Gorman faces primary foe Bellar in Cook 17th Dist.

  • Written by Tim Hadac

 Orland Park resident Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman, seeking a fourth term as Cook County commissioner in the 17th District, is opposed in Tuesday’s Republican primary by Burr Ridge resident Barbara Bellar.
  The winner will square off in November with Orland Park resident Jim Hickey, who is running unopposed on the Democratic side.
  Gorman, a self-described conservative “on fiscal and social issues,” is perhaps best known for her successful leadership role in opposing and later repealing the 133 percent tax hike pushed by then-County Board President Todd Stroger in 2008 and passed by the board’s Democratic majority.
  “Throughout my time in office, I’ve been a strong advocate for tax reform, budget and operational efficiencies, especially in the area of new technology,” Gorman told The Reporter. “I have worked hard to fight for tax reform on multiple fronts. In 2013, I successfully sponsored the tax rate cut to the county’s Motor Vehicle Transfer Tax. Also, I successfully fought $1.6 billion in new tax proposals over my term in office [since 2002].”
  Gorman also said she has worked hard for greater transparency throughout county government. “I sponsored an ethics law requiring greater disclosure and transparency for Cook County government and spearheaded the charge that resulted in the resolution that led to the abolishment of the corruption-riddled Cook County Regional Office of Education,” she said.
  She has also endeavored to “make the Cook County Forest Preserve District a national leader in the areas of recreation, restoration and conservation,” Gorman said.
  The incumbent said that her staff has assisted hundreds of constituents with property tax appeals and numerous other service requests. “Infrastructure improvements were made a priority for the 17th District especially in the area of flood mitigation. I’m proud to highlight these initiatives, services and programs,” she said.
  Gorman, who holds a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota. She lives with her husband, Gerald, and sons, Conor, Liam and Shane.
  If re-elected, Gorman plans to “continue the reform movement that is underway at Cook County. At no other time in recent memory has Cook County made the kinds of positive strides in reform than over the last four years. She added that she plans to “remain vigilant in my effort to reform tax and fee measures wherever possible, to have Cook County continue to invest in innovative technology to reduce costs and improve efficiencies for county services and programs, and to stabilize the long-term fiscal health of the county.”
  Bellar, an attorney and family-practice physician, is perhaps best known for her videotaped, one-sentence dissection of Obamacare, which has gained national and even international acclaim among conservatives—earning nearly 3.7 million hits on Bellar’s YouTube channel in less than two years.
  She describes herself as a conservative dedicated to “limited government, fiscal conservatism, transparency and accountability and respect for life at all stages.
  “I will not support or vote for any tax increase and will strive to reduce taxes and create jobs at every opportunity,” she added. “I will decline receiving any governmental pension. I will not be influenced by any lobbyists.”
  Bellar said her medical and public health background help make her qualified to serve as a county commissioner.
  “As a physician, I have what it takes to oversee the budget and functioning of Stroger Hospital and initiate audits to reduce waste and excess spending,” she told The Reporter.
  “I can evaluate and assist with the functioning of the Cook County Department of Public Health, from environmental health to immunizations,” she added. “I can apply knowledgeable judgment on every level of public health issues and effect critical change.”
  Bellar also said that if elected, she will work to provide more effective oversight at the Cook County Department of Corrections. “I will address the serious and dangerous overcrowding, delayed dockets, and support electronic monitoring of inmates,” she said.
  She added that she plans to use county government to help raise awareness of the needs of military veterans and help increase employment opportunities.

Hickory Hills scouts save the (election) day

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

It was the Boy Scouts to the rescue in the Palos 19th Precinct in Hickory Hills.
Hickory Hills residents who were given new voter ID cards were told to vote in Tuesday’s primary election at Krueger Park Recreation Center. Instead, it will be held at St. Patricia’s Parish Church, 9000 S. 86th Ave.
Seven members of Boy Scout Troop No. 728 and two troop leaders distributed flyers Sunday to 620 homes in one Hickory Hills election precinct advising voters of where to vote.
Troop 728 leaders Karen Shamasko and Linas Matonis were joined in the project by troop members John Damme, Alex Fields, Ben Fields, Jake Fields, Daniel Janicki, Morgan Mitchell and Robert Shamasko.
In early February, the Cook County Clerk’s Election Department consolidated two Hickory Hills precincts – the Palos 4th and Palos 19th districts -- in one location at the park recreation center, according to a news release sent by 3rd-ward Alderman Tom McAvoy. Aldermen Brian Fonte, McAvoy, City Clerk Dee Catizone and Mayor Mike Howley protested there would be too much congestion at the Rec Center.
“If the two precincts were located at the recreation center, that would have meant that over 1,800 voters would have had to cram into two small rooms,” McAvoy said in the news release. “Furthermore, the center draws a lot of visitors and the parking lot would be overwhelmed and no on-street parking is nearby. The location can handle the 700 voters from Precinct 4, but not the additional 1,100-plus from Precinct 19.”
The County reversed its relocation decision and returned 19th Precinct polling place to St. Patricia’s. However, at about the same time, new voter ID cards were mailed to each voter listing their polling place as the recreation center.
McAvoy said he and Fonte printed 600 flyers notifying area residents of the change. They appealed to the boy scouts for help in distributing the flyers to every home in the area.
For four hours on the crisp day, the scouts and leaders fanned out and delivered a flyer to each home from 87th St. to 91st Pl. between 88th Ave. and Kean Ave.
“They really came to the rescue and I’m sure their efforts will help avoid an election day nightmare,” said Fonte in the news release.
Voting will be done in the vestibule of St. Patricia Church and not the school hall.

