Monday, October 17, 2016

Orland Park approves 375% increase in mayoral salary

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Orland Park approves 375% increase in mayoral salary

Nearly 100 residents crowded the Orland Park village hall to complain that the pay hike should be presented to the voters for approval and not the board members, who voted unanimously to hike the salary following two hours of public discussion and debate.

By Ray Hanania

(NOTE: You can read my column in the Regional News and the Reporter Newspapers this week on the aspect of the issue of the 1983 Referendum creating the part time mayoral position and establishing Orland Park as a Village Managerial system.)

Over the objections of nearly 100 mostly angry residents, the Village board of Orland Park during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday October 17, 2016, approved increasing the salary of Mayor Dan McLaughlin from $40,000 a year to 375 percent of its current level, or $150,000 a year.

(NOTE: The total salary of $150,000 is 375 percent, but the actual increase of $110,000 is "only" 275 percent)

Although many residents praised the board members and the mayor, many said they were deeply disturbed that the issue was brought up so quickly and without public discussion, and that the salary change should be made by the voters.

Nearly all of the about 100 residents who packed the board room said they only learned about the details of the increase from a robocall broadcast twice during the past five days. The robocall urged residents to attend the meeting and express their opposition to the wage increase. Mayor McLaughlin and board trustees criticized the robocall saying that it was filled with falsehoods.

(The text of the robocall from my home phone answering machine is included at the end of this story.)

About 100 Residents of Orland Park filled the board meeting room Monday Oct. 17, 2016 to protest increasing Mayor Dan McLaughlin's salary 375 percent from $40,000 to $150,000

McLaughlin and the board distributed copies of the ordinance that spelled out some of the provisions of the increase for the first time to the public at the meeting which was held on Monday, October 17, 2016. But it took a lot of explaining to make the provisions clear.

"This is deplorable and inexcusable," said one speaker who explained he lost his job as a result of Obama Care, the Affordable Care Act approved by President Barack Obama.

"We are hurting. It is deplorable and inexcusable for civil servants to sit up here and think it is ok to do this. This is offensive. I just can't believe it," he said during the public comment period after the ordinance was introduced for approval.

Trustee Carole Griffin Ruzich led the defense of the pay hike, which is unprecedented in municipal history in Orland Park and in most surrounding Chicagoland suburban communities. She criticized the robocall, which was broadcast several days ago and then again on Sunday night.

Ruzich said that the board decided to do this as an alternative to hiring two more full-time employees, a move that was recommended by Matrix Consulting Group which Mayor McLaughlin described as municipal "efficiency experts."


People listen to the board meeting from the entrance way at the village hall in Orland Park

The ordinance explains that the recommendation to hire two additional administrators was the result of a professional staffing study. The consultants suggested the village hire "a second Assistant Village Manager," and an "Economic Development Coordinator."

Ruzich and Trustee James Dodge argued in response to the community protests that Mayor McLaughlin had the skill set to do the work that the two new hires would perform, and would save the village $750,000 over the course of the next four years.

The ordinance states: "in order to achieve these significant cost savings, the Village President will engage in promoting and facilitating the economic development of the Village in order to maximize the Village’s long-term employment opportunities for residents, the Village’s commercial tax base and would generally foster economic development opportunities. In addition, the Village President will undertake a proactive approach in assisting local businesses, organizations and individuals with creating and establishing economic development plans and promoting the Village to new purposeful opportunities, in addition to resolving constituent issues;"

But residents at the board meeting were skeptical, challenging the need to hire two new high priced administrators noting the village already has a full-time village manager, a position temporarily being filled by Orland Police Chief Tim McCarthy, and two assistant village managers including Joe La Margo.

About 100 Residents of Orland Park filled the board meeting room Monday Oct. 17, 2016 to protest increasing Mayor Dan McLaughlin's salary 375 percent from $40,000 to $150,000

The ordinance did not include everything, though, and many resident said they were surprised by the plan. La Margo noted that the ordinance was posted four days ago for the public to view. But when you visit the village website, at www.orland-park.il.us, there is no mention of the proposed pay increase on the front page of the website and visitors have to search through the online resource.

(A complete overview of the ordinance provided by the village is included at the end of this article.)

Trustee Dodge explained that the pay increase is intended for Mayor Dan McLaughlin, "because he has the skill set we need to achieve these goals." But the hike puts voters in a quandary. What if McLaughlin is not re-elected. McLaughlin said he was running for re-election but the election is in the Spring of next year. The wage hike will not take effect until the next mayor is sworn in.

