Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said that an accusation of him cussing at veterans was "absurd." (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said that an accusation of him cussing at veterans was "absurd." (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Pekau denies accusation of swearing at veterans

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By Jeff Vorva

Less than 24 hours before a major heat wave hit the area, there was some heat coming out of the air-conditioned confines of the Village Hall board room.

Mayor Keith Pekau gave a heated response to a citizen after she accused him of swearing at veterans during a recent meeting held at the American Legion post at 15045 West Ave.

Diana Howard spoke during the public comment portion of the board of trustees meeting on Aug. 21 and she came out guns-a-blazing.

“I am sick of the games that are being played up here by all of you,” she said to the board before turning her attention to the mayor. “Specifically, what I’m really sick of…please tell them about the expletive tirade that you let out on the veterans about a month ago.

“After you came to the meeting and were denied to speak because you did not fill out an agenda…I would really love to read into the record about how you told them we didn’t know who we were [deleted] with. And if you want to deny, there was a whole Legion that was there that night.”

She accused Pekau of threatening the veterans and saying they “weren’t going to get a damn thing.”

“Now we just want the record to show what’s actually being done and said,” Howard said. “It wasn’t just me at that meeting.

“There was a whole bunch sitting there. You can pull any one of them here and ask them what happened during that meeting and afterwards.”

Howard also said there was a video of Pekau swearing.

After Howard’s allotted three minutes of time were up, Pekau came back with some anger of his own.

He first calmly explained that there were no expletives or yelling. But as he went on to explain his position, he started to get animated.

“It’s absurd,” he said. “It’s absolutely absurd. And to come up here and make accusations of something that never happened…you have video? Go show it. That’s what I say because it never happened. And I have people sitting in the room that were there.

“Feel more than free to put up all of videos that you say you have because if you had them, they would already be up there.”

He added that he is getting tired of all the defaming that he, the board members and their families have had to put up with via his political enemies.

“I’ve just had it with all of the garbage that people make up and come up here and say in a public forum,” Pekau said. “Well, you’re on record. You’re on record with the defamation that you just made. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

Pekau, an Air Force veteran, said that he was a lifetime member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations and attends their meetings.

Other board members defended the mayor.

“I can say living in Orland Park for 14 years that nobody in this town supports or brings up the positive programming and heritage and legacy of veterans than the mayor does,” Trustee Brian Riordan said. “To use a metaphor that [the accusation] is not a hill you want to die on.”

“It’s a horrible accusation,” Trustee Joni Radaszewski said. “It just seems a little crazy to me and disappointing to hear that because it’s not factual. I come from a family of military…we do nothing but support the veterans 100% and to say anything otherwise is just insane.”

Recently, Pekau spoke to veterans’ groups about moving their current residence four blocks down the block on West Avenue. That hasn’t gone over well with everyone, but Pekau said he realizes that because people do not like change.

“The current building is becoming unusable and it’s going to cost more than $400,000 over next five years in repairs,” Pekau said. “This new building has a larger meeting space and triples the storage space.

“There is better parking and provides a safer place to lock guns and weapons. The new building will have 20 years of useful life.”

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