Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Early voting begins Jan 11 in Orland Park

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State law has actually changed for absentee voting. People no longer need a reason or excuse to qualify for an absentee ballot. Clerk Orr has long been a proponent of so-called "no-excuse" or "no-fault" absentee voting because it opens up another convenient avenue for people to cast their ballot.

Early Voting Comes to Orland Park January 11
Voter Registration for February 2 Primary Ends January 5

      ORLAND PARK, ILThe Orland Park Village Clerk’s Office is gearing up for its Early Voting Program for the February 2 Gubernatorial Election. Early voting will be available January 11 to January 28 at Orland Park’s Frederick T. Owens Village Hall.
“We’re getting the information out now so that everyone who wants to vote in the Gubernatorial Primary Election is aware of the important dates coming up,” said Orland Park Village Clerk David Maher.
      Voter registration for the 2010 Gubernatorial Primary Election closes on January 5 at 5:00 p.m. Those registering must be United States citizens and at least eighteen years old on or before February 2, 2010.
      “Young adults who will turn eighteen between January 5 and February 2 may register to vote now because they will be eligible to vote by Election Day,” Maher explained.
      Voter registration is available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
      Orland Park has again been named an early voting site for the February 2 Gubernatorial Primary Election. Early voting at Orland Park’s Frederick T. Owens Village Hall will be offered for all registered Cook County voters January 11 through January 28, 2010.
      “We’ve had a great response each time we’ve hosted early voting,” said Orland Park Deputy Village Clerk Joe LaMargo. “Having more than one day to cast their ballots makes it more convenient for all voters,” he added, noting that Orland Park has been one of the top Cook County early voting sites since the Cook County Clerk’s Office began the program.
      Early voting in Orland Park will be available January 11 through January 28, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Early voting will also be available on Saturday, January 16 and 23 from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
     “We were very pleased with our numbers from past Early Voting Programs and we’re happy to again offer this service for all suburban Cook County residents,” Maher said. “You don’t have to live in Orland Park to vote early here. You simply must be a registered suburban Cook County voter,” he added.
      Offices being considered in 2010 include U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Comptroller, State Treasurer, some State Senators, State Representatives, Cook County Board President, Cook County Commissioners, Cook County Assessor, Cook County Clerk, Cook County Treasurer, Cook County Sheriff, Appellate and Circuit Court Judges, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioners, Regional Superintendent of Schools and Democratic, Republican and Green Party Township Committeemen.
     “An excuse is not required to vote early,” Maher said. “This is a convenient service for the voters of suburban Cook County,” the clerk said.
      To vote early, individuals must be registered to vote and have a government issued identification card, i.e., a valid driver’s license or state identification card.
      In-person absentee voting is no longer available in the Orland Park Village Clerk’s Office; however, applications to receive absentee ballots by mail are available or can be downloaded from the Clerk’s Office area on the village’s website at www.orland-park.il.us.
      “Absentee voting is not available at the Clerk’s Office. This is why we’re encouraging suburban Cook County voters to take advantage of the Early Voting Program,” Maher said.
      A legitimate excuse is required to vote absentee by mail. “Parents whose kids are away at college can ask that an absentee ballot be mailed to them,” LaMargo said. Absentee voting is also convenient for homebound voters. 
      Orland Park’s Village Clerk’s Office is located off the main lobby of the Frederick T. Owens Village Hall, 14700 South Ravinia Avenue.  Along with voter registration and being the official record keeper for the village, the Clerk’s Office includes the village’s Office of Special Services.
       “People can apply for and have their pictures taken for passports, seek veterans’ assistance and register to vote all in one place,” LaMargo said.
      Further information or to request that an absentee ballot be mailed to a Cook County voter, either homebound or out of town is available by calling the Orland Park Village Clerk’s Office at 708/403-6150.

Early voting for the February 2 Gubernatorial Primary Election will be available for all registered suburban Cook County voters January 11 to 28, 2010 at Orland Park’s Frederick T. Owens Village Hall, 14700 South Ravinia Avenue. Further information is available by calling the Village Clerk’s Office at 708/403-6150.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Patrick Maher claims endorsement of Tinley park Village Board -- oops!

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They're calling it "another Maher." Why not, there are so many "Maher's" in the election and Patrick Maher, the son of Cook County employee and Orland Park Village Clerk David Maher has challenged one of them -- the one running against him. But he didn't challenge the one running against incumbent Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman, and that is Gerald Maher. Maher dropped out of the county board race to help Pat Maher and instead is focusing his campaign on challenging Gorman for Orland Township Republican Committeeman. As much as I like Gerald Maher, he is a terrible candidate and did so poorly in the last election, I was embarrassed for him.

I realized how strong Gorman was before the last election when Gorman had the courage to attend a tax forum my radio show "Radio Chicagoland" sponsored at the Orland Civic Center. There, Liz Gorman detailed all that she is doing to fight rising taxes and she impressed me and everyone else. Even Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin attended the forum and spoke and shook every hand while Maher sat in the audience.

So Maher has now paired up with some no-name Republican from the north suburbs, who the Gorman's say is tied to County Commissioner Tony Peraica, to challenge Gorman in the Feb. 2 primary.

Why? Because Gorman has fought harder than any other elected official or elective office wannabe to fight rising taxes. I don't need to tell you the role that Gorman played in refusing to give up on rolling back Todd Stroger's 1 percent sales tax/ Her persistence is exactly what taxpayers in Cook County needs and have been lacking in others.

Meanwhile, amazingly, Patrick Maher is making fighting taxes his campaign foundation. So that's why he is running to unseat the one champion against rising unfair taxes in Cook County who has refused to give up. Pat Maher is a nice guy, probably being led around by a bunch of political opportunists who have done nothing for taxpayers except to help themselves. Had Maher been on the county board, how do you think he would have voted on the sales tax repeal with his father earning some $80,000 working for the Stroger's county government?