The flaw in the argument is that if McLaughlin, who has the "skill set required" by the board to fill the shoes of the two salaried new hires, is not elected, the person who takes his place who lacks the experience the board said McLaughlin has to run the village, will still receive the record salary for the entire term of the four year mayoral term.

Dodge and the mayor also explained that the mayoral salary will revert back to the $40,000 level at the end of the next term and it must be revoted on again before the next election in 2021. Pay raise ordinances must be approved 180 before an election is held for the pay hike to take effect in the next election term. McLaughlin's pay hike would take place the day he is re-elected in the Spring, but not before and would continue for four years.

"Every four years, this can change," McLaughlin said.

Also not addressed is the impact of the board vote itself. Orland Park was established as a village managerial system of government in a referendum presented to voters in 1983, when McLaughlin was first elected to the board as a trustee. (He was elected mayor in 1993.)

McLaughlin said that the proposal to hike his salary has been reported on my the media in at least "seven newspaper articles." But most residents said they only saw one, published in the Chicago Tribune on October 3, the day before it was mentioned during a carefully scripted tele-conference McLaughlin and Dodge held with residents on Oct. 4. McLaughlin said more than 2,400 people listened in to the tele-conference. But having listened to that teleconference, very little was explained about the increase and the mayor indicated that its passage was not a certainty and was up to the will of the board.

(The Regional News reporter Dermot Connolly wrote an article published on Oct. 6, 2016 about the pay hike issue. Click here to read the story.)

"This isn't personal, Mayor," another speaker said. "This is, though, an end-of-career pay hike for you, just before retirement. It's a bad idea. We should see this go to a referendum where the people of Orland Park get to vote. It's double dipping."

Dodge said he is as frustrated as the residents are over increasing taxes, the poor economic condition of the state of Illinois, runaway pensions, and the tight economy, but he stood solidly by the pay hike proposal for Mayor McLaughlin.

More than 22 people spoke at the meeting saying they all loved living in Orland park, with many saying both the mayor and the board are "doing a good job." But they said "sneaking this in like this is wrong."

One speaker who identified himself as a 40 year resident of Orland Park, said, "I think this is a change in the structure of village government. and should be decided by a vote of the residents. It's something more than trivial. It should be put to the citizens. Do we really need more development in Orland Park? ... I don't want this to become Chicago. I want to keep it as Orland Park. Give us the vote, mayor, and allow us to chose our own destiny."

Another speaker said, "Thank goodness for that robocall because I woulda not have known about this at all."

McLaughlin scolded residents who said they were unaware of the proposal saying that he and the village trustees meet at board meetings. "No one shows up to our budget meetings," McLaughlin said, acknowledging that the proposal was only developed six weeks ago.

However, I wrote a column on September 30, 2015 which reported that the mayor was considering becoming a full-time mayor with a full-time salary, although at the time the mayor did not respond to questions about the rumors that were circulating among several business owners in Orland Park.

One resident who spoke said, "It is unconscionable to to take this step without taking this to the village as a whole."

McLaughlin argued that the village has maintained the tax rate at the same level for the past 5 years. He also said the increased salary will not include health benefits and he acknowledged that although his pension from the village will increase -- several residents said that instead of retiring with $30,000 a year he would retire with over $120,000 a year paid by the village -- McLaughlin said that he is not receiving a pension from the Builders Association. He explained the Builders Association paid money into a retirement fund that he maintains on his own, personally.

Village of Orland Park Ordinance and notes:

REQUEST FOR ACTION REPORT DATE: October 17, 2016
File Number: 2016-0637
Orig. Department: File Name: Finance Department Position of Village President - Ordinance

At the September 6, 2016 Finance Committee meeting, it was requested that staff provide additional information related to the compensation and benefits of the Village President. A recent study completed by an independent consultant recommended the creation of a second Assistant Village Manager position due to the extensive growth of our community and the increasing demands for Village services and amenities. The study also identified the need for a full-time Economic Development Coordinator to promote and recruit commercial enterprises in order to enhance the future of Orland Park.

As opposed to creating two new full-time positions that demand significant salaries and benefits, adjusting the compensation of the Village President would result in significant savings to the Village in the long term. The salary for an Orland Park Assistant Village Manager ranges from $116,000 - 130,000. A survey of Chicagoland municipalities found that the average salary of an Economic Development Coordinator (or like position) ranges from a low of $51,000 to a high of $100,500. The total cost for these two positions would range from $227,000 to $291,000.

