Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Bob Cacciato is a former member of the Orland Fire Protection District board. He was thrown out of office by voters in the last elections along with Patrick Maher, the deceitful former OFPD board president.
I am not going to say Cacciato is a bad person. He's not. He is very personable. In any other circumstance, I'd probably be his friend. But I have to take issue with his ridiculous public posturing and his one-sided politically motivated attacks on the Orland Fire Protection District Board. As a resident of Orland Park for more than 27 years, that is my right!
Cacciato served for six years on the Orland Fire Protection District board (elected in 2005). But in the few times I attended district meetings (twice) I NEVER heard him speak a word. In fact, most of the comments came from the former district's attorney who would lean over and tell Maher what to say and do.
Suddenly, since being tossed off of the OFPD Board Cacciato is all mouth. At every meeting, he gets up and expresses his views as if his own history didn't exist. Like at Tuesday night's meeting when he got up and criticized former OFPD Board member Cindy Katsenes.
Cacciato was thrown out by voters who elected Blair Rhode, a respected local orthopedic surgeon, and Chris Evoy, a respected local businessman. Evoy and Rhode are average Orland Park taxpayers whose concern for the unlimited budget and spending at the Fire District is what drove the election results. Maher and Cacciato were thrown out of office because they refused to get a handle on district spending.
But today, Cacciato continues to make the spurious claim that the new board with Rhode and Evoy and its new President Jim Hickey don't care about public safety. Cacciato makes the ridiculous claim that throwing taxpayer money on the OFPD will make it a better place and that the public will be safer. Cacciato's message is ridiculous, that the quality of Fire Service is based on how many millions you throw into the OFPD fire.
The two are unrelated. Some of the neighboring fire departments are providing excellent service with far less money. In fact, the real problem isn't money for equipment, but the excessive salaries that were given to firefighters by Maher and Cacciato. Yes, when Maher and Cacciato were in charge, they gave away the bank. Because they didn't care about the interests of the taxpayers.
I don't know what Cacciato's purpose was, but clearly Maher saw himself as the next president of the United States. He came from political royalty, related to the family of Tom Hynes, a great scion of a great family that has since gone off the political deep end.
By pumping money into the salaries of the Orland Fire Protection District, Maher was doing what every Chicago Machine politician has done, believing that if they give firemen and policemen raises above and beyond the norm, those firemen and policemen will work the precinct for them to get them elected to hire office. They sold the OFPD (and the interests of the taxpayers) to the unions in exchange for political support.
But Maher ran into the Gorman Machine. Maher tried to unseat Liz Gorman as Cook County Commissioner and she slam-dunked him so hard, he literally vanished from local politics. Good riddance. Personally, Maher was a good person. Politically, he was a jerk. And as a president of the Orland Fire Protection District, he was a terrible leader who had no control on spending. And that's why the OFPD spends more than $30 million a year on their budget.
The majority of the spending is for personnel wages and salaries, and that number is among the highest in the country. Thanks to Pat Maher and Bob Cacciato. It didn't have to be.
So now the new board is stuck with this overpaid budget and they can only trim expenses from the remainder of the budget where there is some discretion.
But, instead of trying to help, Cacciato suddenly has found a voice. Suddenly he can speak up at board meetings, even though he remained silent at nearly every one where he was a sitting board member. (Just read the past minutes to see his silence.)
And that brings me back to Katsenes. Katsenes was hired to help find ways to save money. She has experience having served on the Orland Fire Protection District Board (serving as a trustee from 2001-2007). She was initially hired at $3,000 a month. But after the first month, Katsenes decided she didn't wan tto take the salary because the budget hurdles were so outrageous that she felt she needed to do something to make a contribution. So, she turned back her salary.
She took one month's wages and since then (June, July, August, September, October, and November), she has not taken a dime.
So what did Caciaato do at the board meeting during the public session? He got up and attacked Katsenes asking if she was going to "return" the $3,000 she received for that one month of work.
Are you kidding me Mr. Cacciato? When during your term on the board can you even name one consultant who turned back their salary ever while you were a trustee on the Orland Fire Protection District? It never happened. Not once. So instead of bad mouthing Katsenes, maybe you should thank her.
