Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Orland Park to host energy assistance fair Nov. 17

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Village of Orland Park to Host Energy Assistance Fair
Utility Representatives Available At Orland Park Civic Center

            ORLAND PARK, ILLINOIS – The Village of Orland Park will host an Energy Assistance Fair on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Orland Park Civic Center, 14750 South Ravinia Avenue, one block west of LaGrange Road/US Route 45.
            Representatives from ComEd, Nicor Gas and CEDA (Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County) will be present and attendees may apply for financial assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Learn about payment programs and steps needed to prevent service disconnections or how to get reconnected. Energy saving tips and how to save on utility bills will be available.
            Attendees should bring their most current utility bills, including Nicor and ComEd, most current proof of gross income for all household members age sixteen and older, proof of social security number for head of household only and social security number for other household members age sixteen and older, and proof of home ownership, including a current property tax bill, current mortgage statement or recorded mortgage.
For more information, call the Village of Orland Park Office of Special Services at 708/403-6188.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Orland brings Wind Power demonstration to village as part of SmartLiving program

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Village of Orland Park to Host Wind Power Demonstration

ORLAND PARK, IL – Wind power will soon come to the Village of Orland Park when a wind turbine is temporarily installed at the Village Center, south of the Village Hall at 147th Street and Ravinia Avenue.

“This will be an interesting display showing some of the newest technology,” said Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin.

The Village of Orland Park unveiled its SmartLiving Orland Park Program in early August, announcing a community wide green initiative tailored for residents and commerce.

“This technology presents an attractive alternative to wind turbines because the blades can be problematic in areas such as ours that have ice and snow part of the year,” said Trustee Patricia Gira, chair of the village’s Recreation, Parks and Environmental Initiatives Committee. 

“This unit is quite attractive and looks like a piece of kinetic art. At 30 feet tall, it doesn’t dominate a landscape as the wind turbines we are accustomed to seeing in photos. Additionally, this harness for wind energy is also quite reasonably priced,” she added.

The turbine will be installed on Saturday, October 10 and will remain at the Village Center until October 15. On Monday, October 12, the manufacturer will conduct a demonstration at 9:00 a.m., showing how the appliance works.

“Most people think of wind farms that include turbines with huge propellers,” the mayor said. “What we will have at the Village Center is newer and more appropriate for tighter urban areas,” he added.

According to the manufacturer, the unit is appropriate for use at residential, business and commercial buildings. Built entirely in the United States the demonstration wind turbine is a 30-foot tall, propeller free, vertical axis designed for harnessing power in urban, suburban and rural locations. The patented technology maximizes energy conversion from wind into electrical power, regardless of changing wind speed and direction.

Orland Park Director of Parks and Buildings Frank Stec facilitated the village’s demonstration. “We’re not endorsing one manufacturer over another. We simply want to continue to educate our residents on the many possibilities available,” Stec said. “There are so many ways to be a part of the village’s green initiative and wind power is one part of the big picture,” Stec added.

Gira added, “My understanding is that this machinery utilizes extra capacity in an auto parts manufacturing plant in Michigan and is built by unemployed auto workers. I think this presents a wonderful situation where newer, green technology benefits a community's environment, reduces energy costs, and employs Americans in a new industrial frontier.”
McLaughlin added, “I think it’s great that they’re setting this up as an educational display. With the demonstration being on Columbus Day, maybe we’ll have some kids come up to see yet another source of power.”

The public is invited to the Monday, October 12 demonstration that will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Orland Park Village Center, 14700 South Ravinia Avenue.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tornado-like winds rip through Orland Park -- sirens go off 5 minutes after they pass

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The Tornado emergency warning system in Orland Park sounded Sunday night, about 5 minutes after the tornado-like winds and hail storm passed through the village heading east.

A little late folks. The siren is supposed to go off before hand, in theory. But the reality of emergency notifications is that by the time tornado-like winds are detected, they pass by so fast by the time the tornado siren is set-off, it's too late.

So, why do we have emergency sirens?

To remind us that what we just witnessed could be bad?

-- Ray Hanania

When they have to say it's safe, it's usually a problem

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When village officials have to start reminding people that 1) their village is "safe," and 2) that a recent gun fight that took a 20 year old's life in an apartment complex not too far away from the village hall, and 3) that they haven't received any concerns from residents, you know either the elected officials are not that close to the community, or the place is going to hell in a hand basket filled with nice smelling attractive flowers.

That's what Orland Park village officials are saying one week after four teenagers and young adults got into a gun fight in an apartment building north of the village hall and near Frontier Park. One of the kids, a 20 year old, was shot dead. Another was taken to a hospital. The injured and two others have been charged in the incident with First Degree Murder, no small felony by the way.

