Sunday, June 26, 2011

Orland Fire Protection District dedicates new headquarters Sunday June 26, 2011

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            Ray Hanania
Sunday June 26, 2011                                                                                     312-933-9855 cell

Orland Fire Protection District Headquarters officially dedicated

Orland Park -- The Orland Fire Protection District officially dedicated its new Headquarters with a ribbon cutting and reception Sunday.

Acting Fire Chief Raymond L. Kay told attendees at the new headquarters, 9790 W. 151st Street, Orland Park, that the facility will consolidate the district's fire services.

"It is important that you get a chance to see what takes place in the support building. Our people on the streets run 8,000 calls every year and they need support to get there. Things like dispatch, which is upgraded in our new building," Chief Kay said.

"Things like fire prevention which you will see when you take the tour. Part of keeping our buildings up to code so we have safe buildings in the community. And the administration is here to help make sure things run efficiently," Kay told the gathering.

Orland Fire Protection District Board President James Hickey applauded the dedication but reminded the audience that the ribbon cutting for the headquarters symbolizes a new era in which the district will focus on maintaining and supporting the fire district's high quality of services, and the call of voters and taxpayers to better manage costs.

"I think everyone knows that the Orland Fire Protection District is changing. We're moving forward with a mission given to us by the voters and the taxpayers. In the last election they spoke out loud and clear. They want to preserve the high quality services that the Fire Protection District offers, but they want us to do it with an eye to cost-savings and fiscal efficiencies that make sense," Hickey said to applause.

"They are not just saying cut. They are saying cut where we can to bring down the burden on the taxpayers. That's what this new board is doing. We're doing it with precision and respect. We're trimming down some salaries on some positions. We're working closely with the Fire leadership to find ways to maximize what we can get out of every dollar."

Hickey said the board is committed to "preserving the highest quality fire services that the taxpayers have come to expect. So today, as we inaugurate this new headquarters building, let's look at this as a beginning of a new era to rein in costs while exceeding performance and maintaining quality."

Dedication emcee Battalion Chief Dan Smith also introduced Orland Park Village Trustee Patricia Gira, who attended the dedication, and former trustee Salvatore Cacciato who also briefly spoke about the years he spent helping to bring the headquarters to realization.

Smith said the new headquarters will improve work flow and provide room to allow more employees to work out of the centralized fire headquarters.

The new State-of-the-Art headquarters building replaces the smaller office property located behind Fire Station 1, Smith said. The new headquarters accommodates about 25 staff (compared to 10 previously). The new board room accommodates up to 80 people and replaces the older room which accommodated about 30 people.

The new building features an expanded training room, the Fire Prevention Bureau and all administration functions and services (parts of which in the past were distributed among the various fire houses). The lower level features a renovated dispatch center which not only services the Orland Fire District but also services Oak Forest and Calumet City Fire Departments. It also provides MABAS (Mutual Aide Box Alarm System) services for extra alarm fire/EMS calls  in Division 19 (Orland/Frankfort /Manhattan area) and also Division 22 (Alsip/Blue Island area) and Division 24 (Tinley Park, Lansing area).

The building received a blessing from Pastor Shawn Nettleton of Christ Lutheran Church.

About 100 people attended the ceremony.

You can view the video of the dedication by clicking this address:

On Youtube, visit:

On Vimeo visit:

(The media has permission to embed the video on their web sites if they wish)

Below are the full remarks of President Hickey:

I want to welcome all of you today to the formal opening of the Orland Fire Protection District headquarters. This new building allows the district to concentrate many of its services and brings together a lot of talent that is dedicated to providing you with the best firefighting services in the region.

I think everyone knows that the Orland Fire Protection District is changing. We're moving forward with a mission given to us by the voters and the taxpayers. In the last election they spoke out loud and clear. They want to preserve the high quality services that the Fire Protection District offers, but they want us to do it with an eye to cost-savings and fiscal efficiencies that make sense.

They are not just saying cut. They are saying cut where we can to bring down the burden on the taxpayers.

That's what this new board is doing. We're doing it with precision and respect. We're trimming down some salaries on some positions. We're working closely with the Fire leadership to find ways to maximize what we can get out of every dollar.

It isn't just the taxpayers who are demanding this. It is mandated by the economic times in which we live. We can't ignore this very important mission.

It can be done and it can be done in a way that will preserve the highest quality fire services that the taxpayers have come to expect.

