Massive rise in COVID-19 infections slam Orland Park

Massive rise in COVID-19 infections slam Orland Park
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Massive rise in COVID-19 infections slam Orland Park

Coronavirus hits alarming level with a surge of nearly 1,400 more infections in Orland Park just in the past month, as incompetent Mayor Keith Pekau continues to pander with his “Politics over People” party, hosting a $500-per-person fundraiser so he can turn his do-nothing four years in office into the semblance of leadership that it is not. Orland Park has a 10 percent average positivity rate and it keeps getting worse

By Ray Hanania

Orland Park, defined by its incompetent Mayor Keith Pekau as not needing face masks or caring much about the Coronavirus, continues to see a dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 infections, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Thankfully, at least the state cares about the virus when it comes to Orland Park, maintaining a daily tally of the infection rate which has a more than 10 percent positivity rate of those who have been tested.

The current infection tally spiked to a record 3,463 Orland Park residents Dec. 1, according to the IDPH. That is an increase of 1,369 infections since Nov. 1, when the recorded infections were only 2,094. The infection rate, despite Mayor Pekau’s “I don’t care attitude,” has steadily risen over the past months since I began doing what the village has failed to do, document the infection numbers.

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and his allies on the board not wearing face masks during the recent lighting of the Village Christmas Tree, Nov. 29, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Village of Orland Park Facebook Page.

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and his allies on the board not wearing face masks during the recent lighting of the Village Christmas Tree, Nov. 29, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Village of Orland Park Facebook Page.

It was 530 on July 1, 2020, after one of Pekau’s minions on the village board, who wasn’t wearing a face mask, ridiculed another trustee saying that maybe they should wear Duck Tape over their mouth instead of a face mask. The infections increased to 781 on August 1. It rose to 1,078 in September, 1,398 in October and 2,094 in November. Now, as of December 1, it is 3,463 total infections.

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The total of 3,463 COVID-19 infections comes from Orland Park’s two zip codes, 60462 and 60467 — people unfamiliar with Orland Park my only use one zip code and try to pass along a lower number. The “positivity rate reflects what percentage of people tested for Coronavirus test positive. Currently the rate is slightly over 10 percent in each of the two zip codes. The positivity rate jumped dramatically and then dipped slightly from 13 percent to just over 10 percent, a drop of about 28 percent which is a misleading number to follow. It continues to fluctuate up and down. The real issue is the numbers.

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Instead of urging people to stay home to help defeat the pandemic, Pekau is hosting all kinds of public events and celebrations like the Nov. 29 Christmas Lighting Festival bringing everyone together with his supporters attacking those people who questioned why the mayor doesn’t wear a face mask in public as a role model for healthcare caution. His minions are slamming anyone who criticizes him on the Village of Orland Park’s Facebook Page, calling them names I can’t even repeat here!

Under Pekau, the Village of Orland Park posted this cautionary warning about the deadly coronavirus, which has taken the lives of 13,015 people in Illinois, that avoids urging people to wear face masks. Rightwing fanatics, as a breed, believe that asking people to wear a face mask to help curtail the spread of the virus is an infringement of your Constitutional Rights as an American.

“Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the Village has focused on providing timely and relevant information to the public. The Village is continuing to educate the community on how best to keep themselves, their families and the rest of the community safe, especially our elderly and other at-risk populations. We ask that all residents be responsible and follow the requested actions to help keep everyone safe, particularly the most vulnerable among us. Avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing and utilize proper hygiene techniques to avoid the spread of the virus.”

I love how the Village claims it is “continuing to educate the community” on the virus. What a joke. Pekau has focused mainly on promoting himself, spinning these wild conspiracies about how “the Machine” is trying to unseat his empire. The only Machine in Orland Park is the Pekau Machine which is trying not only to take complete control of the Village Board but planning to also control all other boards including the Township, the school boards, and countywide offices. 

Pekau is hiding behind the fake claim of “term limits,” knowing full well that he won’t have to step down for at least two more terms if Orland Park voters are dumb enough to return this guy to office in the Spring. Imposing Term Limits is meaningless if one politician controls the village, the township, the school boards and all of the local county offices. That’s a Machine.

