Tuesday, December 30, 2008
To find the show, scroll down to 12-30-08 on the virtual iPod on the web site (all shows are listed in Chronological order and can be heard online without leaving the web page). Or, go to www.iTunes.com and download the podcast to your own iPod.
-- Ray Hanania
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Here's a link.
What I found interesting was Mayor McLaughlin's response to Maher.
I don't think McLaughlin can blow off Maher the way he did before. In the 2001 race, McLaughlin was riding high and Orland Park was on its way up. The next year, very confident, McLaughlin imposed an increase of .75 percent in the local sales tax using home rule powers -- something other communities were doing. But McLaughlin also announced a property tax rebate to compensate residents so they would not be hurt by the sales tax hike which was intended to hit out-of-towners coming in to Orland Park to shop in Orland's then bustling retail community.
Since then, the economy has tanked, Orland Park is hit particularly hardbecause McLaughlin gambled everything on retail expansion and a dependence on the sales tax revenues. And he cut the annual resident property tax rebate down significantly to about 25 percent of what it was in the past (rebating about $4.5 million out of an approved property tax levy of $17 million ... which represents a hike, even though the levy covers a period slightly more than 12 months).
And, Orland Park has seen an array of local fees increased significantly.
The real problem, of course, isn't the conomy. The reality, as everyone in Orland Park knows, is that things are not well. Many of the programs originally offered by the village originally had fees. But in the past year, the village has imposed new fees and attendance has dropped significantly.
The economy has also put a serious damper on the Christmas Season in Orland Park. The reality is there are far fewer homes in Orland Park that have expansive Christmas lighting decorations. We go on the Holiday Trolley every year -- one of the few surviving free services -- and there were so few lit homes to see it was really rather boring and embarassing.
-- Ray Hanania
Friday, December 19, 2008
By Ray Hanania
It’s a tough choice between the lonely truth and the popular hypocrisy.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich deserves his day in court. Not in the kangaroo court contrived by the political lynch mob circling around his presumed remains, but in the light of the U.S. Constitution that every American is innocent until proven guilty and not one second, one legislative motion or one political diatribe too soon.
The events of the past 10 days since the governor was arrested and charged by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in an unprecedented guilty-until-proven innocent non-indictment have been stunning. Friday, Blagojevich, flanked by his attorneys, denied any guilt and insisted he is innocent.
Immediately, his critics in the legislature, who have been his critics for several years and who began impeachment proceedings long before Fitzgerald’s seemingly political accusations, ignored Blagojevich’s claim of innocence and stuck by their demands that he step down.
Attorneys for Blagojevich said that if the governor’s actions hurt the people of Illinois, he would step down, and his critics quickly jumped like kangaroos in a holding pen saying that the controversy has made Illinois the corruption laughing stock of the country.
Well, I have news for Blagojevich’s critics. Illinois has already long been the corruption laughing stock of the country. The state’s culture of corruption was here long before Blagojevich was elected governor six years ago.
And when Blagojevich is gone, that culture of corruption will remain, now heightened even more by a stampede of political kangaroos who hope to pounce on Blagojevich for their own political benefit.
First is House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, who has battled Balgoejvich incessantly. Despite some arguments that Blagojevich’s style has been unorthodox, and assertions in some cases illegal, Madigan has been after the governor for several years, acknowledging last week that he initiated the impeachment probe almost a year ago.
Next in line is Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, the do-gooder that no-one in the Democratic establishment liked, until he became their only immediate alternative to Gov. Blagojevich. Despite Blagojevich’s claims that he is innocent, and the lack of “real” evidence of guilt other than the one-sided assertions of a possibly politically motivated US Attorney trying to save his job as a new Democratic president takes office, Quinn again called for Blagojevich to resign.
Resign, Quinn said, so that Quinn could be named as the acting governor, something Quinn knows he would never get in any election contest outside of the current turmoil he is helping to foment.
Then there is Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan who is seeking Blagojevich’s job, too. She petitioned the state’s highest court to throw her rival out of office, but thankfully the high court stuck by the laws of America and the United States Constitution that affords its citizens the right to face the evidence, witnesses and accusers, to review the evidence and see the facts that have been waved around by the political lynch mob.
I don’t know if Blagojevich is innocent or guilty. But I do know that his rights are being abused.
If Blagojevich does not step down, or is allowed to stay in office as Fitzgerald is forced to follow the nation’s laws, the political lynch mob has argued they will impeach him on the earlier high crimes. Those “crimes” include that Blagojevich implemented a health program to help needy families in Illinois without the blessing of the lynch mob and the kangaroo court justices.
Legislators blasted Blagojevich claiming that they support helping needy families, too, but the track record shows they’ve done nothing but line their own pockets with power and campaign cash from contractors.
Blagojevich stood by the people. He is trying to stand by the law.
If I have to chose between an unpopular governor who is alone with his demand to be treated like an American citizen and not an Iraqi prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, or to join the lynch mob kangaroo court jesters that more than Blagojevich has sullied the national image of this state with their selfish eagerness to remove someone illegally, I think I would rather stand with Blagojevich.
