Sunday, October 24, 2010

Worst candidate I have seen in years

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Worst candidate I have seen in years
By Ray Hanania

As voters, we’re used to bad choices. But the Nov. 2 election for the Cook County Board presents residents in the suburban 17th District with one of the worst candidates to seek public office, Patrick Maher.

Maher is in a mudslinging battle with two term incumbent Liz Gorman. Maher has claimed that Gorman is a puppet of the hated outgoing Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, alleging she supported Strogers many tax increases, which is all a lie, of course.

Gorman single-handedly kept the board from giving up and despite several failed attempts, and she put together the votes by pure stubbornness to repeal half of the Stronger 1 percent Sales Tax hike. She has been the strongest voice against tax increases on the board.

Maher has to lie because Maher has a bad secret. And in political life, there are no secrets. When he was a college student, he brutally beat up a fellow classmate over a girl, who later became his wife. Maher was charged with aggravated felony assault but the jury deadlocked over the fate of a rising star of one of the state’s most powerful political families. Instead, he plead guilty to one count of misdemeanor battery.

The man he beat at Illinois State University in 1991 is Curt Bellone. Bellone is from New Lenox.  (Click HERE to read a story on the conviction.)

This week, Bellone’s mother voiced a robo-call (a political term for a phone call that plays a recorded message to targeted voters) telling the story and urging voters to reject Maher’s candidacy.

In the passioned phone call, which I received and heard, Bellone’s mother, Karen Peterson (who is now 65), says:  "Patrick Maher brutally beat my son and has spent 19 years trying to hide that fact. Patrick Maher has spent his campaign for Cook County commissioner lying about this crime, refusing to be accountable for the crime to which he pled guilty and denying the damage he did to another human being. ... He should never be put in a position of public trust such as Cook County commissioner."

Maher is a decent person. I’ve met and spoken with him. He’s just surrounded by the usual rabble of cheerleaders looking to find their place at the public trough, and has the oppressive weight of a political dynasty on his shoulders.

He is the cousin of Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, a scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful Machine Organizations, the 19th Ward. His father  is Orland Park Village Clerk Dave Maher. The Hynes family and friends funds much of their elections.

Maher was put in charge of the Orland Fire Protection District, quickly transforming it in to a Chicago-like bureaucracy with one of the most bloated budgets of any fire protection district in the state.

But to go higher, Maher had to bury his criminal past. He never mentioned it in media candidate questionnaires (except once, after FOX News reporter Dane Placko started investigating).

(Here is Placko's news report)

Maher’s birthdate was also changed by one day. He says it was a mistake. But everyone knows that without an accurate birth date you cannot find a criminal record.

Maher’s past is not the issue. But covering it up, is. And covering up a past instead of being a man to address it makes him a poor choice for public office, one of the worst, in fact.

When this election is over, he should quit the Fire Protection District and instead of listening to the pressures of his political aristocracy, find his place in society, one where he can raise his head up and find respect.

It’s not there, though, in this election.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at

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