Click here to read the Daily Southtown story about elected officials' reactions?

No one showed up at the board meeting the following Monday, trustees pointed out, to express their concerns. Well, the truth is no one shows up at any board meetings in Orland Park anyway. First, because most of the big deals are done deals before they get to public scrutiny, and second, most trustees and the village board are not very responsive with information on important stuff at all.

You do get some handouts on theatrical groups with insider clout, big awards and festivals, though. Although in fairness, the police were on top of the incident and they got the information out fast, to their credit, stemming the rumors that could have been and started out far worse when the gunfight at Pioneer Park took place.

The big question is the first test of the village's "Crime Free Housing Ordinance" which states that renters who commit crimes or who have guests that commit crimes shall be evicted from their rental premises.

It sure sounded like a great idea when it was passed. But I didn't hear any trustees talk about the victim, Jorge Mena, or the people he lived with. Maybe the shooters who committed the crime were not renters, so I guess that bright idea ordinance isn't going anywhere fast.

Well, this story is not over. The village should and is coming down hard on the three survivors. Let the investigation decide the circumstances of the victim, who lost his life.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Un-neighborliness spreading throughout the suburbs

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Usually it's all happy talk and ignored politics in the news in most suburban communities like Orland Park. But lately, the news has been filled with a lot of violence and un-neighborly misconduct.

Sunday, some kids got their hands on some guns and shot at each other near a park near the Village Hall. One kid died and another is recovery from wounds. The police arrested three kids, and ethnicity and race are issues, sadly. African American. Hispanic. Arab American. It also involved apartment complexes and crowded tenants. And, of course, according to the reports, the confrontation involved drugs.

Drugs and Guns are the real issue here. It happens in every race and culture. But, I guess I don't understand how kids can throw away their lives so easily. Police sound like they plan to seek the death penalty in the murder.

Read the story?

In another case, two neighbors got into a scuffle over something one of their wives did. Yes, one man told the other neighbor that he was upset because he threw a beach ball into their backyard pool. And the other man then threw the complainer into the lake behind their home, "damaging" his glasses and soaking his cell phones.

Read the story?

Water's not good for cell phones, I know that much!

How can two people who live next to a beautiful pond find the time to fight with each other over such trivial issues, especially when they have ducks and geese wandering all over dropping their "droppings" all over, too?

Duck and Geese droppings look like they belong to Doberman Pinchers or something. I'm not saying redirect the anger and kill the ducks or the geese. Chances are the fines are worse. but don't we have other things to talk about as "neighbors" than to be so uncivil to each other?

I know a neighbor who had their pool slashed -- no doubt by another neighbor. neighbors in the suburbs are not being so neighborly at all these days.

I didn't realize that neighbors in the suburbs knew each other enough to be angry at each other. Don't you at least have to know someone's last name before you throw them in a pond behind your house or damage their property? People in the suburbs moved to the suburbs to "not know" their neighbors. Suburbanites don't want to be bothered. So why would you then take the extra-ordinary step of committing some physical contact with your neighbor, like throwing them in a pool.

Parents walk their kids to school in the morning these days out of fear. About 30 percent of the fear is that some stranger will grab their kids. But the remaining 70 percent of the fear is that a neighbor will be unneighborly and do something worse to their kids.

Gotta protect your kids, family and property from suburban neighbors, I guess. While tip-toeing around the duck and geese poop.

-- Ray Hanania

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shooting near Orland Park village hall today -- one dead, one suspect sought by police

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One suspect is being sought by police in what is being described as a shooting between two groups of kids at a park near the Orland Park village hall. One youth was reported killed and another was wounded, aged 19. One suspect in the shooting was arrested and one is now being sought by police. The incident happened near 9700 W. Ravinia Court at around 2:30 Saturday afternoon. The nearby park and area was immediately evacuated.

Police described the suspect as African American, about 20 years of age, 5'9" and wearing a white t-shirt. The search was called off after police determined they had all the suspects. Police have one witness in custody.

-- end

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gorman raises $65,000 at fundraiser

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Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman reported raising nearly $65,000 in donations at her fundraiser last night at Sam McGuires in Orland Park. Gorman said she has at least three more fundraisers planned over the next six weeks. Her collections can easily exceed $250,000 by the end of the year with no formal Republican party opposition in sight.

Much of the funding has come from individuals moved by Gorman's steady fight against beleaguered Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and Stroger's oppressive 1 percent sales tax. Gorman, along with other county board members including Democratic Commissioner John Daley, repeatedly sought to roll back, repeal and trim the sales tax. Though the battle was undercut by a backstabbing flip-flop Deborah "The Hack" Sims, who withdrew support of the repeal, the fact is Gorman's persistence has sent a strong message to Stroger that his days as County Board President are numbered and her enthusiasm in leading this fight helped taxpayers recognize that they can fight taxes.

