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

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