Public Watchdog.org

The Maine Township Stupid Party Presents: “Assgate” (Epilogue)

10.15.18

For those of you who may still have some difficulty comprehending or appreciating the full extent of the hyper-political and operationally dysfunctional Maine Township government that we have depicted in our last three posts, this post is intended to serve as kind of a connect-the-dots summary of why “Assgate” has nothing to do with sexual harassment and everything to do with political gamesmanship, if not outright warfare, by the RINOs who controlled Township government until May 2017 against The Reformers who were elected in April 2017. Consider:

  1. As a matter of basic math 3 always beats 2, whether it’s the number of runs in a baseball game or the number of votes needed for action by the Maine Township Board of Trustees. In this case the “3” is the 3-vote majority wielded by what Trustee Kim Jones described (in her staged and political “It’s not okay” soliloquy in front of Town Hall on September 26) as the “Bloc of 3” – consisting of Republican Trustees Dave Carrabotta and Susan Sweeney, and Democrat Trustee Claire McKenzie – that has prevailed over Jones’ and Supervisor Laura Morask’s “2” vote minority on significant Board votes. That 3-2 differential forms the political (not sexual harassment) heart of, and the political (not sexual harassment) driving force behind “Assgate.”
  2. In Jones’ Formal Complaint filed on May 25, she referred to the alleged January 23 swiping/touching of her “bottom” by Carrabotta as “inadvertent” and not intentional, while describing the alleged May 16 incident as a light “swipe” on her “ass” (her word). In her June 7 interview testimony she described “a brush…maybe that was inadvertent,” “a real faint brush,” a “light brushing” or a “touch.” Neither incident, however, was accompanied or followed by anything from Carrabotta of a sexual nature: No invitation to Jones for a dirty hula at a no-tell motel, no leers, not even a knowing glance to acknowledge any of that alleged contact. That makes this one of the strangest cases of sexual harassment on record – if it actually were sexual harassment.
  3. Jones admits not saying anything about either incident to Carrabotta (like, perhaps, “Stop that!” or “What are you doing?!?!”) or to the two female members of the “Bloc of 3.” Instead, she chose to gossip about it to her male and female Township RINO pals before getting the free (to her, but costing the taxpayers) personal advice from Township attorney Keri-Lyn Krafthefer that Jones seemingly needed to finally confront Carrabotta with her accusations before the May 22 board meeting.
  4. Despite her vague and uncertain descriptions of both incidents in the May 25 Formal Complaint and on June 7 to the investigating attorneys, she – along with Supervisor Laura Morask, Non-Assessor Susan Moylan-Krey and 7 other Maine Township RINO women – signed a July 7 letter that described as full-blown “groping” what Jones had previously characterized as merely the light brush/swipe/touch. And then those 10 women called, politically, for Carrabotta’s immediate resignation from the Board – which would have turned the “Bloc of 3” into a bloc of 2…until Morask could appoint someone like failed RINO Trustee candidate/short-term payroller Kelly Schaefer as Carrabotta’s replacement, thereby giving Morask, Jones and Schaefer the 3-vote RINO majority they’ve been wanting since The Reformers became the Bloc of 3 following their election in April 2017.
  5. For purely political purposes, Jones’ RINO buddies Clerk Pete Gialamas and Highway Commissioner Wally Kazmierczak apparently trumped-up stories about Carrabotta’s harassment of Township employees Dayna Berman and Vicki Rizzo, only to have Berman and Rizzo categorically deny Petey’s and Wally’s fairy tales when questioned by the investigators.
  6. The political motivation behind this charade was further confirmed by Gialamas’ testimony to the investigators about how “[w]e [the RINOs] were always happy with the way the township ran” before the Bloc of 3’s arrival, and by Kazmierczak’s testimony that “politically, [the RINOs] don’t see eye-to-eye” with the Bloc of 3 – opinions echoed in testimony to the investigators by employees Dawn Hayman (“The new trustees are very different than our old board”) and Doriene Prorak (“We were a family before those three came along”).
  7. Dem Rep. Marty Moylan’s August letter to The Journal simply ignored the investigators’ findings and demanded, for purely political purposes, not only Carrabotta’s resignation but also the resignations of Dem Trustee Claire McKenzie, Republican Trustee Susan Sweeney and Republican Township Committeeman Char Foss-Eggemann. He followed up that letter with his loutish performance at the August 28 Township Board meeting (running from 41:10 to 42:00 of the meeting video), ending his brief tirade by reiterating his highly-political demand that Carrabotta resign.
  8. Moylan and Dem. Sen. Laura Murphy appeared at Jones’ purely political September 26 press conference where Jones indicted the “Bloc of 3” for (1) holding the August 6 meeting to release the Investigation Report to the public; (2) voting to post that Report on the Township website before Morask and Jones could spin and/or sanitize it; and (3) claiming that the Report cleared Carrabotta, even though that’s effectively what it did. And in an apparent political quid pro quo, RINO Jones has recorded a robo-call endorsing Moylan over his Republican opponent: “Hi, this is Maine Township Trustee Kim Jones…[and] I’m voting for Marty Moylan for state representative and asking you to join me because Marty Moylan cares about women’s rights.”

