Thursday, December 2, 2010

Extend Tax Cut for taxpayers earning under $500,000, but not for the super wealthy

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Congress should extend the tax cuts ONLY for those people making under $500,000, and that is pushing it. It should not be extended for anyone making more than $250,000 but the hardline conservative Republicans who are holding their party hostage refuse to support the tax cuts. They want the tax cuts extended to everyone, including people making more than $250,000, more than $500,000 and more than even $1 million.

And they are trying to argue (falsely) that Democrats want to kill the tax cuts -- not saying they want to end the tax cuts for the super rich.

We know the conservative Republicans represent the super rich in this country and don't care about the poor. And this expected vote is a good indicator of how badly Republican control of the U.S. House will drag this country down. Although the morons on FOX Cable News think all Democrats and Liberals are worthless unAmerican and unpatriotic.

FOX Cable TV literally is pitching the conservative Republican propaganda. I woke up, turned on the TV and accidentally saw FOX Cable News with that racist Juan Williams, by the way, making $2 million a year as a FOX TV Commentator and realizing that he is in the pig pen with the rest of the Republican Hogs.


Extend tax cuts. But raise taxes on the super rich.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Yalla Peace: Hanukka and Holidays at the Hanania household

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Yalla Peace: Hanukka and Holidays at the Hanania household

In recent years, as Hanukka and Christmas overlapped,
the holiday season became a minefield of decoration-related decisions.

Over the past few years, Hanukka, Christmas and the Id al-Adha all seemed to coincide. That made Arabs, Jews and Israelis happy. They saw it as a sign of better things to come. People were singing “Kumbaya.”

They were mixing words and phrases from each religion to create new “words of peace,” like “holiday treats for peace.” And they were offering trades to kickstart the stalled peace process: felafel for matza.

Arabs and Jews even tried writing Middle East peace songs together, until each side discovered that wasn’t easy either. Promises made in some of the choruses had been changed. Important words had been replaced. Some of the lyrics required side notes to explain what the original intent of the song was.

Pretty soon, everyone was singing a different tune. Like Middle East peace, we all know what the melody is but we just can’t get the words right.

MAKING PEOPLE believe in miracles may have been good for everyone else, but it wasn’t good in the Israeli-occupied Hanania household, where marriage has achieved what negotiations and even proximity talks have failed to do in the Middle East. It may have coincided for everyone else. But for my family, the holidays collided.

That Hanukka and Christmas both overlapped was a big problem. My wife, Alison, and I found ourselves in a cast iron battle over whose settlements – I mean decorations – would get the best locations in and around our house.

We fought over the front room coffee table. Do we put a menora or a crèche (Nativity scene)? Who gets to hang something on the front door? A Star of David or a picture of Jesus wrapped in a Palestinian flag? Both?

I discovered that Hanukka lights are more Jewish than Christian lights. The lights on her string decorations had shapes of dreidels, menorot, Stars of David and images of Binyamin Netanyahu.

Mine were little bulbs called “Italian lights.” What have the Italians ever done for peace anyway? She got to do something new every day with our son Aaron. Lighting one extra candle every night for eight days. I got to turn on a switch.

The lawn was a battleground too. I wanted to put up a big Santa Claus. You know, that chubby guy with the long, white beard that needs to be dyed, wearing an effeminate looking red suit with white fur. What does he really have to do with Christmas, I wonder? Although Jesus had a beard too, but it wasn’t bushy white.

She had a huge display of Jerusalem with a big sign quoting Ariel Sharon “indivisible capital for all eternity” that she said she wanted to keep there all year long. She got it free – after a small donation of $1,500 – from the Jewish United Fund.

Believe me, by the time we got through arguing over what went where, who got what and who started the Gaza war, we were beat, so tired we could barely enjoy the meal, the one moment when Arabs have an advantage over Israelis.

After all, Arabs may know how to build settlements and walls, barriers and murals, but Israelis can’t cook. They end up making our food and while we Arabs complain that they stole our culinary style, our humous and our Syrian – yes, Syrian – bread, the fact is deep down we prefer to have them serve us something.

THANK GOODNESS all that “signs from heaven” stuff has stopped. This year, Hanukka comes first and Christmas comes after.

She puts her stuff up and then I get to take it down and put up my stuff.

I then get to celebrate secular New Year and, afterward Orthodox New Year. My stuff goes up last and never gets taken down.

No “Kumbaya.” No pretending there are going to be any miracles of peace. No arguing over whose food is best or who owns what land.

One Christmas, Alison even stopped painting a green line through the house to designate what part was hers and what part was mine. She always said she would be fair in our marriage and we each get “half.” She gets 78 percent and I get 22.

But then I realized that her not painting the green line in our house was just an Israeli trick to make me forget where the 1949 armistice marriage agreement really was.

And I demanded that she paint it, but she still refuses till this day.

So this year, no fights over bells ringing or who gets to “deck” the Halls – the Halls, our neighbors, always hated it when we decked them when they came by, although the Halls are Jewish so I didn’t mind. No sighs pretending like there is going to be peace.

Just a lot of mistletoe, zaide’s sandwiches of corned beef, pastrami and chopped liver, and real happiness knowing we each get our turn. And I go last.

The writer is an award-winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Liz Gorman's bankruptcy is a non-issue for voters

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The only reason anyone is talking about Liz Gorman filing bankruptcy is because she holds a public office. Maybe whent he economy is going gangbusters as it was a decade or more ago, one might wonder why someone with that kind of public stature would have to file bankruptcy.

