Sunday, January 31, 2010

Finally, some great and honest analysis of the Junkas-Flynn Republican legislative primary battle

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The big debate in the battle between Jeffrey Junkas and Molly McAvoy Flynn, especially in the news media, hasn't been so much about the issues but rather about which one is a "Democratic plant." The debate reflects the divisions that exist in the Republican Party between moderates and hardline extremists who are trying to silence the divergent voices.

The Regional's Meg Sullivan does the best job in describing this battle in her report this week in the Palos Reporter Newspaper, which also covers Orland Park. Click HERE to read the story.

Flynn is backed by Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman, the Cook County Commissioner from the 17th District and Republican Committeeman in Orland Township. Junkas is backed by a rebel faction led by some of Gorman's critics.

The truth is that the Republicans can't afford this name calling and should instead focus on preparing to come together to challenge State Rep. Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy has been a muted member of the legislature. I don't know him and have never met him, though ironically his office is the equivalent of two houses north of my home. Amazing, isn't it, that I ran for the district rep spot in 1991 (in my bid to learn firsthand the experiences of a public candidate in launching my then political consulting firm) and McCarthy never says hi. That's because he does what he is told to do.

I don't blame McCarthy for doing what House Speaker Michael J. Madigan orders him to do. Madigan is powerful and smart, probably one of the smartest politicians in Illinois and maybe the MidWest. It always amazed me that Madigan would not have run for higher office like the U.S. Senate. But his power in Illinois is formidable and he is essentially Illinois' de facto Governor.

But I do wonder about the harsh attacks against Gorman and what motivates them. Gorman has really strengthened her leadership during the past two years. As a longtime Democrat myself, many years ago, I was one of her critics (and admirers, too). But Gorman has clearly redefined what voters need, someone who has an allegiance to a political party but who is also smart enough to reach across the partisan lines to work for the best interests of the voters.

The attacks against Gorman -- and some extremists in the Republican party have tried to blame her for this dispute between Flynn and Junkas -- are unjustified. She, more than anyone, has brought the best in the Republican Party together while being mindful of the needs of the 17th Cook County District. She's a dedicated Republican and if I were a member of the Republican Party, I'd take her advice on what needs to be done in Orland Township and the 17th District.

Gorman backs Flynn and that is a powerful endorsement that Junkas can't take for granted. His focus on the phony issue of who is or isn't a Republican is ridiculous. Every candidate in every election is always blasted as a "ringer" or a "plant" from the other side. A good candidate for public office pushes that aside and instead focuses on the issues and tells voters what needs to be done, rather than making excuses.

Whether either candidate is a plant is irrelevant. What's relevant is who is best to represent the party in making McCarthy accountable to the voters instead of to the State Machine.


Friday, January 29, 2010

More support for Liz Gorman, and slaps for Patrick Maher from local newspapers

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The influential Journal and Topics Newspapers, which covers the north suburban end of the 17th Cook County District, gave Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman a solid endorsement over her challenger in the Republican primary race Tuesday Mark Thompson, who is from the newspaper's back yard.

The Journal and Topics newspaper also declined to endorse in the race between Patrick Maher and Dr. Victor Forys in the Democratic primary, however, seeing neither as worthy.

In a double whammy for Maher, the SouthtownStar newspaper also refused to endorse in the Democratic race between Maher and Forys, slamming Maher for his refusal to provide basic information on the controversy-plagued and budget bloated Orland Fire Protection District.

Here is what the Journal and Topics Newspaper wrote in their editorial, followed by the Southtown Star  Editorial:

Gorman Deserves Voter Support
Journal Endorsement | As we've come to know all too well in the last year or so, county government really does matter. It has a profound affect on our daily lives whether it is with road building projects, maintenance of the local forest preserves or flood relief.

And if that isn't enough, remember the infamous 1% sales tax that Cook County Board President Todd Stroger proposed more than a year ago?

If it wasn't for the stink raised by ordinary citizens who have to foot the bill, the tax hike probably would have passed. When the public raised its voice, political leaders raised their heads and the county sales tax hike was trimmed in half. Like they say, half a loaf is better than nothing.