And they're not just opportunists. They are incompetent opportunists. Who was it that put in the Maher newsletter that Maher had the endorsement of the "Village Board of Trustees -- Tinley Park?" Ooops! It's "another Maher."

No, a disturbed Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki told me. The Tinley Park Board did NOT endorse Maher at all. Maybe Maher got the expected nod from the affable Gregory Hannon -- but who cares whether Hannon did or did not endorse anyone?

They should put on their endorsement list that Maher has the endorsement of Gerald Maher. Now that would be a story, and bring the truth out from under the fog of politics, too. Or maybe Maher has the endorsement of Tony Peraica? Or maybe Maher has the endorsement of Todd Stroger? (Notice in his literature Maher is careful to attack Gorman on false charges that she is not fighting for taxpayer rights, and that he's opposing a bunch of other obscure and generic issues taken right out of the headlines that Gorman has been fighting against, too.)

Like I said, Pat Maher is a decent person. But would he be the best person to stand up to Stroger's excessive taxes? I don't think so. In fact, I bet Stroger would be happy to have him on the board. They'd probably have to lower the veto override again, though.

Instead of running for the Cook County Board, Pat Maher should show some real leadership and cut down the outrageous $26 million budget of the Orland Fire Protection District that he heads. The OFPD collects the largest chunk of taxes in Orland Township, outside of the schools, and although there was a tax reduction several years ago, the reduction was compensated for in an increase later. It is a cute trick that some politicians use so they can argue that they are cutting taxes for citizens. Except the key flaw is that the OFPD is one of the most expensive district's in Northern Illinois.

I've suggested that voters instead send Maher a clear message in Feb. 2 and support the elimination of the OFPD, merging fire protection services into Orland Park and cutting the budget to something more reasonable like $12 million. That's one tax cut I can support but we know its president won't.

Of course, there is also the lingering and unanswered issue of the OFPD allowing its battalion chiefs to drive their gas-guzzling SUV's all over the suburbs, even for personal use and outside of the district. That's a waste of taxpayer money, in my opinion.

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Desperate times in Southwest Suburbs for some

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I'm used to driving through Chicago and passing intersections like Pulaski Road and turning on to the Stevenson and being approached by several homeless people desperately seeking some money and donations. It's easy there because they can walk along the driver's sides of the cars without getting hit by cars ... some intersections are crowded with people each fighting for lanes to beg for help ... I carry these rolls of dollar coins that I get from Harris Bank (which needs to get its act together, by the way, with their outrageous fees and tight-wad practices -- I need ledger pads and they only will give you one. Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!) ...

Anyway, back to the concerns of the poor and those in need. There are so many people this winter who need help. It is so sad and difficult to deal with.

I was struck by the tragedy of the times when I was turning off of I-80 this afternoon returning from a trip to Dearborn, Michigan where I did a comedy show, and I saw a woman with a very desperate look on her face, holding up a cardboard sign that looked like it was made from the ripped side of a corrugated packing box. She had wrote with black marker "Desperate Mother needs help to feed her family and children."

The spot where she stood though, on the ramp facing west and turning right was tough because she was on the opposite of the cars and not on the driver's side so I couldn't get her any money. But there was no place for her to stand on the driver's side with all the heavy traffic. It was dangerous.

I help a person who is in desperate need for money and cash each month to try and make that person's life a little easier. And it is never enough to cover their needs. But anything can help make a little bit of a difference. I know how this person I know feels to relieved when I can send a check for $75 to help them just find a little place in their lives to relax and sigh with some relief.

I know what it is like to be worried about paying my bills and providing for my family. The truth is none of your friends want to be your friend when you are in trouble. They only want to be your friend when you are doing well and the calls are coming in like crazy now that things are going very well for me. But I remember wondering if I could pay the mortgage a few times, and calling to see if I could make arrangements to make a payment late.

People don't like to talk about this stuff publicly and thing it is shameful when you can't cover the basic necessities of your family like the mortgage, utilities and food. And then there is insurance costs for the car, home and that rip-off Humana Insurance that squeezes the blood out of the public so that their skunk CEO Mike McCallister can enjoy his excessive profits -- McCallister  made about $10 million in 2007 and -- poor guy -- only made $5 million in 2008. He is expected to make $10 million in 2009 and even more in 2010. Humana has no compassion for the public; the insurance industry employs people whose main job is to deny legitimate health claims in order to force the barely-able-to-survive-public to fight for the coverage they pay for each month in premiums, sold a worthless bill of goods in their Humana-bill of crap! (Click here to read a story from May about McCallister's pathetic fortunes and our misfortunes.)

McCallister doesn't have to worry about buying his food or providing for his family and I bet Humana never turned him down for coverage the way Humana turns down so many other of their insured.

I would love to see McCallister on the street one-day hat-in-hand begging for money just so he can know what it is like to be poor and without but I don't think that will ever happen until we gut the insurance industry of it's skunks and ban their lobbyists from buying off our spineless elected leaders in Congress, and that includes all the Republicans who are fighting to undermine healthcare for the poor and needy because their goal is to embarrass President Barack Obama.

And then as I was driving home, I saw one of those ugly hate-filled bumper stickers that said You should "keep working" because your money is going to cover more of "Obama's welfare" recipients. If you have a bumper sticker on your car that is so ignorant that you could care less about the poor, you don't deserve any breaks in life yourself. Apparently the only way to really understand the needs of the poor is to be in their shoes and I can tell you it is not easy.

