Posts Tagged Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen

Oak Lawn Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Oak Lawn’s First 2017 Budget Proposal Cuts Fire Department

Oak Lawn’s Board of Trustees held their first budget meeting October 25th for the 2017 village budget. Official documents show a reduction in Fire Department payroll.

According to the proposed budget for 2017, Oak Lawn Fire Department’s personnel salaries would be cut by $239,218. This comes a year after cutting a projected $397,594 from OLFD salaries.

These cuts would be made by not replacing personnel who have left the fire department. Since 2012, the fire department staffing level has been cut by 10%. Village Manager Larry Deetjen has had a long-standing policy of not replacing fire department personnel lost through attrition. Under Deetjen’s direction, the village has also pursued litigation against fire department personnel in order to force them off the payroll.

The village budget includes $2,000,000 for fire department overtime. The same amount was budgeted for 2016, but had already been nearly exhausted with 3 full months left in the year. The fire department overtime expense is projected to overrun its budget by $465,518 this year. The overtime has become a necessity, as under-staffing the fire department forces the village to pay firefighters overtime to cover minimum staffing levels.

As the Leaf has previously reported, this is a strategy that does not make good fiscal sense.

In a Chicago Tribune Daily Southtown article, published July 22nd, it is stated, “According to an analysis performed by Oak Lawn’s finance director, the gross lifetime cost of hiring a firefighter at age 22 who goes on to work for 30 years, retires and lives another 30 years post-retirement is approximately $7.5 million.”

Interestingly, using the $7.5 million figure cited by village officials, the cost of a firefighter actually comes out to about 50¢ per month per household. That’s less than 2¢ a day. Instead of paying $3 million in overtime, the village could use that money to hire two dozen more firefighters, virtually eliminating overtime while safely and efficiently staffing its fire engines.

With staffing levels projected to be slashed further, overtime will become even more necessary. Budgeting staffing level cuts has not proven to reduce total expenditures. Will the board of trustees learn from its past failures?

thanks Dan

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Oak Lawn Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

As the Village of Oak Lawn and Oak Lawn firefighters continue to battle in court over issues such as minimum manning, negotiations have reportedly not moved either side from their position and Village Manager Larry Deetjen has reportedly told trustees that other villages facing minimum manning mandates in their contract have chosen to disband their fire departments and privatize the services.

Deetjen, who masterminded the outsourcing of Oak Lawn’s union 911 dispatchers to Noncom, a private company in 2013 has threatened similar action in the past with regard to firefighting services or paramedic services. Since that time, Deetjen has made references to transitioning other municipal services to private or regional organizations.  Norcomm recently donated $1,000 to Mayor Sandra Bury.

According to one source close to the village’s negotiations, he told trustees that a community in California that had reached an impasse over the minimum manning issue, “voted to disband its department in its entirety and contract the service.” There was no indication given which community was referenced, but last year the City of San Bernardino’s city council voted 4-3 to outsource its fire services as part of a bankruptcy plan. Fire services were outsourced to San Bernardino County.

There would be no comparable service available from Cook County, for Oak Lawn to outsource to. The closest regional fire service would be the North Palos Fire Protection District, which serves Palos Hills, Worth, Hickory Hills, and parts of the nearby Cook County Forest Preserve. Joining a fire protection district would add another taxing body to Oak Lawn’s property tax bills.

Another potential option would be a private company contracted to provide fire services. Communities have shied away from this option due to legal issues surrounding mutual aid agreements between municipalities. Private service providers may not be subject to these agreements.

No public discussion has been had about this issue and no resolution of the minimum manning negotiations is expected until 2017.

thanks Dan & Dennis

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Oak Lawn management continues to fight the firefighter’s union (more)

Excerpts from an editorial in the written by Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deejten:

On Feb, 27, the Daily Southtown ran a story regarding Oak Lawn firefighters and a state board ruling that ordered back pay of $3.2 million with a 7 percent interest rate compounded. Respectfully, immediate clarification is needed for all your readers, not just Oak Lawn taxpayers.

