Sunday, August 31, 2008
On April 30, my wallet was stolen from the children's play area of Orland Square Mall.
I contacted mall security and they told me I had to contact Orland Park police to file a report. I asked if the area was under video surveillance and security told me no.
Once OP police arrived I was given a report number. I told the officer that the girl walked through JC Penny's, and I could identify her. He told me there was nothing he could do, and that I should check the women's restroom garbage cans for my wallet. Then I proceeded to beg a manager in Penny's to let me view their video cameras so I could identify the girl and see what car she got into. The manager said it happened on mall property and not in their store, so the camera can't be reviewed -- even though the play area is just outside Penny's.
So, basically, video cameras are for the benefit of the store and not ours, the shoppers' sake. At almost 38 weeks pregnant, I felt totally violated and helpless because nobody was willing to help.
I write this letter to inform all of you that we are not safe or protected at Orland Mall and probably at most stores we frequent. This will happen again, and I'm sure these crimes go unreported. The children's area should also be under video surveillance. What if a child is abducted????
Please pass this around to ANYONE you know that shops there. Thanks for helping spread the word!!
Saturday, August 30, 2008
The rise of Barack Obama to become the Democratic candidate for United States President has a direct local angle that today touches on the Orland Park area that goes far beyond his political upbringing on Chicago's South Side. It has a lot to do with an individual who today plays an enormous role in forging the public opinions of the people of Orland Park through his weekly newspaper, the Orland Park Prairie. And it all happened in a very short period of time.
By all measures, Jack Ryan should have won the November 2004 election for the U.S. Senate to succeed retiring Senator Peter Fitzgerald.
In March 2004, Ryan won the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. Barack Obama, an Illinois State Senator with a controversial career -- he won his state senate seat by successfully removing his more popular rival, incumbent Alice Palmer from the ballot -- won the Democratic primary, defeating State Comptroller Dan Hynes, the son of 19th Ward Chicago powerhouse Tom Hynes.
Ryan, Harvard LAW graduate and MBA who went into medical mal-pacrtice and a partnership at the prestigious Goldmann Sachs investment firm, used his money and his political clout with the backing of the then ruling Republican National organization, to position himself for a sure win in the fall election. But three months later, Ryan was forced to resign when details of his messy divorce from Hollywood actress Jeri Ryan splashed across the front pages of newspapers across the country. The role the media played inf orcing the disclosure of the details of his divorce, and the impact of the hugely negative media coverage is believed to be one reason why Ryan expanded from law and finance to include launching a new community newspaper that he promised area politicians would not focus on controversial issues and instead would focus on positive community news.
Ironically, it was the persistance of the news media that sunk Ryan's candidacy. (Ryan had argued he would not release details of his divorce saying it would injure his son, Alex. But later, when the details were released, the focus was not on Alex but rather on the sensational side of a collapsing relationship with his ex-wife.) Had they not sued, Ryan might still be in politics and not newspaper publishing.
It took Ryan several more weeks to formally withdraw and by the end of July. With only 86 days left to the November election, the Illinois GOP could not find a credible replacement. They reached out to many high profile name candidates, including former Chicago Bear's Coach Mike Ditka, whos aid no. And they settled on the bombastic Alan Keyes, a carpertbagger who had not lived in Illinois at all, but who had a strong Republican dimplomatic career.
Keyes had no chance, and Obama easily defeated him.
Obama's mentor is Illinois Senate President Emil Jones who helped him organize the support to run for the U.S. Senate seat when no one else at the time thought it possible for a Democrat to win. That summer, to strengthen his candidacy as Ryan's was embroiled in controversy and was characterized in negative media headlines that focused on the sex scandal involving his ex-wife, Obama was invited to give the keynote speech at the July 2004 Democratic Primary convention where John Kerry won the party's nomination for president.
The point is, Barack Obama is now the Democratic candidate for president in a large part because of Jack Ryan's personal political tragedy; and the Orland Park Prairie was created, also, in a large part because of Ryan's experience with the biased and negative mainstream mainly downtown news media (print, radio and TV) ... in a way, supporters of Obama should thank Ryan and Orland Park residents should thank him too. The OPP is a great Good News community newspaper. We don't have enough of them. (Does every paper have to expose government corruption, waste and mismanagement?)
-- Ray Hanania
There are a lot of new restaurants in Orland. Not all are that great. But this one deserves your attention.
-- Ray Hanania
Friday, August 29, 2008
"The change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it—because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time. America, this is one of those moments."
-- Barack Obama in last night's acceptance speech
Are you ready to take up Barack's challenge?
This weekend, the Obama campaign has organized a huge Weekend of Action to register and mobilize hundreds of thousands of voters. There's an event happening near you—can you join in?
What: Walk for Change in Orland Park! Where: Starbucks Coffee (in Orland Park)
When: Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008, at 1:00 PM
Click here to RSVP:
Or, if that one doesn't work for you, click here to find another event (they're happening all weekend):
If we each spend some time this weekend talking to potential Obama voters about the opportunity we have to change America, we can make a huge difference.
If you haven't volunteered before, don't worry—it's as simple as knocking on a door or picking up a phone. And you'll get all the materials and help you need at your local Weekend of Action event.
If you've already signed up for an event, thank you. If not, can you be there to help kick off our campaign to elect Obama? Just click here to RSVP:
Thanks for all you do.
–Adam, Anna, Patrick S., and the rest of the team
Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 3.2 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way.
Chip in here.