I would rather that I was wrong while standing rightly by our Constitution which gives Blagojevich rights the kangaroo court and political lynch mob seeks to deny him.
Gov. Blagojevich just may well be guilty of the charges. But there is a proper way to make the determination, and then there is the way of the kangaroo court and the state’s political lynch mob.
And even if it turns out they are right and Blagojevich is guilty, being in that company would have a feeling of shame that in destroying the governor we also destroyed our system of justice.
Tinely Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki issued an alert Friday.
"Tinley Park along with several other suburbans have experienced some late night robberies of Middle-Eastern business men. These men have businesses in the city and take the day's receipts home with them. They are followed home and than either in the driveway or the home itself is robbed," Zabrocki said in his statement.
The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC Chicago) has reached out to Mayor Zabrocki to offer any assistance in helping to get the word out or any support that might assist the police in confronting the suspects and stopping the robberies, according to ADC Chicago President Fadi Zanayed.
-- Ray Hanania
Thursday, December 18, 2008
He insisted that he does not ask for special treatment, and I believe him.
Still, when I drove by his house (maybe around 7:45 after shoveling my driveway and trudging through my street that wasn't plowed until very late, too), I saw his side of the street WAS plowed. I also drove past the home of the village manager, but his street wasn't plowed, although, like I wrote, a plow DID go by and do an unusual thing, plowing down the intersecting street and then turning left instead of right onto his street -- who knows, maybe they don't know where the village manager lives yet.
But, like I said, it could very well be some overzealous village employee -- I've run into a few, and by the way they are very rude (I'd use another adjective but this is a family-read blog) -- or who knows, a neighbor with a huge street plow.
I had wished I could have checked out the streets in front of the homes of all the trustees, too, because while I focused on McLaughlin, it's the trustees who I really don't "trust." They refuse to be accountable, are always contentious, can't deal with any form of criticism whatsoever, and think that their (here's another spot for a bad adjective) doesn't stink.
Well, it does stink. They're not doing enough to explain things to the public. They're happy with the "happy talk" coverage. (I can see them posing with their index fingers pointing into their cheeks with big cheshire cat grins). Meanwhile, property taxes HAVE gone up. Village fees HAVE gone up. Attendance at village board meetings -- according to the dozens of people who reach out to me -- HAS gone down. (I'm not interested in hanging out there and taking their attitudes, either.) And the accountability on the village HAS gone down, too.
Politicians always think it is personal. It's not. I just want answers. I want explanations. I also want the village board meetings broadcast live on Comcast Cable instead of that junk that is now broadcast (and I'll skip over one of the biggest attitude employees in the village for now) on the village's channel.
I love the Village Web Site. (Although the email address for the village manager doesn't work. But knowing the MIS staff there, they will get on it right away because that's how they have always been, one team the mayor, the trustees and the village CAN count on -- of course, I say something nice about someone, and suddenly their careers take a dive. I criticize some goof who think's she is a "big shot" and she gets a career promotion.)
We're not stupid, just because we village residents don't hang out at the little restaurant parties and the fatcat contributors. Most of us in Orland Park are working families who are worried about how to pay the bills. A few are even struggling with their mortgages. We know what's going on and just because the "unTRUSTees" don't feel an obligation to give us real answers instead of the blah, blah, blah they write in the village newsletter, doesn't mean we, the citizens in Orland Park, don't see what's happening. We see it.
I'll give McLaughlin the benefit of the doubt on this one, but if I were mayor I heard that anyone plowed my street before the rest of the streets, I'd be hopping mad. And I would call in the uncle of the brother of the 19th ward resident whose cousin probably leaned on a pal who probably works in the village or the neighbor with a plow to clean the street, and I would read them the riot act!
Because people do what they THINK the government officials want them to do. If employees think they are supposed to suck up, they will suck up. But if they think the government wants them to do a great job -- and there are MANY employees at the Village who do a GREAT JOB, a few even reach out) -- then everyone who works for the village will do a great job, too.
-- Ray Hanania
By the way, many residents in Orland Park like this blog, even if Jim Dodge and a few of the other trustees do not -- maybe he wants to get a local reporter from a now crippled dommunity newspaper that is slowly doing a vanishing act to unfairly attack me in print (without even calling me for a comment) the way he did the last time I authored an Orland Park blog ...
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I guess when you are the mayor, people tend to do favors for you. Like, when you are an employee of the Public Works Department and you are a) told to plow the mayor's street or b) you do it because, hey, he's "da mayor."
You know where I am going with this, right?
I came home last night around 6:45 pm and saw that my street wasn't plowed. (It was plowed later on that night, one side, across from my side.)
So I figured, I'd go check some of the other streets in town, like the one in front of Village Manager Paul Grimes' house, and also the street in front of the mayor's house. Well, a plow went past Grimes block, but not in front of his house. (Grimes is new, so maybe the drivers don't know where he lives.)
But Mayor McLaughlin has been around for a while, on Oakley Street, and they know where he lives. And so do his neighbors. I drove down 143rd and when I got to Oakley I turned and saw it wasn't plowed. Neither side. I kept driving to 144th street. Same thing. In fact, those two blocks were much like the rest of the village. Very few streets were plowed at all.