The public thanks Katsenes. And all that does is show you how disconnected Cacciato and the old board was when it came to the best interests of the public.
And then there is the issue of the three former members of the Senior Advisory Group. They loved Maher, because they had ties to the Maher administration. When Maher was tossed and the board sought to make the senior advisory group more productive, they got upset and they quit. But they disrespected the Fire District by attacking the new board and making ridiculous and unsubstantiated charges throwing mud at Rosemaria Genova who has a small $1,000 a month contract to do special projects and PSAs for the Fire District -- hired by Maher. She is a hard worker.
Instead of offering to help the district, these three politically-motivated seniors instead come to every meeting to be disruptive and make unsubstantiated accusations. They want to create turmoil and start fights. They couldn't do anything productive so their only recourse now that their hero Pat Maher is out is to cast ugly aspersions.
Taxpayers should come to the board meetings and see how hard Rhode, Evoy and Hickey are working to keep costs down and maintain the high level of professionalism that exists at the Fire District. They deserve the praise. Thanks to Rhode, Evoy and Hickey, the district has saved hundreds of thousands and prevented the spending of hundreds of thousands more that would have taken the OFPD budget to new heights.
As for the critics, hypocrisy is about all they really have.
-- Ray Hanania
(For full disclosure, I started working as the media consultant for the Orland Fire Protection District replacing Bill Figel. Figel was paid $4,000 a month, but to help the district, I accepted the same job at only $3,000 a month. Cacciato doesn't like that either. So what! As an Orland Park resident for more than 27 years, I have every right to express my views, too. And I am going to defend public servants who are dedicated to helping the public.)
Communications strategies and the new media
By Ray Hanania
Speech to the Orland Park Chamber of Commerce on Communications Strategies Nov. 30, 2011
The media has changed but the fundamentals of communications have not changed.
In the 1970s when I entered journalism, broadcast journalism was battling with the dominant print media to take control of the hearts and minds of the public. Mike Royko used to write a column that was valued at 35,000 votes. That means his column could directly give a candidate 35,000 in a Chicago election.
Jane Byrne got elected on his columns and on the failure of the Chicago Machine to recognize how the media was changing. Byrne said it that the new precinct captain was not their loyal worker or volunteer who went home to home ringing doorbells and giving away new garbage can lids, but the TV. Television was the new precinct captain.
Today, we’ve moved from a broadcast-dominated media to cable TV and then to the Internet.
The new precinct captain is Facebook, Twitter and Social Media. You need an online presence to engage not only young people but baby boomers like myself.
I brought the first computer to the City Hall press room in 1979 to keep up with the fast pace that Mayor Byrne had in creating stories. She’d make a story in the morning, then change it at lunch, change it again after lunch and change it before going home. Then some reporter would catch her at a night appearance and she would change the story again. The only way to keep up with her frenetic pace was to use a computer. I had used a laptop. It had a 300 Baud Modem. I plugged it in to a telephone coupler and then dialed a number at the Daily Southtown and watched as each line of my text slowly crawled up the computer screen as it was sent to the office.
Today, text and images and your thoughts scream across time and cyber space with Flash Gordon technology at what seems like the speed of light.
But in all this change, the fundamentals of communications remain the same because the audience we are trying to influence is the same. We’re human beings and no matter how fast things are processed in a computer chip, we still take the same amount of time to understand things.
And when we talk to human beings, the issue isn’t how fast we speak, but the quality of what we say. People are smart. Most of them see through the bullshit. They know right from wrong and no matter how slick your message, they know when you are lying. A human gut feeling is more powerful than all the money spent on a campaign. Just as Herman Cain and Rick Perry. Poor guys. Cain wants us to believe he doesn’t have a habit of harassing women and Perry wants us to believe he’s smart.
No matter what your communications goal, it comes down to three things:
- knowing your audience, who are the people – the human beings – that you are trying to reach?
- what is it that you want to say?
- and most importantly, what are you going to write?
Add only the up-to-date methods of delivering the message.
It’s not what you say that is important but rather, how you say it.