Women’s rights and sexual harassment are serious business. The unwanted touching by one person of another – if and when it actually occurs – is totally unacceptable, especially when it carries sexual overtones. It should be addressed directly and immediately if and when it actually occurs, rather than merely gossiped about to political cronies the way Jones handled it. Unscrupulous use of such accusations as a purely political weapon – the way Jones, et al. appear to have used them in this case – diminishes the seriousness of actual harassment and demeans its legitimate victims.

“Assgate” has shown Jones to be either (a) a wily co-conspirator with her fellow Township RINOs and Dem. political hacks Moylan and Murphy in their purely-political effort to knock Carrabotta off the Board and break up the “Bloc of 3”, or (b) an unwitting dupe of those Township RINOs, Moylan and Murphy in such a shameless and vicious endeavor.

Unfortunately, “Assgate” also has shown Carrabotta to be a thin-skinned hot-head who trashed much of the pro-taxpayer goodwill he earned during his first year in office as one of The Reformers by throwing a tantrum in response to Jones’ accusations, then foolishly steering his fellow Reformers into an unlawful closed session meeting before hiding in plain sight for the last four months as his wife and other public-spirited citizens defended his character and reputation while he hid in plain sight and sat Sphinx-like.

Nevertheless, Jones could have prevented this political farce by refusing Krafthefer’s invitation to file the Formal Complaint with the Township that started the investigation that reportedly has burned up over $30,000 of taxpayer money. In response to Carrabotta’s hissy-fit she could, and should, have immediately taken her accusations directly to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) and/or the Illinois Dept. of Human Rights (the “IDHR”), which are two indisputably “independent” entities whose investigations would have cost Township taxpayers NOTHING.

But because this was a purely political gambit from the start, she didn’t do so until after the investigation was completed and the money wasted; and only after she didn’t get the favorable investigator findings she had expected.

And let’s not forget how Township attorney Krafthefer displayed her tone-deafness concerning conflict-of-interest and appearance-of-impropriety when she: (a) privately/secretly (and stupidly) counseled one Trustee (Jones) on how to deal with another Trustee (Carrabotta) about alleged sexual harassment; (b) privately/secretly encouraged one Trustee (Jones) to file a Formal Complaint against another Trustee (Carrabotta) without first disclosing that advice to the full Board; and (c) had her firm’s attorneys conduct the investigation of those allegations of misconduct by one Trustee against another.

What this political clown-car performance should not be permitted to obscure or tarnish, however, is the basic tenet of American justice that an accused – whether in criminal or civil proceedings – is presumed innocent until proven guilty, with the burden of proof always being on the accuser. In a criminal matter that burden is “beyond a reasonable doubt” (think something like 95% certainty) while in civil matters it is “by a preponderance of the evidence” (think 51% certainty). That’s part of what’s called “due process.”

Lynch mobs, on the other hand, operate from a 100% presumption that the accused is guilty, due process be damned.

Although accusations of sexual harassment deserve to be treated seriously, the idea that a woman who claims to have been harassed by a man must be believed without question, and irrespective of corroborating evidence, is a dangerous precedent. So is accusing anyone who dares to suggest otherwise of “victim-shaming” or “bullying.”