But in the past 10 years, the nation's economy has tanked. I think we have been on the edge of a depression for many years, struggling from collapsing. This is the worst economy we have had in years. The Gorman's troubles with their business -- although Liz is named in all the documents, she is the spouse in a business arrangement that has gone south. It happens.

Today, I know more than 50 people who have filed bankruptcy. They come from all walks of life. Business people. Professionals in medicine and engineering. A few reporters, too. So why is it a story? Because she is Liz Gorman and the news media doesn't consider bankruptcy's a story unless it involves a celebrity.

We wish Liz Gorman and her husband Gerry and their family the best. Going through a bankruptcy is never easy. But Liz Gorman is a champion of fighting for the rights of the consumer and taxpayers that she deserves extra-ordinary support from us. There are so few elected officials who have shownt he chutzpah and strength to fight for taxpayers the way she has over the past few years.

I would rather have a bankrupt county commissioner, than one who does nothing and has all the money int he world to show for it.

Liz Gorman's bankruptcy is just a reminder that although she has taken on the role to fight for our interests on the Cook County Board, she is just like everyone else. And sometimes, things don't always work out in our private lives the way we hope.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Voters oust Peraica and reject 19th Ward suburban takeover in Orland Park

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Voters oust Peraica and reject 19th Ward suburban takeover in Orland Park
By Ray Hanania

Suburban Cook County Voters in the Southwest and West suburbs tossed out one incumbent Republican commissioner in the 16th District and blocked a Machine Democrat from taking control of another in the 17th District.

Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-16th), the often obnoxious and loudmouthed publicity hound who was shunned by his own party colleagues on the board, was thrown out of office Tuesday night.

Ironically, the woman and colleague he most scorned at board meetings, Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman easily defeated a challenge from Patrick Maher, the cousin of outgoing Comptroller Dan Hynes in a rebuff of the powerful 19th Ward Democratic Machine.

Neither election was about party politics, though, although the 19th Ward has tightened its grip on elections and government positions in Southwest Suburban Orland Park over the years. But the elections in both races were more about honesty and character.

The unofficial vote count is: Gorman 55,514 votes to Maher 33,819, and Tobolski 32,781 and Peraica 27,617 votes.

Only days before the election, Peraica was arrested late Saturday night after he was caught by police destroying campaign signs of his opponent, Tobolski. First, Peraica was stopped in Stickney, where police reported they suspected he was destroying signs but did not have a witness to file charges. Less than 20 minutes later, he was stopped in nearby McCook, where Tobolski is the mayor, and arrested when police saw him drive out of a driveway of an 80 year old woman’s home where a Tobolski sign had been destroyed.

During the stop, which occurred at 11:15 pm, a neighbor came running out claiming he also saw the suspects destroying the signs on his property. The suspect turned out to be Tony Peraica driving around with an aide and carrying a large fireman’s poll often used to pull down debris from burning buildings.

Peraica was dressed in black and a cap on his head and claimed he was merely driving around to put up his own signs. Of course, Peraica had no signs of his own in the white van. He was charged, booked and jailed until authorities released him at 3 in the morning on an I-Bond, not requiring a cash deposit.

In his usual self-destructive style, Peraica immediately called a press conference on Sunday and then again on Monday to spin his version of the story. But voters could not erase the image of an elected official acting so foolishly, driving around in the middle of the night in all black tearing down the campaign signs on private property of another candidate. Peraica

rejected publicity hound Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica handing his rival McCook Mayor Jeffery Tobolski a landslide victory on Tuesday.

In the neighboring 17th District, voters trounced the campaign of Patrick Maher, the controversial head of the Orland Fire Protection District and the cousin of 19th Ward scion and outgoing Comptroller Dan Hynes.

Maher and Liz Gorman were in a tight race months ago as Democratic activists from Orland Park and the 19th Ward flooded Maher’s campaign with funds and volunteers.

But weeks before the election, FOX Chicago News reporter Dane Placko reported that Maher was hiding a secret. He had been arrested and charged with a felony in the brutal beating while a college student of another student. That student today remains with brain damage. Maher went to trial but later agreed to a plea bargain misdemeanor assault.

Making matters worse, Maher did not disclose the conviction when asked on campaign forms by several local news media. And, it appeared that Maher had intentionally tried to hide the conviction, using a different birth date on his records. Changing a birth date makes it almost impossible for anyone to determine in a person has had a prior conviction. Maher’s father is the Clerk of Orland Park and an employee of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

“I’m thrilled to have the backing of the voters,” Gorman told me last night during her victory celebration. “I’ll continue to fight to defend their rights against excessive taxation and bloated county budgets.”

Maher tried and failed to link Gorman to outgoing County Board President Todd Stroger. In reality, Gorman was Stroger’s political nightmare. Gorman led the fight to repeal Stroger’s one cent sales tax hike. And when the move was rebuffed by Stroger and the board seemed to wane, Gorman persisted and reintroduced the effort several times until it passed and half of the tax was repealed.

Her colleague Peraica tried to introduce similar legislation but not on member of the Cook County Board would second his efforts, showing that he had no friends or alliances on the county board.

Peraica and his minions, including two writers at extremist WIND AM Radio and two activists in Justice, were constantly attacking anyone who questioned his failed leadership.

“I am honored to become the representative for the voters of the 16th District of Cook County,” Tobolski told me last night. “I will fight for their rights and make their interests and needs a the priority.”

The election contests were overshadowed by the statewide battles for the U.S. Senate between Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, and Illinois Governor between incumbent Democrat Patrick Quinn and downstate Republican challenger Bill Brady.

Kirk has claimed victory while the race for governor remains too close to call at this writing.