The Village would also incur approximately $30,000 per position in benefits costs. This compensation change would also allow Village residents and staff to continue to benefit from the Village President’s expertise, experience, commitment, as well as his increased involvement on a day-to-day basis. The Village President would generally cover promoting and facilitating the economic development of Orland Park in order to maximize the Village’s commercial tax base and secure quality, long-term employment opportunities for residents. In addition, the Village President would foster economic development opportunities; take a proactive approach in assisting local businesses, organizations and individuals with creating and establishing economic development plans and promoting the Village to new purposeful ventures. The learning curve period required by the additional Assistant Village Manager, as well as a newly created Economic Development Coordinator position, would not exist as the current Village President is extremely familiar with the day-to-day workings of the village, its personnel, issues and concerns. The Illinois Constitution and the Illinois Municipal Code prohibit an increase or decrease in the salary/compensation of an elected officer of a unit of local government if such increase or decrease would take effect during the term for which the officer is elected. In addition, the Local Government Officer Compensation Act provides that the compensation of elected officers of a unit of local government must be fixed at least 180 days before the beginning of the term of the officer whose compensation is to be fixed. Given that compensation must be fixed during the elected officer’s term, if health insurance benefits are to be included, the recommendation of the Village Attorney is to provide the Village President with a stipend, fixed for his/her term of office, to be used to obtain private health

BACKGROUND: President with a stipend, fixed for his/her term of office, to be used to obtain private health insurance. This stipend would be in addition to the Village President's salary and must also be fixed by the Village Board at least 180 days prior to the commencement of the Village President's term of office. On October 3, 2016, this item was reviewed by the Finance Committee, recommended for approval and referred to the Village Board of Trustees for consideration. The Ordinance was amended on October 17, 2016 and is attached to this item.

BUDGET IMPACT: Funding for this position will be proposed in the FY2017 budget that will be presented to the Board for formal approval at the first Board meeting of December 2016.
REQUESTED ACTION: I move to pass Ordinance Number _________, entitled: AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR THE COMPENSATION AND REIMBURSEMENT OF THE VILLAGE PRESIDENT OF THE VILLAGE OF ORLAND PARK, COOK AND WILL COUNTIES, ILLINOIS 371150_4 ..T AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR THE COMPENSATION AND REIMBURSEMENT OF THE VILLAGE PRESIDENT OF THE VILLAGE OF ORLAND PARK, COOK AND WILL COUNTIES, ILLINOIS ..

WHEREAS, Section 3.1-50-10 of the Illinois Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/3.1-50-10) provides that the corporate authorities of a municipality may, by ordinance, fix the salaries of all municipal officers who hold elective office for a definite term, provided that said salaries may be neither increased nor diminished during the officer’s term and such salaries will be fixed at least 180 days before the beginning of the terms of the officers whose compensation is to be fixed.

WHEREAS, a professional staffing study undertaken by the Village resulted in a recommendation that there be created positions of a second Assistant Village Manager and an Economic Development Coordinator due to the extensive growth of the Village and increasing demands for Village services and amenities; and

WHEREAS, as opposed to creating these two (2) new full-time positions that would demand significant salaries and benefits, adjusting the compensation of the Village President would result in significant savings to the Village in the long term; and

WHEREAS, in order to achieve these significant cost savings, the Village President will engage in promoting and facilitating the economic development of the Village in order to maximize the Village’s long-term employment opportunities for residents, the Village’s commercial tax base and would generally foster economic development opportunities. In addition, the Village President will undertake a proactive approach in assisting local businesses, organizations and individuals with creating and establishing economic development plans and promoting the Village to new purposeful opportunities, in addition to resolving constituent issues; and

WHEREAS, to fulfill the above responsibilities, it is the expectation of the Village Board of Trustees that the Village President will devote his/her working hours annually equivalent to those of a full-time Village employee.

NOW, THEREFORE, Be It Ordained by the President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Orland Park, Cook and Will Counties, Illinois, as follows:

SECTION 1: The Village President of the Village of Orland Park elected in the year 2017 and thereafter shall receive the sum of $150,000.00 per year as compensation for service as Village President commencing in April, 2017, or thereafter, except as hereinafter provided. Except as provided in the preceding paragraph of this SECTION 1, the Village President and Board of Trustees shall, at least 180 days before the beginning of the term of office of the Village President, review and fix the compensation of the Village President. 371150_4 2 Said compensation shall be payable in bi-weekly installments.

SECTION 2: The Village President may be reimbursed for any expenses incurred by him/her in attending meetings of the Board of Trustees or in otherwise performing the duties of the office of Village President.

