Friday, January 29, 2010

Liz Gorman wins endorsement of newspaper in Thompson's backyard; Maher slammed in his

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The influential Journal and Topics Newspapers, which covers the north suburban end of the 17th Cook County District, gave Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman a solid endorsement over her challenger in the Republican primary race Tuesday Mark Thompson, who is from the newspaper's back yard.

The Journal and Topics newspaper also declined to endorse in the race between Patrick Maher and Dr. Victor Forys in the Democratic primary, however, seeing neither as worthy.

In a double whammy for Maher, the SouthtownStar newspaper also refused to endorse in the Democratic race between Maher and Forys, slamming Maher for his refusal to provide basic information on the controversy-plagued and budget bloated Orland Fire Protection District.

Here is what the Journal and Topics Newspaper wrote in their editorial, followed by the Southtown Star  Editorial:

Gorman Deserves Voter Support
Journal Endorsement | As we've come to know all too well in the last year or so, county government really does matter. It has a profound affect on our daily lives whether it is with road building projects, maintenance of the local forest preserves or flood relief.

And if that isn't enough, remember the infamous 1% sales tax that Cook County Board President Todd Stroger proposed more than a year ago?

If it wasn't for the stink raised by ordinary citizens who have to foot the bill, the tax hike probably would have passed. When the public raised its voice, political leaders raised their heads and the county sales tax hike was trimmed in half. Like they say, half a loaf is better than nothing.

With that in mind, we turn our attention to the 17th District of Cook County. It's an oddly-shaped geographical area that stretches north from Orland Park and Palos Hts into Des Plaines and Prospect Hts. For the last eight years, Elizabeth Gorman has represented that district and we feel she has done a credible job, which warrants voter support in the Tuesday, Feb. 2 primary.

Challenging Gorman is Mark Thompson, a well-known figure in the Northwest suburbs where he currently serves as Maine Township Republican committeeman. Thompson's public service has been long and solid as Maine Township supervisor and Maine Township trustee. Besides his race with Gorman, he is also seeking reelection as committeeman against State Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R-65th). So you see, Thompson has a lot on his table.

On the Democratic side, running for ballot placement to take on either Gorman or Thompson in November are Victor Forys of Park Ridge, Patrick Maher and Donna Sanders. Running as Green Party candidates are Richard Dalka of Des Plaines and Matthew Ogean. The Journal & Topics is not endorsing in either of these races.

In the GOP race, however, we think Gorman deserves voter support primarily because she saw the light on the poorly thought out sales tax increase and worked to repeal it along with the state requirement to override Stroger's veto. She didn't sit on her hands. In addition, we feel Gorman's look to the future of county government makes sense where all-out efforts must be made to streamline county government at a time when waste cannot be tolerated.

In the Cook County Board's 17th District, Democratic primary voters will choose between Orland Fire Protection District President Patrick Maher and Park Ridge physician Victor Forys. A third candidate is on the ballot, Donna Sanders, but she is largely believed to be a plant in the race. Don't waste your vote on her.
Maher and Forys both say they would streamline Cook County government and reduce waste and inefficiency in the health delivery system.
Forys, a medical doctor who wants to bring his expertise to the county's health system, would look at curtailing generous pension benefits for future county workers. Maher would fight tax and fee increases but leave the pensions alone.
Maher, of Orland Park, cites his experience overseeing the fire district as proof he would take the same level of professionalism and cost-cutting to Cook County. Indeed, Maher has helped professionalize the fire district.
However, we can't endorse a candidate who willfully ignored repeated requests from this newspaper for information about the fire district when it experienced one of the biggest scandals in Southland history.
Firefighter Larry Masa was arrested and convicted after illegally collecting more than $190,000 in salary and benefits. Masa claimed for years he was on active military duty in Iraq when in fact he was working for a private contractor, not the U.S. military. Evidence suggested Masa was ripping off taxpayers and yet fire district officials looked the other way.
Maher doesn't deserve all the blame for the debacle, but he also never restituted accusations in a trumped up report that falsely blamed Deputy Chief Art Granat. He never apologized. He never accepted responsibility.
Maher says lawsuits prohibited him from being able to speak publicly about the case. Talking about it could have jeopardized the district's efforts to recoup taxpayer money, he said.
But as a newspaper that demands elected officials respect the public's right to know, we cannot offer our endorsement.
We also cannot endorse Forys.
While he would bring a unique perspective to a board that struggles with its health care system, he did not seem to fully understand the role of county government. A better fit for him would be a position on the Cook County Health and Hospitals System Board.

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