Sadly, the Oak Lawn model of delivering fire-rescue services is broken, and the Oak Lawn fire union officials quoted in the article have resisted changes asked by management for a system that has not changed staffing protocol for 25 years. No industry in America could have survived that steadfast resistance to change without filing for bankruptcy.

The taxpayers of Oak Lawn through their mayor and trustees have not had a voice due to legislation signed by former Gov. Quinn after approval by a general assembly that gets sizable campaign contributions from the International and Illinois Firefighter Associations. One fire union alone donated over $450,000 in 2014. Structural and political impediments to change have been in place in spite of pleas from nearly every major Illinois town and the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association and the Illinois Municipal League.

Oak Lawn fire union representatives will bolster their stance on staffing by citing “workplace safety,” that “staffing needs are dictated by the teamwork nature of firefighters” and “increasing workload.”

Oak Lawn takes great pride in supporting its police and firefighters. More than 60 percent of the village’s main operating fund goes for public safety. Unfortunately, the fire union’s resistance to change is costing the village more than $2 million per year in state-mandated firefighter overtime, or more than $36,000 per firefighter.

Gov. Rauner has called for shared sacrifice to get our state economically competitive and fiscally strong again. Budgets need to be balanced and pensions funded at levels in line with the taxpayers who pay those benefits. It will take all parties working together to achieve that goal, and local elected officials must be given the tools to manage their operations.

In Oak Lawn’s case, surrounding communities use alternative models for providing fire-rescue services that work quite well at lower cost. Like any business striving to survive in a highly competitive and changing environment, “best practices” must be used.

Some key issues for consideration:

•Oak Lawn is not “0 for 7” in lawsuits filed against it by International Firefighters Union Local 3405. Oak Lawn respects the law but also its obligation to appeal decisions when deemed not to be in the public’s interest. There is changing political leadership over time and different judges, arbitrators and other officials who decide every case on its merit. In the back pay decision, a state employee seriously erred in directing the village to pay firefighters — who average $89,000 in wages — $3.2 million in back pay for work never performed and for no improvement to public safety.

•More than 70 percent of Oak Lawn firefighters neither live nor pay property tax in Oak Lawn. the union leader who was pictured and quoted in the Southtown story resides in Glen Ellyn, where the median household income is $87,904 as opposed to Oak Lawn’s $54,828 and the ability to pay for fire-rescue services is more than twice Oak Lawn’s households’ ability.

•Why not stop appealing decisions in favor of firefighters and just hire more firefighters to staff fire stations with 22 positions around the clock? The village has prudently avoided spending more than $3.6 million cumulatively since 2008 and will avoid further costs annually by not filling vacant positions and incurring overtime that’s a wasteful expenditure of taxpayer money. For every firefighter, Oak Lawn pays an average of more than $120,000 per year in pay and benefits and must account for an average pension that will be worth a total of $1 million. The financial impact of the ruling by the Illinois Labor Relations Board, if upheld, is not a one-time payment but carries a recurring cost of more than $600,000 per year compounded over time. In five years, another $3 million in unnecessary costs will be borne by Oak Lawn taxpayers.

•Is safety compromised by deploying fewer firefighters when their workload is increasing? Absolutely not. In technical terms, the utilization rate on a typical workday is low, and our fire Mutual Aid System accounts safely for non-typical days. Firefighters have a tough job, and our firefighters and paramedics do a fine job for our community. Fire Chief George Sheets is a well-respected professional and would never allow anything that puts either our residents or firefighters in harm’s way.

•Oak Lawn is blessed to belong to MABAS, one of the country’s top two fire mutual aid systems. We and 11 other communities work together to back up each other in times of major emergencies that require more resources. This system allows the village to bring in over 100 firefighting personnel to combat a large emergency situation.