Nationally, Republicans took control of the U.S House, a tradition that has repeated itself in most off-year elections. The party that controls the White House has lost control of the U.S. House in every election except two, once right after the Depression and once right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Democrats expected to lose control of the House as Republicans lost control of the house during the second term of President George W. Bush.

The changing of control of the House now puts the pressure on Republicans to confront the deteriorating economy and the increasing job losses that began under the Bush administration. During the first two years of the Obama administration, the Republicans were in lock step rejecting everything Obama introduced.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tony Peraica loses election. Charges of destroying signs cost him the election

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Tony Peraica loses: His last minute Ninja routine destroying signs cost him the election

Loudmouthed Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica is projected to lose to McCook Mayor Jeff Tobolski in one of the most outrageous examples of alleged campaign abuse by an incumbent.

Only days before, Peraica was arrested for allegedly destroying election campaign signs for Tobolski in McCook, after he was spotted in Stickney by police who suspected he had destroyed Tobolski signs there, too.

Peraica had a knack for pushing his face in front of every press conference, and turning every opportunity in to a PR stunt. But his arrest may have sealed the deal this time, and Tobolski has a strong voter lead over Peraica as the final precincts in Suburban Cook County are tallied.

With 214 of 230 precincts reporting, Tobolski leads Peraica by a landslide margin. Tobolski has 50.64 percent to Peraica with 42.29 percent. Tobolski took all of the 25 votes in the one precinct in Chicago.

Tobolski has 31,047 votes to Peraica who trails with only 25,933 votes, a comfortable margin of more than 5,000 votes. With only 16 precincts left to count, and an average of about 216 votes per precinct, or only 4,300 remaining votes in the district, Peraica falls short even if he takes all 100 percent of the remaining votes.

Say good bye to Tony Peraica.

Congratulations to Jeff Tobolski, who, for the first time, will give the 16th Cook County Board real representation.

-- Ray Hanania

9 pm: Gorman projected winner in 17th District as count continues with heavy lead

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Gorman projected winner in 17th District as count continues with heavy lead

9 pm: The vote count is not yet completed, but with 213 of 278 precinct reporting, Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz'Doody Gorman (R-17th) is leading by a strong margin. Gorman has 42,444 votes to Maher's 26,174 votes. That's about 70,000 votes cast in 213 precincts. With 65 precincts remaining, that means if the vote totals hold consistent, that there are about 23,000 more votes left. To catch up, Maher would need 16,000 votes, leaving about 7,000 votes to decide the race. 

In other words, Maher would have to take almost 20,000 of the remaining 23,000 votes in the remaining 65 precincts to win, a statistical impossibility.

He could close the gap, but it is a wide gap. The Orland Parker Blog is projected Liz Gorman the winner.

That makes Gorman the kingmaker in Orland Park and she shut down, singlehandedly, the Orland Park Democrats who went full court press with money (from unions and the Hynes clan -- Maher is a cousin of Dan Hynes) to defeat Gorman.

But Maher's undoing was listening to whomever is the moron who advised him to try to hide or disguise his past. His past conviction and his efforts to hide it, including using a false birth date so that reporters and rivals might not discover the conviction, was his undoing.

You can't hide the truth.

And Maher's strategy to link Gorman to failed Cook County Board President Todd Stroger was a preposterous and stupid strategy.

Gorman singlehandedly stood up to Stroger's repeated tax hikes and when the other commissioners were prepared to give up, Gorman rallied them to a second and third try until half of the one percent sales tax was repealed.

Maher's poor leadership of the Orland Fire Protection District also was an albatross he could not disguise either with false claims that he cut taxes. The Orland Fire Protection District is one of the highest taxed fire districts in the state and one of the two highest in the nation. $25 million to run one fire protection district. It's outrageous.

Other projected winners: State Rep. Kevin McCarthy over Tea Party Republican Jeff Junkas. And, the balance is out there as Jeff Tobolski, the mayor of McCook, continues to lead with a healthy margin in the race to unseat mercurial and loud-mouthed county commissioner Tony Peraica. The Peraica-Tobolski battle will be close but Tobolski got a boost when Peraica was arrested when he was caught destroying election signs on Saturday night. Peraica was arrested, jailed for four hours and had his mug shot taken, forever burning the image of his mug shot.

What was Peraica doing in Stickney and then McCook at 11 pm at night wearing a black shirt (according to his mug shot image released by McCook Police) and driving around in a van?

Voters are not stupid, Peraica. At least most of them are not.

To review the final tallies:


-- Ray Hanania

You think something is going to change the day after the election? Think again

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You think something is going to change the day after the election? Think again

No, I'm not talking about whether the polls are right and the Republicans will sweep -- although let the Republicans take responsibility for the mess former President George W. Bush and VP Dick Cheney left on us after 8 years of mismanagement and a phony concocted war that cost billions.

I'm talking about the fact that no matter who wins, the economy sucks and it ain't gonna get better no time soon. Yes, Wednesday, millions of people will still be out of jobs. There are so many families out there in need and who have problems they just can't address because even if they do have jobs, they are not making enough money.

Healthcare sucks in this country despite the lies on the TV commercials from those special interest groups, like the one that portrays the fat lady who complains she had cancer and would have died under Canada's free medical system because she would have had to wait -- an out right lie that every acknowledges except for the fat lady's sponsors -- and she came to the US to get cancer treatment, the best int he world. Yes, the American health system is great -- not the best -- but who paid for her treatment? The phony commercial doesn't answer that. Because that is the problem. The privileged fat lady had a sugar daddy cover her cancer problem and yes, if you have money, who needs health care reform.

People are at home sick hoping to put off medical care for as long as possible because they can't afford it. That's the problem. Sure, healthcare is great in America -- if you can afford it and most people can't. And worse, the system is rigged to screw the poor.

