Saturday, January 31, 2009

Names drive many races in Orland Park and Township

Names mean a lot. It's a fact that if you have an Irish name, for example, you have a better chance of winning a spot as a judge, if you are not already appointed to one by the Chicago Democratic machine.

If you have an Arab name, chances are even before Sept. 11, 2001 in Orland Park, you couldn’t get elected to any office, not even to a racist school district board.

But the ethnicity of names is one factor in elections. The similarity of names is another.

For example, there are four people named "Maher" either in office or seeking office in Orland Park.

There is Robert Maher, the highly praised incumbent Supervisor of Orland Township. Robert Maher blew the doors off of Thomas Mahoney and ousted him from the supervisor's office in 2005. Mahoney barely beat his own predecessor Michael Brennan in 2001 – winning by only 207 votes out of more than 13,000 township votes cast. Mahoney was plagued by criticism of his performance, and is engaged in a lengthy lawsuit against Maher that I think is purely political.

Robert Maher’s brother, Gerald Maher, is running a second time against the unaccountable Village of Orland Park President (Mayor) Dan McLaughlin. Gerald Maher ran against McLaughlin in April 2001, and nearly took 30 percent of the vote at a time when McLaughlin was riding high on a great economy and high public hopes for the village.

This time things will be different for McLaughlin. The economy tanked and the Mayor has been forced to break all of his promises. But instead of standing up and forthrightly explaining his new property tax increases, fee increases, new fees for formerly free programs, the trimming of programs and his failure to better protect the village from the economic fallout of a crash in the retail market, he prefers to run government by “Happy Talk” press releases which ignore all he problems and paint a fairy tale image of the village.

Wasted money at the Bermuda Triangle development near 143rd Street and LaGrange Road, the gutting of the property tax rebate plan he implemented and promised would off-set the burden of his .75 percent sales take hike in the village make him the perfect target for ouster.

Then there is McLaughlin’s running mate. I’m not talking about the unaccountable trustees who share in McLaughlin’s arrogance. I’m talking about David Maher, the village clerk. Although David Maher and I had a brief dispute over the issue of the Open Meetings Act – which I believe he violated, but is slowly correcting without admitting a mistake – David Maher has done a good job.

His one duty is to make the village’s public records public and he hasn’t hesitated to do that. And that makes David Maher accountable, which is the only thing the public can demand from their elected officials besides honesty and doing the best job they can.

McLaughlin and his Chicago Machine cohorts from the Chicago 19th Ward – who over the years have transformed Orland Park into a satellite Chicago ward (we don’t even get garbage can lids here like they do in Chicago in exchange for votes!) – could learn from David Maher’s record.

But then, it’s not always like father and like son. David Maher’s son is Patrick Maher, the controversial and politically driven head of the Orland Park Fire Protection District, who recently decided to force senior citizens to pay when the Orland Fire Department ambulance comes to pick them up in emergencies. And he has been involved in some controversial law suits that have entangled the Village.

Who is paying for the 8 or more attorneys representing all of the defendants in the Orland Fire Protection District law suit? You should see the list of the lawyers squeezing money out of that one!

The Maher name is not unfamiliar to village residents who have lived here for a while. There was William F Mahar – slightly different spelling, the former Illinois State Senator and his father who served before him. (I should note that Bill’s brother, Tom, was my fraternity brother at Northern Illinois University and we were best friends, although we lost contact during the political years after.)

Then there are the "trickster" names that play on popular names to draw away votes.

For example, in the Orland Township elections, Donald Yunker, who I have criticized in the past but have come to like after more carefully examining his record and talking to constituents, is being challenged by “Brian Younker,” a colleague of the Orland Hills police attorney Paul O’Grady who is challenging Robert Maher for Township supervisor.

Paul O’Grady is an interesting chap, although I always look at anything carefully when dealing with controversy plague Orland Hills.

The word on the "street" is that O’Grady was picked to succeed Mayor McLaughlin, who everyone expected would retire this year. I’ve emailed O’Grady (there’s a familiar name in politics) to get his response to the widely held rumors that he was to be Orland Park’s new mayor and his response to some who believe he is too closely tied to 19th Ward politicians like the Sheehans, Joyces, and Hynes.

Regardless, this election in April is going to be a hopper.