So today, as we inaugurate this new headquarters building, let's look at this as a beginning of a new era to reign in costs while exceeding performance and maintaining quality.

OFPD Board President James Hickey


Friday, June 24, 2011

Longtime Chicago Republican activist and candidate Leonard Kaczanowski dies

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The 1980s seem so long ago, but time goes by quickly. I covered Chicago politics on the front line from 1976 until 1992, and then went in to column writing and media relations in the years since.

Back then, there was no Facebook or Google, so it's hard to piece together this story completely. Computers were still really new to the average person. As a reporter, I brought the first computer to the City Hall press room in 1979, first to turn in stories about the rapid fire news-making of then Mayor Jane M. Byrne. I still have notebooks from the Byrne years, but I don't have much else left. So it is sometimes hard to remember everything about good people that you have met over the years, especially going back more than three decades.

In 1982 and then again in 1984, Leonard Kaczanowski decided to run for office. He lived in the 13th Ward in Chicago and the man he chose to challenge, Michael J. Madigan, was one of the most powerful, and respected in the state. It was no easy race for sure and both times Kaczanowski lost his election bid.

A few years later, I moved from Burbank to Tinley Park and then in 1986 I moved to Orland Park. Imagine my surprise when "across the alley" (an old Chicago expression to describe the homes behind our home) Kaczanowski moved in with his wife.

He was older than I was, and we didn't have much in common besides politics and maybe the fact that we both served in the military, him during World War II and me during the Vietnam War. Generations apart. But he was always polite and friendly and kind. We'd say hello and chat about the old days of politics as we stood at the property line when all the backyards were wide open fields of beautiful grass. Since then, of course, the fences have gone up, fences that tend to keep neighbors in the suburbs from really getting to know their neighbors. Maybe in the suburbs of Chicago, most people who moved there didn't want to know their neighbors. I don't know.

But I remember Len had the spirit of politics. Had he settled in any other Chicago Ward, and run as a Democrat, he might have done well for himself. But he was conservative and a Republican. There was no chance to beat Mike Madigan, the Speaker of the Illinois House, who today is a good friend and someone I deeply admire.

Kaczanowski died this week. It was announced on Friday June 24th. Here's the Obituary that was published in the Chicago Tribune.

Leonard B. Kaczanowski, W.W. II Navy Veteran. Beloved husband of Mary, nee Bilas; loving father of Julienne (Wayne) Plestina and Bob (Tyna) Kaczanowski; dearest grandfather of John, Corey, Nichol and Danielle; devoted brother of Joseph (Shirley) and the late Roman (the late Adele) Kaczanowski; dear brother-in-law of Joseph (Mona) Bilas; fond uncle of many nieces and nephews. Visitation Friday, 5 to 8 p.m. Funeral Saturday, 9:15 a.m. from Lawn Funeral Home, 7732 W. 159th St., Orland Park to St. Elizabeth Seton Church. Mass 10 a.m. Interment Good Shepherd Cemetery. Funeral Info: 708 429-3200.

My condolences for myself and my family go out to his family and a memory of a man who I am sure did so much good for his family and his friends.

-- Ray Hanania 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Why is it that some have to resort to racism to explain acts of violence?

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An Orland Park woman who happens to be Muslim and happens to be Arab tried to attack police who arrested her son claims she was being victimized because she is Arab and the police officer involved in Jewish. Click here to read the story?

That's ridiculous of course, unless the two have had history of confrontation in the past. But aside from that, the response to the woman has been pure racism and bigotry and while I don't condone what she did you have to wonder about the people who are writing and evoking vicious racist hatred at the woman because she is Arab and Muslim. In fact, the attacks against the woman are really attacks against all Muslims and Arabs and that is so ugly, hateful and racist.

This is what was written at one of the region;s most popular Police Blogs. Click here to read the hatred.

I posted a response to the hatred and we'll see how far that goes. But here is the graphic the blog owners posted on their web site:

The comments are ugly and hateful and unbecoming of Orland Park and our community. Can't we get past the racism? So many Arabs and Muslims have served and continue to serve in the U.S. Military it's disgusting that their service and patriotism should be tainted by the unpatriotic viciousness of others.

Did the woman really try to run the police officer's over, as is alleged? Or can it be that the woman was angry and yelling at the police officers and she didn't listen to them and they used their power and clout to punish her for what she did? 

End the hate already and make Orland Park the place it really is.