“Assgate” has taught us that the shameless and unscrupulous Township RINOs and their equally shameless and unscrupulous Democrat accomplices don’t care about presumptions of innocence or due process when they’re advancing what appear to have been false, if not outright baseless, accusations in furtherance of their rank political agenda to neutralize the “Bloc of 3.”

The only question is whether their constituents are as shameless and unscrupulous, or willing to tolerate such behavior from their elected officials.

To read or post comments, click on title.

The Maine Township Stupid Party Presents: “Assgate” (Act 3)

10.09.18

As the curtain rises on the third and final act of “Assgate,” the Final Investigation Report (the “Report”) of Ancel Glink attorneys Robert McCabe and Margaret Kostopulos has been sent to the Township Trustees with a finding that, in the absence of any corroborating evidence, Trustee Dave Carrabotta’s alleged touching/groping of Trustee Kim Jones’ derriere could not be established.

For all practical intents and purposes Carrabotta has been exonerated.

Because such a finding flew in the face of Jones’ narrative – and her supporters’ lynch-mob insistence that, lack of evidence be damned, Carrabotta was guilty and should resign his Trustee seat – it unleashed a torrent of outrage and disgust, starting with Jones’ August 5, 2018 letter to Township attorney Keri-Lyn Krafthefer that was critical of Krafthefer, the investigators from her firm, the way the investigation was conducted, and its findings.

That Jones’ first shots were fired at Krafthefer and her two law partners is deliciously ironic, given how (a) it was Jones and Supervisor Laura Morask (along with Trustee Claire McKenzie) who anointed Krafthefer’s firm as the Board’s attorneys despite the objections of Carrabotta and Trustee Susan Sweeney; (b) Jones obtained personal, secret (at that time) and free (to her) legal advice from Krafthefer that led to Jones confronting Carrabotta on May 22; and (c) Jones obtained further personal, secret (at that time) and free (to her) legal advice from Krafthefer to file the Formal Complaint necessary to give Krafthefer’s partners something tangible to investigate.

Given that Jones must have figured she had the investigation wired, it was no surprise that she voiced no objection whatsoever to the free advice Krafthefer gave her, to Ancel Glink attorneys conducting the investigation, or to how the investigation was being conducted while it was going on.

But even hand-picked attorneys couldn’t wire the investigation when the only arguably corroborating evidence – consisting of nothing more than hearsay/lies(?) by Jones’ buddies, Clerk Peter Gialamas and Road Commissioner Wally Kazmierczak, about two other cases of alleged Carrabotta harassment – was blown away when the subjects of that hearsay, Dayna Berman and Vicki Rizzo, assured the investigators that not only were they not harassed by Carrabotta but that they had no problem with him whatsoever.

In other words, the Jones/RINO frame-up of Carrabotta failed because Berman and Rizzo wouldn’t lie for the RINOs.

So Jones decided to do what she should have done from the very beginning, and which would have cost the Township nothing: Filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) and the Illinois Dept. of Human Rights (the “IDHR”) instead of with the Township. We look forward to seeing how those two investigative bodies will view Jones’ narrative and non-evidence.

Then came the August 6 special meeting called by Reformers McKenzie and Sweeney for the single purpose of voting to release the Report to the taxpayers who paid for it, after Supervisor Laura Morask refused to release it upon McKenzie’s and Sweeney’s informal request. And although Morask’s revisionist history of these events includes her scheduling an August 8 special meeting, no such meeting was ever scheduled either before or after McKenzie and Sweeney called for theirs.

Neither Jones nor Morask attended the August 6 meeting: Jones claimed to be on vacation that night, and Morask claimed to be in the hospital for tests. Not surprisingly, their RINO allies – Gialamas, Kazmierczak and the Non-Assessor Susan Moylan-Krey (conveniently, Rep. Marty Moylan’s ex-wife) – also stayed away, presumably as a show of political solidarity with Jones and Morask against Carrabotta and his fellow Reformers.

Notwithstanding the RINO boycott, The Reformers lawfully voted to release the Report to the public. At that same meeting several citizens spoke in favor of the Report’s release, with Park Ridge Library Trustee Mike Reardon, Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board member Larry Ryles, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism Executive Director Jayne Reardon and Park Ridge Library Trustee Joe Egan providing commentary worth watching – from the 13:05 mark to the 21:52 mark of the meeting videoand which should be required viewing by the RINOs even if they are incapable of learning anything from it.

