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Village Trustee to Fire Board: Answer My Questions

Patricia Gira chided the Orland Fire Protection District board for not responding to questions submitted between meetings, though the board president claims they weren’t received.

Trustee Patricia Gira gave the Board of Trustees an earful Tuesday night about citizen comments and interacting with residents at meetings.

Gira first took the board to task for not getting a response to two questions she submitted in writing before Tuesday night’s meeting, per the district board’s preferred process. In June, the board put in a policy asking for at least a 48-hour notice on questions .   

“You speak of transparency in government, at the same time we have to submit questions in advance at least two days and you refuse any public conversation at a meeting,” Gira said during the meeting. “This is like attending a church service.”

Gira had expressed concern over talks about closing in the southwest part of Orland Park, and other mentions of outsourcing ambulance service. In her submission, she asked if there were any talks of making either of the two changes. Board president James Hickey later said that district staff did not receive Gira’s two questions.

“Certainly you don’t have all the answers to all the questions and I don’t expect you to. We certainly don’t down the street,” Gira said during the meeting. “But if we don’t we can admit that we don’t and ask staff to do the research and get back to whoever that is in a public forum. Not in an individual conversation where you are required to attend the following meeting to get that answer.”

During the meeting Hickey thanked Gira for her comments but didn’t respond to any of her questions. Later he told reporters there was talk about closing the station and other ways to cut costs, but that neither he, nor the board members, is in favor of any service cuts.

“In government you speak of all kinds of different situations,” Hickey said after the meeting, to reporters. “Does it mean we’re going to take action on it? No. My thinking is any citizen can look at our budget and say if something doesn’t get fixed, yes we are going to have problems. We only abated $1.3 million in taxes. If our current contract salary increases keep going up by $600,000, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out pretty soon you won’t have any money left.”

Hickey also suggested Gira’s comments were “political” and stemming from a “different agenda,” though he didn’t specify further.

Trustee Blair Rhode said with ongoing contract negotiations happening, it isn't appropriate to answer questions that pertain to those decisions, especially before any decision is made.

"I understand her concerns, but it's tough to answer certain questions right now while we're in negotiations," Rhode said.

Gira also suggested that the board’s 5 p.m. start time for meetings is “pointed at discouraging attendance.” While the board was in closed session, Gira described her experiences at the last two fire board meetings as “offensive.”

Hickey said the earlier start time is to leave a window wide enough to accommodate a month of business, since the board only meets once a month.

“If I can make it and I have four kids, and they’re in all kinds of activities and I work a full time job, if I can make it anyone can make it,” Hickey said. “We like people to come. We like input that’s not politically motivated.”

Chief and New Firefighters Still on Hold

Board trustees have submitted their choices for the final three Orland Fire Chief candidates. The three finalists will go through another round of interviewing before one is chosen for the job. Raymond Kay, who has served as acting chief for about a year, is in the running.

As for the three firefighter positions that money was set aside for in the 2012 budget, Hickey said any of those hires will likely wait until after the next firefighter contract has been finalized between the board and firefighter union.

“That’s really the aspect that’s holding us back from hiring,” Hickey said about contract negotiations. “Our attorneys are comparing all the different fire departments and districts just to have a good fair wage for a fair day’s work.”

 