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, December 11, 2009

Smith Crossing residents face choice, same fire service or more taxation

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The PR Machine from the tax-heavy Orland Park Fire Protection District has misled many Smith Crossing residents into to thinking that service will be better if they vote to merge with Orland rather than support an expansion of Mokena fire services their way.

Mokena wants to build a fire station to serve the residents of the unincorporated, but the tax-hungry Orland Fire Protection District – which has one of the largest budgets of any Fire Protection District in the region – wants to add the homes to their tax base.

Officials of the OFPD argue that Orland already has a fire station “less than a mile” from Smith Crossing and they’d be better off joining Orland. So a judge wisely decided to avoid the issue of who has more political clout, the hapless Mokena residents or the 19th Ward controlled Orland activists, and he ordered that the Smith Crossing residents vote on the matter in the Feb. 2 election.

That’s wise, but Smith Crossing residents better bone up on facts and stop being lured by the promises made by the OFPD which has serious tax issues and outrageous policies that are costly.

The issue is about money, not safety. There is absolutely no real difference when it comes to safety between the quality of the response that Smith Crossing residents will get from the Mokena Fire Department and what they will get from the Orland Fire Protection District. No difference except costs.

Orland offered to give the Smith Crossing residents “free” ambulance services, which Mokena was charging $1,200. It is a gimmick offer. When a resident in Orland is taken to the hospital in an Orland Fire Protection District ambulance, they are required to fill out the insurance forms so the district can charge their health insurance – which in most cases means that the insured also pay their share for the services (either through huge deductibles or through huge pre-payment costs).

Believe me when I tell you that the insurance company doesn’t pay for anything that they can’t pass on to the insured.

Still, it’s inviting, although Mokena changed its ways and now provides the same service.

But when anyone served by the Orland Fire Protection District takes a moment to look at their tax bills, they see right away that the OFPD takes the biggest chunk of their taxes next to the district’s schools; more than 12.51 percent of the your property taxes go to the OFPD. They have a $26 million annual budget, which is huge by any comparable standard.

No wonder they keep boasting (misleadingly) that they have "rebated" taxes. They collect so much they are the Orland equivalent of Todd Stroger’s tax wasteful Cook County administration. Stroger raised taxes so high so he could have an influx of cash and declare that he was the only government that could balance its budget. Balanced with out trimming fat and waste, of course.

The OFPD is doing the same thing. They dropped spending several years ago, and then increased it the amount they dropped just to make it easier for OFPD district elected officials run for political office. And there are enough of them there beginning with the OFPD President Patrick Maher who is running to become the commissioner from the 17th District. His father, David Maher, is the village clerk in Orland Park and a highly paid employee at Cook County, too.

If I had the choice that faces Smith Crossing voters, I’d cut a deal with Mokena to get the same service for far less. And, for those residents stuck in the OFPD who think that their very expensive fire service is a good deal, they should consider eliminating the Fire Protection District all together and merging it with the village of Orland Park. That's the referendum we need.

Many communities manage to provide the highest quality fire services with far less money, budgets of $6 to $8 million in Tinley Park where a volunteer force does the same quality work for far less.

It is about safety, of course, and the Orland Fire Protection District firefighters ARE among the best. But the district can still offer the same great service without costing us an arm and a leg in taxes. Just because I challenge their board doesn't mean I don't respect the challenges of firefighters, many of whom tell me they are fed up with the political games there.

That’s the issue that needs to considered carefully before digesting the baloney the ambitious elected officials in the OFPD are feeding to the public.

Symbolic of the wasted money in the OFPD is the ability of Battalion Chiefs to drive their gas-guzzling SUV’s anywhere they want on and off-duty for personal and business reasons. What a perq for being a highly paid fireman?

-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, December 10, 2009


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Free Service Provides Partygoers a Safe Ride Home

ORLAND PARK, IL – For the past sixteen years, the Village of Orland Park has offered the “Safe Ride Home Program” to drive partygoers safely home on New Year’s Eve. FREE rides home will be available from 11 pm on Thursday, December 31 to 4 am on Friday, January 1, 2009.

Joining Orland Park in the Safe Ride Home Program on New Year’s Eve are the communities of Mokena, Orland Hills, Palos Heights and New Lenox.

The Safe Ride Home Program cost is approximately $4,436.00. The Michael P. Gordon Memorial Foundation has generously donated $1,500.00 to help subsidize the Safe Ride Home Program. Thanks to the generosity of the Gordon Foundation, each participating community’s share of the cost will be approximately $587.00. The Michael P. Gordon Memorial Foundation was established to carry on the memory of Chicago Police Officer Mike Gordon and continue his service by improving public safety and providing financial assistance to deserving individuals and charitable organizations.

Carey Chicago of Elk Grove Village will provide six vehicles to give residents of the participating towns a ride home. The driver will take riders to their homes, not to another party or public establishment. There is no charge for this service and no names will be taken. Last year, 203 passengers took advantage of the free safe ride home.

The service is provided to help make New Year’s Eve safe for everyone on the road. Residents of any of the participating towns may call Carey Chicago at 1-800-752-5400 to arrange for a free ride home on New Year’s Eve. The Village of Orland Park and all of the participating communities encourage everyone to have a happy and safe New Year’s.



Promoting the 2009/10 Safe Ride Home Program from left to right are: Roland Joita and Brandi Warren, My Chauffeur; Deputy Chief David Delaney, City of Palos Heights; Chief Bob Sterba, Village of New Lenox; Village of Orland Park Trustee and Chairman of Public Safety Brad O’Halloran, Chief Timothy McCarthy, Village of Orland Park; Deputy Chief Mike Blaha, Village of Orland Hills; and Community Relations School Resource Officer Dennis Boardman, Village of Mokena.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

State Rep. Renee Kosel outed in scholarship-politics controversy

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State Rep. Renee Kosel is one of five legislators who requires applicants for state scholarships to register to vote first, something that some people believe may end up being pressured by virtue of the circumstances to vote for the legislator.