The full complement of RINO officials showed up at the August 28 meeting, however, for what turned into a pep rally for Jones. Some of the more noteworthy cheers belonged to failed Township Trustee candidate (and short-lived Township payroller), Kelly Schaefer, who insisted (from 19:49 to 20:30 of the meeting video) that “while due process is categorically important, not victimizing the victim is more important.” Hopefully, Ms. Schaefer will feel that way the next time she tries to victimize the Township’s taxpayers by accepting a $30,000+ part-time, make-work job created by her BFF Morask.

Also worth listening to are Kristina Keller’s ipse dixit grand pronouncements (from 41:10 to 42:00) that “Most people who are victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment rarely lie about it” and “Kim is not lying about this”; and Ginger Pennington’s argument (from 38:20 to 40:15) that whether or not Carrabotta actually touched Jones really doesn’t matter so long as Jones “earnestly felt uncomfortable with what she felt was contact.”

But the highlight, by far, was the clownish performance of State Rep. Marty Moylan (D. 55th Dist.), who proved beyond any doubt – in just over a minute (from 35:05 to 36:28) of bloviating – that he is the most disingenuous political gas-bag in all of Maine Township, as can be seen from his locker room-style pep talk that began with “this isn’t about knocking Dave off the Board” but then closed with: “Dave should resign now!” All that was missing was a “Let us pray.”

The final scene of this play occurs outside Township Hall on September 26 with Jones shooting at anything that moves: Carrabotta individually and with fellow Reformers McKenzie and Sweeney (calling them, politically, the “Bloc of 3”); attorney Keri-Lyn Krafthefer for giving Jones bad free advice about meeting with Carrabotta, signing the Formal Complaint, and recommending that her partners conduct the investigation; anybody who questions whether she was harassed by Carrabotta; anybody who would dare to suggest this kerfuffle was a political ploy by her and her fellow RINOs to break The Reformers’ “Bloc of 3” majority; and, finally, Republican committeeman Char Foss-Eggemann for not siding with her and her unproved allegations against another Republican Trustee.

Drop the curtain, raise the house lights.

To read or post comments, click on title.

The Maine Township Stupid Party Presents: “Assgate” (Act 2)

09.29.18

To our readers: An incomplete version of this post was inadvertently published on September 29; and it took us until the morning of October 1 to correct and complete the post. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion.

As the curtain rises on Act 2 of “Assgate” two Ancel Glink attorneys, Robert T. McCabe and Margaret Kostopulos, are conducting their interview of Jones on June 7 – 16 days after Jones’ accusation of Carrabotta and 13 days after Jones filed her “Formal Complaint” against him at the suggestion of Township attorney Keri-Lynn Krafthefer.

In the Formal Complaint, Jones described Carrabotta’s alleged acts of harassment on January 24, 2018, as his having “lightly swiped his hand across [her] bottom,” which she “chalked…up as being an inadvertent mistake”; and on May 16 as his having “again lightly swiped his hand across [her] bottom” to which she responded with “a dirty look” that Carrabotta “pretended” not to notice.

According to the transcript of Jones’ interview by the attorneys, they started by explaining that their questions would be “specifically and narrowly tailored” to that Formal Complaint. (Page 3, lines 6-11). But they also told her that she was free to provide any other relevant details she may have. (Page 3, lines 13-22)

Jones described Carrabotta’s actions as being, variously, “a brush…maybe that was inadvertent” (Page 7, lines 20-22), “a real faint brush” (Page 11, line 24), a “light brushing” (Page 28, lines 7-9) and a “touch” (Page 14, line 2; page 16, lines 17-18; and page 38, line 10) to her “butt” (Page 16, lines 17-18) or “ass” (Page 14, line 2; page 38, line 10). Heck, she wasn’t even sure whether she might have “backed up into his hand.” (Page 12, lines 23-24)

In both the Formal Complaint and in her interview with the attorneys, Jones described how she promptly reported both incidents to her fellow Township government RINOs: Supervisor Laura Morask, Non-Assessor Susan Moylan-Krey, her “longtime friend [Highway Commissioner] Walter Kazmierczak,” and Clerk Pete Gialamas. (Page 14, lines 1-13; page 20, line 8 through page 21, line 9; page 38, line 4 through page 39, line 14)

If these incidents actually occurred, however, and if Jones reasonably perceived them as sexual harassment, why didn’t she say anything directly to Carrabotta? After all, she admitted to the Township’s attorneys that there was “nothing personal” between her and him, despite the fact that “[h]e usually [voted] with Susan Sweeney and [she/Jones] usually [didn’t].” (Page 19, lines 7-18).

