Politics & Government

Mask Mandate Fails In Orland Park, Again

The village board voted against a mask mandate in Orland that could have had residents pay up to $1,000 for violations.

Orland trustees once again voted against a mask mandate.
Orland trustees once again voted against a mask mandate. (Yasmeen Sheikah/Patch)

ORLAND PARK, IL — The Orland Park Village Board of Trustees voted down a mask mandate that would have required residents to wear masks in all indoor public facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Failure to comply with the ordinance would have had residents paying a fine of no less than $75, and no greater than $1,000.

A presentation highlighting the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to battle the pandemic was shown at Monday evening's Board of Trustees meeting. The presentation also showed Illinois' coronavirus impact in comparison to other states, such as California and New York.

Illinois has had a total of 863,477 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, and 15,587 coronavirus-related deaths, according to the presentation. New York trails behind the state with 832,250 cases and 35,808 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The presentation can be found on the Village's website.

The motion was made by Trustee Dan Calandriello. He has brought up the request of a mask mandate in the past, and said he wanted to bring it up again as a way to help Orland business stay open.

"This ordinance helps our businesses attract business by providing a healthy community for our residents and our town customers," he said. "This provides them with the tool to conduct business in a safe environment. This ordinance tells our community that we care about their health and want to help stop spread the virus."

The CDC and WHO both recommend the usage of masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19 transmission. Calandriello highlights that in his comments on the ordinance.

"Mask wearing protects against COVID-19, which the scientific community can all agree upon," Calandriello said. "While I respect my colleagues, the argument against mask wearing completely disregards tremendous positives and only focuses on small limitations based on previous discussions we've had ... the positives by far outweigh the negatives. It's not even close in my opinion and the scientific community's opinion."

Other municipalities in surrounding communities, such as New Lenox and Tinley Park, have passed similar resolutions mandating masks be worn in public facilities. Calandriello said since the New Lenox mandate has been passed, the village has issued zero tickets and warnings.

"This ordinance follows the science and common sense. I felt obligated to bring this up because I felt obligated as a human and as someone who cares about this community," Calandriello said. "I just want us to be leaders in this, not followers."

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Trustee Jim Dodge agreed with Calandriello and believes the mandate would give business owners more rights.

"The reasons I wear a mask when I am outside my home is pretty simple," Dodge said. "It was never about this being a cure or a panacea, it was strictly to try and change the probabilities of transmission per the guidelines from federal authorities I respect, and the CDC."

The trustee said this ordinance would not have Orland Park Police searching for people not complying, but rather business owners would have the right to ask someone to leave if they are opposed to wearing a mask within the business.

"I see this ordinance as quite frankly an extension of a pretty simple idea. No shirt, no shoes, no service," Dodge said. "If they don't leave, that's when this would kick on. This is absolutely about supporting our local business owners, and it's their choice."

Trustee Cynthia Nelson Katsenes said she has been to multiple Orland businesses during the pandemic, where she has spoken to owners that have no issues with customers choosing to not wear a mask.

"Not a single one of them shared with me that they had an issue with this," Katsenes said. "If there is a problem, I can see attempting to fix it, but I don't see a problem here in my personal experience."

Mayor Keith Pekau said the ordinance isn't needed because there is already a mask mandate in place in Illinois. The mayor claims hospitalizations are increasing because people are getting sick with the flu and other illnesses, and not going to the doctor out of fear.

Pekau said the ordinance is missing a number of situations that may occur if passed, such a police having to answer numerous calls pertaining to masks not being worn, does not account for those vaccinated/those who previously had COVID-19 and those with pre-existing conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask.

"Nothing says 'Welcome to Orland Park, we're going to fine you $1,000 if you don't wear a mask,'" Pekau said. "... It's more about control than safety. This is an ordinance in search of a problem, and it's poorly drafted ... why write a crappy ordinance to begin with? This isn't a good one."

Ultimately, the ordinance failed 4-3, with Trustees Calandriello, Fenton and Dodge voting yes, and Pekau, along with Trustees Katsenes, Milani and Healy voting no.

Mayoral candidate Dan McLaughlin weighed in on the decision in a news release early Wednesday morning, saying this vote is "an insult to all the nurses, doctors and medical staff who have been hard at work treating COVID-19 for months."

"It is yet another example of the current village administration disregarding the people's voice and acting out of spite, defensiveness, and petty politics. Orland Park deserves better," McLaughlin said in the release. "It is the Mayor's job to protect public safety, and as Mayor, I pledge to listen to the vast majority of Orland Park citizens who have voiced their support for simple policies that slow the spread of COVID-19 ... Small businesses and everyday people have been hurt enough. It's time to listen to the people, not ignore them. As Mayor, that's exactly what I'll do."


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