-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My full letter to the Daily Southtown responding to Kathy Quilty's attacks against the Orland Fire Protection District

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Dear Editor:

The new board of the Orland Fire Protection District was given a very clear mandate in the last election, to trim costs, make the district more transparent, and end the nepotism and insider preferences that were the foundation of the two new board member's campaigns. Now the election is over, the new board, with the two new members and one incumbent member, have begun to change the OFPD along these lines.

Kathy Quilty, a member of the District 230 School Board, has tried to make the issue one of personality and politics (in her letter, June 14). She needs to do a better job at the High school district and confront many of the outstanding issues there. But more importantly the new board wants to eliminate any appearances of favoritism towards the internal workings of the district. I don't recall Quilty complaining about the excessive spending, the secret contracts, the golden parachutes, lack of transparency and insider deals that plagued the former board.

The new board is intent on making the OFPD more transparent and as that begins, the taxpayers may be shocked by some of the things that took place.

People should respect the wishes of the taxpayers and support the changes, not obstruct them or confuse the issues to protect their friends. The Fire Department and Fire Fighters are an important part of the community. They put their lives on the line everyday to protect the community. That respect and support for their dedicated work will never change. But, the new board is intent on changing what a small group of people, like Quilty, are trying to protect.

The public deserves to know what has occurred at the board and to be informed fully as the new board moves forward.

Ray Hanania
Orland Fire Protection District

Here is the letter the Southtown published, edited:

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nooooo. Not more wild grass and weeds at Police Headquarters?

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For a moment back in May, it looked like the experiment with the bushy lawns and wild prairie look was over for the Orland Police Department. The prairie looked like it was cut down to the ground.
And now it's back, knee-high and growing even wilder.

I fee sorry for the Orland Park Police. The building looks so great, but the grassland around it is starting to look like a jungle, again. Seriously.

So we're back to the experiment. That lawn cut was just to tease the residents. Well, it fooled me. Or maybe I just wanted to believe that some sanity would take over the village.

What did I know?

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Orland Park resident claims he is the victim of intimidation because of outspoken criticism of the former Fire Protection District board

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Orland Park resident claims he is the victim of intimidation because of outspoken criticism of the former Fire Protection District board

An Orland Park resident claimed he is the victim of intimidation because of his outspoken criticism of the former board and the practices of the Orland Fire Protection District.

Paul Cervenka, who lives in the Villa D'Este neighborhood off of 84th Avenue,  said that he was "given a message" on Friday night.

A truck dragged its wheels across the lawn of his home repeatedly sometime in the middle of the night. "It looks like someone drove a semi on my front lawn," Cervenka said.

How does he know they targeted him?

"Well, they came pretty close to my neighbor's yard and then stopped and backed up, according to the track marks left so it is clear they were targeting me," Cervenka said. "They damaged part of my neighbor's lawn but it is real clear that they were focused on my lawn."

Cervenka said that the police asked him why his home would be target. Anyone close to the Orland Fire Protection District knows that Cervenka has been a constant voice for the taxpayers demanding to know how the former board was spending taxpayer funds.

Cervenka said that in the past, he has received anonymous letter in the mail making mild threats, but this is the first time, he says, he has had actual damages. A typical front lawn costs about $5,000 to be re-sodded.

"If someone wants to disagree with my views, they can come to any Fire District board meeting and respond to anything I say or the questions I have but that's not what they want. They want me to go away and be quiet. And I won't do that. They sent a message but I am not going away and I am going to continue to do what I do."

Cervenka said he is encouraged by the recent change at the board and the new board's focus on saving money.

"I'm out there challenging the board's old ways and it's the kind of thing you expect from bullies. I'll keep it documented with the police. It's grass. It will grow back someday. The police said I should get a security camera for my house. Imagine that, in America, we have to watch our properties because you are vocal and want to save money for taxpayers. I've never attacked anyone personally. I always focused on the system and the board as an entity."

Cervenka said he has pushed three main issues in his board appearances during the public sessions:
- The first issue is costs. "The costs are just too extreme for Orland Park to be the 2nd highest cost in the state. That's ridiculous."
- The second issue is that the old board "was not transparent. They never released any information about salaries and spending. Requests were refused and the new President and board say they are going to post everything and I think that's important."
The third issue is the union. "I think the union has been too cozy with the board and the union was calling the shots in terms of hiring, spending and new equipment. I speak out against their hands-out control of the board. The hiring of the 11 firefighters is his idea and I am not sure I trust their claims about overtime. I think they created the overtime to justify doing this. We need answers."
 Cervenka said that he started confronting the board back in November. The OrlandPark.Patch video-taped that meeting and posted it and I think that raised some eyebrows. The board didn't like what I said and the video has haunted them.