And if politics wasn’t an issue, why did Jones tell only her fellow Township RINOs about the incidents? Why didn’t she also tell fellow Trustees McKenzie and Sweeney that their Reformer colleague, Carrabotta, was harassing her?

Curiously, the attorneys – both before they started questioning Jones (page 4, lines 6-22) and again at the end of the questioning (page 57, lines 4-7) – requested that Jones treat all information about the incidents as confidential until the investigation was completed; and she said she would. But on July 7, with the investigation still in progress, she signed a letter, along with nine other members of the Maine Township Republican Women’s Club, addressed to Township Republican Committeeman Char Foss Eggemann but widely distributed, demanding that Foss Eggemann “condemn [Carrabotta’s] behavior and call for his resignation immediately.”

Jones and her nine friends (including Morask, Moylan-Krey and their consummate political hack/lackey, Jean Dietsch) didn’t call for a criminal investigation. They didn’t call for an ethics investigation. They called for Carrabotta’s resignation from the Board.

Why? Because they wanted to strip The Reformers’ 3-2 Board majority of his vote so that Morask (as we understand Illinois law in this regard) could appoint another RINO as his replacement – perhaps Kelly Schaefer, who lost her Trustee’s race in 2017 before Morask promptly created a $30K/year part-time Township job for her without Board approval, but which Schaefer quit in the face of withering Daily Herald articles and a Daily Herald editorial ripping the kinky deal.

Had they succeeded in that effort, they also would have deprived all the Carrabotta voters of their duly-elected representative – which obviously would have been readily-acceptable collateral damage for Morask, Jones and the rest of the Maine Township RINO cabal politically aligned more with Maine Township Democrats like state rep. Marty Moylan and state sen. Laura Murphy.

Another curious aspect to that July 7 letter is how Jones’ prior description of Carrabotta’s actions as consisting of a “touch” or a “brush” that might even have been “inadvertent” somehow became “actual groping.” To date, neither Jones nor her nine friends have explained that sudden metamorphosis.

Jones insists Carrabotta touched/groped her and that she’s a victim of sexual harassment, not one of the perpetrators of purely political maneuvering. But actual proof of any touching/groping is something Jones and her supporters so far appear to totally lack.

For example, Jones told the attorneys that Gialamas and Kazmierczak told her stories about Carrabotta’s also having harassed Township employees Dayna Berman and Vicki Rizzo. (Jones transcript, page 38, line 4-16; page 40, lines 10-18; page 42, lines 12-23).

And according to the transcript of Gialamas’ testimony, Berman and Rizzo told him not only was Carrabotta “very handsy” and made them uncomfortable” but, also, that Berman told him that Carrabotta “even had touched her rear end.” (Page 9, line 18 through Page 10, line 4; page 11, line 13 through page 12, line 11) Gialamas admitted to the attorneys, however, that he never saw Carrabotta do anything inappropriate” because, if he had, he would have called Carrabotta on it. (Page 19, lines 3-14)

So, instead, he merely gossiped about it.

And when the attorneys got around to Kazmierczak, the transcript of his testimony shows that he, too, was spreading unsubstantiated hearsay about what Berman and Rizzo told him concerning Carrabotta’s conduct: That “somehow their buttocks were touched” by Carrabotta. (Page 19, line 9 through page 20, line 6)

Not surprisingly, Morask’s testimony to the attorneys consisted of the same hearsay as Gialamas and Kazmierczak conveyed to them about Berman and Rizzo having been made to feel uncomfortable by Carrabotta and afraid of retaliation for saying so. (Page 36, line 1 through page 40, line 6)

But when the attorneys interviewed Berman, the transcript of her interview discloses that she insisted that she never told anyone that Carrabotta “was ever inappropriate” around her; and that she wasn’t afraid of any form of retaliation for telling the truth. (Page 20, lines 17-23).