With that in mind, we turn our attention to the 17th District of Cook County. It's an oddly-shaped geographical area that stretches north from Orland Park and Palos Hts into Des Plaines and Prospect Hts. For the last eight years, Elizabeth Gorman has represented that district and we feel she has done a credible job, which warrants voter support in the Tuesday, Feb. 2 primary.

Challenging Gorman is Mark Thompson, a well-known figure in the Northwest suburbs where he currently serves as Maine Township Republican committeeman. Thompson's public service has been long and solid as Maine Township supervisor and Maine Township trustee. Besides his race with Gorman, he is also seeking reelection as committeeman against State Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R-65th). So you see, Thompson has a lot on his table.

On the Democratic side, running for ballot placement to take on either Gorman or Thompson in November are Victor Forys of Park Ridge, Patrick Maher and Donna Sanders. Running as Green Party candidates are Richard Dalka of Des Plaines and Matthew Ogean. The Journal & Topics is not endorsing in either of these races.

In the GOP race, however, we think Gorman deserves voter support primarily because she saw the light on the poorly thought out sales tax increase and worked to repeal it along with the state requirement to override Stroger's veto. She didn't sit on her hands. In addition, we feel Gorman's look to the future of county government makes sense where all-out efforts must be made to streamline county government at a time when waste cannot be tolerated.


In the Cook County Board's 17th District, Democratic primary voters will choose between Orland Fire Protection District President Patrick Maher and Park Ridge physician Victor Forys. A third candidate is on the ballot, Donna Sanders, but she is largely believed to be a plant in the race. Don't waste your vote on her.
Maher and Forys both say they would streamline Cook County government and reduce waste and inefficiency in the health delivery system.
Forys, a medical doctor who wants to bring his expertise to the county's health system, would look at curtailing generous pension benefits for future county workers. Maher would fight tax and fee increases but leave the pensions alone.
Maher, of Orland Park, cites his experience overseeing the fire district as proof he would take the same level of professionalism and cost-cutting to Cook County. Indeed, Maher has helped professionalize the fire district.
However, we can't endorse a candidate who willfully ignored repeated requests from this newspaper for information about the fire district when it experienced one of the biggest scandals in Southland history.
Firefighter Larry Masa was arrested and convicted after illegally collecting more than $190,000 in salary and benefits. Masa claimed for years he was on active military duty in Iraq when in fact he was working for a private contractor, not the U.S. military. Evidence suggested Masa was ripping off taxpayers and yet fire district officials looked the other way.
Maher doesn't deserve all the blame for the debacle, but he also never restituted accusations in a trumped up report that falsely blamed Deputy Chief Art Granat. He never apologized. He never accepted responsibility.
Maher says lawsuits prohibited him from being able to speak publicly about the case. Talking about it could have jeopardized the district's efforts to recoup taxpayer money, he said.
But as a newspaper that demands elected officials respect the public's right to know, we cannot offer our endorsement.
We also cannot endorse Forys.
While he would bring a unique perspective to a board that struggles with its health care system, he did not seem to fully understand the role of county government. A better fit for him would be a position on the Cook County Health and Hospitals System Board.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Thompson slams Gorman with more lies

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When all a candidate does is throw mud, that usually means one of two things: Either 1) the candidate has no record or positive plans to run on, or 2) he is a front for someone else.

In the case of Mark Thompson, the candidate for the Republican nomination for the 17th House District challenging popular incumbent Cook Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz"Doody Gorman, it's both. He has no plan to help the county, just a mud-ball of personal and vicious attacks against Gorman, and he is the candidate backed by Gorman's rival Tony Peraica.

I spoke with Peraica, who doesn't like to be criticized. He explained that he is doing what he believes is best for the voters. I don't fault him for that. But I don't agree with his support of Thompson, who has been hammered by almost every major news media editorial, with the exception of one where he got only a lukewarm endorsement with no strong words of support. Which means that single two line blurb wasn't an endorsement at all. In contrast, every editorial supporting Gorman couldn't stop applauding her for her reasoned and effective fight against higher taxes.

