Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau speaks during the May 16 State of the Village Address. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau speaks during the May 16 State of the Village Address. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Nerds and bullies among topics of Orland’s State of the Village

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By Jeff Vorva

The 2024 Orland Park State of the Village Address was held at the Orland Park Civic Center, but it could have been held on a playground with talk of nerds and bullies and cool kids.

Mayor Keith Pekau spent the first half hour “ripping off the Band Aid” of some recent controversial issues regarding a couple of lawsuits May 16 at the Orland Park Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event.

He summed things up by describing himself and the board as being the victims of bullying.

“This group of people who didn’t like the results of the elections decided to be bullies,” Pekau said. “They are just like schoolyard bullies. They want to be the cool kids.

“Well, I will tell you that growing up at Sandburg, I was a mathlete and on the golf team. I know all about bullying. And I will be more than happy to stand up to them.”

He got some chuckles from the crowd when he described the village board.

“We have an entire board full of nerds,” Pekau said.  “So, we know what bullying is.  At the end of the day, the nerds are now in charge and we’re doing a great job. And will continue to do a great job.”

Pekau broke down a lawsuit involving former village manager Joe LaMargo. LaMargo sued and lost, and the village counter-sued and the two sides recently settled.

“We did fight it and he’s paying us $30,000,” Pekau said. “We basically had a deputy committeeman for the former mayor who was hired before I was even sworn in by the board. There was an investigation…then a lawsuit gets filed and the board had to deal with that.

“I know the conclusions that I draw from this, you can draw your own.”

Pekau was happy with the results but wished it hadn’t come to all of this.

“I’m so glad this is over,” he said. “We’ve been attacked repeatedly. Our families had to go through this. We had to pay attorney fees.  All this stuff was going on – depositions – for four years. So, we’re very happy it’s over. And we’re very happy that we’re completely vindicated.”

Orland School District 135 is threatening to sue the village seeking money from a TIF that officials say was illegally made years ago.

Pekau said that the village has made several offers to the district in services worth millions, but the district wouldn’t bite. The mayor and the board shut down their offers in early May because they said they need to keep working on the village’s downtown project.

“The ball is in their court,” Pekau said of the potential lawsuit. “We decided to move forward. The board decided that the offer is no longer on the table. We gave them the offer again, extended it and they turned it down.

“We said ‘you guys do what you have to do,’ we’re moving forward. If we went back through this process, it would delay the TIF six months to a year. We can’t afford to delay the project any further. The market is there right now.”

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