Similarly, the transcript of Rizzo’s interview establishes that Rizzo told the attorneys she “never felt uncomfortable around…[Carrabotta], in any way.” (Page 33, lines 17-21). Rizzo also explained how Morask – supposedly at the direction of Township attorney Keri-Lynn Krafthefer – pre-interviewed Rizzo (Page 27, lines 2-24), which made Rizzo angry because she didn’t have any problem whatsoever with Carrabotta. (Page 29, line 4 through page 30, line 23).

For those keeping score, Krafthefer is the Township attorney who privately counseled Jones about how to deal with Carrabotta – including telling Jones to file the Formal Complaint against him – without Krafthefer disclosing to Carrabotta or the Board that she was counseling one Trustee (Jones) in her personal claims against another Trustee (Carrabotta).

Can you say “conflict of interest”?

Good for you! Because Krafthefer apparently couldn’t, or wouldn’t – at least not if it might jeopardize the prospect of additional fees flowing into her firm’s coffers as a result of her advice to Jones.

Based on the totality of the facts and circumstances disclosed during the investigation, the attorneys issued their final Investigation Report dated July 30, 2018, finding that there was inadequate evidence from which they could conclude that Carrabotta touched Jones’ buttocks or sexually harassed her in any other way. And, not surprisingly, the accuracy of the report’s summaries of the various testimony has been demonstrated by the transcripts of that testimony.

With the issuance of that report and with the sound of preternatural howling and wailing in the background, the curtain falls on Act 2.

To read or post comments, click on title.

 

 

The Maine Township Stupid Party Players Present: “Assgate” (Act 1)

09.24.18

Anybody who has observed Illinois politics with any degree of objectivity over the past few decades can be justified in concluding, sadly, that Illinois Democrats are the corrupt party while Illinois Republicans are the stupid party.

If additional proof of that second point were needed, the folks running Maine Township government have provided it with the theatrical goat rodeo production we will call “Assgate” – based on Trustee Kim Jones’ claim, in a “Formal Complaint”, that Trustee Dave Carrabotta “touched my ass” during photo ops at two or three Township events during the past year.

We begin with a little background for context.

Jones and Carrabotta are both nominally “Republicans,” although Jones – along with Supervisor Laura Morask, Clerk Peter Gialamas, Non-Assessor Susan Moylan-Krey and Highway Commissioner Wally Kazmierczak – are more aptly described as “RINOs”: Republicans In Name Only. Over the years they have demonstrated that their philosophy of Township government closely mirrors  that of Illinois Democrats’: Make it bigger and more expensive while minimizing transparency and accountability so that the taxpayers don’t realize what’s actually going on.

SIDEBAR: Morask was elected Trustee in 2001 as a Democrat, but she promptly learned how to go along to get along with a Republican (albeit RINO) majority; and she ran for re-election in 2005 as a Republican.

That difference in philosophy pitted Jones and the other RINOs against the more conservative views of Carrabotta and fellow Republican Trustee Susan Sweeney, and even those of Democrat Claire McKenzie, the three of whom we dubbed “The Reformers” following their election in April 2017 because they tried to bring transparency and accountability to a previously opaque and irresponsible Township Hall. More importantly, The Reformers comprised a majority of that 5-member Board and started regularly criticizing and out-voting the Morask/Jones minority.

That proved to be a rude awakening for Morask and Jones because, as best as we can tell, they never were on the losing side of any Township Board vote during their respective tenures of 17 years (Morask) and 5 years (Jones). But the most jarring wake-up call for them may have come when The Reformers refused to certify Moylan-Krey’s Non-Assessor position as requiring at least 1000 hours/year of her services, the bare minimum requirement to entitle her to one of those sweetheart public pensions.

Although Morask and Moylan-Krey got The Reformers’ non-certification overturned by a kinky secret appeal to the state pension fund’s retiring general counsel (which you can read about in our February 13, 2018 post), Carrabotta, McKenzie and Sweeney finally found out about it and are now in the process of attempting to reinstate the non-certification.

