In the real-life Illinois town of Oak Brook, it’s getting about as surreal as anything on daytime TV.
Once again, a main character here is Oak Brook’s President, John Craig.
In November, the 76-year-old Craig was accused in police documents of being drunk and acting belligerently toward Oak Brook cops who were conducting a liquor license inspection at a local nightclub Craig was visiting. (Craig contends it was the officers who were out of line.)
Now, in a much milder re-run, police records show that Craig tried to shoo away two officers while they were conducting a Jan. 14 bar check at another establishment in town: Grotto Oak Brook, which, by the way, is the same nightspot that’s hosted Craig’s campaign fundraisers, and that’s caused major headaches for local police—in the form of brawls among patrons and noise complaints, village records show—since opening three years back.
The latest incident raises more questions about whether Craig was overstepping his bounds as village president and liquor commissioner by trying to protect a personal hangout.
(Craig declined to comment for this story, saying the Better Government Association engages in “yellow journalism.”)
Meanwhile, in another plot twist, a private attorney reportedly representing concerned residents spoke out at a recent village board meeting, accusing the cops of going easy on Dr. Gopal Lalmalani during a domestic-type response last year.
Lalmalani, a member of the Oak Brook Plan Commission, is running against Craig in the April election for village president (which is another term for “mayor.”)
Apparently, there was a heated argument between Lalmalani and his wife, and she called 911. There was no arrest and no charges, and no physical contact was alleged.
The attorney at the village board meeting, Douglas Drenk, said he spoke up because he wanted the Lalmalani incident and the police response to come out in the open.
Acknowledging there was a domestic argument that he’s “not proud of,” Lalmalani told the BGA he suspects the release and dissemination of the embarrassing information was part of an election-related dirty trick perpetuated by Craig and Oak Brook Police Chief Tom Sheahan, who Lalmalani said are “tied at the hip.”
Sheahan said he “wouldn’t even dignify that with an answer,” adding that he doesn’t get involved in elections or “dirty tricks.”
Craig wouldn’t comment on the incident.
One group with a new speaking role, however, is the Oak Brook police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, whose members just passed a no-confidence vote in Sheahan for, among other reasons, allegedly “alienating” his officers, driving down morale.
Unfortunately, the soap opera in Oak Brook drags on and on, and there may be more episodes to come.
At some point, taxpayers in Oak Brook may step up to change the channel or demand some better programming.
This blog entry was reported and written by Robert Herguth, the BGA’s editor of investigations. Contact us with tips, suggestions and complaints at (312) 821-9030, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.