A Gold Medal Olympic Vacation Competition
By RAY HANANIA
The competition for the Gold Medal was Olympic. Not in Beijing, but on the beaches of Punta Cana, where I spent a week researching Cuban cigars and teaching my son the basics of how to survive in the real world.
Every morning, I would get to the beach at 6:30 in a fierce race with teams representing Russia, China, Italy, France and Spain and a field of 130 others. There were only 10 perfect palm tree covered “cabanas” on the beach, and you had to get there early to claim one.
What’s the point of going to a beautiful paradise beach if you are going to schelp in at 11 and plop down on a towel in the sand?
I can report that I’ve won the competition every morning. Boo-rah for the American team! Well, I guess I’m considered about as American as Yao Ming. (OK. He’s an exception, a Chinese-born athlete who plays for the Houston Rockets basketball team. In the Olympics, he plays for China.) Did you ever notice that when mentioning American athletes of certain ethnic and racial backgrounds, they always mention their race but never the ethnicity of “Americans” like Michael Phelps?
Anyway, back to my own Olympic Gold Medal competition in Punta Cana at the Bavara Princess Beach.
There’s an art to securing lounge chairs and a cabana. It’s the same no matter where you go in the Caribbean, except that the world has changed. Dramatically. It used to be that places like this were filled with arrogant and obnoxious American tourists.
Well, that’s changed. Today, the resorts in the Caribbean are filled with Europeans, Russians and Asians enjoying the fact that President Bush screwed up our economy with the stupid Iraq war. (OK, that’s my last political reference. Just kidding.) Our dollar is worth less than a “peso” and I don’t care what Central American country you visit. It buys nothing.
But I wouldn’t let that deter me. I rushed out, research in hand, and made my way in a 3,600-foot dash for the beach. And every morning, beat the Russian by a nose (that’s where being Arab comes in handy, I guess). And the French, the Chinese and the guy with the full body tatoo.
They were right behind me and there was no courtesy “good mornings” or “hellos.” In any language. We were all there for one purpose. Keep our wives from screaming at us when we didn’t get the best spots.
There is an art to saving seats. You reserve them at 6:30 a.m. and don’t get back until around 11 after breakfast so you have a lot of faith that despite the tourists (any ethnicity), they will be there when you return.
You keep the towels from the day before and lay them on the lounge chair, stretched out and tucked in the niche in the back of the head rest and push that down to “lock it in.” 50 Points!
Then, you put a book you’ve either already read and don’t care if it’s stolen, or one no one will touch. I had Chelsea Handler’s book (Chelsea Lately) and made sure the cover faced out every morning. (Actually, Chelsea’s book is hilarious but none of the foreigners could figure out who she was, so it was a safe bet not to get stolen.) 25.35 points.
Then, to play to the sympathy of the crowd, I put my son’s little sand buckets and shovels on the chair. 19.15 points.
This happened every morning like clockwork, and as I said, representing the American team, WE WON. 94.5 points. (If I can add right.)
No one said hi. Mainly because we couldn’t speak anyone else’s language, I think. But still. The first morning I tried and said, “Isn’t it like a vacation? Your wife makes you run out at 6:30 to grab a lounge chair, too?” And the guy walking fast next to me — 25 mph — just grunted with a Spanish accent. That’s when I knew the competition was real.
And all of the men sat out there looking at each other. Until exactly 7:22 a.m. when the tall, blond haired Swedish woman jogged past.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Vandewalle spokesman Scott Harrington outlined suggestions at a meeting of the village board last week including to increase employment, improve retail, keep Orland Park residents from leaving to shop in other suburbs, increase transportation and cram more people in smaller parcels of land.
Just what we need.
His suggestions, according to the media, include:
Adding more weekend and night service to the Metra system. Wow. That's been something Orland Park residents have been asking to have for more than 25 years. That's not something many trustees can control, except, maybe, one. How about this? Give transportation discounts to people who live in Orland Park. I don't think the other suburbs would like that, but at least, that's a better suggestion and more achievable than increasing weekend and night service on Metra -- and that is using the term "service" loosely.
He also suggested that the popular holiday trolley become permanent. I like that idea. The trolley system during Christmas is a blast. It's more fun and safer than the rides at Great America.
Another is to create more office space to increase employment opportunities. Ah, creating more offices doesn't mean more jobs. Have you seen how many commercial stores are empty these days? It's not new, though. Several members of the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce have been telling us the same thing for years. And for free.
A survey showed that more than 50 percent of out-of-town shopping by Orland Parker residents is in Oakbrook. I could have told him that for free, too. It's something we have heard over and over again from our village officials -- not so free either. Now, I'd pay $75,000 to find out how many village officials and employees are related or are eighbors or are close friends or church associates, or union pals. And, how many of them get their own vehicles and do they use them for personal use or just business?
The consultant suggested that much of that draw was to Oakbrook anchor stores like Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel and Von Maur. Harrington suggested trying to bring some of these companies into the village "to cut down on the overall number of people who leave the village for their shopping needs." He said we should add more "high end" stores to our existing retail inventory.
We've already tried that. We already know that.
I decided to do my own consulting service study. For free. I asked about 15 people if they travel to Oakbrook to shop. They all said yes. I asked them why? Was it because of Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel or Von Maur?
What does a "robust mix of small lot sizes with high density" mean?
In Chicago, they call that a ghetto. Or, to be more generous, it's the reason why many of us left Chicago. Vandewalle's suggestion basically is to bring back the era of Chicago "gangways?"