SECTION 3: The rate of compensation established by this Ordinance shall be effective at the time of commencement of the term of the Village President, and shall be payable commencing on the first day of the immediately succeeding month, and shall apply only to the person whose term of office commenced by virtue of his/her election or re-election after the date of adoption of this Ordinance. The rate of compensation established herein shall not apply to the Village President serving when this Ordinance is adopted unless and until such officer is re-elected after the approval of this Ordinance.

SECTION 4: All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with this Ordinance are hereby repealed.

SECTION 5: The Village Clerk is hereby ordered and directed to publish this Ordinance in pamphlet form, and this Ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage, approval and publication as required by law.

ROBO CALL TEXT 

(Transcribed automatically by Xfinity from a phone message at my home on Sunday night around 5:41 pm):

"Orland Park residence. If you heard that Mayor Dan McLaughlin plans to hike his salary to $150,000 per year. Are you sick of politicians enriching themselves with our tax dollars? Not only will McLaughlin get a 350% raise. But that will also increase his pension to over $100,000 for life, and we will be picking up the tab whether part time or full time. No politician should be making that much money off us tax payers. Attend tomorrow's board meeting to urge the board to vote no on this pay raise boondoggle. The meeting is tomorrow October 17 starting at 7:00 PM at the Orland Park Village Center at Ravinia Avenue. Press five to opt out. Paid for by Concerned Citizens of Orland Park."

(How I did the math on the salary hike. x = (150,000/40,000) x 100)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Is McLaughlin eying fulltime job as Orland Park mayor?

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Orland Park Dan McLaughlin is considering switching from a part-time mayor to a full-time mayor to take a more hands-on control of the continued development of the village which has doubled in population during his two decades as the chief executive officer. What would that require?

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania
Ray Hanania
The decision by District 135 President Joe La Margo to resign and take a fulltime $116,000-a-year position as the assistant village manager in Orland Park is not just about the local schools.

It could be the beginning of bigger changes to strengthen and consolidate government in Orland Park.

Several sources have told me they believe Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin will move from being a part-time mayor with an outside job to a full-time mayor focused on shepherding his long-term vision for the village.

Although Mayor McLaughlin did not respond to my inquiries, several sources said McLaughlin has told them and others he plans to make the move. How soon is unknown.

“He said he wants to focus all his energies on continuing the building of Orland Park and the best way to do that would be to become the fulltime mayor,” one Orland Park businessman told me.

Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin
Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin

Another source who said the mayor has discussed the move, said it would allow the mayor to personally direct the implementation and or completion of numerous programs and ideas now being implemented or are being considered for the village for the future.

“McLaughlin was made for this job and he should just do it,” another source said.

When I get a chance to interview him, I’ll see if he wants to open up or if he has made any decisions. But in the meantime, the tealeaves seem to be pretty clear about what choices stand before him.

To become a fulltime mayor, the village will have to change its charter. It is uncertain how the move will impact his current position as the influential Executive Director of the powerful Builders Association that he has held for just over two years.

Voters approved Orland as a Village Manager (Managerial) form of government in the Nov. 8, 1983 election, the same year McLaughlin was elected to the board of trustees. He was elected mayor in 1993.

Orland Park is a Village Manager community. In other words, policies are proposed by a part-time mayor, reviewed and approved by a part-time village board, and implemented by a Village Manager and his staff, including now the deputy Village Manager.

The current village manager is Paul Grimes, who has been in his position supervising the implementation of McLaughlin’s vision for the village for the past eight years. La Margo, who previously served as the village deputy clerk, began work as the deputy village manager in July, with Grimes. The two are close and would work together well.

I covered McLaughlin’s 1983 election and recognized then that he had great vision and talent as a community leader and activist. As mayor he has implemented a wide range of successful programs that have helped make Orland Park one of the best communities in the Chicagoland suburbs.

The Orland Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of programs. This from the recent Arts Fair
The Orland Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of programs. This from the recent Arts Fair

It hasn’t helped that Orland Park has the worst public relations of any major suburban Chicagoland community. I say “worse” not in terms of being plagued by negative stories, but rather by the absence of effective PR. Orland Park and McLaughlin have the positive stories. They just don’t get outside of a very narrow circle.

The truth is Orland Park is far better than Naperville, but Orland Park has never managed to position itself at the same light as Naperville, which is the darling of the Chicago media because of effective and constant PR Spin.
That poor PR has held both Orland Park and McLaughlin back from higher ambitions and recognition.

Orland Park has achieved far more than Naperville and McLaughlin is as good or even better than Naperville’s beloved former chief executive, Arthur George Pradel. McLaughlin has served as mayor longer than Pradel, and yet Pradel has always received more accolades.