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Cubs Fan April 22, 2012 at 08:52 PM
If the commenters on this board are "make believe people" President Hickey, how can they have "hidden" agendas? Also, how could "make believe people" access a website and post comments? REAL people have REAL problems with you and your $3000 per month mouthpiece turning the serious work of life safety and property protection into a patronage haven.
James Hickey April 22, 2012 at 09:34 PM
The definition of a coward, is someone that hides in the shadows, and doesn't want to be seen. The definition of a terrorist is one that spreads lies and fears from the shadows. I am done here. I am certain that the voters approve of my actions and we shall see in the next election. Maybe you should run?
John Fotopoulos April 22, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Jim, I strongly believe that the voters of Orland Park should vote on whether or not they wish to be part of a fire district. Secondly, Ms. Gira has every right to question the fire board regarding service. Lastly, it amazes me that Orland Fire doesn't have a top notch PR firm. I guess it's true you get what you pay for.
Fireman April 23, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Coming from an elected official especially outrageous! Calling your critics "terrorists" because you disagree of their crticism of your leadership? Ridiculous. Mr Hanania should advise you to stop posting here Hickey. You lose creditability every time you log on. Terrorists kill people, ruin lives. Criticizing a self-important egomanic over impressed with the little office he temporarily holds does not even come close. You should apologize immediately!
Fireman April 23, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Why do they need ANY PR firm? Hanania is, at his own admission, being paid $36,000 per year from emergemency services for hardly any work
Paul April 23, 2012 at 02:33 AM
And we are still waiting for an answer from James Hickey as to who pays $6,000 per year in taxes, him or his landlord. Why are we not getting an answer on this James. Does he own property withing the OFPD, or is he renting???
Kathy Quilty April 23, 2012 at 02:50 AM
District 230 school board meets once a month and we start our meetings at 7 pm. There have been times I have been there until 1 am ... but that is not the norm. I don't understand how starting a meeting at 5 pm saves tax payers money. Can you please explain.
Kathy Quilty April 23, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Paul ... isn't it public record to see who owns property? I am sure that Cook County could help you find that out. I don't know for sure, but you could always start there.
John Paul April 23, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Some thoughts on this. Let's not get hung up on who pays Mr. Hickey's property taxes. Even if someone rents, you best believe that the landlord factors taxes into what is charged for rent. Running for office and voting in elections is based on where you reside, not on where you own property. I have no problem with Ray being a spokesman. he worked hard for this ticket in the election of 2011 and he deserves a chance to be there. Some rightfully, question if the Fire District needs a spokesperson. When I was President of Dist 135, we didn't really have one. I tried to do it sometimes and I have to be honest, I think we may have been better served if we had a professional instead. I think the meetings should be at 7 instead of 5. When you are shaking things up, as this board is, it's easy to see why some people think the board is hiding something when they have meetings that most folks can't get to. Perception is everything. Believe me, I know this! Pat Gira has every right to question this board. So does anyone else. As far as a "political agenda", it doesn't matter. Politicians have the same rights as anyone.
John Fotopoulos April 23, 2012 at 11:01 AM
I believe that every unit of government should have a PR person. However, just because someone works hard for a candidate doesn't mean they get a job. Hire the best qualified person. I don't think a PR person should be attacking people on web sites or blogs. A PR person usually is well respected by the media that can get his client's version of the facts in print. This is not what the PR person is doing in the fire district.
Megan James April 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Thanks Ben for going back to verify your information. I trust your statements more than Hickey's any way. James Hickey - stop trying to spin everything to make yourself look better. Haven't trusted a word out of your mouth in years now. You have a long history in my book of speaking before you think, and then try to back pedal to make yourself look better. Sorry....I'm not falling for it. Just looking forward to the day you just resign.