In summary, the recent state board ruling is a setback, but we have a right to appeal and would be derelict in our duty if we did not do so. It’s hard to understand why a village the size of Oak Lawn would be forced to pay 74 firefighters $3.2 million in back pay plus interest for work that was never done. This amount is 21 percent of the village’s current property tax levy, and it has no funds to make that payment.

Oak Lawn is a fair employer with a workforce turnover rate far below industry standards nationwide. We are appealing the board’s ruling because we think it is unfair and incorrect. We hope all our employees would understand that.

For additional information and the village’s comprehensive statement, readers can go to, where wages for all village employees in 2014 are listed.

thanks Dan

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Editorial on Oak Lawn village leadership

An editorial at the

What kind of mistake would get you fired at work?

Most of us would say that if we caused our company to lose millions of dollars, we probably would be checking out the furnishings at the unemployment office. Perhaps, if we are related to the owner, we would just get moved from the corner office to the basement.

But, if you work for Oak Lawn in a top management spot and earn $200,000 a year in salary and benefits, you apparently don’t have to worry about mistakes that cost your bosses millions of dollars.

You see, Village Manager Larry Deetjen has cost the taxpayers $3.2 million dollars by starting and then continuing a fight with the Oak Lawn firefighters’ union over the issue of minimum manning. The village, which Deetjen was hired to serve as its top administrator, chose to violate a binding collectively bargained contract.

If you think you’ve heard that story before, you have, because this isn’t the first union contract that Deetjen summarily chose to ignore. He cost the village a couple of hundred thousand when he fired 20 union 911 dispatchers and the union filed an unfair labor practice charge. Oh well, it’s only money.

Of course it isn’t Deetjen’s money that he’s losing. He’s losing the taxpayers’ hard earned money. The taxpayers are the people who Mayor Sandra Bury and even Deetjen himself claim that they are protecting in their never ending battle with the firefighters.

Arbitrators and judges have told Deetjen and the Village Board that Deetjen’s strategy is WRONG. Yet, the Village Board continues to support running into the fire caused by Deetjen.

One Trustee, Robert Streit (Dist. 3) long ago abandoned Deetjen’s plan and has argued vehemently that his fellow board members should be asking questions instead of blinding nodding their heads “yes” like bobblehead dolls.

Bury and her allies counter the argument by blaming the union members and saying that they are protecting the taxpayers from bad decisions by the court. The problem with that argument is that the bad decisions were made by Deetjen.

Deetjen implies that the board shouldn’t have to listen to the judges and arbitrators because they aren’t Oak Lawn taxpayers or village board members. The seven arbitrators and judges who have ruled against the village were merely following the law. After seven losses in court, even the thickest skull on the village board should be able to realize that the village’s position is contrary to Illinois law.

Unfortunately, the taxpayers can’t vote Larry Deetjen out of office. He’s appointed and serves at the pleasure of the mayor and board of trustees.

Deetjen is fond of comparing public employees to the private sector, but in the private sector you don’t get away with wasting $3.2 million dollars. In fact, if he was running a private company, such a loss might cause the company to go bankrupt. But then again, it isn’t Deetjen’s money or the board members’ money. The loss falls squarely on the taxpayers and Mayor Bury acknowledges that the board may have to institute a special tax levy to pay for the mistake.

Yet, Deetjen recently told the Board of Trustees that his strategy was fiscally prudent. The board members’ heads bobbled up and down in blind agreement.

If you were to include the settlements with the dispatchers and the legal fees to pay a handful of law firms he has hand-picked, the number is closer to $4 million dollars.

Larry Deetjen should be held accountable for the loss of $4 million dollars. Perhaps, like attorneys, doctors and engineers, he has professional malpractice insurance. If so, the village should look into making a claim in order to protect the taxpayers.

Deetjen’s financial mistakes are adding up and it is time that the board take action and dismiss him as the village manager.

