Sunday, May 31, 2009

Everyone loves a parade: Orland Days a hit this year

Everyone loves a parade, including the kids who stand by the curb as the parade floats, fire and police vehicles and politicians and small businesses walk past tossing some neat candies to the excited kids.
This year's Orland Days Parade was excellent and had more people seated along the route, although it still could use more support from the community. And Orland Days, hosted and organized by volunteers from the Lions Club of Orland Park, was very well done, with some better food booths and a nice music tent nearby.

The Metra Station parking lot worked great for this year's event (held there last year too) and was far better than the spread at the old Homemaker's parking lot where Orland Days hit a low point. The food was terrible back then, but not this year. It was very good.

The corn on the cob from the Scouts was top notch and so were the sandwiches and the drinks. My favorite was the M8K Ur Own slush. Although the tickets were steep -- a sign of the still spiralling down economy, the rides were good. The best was the Inverter. Wow! Scary. And there were several others this year that included flips, spins and fast diving seating that were frightening to watch let alone actually ride.

The kids loved all the rides, of course. And the carnival atmosphere was appealing. But, still. As much as I enjoyed Orland Days, I wish we could have more. The rock band Janus was very good and there were many others. But the variety was narrow.

The parade, though had a great contingent from the Orland Fire Protection District headed by the nice-enough Pat Maher, who is planning to run for Cook County Commissioner. And that was Topic A1 at the Orland Days festival when I went there. Several firemen came up to me to say hello and said they appreciated having a columnist hold the politicians' feet to the fire regarding who gets promoted, who gets passed over, who is driving around in a taxpayer funded battalion chief's SUV and who has to schlep and do all the work.

It's my humble opinion Maher is going to lose to incumbent 17th District Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman who has been breaking headlines left and right leading the fight on behalf of the taxpayers against unresponsive and beleaguered Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. Stroger shoved a 1 percent sales tax hike down the throats of the taxpayers without once trying to reduce his own wasteful spending. And that will cost Stroger his job.

And it won't be soon enough as Stroger is a very vindictive and mean person surrounded by a bunch of vindictive and mean consultants and taxpayer-paid lapdogs who sing his praises to keep their high priced and wasteful jobs. (Of course, that doesn't include the competent Parliamentarian and Oak Lawn attorney Burton S. Odelson who does a good job. Too bad Stroger doesn't always listen to good advice.)

But Gorman was out there shaking hands and giving candy personally to all of the kids and she walked both sides to make sure no little tyke was without the booty. People were cheering her on and thanking her for leading the fight against the Stroger sales tax.

Maher's troubles begin with his father and the too obvious ties not just to Chicago's 19th Ward but to the power hungry Machine that wants to push Orland under its thumb.

It ain't gonna work. But, Maher will learn that he will be a better candidate in some future race and without the nudge from his father or the political consultants who are swarming around him like a coveted front-row seat ticket to a Rolling Stones' concert.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Beautiful Irish Setter, seen at 151st and Windsor Dr Friday

A beautiful Irish Setter, with two collars but no dog tags, was at 151st and Windsor Drive at around 9:45 PM Friday night, May 29 in Orland Park.

I was able to get close to it. It was very friendly, but spooked a bit. There were no dog tags. I didn't try to restrain it because it was frightened and clearly lost. Unsure of where it was.

The dog ran north and crossed 151st Street to Sheehy's Funeral Home. I called the police at 349-4111 to report the dog just in case someone had reported it lost or missing.

Unfortunately, there is no central place to quickly report lost dog sightings. Sadly, it didn't have a dog tag with any numbers on it either. I wish there was a place online where people can quickly access to report lost dogs and lost dog sightings. Maybe even post a photograph.

The Orland Park police did say they would search for it. Hopefully they found it and hopefully, the dog will find its way back to its home.

A dog like that could easily run for miles. It didn't look familiar.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Opening of the Gaelic Park Irish Fest was tremendous

The Gaelic Park Irish festival once again achieved a high mark in fun and entertainment. With six stages offering music, culture and magicians and more, the entertainment was non-stop and impressive. I loved the magicians, the professionals and the localswere all great.

