Monday, December 1, 2008

Didn't know I was "needed" at Orland tree lighting

I usually go every year to the tree lighting ceremony that Orland Park has. It's usually packed with parents and especially with the children.

But this year, I had too many things I had to finish and my wife and son went. They came back with a discouraging report. Like many of the events in Orland Park, fewer and fewer citizens are attending. This was the lowest turnout of any prior year, they said. And, the village offered far less for the kids. There was so much more to do last year and the years before. But this time, it reflects the times.

Now, I think it reflects the deteriorating leadership of the Village Mayor Dan McLaughlin and the village board, which is unaccountable to the public.

Yes, there is a small clique of pals and friends and their family who show up for everything to put on the happy face to give the impression to the local news media that everything is fine. But it's not fine. The majority of Orland Park residents are not engaging in the system and what it has to offer, because the system is set up to benefit the Mayor and his pals and their friends.

Everything has a political ring and purpose to it in Orland Park. From the theater group all the way down to the public events. It's all about getting re-elected. Meanwhile, the village is going to hell in a handbasket and taxes and fees are increasing. The worst part about it is that not one -- NOT ONE -- of our elected officials has the courage to be a leader and admit that things are tough. They want to pretend everything is fine while the real people out here are struggling to make ends meet.

Mayor Dan doesn't have to worry about anything. He has this great cushy union job downtown. None of the village trustees have to worry about anything.

Do you EVER hear anything of SUBSTANCE from the village trustees? Ever? Seriously? Forget about the Happy Talk they mumble about how great things are here and how great they will be. (I cal them the STEPFORD TRUSTEES.) I am a big booster too, but I also know the truth is more important and recognizing and addressing problems is more important than pretending the King is wearing clothes when this village is naked. Everyone knows it.

Turnout to village events has been DOWN but the department heads and their bosses who feed on the public taxpayer trough pretend everything is fine because they get a paycheck that comes out of our taxes. When you even DARE to raise a question about, say, Orland Days, which was far less in quality than it has been in past years, everyone who is involved takes it so personally AS IF IT IS ABOUT THEM. It's NOT about them. It is about US. It is about leadership. If you can't take the criticism then you ARE NOT A GOOD LEADER.

Leaders are people who listen to the public, not their own egos and their pride or are quick to rip open the pay check enevlope to see their reward. Good leaders are those who really care about what people feel in Orland Park and the truth is there are very few really Good Leaders in Orland Park these days. Just a lot of greedy, selfish people more concerned with how they look than with how the village is running.

Our taxes could jump 100 percent and the Mayor Happy Talk and his Happy Talk Village Board would be out there saying the village should be grateful for what it has and that everything is fine.

It's not fine. And the low turnouts at public events is PROOF.

So many village employees email me saying that what I write is true but fear the political vindictiveness of Mayor Happy Talk because when it comes to criticism, he is far from happy and far from accountavle or responsible.

I am glad we had the tree lighting and the wonderful lights that line the streets around the Village Hall. But how about some community accountability and honesty for once, Mayor Happy Talk. How about a real admission that things are tough and that as good leaders, you had to take tough decisions innstead of always worrying about the spin?

I met the mayor when he first started. Years ago. I was a big fan. I understand that friendships between journalists and politicians are doomed. They rarely last. But I had so much hope for this one. Like he was going to be different. Turns out he's no different than the rest of the politicians out there, more concerned about themselves and how they look than the truth.

Then again, maybe that's what unaccountable politicians want? A public that doesn't care and stays home and is afraid to question their poor leadership and their lack of accountability?

-- Ray Hanania

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