Worth’s 5K run idea scratched

  • Written by Bob Rakow

The Worth Park District has put the brakes on plans to hold a 5K run at Water’s Edge Golf Course.
“We thought it was in (the district’s) best interest to withdraw the request,” Park District Director Carlo Capalbo said.
The park district vetoed the proposed September run last Wednesday, one day after the Worth Village Board held an extensive debate on the plan.
At that meeting, trustees Tedd Muersch Jr. and Mary Rhein voiced strong opposition to a 5K run to be held at the village-owned golf course on Sept. 14.
The park district proposed the early morning run as part of the village’s centennial celebration after the Centennial Commission pitched the idea in December, Capalbo said.
Muersch and Rhein said the course would lose significant amount of money if it was closed on a Sunday morning to accommodate the run. Rhein said some golfers are on the course before 6 a.m. on Sundays, and closing the facility for a run would cost the village thousands of dollars.
“I didn’t think it was a good idea,” said Muersch, who added that a golf event would have been a better idea than a run.
“Marketing [the golf course] to runners doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.
Mayor Mary Werner voiced support for the event, saying it would promote the both the golf course and its restaurant, the Edge.
Capalbo said the time was not right for the park district to oversee the run, especially because the district sponsors other events in the fall, including Fall Fest and the haunted house.
Additionally, the park district has assumed control of the annual Worth Days celebration, a festival previously run by the village. The district is expected to finalize an agreement with the village to assume control of annual festival at its March 19 board meeting, Capalbo said.
“It just seems there were a lot of questions associated with it,” Capalbo said.
He added that the park district would prefer to sponsor an annual 5K run rather than a one-time event.
“If we’re going to move into this, we’d want it to be a continual thing,” he said. “We’re not going to say we’re done with having a 5K in this town. It could always happen in the future.”
Capalbo said sponsoring a run would require extensive planning and marketing, including a route that would not have minimal impact on the village’s major intersections.

First Oak Lawn COW meeting runs smoothly

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Perhaps Trustee Tim Desmond best summarized the progress the Oak Lawn Village Board made Tuesday night during its first committee of the whole meeting.
“It seems like our committee of the whole is working already. We’re sharing ideas,” Desmond said during a discussion of the village’s jobs program, which he initiated after the election.
Trustees got through most of the committee agenda, but cut the session short to keep the subsequent village board meeting on schedule.
The COW meeting started with the establishment of some ground rules.
Trustees agreed that major initiatives proposed by department heads, committees or trustees should come before the committee for discussion before going to the village board. Conversely, normal business items—the approval of a stop sign, for example—should not be delayed at committee.
“I like the concept that we just deal with the bigger issues,” Trustee Terry Vorderer said.
Trustees, however, will not be prevented from raising an issue during the “new” or “old” business segments of the meeting.
“Everything should be open for discussion,” Vorderer said.
Trustee Mike Carberry said the committee meetings, which will be held at 6:15 p.m. before the second meeting of the month, also will help during the annual budget approval process.
Trustee Bob Streit, who recently raised concerns about the committee meetings not being televised, did not reintroduce the issue or comment on the structure of the meetings.
Video gaming and liquor licenses was the primary topic of discussion at the committee meeting, as trustees worked to gain greater control over the number of bars and restaurants that have the video poker and slot machines.
The concern was raised about one month ago when the board approved a liquor license for Big Pappa’s Gyros, 10806 S. Cicero Ave. The owner of the restaurant told the board that she sought the license in order to install video gaming machines.
A liquor license is required to install the machines, and many businesses see gaming as a means to generate additional revenue. Businesses receive 35 percent of monthly receipts from the machines.
“The question is, ‘How do you regulate video gaming?’” village attorney Pat Connelly said.
One way, Connolly said, would be the institution of two types of liquor licenses: one that permits video gaming and one that does not. That structure would allow trustees to grant a liquor license without automatically giving the recipient approval to install gaming machines.
Trustees agreed to consider that idea further at a future meeting.
Bury said she favored the proposal.
“I thought we couldn’t control or limit it in any way,” Bury said.
Connolly said a business license tax assessed on establishments featuring video gaming is another way to control it as is an ordinance that would regulate the distance between establishments with gaming.
Cooper’s Hawk coming
Bury promised a “wonderful” announcement for the village when she spoke to a local League of Women’s Voters group on Saturday and on Tuesday, the board approved to restructure its liquor code to allow Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant to move into the Stoney Creek Prominade development at Civero Avenue and 111th Street.
The restaurant has locations in seven states. In Illinois, it is located in Orland Park, Burr Ridge, Arlington Heights, Naperville, South Barrington and Wheeling. There is one planned to open in Springfield by the end of the year.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook -- Bury says Oak Lawn blog ‘motivated by hate’



