Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Orland Fire Protection District sweeps out old regime members

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Orland Fire Protection District sweeps out old regime members

Voters in the Orland Fire Protection District swept out the last two remaining allies of the former administration, Glenn Michalek and Marty McGill as trustees, electing in their place two reformers who joined the board's new majority in pursuing change and spending restraints.

John Brudnak, who is a member of the Orland Fire Protection District's Commission, and Jayne Schirmacher, were elected in a landslide victory Tuesday, April 9, 2013 to replace Michalek and McGill who was often at odds with the board's new leadership President Jim Hickey and Trustees Blair Rhode and Chris Evoy. Rhode and Evoy were elected in a similar landslide victory in April 2011 following voter protests against rising costs at the Fire District which serves all of Orland Park, Orland Hills and Orland Township.

The Orland Fire Protection District provides fire, emergency medical, and rescue services to the Village of Orland Park and Orland Hills, and unincorporated Orland Township. The Fire District is 33 square miles and resides within Cook County Illinois, serving a population of nearly 80,000. Orland Fire District is located about 20 miles southwest of Chicago.

With only one of 53 precincts still waiting to report final vote totals, Brudnak received 24.04 percent of the vote or 2,263 votes and Schirmacher, a newcomer to the Fire District, received 27.59 percent or 2,597 votes.

McGill, who has previously criticized Hickey and the board majority, received 16.21 percent or only 1,526 votes and Michalek, who often remained neutral in the board's internal politics, received 17.57 percent of the votes or 1,654 votes.

A 5th independent candidate Larry Moran received 14.59 percent of the vote or a total of 1,373 votes.

The Brudnak-Schirmacher election victory is credited in a large part to the alliance with Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman who beat back a challenge from controversy plagued former Fire Board President Pat Maher against her county seat in 2010. Maher then withdrew from a race for re-election to the Fire District in March 2011.

Under Hickey, Rhode and Evoy the Orland Fire Protection District has significantly reduced spending while maintaining the high level of emergency fire service to the residents. In the past two budgets submitted by the Hickey-Rhode-Evoy board leadership, the Fire District has for the first time approved a budget that was under $30 million. In the three prior years, the budget was over $30 million.

Hickey was quoted as stating when presenting the current budget, “This is the 2nd time that our budget would be under $30 million in the past six years now. Previously, our budget was over $30 million and was on its way to hitting $40 million based on prior spending habits. That was unacceptable. But we believe the budget reflects our continued concern for the needs of taxpayers who want great fire service at a better managed cost.”

Hickey noted that last year was the first time the budget was under $30 million in the prior five years.

The new Hickey-Rhode-Evoy leadership team trimmed back nearly $4 million in spending. By holding the line on spending, they also saved taxpayers as much as $3 million more that many believe would have been added to the past administration's $30 million plus budgets based on their current trajectory of spending. (Had the budget cuts not been imposed the budget would have steadily increased in 2011 to $32 million under the former Maher board and to $34 million in 2012.)

Gorman's backing of the Brudnak-Schirmacher slate drew some criticism from lingering allies of controversy plagued former fire chief Bryant Krizik who resigned following a public scandal and criticism of a laptop computer he controlled at the Fire District that was discovered to have had pornography among its files. (Read story.)

McGill drew public ire when he said publicly that had he owned the controversial laptop, he would have thrown it in the Calumet River rather than turn it over to investigators, a comment that his critics used in the election to unseat him. (Read McGill's comments.)

Two of Krizik's allies, both former members of the Senior Advisory board, constantly attacked the new leadership and often personally attacked Rhode. One of the activists is distantly related to Krizik. They are both close allies of McGill. The activists often also attacked Gorman, displaying how at odds they were with the district's voters who demanded change in 2011.

Gorman's backing clearly helped elect Brudnak and Schirmacher. Gorman is recognized as a fighter for taxpayers. She led the charge to repeal the odious sales tax hike imposed by former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger even when many members of the County Board abandoned the fight. Her stubborn refusal to give up the battle resulted in the two-stage repeal of the sales tax increase, reducing the tax burden on Cook County Taxpayers including in the Orland Fire District. 

At the last board meeting, McGill conceded he thought he faced an uphill fight for re-election.

(The writer, Ray Hanania, is a columnist and professional media and political consultant. One of his clients includes the Orland Fire Protection District. Read more.)

Trustee, Orland Fire Protection District, 6yr  
Registered Voters: 47,973Vote For 2 
Ballots Cast: 5,964
52 of 53 Precincts Reported
Turnout: 12.43%
Precincts Reporting Status Bar
John Brudnak (NonPartisan)
Jayne Schirmacher (NonPartisan)
Marty McGill (NonPartisan)
Glenn Michalek (NonPartisan)
Larry Moran (NonPartisan)

1 comment:

  1. Fire protection is important because it doesn't matter how big or small a fire is, it can be very harmful.

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