Megan James April 23, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Typical comment from an untrustworthy elected official. Resident in Orland township don't trust their elected officials. They do not have a policital agenda, they just don't feel save using their real identies and not be related against when the officials don't like hearing that residents are all 100% in love with their moronic thinking that is NOT int he best interest of Orland. Instead of dismissing comments because someone choosing not to use their full name is irresponsible. Read between the lines James....orland township residents are not happy with you or your boards actions. Focus your energy on fixing that, not on if people are using full names on this sight. I won't be communicating with you on facebook either, not because of using my full name, but because in order to do so, I have to either friend you or "like" your page. I'm not a hypocrit, and don't consider you a friend, and definitely do not like you, so you won't find me on your facebook page.
Megan James April 23, 2012 at 01:18 PM
"At some point in the future it will be mandatory to use Facebook as a means of being able to leave comments" - HOW DARE YOU! Speaking outside of your mouth again??? What about all the residents who don't have or want facebook pages....let along access to the internet? Public officialls cannot demand that residents be forced to use any social media site as the only way to communicate. May I remind you Mr. Hickey - you work for the Orland township people...they do not work for you. Get over yourself. Accept this as what it is. "If you are ashamed of your birth name and afraid of what others might say about your comments. You should not post and I will not respond" - Not ashamed of my birth name...just ashamed of the laughing stock you have turned the OPFD into and all the shame you and the rest of the board have brought OP residents. Look at all the past articles about your actions on here in the Southtown. Other towns laugh at us constantly because you and the rest of the boards actions. Perhaps you need to start taking some customer service classes. You are here to service the residents of Orland Township. We do not have to service you. You are required to take in all of our comments and concerns no matter what means or methods we feel secure in using. If you do not like it, you are free to step down at any time. We'll even accept your resignation on Facebook since you seem to like that so much. Thanks
Paul April 23, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Kathy, you are absolutely correct that I can find out who is paying the taxes where Hickey lives. The bigger question is why is he ducking this issue by not answering and what else is he hiding? He is also behind a change is residency rules for all new incoming employees. Do the rules not apply to him?? Let do get " hung up " on who pays his property taxes John Paul and try to figure out what this mans agenda truly is. Every week he comes up with an new idea that potentially jeopardizes the health and safety of the residents he represents.
John Humphrey April 23, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Maybe he needs 48hrs to answer the question.
John Humphrey April 23, 2012 at 01:40 PM
John Paul, the landlord can only hope they get enough money to cover the taxes. Therefore, the landlord has a vested interest in the property and not the renter. The renter can skip out anytime leaving the landlord high and dry with only the security deposit left. So, in my opinion, renters should not be able to be elected to any governing board due to the fact that they don't have a vested interest in where they live. Especially a governing body that is 100% fully funded by property taxes. Anybody remember Alan Keyes? A property owner is concerned about there property, values, neighborhood, community, schools and most of all, How their tax dollars are spent. I don't know of any other Mayor or board president or trustee that rents their property. I am pretty sure to say that 99.9% are tax paying property owners in their respective towns. A leader of a board who is a renter can do a poor job and just say, " oh well" and just pack up and leave anytime for somewhere else. While a homeowner could do they same thing, it would be a lot more difficult to do so.
Paul April 23, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Folks just a quick FYI: A review of the information on the Cook County Recorders web site shows a mortgage taken out on the property where Mr. Hickey resides by someone other than him and recorded on 4/4/12. There is your answer as to who owns the property where Mr. Hickey lives.
Megan James April 23, 2012 at 02:54 PM
John Humphrey - I have to disagree with your comment about renters. Its wrong to assume just because someone rents, they aren't concerned about property, values, neighborhood, community, schools or how their tax dollars are spent. Renters still pay sales and income taxes which help fund village services too. Plus part of their rents goes towards the property taxes, so they are in fact, assisting to pay property taxes. In this ecomony, a lot of people had give up their homes & move into rental properties. They chose to stay in town in order to continue sending their children to the same schools, & attend their same churches. Many seniors also chose to move into rentals because they can no longer afford to pay the outrageous Cook County property taxes. But they have lived the majority of their lives in Orland, and like it here. They want to stay by their families & friends & attend the same churches. But don't think for one moment, that just because they no longer own their residences, they don't have a vested interest in the Orland. Many of them have more heart & provide more community services then many who own their properties do. So please do not sterotype renters as not being qualified to hold office just because they rent. If you chose not to vote for someone solely because they rent instead of own, you could be bypassing on someone who could be the best thing to happen to Orland in 30+years. Look at the whole picture folks..not just one thing.