They had a good selection of carnival rides and games. Lots of stuff to do, although the cost to get in is expensive. (We went early and took advantage of the half-price entrance -- $20 for two adults and a child).

And the FOOD was great. Good food. Great drinks. We spent the whole of Friday afternoon and night there enjoying every minute. They also had an animal farm with rides and a petting zoo. (Bring the hand sanitizer. It's a great habit to learn like wearing your seatbelts.)

I hope Orland Days can do as good. I'll give it a try this week. We have to support our local festival. And I hope the Lions have gotten their act together to put together something impressive -- although they really could still use more media help.

-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Congratulations to the Orland Park Prairie

It started out as Jack Ryan's vengeance against the news media and in a way, he got it. Three years later, the Orland Park Prairie is one of the most successful and best community newspapers in the suburban Chicagoland region.

In a way, Ryan's troubles brought great things for Chicagoland and America, if you think about it. When he withdrew from the race for the U.S. Senate in 2004, because of salacious rumors surrounding his divorce from Hollywood actress and wife Jeri Ryan, Jack Ryan actually opened the door to the creation of a great community newspaper. He also paved the way for the rise of Barack Obama to become our nation's president.

Ryan always blamed the news media for his troubles, although he should have blamed his consultants who told him to mislead the media about the troubles detailed in his sealed divorce records. The Republican Chicago Tribune pounced on Ryan, a Republican himself, hammering him for "misleading the public" into believing he wanted the divorce papers permanently sealed to protect his children. When the documents were released, the facts showed otherwise, exposing Ryan's candidacy to such an avalanche of criticism, he could not sustain his Senate candidacy.

(I met Ryan during a fundraiser organized for him during the senate race by a close friend, Mike Searle.)

When Ryan stepped aside, the Republicans couldn't find concensus to back Jim Oberweis, the arrogant blow-hard who makes a great banana split but a lousy candidacy. Oberweis can't seem to control his ego or bring himself down to Earth to be close enough to voters. Instead, Illinois Republicans backed Alan Keyes, one of the most obnoxious candidates to ever run for Illinois public office. Keyes lost in a landslide to Obama, who became the U.S. Senator and parlayed his appearance before the Democratic Convention to position himself as the underdog in a battle to fight U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton for the presidency.

You know the rest.

Yet Ryan's experience pushed him to design a newspaper that would be different than most, one that he told many local mayors would focus not on the mud and yellow journalism that often sells papers ("if it bleeds it leads" is the motto of most Front Page Era journalism) but rather to focus on the "good news" that often gets shunned aside or is totally ignored by not only the major metropolitan newspapers but also the so-called "community newspapers.

The one major competitor is the troubled SouthtownStar. The former Southtown Economist that later became the Daily Southtown was gobbled up by the Sun-Times years ago and drained of much of its talent. Many of its best reporters and writers were pushed into retirement, leaving a handful of overworked journalists. It's two major columnists are driven more by meanness and personal agendas than journalism, and readers see it. They love to dish it out but they just can't seem to take it. The SouthtownStar is a great newspaper, a place where I cut my own teeth in journalism winning several awards including one of three Lisagors before moving on to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Chicago Tribune saw the advertising obese Orland Park Prairie and launched their own weekly tabloid, the well-written Trib Local. But the Trib Local doesn't focus on specific communities but rather on regional community news, diluting its strengths. It can't give enough focused concentration the way the Orland Park Prairie and its sister publications can.

Heather Warthen, the editor of the Orland Park Prairie, is a talented writer who snoops out the best local stories. Her writing is refreshing, entertaining and complete. She doesn't play politics and covers everyone. And that's refreshing, making it the best read newspaper in Orland Park.

Pick up your copy of the Orland Park Prairie, the flagship of a growing cookie-cutter chain of community newspapers making their way out into the growing Western suburbs. On its three year anniversary, the Orland Prairie is succeeding where others have failed.


