Serwatka on Lakewood Matters

Lakewood Village President Paul Serwatka continues to be one of the few elected officials willing to give his take on his government’s activities over the internet.

His latest missive is below:

Bringing you up-to-date on recent activities of our village & village board – there are 4 items I want to call to your attention.

Lakewood Text Sign-Up

1 – A Reminder – One of the many new & improved services we are implementing in our village – the Lakewood Police Dept. has recently started a new program called “TextCaster.” TextCaster provides effective day-to-day information about public safety, traffic issues, community events, and emergency communication to Lakewood residents.

A number of residents have already signed up for these text reports and have found them to be quite useful. Most recently this was used to alert residents that garbage pick-up would be delayed until Saturday, due to the snow.

It’s a FREE service. It takes about 30 seconds to sign-up and you can sign-up by simply clicking onĀ  here..


2 – I have spoken quite a bit about performance based compensation of employees vs. the typical past practice of annual 3% raises for everyone regardless of performance, as well as big (usually secret) bonuses that had been typically awarded to upper management every year, also regardless of performance.

In January, I recommended that our board recognize the “above and beyond” work and attitude of our Village Clerk, Jan Hansen.

In July of last year, throughout our flood crisis, Jan stepped up, taking on additional roles, working evenings & weekends alongside me, to help facilitate all of the efforts from responding to resident needs, to helping coordinate with FEMA, the Red Cross and others, to deploying Port-O-Potties, Semi-Tankers, and on and on…

Subsequently, after the departure of our former Chief Administrative Officer, Jan again stepped up and worked many additional hours, evenings and weekends with me, in a myriad of capacities, to keep things running in the village for the 2 and-a-half month interim, before welcoming our new CAO, Jeannine Smith.

I simply could not have made it through this time without the efforts of Jan Hansen.

In acknowledgement of Jan’s stepping-up & going “above and beyond” on behalf of our entire village, the board supported my recommendation, and PUBLICLY, in an open meeting, moved to award Jan a $5000 performance bonus. Jan has been our village clerk for approximately 18 years and this is the first time she has ever been recognized for her efforts.

Surplus Police Cars

3 – A Stark Contrast in Administrative Practices – I’ve had a number of residents inquire as to the number of Police Squad Cars our village owns. I had discussed this awhile back with our Chief of Police, Mike Roth, who assured me this was among many things on his list of items to be addressed.

At our last village board meeting, Chief Roth recommended the sale of two surplus police squad cars – to be sold at public auction, based on the Kelly Blue Book value for the vehicles for their age, condition and mileage. Chief Roth’s recommendation was supported by the board and the vehicles will be sold at public auction.

I believe it is worth noting the stark contrast in the protocol followed here as compared to the past practices of our former manager and administration. In one notable example of past practice from last year, under our previous manager and administration, that has since come to light – A police squad car less than 5 years old, with only approximately 40,000 miles, was (arguably prematurely) replaced with the purchase of a new squad car.

As we later learned, this village owned squad car was sold – not at auction – but, to a private party. It sold for $5000 and while it was not sold at public auction, it was purportedly an “arms length” transaction. We later learned that the Kelley Blue Book value for this vehicle was approximately $14,000. Add to this – after this purported “arms-length” sale to this private party, this squad car subsequently came to be owned by the individual who was, at that time, our village Finance Director.

None of the parties involved in this transaction remain employed by our village and I am confident that these types of activities will no longer occur under this administration.


4 – This item really warrants two headings:


1 – Reviving Redtail – In January, the board (minus one trustee) approved the renovation of Redtail Golf Club. (Trustee Rich Ritchie, the sole opposition of this much needed renovation, has vied for building a brand new Golf Club & Police Station on Redtail property, since being elected to the board in May 2017.)

Besides drastic imporvement to the obvious “drab” aesthetics and deferred maintenance of Redtail’s clubhouse, this interior and exterior renovation will cure; non-operational and leaking windows, deteriorated/rotted and leaking siding, faulty gutter/downspouts, non-operational HVAC systems, broken plumbing and bathroom fixtures, damaged & non-operational electric, as well as a number of building and health code violations within the clubhouse.

In truth, much of this work is many, many years overdue, and is a clear indication of substantial neglect as well as a lack of “pride of ownership”. Whatever the reason, it is blatantly obvious that the success and vitality of Redtail was NOT a priority for our past administration!

The Reviving Redtail Renovation, as well as the coming Hawk’s Nest Pub & Eatery is being spearheaded by trustee Phil Stephan with my full support and occasional assistance. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that this entire project will be funded with funds generated entirely by Redtail operations, to be used for Redtail purposes!

No property tax dollars or other monies from our General Fund are being used for this essential renovation.