Click here to read the story?

-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Orland Park budget includes Dial-a-Ride service during weekdays in 2010

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Village of Orland Park Dial-A-Ride Service Included in 2010 Budget
Service to Include Two Week Day Buses

    ORLAND PARK, IL – The Village of Orland Park Board of Trustees has authorized Village Manager Paul Grimes to include funding in the village’s FY2010 Budget for the community’s PACE Dial-A-Ride Bus Program. Two buses will operate on week days beginning with the New Year, with the one way fare being $5.00 per rider.
      “I’m glad that we were able to find a way to maintain our restructured Dial-A-Ride Service for the village,” said Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin.  
“The public provided helpful insight into how important the village’s bus service is to them and the new fare and service structure is a result of the community’s input,” McLaughlin added. 
“The board and I were especially concerned with the number of individuals with disabilities and seniors who rely on the village’s buses
and have no other means of transportation,” McLaughlin said, adding, “That’s why we started the service in the first place. “For door-to-door transportation, $5.00 each way is a very reasonable fare,” the mayor said.
                  The projected subsidy for the modified level of service is projected to cost approximately $80,000 for the fiscal year. The village will pay for this service by making offsetting cost reductions in other areas of the operating budget.
                  The Orland Park Board of Trustees is expected to adopt the FY2010 budget at its meeting on December 7, 2009. Changes to the bus service and fares will begin January 1, 2010.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gorman praises board action to override Stroger veto of sales tax rollback

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT:  Peg Walsh:  773-704-4655                  
Commissioner Gorman and County Board Override Stroger’s Veto of Sales Tax Repeal

December 1, 2009 – Today marked a major victory for Cook County taxpayers and businesses as Commissioner Liz Gorman joined with eleven other county board members in voting (12 to 5) to override President Todd Stroger’s veto of the 0.5% Sales Tax Repeal.  The 0.5% Sales Tax Repeal was passed by the county board by a 12 to 5 margin on November 17, 2009 after two previous repeal votes were vetoed by Stroger.  Within days of this most recent Sales Tax Repeal vote the board president, for a third time, vetoed this tax-cutting measure.

During today’s debate from the floor of the county board, Commissioner Gorman, in her remarks stated, “A new chapter in Cook County Government is being written today!  What governmental bodies are you aware of that have successfully repealed a tax?  In this economy, governments are making hard cuts and looking to increase tax and fee revenues wherever possible.

With this repeal, we are being proactive by leveling the playing field for our businesses so that they can grow, compete and create jobs.  This sales tax repeal will return consumer confidence back in Cook County. In turn, this will provide opportunity for municipalities to increase their local tax receipts by rolling back a portion now. 

This vote should be used as a litmus test for voters to hold elected officials accountable.  Not only does this repeal represent a sales tax cut, but it makes a bold statement -- that this body recognizes that taxpayers are not satisfied with the tax and spend policies that have dominated county government for decades and that this county board is serious about fiscal responsibility.  I hope this is the first step in many that will lead to more constructive reform initiatives and tax policies for county government.”

Today’s successful override vote was made possible by new legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor (October 2009) that reduced the veto override threshold from 4/5 to 3/5.  Commissioner Gorman sponsored the county board resolution that urged the state legislature and governor to pass and sign this legislation.  

The 0.5% Sales Tax Repeal will reduce the Cook County Sales Tax from 1.75% down to 1.25%. The Sales Tax Repeal will be effective on July 1, 2010.

Cook County Board votes to defend taxpayers and push Stroger towards the exit

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The Cook County Board has voted to override President Todd Stroger's veto of the motion introduced last week by Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman and an array of progressive commissioners to roll back the 1 percent sales tax by half.

It's a huge victory for the taxpayers and the beginning of the end for Stroger who has turned Cook County into a personal patronage haven for his cronies. Instead of leading by example, Stroger chose to lead by shortcuts, addressing budget shortfalls not with cutbacks in his administration or forcing the county's eight executive office holders to cut back their budgets, but rather by placing the burden of his failed leadership on the backs of the taxpayers of Cook County.

Several commissioners deserve recognition for standing up to the Stroger tax tyranny including Gorman, John Daley, Peter Sylvestri, Gregg Goslin and Timothy Schneider. All of the 12 commissioners who voted to override Stroger's veto of the half percent sales tax rollback deserve praise and they are listed below.

Among those who must be remembered at election time, though, include Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy, a friend of Stroger's legal eagle Burton S. Odelson, and Commissioner Deborah "Flip Flop" Simms. Murphy is being challenged by Nick Valadez who has vowed to represent the best interests of the taxpayers while Simms is being challenged by Sheila Chalmer Currin. (Click here to listen to the podcast of Valadez and Currin discussing their candidacies.)

Elizabeth Gorman, R-Orland Park
Peter Silvestri, R-Elmwood Park
Gregg Goslin, R-Glenview
John Daley, D-Chicago
Timothy Schneider, R-Streamwood
Earlean Collins, D-Chicago
Forrest Claypool, D-Chicago
Bridget Gainer, D-Chicago
Tony Peraica, R-Riverside
Edwin Reyes, D-Chicago
Robert Steele, D-Chicago
Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston


Joan Murphy, D-Crestwood
Deborah Sims, D-Chicago
William Beavers, D-Chicago
Jerry Butler, D-Chicago
Joseph Mario Moreno, D-Chicago

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hula hooping and Santa Claus at the Orland Park tree lighting

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Orland Park's Christmas tree lighting was a blast. It had the children rocking and rolling to the fun songs and energy of entertainer Rick Kelley and the music of the Encore Orchestra -- and they are an orchestra consisting of volunteers of all experience who come together to play great music.

