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Mayor Keith Pekau Attacks Orland Park and Chicago Firefighters With Baseless Accusations, Calls First Responders an “Embarrassment to Their Profession”



By Illinois Review

During Monday night’s Orland Park Village Board Meeting, Mayor Keith Pekau used his bully pulpit to level attacks against Orland Park and Chicago Firefighters, accusing the first responders – without any evidence or witnesses, of saying “horrible things” at polling locations about his close friend and ally, Rich Miller, who he endorsed as a trustee for the Fire District board – calling the firefighters an “embarrassment to their profession.”

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau, on Monday night during a village board meeting, leveled baseless attacks against Orland Park and Chicago Firefighters, referring to them as an “embarrassment to their profession.”

Miller serves as Orland Park’s Emergency Services & Disaster Agency (ESDA) coordinator as well as the Police Department’s Support Services Assistant Manager and handler of Leo, the department’s therapy dog.

Although Miller is not a police officer, he is often seen at community events wearing what appears to be official Orland Park Police Department uniforms and pullovers.

Rich Miller, who is not a police officer, but rather an assistant manager for support services, is often seen around town wearing shirts with an official star of the Orland Park Police Department. (Facebook)

Orland Park Trustee Sean Kampas, an IT consultant and close friend and ally of Pekau is also seen during community events wearing an official Orland Park Police Emergency Services polo with an official police badge attached to his belt – giving the impression that he is a member of law enforcement.

Eric Vates, the president of Orland Park Mazda – and another close friend and ally of Pekau, is also routinely seen at local community events wearing official Orland Park Police gear and a badge – once again, giving the impression to residents and visitors that he is a member of law enforcement.

Directing traffic at community events and wearing a bright reflective vest that says “volunteer” is one thing – but wearing uniforms with police badges and police stars is totally different.

Eric Vates, left, of Orland Park Mazda, Sean Kampas, center, an IT consultant and Village Trustee, and Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau pose for a photo during a community event last Summer. Vates and Kampas are wearing official Orland Park Police uniforms and a badge, even though they are not law enforcement. (Facebook)

In Illinois, it is unlawful to impersonate a police officer, and a Class 4 Felony, punishable by up to three years in jail and $25,000 in fines.

During the municipal election, Pekau also endorsed Vates as a trustee for the Fire District board – including both Vates and Miller as part of his “People Over Politics” slate.

Rich Miller and Eric Vates pose for a photo together. Both are close allies of Pekau and were endorsed by the mayor and his “People Over Politics” slate for Orland Fire Protection Trustees. Miller and Vates would both lose the election. (Facebook)

During the municipal elections, both Vates and Miller lost as voters rejected Pekau’s slate of endorsed candidates, where the embattled mayor lost 9 out of 10 races – proving that an overwhelming majority of Orland Park residents rejected Pekau and anyone associated with the power-hungry and divisive mayor.

Residents also resoundingly rejected Pekau’s power grab dubbed as a “referendum” by a shocking 31 points – handing the embattled mayor humiliating defeats on election night.

A week before the election, both Pekau and Kampas harassed a group of off-duty Orland Park firefighters as they were walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors for Orland Fire Protection District candidates Angela Greenfield and Tina Zekich – heckling the volunteers as they gathered at a local Starbucks and then following them in Pekau’s car as a form of harassment and intimidation.

But for Pekau to use an official village board meeting to level unsubstantiated and vicious attacks against first responders – while wearing an Orland Park Police Department polo, is completely unacceptable and a disgrace.

Mayor Keith Pekau, who is not in law enforcement, often wears an official Orland Park Police Department polo with “Mayor Pekau” stitched on the front.

In fact, it’s an impeachable offense in the opinion of this publication.

But calling the firefighters an “embarrassment to their profession” was just the beginning.

“Those firefighters from Chicago that came out here to trash one of our Orland Park natives and a member of our police department – they should be ashamed. Those firefighters both live and work in the city of Chicago and they should spend time trying to fix their own backyard rather than coming here and try to turn a great community like Orland Park into the dumpster fire like Chicago.”

In the last 12 days, the Chicago Fire Department has had to bury two of their own in emotional farewells to incredibly brave firefighters who died in the line of duty.

Chicago Firefighter Lt. Jan Tchoryk died while battling a high-rise fire in downtown Chicago – having served the city of Chicago for over 26 years as a firefighter.

A day later, Chicago firefighter Jermaine Pelt, who joined the department in 2005, died during an extra alarm fire in the city’s south side.

The weekend before his death, Pelt walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding – days later, she was helping to plan his funeral.

First responders escort the body of fallen Chicago Firefighter Jermaine Pelt to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office on April 4, 2023. Pelt died in the line of duty battling a blaze on the south side of Chicago.

Attacking political opponents is one thing, but to attack first responders during a public meeting just days after they buried one of their own – there are no words – just utter disgust.

Pekau continues to prove that he is unhinged, heartless and detached from reality – and it’s why no one is showing up to his events – and why he is speaking in front of small crowds and empty rooms.

In the last several weeks, Mayor Pekau has spoken in front of empty rooms and small crowds, proving his unpopularity. Residents are tired of his attacks and divisive attitude towards his own constituents and first responders.

And sources confirm that Kampas – who has a front row seat and is witnessing Pekau’s disgraceful downfall and humiliating election defeats, is quietly floating a potential challenge to Pekau in the next mayor’s race.

Illinois Review expects a number of candidates, on both sides of the aisle, to challenge Pekau in 2025, who narrowly won re-election in 2021 by just 512 votes.

If the last election – and his small crowd size is any indication – Pekau is en route to another humiliating defeat.

And that can’t come any sooner.


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