Perception is oftentimes more real than reality. What the public thinks matters.
You can sell something to anyone, if you make them feel comfortable and that ability to identify with your audience is still the most important factor in the human experience of exchanging ideas and thoughts and communicating.
You will listen to and believe a friend, even when they are wrong, but you will always distrust a stranger.
Your message needs to connect with the audience in a friendly way, not as a combatant.
Middle East as an example
I’ll make a quick segue for a moment: As some of you may know, I am Palestinian American Christian. One of the most powerful forms of communications is humor and I’ll give you a taste later of some of my comedy which is based on my marriage – my wife and son are Jewish.
But the Arab community is a good example of how good causes are destroyed by the failure to deliver a message properly and effectively.
It’s not about speaking English. It is about speaking American. Baseball. Hotdogs. Apple Pie. Nearly every book by an Arab writer is some form of boring politics, written in a boring style of academic dissertation. Great books. Great content. But not presented compellingly.
The most effective message on the Middle East was presented in the 1960s in the form of a book called Exodus. Have you read the book or seen the movie? Just in comparison, how many have read the book “The Transformation of Palestine?”
Well, let me just say that when Israel wanted to tell their story, they chose the effective strategy. Hired a brilliant PR person – his last name was Edward Gottlieb I met his daughter years later online -- who then went out to hire an author to write Israel’s story in a book. You probably even know that author’s name, Leon Uris. The book was published in 1958, 10 years after the State of Israel was created. It was a hit. It also was a novel which means that the majority of the information in the book was fiction.
And Arabs just don’t understand the power of fiction in terms of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
They are learning, but not fast enough.
Content drives success
It all comes down to the writing. Every successful message is built on compelling content. And most of you don’t have compelling content. Why would you? Most of you are not writers and sadly, most of the communications consultants who design web pages and write press releases are not very good writers either.
Consultants will tell you that the key to an online presence is a great web site with all the latest bells and whistles. But that defies common sense. Yes, you need a good web page, but it’s not just how it looks. It has to do with how fast will it load? Is it filled with annoying disturbances and distractions? And once someone comes to your web page, what do they find?
In most cases, companies buy the bells and whistles. They have great looking web pages. They offer some services. But the real missing element is quality content. You need content that is compelling, that compels them to engage your products through intelligent thought because today’s consumers are very intelligent and aware.
They hate ugly looking web sites that are hard to navigate, but they also hate great looking web sites that offer little in terms of engaging them.
It comes down to content, what you write.
Fundamentals of communicating are so simple and easy to understand, but you need someone who knows how to write.
A consultant will tell you they can give you new ideas, but common sense drives the best communications strategies. New ideas are great but how do you communicate those ideas to the public?
You don’t have to buy advertising. In fact, outside of a the local news media, I would tell you that unless you are a large corporation, cancel your advertising in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. You are wasting your money, enormous amounts of money that do very little except stroke your ego. Maybe you want to make yourself look good.
I would urge you to find someone who can write. And then post what you write on a blog. Link that blog in an automatic fashion to eliminate the extra work to a Facebook Fan Page, Group and to your Twitter Account. Create a dozen accounts on all the major social media including MySpace, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Use Ping.FM to post your tweets. Ping will send your Tweets to ALL of your social media at one time.
Understand how to reach people. People live in social groups in cyberspace just the same way they live in real life in neighborhoods. When I grew up, we were more race conscious. We lived in a White neighborhood that was Arab and Jewish and Irish Catholic. Near us was the Polish neighborhood. Near them was the Czech neighborhood. Near them was the Black neighborhood. And near them was the Hispanic neighborhood.
We think things have changed with regards to race, but they really haven’t. I wrote an online book called Midnight Flight that is linked on my web site at Hanania.com or TheMediaOasis.com or RadioChicagoland.com that tells the story of White Flight from Chicago in the 1960s. Things have changed a lot since then. But humans fundamentally fear strangers and embrace those who look like themselves. Friendship helps to change that fundamental dynamic.