jeff columnThe gloves are off.
  Until now, Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury has not said much publicly about the anonymous website that I affectionately call the Cowardly Blog.
  The blog was started by former mayor Dave Heilmann last year but he said he no longer has time for it. For a long time, people had suspicions and educated guesses as to who was still running it but the bloggers insisted on keeping it a secret. They thought that taking shots at people behind the mask of anonymity is noble and a new style of journalism that makes their stories more important than the byline.
  That is warped logic but if that’s what you are going to hang your hat on...
  The Cowardly Blog does come up with some solid journalistic work because it has some great inside information. But it also takes a few too many liberties with its own ethics and Bury, who has become the largest target, said it no longer bothers her.
  But I think it still bothers her.
  When Bury and Worth Mayor Mary Werner were guests at the League of Women Voters of the Palos-Orland area Saturday morning at the Palos Heights Library, the two mayors were asked about how tough it was to deal with negative campaigning against them.
  That’s when Bury took off the gloves. She said that she is still getting attacked through this blog and named names.
  “The content is written by seated trustee Bob Streit and his business partner Dennis Brennan,’’ she said. “They have developed this website. They will take any angle — as long as it’s negative – and throw it out there. You could say nothing — you could show up and smile and they will be like ‘look, she’s doing nothing.’ You do anything and it’s ‘look what she did.’ It’s really disheartening and small-minded.
  “These are people who are really motivated by hate and that’s wrong. I think people are tired of that.’’
  She wasn’t done.
  “I’m a single woman and they’ve called me a lesbian,’’ Bury said. “It’s unbelievable. There is no bottom to the depths they want to drag this. I’m not looking down there. I’m looking ahead. I’m looking forward. We want to nurture and grow and collaborate and develop. It’s not in my playbook to just wallow in this stuff. At first it was hurtful. It’s kind of like the schoolyard bully tactics. It’s pretty aggressive to this day in Oak Lawn. But it’s fine. I’m here to do a job.’’
  Since the Cowardly Blog frequently canonizes Streit, it’s no surprise his name surfaced. Streit would not return calls to find out his association with the blog.
  Bury said that fighting with the blog is in the past.
  “At first I wanted to say ‘they are lying [and] I’m going to do what you did. I’m going to respond to everything.’’’ she said. “I would be up until 2 a.m. typing a response and I wasn’t going to put up with it. Then I realized that if I do this, I’m going to get nothing done and then they win. So they don’t win by being negative. I think they lost. But they would really be victorious if I got nothing accomplished.
  “I’m just going to be aware of them but I’m not going to let them drag me into the mud. I don’t really have an interest in answering every single lie out there. But they are getting really good at it in respect to social media.’’
  Werner chimed in with her displeasure of having Oak Lawn’s soap opera foisted on her via the Cowardly Blog’s e-mails to the world.
  “Every mayor in the Southwest conference gets those silly messages from that organization,” Werner said. “It’s almost as if we signed up for it.’
  This drama could go on for a while. It’s sometimes difficult to tell which side is right and which side is wrong.
  But we do know that one side is more than willing to put their name on what they say and the others are willing to be noble cowards.

New deadlines are here

  I hate to be the bad guy here, but some behind-the-scenes decisions have been made regarding the deadlines of some of our early pages and that affects those of you who want to get us information about your garden clubs, church news, fundraisers and any other worthwhile events you have.
  The Reporter deadlines are at noon on the Friday before the next issue. Some weeks we might be able to go to 3 p.m. Some weeks we won’t. But we have to have it in by Friday.
  For a while we were able to give you better than half a chance on Mondays but that wiggle room is gone.
  So, please, we really want your information. But we really, really want it by noon on Fridays.