For example, if you go to an emergency room in Chicago, the bill will probably be about $4,000 for basic care. If you don't have insurance, you have to pay and not being able to pay or having been there before and having failed to pay, you would be out on your sick ass.

But, if you have healthcare insurance, the insurance company negotiates a reduction in costs. The bill goes down to about $900. You pay your co-pay or deduction and the insurance company pays the balance.

So why is the system made to help the people who can afford healthcare and designed to screw the people who can't. Old people who have health care from retirement and bloated pensions could care less about the rest of the world and they only care about themselves. Because in this country, we don't care about seniors so they get scared and are easily stampeded to believe stupid claims like the death panels. How ignorant, but effective to swing the vote against healthcare.

And we'll still have government control even though the Republicans insist that they are opposed to increased government intervention in our lives. The truth is every Republican and Democrat and elected official lives completely under government controlled healthcare options. It's so good, they just don't want to give it to the rest of us, so they have us believing that we should hate what they love.

Are we stupid? Must be!

The debt will continue to rise and China will still be our mortgage banker. And they will continue to pump cheap and poisoned products in to our country and no one is doing anything about it because the people who can are benefiting from the relationship.

The terrorist threat continues and the candidates have all figured out how to use that terrorist threat to distract American voters from their own failures as government officials and candidates in public office. As long as there is something to fear, we don't have time to think.

You think anything is going to change Wednesday, the day after the election?

Think again.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chicagoland Syndication 11-01-10: Stroger name most vilified name in this week's election

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Poor Todd Stroger was everyone’s enemy in this election
By Ray Hanania
Chicagoland Syndication/Permission to reprint in full

It’s never easy for the children of powerful politicians.

Even Rich Daley, who will surpass his father’s record as mayor when he steps down from office next year probably in May, had it rough.

He was immediately marked as the person to prevent from becoming mayor. His father’s closest allies ended up becoming his chief obstacle. But Daley never gave up and the battle to survive made him a tougher person.

That was not to be the case of Todd Stroger, whose father was the affable president of the Cook County Board. Todd’s succession to his father was far smoother and too easy.

In the end, that was probably his fatal mistake.

Stroger was easily defeated in his bid to win the seat he was appointed to take, heading up the multi-billion dollar Cook County government his father had a hand in crafting.

But if that were not shame enough, to lose the job to his father’s former allies and friends, Todd Stroger became the number one person vilified in this week’s elections.

There were three names thrown around in the negative attack ads. President Barack Obama on the state and federal level, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on the state level, and Todd Stroger on the county level.

In fact, I would say that more abuse was heaped on Todd Stroger than on any one individual political figure in the tsunami of election advertising that saturated our television, radio, newspapers, mail boxes and home telephones.

In a way, I do feel sorry for Todd Stroger. He was destined to stumble in to controversy, although he was always well meaning. When he tried to help someone, that someone usually got into trouble and Todd Stroger took the blame.

His name was thrown around like it was mud, far from the stature that it once carried when his father walked in to meetings of the state and county Democratic organizations of the contentious county board room.

Tragically, the battle for Tuesday’s elections really had nothing to do with Todd Stroger. But it was his name most voters will remember as having been the problem. From taxes to bloated spending, to searing political rivalries, Stroger was more in this week’s elections than he ever dreamed he would be after losing his bid to keep his father’s job.

People won’t remember the Todd Stroger that I once knew many years ago as a young kid being ushered into the Illinois legislature. He always had a smile, like his father, and was more of a centrist and moderate than a contentious extremist.

I once wondered if he might decide to run for mayor of Chicago in the February elections. There is still a few weeks left to file the nominating petitions.

But I imagine this election has done so much harm to his name that maybe he might just decide to fade in to a less controversial and more lucrative position in private business.

I wish him luck.

(Ray Hanania is a morning radio talk show host. He can be reached at

Tony Peraica caught red-handed ripping down signs, mugshot taken

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McCook Mayor Jeff Tobolski called Tony Peraica's assertions that he set Peraica up for an arrest Saturday night "ridiculous."

And Tobolski has the weight of th efacts on his side.

1 - Peraica was first stopped in Stickney where police suspected but had no witnesses to prove he was driving around vandalizing signs.

2 - Peraica was all dressed in black to disguise himself that late at night.

3 - He was stopped 30 minutes later in McCook, after leaving STickney, by a McCook police officer who saw him pulling out of a driveway belonging to an 80 year old lady who had a Tobolski sign that was vandalized. The police officer pulled him over.

4 - The lady in the home said Peraica never came to her door to ask to put up any Peraica signs.

5 - Peraica lied saying he was putting up his own signs, but the police said there were no such Peraica signs in the van he was driving with a campaign worker.

6 - A man who lived above the McCook Bohemian restaurant came out after seeing the commotion to complain he saw Peraica destroy signs on his property.

7 - Peraica says this was all set-up except that of course, did Tobolski lure Peraica in to McCook to be stopped? What was Peraica really doing in McCook? Do you know how hard it would be to set something like this up?

Peraica is full of beans and the running joke now is that if Peraica and his cohorts are thrown out of office Tuesday, Nov. 2, he'll probably go in to a business ripping down signs. Because that seems to be all he is good at.

Click here to listen to the radio interview with Tobolski, Peraica's challenger for the 16th Cook County District, and comments from callers.

