By Dermot Connolly
The village of Orland Park has filed a lawsuit against Gov. JB Pritzker, asking afederal judge to overturn the executive orders he has issued relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Filed June 17 by village attorneys from the law firm of Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, the motion seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to overturn the executive orders that Pritzker issued since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. Two village residents and the owner of The Brass Tap pub signed on as plaintiffs in the lawsuit also.
The action follows through on a threat to take legal action if the governor did not move faster to reopen the state economy that was included in a resolution passed by the Village Board on May 18. At that time, only Trustee Dan Calandriello voted against it, calling it “a waste of money to start an unproductive fight with our leaders,” especially because other municipalities had already filed suit.
Trustee Cynthia Nelson Katsenes countered by saying, “Are we supposed to sit back and be nice? What has that done to help our business owners.”
Trustees agreed to file the lawsuit during an executive session held after the regular board meeting on June 15, but no public vote was taken.
Mayor Keith Pekau and several trustees spoke at length at recent village board meetings about how they felt Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan was unfairly preventing local businesses from reopening despite COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continuing to trend downward.
“We did not take this action lightly,” said Pekau in a videotaped statement posted on June 16 to explain why the lawsuit was filed.
“Taking legal action is always the last resort, but we have exhausted all our options. We tried to dialogue with the governor and are getting nowhere.” said the mayor.
He said he received no response from the state government about any of the four resolutions the board had sent to state officials regarding the Restore Illinois plan, which he felt was too strict.
He said the only other option, opening businesses in defiance of the governor’s orders, would put the village and businesses owners at risk of being penalized financially or criminally charged or having licenses revoked.
Although Illinois is due to enter Phase 4 this weekend, allowing for limited indoor dining and groups of up to 50 to gather, Pekau said Pritzker’s conditions for moving on to Phase 5 and normalcy are stricter than those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.The mayor pointed out that under the current rules, Phase 5 will only be attained when there is an effective COVID-19 treatment or the disease is eradicated—none of which are guaranteed.
That would mean going to professional sporting events and a whole range of other normal activities would be off limits indefinitely.
“This issue is worth a fight. It is fundamental to our democracy,” said Pekau.