Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Orland Park resident Paul Cervenka challenges the taxing Orland Fire Protection District

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Orland Park resident Paul Cervenka challenges the taxing Orland Fire Protection District

Video from the Orland Park Patch, credit Jesse Marx

For more information, check out this story: Orland Park taxes increase dramatically. The Orland Fire Protection District is one of the government bodies responsible. Click to read the story?

And this one, Time to ELiminate the Orland Fire Protection District (Nov. 2009). Click to read the story?

Can Maher survive the Fire Protection District race? Can taxpayers?

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Can Maher survive the Fire Protection District race? Can taxpayers?
By Ray Hanania

Pat Maher’s miserable performance in the November 5 elections for Cook County Commissioner against incumbent Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman raises questions as to whether he can survive a challenge in the April 5, 2011 elections.

But the bigger question is, can Orland Township voters survive another term with Maher as president of the Orland Fire Protection District?

The district spends money like it is going out of style. Maher’s lies about cutting taxes were exposed during his failed campaign for the county board. The Maher Orland Fire Protection District has one of the highest budgets in the state, spending more than $25 million a year.

For what?

The answer is simple, to get Maher elected to higher public office. After all, he is a relative of the powerful (thought the election suggested powerless) Hynes clan and he and his supporters (not many apparently) believe that higher office is an entitlement.

So, can Maher win office in Orland Township, even as an incumbent whose father is the Village Clerk of Orland Park?

Maher lost to Gorman in a stunning landslide defeat in the 17th District, the bulk of which is based in Orland Township. Maher won only 34,686 votes (36.02 percent) while Gorman won 56,423 votes (58.59 percent).

That wiped-him-out-pattern followed Maher through the district in the townships.

There were 30,213 votes cast in Orland Township alone, and Gorman’s victory was even stronger. Her percentage victory in Orland Township beat the landslide victory she won in the entire district. In fact, Gorman won more votes that Mayor Dan McLaughlin has won in past elections and McLaughlin is very popular.

In Orland Township, Maher won only 11,165 votes (34.92 percent) and Gorman won 19,048 votes (59.52 percent)

There are rumors Gorman may run for mayor in two years – she could hold both jobs as county commissioner and mayor. Peter Silvestri is both the mayor of Elmwood Park and a cook county commissioner. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gorman runs a full slate of candidates in both the village trustee races and also in the Orland Fire Protection District. A Gorman-backed slate would be formidable.

Maher barely won three of 85 Orland Township precincts, and that’s not good for someone who is the president of a Township wide office that few people understand, the Orland Fire Protection District.

Maher won the 69th Precinct, the 17th Precinct and the 3rd precinct, all by insignificant, single digit numbers. (Must be 19th Ward havens.)

Maher lives in the 62nd Precinct, according to the Cook County Board of Elections precinct finder for his home address. Even his neighbors didn’t like him as a candidate. Gorman took that precinct 215 to Maher’s 154 votes.

I am not sure Maher is re-electable.

But you can be sure that to protect his job, in an all out “who cares about the taxpayers” fight for his life, Maher will use the resources of the Orland Fire Protection District to make himself look good in political and township mailings.

He will spend taxpayer money like there is no tomorrow. You watch.

But that’s always been Maher’s problem. He has these loser consultants around him who view elections on the basis of money – their money – and can’t figure out how to convince voters Maher is redeemable. That’s probably a good thing for voters.

With the crew Maher is hanging around with, he’ll probably lose a re-election bid meaning the spot is open to someone else who wants to put the best interests of the taxpayers ahead of their own entitlement-driven political privileged life.

Hurting Maher even more is the fact that property tax bills in Orland Township have skyrocketed by more than 20 percent; the Orland Chamber of Commerce says the tax rate only went up 17 percent. Yikes! But the actual impact on homeowners was dramatic and property taxes doubled in some cases.

Do Orland Township voters want to elect a guy to township office who spends taxpayer money like there is no tomorrow?

All of the traditional campaign strategies will actually work against Maher. Every time he sends out the information less Orland Fire Protection District newsletter, voters will be asking themselves, how much did this cost me?

Orland Fire Protection District watchdog Paul Cervenka is carefully monitoring spending and he says the spending is outrageous. He filed a complaint against Maher’s use of the District’s newsletter to promote his candidacy. Although the complaint was dismissed, the concerns are priority one for Orland voters and taxpayers.