But that non-certification vote and other 3-2 votes by The Reformers made destroying their majority Job One for the RINOs. And it’s against that backdrop that, as the curtain rises on Act I of “Assgate,” we find Jones – reportedly on the boneheaded (and arguably conflict-of-interest) advice of Township attorney Keri-Lynn Krafthefer – stupidly inviting Carrabotta to a “private” one-on-one discussion during the “bill pay” portion of the May 22, 2018, Board meeting.

During that private meeting Jones accused Carrabotta of brushing/touching her “butt” and put him on notice that she would not tolerate further instances of such touching.

As we see it, at that point Carrabotta had four reasonable options.

1. He could have admitted it (assuming it were true) privately to Jones, apologized, and asked for Jones’ forgiveness while promising not to do it again;

2. He could have admitted it (assuming it were true) publicly, apologized to Jones and the assembled multitude, and asked for forgiveness while promising not to do it again;

3. He could have denied it to Jones privately (assuming it were not true) and just let the matter drop; or

4. He could have come out of that private meeting with Jones and (assuming her accusations were not true): (a) identified for the record, with the videotape running, the specific conduct of which Jones had just accused him; (b) categorically denied those charges; and (c) challenged Jones to file whatever claims she believes she has with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”), or the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) for investigation.

But apparently that was asking too much of Carrabotta, Jones, and the rest of the “Assgate” cast.

Using a poker metaphor, Carrabotta “saw” Jones’ stupidity (of holding a one-on-one “private” meeting with her alleged harasser) with stupidity of his own: He emerged from that private meeting and stupidly demanded an immediate closed session discussion of a potential “discipline” matter, even though it’s unclear whether Jones’ accusations could even support a closed session under the Illinois Open Meetings Act (“IOMA”).

Carrabotta then “raised” Jones with a second stupidity of his own making: Once they got into closed session he reportedly requested a formal investigation – a request that at least a majority of the trustees stupidly approved, perhaps also in violation of IOMA. And McKenzie and Sweeney unfortunately appear to have chosen to indulge both Carrabotta’s wrongheaded closed session request and his wrongheaded request for the investigation.

Not to be outdone by the stupidity of the Township’s elected officials, however, Attorney Krafthefer stupidly advised Jones to file the formal complaint against her fellow Trustee – which apparently was necessary to initiate an investigation – even though Jones later told investigators she “didn’t really want to.”

That’s right, folks: The Township’s attorney compounded her initial arguably conflict-of-interest personal legal advice to Trustee Jones (to hold a private meeting with Trustee Carrabotta) by giving Jones more personal conflict-of-interest legal advice, this time to file a Formal Complaint against Carrabotta which, just coincidentally, was likely to generate some nifty investigation fees for Krafthefer’s law firm, Ancel Glink.

The curtain closes on Act 1 with Jones – who could have let the matter drop then and there, and might well have done so were it not for Krafthefer’s advice – submitting the Formal Complaint against Carrabotta.

In our next post we will present Act 2 of “Assgate.”

To read or post comments, click on title.

Park District Needn’t Be In A Pickle Over Pickleball

09.19.18

An article in this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Pickleball could replace tennis courts at Park Ridge park,” Sept. 17) caught our attention, if only because the existence of something with a name as silly as “pickleball” deserved a bit of investigation.

To save you readers the trouble: Pickleball has nothing to do with pickles. You don’t eat them while playing. You don’t throw them. You don’t hit them. You don’t even tickle them.

Instead, it’s a game played with a wiffle ball, a paddle and a modified tennis net, on a badminton-sized court.

But if certain folks have their way, the four tennis courts that have been at Woodland Park for decades will be replaced by six to eight pickleball courts, assuming a big chunk of the cost is picked up by a grant from our semi-bankrupt State of Illinois.

The push for pickleball courts appears to be led by…wait for it…the Park Ridge Pickleball Club, whose 60 members reportedly overcrowd the single pickleball court in Park Ridge (wherever it’s hiding), forcing them to drive to Northfield, Wheeling and even Hoffman Estates for their pickle fix.

The removal of the Woodland tennis courts is being vigorously opposed by members of the Park Ridge Women’s Tennis Association and other local tennis players, rumored to number in the hundreds if not thousands.