Voters can do their part too. Ask the candidates if they support retaining Larry Deetjen as the nanager. If a candidate says yes, you can eliminate that candidate from consideration. The village manager already has enough “yes” men.

thanks Dan

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Oak Lawn management continues to fight the fire firefighter’s union

Excerpts from the Oak Lawn Leaf:

The Oak Lawn Village Board voted 4-1 to hire Ben Gehrt, an attorney with a reputation of vigorously advocating for management in disputes with unions, to appeal the $3.2 million dollar arbitration award recently entered against the village in favor of the firefighters.

Gehrt, a partner with the law firm of Clark Baird Smith LLP, has represented governmental bodies in several disputes with labor. He represented the City of Rockford in a case against the Illinois Association of Firefighters and was able to reduce minimum manning staffing levels.

Minimum manning has been an issue of contention between Village Manager Larry Deetjen and the union members even though the labor contract between the parties states that minimum manning is set at 21 union members.

In the last legislative session, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law that states that minimum manning is a subject for collective bargaining. Oak Lawn, however, was already subject to minimum manning provisions in a contract it signed. Nonetheless, under Deetjen, the village decided to reinterpret the minimum manning provision.

In January of 2008, the Village of Oak Lawn shut down a squad unit when there were insufficient firefighters at work, [deciding] to shut down the unit rather than to pay overtime to firefighters that would have been called into work.

A few months later, the village board, at the recommendation of the village manager and the Finance Committee Chairman Tom Phelan, voted to eliminate six firefighter positions despite opposition from the union.

The union filed various successful actions against the village and the village responded, again at Deetjen’s suggestion, to not fill vacant positions when union members retired. At that time, Deetjen, without any public discussion with the Board of Trustees, began counting the battalion chief as one of the 21 members mandated by the minimum manning ruling.

Alex Olejniczak is the only trustee remaining on the village board that supported Deetjen’s actions in 2008 and still supports those efforts against the firefighters’ union. At a recent meeting he even questioned whether anyone receiving political contributions from the union or its members should be able to vote on the issue.

Former Mayor Dave Heilmann, Trustees Robert Streit and Carol Quinlan have long since stopped supporting Deetjen’s recommendations regarding the firefighters. Streit has continuously urged the current board to stop the litigation with the firefighters noting recently that the manager is 0 for 7 in the disputes.

“(Deetjen) has lost at the labor board, at arbitration, in the Appellate Court, in the Supreme Court, in a second arbitration hearing, in a compliance hearing and in Circuit Court”, said Streit. He said that the constant fighting with the union is counter productive and … has cost the village over $3.2 million dollars.

In 2011 the union filed an enforcement petition arguing that the Kravit decision setting the minimum manning at 21 was being violated by the village. On February 5, 2015, the compliance order was entered agreeing with the village and awarding back pay with interest. The total owed now to firefighters is $3.2 million dollars and interest continues to accrue at about $500,000 a year.

When Streit asked for a total amount of legal fees spent on the seven years of litigation with the firefighters, he was told that it is less than the $3.2 million dollars in the award. “Nobody else on the board seemed to care that we are spending millions on this litigation”, said Streit.

Mayor Sandra Bury and the current board majority have been previously criticized for “union busting” when they voted to privatize the 911 Dispatch Center and fire 20 union village employees.

thanks Dan

Also see this previous post

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Oak Lawn chief supports hiring

The Oak Lawn Leaf has an article stating that the Oak Lawn fire chief supports hiring more firefighters:

Oak Lawn’s Fire Chief George Sheets appeared at a recent village budget hearing and told the mayor, manager and trustees that he supports the hiring of 16 additional firefighters in order to eliminate the $2.5 million dollars in overtime spent by the village every year as it has fought court orders regarding its contract with the firefighters union.

Sheets said that the hiring of the 16 firefighters/paramedics would resolve the issue of overtime for at least the next two years.  It is the first
time that any member of the administration has discussed the possibility of compromising on the stand developed over seven years ago by former Trustee Tom Phelan and implemented by Village Manager Larry Deetjen.