Now of course, the changes are being implemented and I think that is where the hate comes from.

Cervenka has attended every Fire Protection District board meeting and will continue to do that despite what he believes is the intimidation.

Here is the link to the video taken by the OrlandPark.Patch of the November 2010.

Newly elected board members Blair Rhode and Chris Evoy have vowed to make the District more transparent.

(NOTE: The poster of this blog, Ray Hanania, is the communications director of the Orland Fire Protection District.)


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Streets flood and morons try to drive through -- they deserve to have their cars ruined

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It always amazes me how moron drivers will take their cheap, broken down jalopies and try to drive through a flooded street. They're idiots and if you see someone whose car has been stalled in a flood in four feet of water, blow them raspberries, because they deserve it. In 99 percent of the cases, the people had a choice to use their brains or be lazy and try to navigate their cars through flooded streets.

There are a few who end up on flooded streets who are stuck in traffic and can't move as the water builds up, but that's a rarity. The majority of cars stuck in flooded waters on flooded streets made the choice to drive through it. I hope their insurance companies refuse to cover them and make them learn a valuable lesson.

Why am I so harsh? Because people whose streets in front of their homes are flooded suffer more damage when morons drive through the floods, creating water waves that damage the surrounding properties. Already several homes in Orland Park have flooded, with most of the water draining around the Orland Park mall into people's homes.

The Mall has a terrible flood removal system and are the biggest cause of flooding in that area. In fact, the Mall's lake flooded -- because Simon Management which announced a major face job for the mediocre indoor shopping center doesn't take care of the ponds near their property.

In other areas, it's failure to take care of your lawns or to use those wood chips as a decorative device around your flower beds and lawns. The wood chips end up floating away -- your money washing down the sewers -- and then they actually cog the sewers, causing the water run-off to drain slower and resulting in flooding. In most cases, if the sewers were not obstructed, the water would drain steadily and help avoid flooding.

Several homes have been flooded in Orland Park. And part of the problem are the motorists who speed through the flash lakes -- again morons -- and cause the flood waters to wave up the property to the homes and then through the window sills.

Flooding is terrible, one of many tragedies that can plague homeowners. I think fire damage would have to be the worst and the most life threatening. It's occurring more and more around the country.

Things you can do?
- Hook your gutter drainage to underground plastic pipes that direct the water away from your home into the street.
- Replace wood chip decorative garden items with rocks.
- Rake your lawn and remove any debris, especially small sticks that tend to float and then clog the sewers.
- Remove any debris from the lawn around your home because they float and clog the sewers. (See a pattern here?)
- Scream at the village officials who can do absolutely nothing, by the way. The water flood consultant they have can come by and express shock at the water levels, but they can't do much more than that.
Sometimes the rainfall comes down so fast and hard there is nothing anyone can do about the accumulation of water in certain areas of the village. It just happens. But homeowners can make a difference. The problem is a community is only as smart as their lowest common denominator. If all the homeowners in an area, except one, takes precautionary measures, the moron who does nothing only undermines all your efforts and they cause the floods to be worse.

My heart and compassion goes out to any neighbors who had flooding as a result of this morning's rains. They deserve better but I am afraid in Orland Park it is not going to happen.

-- Ray Hanania

What's one letter in Orland Township? It can be significant

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When Brian Younker ran for Orland Township Highway commissioner in April 2009, he was challenging the incumbent Donald Yunker. It was a slick political trick on Paul O'Grady's part, but O'Grady comes from that long line of slicksters at the 19th Ward who have been licking their chops for decades trying to figure out how to install the Hynes Dynasty as Orland Park's grand old party of royalty.

Younker, with a "u", easily defeated Yunker, without the "U". But the two names were very similar.

Younker has had some recent troubles, but that's life, I guess. (Click to read about them.)

But I'll bet Donald Yunker might argue that one letter can make a difference in life, for sure.

I like some of the people at the Orland Township offices. I;m not sure what all of them do, exactly, that is different from what can be done elsewhere. But my favorite person is the clerk, Cindy Murray. She volunteers with her husband in the local Cub Scouts and that in my book is the most important credential a candidate for office can brag about.