2 – Hawk’s Nest Pub & Eatery – Coming Soon! – Mark your calendars for this April 8th – Noon to 4:00 and come join us for the Grand Opening of our new Hawk’s Nest Pub & Eatery! (You will be notified again, You can be sure!)

The Hawk’s Nest will be a brand new, family friendly Pub & Restaurant, Featuring: All New (limited) Menu Selections, New Beverage Selections (alcohol and non-alcohol), New Service-Oriented Management and Equipment, and an All New Customer-Oriented Approach to Business.

As with the transformation of the rest of our village administration – The Transformation of Redtail and the introduction of The Hawk’s Nest Pub & Eatery promises the end of “Business as Usual” at Redtail and marks the beginning of the Redtail Revival.

The success of this renovation, the restructuring of golf club management & staff, and the coming new Hawk’s Nest Pub, promise the generation of revenues never before achieved from Redtail – the ultimate goal being the ability to allocate a portion of these revenues to our General Fund and offset a portion of what would otherwise be property taxes paid by residents.

I promise to to provide updates as we move forward. In the meantime, I hope you will share this newsletter with other Lakewood neighbors and help spread the word of our efforts..


Serwatka on Lakewood Matters — 18 Comments

  1. Serwatka is a good example of that rare creature, nearly extinct in Illinois, who is a true public servant.

    He brought order out of the petty pygmy politicos who saw Lakewood as their personal feeding trough.

    He restored confidence in the typical homeowner who’d been lied to so many times that when Serwatka ran for office, nobody could believe he’d really clean up the foul mess and turn into yet another political rat in human clothing.

    But he triumphed over the nattering nabobs of negativism who had almost ruined the place for all time.

    Paul Serwatka we salute you!

  2. RickeyRicardo, you are correct, Paul Serwatka is an example of what Good Government should be. Not easy walking into a badly run operation, and trying to correct the wrongs that were done. Great Job Paul!

  3. Agreed Cal. Why don’t other Municipal leaders provide regular updates to their citizens?

    It should be a required function of their office. Not that they would be so open and plainly spoken as Serwatka has been over the years.

    Open communication, recently cutting property taxes and I read he issued property tax refund checks to some.

    Not a bad standard to hold all Municipal leaders to.

  4. Why isn’t the state’s attorney looking into the “sale” of that squad car?

    They prosecuted a Prairie Grove trustee treats ago for a very similar deal and in that case there was no indication or a sweet deal on the price like there is here!

    This is not something that should be swept under the carpet.

    IF those figures are correct a theft of $9000 has occurred.

    Bravo, Paul, for bringing this to light but your job (and that of the board) is not done!

    Not to mention that the manner of disposal itself likely violated the law.

  5. No doubt Serwatka’s work to date has been exemplary.

    In addressing the incident he mentions of the approved sale of a police car under the past admin, in what appears to be a very questionable manner, I hope Paul gave consideration to the possibility of criminal implications.

    Residents should be appalled.

  6. Brutus, yes it would be nice if criminal implications were sought, but from what I have seen over the years, the corruption has been ignored.

    What Law Firm guides the Officials now?

  7. Schroeder, this would have been the previous board and administration.

    That said, they surely would have had to approve declaring the vehicle as surplus property and approving to place it for sale, but it likely would have been staff/management that oversaw. How it was sold and for what price.

  8. Yes, a good example of good government. Actually doing what you are supposed to do. Even though Paul did not use names, calling out the past employees is beneath his office. That stuff is for campaigning, not governing.

  9. Excuse me Pritzkers Toilet. But if past employees stole, plundered, or otherwise committed malfeasance with taxpayer money then give me one good reason taxpayers should not be informed about it?

    The only ones who don’t approve of informing the taxpayers are those who are complicit or otherwise friendly with the guilty.

    I for one say you can deposit your comment above to your toilet.

  10. Lima Beans, you are correct, Pritzkers Toilet might be one of those, that go back to the Golf Course Deal, the TIF Deal, or even back to the Landfill Deal.

    I can think of at least two in Lakewood that were involved and know the history.

  11. I see no good reason that citizens should not be told of such matters. I would say there is actually quite the substantial argument for exactly the opposite.

    Perhaps “Pritzkers Toilet” could take a lesson from Patrick Henry who taught us: The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.

  12. Serwatka is why people are moving out en masse. A true political hack.

  13. Chico Esquela, you’re right about Serwatka.
    People are tired of “political hacks” as you say, like him!

    I, for one, hate elected officials like Paul. Keeping ALL of his promises, literally rooting out corruption, ending wasteful spending, literally ending patronage & cronyism, cutting millions in subsidies to crony developers, constantly communicating and informing residents, foregoing his salary, and the worst of all, actually cutting property taxes in his village!?

    That’s the last straw!!
    Serwatka Must Be Stopped!!

    A Mayor like that would make anyone want to move away.

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