He also said Orland could create more cultural venues like museums, galleries, cafes and nightlife scenes. We have the Plaza Cafe. Oops! The village is going to shut that down. Maybe we can take the Sprint store and put seats on the sidewalk where salesmen and sell cell phones.
None of these ideas are worth the $75,000 the village spent. I would have hoped that a consultant paid that much money in so little time would have come up with some more original ideas, like maybe build a super-speed rail transportation system to take people from one Star Bucks to another. There are three on LaGrange Road between 131st Street and 159th Street.
A museum? Does Orland Park need a museum? Oh, how about a Green Museum to display all the varieties of weeds that can be grown naturally without chemical fertilizers that do not require watering or lawn mowing. The village maintenance people are busy caring for all the homes the village bought to mow the lawns at the Award Winning Police Station. We have to plant weeds there.
Oh. I have another suggestion. Why not award another $75,000 contract to make a list of all the ideas we've already discussed int he past. That would be redundant.
Or better yet, why not dump the consultants and ask the people int he village what they think. There's an original idea for you. How about eliminate some of the worthless rhetoric that fills the village newsletter and replace it with a survey the residents can fill out.
There's an idea worth $75,000 and you can have it for free.
But that would mean the village officials would have to care about what the people in Orland Park think.
I do give Vandewalle credit. They haven't donated any money to many Illinois candidates since the beginning of the decade to Corinne Wood and Paul Vallas. And they still got the contract? Wow!
Chicago - Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against two Orland Park auto dealers for deceptive sales and advertising practices.
The complaint, which names Orland Park Nissan and Infiniti of Orland Park as defendants, alleges that the dealers sent direct mail advertisements in April 2007 to Chicago area consumers describing an “exclusive credit amnesty event” and urging consumers to call the dealers to arrange a private appointment. The mailer indicated that targeted consumers may have filed bankruptcy in the past but that the “amnesty” would enable consumers to qualify for an affordable auto loan no matter their credit rating. The envelope containing the direct mailer claimed that “important vehicle recall information” was enclosed and that the consumers’ response was required. However, no recall by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration existed and the mailer didn’t contain recall information.
“These deceptive mailers purposely and unfairly targeted consumers who may have struggled at one time to manage their finances,” Attorney General Madigan said. “This lawsuit should send the message to auto dealers that my office won’t tolerate using deceptive marketing practices to lure unsuspecting consumers into risky loans.”
The Attorney General’s office has received 26 complaints against Orland Park Nissan and Infiniti of Orland Park, both of which are located at 8550 W. 159th St. in Orland Park. The Better Business Bureau also received 18 complaints against the auto dealers.
Attorney General Madigan’s complaint alleges that the deceptive mailer violates the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, the Loan Advertising to Bankrupts Act, the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Illinois Administrative Rules on Motor Vehicle Advertising.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit asks the court to prohibit the auto dealers from violating these consumer protection laws, including offering incentives and free prizes, using the term “recall” in advertisements, offering coupons with sales agreements and advertising that a loan would be made to a consumer who has declared bankruptcy. The suit also seeks restitution for consumers and asks the court to assess civil penalties of $50,000 per violation, an additional $50,000 statutory civil penalty and a $10,000 civil penalty for each violation committed against a person over 65 years of age. Madigan’s suit also asks the court to order the defendants to pay the costs of the investigation and court proceedings.
Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Abundis is handling the case for Attorney General Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.
Consumers who believe they have been the victim of consumer fraud can download a complaint form at www.IllinoisAttorneyGeneral.gov/consumers or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at one of the following numbers:
Spanish-language Hotline: 1-866-310-8398
Hillary Clinton's Democratic National Convention Speech
Ray Hanania's World Comic Strip
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
"And on that path to freedom, Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice. If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If they're shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going. Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going. I've seen it in you. I've seen it in our teachers and firefighters, nurses and police officers, small business owners and union workers, the men and women of our military — you always keep going.
Monday, August 25, 2008
You've heard that jingle on TV where the "dude" sings his song about how he had a lousy credit and didn't know it and it ruined his life. He tells you to go to FreeCreditReport.com and get your "free" report. Well, it's not as "free" as they claim. There are, as always, strongs attached.
You get a free credit report ONLY if you enter your credit card and sign up to pay a monthly fee to get the service. If you don't fill out the credit card information, and agree to make the monthly payments, you won't get the free credit report. And, when you do fill out the credit card information, if you don't call them to cancel AFTER receiving the report, they can start billing you.
Is that "free?"
How come our elected officials don't crack down on companies like that? A Free Report should be free, no strings attached.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I just wanted to take a moment to extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to
everyone who has contacted me over the last several weeks to express their
support. The phone calls, e-mails and letters have been overwhelmingly
As most of you know, the media coverage has been much less positive, and in consideration of this I will be holding a press conference at 1:00 PM, Wednesday, August 20th. The press conference will be held at the Township Building, 11008 W. Lincoln Highway, Frankfort, in the meeting room available to all residents.
I will have a Will County sheriff’s department deputy available to make sure there will no demonstrations. Please, feel free to join me as I need your support, if you can’t come I understand about this short notice.
Thanks again for your continued support and, as always, you can contact me at any time by e-mail, email@example.com or through my web site www.paulruff.org
PS, You Must read this Sundays Southtown-Star on Page A-10; you will not be disappointed.
The controversy received much press, as Ruff notes, including this column by a writer at the HuffingtonPost.com, where I also write.
