Saturday, February 22, 2014

Suburban Orland Park's ethnic diversity comes out at Taste of Jerling event

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Suburban Orland Park's ethnic diversity comes out at Taste of Jerling event

A woman came up to me who has been reading my columns since the 1980s said she has been living in Orland Park more than 35 years, and that during that time "It really has changed."

I was at the Jerling Junior High school "Taste of Jerling" event which featured food samplings from 17 ethnic groups, including "United States," which I thought was cute.

"When we first moved here, it was all White. All Irish, some Poles and Italians and maybe a few Koreans," she said. "Now there are so many Arabs, Mexicans and Asians. Indians. It's really changed."

We talked. She wasn't being racist or bigoted. She was just remarking about the reality of Orland Park that the community had changed, and become more diversified. And in truth, she was right. Orland Park has changed over the years. I noted that I moved in 30 years ago, too, and jokingly said, "It seems like there are more and more White people living here, don't you think?"

I was being facetious, of course. In a nice way. I mentioned that when I moved in, people stayed int heir homes and you didn't hear or see them. Now, as the population has become more and more diverse, you see more and more White people rising up and speaking out about it.

Maybe for some, this would be an uncomfortable conversation. But it was genuine. The woman I spoke with honestly was not being racist, and neither was I. She was just noting a fact. And she was so excited to see all the different cultures and taste their foods which were on display in the Jerling Gymnasium Friday night.

The event was held to celebrate the "rich cultural and ethnic diversity" of Jerling and the community. There were 17 ethnic groups represented at the Taste of Jerling. China, Croatia, France, Greece, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestine, Phillpines, Poland, Serbia and the United States.

I told my wife, who is Jewish, that I was proud to see three Arab cultures represented, Jordan, Palestine and Morocco.

Sandburg students joined in to provide some ethnic entertainment. Students performed traditional dances from Lithuania, Mexico and India.

It was really nice to see all the parents and the kids attend to show support. Each of the food displays included some ethnic artifacts that represented their culture. Some of the kids did extra-credit work and completed a survey of each display and wrote down something important about what they learned from the ethnic cultural displays. One student wrote down, "In their culture, they give away wives." And he wasn't talking about my ethnic group. Apparently, the host of one of the ethnic groups had said that in their country, women are not allowed to chose their husbands and the wives and chosen for the husbands.

It's not a racist thing to say, I thought. It is a fact. A fact in several of the cultures. The reality of our world. Why shouldn't kids know that?

Of course, as a Baby Boomer, it's hard to identify with today's young kids Their world is so much different from my world. But I can identify with the adults.

I wanted to explain to the woman who observed that it appeared that Orland Park has changed with so many new ethnic and cultural groups moving in, that the reality is that the numbers don't support that conclusion.

I understand why, though. Arabs, for example, are among the ethnic group that has moved into Orland Park over the past 30 years. Most are Christian Arabs, something many Americans don't even realize exists (especially based on how Americans ignore the plight of Christians in Israel and the Arab World). But many are Muslim and some of the Muslim women where Hijabs, head coverings that are very similar to the head coverings Polish women would wear in my old neighborhood on Chicago's South East Side. So they stand out, even though there are only a few of them. They appear like there is an invasion, even though there are really not that many.

Darker skinned cultures, too, have increased. And again, even though there are really not many, they stand out. Years ago when the community was nearly all White, culture was not noticeable. That's what I had meant by how there seems to be more White people today than before. It's not until you get diversity that you actually start to see everyone. Some, more than others, even if the numbers don't match the perceptions.

Here are some numbers about Orland Park's diversity.

The population, according to the 2012 U.S. Census, is 57,392.

86.1 % of that population is White. That's a big population number, folks.

1.7 % are African American. While that is negligible, it is noticeable.

6.2 % are Hispanic.

4.9 % are Asian.

That leaves 1.1 percent of "Other," which according to the U.S. Census which does not include "Arabs."

Has Orland Park really changed that much over the past 35 years?