Sheets’ statement mimics the position outlined by [some trustees] who have noted that the administration continues to wage legal battles that it has already lost on the issue of minimum manning.

Deetjen, [the mayor and other trustees] have continued to attack the minimum manning provision in the contract instituted under the late Mayor Ernie Kolb. Those legal battles have proven to be futile with the administration’s efforts to reduce the number of firefighters being denied each time.

Under Village Manager Larry Deetjen’s recommendation and the village board’s support, the village has allowed the firefighter employees to be reduced from 100 to 72 over the years.  The firefighters have supported keeping the “minimum manning contract language” the same while the village agreed with the daily shift of 21 employees, it sought to add language stating that would have allowed the village to staff only three firefighters to an engine if staffing fell below 21 daily employees, “for any reason”.

The language was rejected by the union, which has battled over the issue of minimum manning and had to file an unfair labor practice. The Illinois Labor Relations Board ruled against the village and that decision was upheld by the Illinois Appellate Court in 2011.

The firemen have complained previously that the village is wasting millions of dollars in overtime pay as a result of its failure to hire new firefighters.  Mayor Sandra Bury has countered arguing that the minimum manning provision agreed to through the collective bargaining process was devastating to the village.

Trustee Robert Streit (Dist. 3) has previously denounced Mayor Sandra Bury’s attacks on the firefighters noting that the village was told its
position was wrong in 2011 and chose to continue to fight the issue, making it virtually impossible to negotiate any issues with the firefighters
union.  While Streit has claimed that he can’t support a position that the courts have consistently ruled against, other Trustees, such as Terry
Vorderer and Mike Carberry have made comments supporting the fight over minimum manning despite the court rulings.

At the budget meeting, no elected officials indicated whether they would support Chief Sheets’ recommendation.

thanks Dan

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Oak Lawn blames firefighters … for everything

The Oak Lawn Leaf has an article with a video clip about the Village of Oak Lawn blaming fire firefighters for more service cuts:

The Oak Lawn Leaf has learned exclusively that the Village of Oak Lawn’s administration has notified the Local 150 Public Works bargaining unit that it intends to reduce the workforce by as many as six employees after the village lost another battle with the local firefighters’ collective bargaining unit.

According to sources within the Local 150 workforce, the village administration is not only notifying the public works department members of its intentions, it is placing the blame for the cuts on the firefighters’ refusal to abandon the minimum manning provision in [their] contract that has been upheld multiple times in various courts in the last three years.

As a result of those losses in court, the Village of Oak Lawn is facing the reality of having to pay as much as two million dollars in back wages to the firefighters.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen is reportedly “livid” that the village is facing the prospect of paying the back pay but he is not only avoiding any blame for the decisions that have led to the judgment amount but he’s actually blaming the firefighters.

It is exactly the same strategy used by Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury, who in March, laid all of the perceived budget problems of the village at the feet of the fire department in a videotaped message for the Illinois Municipal League in which she lobbied against legislation that did not even concern Oak Lawn’s minimum manning contract provision.

Bury claimed that the minimum manning provision has been “devastating to our budget” arguing that the village spends two million dollars on fire department overtime because of the minimum manning standard.  The Oak Lawn Firefighters Union has argued in the past that the overtime is related to the village’s decision to reduce the number of firemen and paramedics from over 100 to 72.

While Oak Lawn is subject to the minimum manning language by contract, Bury chose to tape the message urging the defeat of the bill claiming in her message that “minimum manning is forcing cuts in public works, telecommunications, the police department and administrative staff”.

At the time, it was widely understood that Bury was referring to last year’s budget which witnessed the outsourcing of the 911 emergency dispatch services and significant cuts in the police department personnel and public works services.  Last winter, residents complained about the lack of snow plowing and salting of the village’s streets.