Cervenka wrote me after a recent Orland Fire Protection District meeting, “our fire district spent 2 million dollars in 10 minutes. Perhaps a new record! Post card mailing announcing a new web site for $6000. Contract for renewal for Newsmakers Inc. for additional services for work on public service announcements another $3000, among others.”

That’s not the actions of a public official who cares about the taxpayers at all.

Of course, when this blog reported that Maher’s pals and Battalion chiefs were using district vehicles, paid for and maintained by taxpayers, to do personal business, Maher shrugged it off. That’s where he lost me and I bet where he continues to lose the voters, too.

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Property taxes skyrocket in Orland Township, as much as 20 percent

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Property tax bills arrived this week across Cook County, conveniently after the bills were delayed until after the November elections -- there is no doubt in my mind that they were intentionally delayed (as they were eight months earlier) by county officials, but the county taxing system is so complicated the news media is incapable of determining who the real culprit is. So, let's blame all the county officials for that. They knew property taxes were going to increase dramatically, but they didn't want you to take it out on their county-wide and state-wide elections.

Despite the sales tax increase that is in effect and although half of it was repealed (not taking effect until next year), Cook County Taxes jumped about 15 percent for most homeowners.

Orland Township's taxes (village, library, roads and bridges and general assistance) went up about 12 percent. went up also, about 12 percent. My village tax bill went up in Orland Park from $319 to $362, about 12 percent.

But the biggest dollar increase came from the School Districts. Moraine Valley Community College increased their spending so significantly that every home was slammed with a 17 percent increase. My MVCC taxes went up from $164 to $194.

Consolidated High School District 230 taxes also went up about 15 percent on average; on my bill it went from $1,202 to $1,391.

The largest school tax hike came from District 135. And that is amazing considering that the normal cash reserves for any government is 20 percent and their reserve fund is almost 50 percent -- that means they don't need the cash, folks. School enrollment is down with only minor teacher cut backs.  Those taxes went up a whopping 18 percent. And considering District 135 takes the largest annual tax bite from our wallets, 18 percent in District 135 is massive compared to 17 percent at MVCC.

Overall, with those hikes, 70 percent of your increased bill came directly from the local schools.

Orland has great schools, but the tax hike is unjustified. They don't need the money.

The least surprising tax increase, however, came from the bloated Orland Fire Protection District headed by Patrick Maher, who claimed in his repeated campaign mailings in his failed challenge to incumbent Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman that he was fiscally responsible and he had cut our taxes.

Maher's claim, like his entire campaign, was an outright lie. One lie after another. The Orland Fire Protection District jacked up taxes, and then later, lowered them briefly just so he could claim he cut back taxes.

But now that the election is over -- and fortunately he lost -- Maher's Orland Fire Protection District went up about 20 percent on the typical homeowner's property tax bill. My taxes went up from $568 to $660.

The politicians will use a shell game and tell you that the Tax Rate went down. It did go down. But the tax rate is determined based on the total requested by each local government as a percentage of the whole. So, the bottom line is that the tax rate did not go down far enough to show no increase in tax dollars.

Each government asks for money and their spending is what increases your tax payments. Then the county's eight elected officials jack up costs to cover their inefficiencies and mismanagement (Assessor, State's Attorney, Treasurer, Health, etc). And that is where the increases come from.

There's still time to put the pressure on the local officials, and take back control of the Orland Fire Protection District by throwing out all of the incumbents. You can make your voices heard in the upcoming village elections for trustee, too. But conveniently, the tax bills didn't increase during the mayoral and clerk elections -- the clerk really needs to go, too.

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, November 12, 2010

Second lawyer, Carole Ruzich, enters race for Orland Park trustee

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Second lawyer, Carole Ruzich, enters race for Orland Park trustee

Carole Ruzich announced her intentions to run for Orland Park Village Trustee in the 2011 election. Carole, a seventeen-year resident of Orland Park, has a strong interest in keeping Orland Park moving in the right direction. Carole wants to add to the youth recreation programs in the village. “Keeping children off the street and involved in healthy activities is the right thing to do for our children, as well as the community,” Carole said. “My own experience coaching, allowed me the opportunity to see the value in building self confidence in our children through their participation in outside activities.”