I tried to reach Mr. Ruff but could not get through and he did not respond to my emails.
I believe the email he sent out was one he received and then forwarded to others, something people do all the time, incuding with material that is somewhat edgy in nature. There haven't been an prior instances of Ruff expressing anti-Muslim sentiments.
My only concern is that the township will be using its staff or a Will County sheriff to prevent free speech in the form of counter demonstrations. There's a middle ground here on this issue that is important and while I am not sure if Ruff did or did not cross the line -- things involving Muslims always gets exaggerated on both sides of the contrvoersies -- I don't think anyone should be prevented from expressing their views or even protesting.
That said here is what I believe:
Mainstream Americans like Ruff have real concerns about Islam that are not being addressed.
There is a tendency for some Muslims to gather around the wagons on every issue involving a Muslims -- oftentimes I am denounced (ridiculously) as "anti-Muslim" simply because I criticize the ridiculous and stupid actions and dictates of Islamic extremists like the Bridgeview Mosques Imam Jamal Said who has reportedly told his Muslim parishioners that it is a sin" to participate in Halloween. They also denounce Valentine's Day and even Thanksgiving as "sins." It's pathetic, but the real problem is the even more naive and ignorant mainstream American media which over reacts on every issue.
I don't believe Ruff is a racist. I think he may (or may not) have dispatched an email that said bad things about Muslims and he should know better, but that doesn't deserve the attacks he is getting.
On the otherhand, some of the loudest supporters rallying around Ruff are extremist Christian racists and fanatics, too, like some of those who have been writing letters to the editor, cited by Ruff above, in the Sunday Southtown/Star.
There is a moderate middle ground and it behoves everyone to try their best for the sake of preserving our great society to find it.
-- Ray Hanania
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The wind ravaged my bedouin encampment in the backyard and I think my hookah got wisked away in one of those August 4th zephyrs. Trees were bent at 45 degree angles. The unkempt lawn at the Award Winning Orland Park Police Station -- which the village insists is an open lands project -- was howling in the wind. The debri that often covers the parking lot of the 151st Street and West Avenue strip mall just vanished, the winds were so bad. A above ground pool a few blocks away was lifted up and relocated in a neighbor's yard (and the village cited them for excessive water use during the summer water drought ban whatever.) The suburban stereotype of swingers and wife-swapping was replaced by garbage can swapping.
All we heard about was Bolingbrook, Bloomingdale and Griffith, Indiana.
All that and nary a mention in the local gossip pages. Isn't it like the news media and everyone everywhere else to just ignore us?
It's not just Orland Park that everyone is ignoring. It's the entire Southwest Suburban region. To the bosses in Chicago -- who control some of the politicians right here in Orland Park, hint, hint -- Orfland Park doesn't exist.
Here's my top 10 list of pet peeves about how the Southwest Suburbs are ignored:
10 -- We have a tornado and it takes 9 days for anyone to officially acknowledge it
9 -- Why is it the state has spent the past half century building expressways to serve the Northwest and North suburbs and all we get is some far out extension to help voters in Will and DuPage County?
8 -- Why is it that everyplace else get's efficient and round-the-clock public transit and all we get in the Southwest Suburbs is "After Thought." PACE, Metra ... the undependable lines.
7 -- The terms "Southwest Side" and "Southwest Suburbs" are often misused by the media usually to describe murder and mayhem in other areas like Little Village, or the far South Side. The far south side is NOT the Southwest Side.
6 -- The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times (which steals copy from the Southtown) takes very seriously issues of importance to residents in Winnetka and Skokie and Evanston, but they barely take notice of our region.
5 -- Political corruption and mismanagement are headline grabbing leads in other areas of the region, but very few serious journalists pay any attention to government corruption, waste, lying and deceipt when it takes place in Orland Park.
4 -- Why does the Southwest Suburbs have more racial hatred than other regions -- people are still steaming over the building of the mosque here
3 -- Chicago has made a pitch to bring the Olympics to the city in 2016 and the grand plans for the events involve every place else except the Southwest Suburbs.
2 -- Coffee at Starbucks in Buffalo Grove tastes exquisite, but in the three franchises in Orland Park, it tastes like dead possum!
1 -- How come Bernie Mac used to come to Orland Park and smoke his cigars through his oxygen tank tubes at local cigar stores and no one ever mentioned that?
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Kanye owns "KW Foods LLC," which has rights throgh the Santa Monica, Calif.-based burger chain Fatburger Corp, to develop 10 Fatburgers in the Chicago area with the first in Orland Park and a second in Evergreen Park next year.
Orland is a magnet for celebrities, especially sports and entertainers. We have lots of them including Buddy Guy, a few Bears and Sox players, and, if you haven't see the entourage following R Kelly (Robert Sylvester, web site http://www.r-kelly.com/). The rapper and singer-singwriter hangs out at LifeTime with a huge entourage. Not exactly the way to remain anonymous, I guess. But, the R-man raises eyebrows and high-fives followed by a network almost as large as the one in that cell phone commercial.
Welcome Kanye. Word is the food is great and we're glad to have you here.
Now, some people have told me they also used to see Bernie Mac, who is from Chicago originally, hanging out at a cigar bar in Orland Park with his oxygen tank at his side and the breathing tubes in his nose, while puffing on a cigar. Just before Mac's deasth, he performed as a warmup for an appearance by Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama. Mac cussed his way through the riffs and drew a mild rebuke from Obama, who then said, eh was just joking. But staffers later insisted Obama had criticized some of the Mac's comments.