They all moved in to the new building that they criticized the former Township officials for buying. But it turns out that Robert Maher, the former Orland Township Supervisor ousted by the 19th Ward Precinct Captain Paul O'Grady, was right. O'Grady's campaign slammed Maher with all kinds of mud during the campaign. It was unafir, but at least Maher has been vindicated. His plans were the best for the Township. The new location is great. I've been there, to vote. Not sure why I might go there for anything else though.

So it was interesting for my son to come home from the Orland Days Parade last week with some toss-aways. Toss-aways  are the junk that politicians thrown at the kids. Most of the time, it's stuff the kids want, like candy. But sometimes, politicians with troubles ignore the kids and throw out junk, like a magnet that you put on the refrigerator. (My kid screams at me when I call it the ice box -- I can't break the habit. We had one when I was a very young kid living on Chicago's South East side, a wood box with a chunk of ice delivered to the house every three days by a guy in a pushcart. It worked. My kid doesn't believe me.)

But I give my fourth grader high grades for catching this one. Someone tossed him the Orland Township High Way information refrigerator magnet. My son loves magnets, even when they are worthless as gifts like refrigerator cards promoting some political office you might not be interested in ever using -- except to say hello to Murray who is a great person. (Maybe all of the Orland Township officials should volunteer to help the Cub Scouts. That would be a great thing to brag about. Murray, don't let politics bother you. Whatever you do, it will be worth it.)

He pointed something out that many people probably didn't catch. A simple little letter, that made the difference int he last election between Brian Younker and Donald Yunker.

Take a look at the card that my son brought home from the Orland Days Parade: See if you catch it.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Responding to the haters on the

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As I post responses to citizens asking questions on the Orland Park Patch, I will post those responses here for your review, too.

June 7, 2011
I intend to do what the taxpayers asked the new board to do and that is to be open and accessible, something that was not always possible in the past. It's clear that the critics are just disgruntled people with ties to the Fire Department and are angry that they have lost clout at the expense of the wishes of taxpayers. I will continue to comment here and respond to lies and exaggeration to insure that the public gets the full story. And I will do it in a civil manner that differs from the screamers like Spike and his friends.

Everyone has a right to ask questions. No one is entitled to attack and name call or use racist epithets to address issues. This is a new board and they will do what's in the best interests of the taxpayers of the district.

For the record, as was disclosed publicly (somethign the district has not been good about doing in the past) my contract is for $3,000 per month, which is $1,000 less than what Spike and others supported in the past. Maybe that's why they are upset. They have something to lose.

Ray Hanania

Orland Village officials to buy iPads for their trustees and mayor

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The Village of Orland Park plans to spend just under $6,000 to purchase 11 iPads that their elected officials will use during board meetings. The Village Manager, Paul Grimes, who I admire, has argued that it is a cost savings move and is a part of the villages' continued efforts towards "Greening." (They purchased the iPad 2s, which are the newer ones from Apple.)

Grimes and Deputy Village Clerk Joe LaMargo -- who I think is the real village clerk in Orland Park based on his leadership and activism -- also explained that the village is providing internet access so the Mayor, Dan McLaughlin, and the trustees can access the Internet to review past village documents.

It's not that it is a bad idea. It's a smart idea in concept. I have an iPad. I used to use it all the time, until my wife and son discovered the real benefit of owning an iPad. You can watch great movies on it and play fun games like "Angry Birds" which is the latest online gaming fad, kind of like Cabbage Patch Kids for the Internet's kids. (You use a sling shot to shoot a bird at a structure that collapses and you get points for destroying things -- something I think politicians would love to do.)

They're cheaper than PCs and laptops, which have gotten to be cheap over the past year, but they have limitations. And the Orland iPads don't have 4G access but instead rely on WiFi -- the 4G iPads are really the best because they allow you to access the internet for only $25 a month from anywhere in the United States (I have AT&T). Orland is providing WiFi to the Officials' iPads through Comcast, who are the most expensive monopoly on cable and internet and poor service one can find.

What will the Mayor, trustees and other officials be doing with their iPads? Well, I know Grimes and LaMargo and they are both professionals so you can bet they'll be scanning documents during the meetings. In fact, they will be sharing iPads which means they probably won't be taking them home to play the online games.

But the rest of the officials? How will we know? Well, just watch their faces. The next time the Village Board of Trustees votes to revoke a property tax rebate, or to increase the costs of vehicle stickers, or to increase water fees, if they are not sad-faced, you can bet their probably deeply involved in a game of Angry Birds.