Carole also expressed a desire to use her legal background to help the many families struggling with the threat of foreclosure. “There are numerous options for people, and I would like to create a financial and legal counseling service to help keep families in their homes,” she said.

Carole was born and raised in Evergreen Park, IL, and graduated from Mother McAuley High School. She attended Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN and graduated magna cum laude in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and History. Thereafter, she attended the University of Illinois Law School where she obtained her law degree in 1986.

After graduating from law school, she joined the law firm of Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered, as an associate attorney where she practiced primarily in the area of medical malpractice defense. She also worked for a suburban law firm before joining a local community bank as a Staff Attorney. In 1999, Carole joined her family’s law firm, Griffin & Gallagher, LLC, where her practice areas include creditor’s rights, real estate law and estate administration.

Carole has been a member of the Orland Park Board of Fire and Police Commissioners since 1999, where she currently serves as the Secretary of the Board. She has been a long time volunteer at Saint Michael’s Parish, including serving as a member of the Parish Ministry Commission, the Education Ministry Team and the Athletic Board, as well as coaching grammar school boys and girls volleyball teams. She has also been a member of the Board of Directors of Palos Community Hospital since 2000.

Carole is married to Larry Ruzich, and has two children, Dan and Megan, and one stepdaughter, Kimberly.
Carole looks forward to the campaign and the opportunity to serve the residents of Orland Park as a village trustee.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Gira and Schussler will run for re-election as a team

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Orland Park Trustees Patricia Gira and Ed Schussler will run for re-election in the Spring elections, Gira said. They will be running as a team on the same slate. The question is, will they have a 3rd running mate and who will that be?

Trustee Schussler
Edward G. Schussler III, Trustee
Finance Committee Chair
Trustee from 1989 – 1993,
2002 - Present

Acting Village President from 1992 – 1993

Trustee Patricia Gira
Patricia A. Gira, Trustee
Parks, Recreation & Environmental Initiatives Committee ChairTrustee from 2003 – Present


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Orland Elections will be interesting

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Dan McLaughlin easily won re-election in the April 7, 2009 consolidated elections. About 8,300 total votes were cast in the village races that also saw the re-elections of three incumbent trustees (are there any other kind these days?), Kathy Fenton, Brad O'Halloran and Jim Dodge, who later ran unsuccessfully for Illinois Comptroller in in the February 2010 Republican primary, losing to Judy Baar Topinka. Good Start, but bad campaign management.

In April, three more village seats will open, and rumors are that incumbent Bernie Murphy has decided to pull a Rich Daley and retire. Often criticized as "Dr. No"for voting no on a lot of legislation, his retirement opens the door to a new face.

McLauglin will probably find someone to slate, but John Fotopoulos, the Orland Park attorney who has run for office in the past, decided not to wait and he released his intention to run in a lean news release issued this morning.

It's nearly impossible to beat an incumbent. But that could change if Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman decides to get involved. Gorman handily beat back Mark Thompson in the Republican Primary and Patrick Maher, the son of Village Clerk Dave Maher and the cousin of retiring Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes -- yes the powerful Hynes clan that has seen some major political defeats in less than one year. (Had Hynes known that Daley was going to retire, too, maybe he would have not run for statewide office, saved his money and threw his hat in for Chicago mayor. He would have been a formidable candidate in a Chicago race, especially with the revival of the Chicago Machine.)

Presumably Ed Schussler and Patricia Gira will run for re-election. But petitions do not get filed until Nov. 15, ending on Nov. 22. That also means Mayor Daley still has time to change his mind, or forever hold his peace about the new Machine run by Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and Chicago Finance Committee Chairman and Alderman Edward M. Burke.

So, we'll.

Gorman could slate her own candidates and her involvement would be influential because many people see Maher's defeat as a major defeat of the Democratic Party and McLaughlins' rule. McLaughlin really had no choice and he had to endorse Patrick Maher, despite his undisclosed baggage -- misdemeanor conviction while in college. After all, Dave Maher is his party colleague.

But McLaughlin has always been a bit independent. And maybe he won't get involved in this election. So much campaign cash from his resources was lost in the Maher battle.

It will be interesting.

-- Ray Hanania

Fotopoulos: First candidate announces for Orland Trustee

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Orland Park attorney Fotopoulos announces for trustee

Orland Park resident, John S. Fotopoulos, is announcing his intention to seek the position of Trustee for the Village of Orland Park in the April 5, 2011 election. 