Band plays at the Orland Park Library, ranked one of the best libraries in the Midwest
Band plays at the Orland Park Library, ranked one of the best libraries in the Midwest

McLaughlin made his mark as a village trustee when he directed the modernization of the Orland Park Police Department. He introduced the D.A.R.E. program to the district’s schools.

But his greatest achievements have been as Orland Park’s mayor.

McLaughlin is a respected member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Southwest Conference of Mayors, Illinois Municipal League and the South Suburban Mayors and Managers. And he currently serves on the Regional Water Supply Planning Group, recently serving as Chairman of a state-wide task force studying a Uniform State Building Code.

Under McLaughlin’s administration the village of Orland Park has made considerable improvements in recreational programs and facilities and community events.

Orland Park hosts the best fireworks display each year during its annual 4th of July celebration
Orland Park hosts the best fireworks display each year during its annual 4th of July celebration

Under his leadership, the Village has implemented creative solutions to road improvements to ease traffic congestion. The village is undergoing one of the largest road improvement programs involving the widening of La Grange Road, one of the most trafficked roads of any municipality in Northern Illinois.

He hasn’t given up on the Police Department and has improved public safety with a larger Police Department, new police station and increased training and technology.

McLaughlin also has developed a unique program to protect the region’s environment, directing a nationally recognized $25 million “Open Lands Program,” as well as implementing community arts and developing the village’s Green Initiative.

Orland Park’s numerous community improvement programs have won numerous awards, resulting in being named recently as one of America’s most livable cities by Money Magazine.

Orland Park Police Department
Orland Park Police Department

The conversion from part-time to full-time mayor does not necessarily mean that the village would eliminate the position of Village Manager, but it could mean that the position would be changed to chief of staff and deputy chief of staff.

But McLaughlin has probably given up on his personal ambition to seek higher statewide office, but he has not given up on Orland Park.

You can get more information on McLaughlin from his own website at www.mayordanmclaughlin.com or from the village website at www.OrlandPark.org.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. He is a columnist with the Palos Reporter, the Regional News, Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News. Email him at rghanania@gmail.com.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Local residents wondering about Village Square Lake land

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One of the nice aspects of Village Square in Orland Park is the beautiful lake at Village Square Park, surrounded by Windsor Drive, Kensington Way, and Regent Drive. The lake is sizable and includes an area for flood control to the south that leads up to the children's park area, on a higher area about three feet above lake level.

For years, there were two ways to access the lake. One from the park not he south end off of Windsor Drive, (which winds east and west on the south end of the park and north and south on the east side of the park). And, through a small patch of land along Kensington Way on the north side of the lake.

This week, the homeowner (adjacent to a plot of land that many residents thought was village-owned land and a part of the public lake) installed a metal fence around that triangle of grass adjacent to their property.

Although neighbors always thought that section of the land was public property owned by the village, it turns out it is land owned by the homeowner. Up until a few weeks ago, there was a sign posted by the Village of Orland Park that reminded dog walkers to pick up their dog's waste, suggesting it was public access.

View of lake and land area to the west of the home at
Village Square Park Lake

Fishermen used to use the small access area to sit by the lakeshore and fish, while enjoying the many Canadian Geese, ducks and a few tall, white Egrets that have made the little lake their home, too.

Last year in September, the home was sold (according to Zillow.com). And apparently someone discovered the little piece of land didn't belong to the village of Orland Park after all. It belonged to the homeowner.

This week, the homeowner installed a metal fence blocking access through their private property to the 250,000 lake from surrounding the grassy triangle area.

Fence now up around the homeowners property,
view from Kensington Way

Village officials indicated there had been a misunderstanding of the ownership of the property and they removed the Village sign.

"Clearly, the land belongs to the homeowner and over the years there was a belief that it was a public strip of land," an Orland Park Village official said Wednesday. "There is still access to this beautiful lake for the public. But the land in question definitely does belong to the homeowner."

END

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

No injuries at Orland Home seriously damaged by fire

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No injuries at Orland Home seriously damaged by fire


Lightning suspected, officials said. The family was on vacation


The Orland Fire Protection District responded to a fire reported in a home located on the 108th block of West Scarlet Drive in Orland Park early Wednesday morning.


The fire was reported at about 2:46 am on Wednesday July 29, 2015 and initial arriving fire companies found heavy fire had spread through the attic and roof areas of the 5,000 square foot residential home. Firefighters reported that heat radiating from the blaze was extensive.

OFPD Chief Ken Brucki said that firefighters immediately went into a defensive position to get the fire under control preventing any injuries.

