Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Campaign disclosures tell a lot about candidates: Fire District PAC supports village trustee incumbents

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The biggest factor to influence voters in the last election in November and in this election April 5 is the role of the Orland Fire Protection District (OFPD). It is the most over-taxed agency in Illinois, collecting more than $30 million to provide fire protection services that other communities can provide for as little as $7 million.

The Fire Protection District has been under siege by taxpayers, angry at the excessive taxes, and the abuses in the misuse of fire department equipment. So which candidates do you think the firefighters are supporting?

Well, they are donating to the campaigns to re-elect Orland Park trustees Ed Schussler and Pat Gira, and newcomer Carol Ruzich. The Orland Professional Fire Fighters PAC is backing them, donating just last week $1,200.

Schussler, Gira and Ruzich are running under the Orland Park United Party (OPUP) banner. The committee doesn't show much but recent A-1 forms, which are required when donations of $500 are made in the 30 days before an election, show that loads of money has been coming their way, including from the firefighters.

Ruzich has a committee, but it had no funds as of the last filing. Ruzich is a team player though and donated $3,200 to the OPUP. Gira's campaign fund has about $2,173 as of the last required filing, and much of that was transfered as a donation to the Orland Park United Party.

Schussler gave himself about $6,200, and he transferred or donated about $3,500, listed as being from his own pocket, to the OPUP.

In contrast, Trustee candidate John Fotopolous has given himself a few thousand dollars through his law firm.

Blair Rhode, who is running with Christopher Evoy and are considered the lead candidates for the Orland Fire Protection District's two contested board seats, donated money from his own pocket to the Fiscal Voices campaign fund. Rhode donated $5,000.

The truth is, the disclosure forms don't tell us much in terms of who is backing who, other than the money from the firefighters and the OFPD. Molly McAvoy Flynn, who set up the Fiscal Voices for Orland Park Party, donated $1,000 to the fund after filing it. She is running for Village Trustee along with Steve Williams and John Brudnak. Williams also donated $5,000 in two separate checks. (They are backed by Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman who handed outgoing OFPD President Pat Maher his lunch in the Cook County November election. If she handed Maher his lunch, Gorman may hand the incumbent village trustees dinner on April 5.)

I wonder how much money Schussler spent on the robo-call that hit Orland Park last weekend. In the robocall, Schussler (whose voice is apparently heard on the call) alleged that his opponents were making up lies in their robo-call which he said had hit homes in prior days.

I didn't get a robo-call from the Fiscal Voices people, as Schussler alleged had been made to voters, and the Fiscal Voices People claim no such robo-call was made. Maybe someone called Schussler's house and he thought it was a robo-call.

I can only imagine how that conversation must have gone.

Although, there was no such robo-call. A member of the Fiscal voices group offered a $100 reward for anyone who taped the AWOL robo-call allegedly made last week.

I'd write about Tom Cunningham's campaign for village trustee, but he got handed his lunch in an exclusive expose detailed at the Orland Park Patch, the online newspaper that I enjoy reading. (Click here to read the story.

How about this. If you are going to run for public office and you have an arrest record of some sort, why not just get it out in the open when you announce instead of hoping no one finds out. Like most media, the Orland Park Patch asked all of the candidates if they have any past convictions. It's the new "Maher Law of Politics." Apparently, Maher didn't think anyone would find out that he had been charged with assault against another student many years ago. One of his consultants must have told him, don't worry. But everything gets out, eventually, and it caught up with Maher. The mother of the boy he brutally pummeled in college did a robo-call detailing her son's serious injuries from the attack by Maher.

I met Cunningham. And everyone has problems. But he should have done a better job at addressing his own past problems and police reports. You can't run for office and hope no one finds out. It doesn't work that way. And, when it does come out, people will conclude you did everything you could to hide it or keep it from coming out. And that's not good.

-- Ray Hanania

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