Not really. And not enough.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. Reach him on his website at
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Patch activist joins up with Bellar to oppose popular Gorman in March primary

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Bellar & Patch activist join in vicious attack against popular Gorman in March primary

By Ray Hanania

I was reading the slop that passes for "journalism" these days on the Patch, a web-based platform that just as often reports news as it engages in partisan political activity.
English: Chicagoland map
English: Chicagoland map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The most recent attack is from Barbara Bellar, the Tea Party nut-job whose friend happens to be an editor at the Tinley Park Patch. Bellar is challenging Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Gorman in the March 18 Republican Primary.

The Patch gave Bellar a self-serving bully pulpit to repeat a litany of distorted accusations against Gorman, who is by far one of the most responsible leaders of the Republican Party and a champion of the taxpayers.

Bellar's invective drips with anger, hatred and lies against Gorman because, frankly, she has no idea about what the taxpayers of Cook County need or want. It's all about getting herself into a position of authority.

Never mind for a moment that the Patch should be ashamed of itself for allowing Bellar to use the Patch as her own campaign platform. But worse is that Bellar, in her rundown of some of the most vicious and ignorant accusations ever published in Chicagoland regional politics, doesn't have one idea on how to make Republicans and taxpayers stronger.

Professionally, the Patch should be ashamed of itself for throwing away its credibility and being used for a selfish political agenda.

Elizabeth Ann Doody Gorman
Elizabeth Ann Doody Gorman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
She'll attack me, I'm sure, but at least I am upfront. I am a former journalist (many awards -- some the editor probably never heard of or will ever hope to win) and today I work as a media and political consultant, always upfront about who I work for. I don't work for Gorman, though. I just happen to be believe she is one of the best elected officials in the Chicagoland suburbs, and a role model for what Republicans can be if they turned away from the fanatics and started to listen to what voters want, instead of to themselves.

Yet, I'd rather be aligned with Liz Gorman as a friend, than to be so tackily associated with a pathetic activist like Bellar, who based on her attack against Gorman doesn't have one intelligent idea to help make the situation of taxpayers better. Not one idea in her rant that includes 16 of the most obnoxious, ridiculous assertions any political candidate can make about another candidate. Not one idea.

Gorman has fought for taxpayers. Her battle to stop and then rescind the Todd Stroger Sales Tax hike is legendary. Neither Bellar nor her Patch pal would know what the taxpayers need.

Bellar's most obnoxious accusation is to falsely claim she was assaulted by Gerry Gorman, Liz Gorman's husband. No, Bellar, a nut case who claims to have been a "Nun,"is lying because she has nothing else to say. Yes, Bellar filed a complaint that police totally ignored because it was so clear that it is untrue. It was so politically motivated, it was a waste of police manpower.

Bellar claims to be pro-Choice. For a self-proclaimed "Nun?" Wow. Bellar is a political activist from the lowest rungs of the political ladder, and only with the help of her whacky friends, she is trying to distract voters from her own past.

Click here to read Phil Kadner's column on Bellar, which should pretty much tell you everything about Bellar. Kadner wrote:
"I wrote a column about Bellar during last fall’s election season because on her campaign literature and website she used the slogan there’s “Nun Better,” a reference to claims she made repeatedly in pubic that she had been a Catholic nun. 
"But when I checked into her background, I discovered that Bellar had only been a postulant in the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago and could find no evidence that she ever took vows of fidelity and obedience. 
"Bellar refused to answer my repeated inquiries about the discrepancy between her campaign claims and information provided by the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago."
The real issue is why would the Patch run this false slop without checking it?

Most voters are smart enough to see past these kinds of cheap lies. For a Nun, Bellar can't even come up with one positive thing to say that she would do if she were ever elected to public office. But she can't because she has no ideas. All she can do is throw mud.

No one cares about Bellar's religion. No one cares about Bellar's vicious attacks. All the people care about is what will their elected officials do to ease the burden of taxes on their families. Gorman has done more for the taxpayers and suburbs than anyone.