“This fire had a tremendous amount of heat and it concerned us,” Brucki said. “We were concerned about structures around the property and took appropriate precautions to keep nearby properties safe.”

Brucki said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

“Crews were able to conduct a rapid primary search to confirm there were no occupants in the property at the time, and we were able to verify that the family was vacationing,” Brucki said.

The alarm was elevated to a full still to bring in additional companies.  A total of two aerial master streams and five large diameter hand-lines were required to extinguish the fire. 

The structure suffered major fire damage to the entire roof and extensive damage to the interior of the structure from fire, smoke, and water. 

It took approximately an hour to bring the fire under control. 

Brucki said one possible cause of the fire may be lightning noting “there was a tremendous amount of lightning in the area at approximately the same time of the fire.”

Brucki also said that the fire department was able to deploy a drone to assist in quickly identifying the fire location on the home.

“It was a very large home and the drone helped give us an immediate, aerial view of the property and the fire,” Brucki said.  “The aerial view assisted the Battalion Chief to direct suppression efforts to bring the fire under control.”




VIDEO:
 

Drone Video Link



Drone still Pic’s Links

end

Village of Orland Park to Host 12th Annual Taste of Orland Park - July 31 to August 2

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Village of Orland Park to Host 12th Annual Taste of Orland Park - July 31 to August 2, 2015

A Village of Orland Park summer favorite, the Taste of Orland Park, will return July 31 to August 2, 2015 at the Orland Park Village Center, 14700 South Ravinia Avenue.

Now in its twelfth year, the Taste of Orland Park showcases Orland Park eateries, community organizations, event sponsors, and offers a number of activities, including Kids’ Day, a car show and live entertainment on two stages.

The Taste of Orland Park will be held Friday, July 31 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, August 1 from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, August 2 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission and parking are free with participating restaurants selling tastes of signature dishes at individual food booths.



“We look forward to the Taste of Orland Park every year,” said Mayor Dan McLaughlin. “It is a summer favorite for everyone and this year will be no exception. This is a great way to learn more about and taste the different dishes from Orland Park restaurants, learn about our wonderful community groups and enjoy a great entertainment-filled weekend,” the mayor said.

Participating Orland Park eateries include 94 West Grille and Tavern, Beggars Pizza, Blissful Banana Café, The Brass Tap, Café Gaston, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, El Famous Burrito, El Pueblito, Granite City Food & Brewery, Mo’s Chinese Kitchen, Oberweis Dairy, Orland Park Bakery, Palermo’s Restaurant & Pizzeria, Papa Joe’s Italian Restaurant, Q Restaurant, Riviera Country Club, RoccoVino’s Italian Restaurant, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Square Celt Ale House and Grill, and Wooden Paddle Pizza.

A number of food items food items will be sold including, fried goat cheese and gluten free gelato from Wooden Paddle Pizza and fish and chips and candied beer bacon from Square Celt Ale House and Grill. Select restaurants are alcohol vendors with soft drinks and water being available for purchase from all participating restaurants.

“There are so many great things about the Taste of Orland Park,” said Trustee Patricia Gira, chair of the village’s Recreation and Parks Committee. “The food, the activities, the people and the entertainment, among other things, are what make it such a great weekend for everyone to enjoy.”

A variety of musical talents will perform on two stages throughout the weekend. The main stage will have Nick Lynch of American Idol and Trippin’ Billies perform on Friday, July 31, Dr. Rock, The Chicago Kingsnakes and 7th Heaven perform on Saturday, August 1 and The Lowdown Brass Band, Tumbling Dice and American English perform on Sunday, August 2.

Kid’s Day will be held at the adjacent John Humphrey Sports Complex Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. A number of free games, activities and programs will be held for kids of all ages. The Annual Taste of Orland Park Car Show will be held at the Humphrey Complex on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. Orland Park’s Got Talent live finals will be held on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Community Stage.

The Orland Park Lions Club will host Bingo inside the Civic Center on Saturday and the Orland Park Kiwanis Club will do the same on Sunday, with both events starting at 1 p.m.

Taste of Orland Park sponsors include The University of Chicago Medicine, The Orland Park Prairie, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., Mercedes Benz of Orland Park, JamesHardie, Brannigan Chiropractic Center, Bear Home Improvements, Inc., ComEd, Illinois Energy Windows & Siding, Inc., Saint Xavier University, Moraine Valley Community College and Xfinity.