Thompson's latest attack newsletter asserts that Gorman supports taxes before she opposes them. What???? I know, the Thompson assertion sounds moronic on its face.

But here is what Thompson is talking about: Peraica introduced a resolution to roll back the sales tax but no one would second it so it didn't go anywhere. Boo hoo! Yes, Peraica opposes the sales tax, pretty much like Gorman. Except the difference is Peraica has made so many enemies on the Cook County board no one -- I mean no -- wants to be associated with him.

So Peraica's motion died  for lack of one vote to second it to put it into discussion. Instead, the board came together around a proposal Gorman helped forge and that an embittered Peraica supported.

The fact that Peraica couldn't get a second isn't my fault and it's not Gorman's fault. It's his fault. And he should stop blaming everyone else for his problems. And hanging around with mud-flaps Thompson isn't going to make his image any better!

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sun-Times endorses Valadez and Currin over higher tax-advocates Murphy and Simms

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The Chicago Sun-Times issued two strong endorsements, and trip up on another.

In the 5th District (South Side, south suburbs) the Sun-Times endorsed Matteson trustee Sheila Y. Chalmers-Currin, a member of the ChangeCookCounty reform slate, over incumbent Deborah Sims, one of only four commissioners to vote with Stroger 90 percent or more of the time.
In the 6th District (south, southwest suburbs) the Sun-Times endorsed Nick Valadez, the leading reform-minded candidate with strong credentials challenging incumbent Joan Patricia Murphy. They picked Valadez over John Fairman, who some think is in the race to to help Murphy who wasn't satisfied with increasing the sales tax one percent as proposed by Stroger. Murphy proposed increasing the sales tax two percent. Yikes. Get her outta there!

In the 17th District, the Sun-Times gave an unenthusiastic endorsement to mudslinger Mark Thompson (with no mention of his mudslinging and ties to controversial county board members) over lower-tax champion Elizabeth "Liz"Doody Gorman. Gorman has won the endorsements of the Chicago Tribune, Daily Southtown, and even the Daily Herald which is based in Thompson's backyard and was disturbed by his mudslinging. Can't imagine what the Sun-Times was thinking, though. Of course, they also backed Peraica, who has been having a hard time as media after media pound him for his loner, him-first PR Strategy. Peraica's a decent person who knows how to make enemies from enemies and friends.

The big loser in endorsements, though, has been Patrick Maher, son of Orland Park Village Clerk David Maher. Maher was aced out in every newspaper by his Democratic rival Dr. Victor Forys. Must be his media and political advisers who stumbled badly. Nothing like bad advice to sink the campaign ship.

-- Ray Hanania

Quinn responds with his own Harold Washington videos

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Gov. Pat Quinn was stung by the campaign commercial released by rival and comptroller Dan Hynes in which the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, a week before he died, savaged Quinn in an interview.

Quinn was just a young opportunist back in the 1980s, thin and with a full head of hair and promises of frugal grandeur. Quinn's most destructive act was to mislead voters into believing he was a reformer, rather than a big mouthed opportunist, and rallied a drive to cut back the 3rd seat in the Illinois legislative districts that we now know crippled party diversity.

Quinn's people blasted Hynes for the use of Washington's powerful and devastating words, and then, came back with an attack of their own in which Washington attacked Hynes three times. Not Dan Hynes, but Dan Hynes' popular and brilliant father Tom Hynes.

It's typical of the vicious nature of the Quinn campaign. Quinn has a hate list that he keeps targeting journalists who have criticized him, and is blind to corruption and questionable conduct by people around him. Some of Tony Rezko's closest activists found their way in to state government and controversy through Quinn who associates with some questionable characters in the American Arab and Islamic community. Quinn is no friend of moderation and has helped the most extreme, anti-Israel elements rise in state power. They're all around him and recently some of them were involved in forums to showcase their preferred candidates.

