quinn (Humorous Duet Acting), Sami Alqadi (Impromptu Speaking, Viviana Urbano (Poetry), Michelle Quinn (Radio Speaking), and Performance In The Round – directed by Connor Reynolds. The fourth place finishes were by Noor Awaidah (Dramatic Interpretation), Ali Mohamed (Original Comedy), and Brian Carpenter (Special Occasion Speaking).
NY ‘Minimum Manning’ Case Has No Effect?
A New York state judge ruled in the city’s favor to block arbitration over the “minimum manning” clause in its labor contract with the firefighters, which requires 15 firefighters must be on duty at all times. Immediately, some people in Oak Lawn’s political elite circles questioned whether the case will have any effect on Oak Lawn’s battles with the Oak Lawn Firefighters on the same issue. Legal experts tell us “no”.
However, if Burt Odelson and his law firm can find a way to use the case and end minimum manning in Oak Lawn, he would be an instant hero in the eyes of the administration. When Odelson was hired it was under the pretense of coming to a settlement that all the parties could live with going forward. However, it appears that it was all talk behind closed doors and the village is not changing its strategy of punch first and ask questions later.