Her Democratic rivals, Dr. Victor Forys from the north side of the 17th Cook County District, and Patrick Maher from Orland Township and president of the Orland Fire Protection District did not report collections from their recent fundraisers. Maher said he would give me a count later. According to reports, during his unsuccessful race for congress in Rahm Emanuel's old district (won by Mike Quigley) Forys raised $160,000 in a one month period.

Forys has the power going into the Feb. 2 Democratic primary election. Forys has a fundraiser Sept. 29 where he will formally receive endorsements from Congressman Mike Quigley, County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, County Commissioner Forest Claypool and Gov. Pat Quinn. Maher has or will receive backing from Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes (the leading Democratic candidate for governor), and Hynes 19th Ward power house father, Tom Hynes. Maher has another fundraiser planned for Oct. 9 at Fox's Pub.

Gorman drew a crowd of supporters and endorsements including from State Sen. Kirk Dillard, who is running for Governor, and several trustees from Orland Township (who ran with Democratic Paul O'Grady) and trustees from Orland Park, Orland Hills and Tinley Park, too.

More than 265 people attended the fundraiser, Gorman reported.

NOTE TO THE LITTLE BIRDIES OUT THERE: If you see any petitions circulating, please send me an email note with the names you see. email:

AND ... Le Shana Tovah a Tikkathev/vi to Jewish readers and fans whoa re celebrating their New Years holidays this weekend, Rosh Hashana, and Eid Mubarak to Muslim readers and fans who celebrate the end of Ramadan Sunday with the Eid.

-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cougar footprints not the problem in Orland Park

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We have a lot of wild animals in Orland Park, but cougars are not among them. Sightings of Fox and coyotes roaming the streets, mainly late at night or early morning through the neighborhoods and backyards are not unusual. I've seen the coyote packs roam. They walk like they are on their tip-toes, prancing nervously and looking in every direction as they move.

There are the deer that wander into the backyards from the local forrest preserves. And fences mean nothing. They can hop the fences with ease. Giant raccoons with black patches around their eyes also walk like they are tip-toeing, too. is this a pattern of stealth that animals understand? Brown hawks with wing spreads of two feet, swoop through the backyards as they scope for baby rabbits and baby birds. It's a sick thought. I think they are the worst predators.

And then we have the strangest animal of all. Like the Swallows of Capistrano returning to the hills in California on St. Joseph's Day every March 19, 19th Ward precinct captains march out to the polling places to ask local residents to vote for certain candidates.

Now, the snow is mostly melted so we don't see the precinct captains paw prints that easily on the ground. but they return, nonetheless, through some form of patronage instinct that tells them "If ya don't get yer ass out der en work for dis candidate, you just might loose yer jab (job)!"

Political instinct is not that common.

They were here in the last election stumping for Paul O'Grady and you can bet they will be here again in February stumping for more indigenous 19th Ward wild politicians who have migrated to better graving fields in Orland Park.

They hulk around the entrances to polling places with little pieces of paper in their hands. They're shameless and could care less if you don't recognize them -- they're not local.

One thing you can do though is offer them Orland Park politeness. Help them figure out how to drive back to the 19th Ward, the natural mating grounds for some of the region's more spectacular and colorful politicians over the years. you don't want them to be lost. They have garbage can lids to hand out on the weekends in their natural habitat in the city.

They're good at taking orders, they can keep a precise tally of numbers on a narrow slip of election paper produced by the wilds of the Cook County Clerk's office, and they are loyal to a fault, standing out at polling places in the suburbs even when so few voters in Orland Park waste their time wandering out of their homes or lives to actually vote.

The cougars of Wheaton. The 19th Ward precinct captains of Orland Park. Both wild animals who often wander into areas they don't belong.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Big Democratic guns turnout for Forys in 17th Democratic race

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It's not the highest profile political battle in the news media but it is the one with most twist, turns and political pedigree issues. People are lining up in the 17th Cook County Board District, a seat held by Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman who over the past few years has risen to become one of the county's most aggressive champions of taxpayer rights.

Gorman, a Republican, is being challenge by two Democrats who will duke it out in the February 2 Democratic Primary before facing the Gorman juggernaut. They are Pat Maher and Dr. Victor Forys. Maher and Gorman are local rivals from Orland Township. Gorman is the Orland Township Republican Committeewoman and Maher is the President of the Orland Fire Protection District (OFPD). He is also the son of Orland Village Clerk Dave Maher, who is a $75,000-a-year employee of the Cook County Court system, under Stroger's watchful political patronage (Administrative Assistant Level V for the county courts). Forys comes from the northern part of the 17th District.

