As the Village of Oak Lawn was shocking its federal lobbyist by sending the firm a notice that its services were no longer needed, Village Manager Larry Deetjen stood by his comments about the Illinois General Assembly and the elected officials failure to listen to local officials such as Mayor Sandra Bury and the Oak Lawn Board of Trustees.
Deetjen made the statement at a recent board meeting stating that he stands by his previous comment.
At the May 8th Village Board Meeting, Trustee Terry Vorderer raised “concerns” over hiring a Springfield lobbyist. Vorderer said the village already has a lobbyist in the Southwest Conference of Mayors and he said he doesn’t see “these lobbyists producing much results”. He also noted that Springfield doesn’t have any money and questioned the effectiveness of lobbyists in general. He did say he would “support the concept and cast a yes vote but I want it reviewed next year to see if we get a return on the $60,000 investment.”
Trustee Robert Streit said he said that having a lobbyist for Oak Lawn, specifically, is a good idea. He pointed to the legislation noted by Deetjen that was supported by local legislators and the fact that a capital bill may be passed if JB Pritzker defeats Governor Bruce Rauner. A capital bill could result in villages receiving funds from Springfield and Streit implied that a lobbyist would help procure those funds.
Vorderer said he agreed with Streit’s statement but said “results speak for themselves”. Streit said there are a lot of good lobbyists in Springfield and he is hopeful that Frank Cortese will do a good job. Cortese owns Government Consulting Services of Illinois LLC, which the village will pay $60,000 a year to lobby the legislators in Springfield.
The results may be measured by three issues that have plagued Oak Lawn for years. The east exit at 95th on the 294 Tollway has a major backup problem that could cause an accident. Oak Lawn residents routinely line up to exit the tollway during rush hour while cars and trucks fly by at 80 or 90 miles per hour. Another safety issue involving transportation is Oak Lawn’s need for a stoplight at 95th and 51st Avenue where the Metra garage will exit based on the new development. The third issue is a favorite of Village Manager Larry Deetjen.
He has spoken eloquently about the idea of commercializing the interchange between Harlem Avenue and the tollway interchange. Deetjen has expressed hope that Harlem Avenue could be reconstructed at the same level as 95th Street, creating economic opportunity for retailers.
Based on Vorderer’s comments, Cortese may be judged on those issues in a year.