Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Pekau’s COVID-19 stance harms seniors

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By Ray Hanania

Nearly 75 percent of the 800,000 Americans who died from COVID-19 were 65 years of age or older. That number jumps to almost 90 percent when you include those 55 years of age and older.

The virus affects people differently. The younger and healthier more easily survive. For seniors, it is a killer or will aggravate existing illnesses and cause death sooner.

You would think that would be the concern of some elected officials. But it’s not. In Orland Park, Mayor Keith Pekau declared he will not abide by a Cook County mandate requiring restaurants, gyms and other establishments to require proof of vaccination for customers that began Monday, Jan. 3.

Not everyone agrees with the County mandate, but what Pekau has failed to do in opposing it is to offer an alternative.

At a board meeting last week, Pekau claimed 94 percent of Orland Park residents are vaccinated. If true, then what’s the problem? Show your vaccination card. Show concern for seniors who are 75 percent more likely to die from COVID-19.

As an elected official, Pekau is supposed to answer to taxpayers like you and me. But he becomes personally antagonistic and vindictive against anyone who disagrees with him. That’s a sign of weak character and poor leadership, and also selfishness. It’s about him, not you.

Pekau is pandering to the politics of pandemic and the new coronavirus variants, the deadly Delta and the less deadly Omicron. Why? He’s running for Congress. He needs publicity to get his name out there so he can connect with the anti-vaxxers and anti-government members of the public.

He’s running in the June 28 Republican Primary in the 6th Congressional District, in which voters are more than 65 percent Democrat. That means the only chance a Republican has to even come close to winning is to present themselves as a centrist moderate, not as a far-right extremist like Pekau.

But like I said, Pekau’s problem is not that he opposes the mandate. That’s his right. But it is his responsibility to propose an alternative to the mandate to protect his nearly 60,000 residents and to protect senior citizens.

He hasn’t done that.

Seniors are the most abandoned, neglected or pandered to age group in American society. They deserve more attention.

Pekau almost did that by publishing a monthly senior magazine, which is filled with general stories and news items about village services. The latest issue includes a two-page column from the mayor about how great he has been as a mayor.

There is one good story about how the Orland Park police hosted a luncheon for seniors last October. The food was catered by Hienie’s McCarthy’s, which coincidentally is featured as the “Business of the Month” in the same magazine.

Orland Park’s Police Department is one of the best in the southwest suburbs; and despite trash talk from Pekau, the police have done a great job protecting residents from criminals–not just while he was mayor but during the past 20 years. Orland Park has always been touted as one of the safest cities in Illinois and the nation.

Seniors are among those who vote the most, nearly 92 percent in recent elections. But seniors are forced to struggle in today’s society, many barely able to pay the bills, locked into frozen Social Security and small pensions for which they have to pay taxes.

How does Orland Park intend to protect its seniors from COVID-19? Pekau doesn’t have an answer. He ignores it and offers political rhetoric whenever the subject surfaces.

The only reference in the senior magazine to confronting COVID-19 is in a four-page section showcasing Pathlights, formerly known as the PLOWS Council on Aging. There is a 100-word brief in the 42-page magazine on Pathlights’ monthly COVID-19 Zoom information meeting. No date is given.

Pekau has tried to carve himself out as a champion of businesses, after former Trustee Dan Calandriello proposed helping businesses. Pekau responded by attacking Calandriello, accusing him of grandstanding for self-promotion. Two months later, Pekau basically used Calandriello’s ideas as his own.

Businesses have money. They contribute to election campaigns.

If 94 percent of Orland Park residents are vaccinated, as Pekau says, then why not let them show their vaccination cards when entering a business?

The number may or may not be true. Even if it is true, how does it hurt to protect your seniors, who are 25 percent of the village population?

As COVID-19 takes more and more lives, the only message is to pretend like it’s nothing to worry about?

Why not send everyone on a cruise, then?

Check out Ray Hanania’s columns and political podcasts at hanania.com.

1 Comment

  1. Carolyn Newkirk on January 5, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    You nailed it. Pekau argues with everyone who disagrees with him. He is an embarrassment. I can’t imagine what he would be like as a congressman. Let’s hope we don’t find out .



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