Forys, who raised large sums of money in the congressional race to succeed Rahm Emanuel in the 5th District, lost to former Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley. But next week, Quigley will join Gov. Pat Quinn and County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, who has worked closely with Gorman to fight Todd Stroger's repressive 1 percent sales tax, will come out swinging to endorse Forys, not Maher, in the Democratic Primary. What happens after that primary is anyone's guess.


There are a lot of big issues in the 17th District. Gorman has been on the right side of most during her two terms in the office. She has distinguished herself as a persistent champion of taxpayer rights, winning three major battles for taxpayers.

The first was last year when Gorman was the only county commissioner to challenge a $190,000 county loan to controversial Regional Schools Superintendent Charles FlowersFlowers 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.

Gorman also has been a key leader in the fight to repeal Stroger's repressive 1 percent sales tax that is chasing Cook County businesses into neighboring counties. Although Stroger prevailed when Deborah "The Hack" Sims flip-flopped supporting the repeal and then denying the repeal the 14 votes needed to override Stroger's anti-taxpayer veto, the fight has become a voter mantra that is expected to drum Todd Stroger out of office in February when he faces off with Congressman Danny K. Davis, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle and Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown among many others.

Normally, so many challengers benefit the incumbent, but a recent Chicago Tribune poll shows that Stroger has an approval rating of only 10 percent, lower than the 13 percent for impeached former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

But Gorman's determination to set the county right for taxpayers doesn't end with that high profile sales tax fight. This week, the county board approved an ethics ordinance hailed by the Arlington Heights Daily Herald that forces lobbyists (and candidates for public office who lobby) to disclose the jobs of their relatives on government payrolls to help shine light on insider sweetheart deals that are often the heart of the county's government practices.


Stroger's plight and the race for governor are impacting this race directly. Stroger is the son for former Cook County Board President John H. Stroger, who often received huge campaign donations from the nation's top bond counsel, Chapman and Cutler. It so happens that Tom Hynes, the patriarch of 19th Ward politics, is of counsel to the firm, one strong link between the 19th Ward and Stroger, and a reason for the Hynes' family to dislike Gorman, who also has some strong ties to the 19th Ward.

Tom Hynes is a close relative of Patrick Maher through his father, Dave. And, of course, Tom Hynes is the father of  Dan Hynes, the Illinois Comptroller who threw his hat in fast to challenge beleaguered Gov. Pat Quinn.

It's the 19th Ward Hynes honchos who have been working hard over the past several years to install Pat Maher at the OFPD and to take control of Orland Park, which is distinguishing itself as one of the southwest suburbs more monied and affluent communities. They back another Democrat, Paul O'Grady, who took over as Orland Township Supervisor. O'Grady relied heavily on his 19th Ward ties and had 19th ward precinct captains working the election polls this past Spring.

Quinn, Quigley and Suffredin will make their endorsement of Forys at a Forys fundraiser Sept. 29 at White Eagles in Chicago, 6839 N. Milwaukee Ave. Maher just had his own fundraiser at O'Callaghan's, at 29 West Hubbard Street in downtown Chicago, too. The keynote celebrity there was, of course, Tom Hynes. 

I reached out to Maher, who was surprised when I informed him his colleague on the OFPD James Hickey is circulating petitions to challenge State Rep. Kevin McCarthy in the 37th House District. McCarthy is a staunch ally of House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, who is backing Quinn. Hickey told me he'll discuss his candidacy with me when he gets all his signatures. (Maher says he's supporting McCarthy and he's not supporting Hickey, though many say they are very close.) 

When asked if  Tom Hynes was his "keynote speaker," Maher emailed me back, saying: "Tom Hynes was not my keynote speaker.  He did show up and it was greatly appreciated.  I don’t have all the details but I am quite sure that the guy Liz had go spy on my event (which we all saw) could concur that I had about 70 to 75 coming in and out, not counting staff. Not too bad for something I put together about two or three [weeks] ago downtown where I don’t live or work.  I did not collect the money so I really have no idea how much was collected plus some was mailed in which I did not see either."

(I asked Liz Gorman and she said she had no idea and didn't care.)

Gorman will host her fundraiser this week Thursday (Sept. 17) at Sam McGuire's, which is in the 17th District. Maher has another fundraiser planned for Oct. 9 at Fox's in Orland Park. he's expected to have the backing of Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin, the Orland Township Democratic Committeeman.

Gorman is already leading the pack with donations. Maher's campaign disclosures include many contractors who do business with Orland Park and the OFPD, friends of his father and the mayor, no doubt. Forys has funds from his professional contacts and past election supporters. I'll have a detailed analysis of everyone's recent disclosures in an upcoming post.