Here's Peraica's mug shot one more time.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Peraica's Press Release on his arrest for vandalizing election signs

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Here is the press release Tony Peraica issued Sunday afternoon in response to his arrest on charges of election vandalism:

When passing through McCook at about 11 PM, on our way to Willow Springs, a marked McCook police car almost immediately began to follow us as we were going south on Joliet Road. We were followed for about half mile, pulled over without reason given and harassed.  Police searched the vehicle, found nothing, and were about to let us continue. 

Then, a police sergeant came to the scene followed by another, third police car, with a male wearing only jeans who pointed to me and alleged that I caused criminal damage to his property --a cardboard sign.  This apparently inebriated male, who was barefoot and without any clothes above waist, proceeded to say that he saw me damage his cardboard sign. None of this is remotely true. I never even got out of the van.

The arresting officer was apologetic but was ordered to do this and had to follow orders.

This is a blatant abuse of police authority by a desperate candidate who is using his police department to engage in political retribution just because he can. This kind of behavior has no place in our democracy.

If elected officials abuse their authority like this to trump up phony charges against other elected officials, and get away with it, what will they do to an average citizen who does not have the ability to respond or fight back.

I have been fighting corruption and illegal behavior for many years in Cook County and this is just another example of such behavior.

Tony Peraica

BREAKING NEWS -- Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica arrested for ripping down Tobolski signs

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11:45 am SUNDAY

Tony Peraica, cook county commissioner in the 16th District, arrested and jailed in McCook

Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica was arrested late Saturday night when he was caught ripping down political signs from private property.

Peraica is planning his own press conference later today to call the arrest and jailing a set-up, claiming that the arrest was made in McCook where his opponent, Jeff Tobolski is the mayor.

But Tobolski reports that Periaca, who was dressed in black, and another man, were driving around in a white van tearing down signs when a Stickney police officer observed them tearing down the signs and pulled them over. They were given a warning and allowed to leave, according to Tobolski.

About 15 to 20 minutes later, the same van was seen driving through McCook in what many would describe as a last-minute political trick, tearing down signs. The van was observed by a McCook Police officer pulling out of private property with several signs destroyed on the ground.

"The police officer stopped the van. It was late at night. And as he was questioning them about what they were doing on the property and if they had anything to do with destroying the private property, the owner of the property came out yelling that they destroyed his signs," Tobolski said.

The property in question is the McCook Bohemian Restaurant on Joliet Road.

Peraica was charged with criminal trespass and destruction of private property. The complaint was signed by the owner of the bar. Peraica was held in the McCook Jail until McCook authorities allowed Peraica to be released on an I-Bond without having to post money.

The fact that Peraica was in McCook driving around in an unmarked van in black clothing is evidence enough that Peraica was up to his old mischief. He'll do his best to claim it was a political set-up but you have to be an incompetent imbecile to be allowed to be put in to a position of being caught like that.

"Peraica should resign from office immediately. When you drive through McCook you will see several large signs for Peraica and no one has bothered them or destroyed them or taken any of them down because I believe every candidate has a right to campaign without the fear of your property being destroyed," Tobolski said.

"There are many signs out there for many candidates and we don’t touch any of them. I’m not taking any signs down because I respect the right of the voters to vote for whomever they are right. Obviously, Tony Peraica doesn't feel the same way. What’s he going to do next, storm my home? His erratic behavior of a strange man is outrageous and I think every voter in Cook County and the 16th District must question his ability to run a county district and to represent anyone in this county. I am shocked a man who ran for state’s attorney and a lawyer would knowingly break the law like this.

Peraica was unavailable for comment, but he told the media he was putting his signs up late at night and on public property, even though there are laws in most municipalities that prohibit the placing of political signs on public property.

This event shows Peraica to clearly be one of the most unethical, most despicable candidates running for office. On Tuesday Nov. 2, voters can throw that kind of dirty politics out the window."

THE BIG QUESTION: What was Tony Peraica really doing that late at night driving in a van with a campaign worker dressed in black?

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, October 29, 2010

The dumbest law I have ever seen

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The dumbest law I have ever seen
By Ray Hanania

The City of Belleville Illinois adopted a law two years ago to prevented anyone over the age of 12 from trick-or-treating, but it is starting to get a lot of attention these days.

It’s bad enough that some people think that Halloween is a celebration of evil and devil worship – a distortion of the true history of the children’s holiday and candy industry commercialization jackpot.

But to restrict anyone from going out in costume for Halloween is ridiculous and stupid.

The Belleville law fines anyone over the age of 12 who goes out to trick-or-treat with fines of $100 to $1,000. The city actually has assigned their police to monitor the Halloween to arrest the offenders. It’s similar to other laws in a few other communities that set age limits on fun.

The biggest complaints are that older kids and even young adults often stay out late past 10 pm or even 10:30knocking on doors to ask for candy. But most communities don’t burden their police departments and instead adopt time zones in which treat-or-treat revelry can take place, for example between 3 pm and 8 pm.

Putting a limit on the time, say 8 pm, seems more reasonable a response.

Are they concerned that criminals will be out dressed in costume to rob the homes? That’s a problem with any holiday and any circumstance. But it is a criminal problem in which police can be called to investigate. If someone wants to rob someone else, trick-or-treating is not going to make it easier or more difficult.

America is becoming a society that lives in fear. Fear of everything from terrorist threats to adults in children’s costumes.

We would rather put restrictions on ourselves and even violate the U.S. Constitution rather than use common sense and invest our resources in strengthening our police departments and justice systems to make prosecution of criminal acts more effective.

Instead, we prefer to feel good and pass laws that eliminate those potential fears. But it is impossible to wipe away every fear. Creating ridiculous laws only creates more and more fears.

Why not impose a curfew on everyone to keep them off the streets after 8 pm. That would stop prostitution, drug dealers and street gang members.