Trustee Robert Streit, who has consistently battled for increased public safety measures and for maintaining public works services, reacted quickly to the news that the administration is blaming the firefighters for the threatened cuts in public works. “It is ridiculous that the administration is telling the public works union that their failure to staff the fire department and their failure to manage the resources was caused by the firefighters and not their own mismanagement.”    He called the idea of pitting employees in one department against another a “morale killer.”  Streit said that he asked the mayor and his fellow trustees to negotiate with the fire department union rather than continuing the lawsuits but his request was “ignored.”

thanks Dan

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Oak Lawn fire chief to add Chicago Ridge to his duties

The Southtown Star has an article about a replacement for the Chicago Ridge fire chief who resigned recently:

Oak Lawn Fire Chief George Sheets is getting a new job, but he’s not leaving his current one.

Under an agreement unanimously approved Tuesday night by the village board, Sheets will remain as chief while also overseeing the Chicago Ridge Fire Department through 2016.

The Chicago Ridge Village Board is expected to approved the agreement at its July 15 meeting, Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said.

Deetjen said Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar approached Oak Lawn with the idea of Sheets becoming fire chief in both villages. Tokar could not be reached Tuesday night regarding Sheets taking over as the village’s fire chief. The move comes a few weeks after Chicago Ridge Fire Chief Robert Muszynski resigned, citing “personal differences” with the village’s elected officials, specifically Tokar, over possible changes the village is considering for the fire department.

His resignation came at the urging of Tokar, several Chicago Ridge trustees have said, but the board accepted Muszynski’s letter of resignation last month.

Muszynski’s resignation occurred several weeks after the village board encouraged Tokar to look at whether firefighting and/or ambulance service could be provided more efficiently — a move that has Chicago Ridge firefighters worried about losing their jobs. The changes under consideration could include hiring a private ambulance service or eliminating the fire department and joining a fire protection district, Tokar has said.

Last month, firefighter/paramedic Christ Schmelzer, president of Chicago Ridge Professional Firefighters Local 3098, said there was a “lot of tension in the firehouse” with Muszynski’s departure and the potential changes to the department.

Deetjen had no comment about Chicago Ridge exploring other firefighting or ambulance options but did say “there’s ample opportunity to run fire departments more efficiently.” He said he expects Sheets to hit the ground running, saying he will soon meet with Chicago Ridge’s 13 firefighters to “get to know them better.”

thanks Dan

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State legislation concerns local municipalities (more)

Thoughts and commentary centering on Illinois HB 5485:

From the Chicago Tribune:

Last week, the leaders of cities and towns across Illinois made a public plea for the state legislature to save them from the rising, crippling costs of public employee pension benefits. While the pension debate has tended to focus on Chicago and state government, it’s a huge problem for suburbs and downstate communities too. It puts enormous pressure on local taxes.

So what are lawmakers doing? Nothing much on municipal pensions. But they’re pushing legislation that would sock the municipalities — that is, local taxpayers — with even higher costs for government services.

The Illinois House this month passed a bill that would compel municipalities to negotiate the staffing levels for their fire departments with the firefighters union, even if their contracts don’t address that issue now. If an agreement on staffing levels can’t be resolved in collective bargaining, the issue would be subject to arbitration.

That is, the towns would lose the authority to decide how many people they need to staff the fire department. An arbitrator could order a town to maintain, say, at least a dozen firefighters on duty at all times.

It’s easy to see what’s in it for the firefighters union: more jobs.

And it’s easy to see what the impact would be on the residents of a town: higher taxes and cuts in other services.

Once fire staffing levels are set in a contract, it is difficult for city managers to adjust their fire-protection program in response to changing needs and resources. Springfield is angling to strip control from those in the best position to manage taxpayer funds and service needs, including local fire chiefs.

Some local governments already labor under staffing levels set by contract. Mayor Larry Morrissey of Rockford inherited such a contract rule when he won office in 2005, and he says he has struggled unsuccessfully to drop it. Rockford has to pay for more firefighters than it needs at the expense of other priorities, Morrissey told us. During the recession, the mandated overstaffing for fire protection forced the city to reduce its police force and make other painful cuts, he said.

