Cook County

Orland Park Public Library Tips Village Workers With Public Funds

ORLAND PARK, ILLINOIS

According to credit card authorization forms produced pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Orland Park Public Library (OPPL) Director Mary Weimar recently used public library funds to buy “treats” for Village of Orland Park public workers who plowed snow in the Library’s parking lot in February. This raises an interesting question regarding the use of public funds by one public body to essentially “tip” public employees working for another related public body. Is this spending on “treats” a benefit to the public in any way? Does this constitute “tipping” of public employees by other public employees using public funds?

In this instance, though the dollar amount spent on “treats” is relatively small, the concept of a public library using taxpayer money to buy “treats” at all to double-compensate other public workers who were on the clock and collecting salaries while doing their work is troubling. The Village of Orland Park employs public workers to operate snow plows in the Village. Those snow plows are assigned routes to plow when snow accumulates. The OPPL’s parking lot is on one of those assigned routes and it is the Village employees’ assigned work duties to plow that parking lot just as the Village employees plow the lots at the civic center, the police station, the sportsplex, and other Village property. The snow plow drivers are not doing the Library any kind of special favor by plowing that lot but are instead just doing their assigned work duties and completing the task they are paid a handsome salary to complete.

The money that Weimar is spending on “treats” for these Village workers is money that isn’t being spent on books, DVDs, magazine subscriptions, computers, or other items that the public could enjoy. Orland Park has one of the highest tax levies around to support the Library but the funds the OPPL receives never seem to be enough because this Library is always asking for more money and higher levies. And every time the levy is raised the Library Board claims it needs to do so or else it will have to cut children’s story time and other programs for families. No mention is ever made of Mary Weimar spending tax dollars on “treats” for Village employees at tax levy increase time. Logic dictates that if the OPPL didn’t squander its money on so many “treats” then it would not need to seek so many tax levy increases.

Every government entity in Illinois has a limited budget and should use the funds in its possession for the best public benefit. What public benefit comes from tipping other public employees when they are just doing the jobs assigned to them? Where does this tipping end? 

Should the Library be expected to buy “treats” for police officers whenever they come to the Orland Park Public Library to handle a call about a disturbance there? Should the Library be expected to buy “treats” for the postal workers that deliver the mail? Why should the snow plow drivers be tipped but not the cops or the mail carriers? Isn’t handling a rowdy library patron or walking a postal workers’ beat on foot far more arduous work than sitting in a heated snow plow cab and driving it around a parking lot once or twice a year?

As always, the question is also raised why Library Director Mary Weimar chooses to use public funds to do her “treating” instead of buying those treats herself with money from her own pocket. Weimar’s compensation as Library Director for the year 2017 was $203,876 according to the OPPL’s posted financial report. If she wants to buy treats for Village workers then she should have more than enough in her pocket to do so, with a compensation package that exorbitant. Instead, she sticks taxpayers with the bill for all her “treating.”

Couldn’t the snow-plow workers be “treated” in a way that didn’t cost taxpayers a dime? The OPPL regularly discards scores of books that it either removes from its shelves or doesn’t want from donations. If Mary Weimar wants to “treat” Village of Orland Park public employees then why doesn’t she invite them into the Library for a cup of coffee from the Library staff’s coffee pot and allow them to take a few books from the discard pile? What better way is there for a public library to “treat” someone than to give that person a book or two for free?

If this “treating/tipping” is happening in Orland Park then chances are it’s happening in other communities too. A FOIA request submitted to your local library asking for receipts for food and beverage purchases would be the first step in seeing if your local library director is a frequent “tipper” of other public employees too. From there, see if your local village board or other governing body is engaging in this pattern of tipping behavior too. Why should the public have to pay for these unsanctioned tips when the public is already paying the public workers’ salaries for doing the same jobs?

DuJan FOIA 02-26-2018 (N000250) Part 2 REDACTED FINAL

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7 replies »

  1. The snow plow drivers make a lot of money. They are paid whether it snows or not. How many times in 2018 did they actually have to go out and plow? Two or three? So on top of what they already received in terms of very generous compensation for not that many days of actual work, the public library director decides to take money that should be spent on new books and instead uses that to buy treats…for the public employees who were already being highly paid. I’ve always worked in the private sector and whenever I managed a staff I used my own money to buy treats if I wanted to buy them treats. I did not charge the treats to the company. When you as a person decide you want to buy someone a treat, you reach for your own wallet and you do that. You don’t abuse your ability to tap into public funds to do that. You don’t take money that was meant to buy new Dr. Seuss books for little children and instead buy treats for highly paid grown men who were already paid. As I said in the article, if Mary Weimar wanted to do something nice for the plow drivers the normal thing to do would have been for her to invite them into the library for some coffee in the staff lounge and then give them the chance to pick some books from the discard pile. They have a very nice staff lounge in that library, with only the best coffee there in their machine. It would have been totally appropriate for her to allow the snow plow drivers to take a discarded book or two from the pile after enjoying a cup of coffee and it would not have cost the public an additional cent. So if the point was just to treat the drivers, there was a way to do that without wasting public funds. But that’s not what happened. Instead, more of the public’s money was needlessly spent when it didn’t have to be.

  2. I love how there’s always someone waiting in the wings to claim “no big deal” when we are talking about other people’s money. I want my government to treat their budget like their own money. They wouldn’t double pay their own snow plow service. I wonder if Mary W. Buys treats for her lawn service at home? Public employees love spending other people’s money. It means nothing to them. Time to fire anyone who does this

  3. It’s absurd to defend a public body overpaying WITH YOUR MONEY for services the village provides. Anyone who doesn’t see this as a problem is the reason we are trillions in DEBT. I bet you’re the same kind of person who lives on credit and buys a McMansion. In other words…STUPID.

  4. I’m not sure I see it as that big a deal, though technically it’s overstepping. Perhaps if they have a “Friends of the Library” group money for treats (not all the time) could be designated. I don’t know the circumstances – perhaps although on the snow route – the plowing was done “early” so when the Library opened the parking lot would be clear.

    I’m just not sure in this case I’d get too excited.
    btw I don’t know what they do with the discard books, but many sell them for a small price as extra funds for the library.

    • You don’t see it as a big deal that the state of Illinois can’t pay its vendors, is going bankrupt, and yet continues to allow public employees to overpay? When will it be a big deal to you? When you have to sell your house to pay the property taxes? People like you deserve to be impoverished by the state because you’re too intellectually stunted to see what’s right in front of you. They’re stealing from you and you don’t think it’s a big deal.

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