Monday, January 4, 2010
Many weeks ago, a friend who is an Oak Lawn landlord told me that Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica doesn't like Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman. Like someone needed to tell me that. It was a lot of Peraica trash-talk about Gorman a few years back that put me in a confrontation with her over some of her policies. He said Peraica wanted to give me a pile of court documents showing how bad she still is.
A week later, I received one of those anonymous envelopes that columnists always get around election time filled with court documents rehashed from a dead story from 2001 about a private business that Commissioner Gorman's husband once ran that was associated with former Chicago Alderman Ed Vrdolyak.
Believe me, if Vrdolyak's name had not come up in the story, no one -- and I mean no one would have written about it at all.
I don't know if the envelope came from Peraica, but it seemed a little too coincidental.
This week, Gorman's challenger in the Republican Primary, Mark Thompson, issued a scathing attack against Gorman and her husband Gerry Gorman, accusing them of all kinds of behavior, much of it tied to the story about the court documents and the failed car dealership.
Thompson is the Maine Township Republican Committeeman and former two-term Maine Township Supervisor. He was also the Chief Deputy Director under Secretary of State Jim Edgar, which goes back a long time. There is no doubt in my mind that Thompson is also close to Peraica and this is more about Peraica who can't stand the fact that Gorman is doing so well. It's always been Peraica's undoing in his political relationships.
It's sad that instead of dealing with the issues that voters are concerned about, like sales taxes in Cook County, Thompson has to launch a very nasty attack, mainly against Gorman's husband, Gerry.
HAS THOMPSON CROSSED A LEGAL LINE?
In his news release, Thompson alleges that the Gorman's illegally moved money between their business and campaign fund.
"Allegations have surfaced that Liz Gorman and her husband, Gerald Gorman, diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars due creditors of their failed car dealerships as “loans” to Gorman’s campaign committee in 2002. The funds were used to pay for Gorman’s first race for County Commissioner.
"Further allegations are that in 2004 the committee changed the listed creditors on the huge "loans" from the dealerships to Gerald Gorman, and have been paying back the "loans" to Gerald Gorman, not the dealership creditors."
But what Thompson doesn't mention is that in 2005, the IRS Audited the transactions in question and found "NO CHANGE" an IRS legal term meaning that nothing was done improperly and that there was no tax liability. The Gormans forwarded a copy of that IRS document to me detailing the "NO CHANGE."
The Gormans are talking to a lawyer to respond to Thompson's allegations with a lawsuit.
WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON?
Gerry Gorman is NOT the candidate for the Cook County Board. Liz Gorman is. It's almost a sexist attack, too. Whenever a woman candidate is challenged, they always go after the husband.
In the time that I have come to know Liz Gorman and better understand her politics, I've realized she is exactly the kind of county official that Cook County needs.
She is fearless. I had criticized her over the esoterica issue of Republican Party leadership and we were going back and forth when she had the courage to attend a public fight-the-tax forum that I had sponsored in Orland Park. Although we had been trading some barbs -- it's the nature of journalism and politics -- Gorman had the chutzpah to show up and stand up for the rights of taxpayers at the meeting.
I was impressed. Most politicians slither around and cower in fear of being criticized, afraid to questions or defend their public records. Other politicians want to deal with mudslinging and anonymous envelopes of worthless mush to bring their opponents down, usually because they lack the creative mindset to offer new ideas and lead. Still others are consumed with jealousy when their colleagues on the board get all the attention and they don't. They have to be in the public spotlight and see their names in print and hear their voices on radio or see their faces on TV news.
But not Liz Gorman. In the past year, Gorman singlehandedly has helped the County Board find the courage to stand up to Cook County Board President John Stroger who with the backing of many of the same commissioners who supported the tax increase fought Stroger and forced him to back down.
The first vote came and went but Gorman would not relent. She persisted. Why? Because it was good for her career? No. It was good for the taxpayers of Cook County. The fight went back and forth and each time Gorman wouldn't give up and more and more commissioners joined the coalition until finally the sales tax that Stroger imposed was cut in half.
Let me repeat that. The Stroger sales tax, thanks to Liz Gorman, was cut in half, saving taxpayers millions of dollars during a time when our economy is in its worst predicament.
Now, Mark Thompson can spend all his money bashing Liz Gorman all he wants. He can attack her husband, who I think has a great personality. He can throw mud, dredge up old useless stories.
Or, Thompson can roll up his sleeves and show taxpayers how he would be a better Cook County Commissioner. But being better than Liz Gorman on the Cook County Board is one challenge that very few elected officials will be able to achieve in a lifetime.
And if you can't be a better leader, maybe all you have left is to call people names.
That's not going to win votes in this election.
Liz Gorman is the 800 pound gorilla who has made Todd Stroger and his tax hike administration moan and groan over the past few years like no one has ever made the county board groan. Never before have I seen a board override a veto by a sitting county board president. And never before have I seen a government agency roll back a tax hike heeding the call of the public.
Not re-electing Gorman would be like telling Todd Stroger that it is okay to raise taxes even more, which is what several county Commissioner had hoped to do and probably will do after this year's election.
You can check all this out for yourself. Liz Gorman's web site is www.LizGorman.com. Mark Thompson's web site is www.MarkThompson2010.com.
I think the differences are clear.
-- Ray Hanania