But it's all about the kids. There were crafts for the children, music, hot dogs and pop sold by one of Orland's two Cub Scout Packs, and two horse-drawn carriage rides through the Civic Center's parking lots. The horses were King and Mary, who brayed to each other as they passed with their carriages filled with holiday celebrating families.

At the end of the evening, around 6 pm, Mayor Dan McLaughlin was joined by some of the village's officials -- Pat Gira, a cheerful and joking Kathy Fenton, Ed Schussler and Brad O'Halloran -- in lighting the tree, but only after a carolers sang several fun holiday songs. The tree -- there are two actually at Village Hall, one inside and one outside where everyone gathered -- was more than enough in height to keep the kids in awe. It was decorated with ornaments made by local children and multi-colored lights.

But the real hit was Kelley. This guy knows how to entertain children. He had them all up front dancing, singing, playing musical instruments and even doing a Caribbean Limbo. The finale was a hula hoop contest for the kids. Amazing how they can spin those hula hoops.

Of course, it reminded me of when I was a kid and in 1964 hula hooped at the Community Discount Store opening on 95th Street just past Stony Island Avenue. I won a Beatles' album.

And it got me thinking, of course. Instead of having elections, why not make the politicians hula hoop. We could have Liz Gorman, Dr. Victor Forys, Gerald Maher, Patrick Maher, and the rest hula hoop for the 17th District seat. I still think Liz would win hands (hips) down. I did see that Maher's Orland Fire Protection District had a little table and that wonderful lady who is their spokesperson. I had my wife check if there was any campaign literature there -- I couldn't bear it if there were, but it is a 19th Ward tradition. There was none, fortunately.

Still, the hula hoop contest would be a blast, although the thought of watching Todd Stroger, Cook County's "Tax you up the Wazoo" president, hula hooping, is sickening. That would take courage and faith in yourself, the very characteristics voters want but that Stroger lacks. He's such a coward and won't sit down for an interview in print or on radio, though his spokesperson, Chris Geovanis is the best among the herd (Caryn Stancik, Sean Howard, Chinta Strausberg included), At least she has some kahones! (Not cojones, the Peruvian musical instrument).

But back to the holiday spirit from some humor: Kelley can be booked by reaching out to him on email at rksings@aol.com. I hope McLaughlin, if he is really in charge of the whole kit and kaboodle, brings him back next year. (And no, I never met him before -- some politicians would screw someone just for knowing me. Well, not McLaughlin but maybe in a certain clerical office possibly?)

And if you are interested in the Encore Concert Band, you can reach them, too, at www.encoreband.com. If you play an instrument, you are invited to join them and try to keep up or even lead, if you have the talent. It's open to everyone.

-- Ray Hanania

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Forys challenges Maher use of taxpayer funds for political newsletter

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Democrat Victor Forys’ Campaign Calls on Opponent to Refund Taxpayers for Cost of Publicly Funded Campaign Propaganda

Forys calls on Patrick Maher to refund taxpayers for cost of printing and mailing campaign propaganda on Orland Park Fire District newsletter.

Chicago, November 27, 2009— Dr. Victor Forys’ campaign is calling on their opponent to refund tax dollars used to print and mail the Orland Park Fire District newsletter to promote his campaign.  

“With the election less than 70 days away, it is absolutely unacceptable and potentially illegal for Patrick Maher to use taxpayer dollars to promote his campaign,” said campaign spokesman Rick Bohn. “In a time when people are struggling to make ends meet and pay their bills, he’s using their hard-earned tax dollars to defend his campaign positions.  People are tired of being used by corrupt politicians and they deserve better.  I call on Patrick Maher to use his campaign funds to reimburse the cost of printing and mailing the newsletter, and I’d ask that he use better judgment in the future. ”

Republican incumbent, Liz Gorman, issued a press release claiming Maher’s views on property taxes were incorrect and not representing the truth.  Patrick Maher then issued a front page response on the Eagle, the Orland Park Fire District newsletter, refuting those claims.

“I think it sets the wrong precedent for how he’d use the taxpayers’ money,” Bohn said. “Mr. Maher obviously doesn’t believe there is a clear line drawn when it comes to using public funds for political purposes.  I think this is indicative of the corrupt culture of Cook County Board politics and I think that’s wrong.  He should apologize to the community for such an improper use of tax dollars.”

The Orland Park Fire District is funded through tax dollars paid by residents of Orland Park.

Victor Forys has pledged to run an ethical campaign free of patronage and pay-to-play corruption.  Forys will use his seat to increase transparency on the Board and find ways to save taxpayer dollars.


Excuse the hissy-fit at the Chicago News Bench (Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde writer there, I think)

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The Chicago News Bench took my writings out of context and used them to attack a public official, instead of dealing with the facts. The fact is that no where did I attack Jim Dodge (or any of the candidates for Illinois Comptroller, by the way). And when I pointed it out, and then decided the web site isn't worth writing about, the writer, Tom Mannis went berserk with wild accusations and mud slinging and name-calling.

Real professional, Tom. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised. : )

Tom could be a professional writer, one day, when he gets past the childish behavior.

-- Ray Hanania

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Challenges facing taxpayers in Orland Fire District

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I don’t think I ever would have thought about the Orland Fire Protection District (OFPD) had it not been for the email I received from former Orland Park trustee Tom Dubelbeis. Dubelbeis, as I later learned, is a campaign adviser to Pat Maher, the son of the Orland Park Village Clerk David Maher whose royalty in politics traces back to the privileged 19th Ward Democratic Organization.