And I then I got to 145th Street, the start of the mayor's block. Wow. I couldn't believe it. I looked and saw that his side of the street -- let me repeat that -- his side of the street was plowed clean. The person who plowed the street didn't do the whole street, but started at 146th street and plowed north on the right (east side). You could see the clumps of snow that form when plowed snow splashes on the curb side. The street was smooth, easy to drive on.
(My street when I went to check on McLaughlin's street.)
Whomever plowed continued to the end of the street to 145th, and then crossed but then stopped plowing right at the beginning of the corner of the block.
Now, in fairness to the mayor, his driveway wasn't plowed. And I didn't see the plow truck, although a neighbor who tipped me, did. Big. Red. Village property.
Did the mayor order his street plowed? Or, was it just an enthusiastic employee trying to suck up. It's an election year, after all.
But you would think that a good mayor would want to make sure that before his street is plowed, maybe you might try plowing at least half of the rest of the side streets in Orland Park, which were a real mess.
Keep in mind that 159th and 143rd are plowed by orange Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) trucks, not red Village of Orland Park (VOP) trucks.
"Usually, they plow the whole street, both sides," one neighbor near the mayor said as he snowplowed his own driveway. "Yep. That's the mayor's house. Right there. Two stories. Beautiful, huh?"
Just my thoughts exactly. Beautiful!
(I emailed the mayor asking for his comments. If I get a response, I'll post it, in fairness, after all. Until then, I have to go out and finish cleaning the street in front of my house. Although who knows, after I'm done cleaning the driveway, a plow will come by and pack it back full of snow.)
-- Ray Hanania
Monday, December 15, 2008
Arab journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Kanye West of the Arab World, has started a trend that I think is great. Let's face it, he didn't go there and blow himself up. That's progress in a region where violencebecomes the protest form of choice.
But al-Zaidi, who was brutalized by guards (one reportedly yelling not to kick him in the face"), is a hero. Instead of violence, he used a cultural form of protest that is popular in the Arab World, and that one many American came to know when American soldiers during the invasion of Iraq, pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein in front of one of the dictator's palaces in Baghdad, (trying to make it look like the "people" did it) and then those civilians who were brought there by the military started to express their disdain for Saddam Hussein in the way they knew best, by throwing their shoes at the statue.
How ironic that more than five years later, Iraqis are now throwing their shoes at President Bush?
And I want to help, as a fellow Arab American journalist who believes that violence is NEVER the right choice, NEVER a good choice, and NEVER a strategy for success, the symbolic throwing of my shoes at Bush (courtesy of the US Postal Service) is the most powerful expression of free speech today against the Iraq war possible.
I hope you will join me and others.
Here is the information on the White House, where to mail your packages:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington DC., 20500
-- Ray Hanania
Coyotes are everywhere and the Village and the Police Department are doing everything they can to deal with them, but it would help if we didn't feed them or put out food for other wild animals that end up on the Coyote's menus, says Orland Park Police Chief Timothy McCarthy.
Coincidentally, McCarthy said he was planning to address the issue in the next issue of the Orland Park Public when I asked him about the problem and how big of a problem it is.
"We have many reports of coyotes and see them often ourselves. They go where the food is and we are over run with rabbits squirrels etc. We have also had reports of people feeding them and have an article that will appear in the next 'Public' about this issue. There are no reports of coyotes ever biting a human in the state of Illinois other than when people tried to feed them. The coyotes do not know the difference between the food and the hand giving it to them. It’s all food to them," McCarthy wrote back in a email.
"We occasionally attempt to trap them (however they cannot be relocated and must be euthanized) when we get substantiated reports that they have attacked a domestic animal or have come close to humans which are generally unusual. It appears to be caused by the fact that some people are feeding them and they learn this new behavior of going up to humans."
Watch for Chief McCarthy to be on my radio show in the coming weeks to talk about this and other topics. He is one of the most responsive leaders we have in the Southwest suburbs and region.
-- Ray Hanania
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The web site is: http://www.orland-park.il.us/
The latest service among much of the information available on the site includes a new feature that allows you to sign up for notices from very specific village agencies and interests. I went there, signed up, and immediately got confirmation that I was now subscribed to 25 services -- notified by 25 emails, which might be much.
Yet, the web site offers comprehensive menu of information. It's well designed. Efficient. Full of information.
Of course, the web site can only offer what the village officials want it to offer, and th efact is the village is not vewry good about being honest or forthright about issues and controversies int he village, like the property tax hike that will soon take effect because most residents don't seem to really care about the rising property taxes, and rising village service fees across-the-board.
Still, you can't blame the web site managers or the MIS department for that. They do what they can with what they have and they are doing a great job.
If you need information, visit the web site.
Someday soon, hopefully, the Village Clerk David P. Maher will do a better job of providing public information through the web site. Right now you can get the agendas of meetings online. But, the minutes of meetings seem scant, and run about a month behind the actual meeting. And, in truth, as a journalist for 32 years, I have found that village officials always skewer what they report about controversial public meetings, always making themselves look better than they are.