Let us know of any other celebrity sightings in Orland Park or the region.
The Village has been purchasing land bordering LaGrange Road, 143rd Street and Southwest Highway -- the triangle -- to develop a mixed-use, Old Town-like downtown area adjacent to the newly remodeled Metra train stop. The last hurdle is the purchase of Orland Plaza, which has been all over the news.
The idea is this "down town" will be like Frankfort's downtown. A place that has a look and feel from the past when people would sit on the edge of the wood planked sidewalks (after the mud dried), watched the horse and buggies klop-klop by, kicking up mini-dust storms, and eat homemade pie.
I admit the idea has some merit. When I want to lazily walk in a turn-of-the-century like downtown center, I drive to Frankfort, spend a few hours there, and then never go back, except maybe for their annual Labor Day weekend arts, craft and food fest, which is one of the region's best.
If I want to spend more than a few hours at a place like that, I've traveled to Narbonne in France and walked around Carcassone, between Toulous and Narbonne in France, not too far from Perpignon on the Cout d Azure, which was Salvador Dali's favorite place to paint. I'll spend a few days walking around there among its olden days store fronts, shops and streets filled with circus-like minstrels. Or, maybe, you might travel to Palestinian East Jerusalem, and visit the Souq and spend hours walking from one tiny shop to another taking in the aromatic orchestra of incense. (In fact, at the end of this column, you can watch my July 2007 Comcast Cable TV program "TV Chicagoland/30 Minutes" and my video tour of the Souq of East Jerusalem.) Or, maybe, go to the old city in Barcelona and take in breathtaking ancient churches and structures from real Medieval times.
But does Orland Park really need an "Old Town?"
I don't think so. I know they keep telling us it's to broaden the "ambiance" of our little village. Well, Orland Park is no "little village." With better management, it could be the economic engine driving the Southwest Suburbs. Instead, we're slumped by a poor economy like everyone else and that's surprising because we have so many retail shops our sales tax revenues should be shooting through the roof and they are not. We have so many store fronts that are vacant, a trashy look that reminds people of a future ghetto -- it's happened to places. I've seen it.
Mayor Dan McLaughlin fashions himself off to be some mini-me Mayor Daley. We'll call him "da boss," because behind his unpresuming smile is one tough politician who gets angry over any resistance from people around him.
(That's how he was to me when I told him that instead of automatically appointing his nominee for a certain high-paying village position, we should at least open the job up to the village residences to see if anyone else was interested in qualifying for it -- I quit the commission when he told me it was either his way or the highway and now he goes around telling people he doesn't understand why I am so critical of him -- you're no different than the other two-faced politicians, Dan!)
It's that 19th Ward fever that has been sweeping through our community over the past few years. There's no immunity for it, yet.
So, how about we drop this stupid idea of some turn-of-the-century old town atmosphere and instead build something really remarkable, like a community theater (that isn't political like the one we have today), or a museum campus, or some place where people can go to have real enjoyment, arts, entertainment and fun?
Secrets of the Souq of East Jerusalem Video
Click the PLAY button to watch
or THIS LINK IF THAT DOESN'T WORK ON YOUR COMPUTER:
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Frankfort Township official crosses the line on Arab and Muslim hatemongering -- but some of the response is hypocritical
No one actually has the exact email that Ruff allegedly sent out, and Ruff is not returning phone calls or emails so we don't know if he actually wrote it, or more likely, received the email and thought it was worth forwarding to his email list (which is something so many people do often.)
But several groups are trying to organize protests against Ruff and they are partnering with some good groups and some groups that are not so good, like CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations which has a habit of browbeating those in the Arab and Muslim community who go too far in denouncing extremism and anti-American violence (more below on CAIR).
Here is what has been written in all the local newspapers about what Ruff wrote:
The e-mail, circulated in June, said America should follow the lead of Australia's former prime minister John Howard, who said Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law should get out of Australia.
"Once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our pledge, our Christian beliefs or our way of life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, the right to leave," the e-mail said, supposedly quoting Howard.
The e-mail actually was based on a column by Georgia state lawmaker Barry Loudermilk.
"Maybe if we circulate this amongst ourselves, American citizens will find the back bone to start speaking and voicing the same truths," the e-mail continued. "If you agree, please send this on."
Loudermilk is a racist and a bigot. I doubt that Ruff is a racist and he probably is just reacting the way most Americans do when they see Islamic fanatics make all kinds of threats against Americans (as they are doing targeting the Beijing Olympics), but only see many high profile Islamic "leaders" like CAIR waffle and walk carefully in their limited denunciations of "extremists."
What CAIR does is to denounce extremists and extremism, and violence. Yet, they do not hesitate to stand with fanatics and extremists who do not denounce violence and extremism. And, CAIR has walked a fine line, denouncing Osama Bin laden and al-Qaeda, but NOT denouncing Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which are terrorist organizations that use violence and the reprehensible and indefensible suicide bombing violence in which young, misguided Muslims and Arabs are brainwashed by their fearless leaders who convince them to sacrifice their lives for the cause while the fearless leaders do not sacrifice their own lives.
CAIR's Chicago spokesman is Ahmed Rehab. He is a very good person. Very genuine. But CAIR is sometimes "racist" (I define that as a group that discriminates againsts omeone else on the basis not only of race but also religion and ethnic and religious political views) and often engages in the same kind of hatemongering against individuals that it often denounces that is done to Muslims in America.