The voter turnout in the village of Orland Park has been around 9,000 or so. And in the township, the numbers will be about 13,000. Those are the numbers to watch. We’ll help keep tabs on the campaign financing and where the money is coming from and being spent by the candidates.

And we’ll be talking about the Orland races on upcoming segments of my morning radio show on WJJG 1530 AM Radio (Monday – Friday, 8-9:30 am.) It’s broadcast live on radio and simulcast on the Internet, too, at

(Check out this Southtown/Star story for a good rundown of the Orland area contests.)

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New taxes and higher fees headed for Orland after the election?

They're talking candidly about how Lt. Gov Pat Quinn will either help or be the victim of massive income tax and fee increases in the state after he takes over as acting governor from his former colleague and running mate Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Isn't that the way? Always raise taxes and fees in a sneaky way?

Quinn takes the fall and then Mike Madigan's daughter Lisa Madigan, the Illinois Attorney General, will point fingers of blame at Quinn and spend, spend, spend like there's no tomorrow.

And now, I read this in the Southtown/Star from Orland Park Trustee Brad O'Halloran, the chief ally of Mayor Dan McLaughlin and the strongest link in the 19th Ward Chicago Machine chain:

O'Halloran said the board had asked village staff during budget sessions last spring to explore ways to increase revenue and cut costs. But the timing for the proposal does not seem right now.

The village of Orland Park was going to raise the fee on vehicle stickers, and then backed down after we blew the whistle on the plan that was to be presented, quietly, to the village board next week. But fear of a public backlash obviously derailed that increase.

Read the sentence above. " ... the timing for the proposal does not seem right now."

Ah, O'Halloran and McLaughlin are up for re-election April 7. The key word in this is the word "timing."

They have hiked property taxes, raised fees for water related services, cut programs, imposed fees on previously free programs, and are watsing a fortune on that 143rd Street Bermuda Triangle project to nowhere.

Why stop on a puny little vehicle sticker hike?

Oddly, the huge property taxes really hammered everyone, but it is always the small thing that people actually pay themselves out of their checkbooks that wrankles the public. We have to write the check to buy the stickers. My property taxes are taken automatically out of my mortgage payment, a year later for the year of the hike.

I'm glad at least one newspaper is writing about the tax hike proposals. The village officials know they don't have to be accountable. They don't have to explain anything. Few people attend the board meetings. None of the board meetings are broadcast on Comcast Cable TV (instead we have those worthless parades that people barely show up for, running over and over again and the PR flak kissing up to the officials interviewing them all the time as if the public isn't worth anything.)

Orland Park needs accountability and if the elected officials we have now won't give it to us, then we need to insure that there is an independent voice either running the village as mayor or on the board of trustees. Someone who will stand up to bad policies and tax hikes and wasted spending and poor leadership and lack of accountability.

We all know what the problem is. The question is, are we going to fix it or continue to let the Chicago Machine run our community like a Soviet satellite banana republic?

It only took a little fear to stop them from raising the vehicle stickers. Imagine what might happen if people stood up and said something?

Hey sheep! Wake up. Start the mantra :) ... "Baaa ram mo. Baaa ram moo. (From the movie "Babe!") You raise taxes you'll be in deep doo doo."

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Village backs down from Vehicle Sticker hike as they head towards election

Well, you can thank this column for helping to force a delay in the Village plans to increase at least one more fee, the cost of a vehicle sticker.

A little birdie in the village told me that they had hoped to push this through, but the Finance Committee decided to "vote it down" in the face of growing anger with Mayor Dan McLaughlin, and Trustee Brad O'Halloran's strategy to raise new-money by raising taxes and fees in Orland Park to make up for their poor planning in the face of the current economic crisis.

Orland Park is one of the communities hit hardest by the recession because the village has put all of its revenue eggs in one big retail-driven basket driving more and more retail stores into the community hoping to reap revenue from sales taxes. It was a great strategy as long as the economy played along. But as soon as it tanked, it turned out to be a bad policy with more and more retails tores closing all over town. As retails sales revenues tank, McLaughlin and his 19th Ward -driven pals on the village board have been forced to find new ways to raise money and they haven't hesitated to raise property taxes, fees, make residents pay for services that have long been free, and cut many other programs.