In the meantime, the cross-dynamics of this battle reflect the complex lines that crisscross some of the biggest races in the news, for county board president and for Illinois governor, and intersect with some big family and Chicago political names.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, September 14, 2009

Maher says he's endorsing McCarthy, has nothing to do with trustee's possible race

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Orland Fire Protection District President Patrick Maher, a candidate for the 17th Cook County Board seat now held by Commissioner Liz Gorman, says he has nothing to do with a possible candidacy of fellow OFPD trustee James P. Hickey running for state representative.

Petitions are being circulated to place Hickey's name on the Feb. 2, 2010 Democratic primary ballot in the 37th House District, challenging incumbent State Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Some of those petitions are being circulated along with petitions for Maher in Orland Park. (I haven't had a chance to speak with Hickey to find out if he is circulating them or if backers are trying to draft him.)

But Maher says he has "nothing to do with it."

Protested Maher, "I’ve emailed my petitions to hundreds of people … I can’t control who else they are getting signatures for. If my signatures are with anyone elses that does not mean I am working with them or supporting them. I have my  own organization. I am getting support from leaders of the community."

Maher also made it clear he backs McCarthy for re-election. "I’m supporting Kevin McCarthy for State Representative and I will continue to support Kevin McCarthy. He (Hickey) hasn’t talked to me, or, as far as I know, to the Democratic Committee in Orland Township. This is the first I heard he is running."

Maher expressed shock that Hickey might consider running for another elected office after having only been recently elected to the OFPD board of trustees.

"I am astounded that he would consider running for this position," he said.

Maher received the endorsement for his candidacy from the Cook County Democratic Organization. he also has the backing of several unions.

(I have calls in to Hickey to explore why he might be running this soon after winning office to the OFPD.)

UPDATE: State Rep. Kevin McCarthy called me back to say that he was contacted by House Speaker Michael J. Madigan's office this morning about the report, but when I passed along Maher's comments, he said he was "appreciative. I can work with him."

"I'm busy working on pension reform legislation and have some meetings on it this week. It's important to the taxpayers," McCarthy said. "I met Hickey and heard his petitions are out there. I met him once."

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, September 13, 2009

19th Ward targets Madigan's legislative soft spots in February primary: Hickey goes after McCarthy

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Newly elected Orland Fire Protection District Trustee and home mortgage broker James P. Hickey apparently is changing his focus from the Orland Fire Protection District and now its his political agenda that is on the fast track. He has set aside the ambitious agenda he once set out to help improve the OFPD and has his sights on something bigger and better.

Hickey, who just won election to the OFPD, has his petitions on the street seeking nomination in the Democratic Primary against one of House Speaker Michael J. Madigan's stalwarts, Kevin McCarthy, who has represented the 37th District since 1997. (I haven't had a chance to speak with Hickey to find out if he is circulating them or if backers are trying to draft him.)

It's amazing how political egos go right to the top and public service goes right out the window in cases like this. Sources say Hickey is boasting, accurately, that his huge win in the OFPD race this past Spring shows how "powerful" he is.

Hickey's term in office at the controversy-plagued OFPD runs until 2015. I am not sure if this is some kind of twisted strategy to help Pat Maher -- who IS related to Orland Village Clerk David Maher (the Maher's are very sensitive to people claiming to be relatives as we saw recently) -- by fielding candidates and bringing out the Democratic vote in the 17th District where Maher apparently is running against Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman? Maher has to first defeat Dr. Victor Forys who has a knack of raising huge funds. He did respectfully in the recent race for Rahm Emanuel's vacated Congressional seat which was won by independent County Commissioner Mike Quigley.

Are Maher and Hickey are working together? Their petitions are being circulated together.

But maybe Hickey and Maher don't understand the Madigan powerhouse. The fact is Mike Madigan doesn't take challenges like this lightly. While I have hammered Madigan in the past, the fact is Madigan is tight with Gov. Pat Quinn who succeeded impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Hickey is being backed by the 19th Ward which has its tentacles all over Orland Park and Orland Township and were rock-solid behind the candidacy of another recent victor, Paul O'Grady in the surprise Orland Township election victory.

But it's Hickey, a young recent entrant who has been fired up by his election victory who is promoting himself as the future of Orland Park and its ties to the 19th ward. (The Maher's, who backed Hickey, are related to 19th Ward honchoes including the one I have always admired the most, Tom Hynes. Hynes' son, Dan Hynes, now the Illinois Comptroller, is running for governor against Pat Quinn, Madigan's candidate.)

Is the Hickey candidacy a subtle message to Madigan from the 19th Ward because Madigan is not backing Hynes?