Hey, maybe instead of the excessively repeated self-promotion ont he village Comcast Channel that we get over and over an dover again, maybe we could have a live broadcast and repeat broadcast uncensored or our village board meetings. So few people attend now, why would they? It might open doors to all kinds of problems if you watched how our Mayor Dan McLaughlin conducts his meetings. It might push citizens to want to get involved, and I don't think that is really what our elected officials want.
(Most of the trustees are so arrogant and unresponsive. They only respond to those who support them and like them, not to those who question their actions. Why should they, right? They are working for themselves, not the best interests of the village or its citizens.)
You can't trust your elected officials to be honest. You have to force them to be honest by vigilant monitoring of what they do. And for most of us who work for a living, also policing our politicall unscrupulous elected officials can be a fulltime and unwanted job.
-- Ray Hanania
Thursday, December 11, 2008
She was the first to envision Chicago as a “world class” city and her “Taste of Chicago” and the summer neighborhood festivals are an important part of her legacy. She served during a very challenging time for big cities – the late 1970s and early 1980s saw many of the big American cities in decline due to the dire national economy.
I do believe there was at least some element of sexism in the treatment and coverage of Jane Byrne. Imagine if it was Mayor Jane Byrne instead of Mayor Richard Daley who bulldozed Meigs Field.
Byrne was a hard –working mayor and had a lot more charisma than the average Chicago politician of the 1980’s.
Amazingly, almost 30 years after her election, she is still the one and only female mayor to be elected in any of the three largest US cities.
Thanks again for reminding people that Jane Byrne is an important part of Chicago history. She deserves our recognition and appreciation.
Take care -
Subject: Does Blagojevich Campaign Co-Chair Mike Madigan Support Impeachment?
IL GOP Press Release:
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna today called on House Speaker and Blagojevich Campaign Co-Chairman Mike Madigan to come forward and let voters know whether he supports the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich.
“Illinois government is in crisis,” said McKenna. “Speaker Madigan owes it to the people of this state to let them know if he supports the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich”
In the wake of Rod Blagojevich’s arrest on federal corruption charges, numerous state leaders, led by Chairman McKenna, called for the General Assembly to move swiftly with impeachment proceedings against the Governor should he not resign.
However, Madigan indicated he was only prepared to discuss the suggestions from Republican Leader Tom Cross that impeachment proceedings begin.
“I do not understand why Speaker Madigan will not act decisively on this issue,” said McKenna. “Voters are fed up and ready for change and the sooner we get Rod Blagojevich out of office, the sooner we can bring real change to Illinois.”
According to published reports Speaker Madigan issued a memo earlier this year to members of his own caucus that there was already enough evidence to impeach Rod Blagojevich.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
December 9, 2008
Congressman Rush Declares Gov. Rod Blagojevich
as Politically Unfit to Appoint Senate Successor
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, on Capitol Hill, Congressman Bobby L. Rush provided the following statement in response to press queries about the shocking arrest, this morning, of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on charges that he tried to benefit, financially, from his constitutional duty to appoint a replacement for the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama.
“Like the people of the great state of Illinois, I was shocked and angered by the disturbing news, this morning, that Governor Blagojevich had been arrested for what federal prosecutors describe as “a political corruption crime spree.”
“I believe that the acts that are alleged to have been committed by the Governor are so heinous that he has forfeited his right to appoint someone to fill the seat of President-Elect Barack Obama. My bottom line is that the Governor should not be the one to make the appointment to this important office.
“I also do not necessarily believe that holding a special election is the right way to go either for the basic reason that when the President-Elect is sworn into office on January 20th, my colleagues and I in the House will be called upon to vote, almost immediately, on several important pieces of legislation ranging from an economic stimulus package to health care reform. Illinois deserves to have its two Senate votes in place by January 20th and a special election would, at the earliest, occur in the spring of 2009.
“I want my constituents to know that I am in urgent counsel with attorneys in our state to suggest a remedy to this crisis in leadership that addresses the concerns I and others have raised about the importance of keeping African American representation in the United States Senate and, certainly, our important second vote from our state.”
# # #
Click HERE to read the actual charges and full "Complaint" filed by the US Attorney's Office.
-- Ray Hanania
Click HERE to read the actual charges and full "Complaint" filed by the US Attorney's Office.
-- Ray Hanania
(The solution to the problem is listed at the bottom of this Blog Entry, if you are searching for answers to the same problem.)
I ALSO purchased the two year warranty plan -- must have been about $200 more.
Last week, the DVD/Blue Ray player on the laptop disappeared completely from my system. Just vanished.
I took the computer back to Best Buy and asked if they could help restore my DVD player ont he alptop I JUST PURCHASED FROM THEM. They said sure, for $139 and five days. But if I wanted a rush, it would be about $150 more and they could have it back maybe in one day.
So much for Best Buy's Warranty!
It took three days of research to discover it required some real technical work on the Windows Registry. I checked the Vista Manual -- it doesn't exist either. The new computers don't come with printed manuals. It's all online. And they are worthless. I tried their suggestions of reverting my system to an earlier date to correct the problem. (Didn't work).