The vehicle sticker increase was a minor one but a symbolic one. O'Halloran reportedly told the Finance Committee Monday that now was not the time because of the situation with so many residents feeling the economic pinch.

A day late and a dollar short, Precinct Captain Brad!

These guys have never delivered on one major promise. And now they are facing a challenge in the April 7 election from independent Gerald Maher, no relation to the village clerk David Maher or the village clerk's son in the Fire Protection District Patrick Maher. Gerald Maher, the mayoral candidate, promises better fiscal management and longterm planning so the village doesn't find itself in this horrific financial crisis again.

"They none too happy that you were tipped off about the increase and all they have been hearing from your column were complaints about the taxes, fees and now this," a little birdie tweeted.

People. When you have some independent voices on the village board and we end this Chicago Machine Style (19th Ward) political oppression we have in orland Park and on the board, maybe we will see some balance and better policies and an improved direction.

The biggest problem with McLaughlin is not that he is a bad person. It's not the arrogance of the village trustees, who think they are "Gods" instead of lowly little suburban trustees. It's that they are NOT ACCOUNTABLE and have no reason to be accountable.

Having voices on the village board is good for the people of Orland Park. If the officials won't be accountable voluntarily, you have the chance to force them to be accountable and force them to improve their leadership.

Don't believe all the PR spin that passes for "journalism" around here. Fluff is fun but when it comes to your homes, it is unhelpful. Someone needs to keep their feet to the fire and make then answer the tough questions instead of pretending everything is so great.

These are tough times. It's nice that someone finally admitted it. Maybe even possibly acknowledge they could have taken other actions to protect our town?

Besides accountability, transparency is also a necessity in Orland Park.

Here's my prediction. If they win handsdown with the help of 19th Ward precinct captains from Chicago -- you might want to be kind and help them because there will be a lot of lost people wandering around Orland Park in the next few weeks looking for streets and addresses in our spaghetti-loop road map -- they will come back and hammer Orland Park with the biggest, largest, unprecedented tax and fee increases this village has ever seen. And, they will completely eliminate the property tax rebate, instead of gutting it down to nothing as they have.

Just my prediction!

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blagojevich fights back -- finally -- with a publicity campaign

When you are faced with criminal charges, most of the time, you don't want to launch a massive publicity campaign to respond. That's because usually, criminal charges are filed according to the Rule of law and a person is Innocent until Proven Guilty.

But apparently in Illinois, few seem to remember that little phrase "Innocent until proven Guilty" and Gov. Rod Blagojevich has found himself in the awkward position of having to fight not only the federal criminal charges against him but the slander and defamation campaign by House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, and his "Cabal of Selfish Legislators" including Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn -- who wants Blago's job -- and Madigan's daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who seems to pick and choose when the law will or will not apply.

Tragic drama that has destroyed Illinois' already sullied reputation; remember, it wasn't Gov. Blagojevich who crowded Illinois with the magestic robe of "Culture of Corruption."

Blagojevich is under siege, thanks to the unorthodox and questionable conduct of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who unleased a half-assed case against Blagojevich not to strengthen the law but to smear the governor. Fitzgerald never even sought an indictment against Blagojevich -- at least not a legal indictment. And instead, he pursued the public indictment of lynch the accused before the trial, which is exactly what is now about to begin in Illinois' scandal-plagued legislature, in the Illinois Senate.

Should we go through the list of legislators sullied by immoral and unethical and even criminal conduct who have skated past with narry a burp from, their colleagues. Suddenly Blagojevich is the bad guy.

He may be guilty of the federal charges, but the outrageous manner in which he is being attacked by the legislature this week is just too unfair. There is no way Gov. Blagojevich can get a fair "trial" in the Illinois Senate. It is stacked against him, with everyone trying to pretend that Blagojevich can get a fair trial when everyone knows he cannot.

He has been denied the right to defend himself and can't even call witnesses, yet the Illinois Senate, in cahoots with Fitzgerald, can pick and chose from the alleged evidence and present what they want without Blagojevich EVER being able to challenge any of it.

I think blagoejvich should have the right to call as witnesses David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, and even President Barack Obama. Afterall, this is about -- allegedly -- Blagojevich seeking to "sell" the vacate Obama Senate seat to the "highest bidder," or so we have been told in an unprecedented public lynching of Blagojevich by Fitzgerald.

