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`Mayor coming through`: Tinley mayor moved cones for party bus after McCartney concert, records show
Friday, August 11, 2017

Mike Nolan Daily Southtown
reprinted from the Chicago Tribune

Tinley Park`s mayor moved traffic safety cones and insisted police allow the party bus he was on to bypass regular traffic routes after leaving the July 26 Paul McCartney concert at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in that village, police documents show.

Officers responsible for directing vehicles leaving the concert said in their memorandums they had to hold up traffic to give the bus Mayor Jacob Vandenberg was a passenger on preferential treatment, and that, without permission, Vandenberg moved traffic safety cones set up to keep post-concert traffic flowing.

One officer in her memo said Vandenberg shouted “mayor coming through” as he began moving cones at her post at 183rd Street and Ridgeland Avenue, and yelled, “I`m the mayor” as he moved a second set of cones to allow the bus to pass. She wrote that once she recognized the person as the mayor, she didn`t stop him from moving the cones. The cones were set up to prevent traffic from continuing north on Ridgeland or to go west on 183rd.

The documents were obtained by the Daily Southtown in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Vandenberg, in a statement Friday, acknowledged he left the bus “at multiple locations and spoke with a number of the Village Traffic Enforcement Officers,” but that “I should not have interfered with their duties.” Vandenberg said he later contacted the officers “and conveyed my apologies for interference or offense they perceived that evening.”

The mayor said that he, family members and friends were on the bus, and that while leaving the concert, “I, like many concert goers that evening, grew frustrated with the traffic pattern and the gridlock it was causing.”

The outdoor venue - at one point called the World Music Theatre and more recently First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre before the casino operator bought the naming rights - is south of Interstate 80 between Oak Park and Ridgeland avenues.

In the documents, Vandenberg appeared insistent that the bus wasn`t going to abide by the designated theater exit routes. Six police personnel - three of whom are auxiliary officers - filed memos regarding their encounters that night with the mayor.

The officers were instructed to file the documents by the sergeant in charge that night of the venue detail, police chief Steve Neubauer said. He declined to comment regarding the officers` encounters with the mayor.

At one point as concert traffic was letting out, a heavy downpour started, and full-time officers stationed at Ridgeland and Flossmoor Road, who recognized Vandenberg, reported him walking toward them in the rain “in a determined manner and talking out loud.” Another officer, in his memo, described Vandenberg as approaching in an “aggressive manner.”

“Move the cones we are going left move the cones,” one officer wrote. The cones are set up to keep traffic from going north on Ridgeland, instead directing traffic south on that street or east on Flossmoor Road.

He and his fellow officer had to stop other traffic to allow Vandenberg`s vehicle to proceed north on Ridgeland, according to their memos.

Another officer at a post closer to the theater said in his memo that Vandenberg also moved traffic cones to clear a path for the bus, saying, “I am the mayor of Tinley Park and I need to get out of here.”

After the bus went through the intersection at 183rd and Ridgeland, auxiliary officers posted at 183rd and Oak Park Avenue reported a bus headed west on 183rd, and when it got to the intersection a man holding a can of Miller Lite beer got off the bus, walked into the middle of the intersection with Oak Park Avenue and started to wave the bus through even though traffic had not stopped.

One auxiliary officer said the man, later identified to him by a supervisor as the mayor, was asked to get back on the bus and responded, “This is my bus and these are my people, we are going west.”

The officer`s partner, also an auxiliary officer, in his memo verified that statement and noted that as Vandenberg was in the intersection, several vehicles had to maneuver to avoid striking him.
Twitter @mnolan_J

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