For more information, visit the Taste page on the village's website or call the Village of Orland Park Recreation Department at 708/403-7275. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gorman leaves Cook County office at top of her public service

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Gorman leaves Cook County office at top of her public service

Popular Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman shocked the public Wednesday when she resigned her county board seat to take a position with a major Fortune 100 Chicago corporation as director of Government Affairs. The District’s GOP Committeemen will meet to select a successor but the leading candidate is Gorman’s closest political ally, Palos Township Committeeman Sean Morrison. Gorman’s announcement came after announcing she would not criticize but could not support Preckwinkle’s 1 Percent Sales Tax increase, which passed 9 of 17 votes

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania, City Hall Reporter, (1976-1992)
Ray Hanania City Hall Reporter
1976-1992
Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman announced Wednesday she will resign her county board seat effective next week after declining to support a controversial one percent sales tax increase proposal introduced by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
The sales tax increase was adopted following six hours of debate and public testimony at a special meeting of the Cook County Board held Wednesday (July 15, 2015), with 9 votes in favor, 7 votes against and 1 vote (Gorman) present.
Gorman, who championed the fight against the sales tax increase proposed by former Board President Todd Stroger, told the board that there is a major difference between Stroger and Preckwinkle. But she could not support the sales tax hike proposal, she said.
On December 1, 2009 Commissioner Gorman successfully led the effort to roll-back Stroger’s proposed Cook County’s sales tax increase, and override Stroger’s veto. The move cut the county sales tax from 1.75 percent to 1.25 percent.
Gorman heaped praise on Preckwinkle arguing the Board President has done everything possible to avoid raising taxes, and has already helped to shore up the county’s finances since Preckwinkle’s election on Feb. 2, 2010, when she unseated Stroger.
“Madame President, you have proactively faced and tried to resolve the county’s pension crisis when predecessors neglected to. You were left no favors. Five years of substantive reform under your leadership has put Cook County on a strong path but the reality of the unfunded pension liabilities have put us in this position today… between a Rock and a Hard Place,” Gorman said, calling comparisons of Preckwinkle to Stroger as “irresponsible.”
“Having wrestled with as to what is the best vote for the District and Cook County government, it has been a very conflicting decision to make. This is a difficult vote no matter which side of this issue you are on – No commissioner should be criticized. With that said – I will vote Present.”
2015 Cook County Board members: Standing: Larry Suffredin, Greg Goslin, Jerry Butler, Robert Steele, President Toni Preckwinkle, John Daley, Jesus Garcia, Peter Silvestri, John Fritchey, Stanley Moore. Seated: Richard Boykin, Jeffrey Tobolski, Joan Patricia Murphy, Deborah Sims, Liz Gorman, Bridget Gainer, Tim Schneider, Luis Arroyo Jr
2015 Cook County Board members: Standing: Larry Suffredin, Greg Goslin, Jerry Butler, Robert Steele, President Toni Preckwinkle, John Daley, Jesus Garcia, Peter Silvestri, John Fritchey, Stanley Moore. Seated: Richard Boykin, Jeffrey Tobolski, Joan Patricia Murphy, Deborah Sims, Liz Gorman, Bridget Gainer, Tim Schneider, Luis Arroyo Jr
The tax vote and her decision to resign were unrelated, Gorman told the county board following the sales tax debate. But Southwest Suburbanites were in shock at learning that Gorman, one of the most popular elected officials in the region, had decided to step down at a time when her popularity has never been higher.
After the sales tax was approved
Liz Gorman, Bruce Rauner, Sean Morrison in March 2014
Liz Gorman, Bruce Rauner, Sean Morrison in March 2014
“On a personal note – I will be resigning this seat that I have been so fortunate to serve effective July 20. An opportunity in the private sector has been offered and I have accepted, as this will require my full attention,” Gorman said after explaining her “present” vote on the Preckwinkle Sales tax increase.