Cubs Fan April 23, 2012 at 07:31 PM
I thought you said you were done responding Hickey?
Cubs Fan April 23, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Please post the link Paul
Paul April 23, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Dont want to disclose Mr. Hickeys personal information. Information is public knowledge on the Cook County recorders web site.
Chris Ciciora April 25, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Full disclosure on me - I ran for this office the same year Hickey won and Ray helped me get my name out there by having me on his radio show. With that being said, Ray you sling more mud than anyone towards people you don't like. Go read the Orlandparker blog. You attack Pat Maher and the current village board way too much. It is awfully tough to tell when you are acting as a spokes person paid for by the tax payers and when you are just spouting your own political agenda and views.
paul cervenka April 25, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Village board attorney Walsh was the OPFD attorney and it was he that made it perfectly clear several years ago to me in person at several meetings that there would be no discussions with trustees. Look for changes in proceedure soon.
MS April 25, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I am actually quite shocked at the comments of Mr. Hickey and Mr. Hanania who have both been responding to these boards as representatives of the OFPD. Mr. Hickey, you are Board president! This banter is beneath the dignity of the elected office you hold, sir! Some of the comments on these boards, Mr. Feldheim, deserve their own journalistic attention as they are quite scandalous (e.g. Hickey re: terrorists)! As for Mr. Hanania, the official PR spokesman of the OFPD, good grief! Once again making statements about the OFPD and the Board as a private citizen are we? Even though you are paid by the taxpayers to represent the district and not necessarily the Board members individually? If there are rants on these boards, you have certainly contributed to them, sir! Your two cents increasingly sound like North Korean denunciations more than anything! Accusing residents of slander for criticizing politicians is unbecoming of a PR person at the least. That is hardly the way of winning the hearts and minds of the people. And to accuse "complainers" or rather dismiss them as "probably former board members and employees" that were discharged is insulting to the public and demonstrates the siege mentality that pervades the organization. You sir are obnoxious more than anything!
Kevin Preston April 25, 2012 at 04:02 PM
that is so not the whole truth. The Hills and unincorporated areas could continue to pay for services if there was a consolidation. Hickey just doesnt understand fire districts it seems. Also, don't you think any member of the fire board, especially the Pres, should have to pay Real estate taxes? Hickey is making decisions that have no affect on him, financially.
Kevin Preston April 25, 2012 at 04:14 PM
You keep tellings lies and you don't even care! You were not paying your mortgage cuz, like several of your coharts, you don't know how to manage your money. Now you are renting. There use to be two meeting a month. How does it cost more money to have two meetings? Is it because you have to pay all of your patronage attorney's to be there? Stop trying to justify your actions. You are wasting more and more money. Sounds like there was more accomplished with 2 meetings a months and times of the meetings were more accommidating.
Kevin Preston April 25, 2012 at 04:17 PM
You will not stand for it? who do you think you are?
Kevin Preston April 25, 2012 at 04:19 PM
RAy Ray Ray. You are no better than Hickey. You may only be getting $3000 but the district has two PR people on the payroll and what about Cindy Katesense and all the other expensive attorneys. Don't be trying to say you are saving the district money. That is a LIE.
Kevin Preston April 25, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Maybe You should try it then Hickey.
Kevin Preston April 25, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Hickey's prior pin was 27-03-226-016. Here is the foreclosure link which is all public information.http://www.ccrd.info/CCRD/controller?commandflag=getDetails&optflag=DetailsCommand&county=il031&userid=null&userCategory=7&nameid=1958864&ptrno=350549106&instrumentnumber=1006835164&fileDate=03/09/2010&doctype=LIS PENDENS FORECLOSURE&partytype=&name=ONE%2BWEST%2BBK&officeid=70&lastname=ONE+WEST+BK&proptype=&pin=25162100320000&section=03&township=39&range=14 I live in the subdivision that Hickey used to live in. He was a good neighbor but sometimes people think they are bigger than they really are. They think owning a big house makes them more important than others. Things always seem to work its way out and the foreclosure made hickey whole.

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