The only other thing the Orland Park officials will be able to do is connect to the Internet using the unreliable Comcast Internet service and check their web site for updated documents, I guess. Or you might catch them at Starbucks using the gadgets in the free WiFi zone. 

Just check to see if they are smiling. I hear Angry Birds is a lot of fun.

- Ray Hanania

(Update -- the purchases were approved by committee but must be approved by the village board)

Gormans vindicated by bankruptcy judge

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It was one of the most vicious and hateful campaigns, launched against Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Gorman and her husband, Gerry Gorman. The political jokers who slammed the Gorman's did so to pursue her success and her defense of the taxpayers of Cook County. They threw mud and they defamed Gorman in order to confuse voters and take control of the district. In the end, the Gorman haters lost out and they lost out big time.

The critics were a former cook county board commissioner (whose name isn't worth repeating), his pal in a north suburban township, two trustees in Orland Park, a former fire protection district silver-spooned son pushed in to the county race by an overly ambitious father with political ties, and a consortium of other critics from low-lifes to selfish opportunists. Another was a mediocre media consultant at a prominent Republican lobbying firm headed by the wife of a former Illinois Governor. None of them are worth mentioning by name.
Elizabeth Ann Doody GormanImage via Wikipedia

But in the end, Liz and Gerry Gorman beat them all.

Liz Gorman has remained true to her commitment to the taxpayers of Cook County. She was not distracted from that goal by the vicious attacks. She stood her ground and pushed on, taking down her critics one at a time. The media was never generous to her, yet she persisted and focused on the objective to fight for the rights of taxpayers. Despite all the attacks, and criticism and namecalling and ugly defamation, Gorman wouldn't drop the ball to fight against the one percent sales tax hike that Todd Stroger had shoved down the throats of voters before being kicked out of office himself. While other commissioners were ready to roll over, Gorman refused, despite the constant attacks.

The bankruptcy ordeal and the lawsuits filed by the Chrysler Corporation -- her husband once owned a dealership which went under as did thousands of other good businesses -- were tossed out recently. One of the worst auto conglomerates, Chrysler went after the Gormans and after dozens of other dealership owners to punish them. But a Judge threw the Chrysler lawsuits out against the Gorman business on Monday. (Read story.)

Turns out that the Gorman's were right and the cabal of political losers were wrong. And turns out that the voters saw through the mudslinging against the Gormans and the namecalling and the vicious attacks by the politically jealous wannabes.

Bankruptcies in today's terrible economy are a fact of life. But to use them to assault one's character simply for political reasons is the lowest of low. It's even lower to attack someone who has fought so hard to help the economy-burdened taxpayers in Cook County.

No one has fought harder for the rights of Cook County voters than Liz Gorman. So to all the losers out there who tried to beat the Gormans, suck on your rotten egg morons. The Gorman's beat you all.

-- Ray Hanania
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Monday, June 6, 2011

Mayor McLaughlin and village officials celebrate opening of new Ice Cream shop

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Mayor Dan McLaughlin and Trustees Kathy Fenton, Pat Gira and Ed Schussler joined Sweetz Ice Cream and Cakes owner Roy Tufekcioglu and employees at a ribbon cutting ceremony to open his new shop. Sweetz Ice Cream and Cakes is located just a few doors down from Kismet on 151st Street and features an outdoor patio.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My contract with the Orland Fire Protection District and full transparency

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Because I strongly believe in transparency in public records, and because that is one of the most important issues facing the Orland Fire Protection District, I felt it was very important to disclose (again) my consulting contract with the OFPD.

The prior media consultant was managing media for the OFPD was Bill Figel. I don't know Bill Figel, the principal at Figel Communications, and have not worked with him in the past. But I know that he was a professional. The Orland Fire Protection District was paying Figel Communications, according to spending documents that I have reviewed, $4,000 per month.

When I was asked by Board President Jim Hickey to consider the position of communications consultant, I offered to do the work for less and recommended a $3,000 per month consulting contract. That is a savings for the Orland Fire Protection District of $12,000 per year.

Trustees Hickey, Blair Rhode and Chris Evoy indicated to me that their priority is to save money wherever possible (without impacting quality firefighter services) and to also promote transparency ina ll the contracts and expenses.

My contract is for one year a.dnd is reneweable at the end of each year, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees.