In otherwords, CAIR will denounce people like Ruff, but they remain silent when Muslim American extremists attack and denounce and intimidate Christian Arabs like myself and other secular Muslims.
The majority of Muslims in Chicagoland are moderates. They are not engaged in any anti-American activities. Yet, they are intimidated and browbeat by organizations like CAIR to shut up or be ostracized. (Just look at the case of Omar Najib, a Palos Heights based lawyer who has been the target of a hate campaign by extremist Muslims, many at the Bridgeview Mosque, and yet you WON'T hear CAIR denounce that extremism from among their own ranks.)
That's the hypocrisy that CAIR represents. Rehab is trying to change that but after waiting three years for him to do something, I think the time is now to put pressure on CAIR to either genuinely denounce extremism (including those extremists in the Muslim community right here in the United States and in the Chicago area) and stop being hypocrities about hatemongering, or there should be a formal campaign to ostracize CAIR and expose it for what it is.
Ironically, well intentioned groups like the Southwest Interfaith Team (SWIFT) -- the coalition of Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders -- are ignorant of the reality of the hatemongering that takes place inside the Arab and Muslim American community. They speak out against hatemongering against Muslims but DO NOTHING to stand up to the hatemongering by organizations like CAIR and others against Christian Arabs like myself and secular Muslims.The Arabian Club of Orland Park is planning a public meeting where some of these issues can be discussed and I hope you will attend. Until then, here is some background on the issues discussed here:
Ruff's Township Assessor's Web Page
Story in the Southtown July 22
Story on Ruff's achievements in the Frankfort Station Newspaper April 8
The Council on American Islamic Relations Chicago Page
SWIFT Web Page
We were unable to reach Ruff for a comment.
-- Ray Hanania
Friday, August 8, 2008
I don’t want to name them because it is embarrassing not being able to get insurance. There is a stigma attached to it.
This week, they just got their notice from Gov. Rod Blagojevich that their son will finally be able to afford his monthly medication, and even see a dentist and an eye doctor.
Thanks to the Governor, Illinois has a program called All Kids. What that means is that the family is now able to purchase insurance for their seven year old. Get him his medications. And not have the parents dote over him when he wants to play with the other kids because the parents are worried he might trip and fall.
You may not know this if you have insurance coverage, but one trip to the emergency room can cost more than $1,000, not including the ambulance costs, and the costs of things like X-rays, medication and an examination.
Part of the problem for the family is that they lost their company health insurance because of an employment change. When they went to the same insurance company, Humana, they were denied coverage because of the medication needs of the son and the wife.
Ironically, after they were denied health insurance by Humana, Humana sent the family a letter stating that they had "pre-existing conditions," which means that those conditions cannot be used to deny them insurance within 60 days of having had insurance coverage. I know. It's laughable. The letter was sent within three weeks of the family losing insurance and one week after Human denied them insurance.
You can imagine, the family is upset with Humana, which collected thousands of dollars from them while they were covered, and then arbitrarily decided not to give the family health coverage under a “family plan.” By the time they got around to applying elsewhere, the 60-days had elapsed and Blue Cross/Blue Shield denied them coverage, too. For the same reasons. The asthma medication and the ADHD medication are not covered, they said.
A letter from the family to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan went unanswered. Of course.
Let’s face it, when it comes to the concerns of families, Lisa is too busy worrying about her own family, and her father, who happens to be the mean old Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives who stubbornly refuses to work with Gov. Blagojevich to address statewide needs like, family insurance.
Lisa Madigan is planning to run for governor, probably against Governor Blagojevich, whom her father has been undermining in Springfield.
This sounds a little harsh, but in reviewing the family’s problems, it is real clear that Gov. Blagojevich cares about families and children, and Lisa Madigan and Mike Madigan don’t care about families and children.
Why isn’t Lisa Madigan filing lawsuits against insurance companies like Humana, holding them accountable for their refusal to cover families that they already covered but are anxious to remove from their coverage rolls in order to save money.
The cost of ADHD medicine is about $140, compared to the $40 when purchased under an insurance prescription plan.
Why isn’t Lisa Madigan filing lawsuits to force the medicine companies to force them to make medicine affordable?
Millions of people in Illinois do not have health insurance, mainly because like the family I am writing about, they are self-employed. Or, they have erratic income that varies from month to month.
Or, they have been bounced from a company health plan and abused by the insurance companies that seek to insure only those people who don’t need expensive medical needs so they can profit.
In a way, the insurance companies are much like the oil companies that Lisa Madigan has targeted in a high profile publicity stunt to give her good PR so she can make herself look good when she does announce later this year her candidacy for governor.
But if Lisa Madigan really wants to be governor, maybe she should focus more on the healthcare needs of the people in Illinois, rather than on the politically charged issue of whether we have affordable gas to pump into our Hummers and luxury cadillacs and limousines.
She might figure out a way to help all of the other children who still need help to join those children who are now benefiting from basic health care, thanks to Gov. Blagojevich.
The seasoned politicians and the political pundits in the media – who all have comprehensive healthcare and could “care less” (no pun intended) about issues like health care – are all mocking and criticizing governor Blagojevich.
They say the Governor is not like all of the other politicians in Illinois.
He certainly is NOT like them.
Well, at least that’s the feeling of the one family that finally was told today that they can worry just a little bit less about the health concerns of their son.
Good job governor. There are more than 1.3 million other children who also have healthcare, thanks to Governor Blagojevich.