As an American Arab involved in fighting for moderation for years, I would not want to be in the same room as some of the fanatics that Quinn has allied himself and I have spent the past two decades distancing myself from those questionable characters. There is a battle between moderates and extremists in the American Arab and Muslim community and Quinn has not associated himself with the moderates.

Dan Hynes, however, responded that Quinn's attack ads focus on his father, Tom Hynes, at a time when Dan Hynes was only a teenager.

Quinn's biggest complaint about Hynes is the narrowly focused controversy over the Alsip cemetery. In truth, it's terrible but every state agency was duped by the operators. Public sector fraud is committed by criminals, not the government officials whose agencies monitor the public sectors. The fact is Quinn as the twice-running mate of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has more to answer to than Hynes. What did he do to protect Illinois citizens.

I knew Tom Hynes well. He is a great man. Dan Hynes will undoubtedly be even greater.

Quinn, well, he has been one big disappointment. A self-serving hypocrite with a grudge and that's not the kind of person who should be running our state.

I covered Harold Washington during my 17 years as City Hall reporter including for the Chicago Sin-Times. Washington really disliked Quinn. And although Hynes challenged Washington for mayor, many thought Hynes' real focus was on the sinister Ed Vrdolyak. Washington actually liked Hynes very much and although they had their political squabbles, it wasn't a personal fight, but always professional between Hynes and Washington. You can't say the same for Quinn.

Ray Hanania

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Southtown Endorses Liz Gorman over her mudslinging foe Mark Thompson

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The Southtown/Star came out with a powerful endorsement of Liz Gorman in today's editorial:

Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman (R-Orland Park) is a strong, consistent, dutiful voice on the Cook County Board for her constituents.
She earns our endorsement as the candidate for Republican primary voters in the 17th District.
She faces Mark Thompson, of Des Plaines.
On the board, Gorman repeatedly has shown her loyalty lies with a district that encompasses much of the southwest suburbs. She also has shown an independent streak, working well with both Democrats and Republicans to accomplish what's good for Cook County.
She fought President Todd Stroger over his 1 percent sales tax.
She voted against the hiring of Stroger cousin Donna Dunnings as the county's chief financial officer.
She sponsored and worked to pass legislation that requires county contractors to disclose any family times to Cook County government.
She lead the push to remove disgraced Cook County schools Supt. Charles Flowers from office, even though Republicans created the office a decade earlier so folks such as Flowers could exist. Gorman, in fact, was the only commissioner to vote against extending a $190,000 loan to Flowers back in 2008 - a loan he eventually defaulted on.
She spearheaded efforts to get more south suburban representation on the Metra board.
For all of those reasons, Gorman deserves another shot at continuing what she's started on the board

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pat Maher's campaign for 17th District takes another hit

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The Chicago Tribune, the region's most influential newspaper, this morning endorsed Incumbent Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz"Doody Gorman in the Republican Primary and Dr. Victor Forys, the Democratic challenger who will face-off Feb. 2 against Patrick Maher, the son of Orland Village Clerk David Maher and head of the controversy-plagued Orland Fire Protection District.

Here is what the Tribune Editorial board wrote about Forys, Gorman and also Jeff Tobolski, a rising star in the suburbs:

17th District (Southwest, west and northwest suburbs): Victor Forys, a Democrat from Park Ridgewho came to the U.S. from Poland at age 4, would be the only doctor on the board. He would work to make the independent health panel permanent, repeal the remaining sales tax hike, and protect the forest preserves from municipal land grabs. The Tribune endorses Forys.

GOP incumbent 
Liz Doody Gorman worked tirelessly to roll back the sales tax hike and to protect employers and jobs. We hope voters reject smear campaigns that bizarrely portray her as a Stroger lapdog. Gorman is anything but. We have endorsed her in the past and do so again.

16th District (western suburbs): McCook Mayor Jeffrey Tobolski is respected by officials in other suburban governments but doesn't toe anyone's line: He would be a strong defender of the county forest preserves. He also would vote to kill the rest of the sales tax hike. And he knows firsthand that county taxes are, in his words, "killing our businesses." Tobolski is endorsed.

