UPDATED: Both houses pass election bill postponing 2022 primary to June

Orland voters to decide who has power between mayor and village manager

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By Jeff Vorva

There is no mayoral election going on in Orland Park this year but this has the feel of mayoral elections from the recent past.

Keith Pekau’s foes are coming out in full force this year, comparing him to Lori Lightfoot and Vladimir Putin, which he doesn’t appreciate, by the way.

At issue?

On the surface, a seemingly tame question that isn’t going to cost residents a dime.

But in some circles, it’s controversial.

The question on Tuesday’s ballot reads “Shall the Village of Orland Park retain the managerial form of government?”

Pekau and the board of trustees are not allowed to lobby residents on how to vote on this issue, but all of the data and facts supplied by them are a strong indication they would prefer a “no” vote.

There is a group of folks who want, “yes” to win. Former Orland Park Assistant Karie Friling helped create an informational meeting in early March at the Orland Park Library and brought in Jason Grant, the director of advocacy for the International City/County Management Association to speak.

Weeks later, in the same room, Pekau and Village Clerk Patrick O’Sullivan had their say.

So, what’s at stake, here?

A “no” vote means the current government can shift to giving the mayor and board the final say in many key decisions that they do not have now. The village adopted a managerial form of government in 1983 through a referendum.

A “yes” vote means the village government will remain as is and the village manager has the final say in those issues. However, if the board deems the village manager is not performing the job adequately, he or she can be fired,

“Our current form of government, the village manager hires everyone,” Pekau said at the informational meeting. “That includes all department heads, all officers, the attorney and the treasurer. Once they are hired, they basically have no approval requirement from the board.”

Pekau and board members have gone on record multiple times saying that their relationship with current Village Manager George Koczwara is strong and this does not reflect on his performance.

Interestingly, at the “yes” informational meeting, Grant laid out the facts and didn’t hit hard against the “no” positions. He saw good in the “no” proposal, but he thought the facts showed the “yes” vote was

3 Comments

  1. Lori Hermanson on March 31, 2023 at 12:10 pm

    I feel that this referendum was never presented to the citizens of Orland Park before it was placed on the ballot. It seems to be an underhanded decision to sidestep the voice of the people of Orland Park.



  2. Larry Porter on April 1, 2023 at 9:14 am

    *****Orland Park mayor Keith Pekau is again exhibiting his trademark combination of ignorance and animus in his campaign to bring the village’s administration under his political control.

    *****Under OP’s current managerial government, a neutral, professional village manager is the chief administrative officer, with duties designed to keep politics out of administrative decisions. The trustee-village form, which the mayor wants OP to become, makes the mayor the de facto chief administrator, guaranteeing political decision making.

    *****At their January meeting the trustees with no fanfare passed an ordinance for a referendum to dump managerial government, replacing it with the trustee-village form. Pekau and his tame trustees passed the ordinance in minutes, with the mayor extemporizing on his personal grievances with the village manager’s authority, and each trustee echoing the mayor’s complaints.

    *****There was no evaluation report, no consultation with experts, no opportunity for community comments, and no credible discussion of the need for change.

    *****The mayor and trustees are campaigning hard. They present only one side of the issue, while protesting that they’re neutral. About half of what they say has objectively been shown to be dead wrong, but they persist in spouting the same untruths.

    *****Here’s a poem written by ChatGPT-4 after reading this letter: “With ignorance and animus, they tread/ As the mayor’s power hunger is fed/ Pekau and trustees, just one side/
    Persist in untruths, far and wide.”



  3. Dan OC on April 1, 2023 at 4:09 pm

    I think a no vote is the only vote. Let the mayor and the board make the decisions and if the people in the village don’t like how things are going we can vote them out. We don’t want unelected officials making decisions whether we like them or not. I feel that they might be on the taxpayers payroll but who else’s payroll.



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