Dubelbeis was the “enabler” who “introduced me” to Pat Maher, in much the same way that a royal announcer introduces the Queen of England when she enters a room. In this case, Maher was entering serious politics beyond his role as President of the Orland Fire Protection District which I had assumed was just like any other fire department.

It’s not. In fact, it is one of the most expensive fire protection districts in the state with a budget of about $26 million a year. It takes 12.51 percent of your property taxes, the largest chunk of any government agency not including the school districts.

I guess that’s the definition of royalty. But in reality, it’s the taxpayers who getting the royal screws.


Every Saturday, I like to work on my lawn, read a book and find those old black and white movies from the 50s on the TCM Channel. It’s the one time where I actually get to greet the mailman, too, and collect the mail personally.

You can imagine how shocked I was when I opened my mail and found a full color eight page brochure from the Orland Fire Protection District. It was addressed to “RESIDENT” so I assume everyone in the Orland Fire Protection Distirct, almost exclusively residents of Orland Park and unincorporated Orland Township, received one.

Most government brochures are informative. This one was all about politics, promoting the fact that Pat Maher is a candidate not for re-election but for a bigger job, one suitable for a person of his 19th Ward pedigree, the commissioner of the Cook County Board from the 17th District which encompasses Orland Township and the OFPD, and communities all the way north to Wheeling.

Right on the front page was the debate that Maher is engaging in as the foundation of his election campaign. Maher insists -- despite the facts – that the Orland Fire Protection District is a benefit to taxpayers. The front page article paralleled the arguments he made recently in a press release about how he has “reduced” taxes. The rest of the information was useless timber,  including “Tips” on how to shovel snow, and “Tips” for Thanksgiving. Hey, it reminded us days before Thanksgiving, “The Holidays are around the corner.”

Like I needed the Orland Fire Protection District to tell me in an expensive mailer that I would estimate probably costs over $25,000 to produce a mail, maybe more.

Is that a way to save taxes, Mr. President, your Excellency, your 19th Ward Prince?

I don’t think so. The whole purpose clearly is so that Maher can respond to charges that the Orland Fire Protection District is a costly waste of money to taxpayers. That’s not a good platform to run on, so candidates who manage bloated government agencies always tell you about how much they have cut back taxes, reduced spending, rebated money and protected your interests as a taxpayer.



Fire Protection Districts were an ingenious idea when the suburbs were prairies and communities were miles apart and they couldn’t afford huge municipal budgets to pay for a fulltime fire department. A Fire Protection District was a great way to have each community share in the cost and save the tax payers money. The alternative is to have a volunteer fire department, as many communities big and small still do.

The Lemont Fire Protection District, for example, covers an area of approximately 40 square miles and serves the Village of Lemont, portions of Woodridge, Darien, Bolingbrook, and Homer Glen. It collected about $12.2 million in revenues including $7.5 million from property taxes and they spent about $10.7 million in overall expenses.

I know that because the Lemont Fire Department puts their budget on their web site, obviously because they are very proud of what they do. Click here for the link.

The typical fire department costs about $8 million to manage

The Orland Fire Protection District budget is $25.6 million and covers only 33 square miles. It has 157 employees (or 81 percent of the entire budget), expanded this year with several new hires and positions from last years. Click here for the link.

That’s three times the average cost of a Fire Department?

Of course, when you see how they spend money, and understand that the Prince of the Orland Fire Protection District is planning to break into politics in a big way next year, you can then understand why they don’t care about spending $20,000 to publish a newsletter with a lot of worthless drivel.

$20,000, by my estimate, so that on Page 1 with his picture, Prince Maher can tell the taxpayers that he “abated” $1.3 million.

Of course he can abate $1.3 million. He’s collecting $25.6 million far more than any other fire department in the region (outside of Chicago).

When you look at the budget, it’s a shell game. He’s not cutting back taxes, he has a bloated budget that has so much excess funds including rolled-over bond issues that if retired would save tax payers millions but have been recommitted to a new training center.

Believe me when I tell you this is all about politics. When a politician tells you they are cutting your taxes, figure that your taxes will go up a fortune.

In fact, over the past eight years, my taxes paid to the Orland Fire Protection District have continued to skyrocket.

Do we get accountability? No. We get rhetoric and statistical shell games. When I pointed out one of the OFPD Battalion Chiefs was using his gas-guzzling Fire District-owned SUV for personal reasons outside of the district, they shrugged and said they’d look in to it.

It still goes on.

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, November 20, 2009

Riddles Comedy Club returning, in Alsip on 111th Street

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When I first got into comedy (the way I always do everything, with a bang and lots of controversy), Riddles Comedy Club was the first place that reached out to me to give me support. The Orland Park club supporting an Orland Parker was great.

I did my first three ever comedy open mics at Riddles Comedy Club beginning in November 2001 just putting together material and trying to figure out how to make American Arab comedy work. And then the owner at Zanies heard about me and scooped me up and put me on stage where I did thirty shows and then booked for a full week in August/September 2002 over the Labor Day Weekend. Just before the show, Jackie Mason announced a new Broadway play and he wanted to come through Chicago to practice and ready for New York and Zanies asked me to set aside three of my nine shows so Jackie could headline. Did I have a problem, they asked? No. But make sure to tell Mason I am Palestinian, I said. The owner and manager laughed saying the Middle East conflict had "no place" on a comedy stage.