The endorsements are huge.

-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Charles Flowers, suburban regional schools superintendent, arrested and charged with corruption

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Charles Flowers, Superintendent of the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education, turned himself into authorities today on charges of public corruption, officials said today. 
Flowers is alleged to have stolen thousands of dollars from the bankrupt agency.  He and the agency are also owe $190,000 loaned by the Cook County Board that was never repaid.
County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman praised the arrest. Gorman was the only commissioner who opposed the loan when it was first brought before the board, and last year, the entire board reversed itself and joined Gorman in condemning Flowers' alleged mismanagement of the office.
“As a suburban commissioner, I worked closely with his predecessor Robert Ingraffia which gave me familiarity and perspective of the office so when Flowers came to the county board asking for the loan I did my due diligence and was made aware of some alleged questionable practices taking place in his office.  That’s why I stood my ground and was the only commissioner to vote “No” and oppose the $190,000 loan to Flowers.”  In July, a civil suit was brought against Flowers and the agency by the state's attorney's office for failing to repay this $190,000 loan from the county.
“It’s such a shame that the voters chose to replace a well-respected career educator and a man with the highest integrity like Robert Ingraffia with an alleged criminal like Charles Flowers.”
State's Attorney Anita Alvarez is expected to formally announce criminal charges against Flowers at a press conference this afternoon.
The charges are the result of a separate criminal probe into allegations that he used agency funds for his own personal gain. Last year, a state audit found that the agency was $1 million in debt and accused Flowers of using a work credit card for personal use as well as giving a $6,000 advance to a relative he hired to work for him.
-- Ray Hanania

Mark Thompson lobs election mud over, and over, and over again at Gorman

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I never heard of Mark Thompson until he announced his candidacy for commissioner in the 17th District. His web site describes him this way:
"Mark Thompson has 8 years of experience as a Municipal Chief Executive as he was elected and re-elected Maine Township Supervisor for two 4-year terms (1993-2001).  He has experience as an Attorney and former Prosecutor.  Mark served for 10 years as Chief Deputy Director under then-Secretary of State Jim Edgar.  Additionally, Mark is a former member of the Northwest Municipal Conference and was elected to two terms as Secretary of that body."
 His goal is to beat Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman who is the incumbent in the 17th District. Gorman has her critics in the Republican Party, mainly those associated with ostracized Commissioner Tony Peraica, a decent person who works hard at making every enemy a worse enemy and every friend an enemy, too. Peraica can't seem to work with anyone.  He seems obsessed not with his own re-election, or defending the rights of residents in his own district, where he will likely face-off (if he is fortunate to beat his Republican challenger Western Springs trustee Brian Sloan)  in November with Democratic challenger Jeff Tobolski in the November election, but rather he is focused on hating Gorman.

Is Thompson a Peraica disciple?

I can't connect all the dots, and I don't think it matters, but there is no doubt that they sure share the same kind of profile. Because Thompson REALLY hates Gorman.

In the past six weeks, all I have received from the Thompson campaign, which claims on his web site at that his foe is "Todd Stroger," are negative mud-slung garbage that has nothing to do with the issues facing the district and have everything to do, every time, with bashing, name-calling and slander against Gorman. Gorman's web site is

Where is the 10 point plan to defend the rights of taxpayers in the 17th District that stretches like a bowling alley from Orland Park in the South to Wheeling in the north?

Where are the plans to confront the Stroger Sales tax -- something that Gorman has done brilliantly and effectively over the past two years. In fact, if Thompson says his fight is against Stroger, why hasn't Thompson released a press release detailing how he would roll-back the remaining 1/2 percent sales tax hike that Stroger imposed? 

More importantly, why is Thompson focusing all of his attacks against Gorman, the one member of the Cook County Board who didn't flip-flop on the sales tax issue and singlehandedly helped build the coalition of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who have forced the roll-back of the first 1.2 percent of the sales tax.