Madigan doesn't need any subtle messages. The guy is supremo when it comes to politics and strategy. You don't go up against him and expect to have a future in politics, if you are smart.

The protagonists will all be together at the Tinley Park parade today. Gorman has been invited by Tinley Mayor Ed Zabrocki to walk with his government officials. Maher is expected to be there and watch for Hickey's petitions to be circulating. 

Here's the vote turnout for the OFPD elections. Despite a big ego, Hickey barely won 50 percent of the district vote. Cindy Nelson Katsenes, a former OFPD trustee who has challenged Maher's rule there, came second.

James P. Hickey 3958 49.57%
Cynthia Nelson Katsenes 1539 19.28%
Robert K. Brennan 1119 14.02%
Christopher Ciciora 959 12.01%
John Jacobsma 409 5.12%

-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Deborah Sims doesn't mind using taxpayer money for her own comfort

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Deborah Sims, the do-nothing member of the Cook County Board who gave County Board President Todd Stroger the vote he needed to protect his repressive 1 percent sales tax on Cook County taxpayers, doesn't mind spending the taxpayer's hard-earned cash on her own comforts.

FOX Chicago news reporter Dane Placko did a report Thursday night detailing how Sims uses her $95,000-a-year salaried chief of staff to drive her around, not just to and from work but to and from political events and publicity events, and, even shopping?

Sims even uses county taxpayer money to pay to lease her big, fancy late model red Cadillac. her chief of staff drives to her home, parks his car at her house and then gets behind the wheel like a high-priced chauffeur and drives her everywhere.

It's not illegal for government officials to waste the taxpayer money on their own comforts and excessive luxuries. They get a fortune every year to pay for everything from staff, to offices, to cars (luxury cars apparently), and anything else their little hearts desire. They get the best healthcare taxpayer money can buy and they apparently don't feel they have to be accountable to the public, like when Placko asked Sims to answer some questions about her office practices and she responded saying whether she answers or not depends on the questions.

What's the issue? The Taxpayers have the right to know how their elected officials spend the taxpayer's hard earned money.

Get more information on the Sims' scandal at

Now, while Sims is chauffeured to and from work in luxury, at the taxpayer's expense, other commissioners told Placko that they drive themselves to and from work. Well, not everyone drives. A few conscientious Cook County Board members know what it's like to be public servants and to respect the rights of taxpayers.

Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman (R-17th) doesn't drive. She takes public transportation to and from her home to the County Board meetings and her office. I know because several times in the morning when she would appear on my radio show on WJJG 1530 AM ( she did the interviews while on the METRA train.

That's the kind of dedication that Sims doesn't understand. Gorman led the fight to repeal the repressive sales tax which is chasing businesses out of Cook County.

Let's hope Sims and Stroger are both thrown out of office on their asses and are forced to find real jobs where they have to do the work, for a change. Maybe they would come to respect the taxpayer's hard earned money if they had to worry about paying their own bills.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dodge makes it formal for comptroller at the Humphrey House Monday

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ORLAND PARK, Ill., Sept. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Jim Dodge will formally announce his candidacy for the Office of Illinois Comptroller at a press conference Monday, Sept. 14 at 11 a.m. at the historic John Humphrey House, 9830 W. 144th Pl., Orland Park.

An Orland Park official since 1989, he is seeking the Republican Party nomination as the state's chief fiscal control officer in the Feb. 2, 2010 primary election. Dodge, who holds a master's degree in economics and finance from the University of Chicago, works as a technology consultant.

Dodge selected the Humphrey House site for its historical sentiment as John Humphrey served in the Illinois General Assembly, as a Republican Illinois state senator, and as Orland Park's first mayor.

Dodge is the first one to formally jump in to the race. Former Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka is also planning to officially announce and there are reports she is circulating her petitions, too, and will be running. Topinka has higher name recognition, but targeting Comptroller rather than the synch race for treasurer or governor might be an issue. Dodge needs to broaden his name recognition statewide. Both are friends and it is expected to be a cordially race.

* * * * *

Orland Fire District President Patrick Maher is also in the race for Cook County Commissioner in the 17th District. Maher, someone told me, was in the Lemont Parade (where I walked with my son). I didn't see him but I did see Mark Kirk and Judy Biggert.

I know because Maher's camp sent me their newsletter announcing his candidacy in the Democratic Primary Feb. 2. He'll face Dr. Victor Forys who has amassed a large campaign fund and ran once before for U.S. Congress.

I got the newsletter when I mentioned Maher in an earlier blog post. I also wrote that there have been more  sightings of one of Maher's top Fire Battalion Chiefs in their taxpayer-funded SUV gas guzzler driving his kids someplace outside the district again. Maher said he planned to look in to it. I thought he might actually act on the problem, because it is a major problem. But then again, all he did say was he would look in to it.

Here is Maher's campaign web site where he announces his candidacy:

He talks about the need to protect the interests of taxpayers, but I haven't seen him take any action on what I and other taxpayers consider a misuse of public vehicles, driving a Fire Protection District SUV outside of the district. Maher explained before that the 5 (?) battalion chiefs in the district drive the cars around on and off-duty so they are available when needed. Let's just hope that idea doesn't spread to other taxpayer funded government agencies.

The winner of the Democratic primary Feb. 2 will then face off with Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman, a Republican who has built a powerful front defending the rights of taxpayers leading the charge against the repressive 1 percent Todd Stroger Cook County Sales Tax. Maher didn't attack Stroger's sales tax plan in his newsletter discussion about fighting for taxpayer rights. That is going to be an hurdle that will be hard for him to overcome, the fact that Stroger and the Democratic Machine back him.


Former Cicero Town president Betty Loren-Maltese, who was convicted of corruption and spent seven years in the hoosegow and is now spending six months in a halfway house across the street from Circus Circus in Las Vegas, told FOX Chicago News reporter Anne Kavanaugh that she is writing a book called "Justice: Chicago Style" ... I thought it should be titled "Guilty."

Loren-Maltese, of course, never takes responsibility for her crimes or her vindictive ways and plays the victim so well. She's a split personality, on one side very likable and on the other vicious, cruel and mean. It's the Bad Betty and her greed that put her in jail and the Good Betty who only reappears when she needs sympathy.

When Kavanaugh asked me about whether her book would sell, I noted I would buy it, as a journalist. But, I wasn't sure a public that has had it up to here with former convicted criminals and convicts trying to make excuses for their actions would want to read the book. Betty most likely will simply fill the pages with junk about how it was everyone else's fault instead of her own, blame it on how "friends" betrayed her, and paint herself as the innocent victim of injustice, duped by male politicians.

The truth is if Betty were smart -- she has it in her -- she'd admit her responsibility in her crimes and her own life, stop playing the victim which is BS, and take responsibility for her own actions. Then, write about the colorful characters she met during her three year reign as Good Betty (93-96 when I was her consultant) and six year reign as Bad Betty (96-02 when politically sleazy PR consultants Dave Donahue and later Lee Harris ran her post-corruption defense campaigns under Ed Vrdolyak's direction. Donahue's greasy fingerprints are all over Orland Park and Township.)

I was her consultant when she was doing good and while she was quietly betraying everyone around her. Town Supervisor Joe DiChicio was found not guilty because the judge easily saw through her weak defense and efforts to manipulate the Town Clerk's board meeting records. I left her when I asked her if the FBI charges were true and she called Vrdolyak to tell him I spoke with the FBI, and Vrdolyak ordered Betty to fire me. Thank you Betty!

Harris and Donahue represented her when it was clear that she was the focus of a major corruption investigation that looted the Town of more than $10 million. That explains how Betty amassed all that money and property and big cars and high-flying gambling life.

If she got her act together, she could do some good with her life. but knowing Betty, she is always consumed with anger, hatred and meanness. Those are tough obstacles for anyone to overcome.

I liked the old, Good Betty, the one that shared leadership with other leaders in Cicero back in the early 1990s and opened the town together with progressive programs. But that Betty is just a memory that if came back would make her book a success. Bad, mean Betty writing a book. People who know her will buy it but that won't be enough to make it successful.


Rumor is Rocky Wirtz, the owner of the Blackhawks and Judge & Dolph is a part of the investment group buying the Chicago Sun-Times. Wirtz is a smart guy. He put the Blackhawks back on the map and he is smart when it comes to business. I hope he can help re-organize the Sun-Times and keep it from closing.

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Obama school address debate is driven by mix of politics and racism and demagoguery

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Orland Park School District 135 is giving parents the option to remove their children from participating in a nationwide address that President Barack Obama will be making via the Internet and C-SPAN on Tuesday morning during class.

Obama wants to encourage children to "work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning" The President will also call on students, parents and educators to work together to ensure "every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens."

Right wing fanatics, conservative extremists and the demagogue himself, former Vice President and war criminal Dick Cheney says that the President's goals represent "socialism," you know, the kind that we Americans fought against during World War II and the Cold War and throughout Europe.

Cheney and his ilk say that doing good in school is "socialism?" What a moron. he should be charged with war crimes. The U.S. Attorney's office is slowly winding its way through the criminal actions taken before and during the illegal invasion of Iraq -- which distracted this country from the real enemy in Afghanistan and is forcing our soldiers to face stepped up terrorist threats there today because Bush and Cheney didn't commit enough forces to that country eight years ago.