Why not ban anyone from loitering anywhere at any time? Why not bury our heads in the sand and hope all of the fears that are mongered by leaders who lack the talent to develop good solutions so we won’t see the scary things that exist in real life.

Life is sometimes tragic. Terrible things do happen. But so much good that would happen also gets wiped away when we live our lives cowering in fear and responding to those fears through ridiculous unnecessary laws is also wiped away and lost.

How about our society gets more involved in neighborliness? Why not stop the new cultural trait where we all bury ourselves in our own lives and barely say hello to our neighbors? Why not tear down the huge security fences we build around our homes and families and create security based on neighborhood networking where the protection of our children and our homes becomes a communitywide responsibility rather than the current attitude that it is none of my business?

But then, passing a stupid law is so much easier to achieve than adhering to common sense.

(Ray Hanania is a morning radio talk show host. He can be reached at

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chicagoland Syndication 10-24-10: Have we become a culture that enjoys tragedy?

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Have we become a culture that enjoys tragedy?
By Ray Hanania

One of my favorite TV programs is America’s Funniest Videos hosted by Tom Bergeron, one of the funniest hosts on television.

It’s also one of the country’s most popular TV programs, too. But isn’t that the problem?

America’s Funniest Videos features videos taken by members of the public of “funny” moments. Moments like when a father tries to tumble like his four year old and ends up kicking the girl in the face. Or when a bicyclist crashes in to a wall. Or two girls on a trampoline, flying off and falling on their backs.

And these examples are not the worst.

I watch these video snippets and while I laugh, I wince, too. They have to be very painful. So why am I laughing?

Maybe that is how our culture has degenerated over the past few decades. We’ve become a society of cruelty, but we will never admit it.

Wiki Leaks recently published thousands of classified documents it obtained from a source in the military and it turns out that some of the things that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney told us about the war were in fact lies.

Far more innocent civilians were killed by our soldiers than we want to admit. But we were so excited to cheer on the war and criticize and even demonize those who had the courage to speak the truth. That our mission wasn’t to free anyone in Iraq. It was to extract revenge and to control Iraq’s oil.

We wanted to profit.

That’s very funny, too, of course.

We’re a society that drives down the expressways and only slow down to gawk at accidents. These gapers’ blocks as they are called, slow down our society but provide the kind of entertainment we have come to enjoy.

Tragedy sells. Just ask the professionals in the news media that spend hours and weeks of hard work to uncover the latest scandals. The news media motto is “If it bleeds it leads.” That means the more tragic an event, the more horrific and the more frightening, the more it pushes its way to the front pages of our newspapers and our TV news.

Is this something we should be proud of? Accepting lies rather than the truth because the lies are more entertaining?

It’s more complicated than that, of course. The truth is we sometimes prefer the lie to the truth because as much as we love tragedy and pain, we don’t like it when it involves ourselves. We don’t want to admit that we have done wrong. Just others.

So we chose the lie as the answer to complicated problems that range from the Middle East conflict to local politics.

Television is filled with programs that involve drama. Recently, while waiting for a doctor to check my back at the emergency room, I sat for about four hours at Palos Hospital with about two dozen other patients and watched the FOX Network and a series of programs involving “judges” who detail the ugliest of relationships in our society to show who is more wrong.

It took that emergency room visit to realize two things. I need to do something about my computer-driven posture. And, I have to stop enjoying the suffering of others.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all did?

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and morning radio talk show host. You can contact him at

Chicagoland Syndication: 10-24-10: Worst candidate I have seen in years

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Worst candidate I have seen in years
By Ray Hanania

As voters, we’re used to bad choices. But the Nov. 2 election for the Cook County Board presents residents in the suburban 17th District with one of the worst candidates to seek public office, Patrick Maher.

Maher is in a mudslinging battle with two term incumbent Liz Gorman. Maher has claimed that Gorman is a puppet of the hated outgoing Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, alleging she supported Strogers many tax increases, which is all a lie, of course.

Gorman single-handedly kept the board from giving up and despite several failed attempts, and she put together the votes by pure stubbornness to repeal half of the Stronger 1 percent Sales Tax hike. She has been the strongest voice against tax increases on the board.

Maher has to lie because Maher has a bad secret. And in political life, there are no secrets. When he was a college student, he brutally beat up a fellow classmate over a girl, who later became his wife. Maher was charged with aggravated felony assault but the jury deadlocked over the fate of a rising star of one of the state’s most powerful political families. Instead, he plead guilty to one count of misdemeanor battery.

The man he beat at Illinois State University in 1991 is Curt Bellone. Bellone is from New Lenox.  (Click HERE to read a story on the conviction.)

This week, Bellone’s mother voiced a robo-call (a political term for a phone call that plays a recorded message to targeted voters) telling the story and urging voters to reject Maher’s candidacy.

In the passioned phone call, which I received and heard, Bellone’s mother, Karen Peterson (who is now 65), says:  "Patrick Maher brutally beat my son and has spent 19 years trying to hide that fact. Patrick Maher has spent his campaign for Cook County commissioner lying about this crime, refusing to be accountable for the crime to which he pled guilty and denying the damage he did to another human being. ... He should never be put in a position of public trust such as Cook County commissioner."

Maher is a decent person. I’ve met and spoken with him. He’s just surrounded by the usual rabble of cheerleaders looking to find their place at the public trough, and has the oppressive weight of a political dynasty on his shoulders.

He is the cousin of Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, a scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful Machine Organizations, the 19th Ward. His father  is Orland Park Village Clerk Dave Maher. The Hynes family and friends funds much of their elections.