I agree that it is so important that the Board of Trustees strive for transparency and disclosure to the public while striving to also achieve savings for the taxpayers. I will do my best not only to help the trustees compose their press releases to keep the residents of the Orland Fire Protection District completely informed of what is taking place, but to also insure transparency whenever it is possible and doesn't violate the rights of other employees, etc. I'll use this blog and will also place releases and information on the OFPD web site for public scrutiny.

That's my commitment to the Orland region's public.

Ray Hanania

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Many attitudes have apparently changed since the Spring of 2004 regarding building new houses of worship

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In the Spring of 2004, hundreds of people attended public meetings to protest the building of Prayer Center for Muslims at 165th and 104th Avenue. It was 22,000 square feet and would serve the many thousands of Muslims who live among the many thousands of Christians and Jews in the Orland Park region.

But the protesters were warning of dire, dark things to come, asserting that if the Mosque was built, "Osama Bin Laden would come to Orland Park and kill our people." Thank GOD -- or is that Allah? Or Jehovah" Or Yaweh? Or G-d? that President Barack Hussein Obama killed Bin Laden and saved Orland Park! I mean, we were on pins and needles the whole time as his predecessor former President George W. Bush failed to kill or capture Bin Laden -- the Bin Laden family is very close to the Bush family, but don't tell anyone. It doesn't fit the stereotype of hatred that spreads when the issue of Muslims surfaces.

Well, today the Orland Prayer Center is one of the most beautiful buildings around. Click here to get information on it.

When racism wasn't the reason to block it, many turned to the argument of traffic congestion at the intersection of 104th Avenue and 159th Street. Oh, they said, it would be bad that THAT'S the reason why they didn't want Muslims -- or a Mosque, ahem! -- to be built six blocks south on the vacant land.

Well, I am glad the Orland Prayer Center controversy has subsided because it has made it easier for the founders of the Calvary Reformed Church to find a new location even closer to the congestion-anticipated intersection at 104th Avenue and 159th Street. The Calvary Reformed church didn't have any of the big protests that plagued the effort by Muslims to build a house of worship. There weren't six hundred people warning that a Christian convert to Islam might come here and kill people in Orland Park if the Calvary Reformed Church was built.

Pastors and Christian evangelists didn't grab the microphones to incite the same kind of hatred that was fanned at the packed public hearings for the Orland Prayer Center. No one seemed to complain much and everyone knew about it because the mainstream news media, which blows with the public attitude winds better than anyone wrote many stories about how the Calvary Reformed Church was struggling to find a new home.

The new Calvary Reformed Church is only  52,000 square feet in size, almost three times larger than the Orland Prayer Center down the street that everyone said was going to bring a Tsunami of vehicle traffic so great that not even a terrorist could find their way through the roadway congestion that would have been caused.

Of course, no such congestion occurred. They made a little turn lane to help redirect the massive hijira of traffic off of 159th Street. This time, instead of fighting the building of such a massive public center, the public supported it. In fact, the Calvary Reformed Church got a lot of support from Christian Churches nearby.

Calvary Reformed Church bought 33 acres from Catholic Cemeteries. The church is directly west of Good Shepherd Catholic Cemetery which was consecrated without much raucus either in 2005. There's even enough room to expand the church. God Bless them. Or, Allah Bless them. Or Yahweh bless them. Whoever.

I am happy for them that they didn't have to experience the vicious ugliness from the surrounding Orland Park residents, or that there were protests or ugly news media stories defaming them or questioning their motives or linking them to crime (statistics show the majority of crimes committed, including murders, are by Christians in America. Sorry the facts are the facts even if I don't think they really mean much to any story about Christians.)

It's more than enough space, in fact a lot more land than they really needed. Calvary Reformed Church just wanted more room so their children could play and enjoy the Church.

Funny. Thats' exactly what the founders of the Orland Park Prayer Center, the Mosque, had said, too. They just wanted someplace where their families could enjoy their own American Dream.

Maybe it is the passing of time, or that many of the haters simply moved away to other communities? Or maybe it's that President Obama has made this a safer nation now that he did what Bush failed to do -- Obama was distracted trying to hunt down a former American funded dictator -- Saddam Hussein -- who made threats against his daddy.

Or maybe, and I like to think that this is the real reason for the calm, people have learned that stereotyping and hatred have no place in a Christian home, a Jewish home or a Muslim home. And they have set aside their ridiculous anger and have educated themselves more about who Muslims really are.

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-- Ray Hanania