Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Pekau trying to silence his critics

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By Ray Hanania

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau has launched a campaign to silence his critics and expand his power by reducing accountability in Orland Park, the largest municipality between Chicago and Joliet.

His most recent effort is to expand power is to remove Orland Park from the “confines” of state law that define a professional and experienced village manager.

The Village Managerial System has been in place in Orland Park since 1983 and has been the backbone of every major advancement Orland Park has seen, nearly all implemented by former Mayor Dan McLaughlin.

Since his election, Pekau has done little to advance Orland Park other than announce a few new businesses, give big-buck contracts to cronies and political donors and bully his critics into silence.

RayHanania

Ray Hanania

Pekau’s biggest achievement is how he has undermined democracy in Orland Park by consolidating power and silencing diverse voices and criticism that ensure openness and transparency.

Under his rubber-stamp board, Pekau eliminated all village committees.

Orland Park previously had several committees that brought together elected officials, department heads with specialized knowledge and community leader volunteers who helped address specific issues and needs. Pekau replaced them with one new bully pulpit for himself, called the Committee of the Whole.

By creating the Committee of the Whole, Pekau has blocked creative voices and ideas, giving him total dictatorial control over every issue.

There is no longer a diversity of ideas in Orland Park. Just one idea. Pekau’s idea. With no independent trustees, Pekau does whatever he wants, not only skirting Robert’s Rules of Order to inject his opinions into every discussion when he wants, but also ensuring that no can challenge his flawed thinking without being attacked personally.

Under his predecessors, including McLaughlin, the mayor and village policies often faced challenge and criticism. Challenge and criticism breed accountability. If something wasn’t right, there was always at least one trustee or columnist who challenged the policy, bringing alternative ideas to public light.

Pekau doesn’t want that. Pekau believes he is above accountability and challenge. Critics are personally attacked, and he rarely addresses the issues raised.

Despite Pekau’s tyranny, here are the facts: Eliminating the village managerial form of government strips away the professional guidelines that help ensure taxpayers and residents of a village on how to manage an important municipality, rather than rely on a mayor whose “vast knowledge” is limited to lawn care.

Pekau placed a referendum on the April 4 ballot that reads: “Shall the Village of Orland Park retain the managerial form of government?”

The referendum is written like a double negative to confuse some voters. The resolution should have been written simply as: “Shall the Village of Orland Park eliminate the managerial form of government?” with a clearly understood meaning.

Pekau wants you to think a “No” is the right vote. But under Pekau’s wording to keep the Village Managerial System, you must vote “Yes”!

Pekau wasn’t waiting to find out if he confused the voters enough. He introduced a law that didn’t say “if” voters elect to “not retain” the system, but said “Voters have decided” and he went on to explain what he plans to do.

The Pekau ordinance details how he personally will name a new village manager that doesn’t have to meet state experience qualifications and only listen to him.

That new village manager would serve until Pekau is removed from office and would get a contract just like the one he is trying to eliminate.

Pekau falsely claims the current village manager position operates without accountability. The truth is, under the current system, the village manager is accountable but of independent professional thought. The mayor and trustees can, at any time, reject recommendations and proposals he (or she) makes.

In other words, under the state-defined, experienced professional village manager, the board and mayor have power over him (or her), making the village manager accountable.

Under Pekau’s Village Manager law, rubber-stamped by his board without even a peep last week, the “Pekau Village Manager” would serve at Pekau’s direction. Pekau, the lawn care man, will be the village manager.

If he wins this referendum, it can apply to any experienced position. For example, why require an experienced police professional to be the police chief? Pekau can appoint a crony from the lawn care industry or a sycophant.

Why have an elected board of trustees? Pekau can eliminate them, too.

Pekau wants power and control every independent government, too, targeting the school boards and fire district (where I do some media work).

Vote “Yes” April 4 on the village manager resolution. Reject all the candidates he has endorsed.

Watch an interview I did with Karie Friling, Orland’s former professional assistant village manager, on my website at Hanania.com.

Check out Ray Hanania’s columns and political podcasts at hanania.com.

2 Comments

  1. Maureen on February 27, 2023 at 8:42 am

    Thank you for your detailed explanation of this issue.



  2. Laurence churlin on February 27, 2023 at 1:07 pm

    I plan to vote no on the referendum for the pure simple reason that the mayor is getting away from the democratic machine that is ruining this state. The previous administration was corrupt just like the city of Chicago.



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