Bellar says she wants to debate Gorman, but I would urge Gorman to ignore this nut job and continue to do what you are doing, working hard to champion the needs of the taxpayers. Bellar is a goof who has shamed the Tinley Patch. There's nothing to debate. Bellar wants a debate obviously so she can repeat all of her stupid claims. And they are stupid.

Bellar proves that there is no contest in the race for the Cook County Board in the 17th District. Liz Gorman is the best candidate for the job and there is no doubt, based on the overwhelming support she has already received from voters, that she will earn another term.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and president is his own media and political consulting firm.)Related articles
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Democratic shots at Rauner seem lame for $2 million

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Democratic shots at Rauner seem lame for $2 million

Bruce Rauner, the independently wealthy Republican businessman has everyone in a tizzy. His campaign came out of nowhere, made some smart decisions and is moving forward to headlock the Republican Party nomination on March 18.

The Democrats have invested some $2 million through PACs to target Rauner and dirty him up for the final stretch, assuming he does win the GOP Primary defeating better known rivals: Bill Brady, the Republican State Senator who is making his 3rd bid for the office after losing in 2010 to then Acting Gov. Pat Quinn; Sen. Kirk Dillard, whom most "Reagan Democrats" would have supported in 2010 had Brady not nosed Dillard out in that primary race; and the congenial Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford who has been dragged down by ugly attacks raising questions about his sexuality and allegations of sexual harassment.

The GOP primary mess only reinforces Rauner's certainty of winning. None of this rivals have the cash to beat him. It will be a gubernatorial version of the 2011 Chicago Mayoral election in which Rahm Emanuel moved back in to Chicago with a $14 million campaign war chest to blow away a field of veteran Chicago Democrats, former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, City Clerk Miguel Del Valle, and legal powerhouse Gery Chico, all of whom barely had $3 million in campaign funds together.

A lot of Democrats don't like Quinn. I recall Quinn as being a great outsider when I covered Chicago City Hall but when I moved to community radio, Quinn never thought I was worth spending any time on. No problem. Unfortunately, Quinn does that to a lot of people he once leaned on for support when he was the outside crusader battling the old Chicago Democratic Machine. Now, he's the insider. It comes with its privileges, of course, but Quinn brings in a lot of not-forgotten battles with his new suitors.

English: Gov. Pat Quinn making a point at Gree...
English: Gov. Pat Quinn making a point at Green Expo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While Rauner has dominated the field with more TV commercials than Personal Injury Attorney Glenn Lerner, he's focused almost entirely on attacking Quinn. His Republican challengers have been left trying to dent Rauner's image. But Rauner was smart. His first move was to lock in key Republican support. His move to win over the support and endorsement of key mainstream Republican Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman locked in his prominence with Republicans in the Democratic heavy Chicagoland region.

Rauner's strategy has to be very simple. Get through the Republican Primary without bashing his Republican Rivals, leaving the door open to their possibly rallying around him afterwards. And then do what every Republican easily does, win the downstate Republican vote by a large margin. It won't be enough to win the gubernatorial election. But Rauner needs to also win soft Democratic support in the Democratic havens in Chicagoland. If Rauner can win some of those Democrats who have long memories, or have felt burned by Quinn's attitudes over the past few years, he has a formula to take the state and be the next Governor of Illinois.

In 2010, Quinn only beat Brady by about 30,000 votes. That's not too much to expect from disgruntled conservative "Reagan Democrats" who live in the Chicagoland area who just might turn to Rauner.

Additionally, the Democrats, who have less money to spend than Rauner, are not spending it wisely. The attack ads they've funded with their last ditch burst of funds are lame, attacking Rauner for allegedly being friendly with Stuart Levine, the convicted felon who was part of the corrupt circle around former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

English: Mug shot of Rod Blagojevich.
English: Mug shot of Rod Blagojevich. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But throwing Blagojevich at Rauner is so ineffective. Voters are tired of the "use Blagojevich to dirty up an opponent" by arguing someone was close to Blagojevich. The fact is Quinn was Blagojevich's running mate, after all. Quinn was his Lt. Governor, though he quickly distanced himself from Blagojevich when the governor's federal troubles exploded in newspaper driven investigations.

