Monday, February 28, 2011

Preckwinkle lives up to her promise

Bookmark and Share

I wasn't convinced but she did it, pushing through the continued repeal of the remaining portion of the Todd Stroger 1 Percent Sales Tax that was led originally by Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman. Gorman persistently pushed the repeal and Preckwinkle made it a part of her campaign platform.

It's a little surprising Not surprising was the hemming and hawing from several pro-tax commissioners like Deborah Sims.

But the tax was rolled backed 1/2 percent before the election, thanks to Gorman's persistence. And now it's rolled back another 1/4 percent, leaving 1/4 percent remaining to be phased out by 2013. That isn't soon enough, but what choice to taxpayers have in Cook County?

The tax was doing great damage to the county and it is unnecessary. The County should trim back waste -- starting with Sims. But voters in her district want to be taxed out of existence so the county is stuck with her for four more years.

The rollback will SAVE taxpayers $180 million a year, a small amount to makeup for county officials who can easily trim back waste. Gorman had several budgetary savings proposals that Preckwinkle had killed -- not that Preckwinkle is against eliminating waste. It might just be she doesn't want to be one-upped by Gorman.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Village police should crack down on these independent snow plow trucks

Bookmark and Share

A red truck just got through plowing the driveways of several homes on Kingston Avenue at Windsor Drive and piled the snow in the middle of the street against the Northwest corner of one of the homes it plowed. The pile of snow is blocking half of Kingston. You might think that people living on that street would be upset that their neighbors had their driveways plowed and let the hawker pile the snow in the street.

That's as bad as people snow blowing their driveways but instead of blowing the snow onto their grass areas, they blow the snow (and even shovel the snow) in to the street.

Why not make it dangerous for drivers?

I called the Public Works Department but they said I should get the driver's license plate number and call the police. His plates were covered up with snow, maybe. And the telephone number on the side of the red pickup truck (708-577-1200) doesn't ring to anyone. It says that I have to try calling again.

If people don't monitor these things, I guess it's impossible for the village and the police to do anything about it too.

-- Ray Hanania

District 135 Schools to close Thursday too because of blizzard

Bookmark and Share

This is an AlertNow message from Orland School District 135. Please make note of this important update:

For Thursday, February 3rd, all schools will be closed due to the continued hazardous conditions and expected extreme cold temperatures. All after-school and evening activities are also cancelled for Thursday.

We have made this decision now in order to provide families with as much time as possible to make any needed arrangements. Staff members - please stay tuned for a separate AlertNow notice.

Please visit the website at for further updates.

A list of ideas for indoor activities to enjoy during these conditions can be found on our website.

Thank you for your cooperation as we work together as partners for the safety of our community.

(Note: District 135 schools closed on Wednesday also)


Mayor McLaughlin issues Code Red on blizzard

Bookmark and Share

Mayor McLaughlin Delivers Message Via Code Red System

This is Mayor Dan McLaughlin with an important message from the Village of Orland Park.
As you know, this was an historic snow event and snow is expected to continue through this afternoon followed by high winds blowing snow and severely dropping temperatures.
Despite some roads being cleared, some roads may not be passable and travel remains dangerous throughout the area.
Please stay off the streets, if at all possible.
Many roads continue to be challenging for plows to keep clear due to drifting snow from high winds.
Will-Cook Road, south of 159th Street, remains closed but should be clear this afternoon.
108th Avenue, from 167th Street to 179th Street, remains closed as well as 104th Avenue from 159th Street to 179th Street.
Village emergency operations will continue for the next several days.
Keeping main roads open and passable is our first priority.
Please remove all parked cars from village streets so that plows can continue to clear the snow.
And, as always, please call 9-1-1 for any emergency.
We appreciate your cooperation and patience.

Let's be honest: Most Chicagoland residents LOVE heavy snow

Bookmark and Share

I was there at 14 during the 1967 snow fall when we didn't have snow blowers and everything was done with a shovel. And in 1979, when the snowfall became the momentum to push out the Chicago Democratic Machine -- briefly -- and make way for a so-called reformer who turned out to be worse than the Machine. And then there was blizzard of 1999, which was bad but never as memorable as 1967 or 1979.

In 1967, we had a Georgian home on Chicago's Southeast Side on south Luella Avenue. We had a sidewalk in the front and the back. The snow piles were huge. I think it happened on a Thursday just before the weekend. The cars were covered in snow along the curbs. Snow plows didn't come through at all for a day. They focused on the main streets. It was family fun.

Nowadays with more people living in the suburbs with long and wide driveways and suburban governments that have little talent and no budget visions, homeowners have to have a snow blower. I was lucky this year. I did buy a motorized snow blower with a tall blower. The scoop is 20 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It replaced the small Toro snow blower that I had for some 20 years and gave to friend. It stillw orks and it's perfect for small driveways and sidewalks.

When we looked out the window this morning, the snow was 18 inches against the glass front door. The drifts had piled the snow three feet against the garage. It was deep. And the driveway is some70 feet long and 15 feet wide, it was covered in two feet of snow.

But it only took two hours to clear the snow. The streets are still a mess. An Orland Park snow plow went by about three hours before barely clearing anything, just a fast zip through. The plow drivers can be great people or jerks, some pushing the snow in front of your driveway on purpose. Most I've talked to are good but this morning the driver took a turn right in front of the house and pushed a wall of snow in front of the end of my driveway.

No Problem. I have a new snow blower.

And it was fun. Slicing through 18 to 24 inches of snow a few inches at a time and shooting the snow onto the grass area.

Let's face it. We love snow. Otherwise, why would we be living in Chicago?

It was fun to watch the news reports pre-empt regular programming to report on the snow. The focus is always on Chicago where there are always problems. But it was nice to see so many people helping each other.

I have no videos or film of the 1967 snow fall. We had a Bell and Howell black and white 35 mm camera, but that was always seen as something you used in the summer for record fun, not work that is fun.

But we took some videos of this year's snow fall which was predicted late on Monday and filled the public with apprehension and fear. Woodfield Mall announced on Tuesday that it would shut down and the Orland Park Mall shut down, too. Nearly every school closed.

This year I experienced the first ever thunder-snow blizzard. Last month, we had thunder and lightning during the snow blizzard. We had the same thing last night. Thunder and lightening. I'd never seen that before in my life. Never heard of it until this year.

Fascinating. Fun. I hope though that everyone did well and that people managed to live through this. As much as it can be fun, a blizzard can also be dangerous. I hope everyone did well and had help from neighbors if they needed it.

-- Ray Hanania