Suburbs lose a great leader in Liz Gorman

Suburbs lose a great leader in Liz Gorman

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Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman resigned from her 13 year position on the board to take an important private sector job at a Fortune 100 company. It’s a loss for Cook County,  a loss for moderation, a loss for Gov. Bruce Rauner and a loss for taxpayers

By Ray Hanania

RayHananiaChicagoCityHall1985

Ray Hanania

Liz Gorman, the Orland Township GOP Committeeman and Cook County Commissioner, and I did not get along originally. We were at odds until she showed up at a public discussion about fighting rising taxes and I got a chance to understand her.

I realized Gorman opposed rising taxes as much as I did. I realized she was a “centrist” willing to push back on extremists not just in the Democratic Party on the far left, but also in the Republican Party on the far right.

Gorman turned out to be the real deal when in 2008, she became the inspiration for the fight against the one percent sales tax increase that then County Board President Todd Stroger proposed to off-set the county’s wasteful spending.

Gorman fought against the sales tax hike and when it passed with the support of Chicago’s Democratic board members, she led a rebellion to repeal the tax until it was finally gone.

She was also a critical cornerstone of commonsense in renovating the Republican party in Cook County.

Let’s face it, for a long time, “Republicans” were non-existent in Cook County, which is the foundation of the Democratic Party’s control of the state.

Liz Gorman, Gov. Rauner, Sean Morrison

Liz Gorman, Gov. Rauner, Sean Morrison

What made Gorman different? She had commonsense. Her priority wasn’t political ideology, it was commitment to the citizens that she represented. She didn’t mind taking on the Democrats, but she also didn’t mind taking on the Republicans, including the far right wing like the Tea Party and others who believed extremism was the key to defeating the Democrats – a losing cause that anyone with commonsense would recognize.

In the battle for Governor, Gorman recognized most Democrats were disappointed in the failings of Gov. Pat Quinn, who took office as the running mate of disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Quinn might have won re-election, except that Gorman stepped up to the Republican plate and threw here weight behind an unknown businessman, Bruce Rauner.

Forget about the reality of Illinois — no single person can resolve the state’s financial troubles, a challenge Rauner now faces. But last year, the choice for Republicans was to support candidates who toed the party ideology or support candidates who used their brains, had commonsense and were not afraid to be honest.

Had it not been for Gorman organizing suburban Cook County behind Rauner, Quinn would have easily trounced the traditional Republican Party choices, most of whom were all decent people. Rauner won office, thanks to Gorman.

Sadly, power goes to the heads of even the best leaders, and Rauner stumbled. His first mistake was to not grab Gorman and put her in a top cabinet position. I knew it was over for him then.

And I knew it was over for the taxpayers, too.

Eventually, after serving in her 4th term on the county board, more than 13 years in public service, Gorman stepped down to take a job in the private sector with a Fortune 100 corporation, putting the interests of her family first.

But her loss pretty much signaled an end to the feistiness that blocked Stroger. At the same meeting in which she resigned, the County Board approved a 1 percent sales hike. Gorman voted “present” only out of respect for Board President Toni Preckwinkle and to not saddle her successor with someone else’s vote. She believes Preckwinkle can solve the county’s financial problems, and then repeal the tax hike.

The following week, Gorman was succeeded by Palos businessman Sean Morrison, who has big shoes to fill but has a strong record of leadership in Palos Township.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. Reach him at rghanania@gmail.com.)

This post has already been read 104 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com