Maher was put in charge of the Orland Fire Protection District, quickly transforming it in to a Chicago-like bureaucracy with one of the most bloated budgets of any fire protection district in the state.

But to go higher, Maher had to bury his criminal past. He never mentioned it in media candidate questionnaires (except once, after FOX News reporter Dane Placko started investigating).

(Here is Placko's news report)

(Click HERE to view it on the FOX 32 Web Page.)

Maher’s birthdate was also changed by one day. He says it was a mistake. But everyone knows that without an accurate birth date you cannot find a criminal record.

Maher’s past is not the issue. But covering it up, is. And covering up a past instead of being a man to address it makes him a poor choice for public office, one of the worst, in fact.

When this election is over, he should quit the Fire Protection District and instead of listening to the pressures of his political aristocracy, find his place in society, one where he can raise his head up and find respect.

It’s not there, though, in this election.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at

Chicagoland Syndication 10-20-10: American freedoms hanging out to dry

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American freedoms hanging out to dry
By Ray Hanania

You'll want to hold your nose on this one -- with a clothes pin.

Jill Saylor lives in a mobile home in Canton, Ohio, where she came up with a small way to fight global warming. But, she’s being hung out to dry by her trailer park management company.
Saylor has come to symbolize the battle between the old days when people were free, and the new days where everything is litigated in court and where “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose” (the Janice Joplin lyrics from her song "Bobby McGee").

Do Americans have anything left to lose?
The mobile park where Saylor lives has a ban on drying your clothes out in public, in your backyard. If mobile homes even have a back yard. But according to the New York Times, Saylor is not alone. Turns out that in private communities -- places where an owner rents or leases out space for you to live -- the number one ban, among many, is one that prohibits the public drying of clothes on clothes lines outside of the home.

When I was young, I remember looking across our white picket fence and seeing dozens of backyards as far as the eye could see with clothes lines with damp clothes drying in the sun and waving in the breeze held only by wooden clothes pins. Most of the clothes were sheets, shirts and pants. But you'd see the occasional underwear and bras and private things like lingerie. But it's not the saucy aspect of the practice that has the owners of Saylor's trailer park up in arms against her. They just don't like the site of clothes hanging on a clothes line. It makes the neighborhood look, "trashy" maybe?
The world has changed a lot.

When I was young, our parents let us go trick-or-treating "until the street lights came on." These days, a child doesn't walk the street in daylight without a mother or parent closely monitoring them for tragedies like a child kidnapper, sexual predator or bullying by other students their age. And we're not talking just kindergarten. We're talking high school, too.

Some economists claim that you can save as much as 20 percent on your home energy bills by hanging the clothes out to dry rather than running them through the dryer. Everyone has a washer and a dryer these days. It's an expensive convenience, but isn't convenience supposed to be expensive?

Common sense should rule but common sense is going out the window. The clothes lines that Saylor put up were not like the old days when the line stretched from the back fence to the brick wall of the back of the house in several rows. Or from poll to poll -- many people actually had clothes line polls cemented in the backyard as permanent fixtures, a service they paid for just as they pay for dryers from Sears or now Costco.

Saylor has a unique system of squares that minimized the visual size of the drying process. It is kind of like a rectangular maze with inner lines of clothes drying. It made it all look so efficient.

Why not? Well, some think what Saylor’s doesn't look good.

I say the restrictions are all wet.

(Chicagoland Syndication. Ge information at 

Friday, October 15, 2010

CHicagoland Syndication 10-17-10: Ed Vrdolyak's hand slapping - Is there any doubt the system is corrupt?

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Ed Vrdolyak's hand slapping: Is there any doubt the system is corrupt?
By Ray Hanania

Let me get this straight.

Ed Vrdolyak, one of the slipperiest politicians in Illinois who everyone assumed was guilty but had a Teflon career for years until this week, gets 10 months in jail for his role in a $1.5 million kick back scheme involving a Gold Coast property.

And the same Feds are trying to put Rod Blagojevich in jail for 30 years for never taking one cent for his personal use, but did what every politician (including Vrdolyak) in pushing contractors and friends to donate to his campaign.

This is the poster image for Illinois’ infamous and oft cited “culture of corruption.” The culture of corruption isn’t just about the politicians who slip through the cracks and eventually get caught – it only took 30 years to finally put Fast Eddie in a cushy prison after another federal judge – and friend – sentenced him to probation and community service that had him making calls from his limousine to raise money for his clout-heavy cronies.

The culture of corruption in Illinois is endemic to the state government and applies more directly to the system in which the corrupt politicians play.

It’s the system that is corrupt and the people who haven’t gone to jail and the ones pulling the strings.

So what Vrdolyak got caught. Ed Vrdolyak is Mr. Personality. Mr. Popular. The pal of friend and foe. He is one of the smartest politicians in Illinois and pal-ed up to politicians he supported and fought with.

He was well-liked by the political establishment which made it easy for him to rise to the top of the grunge when he led the infamous Vrdolyak 29 to lead a race-based campaign that succeeded in stymieing the administration of Harold Washington during his first term as mayor.

This was the Ed Vrdolyak who found it so easy to bring judges of all sorts to his home for the annual private picnic in a backyard partially built on a Chicago street he managed to acquire without raising one eyebrow from the Feds.

This was the Ed Vrdolyak, who when he lost his power in the Democratic party, slipped easily into the comforting leadership of the Republican Party.

He was liked. And because Ed Vrdolyak was liked, he got a pillow slap from the first judge, who doesn’t deserve to remain on the bench. And now he is getting a slap on the wrist to make the public feel better.

Even the prosecutors, who failed to get the three and one-half year prison term for Vrdolyak that they originally sought, were excited that Fast Eddie was sent to prison at all.

Meanwhile, the unliked and woefully disdained Rod Blagojevich is being forced to defend himself against trumped up charges from the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Oh the Vrdolyak decision to go to summer camp for 10 months must have made Fitzgerald feel extra good, considering that things haven’t been going his way as of late.

Fitzgerald’s crew failed to win a conviction of Blagojevich in the first trial on the 23 of the 24 charges. They did get the jury to agree that Blagojevich lied to the FBI. But they couldn’t get a unanimous jury nod of the serious charges of corruption.

But Blagojevich is easy to attack and Vrdolyak is difficult. The public doesn’t care too much for either, although Blagojevich has gained much support by going public to respond to the public outcries by the federal government that characterized their 18 months of pre-trial public lobbying.

Blagojevich is disliked by the politicians and Vrdolyak is held in high esteem despite his political shenanigans.

I liked Vrdolyak, too. He was a crafty shell game manipulator. But he always went too far, including in his role in the Town of Cicero with former President Betty Loren-Maltese who was sent to prison for 8 years for her role in stealing $10 million – another injustice in that the sentence was too lenient considering how much she stole from the taxpayers there.

Vrdolyak had a pattern similar to that of Loren-Maltese. While they stole, they were doling out favors to many. And in Vrdolyak’s case, many in the public who benefited from Vrdolyak’s charity wrote letters on his behalf that “swayed” the federal judge.

Vrdolyak gets 10 months and Blagojevich gets threats of 30 years.

Did you need anything more to demonstrate the state’s culture of corruption and how bad it really is?

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, media strategist and morning radio talk show host. He can be reached at

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Chicago Newsroom Weekly TV Program: The new and old media

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The Chicago Newsroom Weekly TV Program: The new and old media
Hosted by Ken Davis
In this week's program, Ken Davis is joined by Sun-Times columnist, Esther J. Cepeda, Thom Clark, President, Community Media Workshop, Ray Hanania, independent columnist, and Neil Tesser, Chicago jazz writer. The panel discusses "The New News", a report on the state of Chicago's online media.This program was produced by Chicago Access Network TV.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicagoland Syndication: When Free Speech Just Crosses the Line

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When Free Speech Just Crosses the Line

Free speech has never been more under assault. It has led to the firing of three top journalists: White House dean Helen Thomas, Octavia Nasr of CNN, and popular CNN talk host Rick Sanchez.

It has dominated the headlines with the threatened burning of a Quran (Islamic holy book) by a pastor in Gainesville, Fla.

And it’s before the U.S. Supreme Court, involving a father of a fallen U.S. Marine who was appalled when members of a nearby church decided to protest at his son’s funeral chanting hateful rhetoric about the war, gays and more.

The line that divides what is right and wrong on free speech is not as simply drawn as it once was when people would say you can say anything short of yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater.

Today, it is so much more complicated. But is it because the issues have changed? Or, are we just giving the free speech of unpopular causes more play in the news media and in our daily discussions?

Thomas, Nasr and Sanchez are all victims of a political battle tied to the Middle East. And so were the threats by Pastor Terry Jones to burn the Quran.

But what about the protests at the burial ceremonies of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The father of a fallen marine sued members of a Kansas church when they showed up at his son’s funeral denouncing homosexuality. The marine was not gay, but the protesters decided to use the high profile burial as a podium to air their views nationally.

Protesters carried signs proclaiming “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates you.”

As offensive as the sentiments are, chances are the Court will rule on the side of free speech. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t distinguish between good free speech and ugly free speech, although sometimes I wish they had.

There is something wrong with free speech when it is OK to scream ugly epitaphs at the grieving family of a man who sacrificed his life so that the protesters could speak. A society that says it is OK to burn a holy book like the Quran, or presumably even the Bible or Torah, and yet in the same breath in many cities around the country, you could be arrested, face a stiff fine and even be jailed for multiple convictions if you burn a pile of leaves in front of your home.

Come to think of it, I really liked the old days when burning leaves in front of a home was OK, and few people thought about hate speech or burning Qurans.

(Ray Hanania's Chicagoland column is distributed to several local newspapers including the Southwest News-Herald, the Lawndale News and the West Suburban Journal newspapers. If you would like to add his free Chicagoland column to your newspaper, email

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Maher-Gorman battle heats up over signs and Maher's past conviction

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Democrat Pat Maher accused his incumbent rival this week of tearing down his campaign signs, but Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman said the charge is another one of Maher's lies.

Some signs have been torn down, but it looks like supporters on both sides are damaging the other signs. The Gorman sign on the lawn of my neighbor was torn down last night. Maher said that his signs were also taken down the same day.

The accusation from Maher came the same day that the Gorman campaign mailed out a hard-hitting two page fold-out detailing Maher's past criminal record and his apparent attempts to hide the conviction. (Click HERE to read a story on the conviction.)

Maher said the story is false, although it has been detailed at length on FOX 32 TV by Dane Placko. The records are filed with the courts and cannot be falsified, Gorman said.

"No signs were taken down at all," Gorman responded. 

"Our volunteers went door-to-door and they got a great response from residences. We didn't open mailboxes like the other side to drop literature."

Gorman said many voters who had put Maher signs on their lawns took them down after reading about his past criminal record.

Gorman said that many voters were not aware of his past, or allegations that he intentionally changed his birth date by one day to make discovery of the court records more difficult to find. The conviction was not detailed in his newspaper interviews at two newspapers including the SouthtownStar, but when word got out that FOX 32 was investigating, Maher acknowledged his past in only one interview with the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

-- Ray Hanania