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Oak Lawn Battle Over Attorneys Is All Politics
By RAY HANANIA
Southwest News-Herald Friday, October 05, 2012
No normal person can sort through the information mess that has been vomited on residents of Oak lawn by a handful of elected officials and clout heavy law firms.
But I think the story involving the “investigation” of the former law firm known as Tressler LLP is all politics, and nothing more. It’s not about saving the taxpayers money. It’s not about alleged double billings. It’s not about doing the right thing for the residents of Oak Lawn. It’s about politicians gone mad with power and egos.
It all started when Mayor Dave Heilmann and his band of merry men won the election, defeating the entrenched powers in 2005 that controlled Oak Lawn with an iron fist.
But then several of the trustees split with Heilmann and an internal battle erupted, involving the controversial Village Manager Larry Deetjen.
The fight got to be messy and words were exchanged so often by the time the fight over law firms erupted, it was already a plague on the village’s taxpayers.
So I am going to cut through the political BS. I like Heilmann. I’ve made no bones about it. I’ve been upfront about that since the day he was elected. He’s a lot different than the political animals who ran the Village Hall zoo in the past. More genuine with an honesty that was and still is refreshing.
I don’t really care about the charges about the old Tressler Law firm because there isn’t one doubt in my mind that the charges are all based on politics.
Heilmann doesn’t “control” Oak Lawn the way one might think. He is the Village President, often called the “mayor.” You would think he should be leading village policy. That’s what the majority of voters wanted when they elected him in 2005 and again in 2009. And I’ll bet if he wants to remain in office in 2013, he’ll get elected again.
But the trustees who came in with him, and one who whimpered through life until Heilmann freed his bondages, decided it was time for their resurrection. Or maybe it was all about getting their share of power and clout to help their friends. They started battling Heilmann, taking away the reins of power and working through the unelected Village Administrator, Deetjen, who answers to the trustees.
How did the will of the people who voted by an overwhelming majority get usurped by a handful of trustees, who are elected from their own little lillypods called districts?
None of the trustees has the mandate that Heilmann has, yet Heilmann’s power has been challenged at every turn.
And it’s about money. It’s about contracts. It’s about whose friends will get helped.
So they kicked out the law firm that Heilmann brought in and they replaced it with one they liked. One that was politically closer to their goal of undermining the elected village president.
And they hired another big shot lawyer to conduct an expensive investigation. You want to know something. It has happened often in the past in other political circles. When you want to smear someone politically, it’s easy to do in politics. And Tressler is being smeared.
But each side has their partisan friends, and the “friends” and “cronies” will scream loudly to defend their interests and their pals.
Who’s my “friend?”
Dave Heilmann. The one who the voters entrusted with their overwhelming support in 2005.
I think the attacks on Heilmann’s law appointees, the Tressler law firm, is a politically motivated witch hunt that does a disservice to the citizens of Oak Lawn.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. You may reach him at http://www.TheMediaOasis.com.) — City & Suburban News-Herald
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Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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