That’s worth celebrating.
Visit All Kids on the internet for more information if your child is not covered at AllKids.com.
Then it was, everything is "intact," including the Property Tax Rebate. Don't worry people of Orland Park. No need for you to worry your empty little brains. You haven't cared before, so why should you care now? We'll take care of it.
And then, it was, well, the Property Tax Rebate is going to be cut because some of the money should be going to cover the pensions, which means money that was going to cover the pensions can be used someplace else.
Then they fed the media stories about how Orland Park's Property Tax Rebate is far more generous than other communities, setting the stage for the big scissors.
Now, it's the Property Tax Rebate is going to be "capped."
Next thing, the Property Tax Rebate is going to be eliminated.
I have one question -- it's not easy getting questions answered from this administration -- they only want to talk to the media that embraces their spin (in exchange for advertising, of course): Do you think the village is in trouble because it paid millions to purchase certain, selected homes alleged to have had serious flooding problems -- while so many others that had flooding problems were ignored -- and the village can't resell those homes today to recoup the money they spent?
Or, possibly, is it because the village failed to see the economic signs, claiming as recently as Mayor Dan McLaughlin's speech to the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce that everything is fine. What's to worry? So no one did?
Or possibly, the village is trying to scurry to come up with enough obfuscation so that when it comes time for their re-elections -- in a few months -- they won't have to worry about losing their jobs?
Just some questions from an Orland Park taxpayer.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The lawsuit deals indirectly with that embarrassing event in January 2007 involving Lt. Lawrence Masa, who claimed he needed paid leave from the OPFPD because he was serving his country in Iraq and Afghanistan, between 2003 and 2006. Masa was charged in January 2007 by the Cook County State's Attorney with ripping off taxpayers of $200,000 in salary during that period because, well, he wasn't serving in Iraq or Afghanistan at all, apparently. The Masa case is pending.
Granat alleges in his lawsuit, filed by attorney John Partelow, that his opponents for the trustee seat in collusion with the other board members -- the OPFPD attorneys, a computer company that has close ties to Mayor Dan McLaughlin, and the Orland Park Prairie -- used the Masa controversy to make it look like he was responsible. They defamed him, Granat alleges in his lawsuit, in order to make him lose the election.
Granat apparently had nothing to do with the Masa scandal, but the OPFPD quietly hired a contractor in February 2007, for about $10,000 according to Granat's attorney, to investigate Granat's "role" in the Masa affair, a role which apparently did not exist. Oops! It all centers around a computer that Granat was given permission by then acting Chief Donald Bettenhausen to take home. Granat's opponents on the board quietly hired a "computer forensic expert" to determine if Granat was hiding any files protecting Masa and that information was fed to the media to discredit Granat just before the April 2007 election.
Two of the 13 defendants in Granat's suit are McGill, Michalak, now OPFDP trustees. Of course, with the mud flying, they defeated Granat and Katsenes for the two trustee seats. Katsenes had been an outspoken champion to force the OPFPD to improve its sloppy and wasteful ways, which made her disliked on the board, and Granat, who was a 38 year OPFPD employee and deputy fire chief, had an impeccable record until the election mudslinging took place.
But, there are 11 other defendants in the lawsuit, and chances are you, the Orland Park taxpayer are most likely going to get socked with the tab if, as it should, Granat's suit is affirmed by a jury.
The remaining defendants round out what Granat's attorney spells out was a conspiracy to defame Granat and destroy his reputation in a mudslinging effort just before the election. They are:
Patrick Maher, the son of the Orland Park Village Clerk and the president and a trustee on the OPFPD who allegedly authorized the spending of $10,000 in OPFPD and taxpayer money to investigate his political rival.
OPFPD trustees Patricia Corcoran and Salvatore Cacciato who also supported the decision.
The OPFPD district itself, as the abusive government entity.
The OPFPD district's law firm Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, (KTJ) which has very close ties to the Village of Orland Park, too.
Marjorie Owens-Klotz, daughter of the late Mayor Fred Owens and a "big shot" in the Village of Orland Park who handles media relations with the local newspapers and publicity and also handled media for the OPFPD, according to the lawsuit. She's married to a top ranking firefighter at the OPFPD, too. A sister was appointed to the OPFPD Commission.
Computer Bits, Inc., the firm hired by Maher and the anti-Granat/Katsenes board members to investigate the issue. Computer Bits Inc. has very close ties to the Village of Orland Park and is a major contributor to Mayor McLaughlin.
James T. Harmening, the owner of Computer Bits Inc., and a self-professed "forensic computer expert," according tot he lawsuit.
Apparently, the Daily Southtown ran the harmful and misleading story but later acknowledged, according to Granat's attorney, that Granat was unfairly slammed. The Orland Park Prairie (my favorite newspaper, or MFN), has not said anything.
Here's the lawsuit. Read it for yourself:
I've reached out to the attorneys, KJT, for a response to the lawsuit and will post it as soon as it comes in.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
I had to go out to get gasoline for the lawn mower. I like to do my own lawn rather than hire the sloppy lawn services that seem to operate around here under the village's licensing radar screen. (Maybe the village should require that these lawn maintance companies that slop around the neighborhood cutting grass and destroying other people's property should be licensed. That might be a great way to raise money.)
Anyway, after filling up the two gallon gasoline can for more than $8, I passed through McDonalds. I figured, if I am going to mow the lawn and pollute the environment, I might as well fill up on cholesterol, too. I don't normally eat at McDonalds. Well, I wouldn't call consuming their cholesterol sandwiched between muffins "eating."