It was Gorman's persistence that has kept the battle to roll back the sales tax alive until it finally succeeded after four major votes. Might I remind everyone that nine (9) commissioner originally voted to approve the sales tax? That one of those, had he not voted to support it and now opposes the sales tax, could have stopped the whole issue with one correct vote but failed int he first place?

Gorman did not fail in her fight against Stroger. She's been all over it. The roll-back was the result of a coalition finally coming together and standing firm with 12 votes to support rollback, and, with the help of the Legislature -- which legislative members said they were motivated by Gorman's persistence and refusal to give up -- voted to lower the number of votes needed to override Stroger's headlock on the corruption plague Cook County Government that he heads.

Peraica tried, too, to roll back the sales tax. But he couldn't get one of the other 17 commissioners to "second" or support his motions so they could even be considered. Is that what Thompson is promising too? More reckless lone-gunmen style politics where personality clashes prevent a good commissioner from defending the needs of taxpayers?

Part of this battle is about the needs of the taxpayers. But a large part of the battle, as I discovered in sitting through a press briefing that Gorman conducted at her offices with United Republican Fund activist and columnist Fran Eaton (She writes for the Southtown and the Illinois Review which is a great resource on conservative politics), is that there are some Republicans who are not happy with candidates who have been slated for office in Orland Township. (Click here for the link to the interview session.)

Gorman talked about her achievements and what she plans to do when she returns to the Cook County Board. Gorman didn't initiate any attacks against Thompson, although Gorman DID respond to questions posed about assertions and claims and name-calling Thompson has made.

She was the sole voice in challenging giving Cook County money to Stroger pal Dr. Charles Flowers who Gorman repeatedly warned the Cook County board for a year was not managing his finances properly as regional schools superintendent (Why do we even have that job in the first place). Here's a story from WBBM TV (Click HERE for the YouTube video) detailing how Gorman opened the County Board's eyes to Flower's alleged mismanagement of his office's finances.

I suspect all of this not only involves Peraica, but also another Gorman nemesis, Patrick Maher, who also spends a lot of time attacking Gorman even though he is in a tough race on the Democratic side Feb. 2 being challenged by popular candidate Dr. Victor Forys. Forys and Maher are running in the Democratic primary race and Gorman and Thompson are in the Republican primary, both Feb. 2. Maher is the son of Orland Park village clerk David Maher. And is anyone surprised that another Maher is also trying to unseat Gorman as Orland Township Committeeman, Gerald Maher?

When everyone gangs up against a candidate, and a woman, by the way in a field of only a few women candidates, and they are all hammering her and attacking her and calling her names and slandering her family and avoiding talking about the issues like the fact that Gorman has helped save the taxpayers millions over the years, you have to wonder what's going on.

I think the taxpayers and the voters are smart enough to figure this all out. A bunch of arrogant men in politics -- isn't that always the case? -- want to take control of the 17th District and they don't like a woman who has the chutzpah to kick ass and take names when it comes to defending the rights of taxpayers.

I've been upfront in this column repeatedly. I think Gorman is doing a great job when it comes to defending the rights of the taxpayer sand voters. I haven't seen anything from Thompson or the Maher-twins either about what they would do to really put the brakes to Stroger's mismanagement of Cook County and Stroger's abusive taxation policies, other than their vicious attacks against Gorman.

I think voters see that, too.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A great idea from orland Park: don't push snow into the street

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The Village of Orland Park has put out a great release today (read it below). I love this release. It's right on! Homeowners who push the snow onto the streets are a huge nuisance and cause all kinds of traffic problems. I've actually driven past while morons push huge piles of snow right in front of the car as I am about to drive by believing the car traffic will mash the snow and make it go away.

I can understand some snow ending up on the street when you are trying to break through the ice at the end of the driveway caused by the snow plows.

But snow should be moved with either a shovel or a snow blower on what would normally be grass areas. NOT ON THE STREET.

Good release Orland Park. They deserve credit.

Now, get all those darn cars parked on the streets off the streets so plows can clear all the snow. Those cars should be ticketed!

-- Ray Hanania

Orland Park Public Works:

Do Not Push Snow Into Street

Removed Snow Should Be Lawn Bound

ORLAND PARK – The Village of Orland Park Public Works Department is cautioning residents about the hazards of pushing shoveled snow into the street.

“Orland Park’s snow plows are like those that other northern Illinois agencies use to clear streets,” explained Director of Public Works Ed Wilmes. “The snow is discharged to the right, resulting in a ‘wind row’ at the edge of the street where the snow is discharged from the plow,” he said.

Shoveling homeowners are asked to not shovel or blow the wind row or other snow at the end of the driveway back into the street.

During the last few snow events in Orland Park, plowing crews have discovered a number of homes where the snow has been pushed back into the street.

“This snow then becomes packed down and freezes, creating an unnecessary hazard within a residential area,” Wilmes explained.

Residents should shovel or blow the snow from the end of the driveway onto the parkways next to the drives, paying attention to keep deep accumulations away from pedestrian areas and sidewalks.
Each year, the Orland Park Public Works Department releases its Top Ten List of Snow Tips for village residents.

“We’ve put together our own top ten list to let Orland Park residents know what they can do to help us when it snows,” Wilmes said.

“The most important thing we ask is that residents be patient. All of the streets in the village will be cleared in as short a time as possible, as the storm allows,” the director added.

Orland Park’s snow removal crews plow and salt more than 250 miles of roads throughout the village. The fleet includes twenty-four village owned trucks plowing and salting pre-designated routes. Private contractors are called in to plow when more than two to three inches of snow fall. Staff from the village’s Parks Department plow and shovel village owned properties and provide back-up for Public Works crews.

An integral part of combating a snowstorm is street salting. In Orland Park, first priority is given to the main streets, those with heaviest year round traffic, followed by secondary thoroughfares and cul-de-sacs. Orland Park is able to store more than 3500 tons of salt under a protective cover throughout the year.

Village ordinance prohibits parking on village streets once two inches of snow has fallen.

Parked vehicles must be kept off of the streets for ten hours after it has stopped snowing.

When clearing the driveway, residents should place snow on either side of the driveway---on the lawn---and never in the street.

Residents should keep garbage cans and recycle bins from rolling into the street on garbage pick up day.

Designate curbs with five free stakes available from the Public Works Department.

Digging from the street, clear out hydrants so that fire personnel can easily access them if necessary.

Do not clear your driveway at the curbline until the snowplow driver has made his last curb pass in front of your residence.

Be patient. Every storm is different with many variables. Streets may have to be plowed more than once.

Communicate with the Public Works Department. Report any ice formations on the street so that they can be salted. Clear the snow from storm sewers in front of your home so melting snow can easily drain, preventing ice patches.

10. Mailboxes should be kept in good repair and be placed at least one foot behind the curb to avoid damage. It is the residents’ responsibility to clear a safe path around mailboxes to ensure delivery. Homeowners’ associations are responsible for clearing the area around cluster mailboxes.

“Public Works personnel are hard working, dedicated people who take great pride in the work that they do. These village employees strive to make the streets as safe as possible for the motoring public,” Wilmes said.

While all of the snow tips are important for an effective removal campaign, Wilmes noted, “One of the biggest problems our drivers face is the number of vehicles that are parked on the street after two inches of snow has fallen.”

“We ask all residents if they know that a snow storm is coming, to move parked vehicles off of the street. This will allow snow crews to complete the plowing faster, safer and in a more efficient manner,” he said.
Further information about Orland Park’s Snow Removal Program is available by calling the village’s Public Works Department at 708/403-6350.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

National Republican hypocrisy over Reid comments

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National Republicans demonstrate hypocrisy over Reid comments
By Ray Hanania

During the heat of the president campaign in 2008. Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic party leader, said he thought Barack Obama would do well because he is “light skinned” and did not use a “negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

That was disclosed in a new book, “Game Change,” about the 2008 presidential campaign authored by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

It’s kind of a stunning statement. It can be taken several ways, as a comment about the reality of life in America, or as the comments of a racist. I doubt Reid is a racist, but not surprisingly the National Republicans have jumped all over this controversy, portraying it as racism and calling for Reid to resign.

I might heed the comments of Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who is himself African American, except that Steele, if we apply the same standard that Steele applies to Reid, is an even bigger racist.

Where has Steele and other Republican leaders been when members of the Republican Party and GOP scions like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the coterie of racist haters have slammed Obama’s race and made the most egregious racial comments?

Steele was silent in the face of his party’s racism. But when an opponent says something that is debatable as to whether it is racist or just a comment about today’s America, Steele is all over it.

Many Americans would like to believe that racism doesn’t exist in America, but the truth is it is worse today than it was in the early 1900s. It’s just that racists and bigots struggle to be more subtle, clever and crafty in their racism.

That racism mainly comes from conservatives and Republicans, whose party has chased away most African American minorities mainly because of their history of racist rhetoric.

For example, Beck, an icon of the Conservative Republican Party, recently said on his radio/FOX Cable TV show called Obama a “racist” and said the president has deep-seated hatred of White people.

Reid apologized for the comments and President Obama accepted the apology, taking the comments obviously in the context of the rightwing environment of racism created by former President George W. Bush and former Vice President and lingering loudmouth Dick Cheney.

Reid isn’t the one who should resign. Steele should resign.

What doesn’t help bring down the racist attitudes in America are the ways in which people exploit race to achieve their political goals. Reid made an observation about Obama’s chances of becoming president. And the truth is his skin color and his dialect did appeal to many American voters who do judge issues based on race. And there are many Americans among whom race and ethnicity are primary factors in elections.

Steele, on the other hand, is quick to jump on controversial Democratic rhetoric, but is silent and complicit in his silence on incitement rhetoric by his party comrades.

In fact, Steele has come under the harshest attack not from “anti-Black” Democrats but from hardcore racists in the Republican rightwing, which is in fact not so much a wing but nearly the entire GOP household.

Steele may have jumped on the Reid comments in order to turn the racists in his party towards a new target.

Racism is a problem in America. But the bigger problem is the hypocrisy that racism generates among enablers and coddlers who tolerate racism except when it can be exploited for their own political opportunism.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Economy hammering suburban snow removal efforts

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Several suburban communities have quietly told their snow removal teams to "go slow" in salting and plowing streets, which is one reason why many major thoroughfares in several suburban communities were still covered in snow.

The villages "just do not have the cash" several village officials who asked not to be identified admitted.

"We're cutting back. We can't spend as much on salt and we can't spend as much on overtime to plow the roads. So we start late, plow less and conserve on salt which is very expensive," one official in a suburban village told me.

I drove through some 12 suburban communities this morning and almost everyone were inches deep in snow  with none plowed or salted by municipal fleets. There was so much advance notice about this storm that youw ould think the villages would get their plows and salt ready. but that wasn't the case. In fact, the notice prompted many to quietly discuss the save money strategy.

And who would complain anyway? You can cut back on snow removal by half and most suburban residents would just shrug. They don't mind complaining but no one holds their elected officials responsible, especially in this off-year election cycle for suburban communities. Even if residents wanted to complain they would have no way to do so until 2012. And that's two major winters away. And suburbanites have shortterm political memory loss, one reason why they have so easily forgotten things like acting Governor Pat Quinn was the running mate twice of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and he never bitched once about Blagojevich's alleged unethical practices.

So suburbanites just sit back and take it, laying back on their fat asses and oding nothing. Because that is a part of the culture these days in the suburbs, once the frontiers of political independence. But the economy has put a damper on everyone, from politicians to voters and everyone is scraping the piggy banks for loose change. And it's not there. That will take the wind out of any rebellious voter anger.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cheap shot attacks against Liz Gorman by Republican foe

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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.


In his news release, Thompson alleges that the Gorman's illegally moved money between their business and campaign fund. 

Thompson wrote:

"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. 


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 Mark Thompson's web site is

I think the differences are clear.

-- Ray Hanania