John has been a resident of Orland Park since 1994.  He is married to Cary and has three children (Maria 6, Spyros 3, and Peter 1).John is a trial attorney and has his law practice located in Orland Park on John Humphrey Drive. 

It is imperative that we get back to the basics. 

Family Comes First -  Improve the quality of life for our families.  Our most precious assets are our children. We must provide for the health and safety of our family in our community.  Our children deserve the best.

“We must make sure our children have football, soccer, and baseball fields as well as other facilities that are second to no other community.”

Fiscal Responsibility  -  We must get back to the basic formula.  2 + 2 = 4

Our elected officials must understand this simple concept.  If we have $4 we can only spend $4.  The Village must eliminate wasteful spending and get back to the basics.

“We cannot continue to spend more than what we bring in.  Furthermore, the solution is not to increase taxes either.  We must run a leaner government.”


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Voters oust Peraica and reject 19th Ward suburban takeover in Orland Park

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Voters oust Peraica and reject 19th Ward suburban takeover in Orland Park
By Ray Hanania

Suburban Cook County Voters in the Southwest and West suburbs tossed out one incumbent Republican commissioner in the 16th District and blocked a Machine Democrat from taking control of another in the 17th District.

Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-16th), the often obnoxious and loudmouthed publicity hound who was shunned by his own party colleagues on the board, was thrown out of office Tuesday night.

Ironically, the woman and colleague he most scorned at board meetings, Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman easily defeated a challenge from Patrick Maher, the cousin of outgoing Comptroller Dan Hynes in a rebuff of the powerful 19th Ward Democratic Machine.

Neither election was about party politics, though, although the 19th Ward has tightened its grip on elections and government positions in Southwest Suburban Orland Park over the years. But the elections in both races were more about honesty and character.

The unofficial vote count is: Gorman 55,514 votes to Maher 33,819, and Tobolski 32,781 and Peraica 27,617 votes.

Only days before the election, Peraica was arrested late Saturday night after he was caught by police destroying campaign signs of his opponent, Tobolski. First, Peraica was stopped in Stickney, where police reported they suspected he was destroying signs but did not have a witness to file charges. Less than 20 minutes later, he was stopped in nearby McCook, where Tobolski is the mayor, and arrested when police saw him drive out of a driveway of an 80 year old woman’s home where a Tobolski sign had been destroyed.

During the stop, which occurred at 11:15 pm, a neighbor came running out claiming he also saw the suspects destroying the signs on his property. The suspect turned out to be Tony Peraica driving around with an aide and carrying a large fireman’s poll often used to pull down debris from burning buildings.

Peraica was dressed in black and a cap on his head and claimed he was merely driving around to put up his own signs. Of course, Peraica had no signs of his own in the white van. He was charged, booked and jailed until authorities released him at 3 in the morning on an I-Bond, not requiring a cash deposit.

In his usual self-destructive style, Peraica immediately called a press conference on Sunday and then again on Monday to spin his version of the story. But voters could not erase the image of an elected official acting so foolishly, driving around in the middle of the night in all black tearing down the campaign signs on private property of another candidate. Peraica

rejected publicity hound Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica handing his rival McCook Mayor Jeffery Tobolski a landslide victory on Tuesday.

In the neighboring 17th District, voters trounced the campaign of Patrick Maher, the controversial head of the Orland Fire Protection District and the cousin of 19th Ward scion and outgoing Comptroller Dan Hynes.

Maher and Liz Gorman were in a tight race months ago as Democratic activists from Orland Park and the 19th Ward flooded Maher’s campaign with funds and volunteers.

But weeks before the election, FOX Chicago News reporter Dane Placko reported that Maher was hiding a secret. He had been arrested and charged with a felony in the brutal beating while a college student of another student. That student today remains with brain damage. Maher went to trial but later agreed to a plea bargain misdemeanor assault.

Making matters worse, Maher did not disclose the conviction when asked on campaign forms by several local news media. And, it appeared that Maher had intentionally tried to hide the conviction, using a different birth date on his records. Changing a birth date makes it almost impossible for anyone to determine in a person has had a prior conviction. Maher’s father is the Clerk of Orland Park and an employee of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

“I’m thrilled to have the backing of the voters,” Gorman told me last night during her victory celebration. “I’ll continue to fight to defend their rights against excessive taxation and bloated county budgets.”

