Board move against Orland Park mayor loses steam
The latest move by the Orland Park board still smarting over Keith Pekau defeating long-time Mayor Dan McLaughlin last April fizzled out at the May 7 board meeting.
A proposal was floated to revert the mayor’s position to part time and slash Pekau’s salary. It was never seconded.
“Slowly, gradually I’ve been chipping away at the board still loyal to the old mayor, and the old ways of doing things,” Pekau told South Cook News.
The proposal to cut the salary came just a little over a year after the board approved a salary increase from $40,000 to $150,000 a year, and expanded the mayor’s role from part time to full time. The October 2016 change by the board would have also boosted McLaughlin’s pension from $25,000 a year to more than $100,000 a year had he won re-election. He was mayor for 24 years.
During the campaign, Pekau, 51, said the board’s move was little more than a “pension grab” by McLaughlin. Now with Pekau in office only a year some of the trustees are saying the move was a mistake.
In an April 4 story published in the Tribune, Trustee Patricia Gira said she believed that Pekau hasn’t earned the full-time salary.
“She said the mayor is ‘not accountable to anyone’ as far as recording or otherwise accounting for his efforts in that area,” the article said. “Gira acknowledged that when trustees approved the ordinance to make the position full time there was no language specifically requiring record-keeping on the part of the mayor, and that the board may have erred in not including that.”
But Pekau said the board should consider changing the form of government in Orland Park when its move to make the mayor’s position full time sunsets in three years.
“There is a role for a full-time mayor, especially with some of the losses the village has had with Sears and other retailers closing," Pekau said. "But the full-time position would work better under another form of government.”
Either way, Pekau says he will run again and will continue to refuse to take advantage of the pension system if he’s re-elected.
“I don’t believe in pensions for government officials,” he said. “They create too much incentive to stay in office for the wrong reasons.”
Pekau is a U.S. Air Force veteran and business consultant.