Instead of calling his party the “People Over Politics” party, it really is the “Politics Over People” party because it is politics that Pekau only cares about. That was obvious during the many board meetings this past year when he began his personal attacks against ANYONE who dared to question his decisions and actions or to criticize his many stumbles. I have covered Orland Park politics for more than 40 years and I have never seen anyone so selfish, so political and so vicious as Pekau has been.

When Orland Park Trustee Dan Calandriello tried to get the board to consider organizing a plan to help struggling Orland Park businesses back in April, Pekau attacked him as a grandstander, and viciously bullied him during the meeting and in his political eNewsletter. After blocking Calandriello’s effort to help Orland Park small businesses, Pekau waited a few meetings and then announced his own plan to “help” small businesses. Because that was the real issue for Pekau. He didn’t want Calandriello, a mild mannered and gentle-spoken first-term trustee, to get credit for something that Pekau wanted to control.

So far, former Mayor Dan McLaughlin is planning to file to challenge Pekau in the April election. McLaughlin can’t win, though, if he goes it alone as he is doing lining up behind his usual collection of supporters and the Unions. What he needs to win is to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with every elected official in every government that Pekau has insulted, attacked, disparaged and disrespected at the cost of losing benefits to the taxpayers of Orland Park. Pekau has attacked all of them!

McLaughlin needs to be seen standing along side a non-partisan coalition of regional political and government leaders like Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady, Orland Hills Mayor Kyle Hastings, 18th District State Senator William Cunningham, 19th District State Senator Michael Hastings, former Republican Committeeman Jim Dodge, Republican Committeewoman and former Cook County Board Commissioner Liz Gorman, 28th State Rep. Robert Rita, 35th State Rep. Fran Hurley, neighboring 38th State Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin, 37th State Rep. Margo McDermed, Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison, and Congresswoman-elect Marie Newman.

Any official who defends or endorses Pekau should be thrown out of office.

McLaughlin’s problem has always been that he continues to believe his own press releases, and they are not very good. He was first elected in 1983 as a trustee, and served as Orland Park’s mayor since 1993. During that time he brought many great programs to the Village. His only problem was he did such a poor job of public relations and had this arrogant attitude that no one could beat him. McLaughlin defeated himself in 2017 and opened the door to Pekau, an unknown landscaper.

Pekau’s challengers have a huge pile of ammunition to use to expose Pekau’s Politics Over People selfishness. Critics may claim McLaughlin opened the door to Pekau by proposing a massive boost in his salary and pension. But what’s the difference with Pekau? Pekau claims he won’t take the pension, but in truth he can say what he wants, get kicked out of office, and he can still take that pension. Because Pekau has taken the $150,000 a year salary that he attacked McLaughlin for increasing. 

The difference there is that McLaughlin proposed raising his salary to $150,000 a year from $40,000 but most importantly, also proposed that he would work full-time as mayor on economic development. Pekau has taken the $150,000 salary, while saying it was wrong during his campaign, but spends more time focused on politics than on people. The village continues to put responsibilities for economic development on the village manager.

So what is Pekau doing for his $150,000 a year salary that he has taken every year since his election campaign in which he denounced the salary as outrageous? Pekau could have refused to take the pay hike or donate the majority of the money to charity. He chose not too. Pekau is playing the Politics Over People shell game with the lives of taxpayers! The Village of Orland Park is in the worst state it has ever been in and you can’t blame it all on COVID-19.

The continued increases in coronavirus infections shows that Pekau is not doing his job protecting Orland Park. He should be setting himself as an example of how to fight the coronavirus, not pander to extreme rightwing conspiracy theories about face masks and Constitutional Rights. Pekau’s ambivalence and his focus on politics, rather than on fighting the pandemic, is a direct insult to every senior citizen living in Orland Park. Seniors are the most vulnerable target of the coronavirus pandemic. Pekau’s attitude is a slap in the face of every resident whose interests should be placed above the interests of Pekau Politics!

The only question I have is will McLaughlin once again hand over the leadership of Orland Park to Pekau simply because he doesn’t know how to work with other people, too?

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. The recipient of four Lisagor Awards and a Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing, Hanania was named Best Columnist in America by the New America Media. For more information on Hanania’s opinions and writings visit his website is www.Hanania.com.)

Ray Hanania

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