Monday, January 31, 2011

In push for Good Government, Better Government Association slams door on diversity and ethnic communities

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BGA probe of Pappas office results in unintended casualties

The Better Government Association (BGA) recently did an investigation into the operations of Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas. During the probe, they cited several instances they felt were improper appropriations of taxpayer dollars. One involved a driver who was budgeted under a department service, and another who was serving as a maid for both the office and the treasurer.

Click here to read the story.

But in their enthusiasm to expose "government waste," the BGA has turned the clock back on hundreds of thousands of minorities in Cook County who for years have been left out of the Cook County government system. In addition to the above complaints, the BGA also targeted a woman named Pat Michalski who served as the director of ethnic affairs for Pappas office.

Michalski was being paid to organize events in which ethnics and minorities were brought in to the county government office and engage the system.

For years, ethnics have been shut out of government, an issue that the BGA doesn't address. In fact, very few governments address the fact that most ethnic Americans in Cook County are locked out of the government system and therefore have no chance to obtain jobs or contracts for their work in their communities.

County Offices have been closed to ethnics like Arabs and others for years. They are not the traditional minorities like African Americans, Hispanics and Asians who have had entre to local government. So what Michalski was doing was actually a service not only to the ethnic communities left out of the system, but to governments like Cook County.

The most deprecating claim made by the BGA study was to describe Michalski's responsibility as a "party planner." It's easy to call receptions with ethnic groups parties and wastes of government funds but they are not. They are essential to bringing true diversity to local government and bringing ethnic groups traditionally left out of the circle into the circle.

This is not a slam at the BGA. But the BGA's report and their failure to recognize the importance of governments bringing ethnics and more diversity into government has hurt many ethnic groups and many members of the public who are shut out of government.

A final issue is this. Why is it alright for Mayor Daley to manage ethnic outreach, but not Maria Pappas the County Treasurer? Michalski worked for the late Mayor Harold Washington and Mayor Daley, too. She did ethnic outreach at both places. No one ever questioned what she was doing. Does it have to do with the target of the investigations? If so, that is a better government tragedy.

She also worked for former Governors Jim Edgar and George Ryan doing ethnic outreach. No one ever questioned that work either.

Will we see similar stories on Daley's ethnic outreach, with claims that they are little more than political work? I don't think so.

It's really clear that the mainstream American news media cares little about the needs of ethnics in our society, ethnics who make up a large segment of our society. If the goal of the Better Government Association is to make government more accountable to the people, insuring that ALL the people are engaged would be a first step requirement.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chicagoland Syndication: 01-07-11: Carol Moseley Braun Offers Chicago Hope

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Carol Moseley Braun Offers Chicago Hope

I've covered every Chicago mayor from Daley the Boss to Daley the Son of Boss and I have to say my favorite has always been Harold Washington.

Washington had a real mission. For the rest, it's all been about power politics. Washington wanted to bring fairness and justice to many Chicagoans who were intentionally left out because of race.

With Mayor Daley stepping down and leaving the city in a financial mess, it reminds me of the disaster Chicago faced when Jane Byrne was thrown out of office with Fast Eddie Vrdolyak and Vrdolyak's corrupt circus.

No one reminds me of the enthusiasm that Chicago experienced when Washington won, defeating the Byrne Machine and the then-inexperienced young son of Boss, than Carol Moseley Braun.

I like Braun, and I like Miguel del Valle, too. But del Valle's challenge is to bring Hispanic voters together while appealing to blacks and whites. And Hispanic voters are divided, and their voter turnout levels are very low. And Mexican voters and Puerto Rican voters, the two largest Hispanic voting blocks, don't always see eye to eye.

Gery Chico comes from the Southwest Side, but so have most of Chicago's mayors since and including the first Daley. It really hasn't done the region any real good. And Rahm Emanuel is too divisive, bullying his way into power using former President Bill Clinton and his so-so record as President Obama's chief of staff. In addition, he dislikes Arabs and has shown a bias against them. More importantly, Emanuel can't bring Chicago together, though his non-Chicago money makes him a formidable force.

Braun - it's either Moseley-Braun or Braun - seems to offer Chicago the greatest hope, though already you've seen how racism against blacks in the media have rushed out of the closet to slander her solid reputation.

Of all the candidates, besides del Valle, Braun  brings the most government experience and that's exactly what Chicago needs. What Chicago doesn't need is a candidate like Emanuel who'll bring little more than a special-interest new Machine.

If it were up to me, the dream race will be Braun versus del Valle. But if Emanuel brings his power politics to Chicago, the city will be in a real mess.

I've met many politicians like Emanuel. It's all about them, not Chicago and not in bringing all communities together.

The question is, can white voters and Hispanic voters be the true loyal Democrats and elect a black candidate without making it about race? Blacks have been loyal for years. It's time to see how loyal the rest of Chicago's voters can finally be.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Commissioner Liz Gorman announces agreement between the Village of Orland Park and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County allowing for the widening of 143rd Street west of LaGrange Road

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Commissioner Liz Gorman announces agreement between the Village of
Orland Park and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County
allowing for the widening of 143rd Street west of LaGrange Road

Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman today announced that the Board of The Forest Preserve District of Cook County have given final approval for an agreement with the Village of Orland Park which will allow the widening of 143rd Street.  The Forest Preserve will allow a permanent easement of 17 feet for a span of 1000 feet on the north side of  143rd Street [approximately 1.5 acres] to Orland Park. 

This clears the way for 143rd Street to be widened to five lanes – 2 in each direction with a left turn center lane from LaGrange Road to Wolf Road.  The Village will deed almost 14 acres to the Forest Preserve District:  10.9 acres of wetland near Wolf Road and 135th Street; and a 3-acre parcel across the street from the wetlands.  At the same time, outstanding litigation between the Forest Preserve and Standard Bank and Trust has been settled resulting in the Forest Preserve purchasing approximately 52 acres of land adjacent to the land being deeded to the Forest Preserve from Orland Park.  The end result is that the Forest Preserve District will add almost 60 acres to its holdings.

Commissioner Gorman said “this is a win-win situation for all concerned.  The Forest Preserve District will increase its holdings with quality lands and the public will be able to travel a safer roadway along 143rd Street.

“This widening project is saving the homes on the south side of 143rd Street, as well as improving the quality of people’s  lives who both live and travel in the area.  It has been a priority since being elected Commissioner.  I am thrilled and forever grateful to the staff of the Forest Preserve District, Gallagher & Henry and my staff for the endless hours that we worked with Village Manager, Paul Grimes, and Planning Director, Bob Sullivan of Orland Park, to negotiate and finalize this important agreement.

“This is a fine example of what can be accomplished when governmental and civic organizations, such as the Friends of the Forest Preserve and other environmental groups, work together to the benefit of the common good.”