Maher tried and failed to link Gorman to outgoing County Board President Todd Stroger. In reality, Gorman was Stroger’s political nightmare. Gorman led the fight to repeal Stroger’s one cent sales tax hike. And when the move was rebuffed by Stroger and the board seemed to wane, Gorman persisted and reintroduced the effort several times until it passed and half of the tax was repealed.

Her colleague Peraica tried to introduce similar legislation but not on member of the Cook County Board would second his efforts, showing that he had no friends or alliances on the county board.

Peraica and his minions, including two writers at extremist WIND AM Radio and two activists in Justice, were constantly attacking anyone who questioned his failed leadership.

“I am honored to become the representative for the voters of the 16th District of Cook County,” Tobolski told me last night. “I will fight for their rights and make their interests and needs a the priority.”

The election contests were overshadowed by the statewide battles for the U.S. Senate between Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, and Illinois Governor between incumbent Democrat Patrick Quinn and downstate Republican challenger Bill Brady.

Kirk has claimed victory while the race for governor remains too close to call at this writing.

Nationally, Republicans took control of the U.S House, a tradition that has repeated itself in most off-year elections. The party that controls the White House has lost control of the U.S. House in every election except two, once right after the Depression and once right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Democrats expected to lose control of the House as Republicans lost control of the house during the second term of President George W. Bush.

The changing of control of the House now puts the pressure on Republicans to confront the deteriorating economy and the increasing job losses that began under the Bush administration. During the first two years of the Obama administration, the Republicans were in lock step rejecting everything Obama introduced.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

9 PM: Liz Gorman set to trounce Pat Maher, establishing herself as the most influential elected official in Orland Park

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Gorman projected winner in 17th District as count continues with heavy lead

9 pm: The vote count is not yet completed, but with 213 of 278 precinct reporting, Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz'Doody Gorman (R-17th) is leading by a strong margin. Gorman has 42,444 votes to Maher's 26,174 votes. That's about 70,000 votes cast in 213 precincts. With 65 precincts remaining, that means if the vote totals hold consistent, that there are about 23,000 more votes left. To catch up, Maher would need 16,000 votes, leaving about 7,000 votes to decide the race.

In other words, Maher would have to take almost 20,000 of the remaining 23,000 votes in the remaining 65 precincts to win, a statistical impossibility.

He could close the gap, but it is a wide gap. The Orland Parker Blog is projected Liz Gorman the winner.

That makes Gorman the kingmaker in Orland Park and she shut down, singlehandedly, the Orland Park Democrats who went full court press with money (from unions and the Hynes clan -- Maher is a cousin of Dan Hynes) to defeat Gorman.

But Maher's undoing was listening to whomever is the moron who advised him to try to hide or disguise his past. His past conviction and his efforts to hide it, including using a false birth date so that reporters and rivals might not discover the conviction, was his undoing.

You can't hide the truth.

And Maher's strategy to link Gorman to failed Cook County Board President Todd Stroger was a preposterous and stupid strategy.

Gorman singlehandedly stood up to Stroger's repeated tax hikes and when the other commissioners were prepared to give up, Gorman rallied them to a second and third try until half of the one percent sales tax was repealed.

Maher's poor leadership of the Orland Fire Protection District also was an albatross he could not disguise either with false claims that he cut taxes. The Orland Fire Protection District is one of the highest taxed fire districts in the state and one of the two highest in the nation. $25 million to run one fire protection district. It's outrageous.

Other projected winners: State Rep. Kevin McCarthy over Tea Party Republican Jeff Junkas. And, the balance is out there as Jeff Tobolski, the mayor of McCook, continues to lead with a healthy margin in the race to unseat mercurial and loud-mouthed county commissioner Tony Peraica. The Peraica-Tobolski battle will be close but Tobolski got a boost when Peraica was arrested when he was caught destroying election signs on Saturday night. Peraica was arrested, jailed for four hours and had his mug shot taken, forever burning the image of him as a Ninja dressed in black.

What was Peraica doing in Stickney and then McCook at 11 pm at night wearing a black outfit and driving around in his van?

Voters are not stupid, Peraica. At least most of them are not.

To review the final tallies:


-- Ray Hanania