If they are going to beat Rauner, the Democrats need to come up with a better attack than simply throwing Blagojevich at him.

In the end, the truth is the Democratic controlled House and Senate can just as easily work with a Republican Governor as they work with a former liberal who has joined the Democratic Party parade.

Quinn has years of experience spinning the media and can easily handle himself in a debate. But what's the real issue that voters care about? So far, no one has defined that, making it easy for Rauner to bludgeon his way into office with his bottomless financial pockets.

Of course, having a guy who knows how to make money, instead of wastefully spending it, is probably what appeals to voters the most. It's something Rauner is hammering away, unimpeded by the Democratic Pacs and consultants. And unless they can stop it with another issue, the certainty of what's going to happen in the Nov. 4 General Election is clear.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

"SnowNado": One tough winter with Snow Dec 2013 through February 2014

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"SnowNado": One tough winter with Snow Dec 2013 through February 2014

By Ray Hanania

We live in Chicagoland so we shouldn't complain about the excessive snow and the sub-Zero temperatures.

But this winter has been tough.

January 2014 ranked 3rd in terms of total snowfall in Chicagoland history. Here is that history, top 5 months for snowfall:

January 1918: 42.5 inches
January 1979: 40.4 inches  (The snow that got Jane Byrne elected)
January 2014: 33.5 inches (The one we just had)
December 1951: 33.3 inches
January 1978: 32.3 inches
Ironically, the big snowfall of 1967 which shut down the entire Chicagoland area is not on that list because the snowfall was spread out over several months.
And on February 1, 2011, a total of 21 inches fell on Chicagoland creating that hard to forget image of cars stranded on Lake Shore Drive for days in downtown Chicago.
In 2013, Chicagoland didn't have any snow until Jan. 25.
That's called whacky weather.
I bought a large Sno-Tek Snowblower in 2012 anticipating a tough snowfall that never came that year. The snowblower cost about $550 and honestly, Sno-Tek is a terrible brand to buy. I wouldn't buy it again. The blades jammed on a rock and broke the screw holding the blades on the rotor. I called in a mechanic from Sears for $129 to fix it - the cause of the problem wasn't obvious, of course. But when he arrived, he explained that it was just one screw and showed me how to fix it if it happens again. Talk about getting "screwed."
Then, last week, the Choke lever broke off. Turns out it is made of plastic and when it gets too cold, the plastic doesn't hold up well. I've managed to get the Sno-Tek started without the choke after repeatedly pulling on the engine rope starter. What a hassle.
Once I got past the Sno-Tek snowblower problems, then I had to deal with the weather. Maybe that's why it's been especially annoying this winter because of the Sno-Tek problems with their equipment.
The wind added to the misery as I plowed the driveway, which is long and can hold 5 cars bumper-to-bumper in two rows, winding. I have to play the "wind" near the house first and then move to the straight portion of the driveway to clear it properly. But there has been so much snow it has literally piled up in mounds higher than 4 feet along the driveway, like a wall.
They say don't clean the snow off of the shrubs, especially if the snow turns to ice as it can damage the trees. But one large shrub is leaning so much now under the weight of all the snow on its crown that I have to cut it down this Spring. But I had to carefully remove the eight inches of snow off the top of the bushes -- carefully -- to ease the weight. And that snow was replaced by another six to eight inches of new snow.
And even worse is that when I pull the car into the garage, the snow on the car melts and int he morning there is a puddle on the garage floor. I clean the car before putting it in the garage but that doesn't eliminate all of the snow that melts. It doesn't take much snow to create a puddle right at the back of the car when I want to open the trunk.
The tough winter has also hit many suburban communities that are strapped for cash and only purchased limited supplies of salt for the roads, making the roads even more dangerous.
In driving from Orland Park to the offices of one of my clients in Cicero, the roads were treacherous until I got to Bridgeview, where the streets were cleaned. Cicero, too, was good.
Here are some pictures to help us remember this winter snow storm: