Friday, November 13, 2009

Forys appointed to state board of health by Governor Pat Quinn, faces battle in 17th District

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Dr. Victor Forys, the leading Democratic candidate in the 17th Cook County Board district's battle for the party nomination in the Feb. 2, was named this week by Gov. Quinn to the Illinois Board of Health.

Quinn and a laundry list of leading Democrats have endorsed Forys in his bid to the win the Democratic primary, but many media have been pretending he doesn't exist as a candidate to promote their friend and heir to 19th Ward political clout Pat Maher, the controversy-plagued president of the Orland Fire Protection District.

The 17th District is solidly Republican and the seat is now held by Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman, who in two terms has become the leading advocate for tax reduction on the Cook County board.

It's a fascinating race and any Democrat who wins the primary will have a tough time defeating Gorman, whose record on fighting taxes has emboldened not only other county board members but the Illinois General Assembly to fight the tax-raising administration of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. Two other candidates are running in the Democratic primary and one more is running in the Republican primary. (You can read a complete story by clicking here.)

Forys is being written off because the district is a bowling alley that geographically looks like it is founded on Orland Park. But while Orland Township may look like it has the weighted vote, as you move north, the voter density increases significantly.

The district, as you can see, stretches from Wheeling and Northfield all the way down along the Cook County Board to Orland Township in the South.

Forys ran in the last battle for the Congressional seat vacated by Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff to President Barack Obama, which was won by former County Commissioner Mike Quigley. Although Forys did not win, he raised a substantial amount of money and received strong endorsements, as he is doing again this year.

Forys believes that he can win the Democratic Primary on Feb. 2 by allowing Maher, who is backed by the 19th Ward Machine that is trying to put Orland Township is a political headlock, to fight with Gorman. And Maher hasn't hesitated to attack Gorman, even though the winners of the Democratic and Republican primaries won't face off until 9 months later. Maher is hoping to deflect voter attention away from the Orland Fire Protection District's outrageous tax increases and from the fact that the OFPD takes the largest bite out of the district's taxpayer's pocketbook of any other taxing body save for the schools -- more than 12.5 percent of the county's bills pays for Maher's fiefdom.

Maher is the politically ambitious son of Orland Park's part-time village clerk David Maher, who  is a county patronage employee working for 19th Ward superstar and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Stroger oversees their budget and all are Democrats.

But Gorman has elevated herself above Maher and others by being the most vocal anti-tax member of the Cook County Board. Gorman was the only county commissioner to challenge a $190,000 county loan to controversial Regional Schools Superintendent Charles Flowers Flowers budget has since come under scrutinyA report by the auditor general shows that Flowers has since mismanaged millions of dollars in funds. His office has an annual budget of about $1 million and is reportedly more than $1 million in debt. The audit shows that Flowers has borrowed money to pay for all kinds of expenses, without proper records, but he insisted he has repaid everything.

Gorman was the only voice to challenge Flowers' poor leadership. But this past June, the entire County board joined Gorman to repudiate Flowers and reject the loan and acknowledge Gorman's leadership.

And, Gorman was the leader of a coalition of Republicans and Democrats on the Cook County Board to repeal Todd Stroger's repressive 1 percent sales tax, which is crippling the county's taxpayers and forcing businesses to relocate to neighboring counties. Stroger used his veto to block the last effort. Gorman was so persistent that she help force the county board to try three times to repeal and roll back the tax and that caught the attention of the Illinois General Assembly which then voted to reduce the number of votes needed to override Stroger's outrageous 80 percent override vote need.

Now, Gorman and others are planning to launch another drive to rollback the sales tax with a better chance of withstanding Stroger's pro-tax veto.

Forys will have his work cut out for him in November against Gorman, but first he has to win the February Democratic Primary, and that's a race some don't want you to know he is in.

Of course, don't right off  Donna Sanders who also hails from the Orland Township district and is running in the Democratic primary. A popular library turstee, Sanders has real credentials and you can't ignore the powerful woman's vote in this district. They have a voice. On the Cook County Board, that voice, though, belongs to Gorman.

-- Ray Hanania

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