-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Huge coyote wandering Windsor Drive this morning

There is something fascinating about a coyote. They way it walks ike its carefully eying every movement around it. It's head sways from side to side as it looks around as it crosses Kingston Street from the yard of one of my neighbors.

It was around midnight and I was leeting the dog out for a few minutes after staying up to do some writing before bed. It was as large as a full grown German Shepherd. Under the bright street light, it looked like its coat was made of coarse hair. Gray. White tips. Long but full face.

It crossed the street and walked across another neighbor's lawn and then walked right onto Windsor Drive and pranced up the street for a few houses before dodging into the yard of another neighbor.

Police Chief Tim McCarthy has cautioned that one attraction for these wild animals is food that they easily find left outside by homeowners. They're smart enough to sniff the food out and grab it and be gone. But there is also a threat to small animals, mostly at night. Although I have seen small packs at the Silverlake Country Club this past winter.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kite kaboodle brings out the children in all of us

I took Aaron, my 8-year-old son, to the Kite Kaboodle Sunday at the Orland Park Village Center near the civic center. They had the Kite Kaboodle, where kids can make their own kites and then fly them.

Not everyone knows how to make a kite.

But everyone did have fun. Fortunately for Aaron, I managed to put the kite together (without my glasses) and it flew. And wow did it fly. We've been out several times in the Springs past trying to fly a kite -- a box kite, a store bought kite -- but they rarely got much height.

I blamed it on the lack of real wind.

But there wans't much wind out Sunday and Aaron's kite shot up straight to the heavens all the way to the last inch of string.

I was surprised there weren't more kids and parents there. Orland Park has some great family fun events, this one co-sponsored by the SportsPlex. What a blast.

We saw Heather Warthen of the Orland Park Prairie out there taking pictures. I don't think Heather ever sleeps, she's everywhere. And, there was a writer and photographer for the SouthtownStar covering the Kite Kaboodle, too.

Orland is getting a lot of media attention these days. While all of the suburban communities are experiencing drops in retail sales and store closing, Orland is managing to survive very well and the newspapers and media know it. They have a great advertising base out here.

But watching my son hold the last of the string as the kite he made fluttered high above in what little wind was there, smiling, was real satisfaction. It's nice to see kids have fun.

-- Ray Hanania

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bond rating companies affirm Orland Park's ratings

Bond Rating Companies Reaffirm
Village of Orland Park Ratings

ORLAND PARK, IL – The Village of Orland Park has received word from its bond rating companies that the village’s ratings have been reaffirmed and remain consistent despite the current state of the national economy.

Standard & Poor’s reaffirmed Orland Park’s AA+ rating and Moody’s Investors Service reaffirmed the village’s Aa2 rating.

Investors and financial market professionals look to these agencies for objective and credible ratings when making business decisions.

"In light of the fact that many communities are struggling, and Orland Park too has tightened its belt, it’s encouraging to have both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s show such confidence in Orland Park," said Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin.

In its April, 2009 newsletter, Moody’s wrote, "Moody’s has assigned a negative outlook to the U.S. local government tax-backed and related ratings sector. This is the first time we have assigned an outlook to this extremely large and diverse sector. This negative outlook reflects the significant fiscal challenges local governments face as a result of the housing market collapse, dislocations in the financial markets, and a recession that is broader and deeper than any recent downturn."

"Having both companies maintain Orland Park’s high rating, despite their announced negative outlooks for local government, is a testament to the village’s great staff and the team work between the Village Board and administration to solve problems and work to keep Orland Park fiscally sound," McLaughlin added.

Echoing the mayor’s comments, Orland Park Trustee Ed Schussler, who chairs the village’s Finance Committee, said, "During these difficult economic times, our Village Board and staff have worked hard to control our expenditures and maintain appropriate fund balances. The recent ratings from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s confirm the success of our efforts."

In the United States, there are seven bond rating agencies that have received the Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO) designation, and are overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission in how they assign credit ratings. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s are the best known and most influential credit rating agencies.

The mayor noted that there is another side to the rating. "It tells the business community that Orland Park is a stable place in a time of economic uncertainty.

Not only are we holding our own, but the years of stable, strong management pay off in these tougher times," McLaughlin said.

"The higher the bond rating, the easier it is for municipalities to issue debt at lower interest rates and attract more potential buyers as buyers feel the risk of default is lessened because of the sound financial management practices that must be in place in order to get a higher rating," explained Finance Director Annmarie Mampe.

Mampe added, "Commercial enterprises are attracted to a municipality with a higher rating as sound financial management should equate to lower property tax levies. A high rating tells the general public that Orland Park is doing things right --- that Orland Park is a financially sound municipality that spends its tax payer dollars wisely."

Schussler added, "A fiscally healthy village is important in attracting new businesses and maintaining a quality environment for our residents."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Orland Park slammed by ComEd Power outages

Orland Park has been hit by repeated power outages over the past 10 days, with no explanation from ComEd. Of course. You pay your bill by one day and they're all over you. They dropt he ball and service disrupts the entire house and you hear nothing. Why should they say anything? There's no accountability for ComEd at all.

ComEd is a part of Exelon, the wealthy energy company that pays its CEOS and management millions. To protect those profits, Exelon strip away ComEd to pretend like it is a separate entity, when it is not. ComEd is constantly claiming it can't pay their own bills and needs to raise utility fees. When you ask them about the hundreds of millions in perqs and lavish spending and salaries of the Exelon robber barons, ComEd pleads no lo contendere.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Which is better, Orland Park or Naperville? Does it matter?

A few years back when I wrote that Naperville had one of the best summer festivals in the county -- the annual Naperville RibFest which this year runs July 2 - 5 --and that Orland Park's "Orland Days" was fast falling to the wayside I was pilloried.

Afterall, I live in Orland Park, not Naperville. So why was I being "disloyal?"

Well, I love Orland Park. I think the Orland Days festival has been declining over the years and I think the Naperville RibFest is one of the best, trailed close-behind in second place by the Frankfort Festival that is held every year around Labor Day weekend.

"Orland Days" will be held after Memorial Day Weekend. I criticized it last year and everyone said I was disloyal. Why is it an issue of loyalty to say that as a citizen of Orland Park, I want something better? I know the Orland Days volunteers do it for free. It's not easy. They carry the load. But the food stinks. Really. The past few years the food has been terrible, like they just threw the food together so they could say they had food. The parade is okay but that could be better, too. And the rides are a glorified carny-fest.

The Taste of Orland Park is a different story altogether, though. It is run and funded by the village. I understand. The village has more money than the Lions Club which sponsors Orland Days. But the food at Taste of Orland is tremendous; although the entertainment is always the same -- a lot of Irish singing and a few rock bands, but nothing that reflects the true diversity of the village.

Naperville has Huey Lewis & the News, and Blue Osyter Cult. Hmmm. And we have in Orland Park? (Clout?)

So why do I long for Naperville's RibFest?

Because Orland Park is GREAT and we deserve THE BEST. We deserve the best, not whatever we can manage. We deserve greatness, not whatever we can scrape together with volunteers who get over-sensitive to criticism and take everything personally.

Yes, you do a good job. And the king is wearing new clothes, too. If that's what you want to hear, fine. But I want to hear more. I want people in Orland Park when asked what they hope to see Orland Park become, answer with this answer: "We want Orland Park to be better than it is." I don't want to keep hearing Orland Park residents respond to the question by saying, "We want to be like Naperville."

If I wanted to live in Naperville, I'd move there. I like Orland Park, and have lived in orland Park longer than most of my neighbors.

Orland Park recently asked village residents what they would like tos ee to make Orland Park a better community. How about thicker skins from our elected officials and community cheerleaders and boasters? How about village employees who stop playing their petty politics and start doing their jobs?

The Orland Park-Naperville rivalry is a rivalry because some in orland Park want more and they are not getting it.

I hope we do.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Liz Gorman has been riding a media tsunami of publicity

Over the past few weeks, Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman has been riding the crest of a huge tsunami of media coverage, leading the county debate on the fight against the repressive Tod Stroger 1 Percent Sales Tax.

She was on WTTW Channel 11 last week and will be on again tonight at 7 pm discussing the decision by County Board President Todd Stroger to veto the sales tax repeal passed last week by the county board. The repeal ordinance was introduced by Gorman and backed by 11 other county commissioners including John Daley and Larry Sufferedin.

The repeal ordinance was dubbed "The Gorman Repeal" and it sent shock waves through the beleaguered Stroger administration which was taken by complete surprise. Of course, STroger's administration is so incompetent, the only greater surprises have been his scandals and controversies -- hiring busboys and towel boys that he meets at restaurants and exclusive health clubs.

Sounds too weird! Imagine, getting a top county job just by serving Stroger a plate of food.

Stroger's publicity campaign has been weak and poorly constructed. No matter what he does, most residents of the county rexognize that Stroger is scrambling to try and save his down-spiralling administration. He inherited his post from his highly qualified father, the late John Stroger. But he just doesn't know how to hang on. Instead of strategic media, he hires glad-handers and goofs to push his agenda, when in fact they're hammering him with high priced consulting fees to place releases and photos in community newspapers that could get in without any outside help.

But Stroger's message is the problem. What is his message? i'll cut health services and release prisoners if you don't give me more money for my bloated administration? Pathetic.

Stroger is faced with a real dilemma. He's in a fight for his life to survive the Democratic Primary this Spring. And even if he does, it is unlikely that he will survive the General Election in November 2010.

What would he do? Well, how about something smart ... like ... cut your bloated administration first. Set the xample of leadership. Shwo people you can make the cuts first before you hammer the county with more repressive taxation. Then ask the county board to follow your leadership with their cuts, too. Then, and only then, hold public hearings to explore more ways to off-set alleged budget shortfalls. Engage the public in the process.

But that would be too smart. It's easier for him -- leaderless and uncreative -- and his high priced money-driven consultants, to raise taxes and demand more money. And that's another problem. Stroger's lack of credibility. When he says the county needs money, no one believes his whimpering political snivling. Chances are he's just raising taxes to benefit himself.

Tragic. Such a nice guy. But a poor county leader.

Stroger's injured political career is going to reinforce the Republican Party and undermine the ability of Democrats to win. His party has to be seriously concerned about the ability to survive this, and that may in fact undermine his primary election in the Spring.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Other commissioners also deserve credit for supporting the Gorman Repeal Ordinance

Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman had the smarts to act quickly to organize a coalition of commissioners to draft the ordinance to repeal the repressive Todd Stroger 1 Percent Sales Tax, introducing it, enlisting support and being flexible to work with the other commissioners on a final version that gathered momentum and won Tuesday.

Todd Stroger, the beleaguered Cook County Board President, was adament that he WOULD veto the Gorman Repeal Ordinance after it passed. But reality set in and set in hard, despite the fiery words of his dragon lady Christine Geovanis, who does a better job taking Stroger's official PR photographs than she does defending his failures. Stroger realizes that a veto of the repeal would all but guarantee his utter and total defeat in the Democratic Party Primary in the spring next year. Now, at least he has somewhat of a chance to maybe come in second in a two-candidate primary contest.

But Stroger is being pushed by fanatics on all sides around him and he has been flip-flopping. Veto or not to veto? Save Cook County or Destroy Cook County. Hope for a career or abandon his career?

Maybe Stroger won't take Gorman for granted the way he has.

But the other major part of the story is the courage of County Commissioner John Daley who also stood up and said the words that made voters and constituents feel a brief moment of relief, where just for that moment voters in Cook County felt that our elected officials DO care about what happens to us.

Daley told Todd Stroger "you might want to listen for a change." The Chairman of the powerful County Board Finance Committee, Daley cautioned that "a Stroger veto" ... "would be a mistake, because of the strong vote of the board."

You have reinforced my belief, John Daley, that you do care about the people of Cook County. Thank you for having the courage to say that. And thank you for standing with the Gorman Repeal Ordinance to force Stroger to see the reality.

It took courage for all of the county commissioners to vote in favor of the repeal, and shame on those who voted no, like Bill Beavers, Jerry Butler and Robert Steele, all hoping to pander to racial politics.

Maybe the new dynamics of the Daley-Gorman alliance with Commissioners Larry Suffredin and others may bring a new day for the people of Cook County.

-- Ray Hanania

Gorman on WLS Radio, and Chicago Tonight this evening

Liz Gorman, who sponsored the legislation to repeal the repressive Tod Stroger 1 Percent Sales Tax, appeared on the Roe Conn radio show this afternoon and will be on Chicago Tonight this evening on Channel 11. Check it out!

# # #

Here is the break down of the vote on the repeal of the repressive Todd Stroger 1 Percent Sales Tax that took place on Tuesday May 5. The ordinance was sponsored originally by County Commissioner Liz Gorman, and received 12 votes of support, three no votes with two commissioners absent.

This is a breakdown of the vote, plus the county's links to the commissioners who need to be pressured, followed by my analysis below:

Earlean Collins, 1st District
Phone: (312) 603-4566
Fax: (312) 603-3696
Phone: (312) 603-4566

Deborah Sims, 5th District
phone: (312) 603 6381

Voting to KEEP the Sales Tax
Robert Steele, 2nd District
Phone: (773) 722-0140

Jerry "Iceman" Butler, 3rd District
Phone: (312) 603 6391
fax: (312) 603-5671

William M. Beavers, 4th District
phone: (773) 731-1515
fax: (773) 933-5535

Voting to REPEAL the Sales Tax

Joan Patricia Murphy, 6th District
phone: (708) 389-2125
fax: (708) 389-2240
Phone: (312) 603-4216

Joseph Mario Moreno, 7th District
Roberto Maldonado, 8th District
Peter N. Silvestri, 9th District
Bridget Gainer, 10th District
John P. Daley, 11th District
Forrest Claypool, 12th District
Larry Suffredin, 13th District
Gregg Goslin, 14th District
Timothy O. Schneider, 15th District
Anthony J. Peraica, 16th District
Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman, 17th District

Stroger plans to Veto the Repeal this morning, exposing his hypocrisy. In a transparent political move to try to save his crashing political career, Stroger proposed repealing or rolling back .25 percent of the 1 percent Sales Tax Increase that he proposed and that is punishing the people of Cook County.

But the board, thanks mainly to Gorman, pushed through the plan to roll the sales tax back completely.

In addition to Gorman and Suffredin deserving praise for their courage to stand up for the rights of Cook County taxpayers, Commissioner John Daley and Mario Moreno also deserve praise for telling Stroger to his face that he needs to wake up.

Joan Murphy, though, the chief sponsor of the sales tax, only supported the repeal hoping that she will be able to withstand an election challenge in the Spring of next year (2010). Murphy will go down with Stroger, most likely losing their re-election bids in the Democratic Primary and will not make it to the November 2010 General election.

Murphy needs to go. She's the biggest hypocrite.

Although there is little the county's voters can do about tyrants Bill Beavers, Jerry Butler and Robert Steele (remember Robert Steele's mother, Bobbie Steele, took the job of County Board President mainly to increase her retirement -- pathetic. Talk about putting meaning behind your last name. Just spell it right -- STEAL.)

Notice that Simms and Beavers have the least contact information.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

County Commissioner Liz Gorman does the heavy lifting on the Sales Tax Repeal

While others were grabbing the spotlight, credit Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman with doing the "heavy lifting" to put together the campaign to repeal the abhorent Todd Stroger 1 Percent Sales Tax. Gorman came up with the original proposal and got strong help from fellow commissioner Larry Suffredin. The original plan was to repeal it in stages, .25 percent each of four years. Gorman then pushed to have the repeal expedited, with Suffredin's backing and the backing of others, and she went around and rounded up the vote for today's meeting.