Getting the gasoline was easy. I went to the Clark station where the pumps don't talk back to me like they do at Gas City. Simple. Fast. Efficient. Easy to use. But the Clark costs weres till pretty high. Getting the breakfast was not so easy.
Cholesterol is very popular, apparently. The line through at the drive-through was all around the building. When it was my turn at the speaker, it was all rattled and hard to hear, of course.
"Can I yelp you?" the voice asked.
Ignoring the voice, I just muttured my order, "Two number 3s and 1 number 5. With orange juice." Hey, I might as well go "healthy."
"Thats zoo bumers twees and a numer un."
Then the speaker blurted out what the employees are ordered to do, push another "special" or a product.
"Wood you lick a cholesterol for one dollah?"
Huh? "I can't understand what you said."
"Wood you lick a cholesterol for one dollah?"
"Did you say would I like a shot of cholesterol directly into my arteries and a health insurance application?" I wanted to ask, but didn't. "I can't understand you."
This went on three more times, which was just as well for me. The breakfast sucked. Cold. Already made and wrapped sandwiches. The muffins were like rocks. Hey. If I'm going to have cholesterol build-up I might as well add kidney stones.
Rocky Raccoon, age unknown but definitely a mature adult based on his size, died suddenly sometime in the evening on Friday, possibly after partying or being chased by homeowners with water canons. Suspected victim of hit-and-run animicide. Sources said Rocky -- a carnivorous North American mammal (Procyon lotor) having grayish-brown fur, black masklike facial markings, and a black-ringed bushy tail often associated with Davy Crockett -- was an incessant wanderer always getting into trouble with the humans. A constant forager and recluse, Rocky made a name for himself when he was pictured on the OrlandParker.com running on his tiptoes from a homeowner who happened to be a writer and photographer who chased him out of his mulberry tree with a garden hose. He is survived by six racconesses and 32 children and grandchildren, most hidden in trees, chimneys, roof eaves, attics in homes throughout Orland Park. Services held as soon as Orland Park's Animal Control division can pick him up off of Windsor Drive near 152nd Street in the middle of the street. Homeowners are too afraid to lift him as they have no idea what kind of social diseases Rocky may have picked up during his wild life. (Photo not published pending notification of family and relatives.)
Lyrics of song to be sung at his wake:
Born on a moraine slope in an Orland tree
The greenest suburb in the land of the free
Raised in the woods knew ev'ry garbage can
Kilt him a recyclable when he was barely a man
Rocky, Rocky Crockett, king of the wild frontier
Fought single-handed through many home war
Till the human was whipped and his tail was in store
And while he was handlin' this risky chore
OrlandParker made him a legend forever more
Rocky, Rocky Crockett, the raccon who knew no fear
Went off to 151st serving there a spell
Eatin' up vegetables and Orland's laws as well
Flipped a few garbage cans, so I heard tell
And hatched up a racket in the Taco Bell
Rocky, Rocky Crockett, seeing his foraging clear
When he came home his foraging was done
And that's about when the water hosin' begun
So he packed his gear and his black striped tail
And lit out a-grinnin' to follow his sail
Rocky, Rocky Crockett, fell victim to a fast-driving SOB
(Village of Orland Park Animal Control information, FYI.)
# # #
Friday, August 1, 2008
Click comic strip to view larger image
Ray Hanania's World Comic Strip
August 2, 2008
Mayor Daley hopes to find inspiration during his visit to Beijing, China for the Olympics next week.
Go to http://professivecomicstrips.blogspot.com/ to view more comics
The biggest mistake is in accepting the false claims by the village that "everything is okay" with the property tax rebate and that increases in fees are okay because there are other places that charge far more. Isn't that why Orland Park is BETTER than other communities?
The truth is, things are not going to be okay, even though Mayor McLaughlin is on record only a few months ago patting himself on the back claiming Orland Park is financially sound and has no problems.
Village Proposes Major Cut in Property Tax Rebate
Every paper has been afraid to say that. Too bad. That's the real story out here. That's what everyone is talking about. That's what concerns everyone.
That's outrageous! Do the math, people. You're getting screwed. But maybe you don't care. Or more likely, you think there is nothing you can do about it.
There is something you can do about. Make your voices heard. Tell the village that just because some things are great in Orland Park (some dude in New York working at Money Magazine says we're one of the best places to live, not as great as last year but still on their list, way down), it's not acceptable for them to hide behind that to do things that are not so great.
Orland Park is one of the best places to live not because of the government doing their job, but because of the people who live here. We're a great community.
Although nothing has been formally approved by the village yet and all the proposals from our newly hired village manager Paul Grimes are just that, proposals, you, the community, can still stop the changes. Each and every trustee has to vote on the changes. You can make your voices heard.
Recreation Department fees may increase 10 percent. That's huge.
Costs for other services are going to increase, too.
They're not talking about the routine increases that the news media has failed to cover like the increases int he Water Bill -- 60 percent of which are unrelated to the increase in the cost of water. (That's only 40 percent of the bill.) The village is increasing fees for sending you the water bill, and collecting garbage, sewer services and rain water drainage.
I say if the village board can't protect the property tax rebate, then they don't belong in office any more and we should find someone else. And Paul Grimes can go back to where he came from. He's starting to sound more like a Chicago Machine Bean Counter than someone who understands what makes Orland Park what we really are.