I remember when Republicans used to say we have to respect Bush whether we like him or not because he is the President of the United States. It's the office and when the president acts, we need to stand by him as a nation. We did that, of course, and over the past five years, we've seen more than 4,000 American soldiers come home in body bags with no real progress against the war on terrorism in Iraq.

Now, of course, the president is a Democrat and an African American, and we are told that he is a "socialist" because he wants to encourage school students to do better in school and to help others to do better.

My son will be listening to President Obama's speech Tuesday. Proudly. I feel sorry for those students who parents will remove their children and don't seem to like a president because a) he's a Democrat, b) because he is Black or c) he wants all students to do well in school. Tragic but symptomatic of the challenge that we face in America where racism, hatred and extremism lingers on from the Bush administration.

The idea was promoted by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who was the Chicago Schools CEO before being appointed to the national post.

If you are interested, you can watch the speech live via the Internet at Tuesday Sept. 8 at 11 AM CENTRAL Time.

I know many children and students will be watching because many of their parents care about improving education for ALL children, regardless of race, color, religion or national origin.

Of course, the debate reminds us that not all share that benefit for our nation.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stroger may have won (and taxpayers lost) this battle, but Stroger will lose the war

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Stroger may have won the battle but not the war

By Ray Hanania

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger boasts he won the battle to “save” the 1 percent hike in the county sales tax, a repressive tax that mostly harms the poor and lower incomed citizens.

Stroger’s victory came when Commissioner Deborah Sims, who supported the tax hike and who later – under pressure from constituents – voted to roll it back a ½ percent, flip-flopped again and refused to support the override of Stroger’s veto.

Sims’ told reporters she owed her loyalty to Stroger, the silver-spoon-fed politician who was lifted to public office by his powerful father, the late and former County Board President. Stroger has never had to work a single day of his life in a real job and the notion of paying a sales tax means nothing to someone who has everything done for him in life.

Although Stroger managed to prevent a repeal of half of his repressive sales tax hike – his only real achievement since the county board presidency was handed to him on a silver spoon – Stroger faces losing the war in the Democratic primary election Feb. 2.

Several strong candidates have stood up to challenge Stroger in the Democratic primary, Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown and Chicago Alderman Toni Preckwinkle. It will be a tough battle, the notion being that Brown and Preckwinkle and others will divide the anti-Stroger vote. Congressman Danny Davis is also eying the race. But Stroger has so little popularity in the county that dividing the anti-Stroger vote will still give the challengers strong pluralities to win.

The real hero in this saga, though, is not in the Democratic Party, although key Democratic members were among the leadership in fighting to rollback the repressive 1 percent Stroger Sales Tax hike, like Commissioners Larry Suffredin and John Daley.

County Commissioner Liz Gorman, a Republican, was dogged in her determination to protect Cook County taxpayers. She refused to give up when everyone said it was impossible to build a coalition to challenge Stroger’s veto threats.

Gorman stubbornly pushed the issue, first trying to roll back the entire sales tax hike, which is chasing businesses out of Cook County into neighboring suburban communities and placing a heavy burden on consumers who are scaling back purchases.

When that failed, she came back with a 1.4 percent roll back and then a 12 percent roll back. Her persistence raised public awareness of the incompetence of the Stroger administration. The fact is that despite all the tax money that Stroger can dole out to hire ineffective flaks to rattle his cause in the lobbies of local community newspapers, the public recognizes that Stroger is incapable of running county government.

He has a record alliance against him that crosses color lines and political party lines, too.

Stroger is a coward, too, and fears defending his administration’s actions, hiding behind an army of paid consultants, PR flaks and patronage people, including a few who have criminal records.

He is remembered not for great achievement and foresight in leadership, but for his typically Machine extravagances like hiring a busboy who catches his eye at a costly steak house. Or his inability to control his high-salaried staff who wield their power to benefit themselves personally.

Normally, incompetence in office is rewarded by the party Machine but the Machine is even tiring of his failed leadership.

Meanwhile, in Stroger’s beleaguered administration and as he stumbles through office avoiding responsibility or accountability, declining media interview requests and dodging the tough questions, Gorman is rising as a powerful watchdog to defend the rights of Cook County voters.

Her coalition includes insightful leadership like Daley and Suffredin and many others.

Hopefully, the tax advocates in Stroger’s alliance, including Joan Patricia Murphy, who unbelievably tried to push the sales tax up by 2 percent, and Sims, will be swept out of office with the rest of the trash in February.

Murphy is being challenged by Nick Valadez. Sims may be challenged again by Dian M. Powell. It’s still early but it could save taxpayers a lot of money if Stroger, Murphy and Sims would just step down. We can only hope.