In the end, the board decided why waste their time playing piecemeal rollbacks and they went full steam -- after finding their courage with Gorman and Suffredin's help -- and rolled the Todd Stroger 1 Percent Sales Tax completely as of Jan. 1, 2010.

Stroger's flak, Christien Geovanis, was on Chicago Tonight blathering about how the sales tax has been raised in years and it was costing county government money. Are you kidding me? The sales tax is a built-in tax generator that Geovanis either ignored or is just to blinded by her exhorbitant taxpayer salary. As the cost of products rises, so too does the revenues from the originals ales tax of .75 percent.

Geovanis also tried to argue that Stroger does not fear the public's wrath. Great. She said he will veto the repeal Wednesday (May 6, 2009), the next day of the vote. When he does that, he will seal his fate as one of the shortest serving and most despised Cook County Board Presidents in Cook County History.

But, he still has time to hang out at his favorite exclusive clubs and restaurants to hire the wait staff when one of his lackies expresses some favor for them.

Gorman stepped back to let the talking heads grab the spotlight, but she is working hard to bring that sales tax down. Even if Stroger vetoes the repeal -- he only needs four lackies to do it and he has three (who voted against the bill already -- losers Commissioners William Beavers, Robert Steele, and Jerry Butler. Pathetic. Uncaring. Bureaucrats who are enjoying their clout at the expense of the public trough. Gorman's drive may well have put the first of many nails on Stroger's Political Coffin.

Hopefully, he'll be out on the street where he'll be forced to enjoy his clout on his own dime instead of at the expense of the taxpayers. I wonder how many of the consultants will bail on Stroger and suck up to the successor once Stroger finds himself trying to recover from his political illness. Tragic.

-- Ray Hanania

I interviewed Gorman and Suffredin on WJJG 1530 AM Radio Tuesday afternoon when I subbed for Judy Baar Topinka. Click here to listen to the Podcast Audio of the 60 minute interview.

As we first reported, County rolls back the Todd Stroger sales tax in two-steps, not four

Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman's plan to roll back the "Todd Stroger Sales Tax," named in honor of beleaguered Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, was adopted this afternoon after superceding an original plan to do it four steps. The board approved a final version that rolls it all back in one move by Jan. 2010.

Gorman told the two weeks ago that she planned the introduce the tougher rollback and to force Stroger to trim back on wasteful spending that is mainly in his offices. Stroger can eliminate relatives and patronage off the payroll and cut his staff from 25 communications experts to five, for example. In fact, if Stroger initiated the cuts in his office first, most of the rest of the county would also trim back services and tighten their belts.

But Stroger, an inexperienced neophyte at the game who inherited the job with no real county experience following the death of his popular father, John Stroger, who was put in power with the backing of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Gorman will be on WJJG 1530 AM Radio at 4 PM CST/Central time discussing the rollback ( Invites also went out to Cook County Board Commissioner Larry Suffredin.

Stayed tuned for updates on this taxpayer victory!

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Suspected Swine Flu virus hits Orland Park -- Orland Junior High

Orland Park's District 135 issued a telephone alert on Sunday at 10:50 am to inform parents that a suspected case of the H1N1 Influenza Virus, more commonly called the Swine Flu Virus, has been detected at Orland Junior High School, 14855 West Avenue, which serves 6th through 8th grade children ages 11 to 14.

"The Board recommends we do not close Orland Junior High for two reasons: the student has not been in the building since last Wednesday and attendance at the school remains high. Parents who have called their children in absent for sickness have not reported flu like symptoms. Therefore, we will follow the County Health Department's recommendation and keep Orland Junior High open. Our maintenance crew is doing additional disinfection work at Orland Junior High today Sunday May 3 to insure the safest possible environment for school on Monday."

The situation at Orland Junior High school did not meet the criteria the District 135 set last week for possible closure of schools.

