Oak Brook keeps fighting crime of police chief’s pension
Updated: May 28, 2012 8:33AM
Questions continue to surround just how Oak Brook could be on the hook for $750,000 in unfunded liabilities for a police chief who was with the village just six years.
The shady circumstances which boosted former Oak Brook Police Chief Tom Sheahan’s pension by $32,000 per year need to brought into the light by a thorough investigation. Just how legislation got enacted to affect just one man and how then the sponsor of the legislation just two years later became a $5,000-per-month lobbyist for the village raises questions and eyebrows. It smacks of backroom politics and a complete probe on just what transpired needs to be done by an outside investigator with assistance from village personnel.
A 2007 piece of legislation allowed Sheahan to transfer previous pension credit into the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Personnel program of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. By linking that credit to his chief’s pension, Sheahan’s pension payouts jumped from two pensions totalling $45,000 a year to one pension totaling $77,000 a year, paid for by Oak Brook taxpayers. Sheahan is making more in annual pension payments from the village than he made in his annual salary. That is absurd.
Why would Oak Brook officials go along with such a move that would burden their taxpayers for years to come? Homeowners want to know and a May 5 meeting of homeowner association presidents should bring a chorus of questions and fireworks.
But it appears many of the village officials at the time didn’t even know about the move as they never saw Sheahan’s amended contract. It appears that the Oak Brook village attorney at the time did not even see the contract. If that was truly the case, that is an absolute travesty.
Sheahan supporters on the Village Board at the time apparently said that Sheahan’s lawyers had looked at the contract and that everything was good. Basic rules of contract law is have someone looking out for your interests see the document. That is like buying a house and just using the seller’s real estate agent and attorney because they are already involved in the process.
Oak Brook has wisely taken quick action and is fighting the Sheahan pension pilfering on two fronts - with legal action and legislative help.
The village’s legal counsel has sought action from IMRF to get Oak Brook off the hook for the brunt of the pension payments. The village has also turned to state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-24th District) to see what can be done through legislation to get the situation rectified.
Village President Gopal Lalmalani, who was not around during the Sheahan shafting, and village trustee, most of whom also have no first-hand knowledge of Sheahan’s socking it to the village, should be commended for working so quickly and diligently to try to fix the problem.
The village is suffering a publicity black eye right now because of all of this, but it is better this is playing out in the public forum rather than in back rooms. That is what got the village into this mess in the first place.