Regardless of whether Blagojevich is innocent or guilty of the Federal charges, this week's trial in the Illinois Senate and his impeachment by the Illinois House are just one big, ugly kangaroo court conducted by a political lynchmob of selfish politicians all seeking not the justice behind the controversy but the benefits they all hope to reap.

Blagojevich has FINALLY decided to respond by hiring a PR Firm, something he should have done as soon as Fitzgerald turned the Federal Criminal Case into a publicity-seeking circus. Blagojevich has hired Glenn Selig. Selig's agency is The Publicity Agency based in Chicago and LA, which might explain his ability to get Blago on the national news, Good Morning America and The View. Good job. Maybe we might finally start hearing both sides of this one-sided political lynching.

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, January 23, 2009

Add one more fee increase to tax and fee-overwhelmed Orland Park

With the increases in property taxes from the village and the Fire Protection District (they should change their name to the "Fire Taxation District with no Ambulance Service for Seniors in Need") already at an ALL-TIME high, now the village Mayor and trustees plan to smack us with another whammy, an increase in the vehicle sticker fee.

Cash-strapped Orland Park seems to have lost its promised vision of good government leadership and they are grabbing at every possible way to hike taxes, fees and reduce services.

And, what's really not surprising, is that they will use their high-cost bloated and unresponsive PR Machine to tell us that the vehicle tax increase won't be as high as it could be, so we should be thankful. Or, maybe the press release -- if it is ever released -- will note that "Dramatic increase in Vehicle Stickewr Fee" avoided by adept management by Mayor and Trustees.

Yeah, right!

-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Orland Mayor posts $61,905 in campaign warchest for re-election

Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin posted a campaign warchest under "Citizens for Dan McLaughlin" of just under $62,000 going into what many expect will be his toughest contest for village president. Additionally, McLaughlin reported $157,083 in a Campaign Warchest Certificate of Deposit that presumably can be tapped for election expenses that is held at the Suburban Bank in Elmhurst -- not Orland Park!

McLaughlin will face-off with Gerald Maher in the April 7, 2009 village elections. Both men have full slates of candidates behind them including for clerk and three trustee spots. But it looks like that although the "McLaughlin Group" will work together, they will be running separately from separate budgets.

Mayor McLaughlin, criticized for failing to anticipate the massive drop in sales tax revenues in a village that relies heavily on the retail revenues, had $36,000 in his campaign warchest at the end of June, 2008. Since then, he raised $54,680 and spent about $28,959, leaving the $61,905 remaining in the fun that is available to him to run for re-election.

McLaughlin can also raise funds between now and the election. Any additional funds raised will have to be reported in filings 30 days before the election, and any contribution of $500 or more during the final 30 days before the election will have to be reported within 2 days of being received.

Some expect McLaughlin to raise another $40,000 to help him off-set growing angst among Orland Park residents who blame him for the village's poor economic standing. McLaughlin has touted Orland Park's positive achievements but has always avoided discussing the village's challenges.

The McLaugfhlin administration significantly increased property taxes, bungled the development of the Mian Street Triangle area, that some refer to as the "McLaughlin Bermuda Triangle." How many of millions were wasted on that project, which remains stalemated? And how much did that money weaken the village's budget, causing a whopping shortfall of some $5 million this year.

The problems have forced the village to gut the popular property tax rebate, which McLaughlin initiated after imposing a .75 percent increase in the slaes tax under Home Rule powers back in 2002. McLaughlin said the full property tax rebate for residents who remove the sales tax burden from them and keep it on non-residents who travel to Orland Park to make purchases at local retail stores and the shopping malls. But, with the economy tanking -- everyone saw it except McLaughlin, apparently -- sales tax revnues have dropped and the rebate will only be about 25 percent of the full property tax collected from homeowners.

Although the property tax rebate has dropped like a lead balloon, taxes continue to climb along with increases in other village fees.

The most disturbing aspect of all this is that village officials are so arrogant they REFUSE to be accountable and explain anything fully and openly. Instead, they have dropped news of the tax tragedy piecemeal to the Orland Park Prairie, which doesn't deal with the controversial news but does a great job of providing popular features.

McLaughlin's campaign fund report was posted Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009.

I'll have more analysis in upcoming reports.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tinley Park Mayor, trustees and wives celebrate Obama's inauguration in Washington DC

Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki, one of my all-time favorite politicians, called from Washington D.C. during my radio show Tuesday morning, inauguration day, to share with us the experience that he and his wife Emily had at the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as this nation's 44th President.

Zabrocki shared his experience and also talked about the challenges Obama faces over the next four years, the optimism he and his wife saw in the faces of the more than 2 million people int he nation's capitol, and also plans for the improvement of the 80th Avenue Metra Station and the village's budget problems.

Delegation included Tinley Park trustees Pat Rea, outgoing SBA Director for the MidWest, Greg Hannon, Tom Staunton Jr., Mike Bettenhausen and their wives.

"We came down at our own expense, no village dollars involved... part of the reason we came here for was to button hole some of our representatives and make sure we get our oar in the water about the stimulus package and some of the issues we want for Tinley Park. We held a breakfast yesterday morning we some of our representatives. We talked with them last night. We went to the Illinois Ball which was almost borderline chaos. It was really great. We had a chance to talk to (US Senator Dick) Durbin and other and put a bug in their ear about our issues," Zabrocki said during the telephone interview.

"While we were out in the Mall yesterday and just kind of generally around, the young people and the families. It is amazing the number of families that were here. This is our 5th inauguration that we were involved in and we have never seen so many young people and families at these things."

Zabrocki said he could see that "people are looking to him to getting us out of whatever we are in whether it is a military standpoint, or an economic standpoint and whatever it might be. The optimism about him is unbelievable. We sensed this in the Metro system. Last night we were coming home from the Illinois Ball probably at about 1, 1:30 in the morning and people again, with families, were talking positively that this is change and we are looking forward to it. Everyone was friendly. It was amazing. People were opening doors for other people. I hope that the concept that idea that opened this whatever you want to call it continues because this country needs it badly.

"The ball was fantastic. There was well of 8,000 people there. It was at the Renaissance Hotel. It was on 3 or 4 different floors."

"One of the things we are down here for is that they have a Metra system that is second to noneas far as I amc oncerned. We traveled all over this city on the Metra without one probnlem. Very clearly marked signs the metro employees. All kinds of things."

Very secure. High presence of security.

Zabrocki said he had a tour of the Pentagon, also.

The delegation is looking towards improving the 80th Avenue train station. Zabrocki said construction there will start this summer. The biggest problem si the 18 inch jumpf romt he platform to the rail cars.

You can hear the complete interview at or directly by logging in to iTunes and dowloading the podcast to your iPod.

Zabrocki was very optimistic, acknowledging that Obama will need time.

The mayor said that like many communities, Tinley Park has a deficit of about $4 million mainly because of reduced retails sales tax collections from the car industry and also the many businesses moving our of Cook County into Will County.

The web page of the Village of Tinley Park is It has won several major awards.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

A great comedy show in Austin Texas Saturday

We had a kick-ass time in Austin, Texas where we did a show with the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour ( ... for the Jewish Community Association of Austin, Texas. We did a sketch comedy routine to open the show (Aaron Freeman, Charley Warady, Yisrael Campbell and yo) ... and then closed with a fight over which song to play at the end of the show ... Hatikvah (Israel's national song) or Baladi (Palestinian National song) ... daning a Horah or a Debka ... the final song selection (played from my Samsung Instinct cell phone over the microphone) is the surprises ...

--Ray Hanania

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fire Protection District hammers residents with another property tax increase

The President of the Orland Park Fire Protection District, Patrick Maher, told the reporter for the Orland Park Prairie that the Fire Protection District is raising property taxes.

It's a significant increase.

You HAVE to read this spin. CLICK HERE to read the story.

The increase was quietly passed before Christmas and not a word was released on it until now. They waite duntil they were as close as possible to the filing deadine for public office. Petitions must be filed next week.

Maher is the son of the Village Clerk David P. Maher, who is on the slate for re-election this April with Mayor Dan McLaughlin, who has the dubious distinction of having adopted the largest property tax increases this village has ever experienced in a long time.

Patrick Maher, the "son," explains after having jacked up the fees for ambulance service -- from ZERO to as much as what? $750? -- that the Fire District had to increase the property taxes.

But, he asserts, that doesn't mean it is a property tax increase on homeowners. Our taxes are going to go down. Maher explains int he story that the taxing base has increased slightly, which means the individual property tax share for each homeowner is dropping, and the increase his board passed won't exceed the drop so in the end (stillw ith me?) the property tax overall with also be reduced.


I've covered budgets and property tax increases for 32 years. I've seen some slick maneuvering, but nothing comes close to the property tax scam being pulled by McLaughlin and now by the clerk's son, Patrick Maher.

The FACT IS, the increased tax base means we SHOULD receive a tax reduction. The burden is being shared by more people. Instead of being responsible and living within his budget, Patrick Maher is taking almost ALL of that reduction and leaving only just enough so he can get a softball headline from the local paper which reads "Taxes going up," but your property tax bill from the "Fire District" is going down.

The polls show that the public is fed up with the increased property taxes, the misleading statements from the unaccountable elected officials, and the wasteful spending of the village and the Fire "Protection" District.

It's sad that we live in a time when elected officials have to be so sneaky. They want you to think theproperty taxes are going down and even the media fails to challenge them.

The economy is bad enough. But to have unaccountable government officials at the helm who don't have the courage to be forthright with us, is even worse.


Maybe the mayor should have put THAT in his cheery, uplifting balther about all his achievements 12 weeks before his re-election.

Well in the end, at least his street was plowed first.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chicago area Palestinians and Israelis come together on local radio show for peace

I have invited two guests on my show this morning, Fadi Zanayed, president of the Chicago Chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and David Steiner, president of the Chicago Chapter of the American Friends of Peace Now. Zanayed is Palestinian and Steiner is Israeli.

Over the past few weeks, it has been disheartening to watch and listen as some leaders in the Arab community and also in the mainstream Jewish American community, spew hatred and vicious rhetoric blaming others for the unspeakable crimes against women, children and innocent people in the Gaza Strip and in the Israeli towns near Gaza. Instead of leadership, some of these organizations have been denouncing fiercely the crimes committed against their people, but have either remained silent or have justified the carnage and immoral conduct committed against the others.

Both sides are committing crimes, and the worst crime is when the people on either side pretend their side is not committing a crime but scream and cry about the crimes committed only against their people.

That is complicity in the carnage and that needs to stop.

Today on my Radio Chicagoland program (WJJG 1530 AM Radio) I am asking callers, especially Arab and Jewish listeners, to call in and say something nice about the "other side." To show not that the other side is right but that their side has a remaining sense of morality in a conflict filled with a vicious war of words of "moral equivalency."

Innocent people are dying in a conflict that has raged on for more than 100 years. No one incident started anything. The facts so the claims on both sides are untrue. And when people lie or they close their eyes to the truth, they are also participating in the inhumanity that is taking place today.

Our government leaders are failing and are also playing politics on the spilled blood of innocent people. It's up to us, the people, to take the lead and say and do something to force them to do the right thing.

If you are not in the Chicagoland area to hear the show live on the radio this morning between 8 and 9:30 am, you can go to the web site and listen online, including on the live video streaming option,

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Orland Park Mayoral race heats up: Maher challenges McLaughlin's missteps on village property taxes

Orland Park Mayoral candidate Gerald Maher said growing dissatisfaction with increases in village fees and property taxes expose his rival, Mayor Dan McLaughlin, to a possible defeat in the village's elections in April 2009.

Maher, discussing the tax issue on "Mornings with Ray Hanania," said that he suspects the increases in property taxes may be tied to the wasted spending tied to the village's attempts to rebuild the land northwest of 143rd and LaGrange Road.

More than $35 million has been spent but much of the money has gone to fight legal fights and to underwrite failed land development at the Main Street Triangle site, Maher said during the radio interview on WJJG AM 1530 Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Maher called it the "McLaughlin Bermuda Triangle."

Property taxes have increased 17 percent over last year. But taxpayers in Orland Park face a double whammy with the decision by McLaughlin to gut the popular property tax rebate program McLaughlin implemented in 2002 to off-set his decision to raise the sales tax in the Southwest suburb .75 percent.

In past years, all of the property taxes were rebated to residents to off-set the sales tax hike. This year, though, only about 25 percent of the property tax is being rebated and Maher charged that McLaughlin is misleading residents falsely claiming that the rebate has been "saved."

