Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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

1 comment:

  1. I hope he will be out of his office after next election.