Fire protection is essential. Municipalities, particularly small towns, need as much flexibility as possible to determine how to provide that service cost-effectively. Small towns may decide that a collaboration with neighboring towns would provide better service at lower cost. We can see how this law would drive a spike into such consolidation efforts.

The Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois argues that minimum staffing levels negotiated through contract are the most crucial factor in ensuring effective firefighting and rescue responses. We see no evidence, though, that citizens are better served when the people they elected to make such decisions are straitjacketed by state law.

The bill is in the Senate now. Senators, when you debate it, if you’re tempted to vote for it, be sure to call it what it is: a property tax increase bill. We’re sure your constituents will be thrilled.

From the SouthtownStar:

Steve Metsch’s recent story on the Oak Lawn Fire Department’s cost and staffing issues contained misinformation from Mayor Sandra Bury and the village, prompting me to clarify matters.

1) House Bill 5485 does not force towns to require minimum staf?ng on fire vehicles. All it does is codify that “minimum manning” is a mandatory subject of bargaining in Illinois, meaning that it has to be negotiated in good faith. HB 5485 does not mandate anything.

2) Fire Chief George Sheets’ comment that the key staf?ng issue is not how many ?re?ghters are on a truck but how many are at a fire scene is not accurate. We firefighters are able to bargain over staf?ng because our collective safety is directly related to how many ?re?ghters are assigned to an apparatus and to a particular shift. Oak Lawn ?re?ghters deserve to be safe at all times, not just at a fire scene.

3) Oak Lawn has underfunded its public safety pensions for years, while employees have contributed to their pensions every month, year after year. Whether the local economy was good or bad, the village has continually “kicked the can down the road.” It’s not fair to blame Oak Lawn police and ?re?ghters for the village not meeting its pension obligations.

4) Village manager Larry Deetjen said “72 percent of the Oak Lawn ?re?ghters do not live in Oak Lawn,” which is true. They have not been required to live in the village for at least 25 years. The residency requirement was dropped as a result of a federal discrimination investigation in the 1980s. Not residing in Oak Lawn does not take away a firefighter’s right to a safe work environment.

5) Deetjen continually cites the village spending nearly $2 million last year on fire department overtime. He doesn’t mention that the number of firefighters has declined from more than 100 to 76 — about a 25 percent cut while the department responds to an increasing number of emergency calls. Deetjen doesn’t say that the overtime cost is offset by the reduced manpower costs (wages, insurance and other bene?ts). The village has not hired any new ?re?ghters (or paramedics) since April 2007.

Vincent Grif?n


Oak Lawn Professional Fire?ghters Association

thanks Dan

Previous posts are HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Oak Lawn EEC Director leaves

An article last week announced the resignation from the Oak Lawn Emergency Communications Center:

Kathy Hansen abruptly retired from her post as director of Oak Lawn’s emergency communications center, after helping to implement a third-party staffing agreement amid the glare of village politics. The village announced her departure Friday afternoon. Hansen cited family obligations as the reason for her decision to leave the village, according to village news advisory.

Hansen rose through the ranks to director of Oak Lawn’s 911 call center and was a 20-year employee of the village. As a member the village’s public safety management team, she was involved in a controversial decision to outsource the union 911-dispatchers to a private vendor.

Former dispatchers publicly blamed Hansen for the department’s growing budget deficits, but she was always backed by Oak Lawn’s village manager and most village board members.

Hansen’s second in command, Richard Bessette, was immediately appointed as emergency communications center director. Bessette is a nine-year information technology specialist and worked often for Hansen as a project manager.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen praised Hansen as a “true public servant” who embraced technology and commitment to serving the village’s municipal 911 customers.  No one on the village’s executive team or village board forced her to leave, Deetjen said. He described Hansen’s exit as a retirement and not a resignation, even though she is too young to retire.  “Kathy walked out of here on her own terms. She didn’t ask for severance” Deetjen said.

thanks Dan

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