Cyberspace and online are the same. You have to look for groups of people in different places so you need to have a presence in many places. Learning how to connect all of those social media places is an art form and a new aspect of communications. Ping.fm is a good place to start.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, media consultant and radio talki show host. His show is broadcast every Sundays from 8 to 11 am on WSBC 1240 AM radio. www.RadioChicagoland.com.)
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
November 29, 2011
As the economy remains stagnant and expenses continue to rise for American families, especially healthcare expenses, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs to make ends meet. To help my constituents save money and ease some of the financial burdens on their already strained pocketbooks, I have been providing a Coast2Coast RX Prescription Discount Card which has been saving constituents money since June of this year.
The card is being distributed free of charge from my district office and from my web site as a download. The card is good at over 59,000 pharmacies nationwide and accepted at Walgreens, CVS, Osco, Target, Costco and many neighborhood pharmacies in your area. It may also be used for discounts on lab tests and imaging, Outlook Vision program and Dentemax dental program.
Several of our constituents have contacted us to let us know of the great savings they received by using this card. To date, the average savings to our constituents has been a whopping 66% off the regular costs of their prescription medications. For instance, one constituent who paid $59 per month for one prescription is now paying $19 and another was paying $281 per month for one prescription and by using the card his new cost is $121 per month. That same constituent found that if they switched to the generic brand of their medication, they would pay only $13 per month.
Everyone is eligible to use it. What’s even better is that one card may be used by your entire family. If you think you can benefit from this card, please contact my office at 708-349-1336 or log on to my web site at www.lizgorman.com and download your own copy of the card.
Cook County Commissioner
Monday, November 28, 2011
Orland Township to Launch New Prescription Drug Savings Program
November 23, 2011 – Orland, IL – On December 2, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’ Grady and IPPFA Benefits will hold a press conference to launch a new prescription drug discount program at 14807 S. Ravinia Avenue Orland Park, IL.
Once launched, the new Coast2Coast Rx card will allow all Township residents, regardless of income, age, or health status to participate in the program and save on the cost of their medications. This program saved cardholders throughout the nation an average over 50% in 2011 on the cost of prescription drugs. Even pets and other people living outside the Township are able to take part in the program. The Rx card will be distributed free of charge and may be used at all pharmacy chains and most independent pharmacies in Orland Township and includes over 60,000 drugs in its formulary.
“In offering the prescription drug discount card, I’d like to alleviate a bit of the stress that many residents are facing right now in this financially unstable time. Paying a little less at the drugstore can’t hurt, especially when the cost of healthcare is steadily rising,” said Orland Township Supervisor, Paul O’ Grady. There are no eligibility requirements so the Rx card is expected to have a sizeable impact on uninsured residents or residents facing high insurance deductibles. If a particular drug isn’t covered under a person’s health plan – they can use the card to save on those prescriptions.
Providing savings for residents through the Rx program will come at no expense to the Township. Besides the discount on prescriptions, the card also provides 50% to 80% discounts for lab and imaging tests, and discounts on Dental, Vision and Hearing services, further helping residents save even more money on their healthcare costs for these services.
Debby Karton, Benefits Coordinator at IPPFA, the distributor of the Coast2Coast Rx free discount card, says “we are pleased to work with the Township to help individuals, their families and pets combat the rising cost of healthcare.” Karton added, “we appreciate all that the Township and local pharmacies are doing to help those in need.”
The Coast2Coast Rx card will be available for residents at most participating pharmacies, governmental offices, libraries, and the Orland Township offices. Residents will also be able to print the Rx card, check their prescription prices and view the nearest participating locations at www.coast2coastrx.com/Orland.
The Coast2Coast Rx card will provide residents with a valuable tool to help maintain their health and wellbeing at a discounted cost. Orland Township joins over 30 townships in Cook, Lake and DuPage Counties making the program available to residents.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
There are a lot of annoyances in Orland Park. Some crappy neighbors, buts lots of good ones to compensate! ComEd digging in your yard without ever giving you a notice they're doing any work. Crowded LaGrange Road. But the one thing I enjoy, our population of Canadian Geese. Here's a video of a gaggle of geese crossing a road in Orland Park. Fortunately, all of the vehicles stopped and didn't run them over as some moronic drivers often do. Enjoy it.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Vote shows how much control ComEd has over our pocketbooks
By Ray Hanania
Commonwealth Edison is all about wealth and less about Thomas Edison’s driving desire to serve mankind with electrical power.