"It's not only a big issue. It is a huge issue," Maher said noting local media polling showing as much as 74 percent of the population is upset over the real estate property tax increases.

Maher also faulted the mayor for his "poor planning" by tying the village's economic future to the retail industry. With the economy tanking, the sales tax revenues have dropped significantly with little option for the village except to raise the property tax, fees and to cut back on promised tax rebates.

Click HERE to listen to the full interview.

Maher's web site is

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Orland Mayoral Candidate Gerald Maher joins Radio Chicagoland Monday to discuss his candidacy

Gerald Maher, the independent candidate for mayor of Orland Park, will be the guest Monday at 8:20 am on Radio Chicagoland (WJJG 1530 AM radio, at 8:20 am). The show is broadcast live on the radio and simulcast on the Internet at

Maher will discuss his candidacy and the issues he feels are important to residents of Orland Park who have been slammed by increased village fees, property taxes and cut-backs in services.

Here is information on all of the candidates running on the Concerned Citizens of Orland Park slate:
Orland Park is one of the largest suburban communities in the Southwest Suburbas between Chicago and Joliet. Invites have been extended to all the candidates in the Orland Park elections in April 2009, and also in other suburban areas.

Maher's web page is

The station call-in number is 708-493-1530.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

White Van strikes again in Orland Park area -- driver solicits young child with candy

The Orland Hills Police Department issued the following alert through the local schools:

On January 6, 2009 at about 3 PM, an 11 year old boy was waiting for a bus at the corner of 92nd Avenue and Meadowview Drive.

He was approached by a male white driver in a white full sized panel van who asked him if he wanted some candy. The boy ran home and reported the incident to his father, who in turn, called the Orland Hills Police.

The only description of the driver is that he is a white male about 30 years old.

As always, please remind your children about the danders of talking to strangers.

As a result of this incident, the Police Department will increase the number of patrols using unmarked vehicles.

PLEASE REPORT suspicious activity to the Police Department by calling 911.

For further information, contact the Investigations Division of the Orland Hills Police at 708-349-4434.

# # #

This is the fifth sighting of a white van involved in similar incidents over the past four months. The location above is just off 94th Avenue, south of 159th Street on the road that leads to the LifeTime Ftness Center.

Keep watch for any white vans acting suspiciously especially before and after school hours and near local schools.

-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Orland Park finally admits raising property taxes this year

Don't believe the misleading interpretations of the numbers being offered by the Village of Orland Park. The village is are playing a shell game and it is very importan tto them because Mayor Dan McLaughlin and three trustees, Brad O'Halloran, Kathy Fenton and Jim Dodge are running for re-election. And they are being challenged forcefully by Gerald Maher and his slate of candidates. Click HERE for a story on that.

For example, the village officials point out that the property tax increase of $17 million over last year is in fact higher because the taxing year has been extended from 12 to 15 months. That's true, but the fact is that property taxes are going up significantly, after the village claimed that they would not!

Why are they going up? To pay off pension debt and pay raises for its employees.

The village claims "most" of the property taxes will be rebated to taxpayers.

That is CLEARLY NOT true.

The village is rebating ONLY $4.5 million in property taxes this year. That is out of a property tax levy that is more than three times that number!

Click HERE for the story I wrote when the data was published by the Village in the Orland Park Prairie Newspaper December 4, 2008. Check the data out for yourself before you believe the misleading information and spin from the village.

Here is the story in this week's Orland Park Prairie, in which village officials were forced to address the issue when I wrote about it back then. (I've received more than 100 emails from shocked residents on thsi topic alone).

Make sure to read the part in my story about how the village has broken its promise to rebate the property tax levy, an issue Mayor McLaughlin WILL NOT DISCUSS with me. (He emailed me responding two weeks ago to the FACT that his street was one of the first to be plowed during the snow storm we had.)

By the way, if you haven't noticed, the SouthtownStar and the Orland Park Prairie are in a newspaper war in Orland Park. The SouthtownStar has suddenly taken a deep interest in Orland Park showcasing not only the local politics but also spotlighting local businesses. We need competition out here to get the facts out and the newspaper war is welcomed!

-- Ray Hanania