Of course, I had sold out the nine shows to friends, family and news media. And the night of the show, Mason discovered I wasn't just an Arab -- gasp! -- I was Palestinian. And he told Zanies I could not perform with him "because I was Palestinian." Sure enough, that decision exploded in headlines and a five-day tsunami of controversy erupted. I think I did the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS morning News, Donahue, Hannity & Colmes (Hannity is such an ass), ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS network news interviews, CNN and MSNBC and even interviews remotely in London, Paris, Moscow, Beirut, Jerusalem ... hey, doesn't everyone know Palestinians and Israelis don't seem to get along, and it's not really about the Hummus.

But that weekend when I was canned from Zanies -- and then decided to cancel the remaining six shows after I started receiving death threats (it was after Sept. 11, 2001 and I am an Arab who everyone thinks is Muslim and related to Bin Laden of course) at Zanies, Ken Stevens at Riddles reached out and invited me to do some sets on his stage not just for the publicity but because he cares about the comedy industry. He gave me tips, pointers and I still sucked! But hey, who cares? It was fun and the audiences loved it. I think I have some of the old Riddles shows on Youtube or Google video. Now I do standup all over the world (London, Dublin, Toronto, New York, LA with the Israeli Palestinian Comedy tour www.IPComedyTour.com). I have a performance this Sunday for Hadassah in Morton Grove and bookings through the coming year.

I really owe my comedy career to Bin Laden, my overall insane career in journalism, but most especially to Riddles Comedy Club which really gave me my first start.

Last night, I was performing at St. Xavier for 100 screaming little old ladies and seniors and that was a blast, too. And as I drove home on 111th Street I happened to see Riddles Sign back up on a club storefront.

Riddles is reopening at 5055 W. 111th Street in Alsip. The grand opening is this weekend, Nov. 20. Here's their web page www.MyRiddlesComedyClub.com. Check it out. The place closed in Orland a number of months back, maybe even longer. It had changed hands and Ken had left. But Ken is back and professional comedy is returning to the Southwest Suburbs, finally. There isn't a better club around.

Break a leg Ken (and whatever else you can -- I love the fact that comedy is so full of violence!) I look forward to seeing you soon. (Check the Radio Chicagoland web site at www.RadioChicagoland.com. Im working on getting Ken and some of Riddles' great comedians on the show soon.)

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Liz Gorman refuses to give up on effort to cut back the repressive Stroger sales tax

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Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman first proposed repealing Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's repressive 1 percent sales tax last May 5. The ordinance she introduced morphed through her absolute perseverance into a campaign to continue fighting for the rights of taxpayers and she would not let up.

Today, Tuesday, Gorman with the backing of the majority of the county board, voted 12 to 5 to roll back half of the Stroger Sales Tax, a huge tax relief for cook county's overtaxed residents. The sales tax has raised hundreds of millions of dollars off the backs of economically oppressed residents and taxpayers.

Here's a link to the full story. Click HERE.

Gorman's refusal to back down when the first motion was defeated is responsible for Tuesday's vote. She is persistent and refuses to back down. And her persistence and the momentum gained by the full board, including by Commissioners Gregg Goslin, Timothy Schneider, John Daley and Peter Sylvestri to name only a few, was so impressive that the Illinois General Assembly took notice and intervened to weaken Stroger's ability to defend the sales tax hike. The legislature reduced the number of votes required to override Stroger's anti-taxpayer veto from 14 to 11 of 17 board members.

This week is a victory for taxpayers and Gorman and many of the board members deserve credit for refusing to back down.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pat Maher accuses Gorman of sponsoring challenger in Democratic primary

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Pat Maher, the president of the Orland Fire Protection District, is accusing Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman with sponsoring one of his challengers. Their evidence is that one of the candidates, Donna Sanders, a respected member of the local library board, is backed by Orland Hills Mayor Kyle Hastings. He says that the petitions for Sanders and John Maher, another candidate in the crowded primary, will be made available to the public.

Maher's campaign has been trying to ignore the challenge from Dr. Victor Forys, who has the backing of most Democratic leaders in the 17th County district in the February 2, 2009 Democratic Primary.

I had a chance to review all the petitions for all the candidates and the only thing thats truck me as odd was the petitions circulated by Maher's dad, Orland Park Village Clerk David Maher. In one instance on one of the petitions circulated by David Maher, the signatures of four family members at the same address were signed exactly alike, as if one person signed them.  That's how it looked to me. Of course, being a village clerk, David Maher would know that each voter must sign their own petitions and no one can sign for some else

In the release, Maher also denies he raised taxes for the Orland Fire Protection District, which is not truthful. The fact is Maher cut back the amount of taxes in the county's budget one year, and  then increased it back, creating an artificial reduction in taxes. The tragic fact is that under Maher, the Orland Fire Protection District has the largest tax bite of any government agency on your property tax bills. Look at them yourself, 12.51 percent of the entire property tax bill -- the largest bite with the exception of the schools -- is what the OFPD takes from your taxes.

You can bet this is going to a muddy campaign. Here is Maher's press release and statement from his campaign manager in front of the release, Trevor Montgomery:

Mayor Kyle Hastings of Orland Hills, his family and supporters circulated the vast majority of Donna Sanders petitions. Hastings is a known ally of Republican incumbent Liz Gorman. Paid workers circulated the majority of John Maher's petitions. Other petitions were circulated at a bar in Orland Park that has hosted recent fundraisers for Liz Gorman and is owned by a support of Gorman's. John Maher has only voted once since 2002 and filed at a different address than he is registered to vote. Copies of petitions filed by John Maher and Donna Sanders are available upon request. 
Media Contact: Trevor Montgomery
Democrat Patrick Maher Shuts Down Gorman’s Political Games
Republican incumbent Liz Gorman is already playing the tired old political games for which our failed Cook County Board is known.
Patrick Maher, Democratic candidate for the Cook County Board, has filed a petition challenge against two candidates — John Maher, of Palos Heights, and Donna Sanders, of Orland Hills. Maher said the addition of John Maher, in particular, to the ballot is a clear attempt by Gorman to confuse Democratic Primary voters.
“Putting someone with the same last name on the ballot to manipulate voters is one of the oldest and lamest tricks in the book. John Maher and Donna Sanders have a history of not voting in Democratic primaries, they are not active in local Democratic politics and they are not serious candidates. Most importantly, they did not meet the qualifications for appearing on the ballot,” he said.
Both John Maher and Donna Sanders filed petitions rife with errors.
“I’m not going to allow the Republican incumbent to hijack the Democratic Primary so she can pursue her selfish political agenda. She knows that I’m the strongest candidate in the field. My concern is that the primary voters and my campaign do not fall victim to politics as usual.” Maher said he personally filed the challenges because it was important for him to ensure that the Democratic Primary ballot includes only serious Democratic candidates.
“We’re at a crucial turning point in terms of Cook County government. I put my own name on these challenges because I’m not going to hide, to have someone else go through the process for me. I’m not going to play games. My campaign is about fixing the way politics is done and changing the way politics is conducted on the Cook County Board,” he said.
Gorman is already pulling out all the stops in her bid to interfere with the Democratic Primary and smear her strongest likely opponent in the General Election. Just last week, she sent out a misleading email indicating that the Orland Fire Protection District is raising your taxes. The fire protection district, of which Maher is President, has actually lowered its tax rate by over 20% and has returned more than $1.3 million in tax cuts to the voters.
A hearing will be held today at the Cook County Board of Elections regarding both petition challenges.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Forys appointed to state board of health by Governor Pat Quinn, faces battle in 17th District

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Dr. Victor Forys, the leading Democratic candidate in the 17th Cook County Board district's battle for the party nomination in the Feb. 2, was named this week by Gov. Quinn to the Illinois Board of Health.

Quinn and a laundry list of leading Democrats have endorsed Forys in his bid to the win the Democratic primary, but many media have been pretending he doesn't exist as a candidate to promote their friend and heir to 19th Ward political clout Pat Maher, the controversy-plagued president of the Orland Fire Protection District.

The 17th District is solidly Republican and the seat is now held by Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman, who in two terms has become the leading advocate for tax reduction on the Cook County board.

It's a fascinating race and any Democrat who wins the primary will have a tough time defeating Gorman, whose record on fighting taxes has emboldened not only other county board members but the Illinois General Assembly to fight the tax-raising administration of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. Two other candidates are running in the Democratic primary and one more is running in the Republican primary. (You can read a complete story by clicking here.)

Forys is being written off because the district is a bowling alley that geographically looks like it is founded on Orland Park. But while Orland Township may look like it has the weighted vote, as you move north, the voter density increases significantly.

The district, as you can see, stretches from Wheeling and Northfield all the way down along the Cook County Board to Orland Township in the South.

Forys ran in the last battle for the Congressional seat vacated by Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff to President Barack Obama, which was won by former County Commissioner Mike Quigley. Although Forys did not win, he raised a substantial amount of money and received strong endorsements, as he is doing again this year.

Forys believes that he can win the Democratic Primary on Feb. 2 by allowing Maher, who is backed by the 19th Ward Machine that is trying to put Orland Township is a political headlock, to fight with Gorman. And Maher hasn't hesitated to attack Gorman, even though the winners of the Democratic and Republican primaries won't face off until 9 months later. Maher is hoping to deflect voter attention away from the Orland Fire Protection District's outrageous tax increases and from the fact that the OFPD takes the largest bite out of the district's taxpayer's pocketbook of any other taxing body save for the schools -- more than 12.5 percent of the county's bills pays for Maher's fiefdom.

Maher is the politically ambitious son of Orland Park's part-time village clerk David Maher, who  is a county patronage employee working for 19th Ward superstar and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Stroger oversees their budget and all are Democrats.

But Gorman has elevated herself above Maher and others by being the most vocal anti-tax member of the Cook County Board. Gorman was the only county commissioner to challenge a $190,000 county loan to controversial Regional Schools Superintendent Charles Flowers Flowers budget has since come under scrutinyA report by the auditor general shows that Flowers has since mismanaged millions of dollars in funds. His office has an annual budget of about $1 million and is reportedly more than $1 million in debt. The audit shows that Flowers has borrowed money to pay for all kinds of expenses, without proper records, but he insisted he has repaid everything.

Gorman was the only voice to challenge Flowers' poor leadership. But this past June, the entire County board joined Gorman to repudiate Flowers and reject the loan and acknowledge Gorman's leadership.

And, Gorman was the leader of a coalition of Republicans and Democrats on the Cook County Board to repeal Todd Stroger's repressive 1 percent sales tax, which is crippling the county's taxpayers and forcing businesses to relocate to neighboring counties. Stroger used his veto to block the last effort. Gorman was so persistent that she help force the county board to try three times to repeal and roll back the tax and that caught the attention of the Illinois General Assembly which then voted to reduce the number of votes needed to override Stroger's outrageous 80 percent override vote need.

Now, Gorman and others are planning to launch another drive to rollback the sales tax with a better chance of withstanding Stroger's pro-tax veto.

Forys will have his work cut out for him in November against Gorman, but first he has to win the February Democratic Primary, and that's a race some don't want you to know he is in.

Of course, don't right off  Donna Sanders who also hails from the Orland Township district and is running in the Democratic primary. A popular library turstee, Sanders has real credentials and you can't ignore the powerful woman's vote in this district. They have a voice. On the Cook County Board, that voice, though, belongs to Gorman.

-- Ray Hanania