The District sent home a letter with all students on April 29, saying:

"In the event we have a confirmed case of the Swine influenza at any of our schools, we will close that school. In addition, if our attendance rate drops at any of our schools due to children with flu-like symptoms, we will also close that school."

The district urged residents to visit their web at or call the district at 708-364-3370 with concerns or questions. (See info below)

Precautions being taken throughout Orland Park:

Christ Lutheran Church in Orland Park is making hand sanitizers available and parishioners are being urged to use them. "One hand sanitizer will be strategically placed to be used by clergy before Communion, and assistants and elders will be instructed to use it," said the Rev. Ray Rohlfs, senior administrative pastor, told the Daily Southtown. "Our Communion is distributed using individual cups, and we will take care to handle this in a very sanitary way."

Rohlfs also said worshippers will be asked to "omit hand contact" and replace it with a verbal "Peace ne with you" gesture during the "Sharing of Peace segment" of the church services.

Here is the information that the District has posted on its web site:

Have there been any cases of Swine Flu in the District? Have there been a lot of students absent?

As of May 3rd, 2009, there have been no confirmed cases of Swine Flu with any Orland School District 135 students or staff members. However, after a conversation with the Cook County Board of Health, the District learned that a student at Orland Jr. High does have a very probable Swine Flu infection.

District Administration has been charting student attendance, and all ten schools have maintained the typical attendance rate in the 90th percentile.

What are symptoms of swine flu?
Symptoms of swine flu are like regular flu symptoms and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. A lab test is required to tell whether a person has swine flu or some other condition.

What is the District doing to prevent the spread of swine flu in the schools?
The District’s procedures to help prevent the spread of the virus in the school buildings are:
cleaning and disinfecting washrooms;
cleaning and disinfecting locker rooms;
cleaning and disinfecting computer keyboards;
cleaning and disinfecting desktops;
cleaning and disinfecting door handles;
cleaning and disinfecting shared gym equipment; and

Continuing installation of special air cleaners which prevent the spread of 99.9% of flu viruses in the buildings.

As an additional precaution, the District has made hand wipes/sanitizing solution available at all schools for lunch and upon the children’s return to the classroom.

What can parents do to help their children avoid getting swine flu or spreading it?

Remind their children about proper hygiene.
Keep their children home from school if they have flu-like symptoms.
State if the child has flu-like symptoms when calling the student in absent to allow for the most accurate track of attendance patterns. If the parent does not state the reason for reporting the child's absence, the parent will receive a call from the school. The District is implementing the same procedures for staff members who call in to request a substitute teacher due to illness.

What is the District doing about children who have flu-like symptoms?

For parents who do report their child has flu-like symptoms, the maintenance staff has used the student’s schedule to do additional cleaning and disinfecting in the classrooms that student has visited. The staff is also doing special cleaning of common areas of Orland Jr. High.

What happens if there is a confirmed case of swine flu? Will the school close? Will the whole District close? How will parents be notified?

In the event the District has a confirmed case of the swine influenza at any of the schools, the school will be closed. However, following the Cook County Board of Health’s recommendation, the District is not closing Orland Jr. High for two reasons: the student has not been in the building since Wednesday, April 29th and attendance at the school has been at the normal 96% rate. Parents who have called their children in absent for sickness have not reported flu-like symptoms. If there are new confirmed cases of swine flu, or if the attendance rate drops at any of the schools due to children with flu-like symptoms, the school will be closed. The District does not intend to close all schools if the virus affects only certain buildings.

If a closing does occur, the District will use the automated calling system Voice Reach to notify parents. The same message will also be played on the District Information Hotline (708-364-3370). Letters may continue to be sent home, and also information will be posted on the District website and sent to e-news subscribers.

Who do I call for questions about swine flu?
· Parents who have questions about swine flu should contact the school nurse. Community members with questions about the District’s response should contact Community Relations Coordinator Bridget McGuiggan at 708/364-3335 or via email at
· For more information about swine flu, visit the Center for Disease Control at