I then downloaded several Free Trial Registry programs, Like Registry FixIt. WORTHLESS. It doesn't work with 64 bit systems, but they don't tell you that until you donwload it. I then downloadedClean My PC Registry software which said I could try it for FREE for 15 days and then decide to purchase it.
I downloaded it and then ran it. It said I had 170 registry problems. And when I went to "fix" it using my 15 day FREE trial, of course, they took me to a web site and forced me to either purchase it or suffer. So, the bottom line is they lied. There is no 15 FREE Trial at all.
I ended up purchasing it for $29.95 believing that maybe that would solve my problem. It did not. It fixed the registry errors, it said existed. But did not fix the problem with the AWOL DVD/Blue Ray system on my HP Windows Vista 64 Bit piece of garbage laptop.
I tried for three days to research the issue online and there were a lot of complaints but no real answers, but I discovered one clue. The issue of the AWOL DVD/Blue Ray player has to do with High and Low Filters on your registry -- which registry fix programs don't address.
Of course not.
I went back to Best Buy and explained what I thought the problem was. They said I was wright. But wanted $139 and five days or an additional $150 to get it done right away.
So I went back home and low and behold this morning, I stumbled on this site ont he Internet. It is from Sequim Personal Computer Repair Service. They walked me through the problem step by step. And low and behold, it solved the problem. It took all of 5 minutes, following their directions carefully.
-- Ray Hanania
Friday, December 5, 2008
Jane Byrne was a "tough" mayor. Sometimes, too tough. But, she was our mayor. And it is unfortunate that she has not been remembered for some of the good things she has done. Sure, as a reporter often at the end of her conflicts, she came across vindictive and even tough. But, as I've pointed out many times, she was not that unusual as politicians go, except that she showed her feelings in the public while our current Mayor Rich Daley is actually MORE vindictive than she was and more vicious. The difference is he hides his viciousness while Byrne celebrated it in public. Daley does the same things Byrne was criticized for and sometimes gets away with it. Not from all the media, but from the public. Like with Byrne, the media is critical. That's the nature of the beast. A reporter and a columnist can never really be a "friend" of a politician, even though the relations can be cordial or cold.
Byrne did many good things. There was controversy. She is a major part of Chicago's history but she has not been given the recognition she deserves. Navy Pier and Taste of Chicago really would not be what they are today, had it not been for her. And Navy Pier is a major city asset.
Anyway, I hope Mayor Jane Byrne has a great Holiday and Christmas. And I hope that one day the city will recognize her role in shaping this city, controversies and headlines and even columns aside. She should have been treated better than she has been by the Daley administration and accorded a high profile public role in city events.
But then again, little Richie is not his father, a towering figure of decency. Richie Daley is a mean, vindictive hypocrite who cries about all his problems and then quietly abuses his power. So why is he better than Jane Byrne? He's not.
-- Ray Hanania
Thursday, December 4, 2008
"Retail Vacancies filling up in Orland."
According to the story, while the rest of the nation is seeing retail businesses closing and abandoned space increasing, "that's not completely the case in Orland Park."
Now, I started laughing because I thought, wow that is one of the funniest jokes I have heard in a long time.
Imagine, two businesses plan to expand and an estimated 15 have closed in the past year. In fact, when you drive around Orland Park, all you see are empty storefronts. In practically every mall.
According to Orland Park Village Clerk David P. Maher (father of Patrick Maher who jacked up ambulance fees mainly for senior citizens at the Orland Park Fire Protection District, but not related to Gerald F. Maher who is running for Orland Park Mayor on a reform hold-the-line on taxes platform), property taxes in Orland Park are going to increase -- significantly.
I'll repeat that. They are going to increase, significantly.
Oh, but that's not even the biggest story of the year. The biggest story is that while the members of the Village Board have been spinning yarns about how they "saved" the property tax rebate, it turns out that the rebate is actually far less than they even admitted it would be.
Now, again, I have to rely on Clerk Maher's numbers. Maher states in the apparent paid advertisement in the paper that last year's property tax rebate was $15,303,532, and that this year's property taxes to be levied for 2008 are $17,905,671. (The Ad is framed in a thick black border, much like a funeral notice.)
That is a $2.6 million increase in property taxes, for starters.
But what is really significant? Well, Mayor Dan "Happy talk" McLaughlin announced that because of the village's financial problems, they would be short $4.8 million. To compensate for the shortfall in spending -- which means the village is spending more than it receives in revenues (which are all taxes) -- they would cut back on many things, including reducing the annual Property Tax Rebate.
The local newspapers reported that village officials are sighing relief that the "Property Tax Rebate" is "intact" -- remember that cute little word? Intact!
Do the math folks.
They "capped" the rebate at $4.5 million this year. In fact, as I was writing this, I received a automated telephone call from the village reminding me that I had to get my tax rebate forms in by Dec. 13. They even have a hotline (708-403-6116) if I had any questions. And I do.
So, if the property tax rebate is being capped at $4.5 million, and the property taxes actually being levied for 2008 are $17,905,671 ... duuuh! ... that means the "Property Tax Rebate" is far from being "intact."
It means that the village is only rebating exactly 25.1 percent of the village property taxes.
They are KEEPING 74.9 percent of the property tax that they used to rebate every year.
Some village observers estimated that you would get about 60 percent of your property tax rebated. But, as you can see, that's not true. In fact, if two thirds of the homeowners failed to file their rebate forms in time before the village deadline, you stll wouldn't get that much in a rebate.
The $4.5 million "cap" will be divided based upon how many homeowners file for rebates. Let's assume that will be the same as last year? Which means that you WILL get only 25 percent of what you paid.
Nevermind the other OBVIOUS story, that the village is increasing property taxes on residents by a whopping $2,602,139. That represents an increase in your property taxes of 17 percent.
The Village of Orland Park is going to raise our property taxes 17 percent.
The village plans a special meeting on Dec. 15 at 7 pm to discuss all this.
-- Ray Hanania
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Here is the life of an average American middle class family.
My husband lost his job in February again due to downsizing. He fills out a 100 resumes and gets no response, jobs are not available in this economy. We decided to try and open our own business. After much research we decided to open a Cici’s pizza buffet. Something that would cater to the average middle class, that is family orientated and something that we can own as a family and have a pay check. It would also create jobs in our neighborhood. We have been dealing with this adventure since April.
We were pre qualified in June and started investing our own money into this project, right now we have $50,000 invested.
In June we got dropped on our butts by "Cit Bank" -- in an e-mail, which is worse -- that they will no longer give us a loan.
At this point we go to a broker and request help for a loan. Told again we were pre qualified. We start proceeding with the site that we are going to open this store, we begin lease negotiations and now they want full commitment that we are going to get the loan. We call the broker that said hey no problem on the loan and we are told, expect a small refund from the broker fees because we can’t help you.
Hello, this is a broker if he can’t find me a loan who can? Which leads me to my next point. During all these months that I am struggling I turn on the t.v and hear about all this junk on bail outs.
I sat there saying don’t do it, I’m going to be the one paying for these banks that made their own mistakes, why should we bail them out, what about us. Then I hear how it will benefit the middle class people with loans and the economy.
BULL, I have been rejected from 2 banks, a broker and have made about 20 phone calls to banks that say sorry can’t help you. I have been trying for an SBA loan and have even resorted to conventional.
My house that was worth $450,000 is now only worth $220,000. My profit sharing that I can’t touch with out penalties was $80,000 and is now down to $50,000. I needed only 20% down for a loan, now they want 30% down. So now I have $50,000 invested, can’t get a loan, can’t walk away because I will lose all my invested money, no job, no income and no where to go. My children have sacrificed which is hard for a 12 and 15 year old but figured in the long run it would pay off.
This Thanksgiving while families were getting together, we were home filling out more loan applications only to be denied. So please tell me this? Why did we bail out these big wigs? How did I benefit? Where do I go from here?
There are three other people doing the same adventure that I am, in Illinois and they are having the same problem.
We talk about this economy being bad but then again we won’t help the people that want to create jobs for themselves and for other people. Nobody is willing to help. And you know what’s worse? It’s when someone says talk to your politicians, express your concerns; let them know how you feel.
Again, BS. I have NEVER heard back from a politician when I have voiced my concerns, I’ve only did it a couple times but in my opinion they don’t care. This economy is going down the tubes and everyone is in denial.
[Ray Hanania comments: LM, I completely sympathize with you. No one cares about the average American, the middle class. They don't care about the small business people, either. It's all about the big companies who have made the big donations and partied at the big suarees with the bigshot politicians and their pals who are being helped. Not us. I am so sorry to hear about all these hassles. Rather than help the banks and bamking industry, they should help business people like you.]
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I am teary eyed while writing this.
It is nice to see kind words written about the Mayor; no you won't see a memorial on his life on the popular news broadcasts.
I remember having nowhere to live or to go. I was at odds with my family and was sleeping in my car, looking for a job.
I went to the Village and asked if there was anywhere I could eat and find shelter. I was turned away by police officers and even the trustees.
One day, I wrote a letter. The letter was to mayor Shaw.
In the letter were my grades, a resume, and a letter asking him for a job.
Instead of going to the village I ran up to his door step that was guarded by a police car. Ms. Deborah, took my letter and the next day the Mayor called me personally to test for a job at the village. I passed and worked there for 2 ½ years.
That Job put me and my son back on our feet!
Mayor Shaw was the only Mayor you could walk up to and he would actually take the time to listen. People say what they want. But the Mayor couldn’t do it all by himself. It is up to each individual to make a change.
He saved my life.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Maher challenged McLaughlin once before in 2001 and while he did good, McLaughlin was riding high and won. Maher will do better this time.
Immediately after his election, McLaughlin imposed a .75 % home rule sales tax increase and then bought off citizen outrage by promising to rebate homeowner property taxes. That, McLaughlin promised, would off-set the increased sales taxes we would have to pay and put the tax burden on outsiders who shopped in Orland Park.
But the McLaughlin tax Hike is back, and the rebate has been trimmed significantly. Not only will you not get it rebated AS WAS PROMISED by McLaughlin, but if you miss the deadline, you will no longer have a chance to qualify. How much will be rebated? Far less than promised, and even less depending on how many people apply.
