Thursday, September 12, 2013

I feel like I'm Dan Calandriello's "political clout" -- or at least helped get his political career running

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I feel like I'm Dan Calandriello's "political clout" -- or at least helped get his political career off the ground

Mayor Dan McLaughlin this week named Dan Calandriello, 28, as the successor to fill the vacancy of retiring trustee Brad O'Halloran.

I feel like I played a major part in making that happen, indirectly, of course.

No, Mayor McLaughlin didn't consult me when he made the appointment. I didn't write a letter of recommendation for Dan to apply for the vacancy either.

Dan Calandriello graduated from Marquette University and holds a law degree (almost a necessity for politics these days) from John Marshall Law School. According to the Village of Orland Park press release, Calandriello served in Washington DC, as a staff assistant for the U.S. House, according to the village. McLaughlin also said he did some work at Cook County, too.

He's a lifelong resident of Orland Park and has been an assistant state's attorney since 2011.

He also used to be my neighbor. His father was a good friend who I knew from the "neighborhood," although in the suburbs the term "neighborhood" isn't the same as it is in Chicago where homes are closer together and you can "know" families in homes within a 5 block radius.

In today's suburbs and large  home land plots, you're lucky (or unlucky) if you know your next door neighbor.

Dan's father worked as a salesman at a big car dealership where I purchased a car. (He's the second neighbor who worked at a car dealership where I purchased cars. Friendships make for confidence when spending the big bucks on vehicles that are very costly these days.

Great family. Nice people.

I remember when Dan was a young kid still in grade school and then later high school at Sandburg. He came up to me one day and asked me about politics and journalism. I had worked for years as the City Hall reporter for the old Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper, which today is an ethical shell of itself. And I published The Villager Newspapers which were very popular for many years in the mid-1990s until I sold the chain to the Messenger Press which was bought up by Liberty Publishing years later.

Dan Calandriello had a sparkle in his eye. A bright young kid. He was really interested. So I spoke with him and told him about how exciting politics would be and then introduced him to Mayor McLaughlin. I suggested, properly, that he approach the Mayor and express his interest. He should just reach out and get involved.

Local government is the perfect place to begin.

Clearly on his own initiative, Dan has done well. It's commendatory that his career has done so well. He wasn't just a lawyer, but an assistant prosecutor targeting crimes.

I haven't talk to him since his family moved from the neighborhood. Back in the mid-1990s, several homes flooded and his dad's home was one that the village purchased, refurbished and resold. It was a terrible time for flooding victims. But since then, the sewers and water pipes have been expanded significantly and flooding is no longer an issue.

I hope the new trustee will do well to consider the needs of residents. Politics is important but honesty is more important.

Good luck Dan Calandriello. Of course, I know if something goes wrong, I'll be the first to get blamed. But I have confidence this young man is going to do well. His father was a great role model and raised him right.

It's amazing to see these young people grow and become productive members of our society.

Instead of locking Calandriello into the vacancy for the remainder of O'Halloran's term, Dan Calandriello will have to run for election in the April 15, 2014 elections. O'Halloran, who has been a board member since 1993, was just re-elected but resigned int he wake of the shakeup at the METRA Board where he had served as chairman, appointed by the village. O'Halloran was a great politician and public servant and his loss is a loss for Orland Park.

But Mayor McLaughlin said in a village release, "I know Dan will do a great job, and he is excited about this opportunity. I am very happy to find somebody younger who will bring some new ideas and enthusiasm to the village government."

He also wrote, “I knew Dan when he was in grade school with one of my sons and remember his extremely upbeat positive attitude. After not seeing or talking with him for years, I find he has not lost that positive attitude, which in itself is noteworthy. After talking with him I find his enthusiasm and interest in serving Orland Park commendable and one of the many reasons I kept coming back to him. If we are to continue trying to make Orland Park the type of community that attracts and retains citizens of all ages, we need younger voices with new and different ideas on the board.”

I couldn't agree more. We do need more new blood on the village board. There's too much old, stale politics there. And despite some positive changes, the village still has some challenges including the increasingly annoying traffic that seems unsolvable and instances of crime that are disconcerting.

Mayor McLaughlin has always had an open administration and has done a good job as mayor. Hopefully he can pass along some of that in the Calandriello appointment.

I also feel good that I had a great influence in the life of another young man, Billy Healy, a young man who studied at Georgetown University, St Ignatius College Preparatory school and Northwestern. He had a great interest in journalism and I helped him get into journalism. He has done very well, too. Here's a link to some of Billy Healy's work. Click here.

And of course, I am not claiming any credit for their success. They did it all on their own. But I am glad I played a small roll in helping two great young people.


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