The ComEd combine steamrolled through Springfield’s legislature this past session doling out donations and roping in legislators to back its push for a rate increase.
In the neighborhoods, many homeowners were dragged in the fight when their electricity – in many cases for absolutely no reason – went out for hours. It was kind of like the mafia coming by and busting your store window to remind owners to pay-up of face the consequences.
The consequences for the public are steep. Their rates will again go up. And for what? Continued erratic and lousy service.
ComEd continues to play the pauper while it is the abandoned son of Exelon the multi-billioned profit center parent. Exelon threw ComEd out of the “house” so it could separate ComEd’s financial needs from Exelon’s profits. How can you pretend to be in need of money when you are one of the wealthiest companies in America? So Exelon cut ComEd from its corporate structure creating all kinds of phony distances so ComEd could profess to be the pauper.
Meanwhile, ComEd’s lobbyists and media minions worked the legislature like the Mafia on Chicago’s South Side, even to the point of having colleagues vote on behalf of the skittish few.
ComEd’s spin machine claimed that the new increases would help them to improve the delivery of electricity through a new “smart grid” system. They only need $3.5 billion. (They probably spent that much for the army of lobbyists who swarmed through Springfield to push for the consumer rate increase.)
Amazingly, the ComEd army sold the hapless legislators on the anemic argument that a rate hike will actually save consumers money.
Gov. Pat Quinn was right when he pointed out that something stinks in the passage of the ComEd “Smart Grind” legislation – the name was a lobbyist’s wet-dream. Supposedly it will help improve the service so neighborhoods won’t experience so many electricity service shutdowns. After pummeling residents in neighborhoods in legislative districts where legislators were on the fence with electricity shut downs, those legislators managed to somehow cast a shaky vote or walked away from the vote so that their colleagues could cast their votes for them.
Gov. Quinn rightly calls it a theft of representation, but suddenly Quinn is the bad guy in this. Suddenly the media which touted Quinn as the best alternative to the scandal-plagued former governor Rod Blagojevich – who never met a friend he could turn in to an enemy – and now somehow Quinn is worse.
How fast the media whores can spin their ethics?
The "smart grid" measure passed 36-19 in the Illinois Senate. There was no debate before the House voted which rallied for a rate hike and ComEd’s lobbyists by a whopping 74-42 vote, making the vote veto-proof.
It’s a snub against Quinn but the real victims are consumers. The utility company managed to once again find a way to increase rates without a whimper from our centurions in the legislature. Centurians? More like puppets.
The bill was sponsored by:
In the Senate, Mike Jacobs, John O. Jones and John J. Millner. In the House, by Kevin McCarthy, Mike Bost, Dave Winters, Kenneth Dunkin and Dan Reitz.
McCarthy’s legislative office is in the ComEd hit zone that was targeted for electrical shut-offs. There were five just in the past month in that area, each time for several hours during the day. No explanation. No one cares except the homeowners stuck in their homes wondering what the hell happened.
Here’s how your legislator voted to give ComEd, which provides terrible service, a means of increasing rates and Exelon’s profits. House Vote followed by Senate vote -- (By vote and by last name except where last names are similar to other members):
HOUSE VOTE, Oct 26, 2011
74 YEAS 42 NAYS 0 PRESENT
Y du Buclet
Y Burke, Daniel
Y Mitchell, Bill
Y Mitchell, Jerry
Y Chapa LaVia
Y Davis, Monique N Kay
Y Mr. Speaker Madigan
Y Davis, William
(y – Yes, N – No, E - Excused Absence)
Senate Bill No. 1652 OVERRIDE VETO
MOTION IN WRITING THIRD READING
Oct 26, 2011
36 YEAS 19 NAYS 2 PRESENT
Y Collins, A.
Y Johnson, T.
Y Jones, E.
Y Jones, J.
Y Mr. President Cullerton
N Johnson, C.
P Collins, J.
(Y – Yes, N = No, P – Present, NV – No Vote cast)