WHAT’s IN A NAME?
Don’t confuse Gerald F. Maher with McLaughlin’s cohort, Village Clerk David P. Maher, who has a problem with the fundamentals of the Illinois Open Meetings Act – he can’t seem to understand it. Gerald F. Maher is the brother of Robert J. Maher the Orland Township Supervisor. Remember, Gerald Maher supported his brother while the do-nothing Orland Township Republican Committeeman Elizabeth Doody Gorman backed Tom Mahoney, the Democrat, who lost re-election.
It’s David Maher’s son, Patrick Maher, who is the president of the Orland Park Fire Protection District.
Clearly, Gerald F. Maher is from the right political side of the popular family name.
McLAUGHLIN’s BROKEN PROMISES
McLaughlin also promised a new vision for the village of Orland Park, but over the years the reality has plagued that vision with cataracts, and the village has “seen” a series of backdoor property tax hikes, fee increases, lack of accountability and the Chicago Machine’s stranglehold on local politics. (His chief ally, trustee Brad O’Halloran is a relative of Chicago 19th Ward powerhouse and former alderman and legislator Jeremiah Joyce.)
The rebate plan, despite watered down news reporting, has been cut back to off-set the mayor’s failed leadership. In fact, the property tax rebate reduction isn’t even an honest dirty back-door property tax hike. When you promise voters to off-set a sales tax you impose by rebating their property taxes, and then renege on the rebate, that’s a TAX INCREASE.
Maher, though, plans to change all that. He promises open and accountable government that will speak to the voters and citizens of Orland Park, not to their political backers or to their slacker pals in the news media.
TIME TO BE ACCOUNTABLE
There are many issues that we face in the village:
• The tax rebate fiasco – you are only getting a portion of that tax rebate and you are still saddled with McLaughlin’s .75 % sales tax hike.
• The 143rd Street TIF District fiasco. I thought a TIF district was for blighted property, not property that a poor mayor blights with bad talk and bullying? How much money was wasted on that project that the mayor plans to salvage by shutting down so many family-owned businesses?
• Fees have continued to skyrocket with no accountability from anyone in McLaughlin’s Machine Organization – Orland Park is often referred to as Chicago’s 51st Ward it is so much under the control of the 19th Ward and relatives and friends of Brad O’Halloran.
• The village bought several homes allegedly severely damaged by flooding several years ago, and then lost a fortune by re-selling them far below the purchase price. AND, how much money was spent to refurbish them? (Why didn’t the village save money for the taxpayers by simply giving the beleaguered homeowners interest free loans to fortify and salvage their properties instead of dumping millions into the properties only to lose money?)
• What about open government? The village is using Comcast Cable TV to broadcast their Happy talk propaganda, instead of trying to inform the residents about important issues. They continue to rebroadcast over and over and over again these soppy interviews with the mayor and his allies discussing why they are so great, ignoring issues like back door property tax increases and fee increases. We need live broadcasting of the village board meetings so that the village activities are brought directly to the public, rather than forcing the public to attend the uninformative, political village board meetings.
I am elated that Gerald F. Maher is running. He is a military veteran. (I can’t remember, did Dan McLaughlin serve in the military or does he just surround himself with veterans and exploit their service in Iraq and Afghanistan to make himself look good in village press releases?)
Maher has already launched a web site and I urge you to visit it and read the information there. It is very informative. It is www.CCOP.us.
Here is Maher’s Bio:
(You can read McLaughlin's background in the taxpayer funded newsletters that saturate the village and have more pictures of McLaughlin and his named mentioned than real issues.)
• Orland Park Resident of 29 years
• Husband, father of 4, and grandfather of 4
• Attended Moraine Valley and Northwestern University
• Previous Business Owner:
- International Transportation
- Financial Consultant
• Politically active for more than 40 years incl.:
- Campaigned with President Ronald Reagan
- Campaigned with President Gerald Ford
- Campaigned with Senator Chuck Percy
- Ran successful campaign in 2005 to elect Robert J. Maher as Orland Township Supervisor, defeating the heavily endorsed incumbent
• Veteran - 82nd Airborne
• Member, American Legion
• Previous coach:
- OYA - Varsity Boys Basketball
- Beverly Little League Baseball
Wake up Orland Park. It’s your tax dollars. Why are you allowing some Chicago Machine hack to run this village to the ground, offering excuses, patronage, clout and insider deals to his pals while making you pay the bill? It is your hard earned tax dollars that are at stake in this election.
Maher's slate will also include:
Kenneth Houston for Trustee, Orland Park
Orland Park Resident of more than 20 years; Graduate of Robert Morris College.
Previous Business Manager and UPS Employee for 15 years.
Kenneth Wzorek for Trustee, Orland Park
Orland Park Resident of 18 years
Graduate of Governor's State University BA Public Administration; Business Owner
Husband and father of three, grandfather of three
Active member of St. Michael's Church
Veteran US Army; Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 15014; American Legion Member Orland Post111 ; Member Elk's Lodge No. 2254
-- Ray Hanania
But this year, I had too many things I had to finish and my wife and son went. They came back with a discouraging report. Like many of the events in Orland Park, fewer and fewer citizens are attending. This was the lowest turnout of any prior year, they said. And, the village offered far less for the kids. There was so much more to do last year and the years before. But this time, it reflects the times.
Now, I think it reflects the deteriorating leadership of the Village Mayor Dan McLaughlin and the village board, which is unaccountable to the public.
Yes, there is a small clique of pals and friends and their family who show up for everything to put on the happy face to give the impression to the local news media that everything is fine. But it's not fine. The majority of Orland Park residents are not engaging in the system and what it has to offer, because the system is set up to benefit the Mayor and his pals and their friends.
Everything has a political ring and purpose to it in Orland Park. From the theater group all the way down to the public events. It's all about getting re-elected. Meanwhile, the village is going to hell in a handbasket and taxes and fees are increasing. The worst part about it is that not one -- NOT ONE -- of our elected officials has the courage to be a leader and admit that things are tough. They want to pretend everything is fine while the real people out here are struggling to make ends meet.
Mayor Dan doesn't have to worry about anything. He has this great cushy union job downtown. None of the village trustees have to worry about anything.
Do you EVER hear anything of SUBSTANCE from the village trustees? Ever? Seriously? Forget about the Happy Talk they mumble about how great things are here and how great they will be. (I cal them the STEPFORD TRUSTEES.) I am a big booster too, but I also know the truth is more important and recognizing and addressing problems is more important than pretending the King is wearing clothes when this village is naked. Everyone knows it.
Turnout to village events has been DOWN but the department heads and their bosses who feed on the public taxpayer trough pretend everything is fine because they get a paycheck that comes out of our taxes. When you even DARE to raise a question about, say, Orland Days, which was far less in quality than it has been in past years, everyone who is involved takes it so personally AS IF IT IS ABOUT THEM. It's NOT about them. It is about US. It is about leadership. If you can't take the criticism then you ARE NOT A GOOD LEADER.
Leaders are people who listen to the public, not their own egos and their pride or are quick to rip open the pay check enevlope to see their reward. Good leaders are those who really care about what people feel in Orland Park and the truth is there are very few really Good Leaders in Orland Park these days. Just a lot of greedy, selfish people more concerned with how they look than with how the village is running.
Our taxes could jump 100 percent and the Mayor Happy Talk and his Happy Talk Village Board would be out there saying the village should be grateful for what it has and that everything is fine.
It's not fine. And the low turnouts at public events is PROOF.
So many village employees email me saying that what I write is true but fear the political vindictiveness of Mayor Happy Talk because when it comes to criticism, he is far from happy and far from accountavle or responsible.
I am glad we had the tree lighting and the wonderful lights that line the streets around the Village Hall. But how about some community accountability and honesty for once, Mayor Happy Talk. How about a real admission that things are tough and that as good leaders, you had to take tough decisions innstead of always worrying about the spin?
I met the mayor when he first started. Years ago. I was a big fan. I understand that friendships between journalists and politicians are doomed. They rarely last. But I had so much hope for this one. Like he was going to be different. Turns out he's no different than the rest of the politicians out there, more concerned about themselves and how they look than the truth.
Then again, maybe that's what unaccountable politicians want? A public that doesn't care and stays home and is afraid to question their poor leadership and their lack of accountability?
-- Ray Hanania
A tougher Holiday Season
Life was easier when I was younger. It seemed that way. We had the same desire for material things but less of a need, back then. Today, computers and computer related things make up about 30 percent of my life and spending. That's a lot of money being spent. And a lot of headache, too. Do I really need it all? I don't even want to ask myself that question.
Worse, the software programs don't run properly. The gadgets we buy don't work the way they were promised. You have to buy a "warranty" just to make sure they work more than a few weeks.
Society is all about buying.
So, when we start to buy less, suddenly it's the economy that's bad, not our spending habits? Maybe we need to be reminded about the value of a dollar.
I don't know. If I had to pick one calamity of this generation, I'd say it is the credit card. They said credit cards would be great in emergencies. Immediate bank loans, of sorts. But they have become doorways into debt. We buy things we can't afford. No wonder what should be great experiences are now the routine. There is no excitement in buying something special. We just buy things and buying is not special any more. Doesn't matter that we don't have the money. We have a credit card.
Which is one reason why, for the past several years, I've been less and less enthusiastic about the Christmas Holiday season, a religious holiday that has become more of a spending spree. Actually, for years, I would fear the holidays. I knew that after the New Year, I'd be looking at credit card bills that would make me very sick and depressed. And millions of other Americans, too. Spending is an addiction, today, not a moment of unusual excitement or something special.
I have changed my spending habits and I have to say I feel better, even if the money I am saving is not helping the economy. It's helping me. It's not easy eliminating credit cards but I am doing it. I have changed how I spend money.
So this year, my New Year's Resolution won't be about promosing to not spend money. It will go back to the other challenge, promising to go on a diet. Who knows, maybe spending less will also mean eating better, too. Wouldn't that be a great Christmas present for a change?
-- Ray Hanania
(from my weekly radio show newsletter ... you can subscribe for free at