“I would like to thank you Madame President for bringing distinguished leadership to this board, and for your friendship. Cook County has benefitted greatly by your efforts over the last five years and will continue to do so far into the future. To my board colleagues, both past and present, I will miss each and every one of you. And the respect and camaraderie we shared, as well as the disagreements and debates. I have learned so much and respect your insights and opinions.”
Gorman will take a position with a Fortune 100, big ten accounting firm as Director of Government Affairs beginning on July 20. Republican Committeeman in the 17th Cook County District will have to meet to name a successor.
Palos Township Republican Committeeman Sean Morrison, one of Gorman’s closest political allies, is considered the frontrunner to succeed Gorman. Morrison worked closely with Gorman on building support against the Stroger sales tax increase, in introducing reforms to the Cook County Board, and laying the political groundwork to help position businessman Bruce Rauner to win the Republican Party nomination for governor and then to go on to defeat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
Rauner’s biggest mistake was not bringing Gorman into his administration after his election, although Gorman has remained loyal to both Rauner and the Republican Party. She was also viewed as a political centrist and maintained close ties to key Democrats including County Commissioner John Daley, and others.
Gorman leaves office at a high point in a career and will be remembered as a champion of taxpayer rights. She fought hard to defend the rights of residents of suburban Cook County who were often marginalized by the dominance of Chicago municipal politics and needs.
First elected in November 2002, Gorman was re-elected in 2006, 2010, in 2014. In the March 18, 2014 Republican Primary, Gorman fought off a primary challenge and defeated her opponent by nearly 60% of the vote to advance to the General Election on November 7, 2014, where she was re-elected to her fourth term with an overwhelming victory margin.
When the new term began on December 1, 2014, Gorman was chosen as the Committee Chairperson of the Environmental Control Committee and Vice Chairperson of the Roads and Bridges Committee, Rules and Administration Committee and the Technology and Innovation Committee.
Gorman is also the Chairman of the Suburban Caucus of the County board and a member of 10 additional committees: Audit; Criminal Justice; Business and Economic Development; Finance; Health and Hospitals, Homeland Security; Legislation; North Suburban METRA Nominating Committee; Northwest Suburban METRA Nominating Committee; Southwest Suburban METRA Nominating Committee and Zoning and Building.
During her time on the Cook County Board, Gorman has opposed the “Hotel Occupancy Tax” and the “Food and Beverage Tax” in 2003, the 150% cigarette tax increase in 2004 and the additional 100% increase in 2006. She opposed the “Food and Beverage Tax” and the “Hotel Occupancy Tax” again in 2007, and she opposed the “Sanctuary County” resolution for illegal immigrants in 2007 and sponsored a repeal of the ordinance later that year and most recently she voted against Board President Todd Stroger’s 2008 budget and opposed the increase in the Cook County sales tax.

Here are Gorman’s prepared remarks that she presented to the Cook County Board this morning:

Gorman on Sales Tax:
This is a very difficult vote we’re considering today and I respect both sides of the sales tax debate. I know the President and her administration did not come to this sales tax proposal lightly.
Madame President, you have proactively faced and tried to resolve the county’s pension crisis when predecessors neglected to. You were left no favors.
Five years of substantive reform under your leadership has put Cook County on a strong path but the reality of the unfunded pension liabilities have put us in this position today… between a Rock and a Hard Place.
Much effort, energy and resolve was put forth to rescind the previous administration’s Sales Tax. I know that as well as anyone on this board; and the reasons for doing so still stand today.
The blanket comparison of this proposal to the Stroger Sales Tax and the maligning of the President and her administration that has been made by some people are nothing short of irresponsible.
It’s unfortunate that some people have chosen to overlook and completely ignore the accomplishments over the past five years of this President and this board.
We have made significant strides in the areas of reform, accountability, transparency, payroll and head count reduction, cutting bloat and wasteful spending, incorporating quantifiable measures, integrating new technology, streamlining county government from top to bottom. And contrary to a few reports in the media, we continue to do so each and every month.
Others have said, “Let’s wait for Springfield…” We’ve been waiting on Springfield for well over a year as our Pension Reform bill languishes down there. Waiting for pension reform in Springfield comes with a $30 million dollar a month “Wait & See” price tag. Can we afford that?
After having led the repeal of the previous sales tax; I am very aware of the loss of our border tax revenues and the impact tax increases can have on local businesses and residents. I’ve been steadfast in my opposition during my time in office.
So as we weigh this important decision on the long-term financial health and solvency of Cook County government, and regardless of today’s outcome, I’m confident this administration and this board will continue to move Cook County government forward in an efficient and effective manner.
Having wrestled with as to what is the best vote for the District and Cook County government, it has been a very conflicting decision to make. This is a difficult vote no matter which side of this issue you are on – No commissioner should be criticized. With that said – I will vote Present.
Gorman on Resignation:
On a personal note – I will be resigning this seat that I have been so fortunate to serve effective July 20. An opportunity in the private sector has been offered and I have accepted, as this will require my full attention.
I would like to thank you Madame President for bringing distinguished leadership to this board, and for your friendship. Cook County has benefitted greatly by your efforts over the last five years and will continue to do so far into the future.
To my board colleagues, both past and present, I will miss each and every one of you. And the respect and camaraderie we shared, as well as the disagreements and debates. I have learned so much and respect your insights and opinions.
It’s been an honor and privilege to serve alongside all of you in this distinguished body. My nearly 13 years on this board have been some of the most rewarding of my life.
Thank you and god bless you all.