The editor of this blog served on the Park Board for eight years (1997-2005), during which time the demand for tennis court time was always high. During his tenure no courts were removed, and lights were added to the courts at Hinkley Park to enable after-dark play. Based purely on admittedly anecdotal, drive-by observations, the District’s 21 outdoor courts still get plenty of use.

So rather than rip out the four tennis courts at Woodland and replace them with pickleball courts, we’ve got a better idea: Put the pickleball courts at that newest jewel in the Park District’s crown, Prospect Park, along with a couple of paddle tennis courts.

After all, the District pulled a bait-and-switch on the taxpayers when it promised them, before the April 2013 Prospect Park $13 million referendum, that the new facility would include at least two paddle tennis courts and a warming shelter. The District reneged on that promise shortly after the referendum passed once it became clear in late 2014 that the District had seriously under-budgeted the Prospect Park project and was going to fall significantly short of cash if it built all of the features it promised in order to win the taxpayers’ votes.

We suspect Supt. Ken “Snow Job” Wallace and his 7 Board Dwarfs over at School District 207 are employing a similarly crass political tactic with their  $195 million ($340 million, all-in) “trust us to replace what we intentionally neglected to maintain and/or repair over the past several years.”

But we digress.

The District – and especially current Board president Mel Thillens and member Jim O’Brien, the only two current Board members who were also on the Board for the Prospect Park paddle tennis bait-and-switch – might be able to redeem some of its credibility by finally building the paddle tennis courts and warming house as originally promised, while also adding four pickleball courts.

We would like to think that such a plan would get a ringing endorsement from economic and social class warriors like Mary Wynn Ryan, Kathy (Panattoni) Meade, Dena Lucy and Ashley Hawkes – given that the only paddle tennis courts in Park Ridge are at the Park Ridge Country Club and not generally available to non-members.

They could bill their support of the paddle tennis courts as striking a blow for all of Park Ridge’s commoners and groundlings who can’t afford a PRCC membership.

And also for our town’s tiny and oppressed pickleballer minority.

What a great dill it could be!

To read or post comments, click on title.

The 100s Of Millions Of Dollars Question: Renovated Schools Or Flood Remediation?

09.14.18

Readers of this blog know that we have crossed swords with former 6th Ward alderman/former Park Board member Mary Wynn Ryan on numerous occasions. Ms. Ryan and this blog’s editor rarely see eye-to-eye on local – as well as state and national – governmental and political issues.

And that’s okay: A thriving marketplace of ideas needs competing views, not concurring ones.

So consider today one of those rare occasions when this blog acknowledges the merit of a point raised by Ms. Ryan in a couple of comments she made to a post on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group FB page, in which she suggests that the Park Ridge City Council and the Maine Township School District 207 Board may have reached some sort of accommodation to give the latter first crack at Park Ridge taxpayers’ wallets.

Ms. Ryan is a battle-tested class (and race, and gender, etc.) warrior skilled in the art of identity politics, which explains her analogy of Park Ridge residents to “poor folk, choosing between heat, rent, groceries and medicine” – except that we “poor folk” live in $385,000 (median value, per Zillow) residences; and our choices are between $200-350 million to address D-207’s decades of neglect of its physical infrastructure, or $106+ million to address the City’s decades of neglect of its sewer system.

Ms. Ryan’s analogy is not an apples-to-apples one, however, because the $200-350 million cost of D-207 projects will be spread over a much larger taxing district than the City’s $106+ million of flood remediation projects.

Whether that difference in taxing districts will result in Park Ridge residents paying more for the D-207 projects or more for the City’s projects is unclear to us. Park Ridge generates much higher residential RE tax revenues than does Des Plaines ($245,000 median, per Zillow), Morton Grove ($301,000 median) and Niles ($276,000 median). Nevertheless, we understand that those other communities generate significantly higher commercial RE tax revenues than does Park Ridge.

Not surprisingly, those intra-District residential value differences are not highlighted in the pro-referendum propaganda created by those public relations professionals that Supt. Ken “Snow-Job” Wallace and his 7 D-207 Board Dwarfs hired back in January – at over $115,000 of taxpayer money – to run a pro-referendum political campaign masquerading as “community engagement,” which we wrote about in our 08.24.2018 and 08.31.2018 posts. Snow Job, the Dwarfs and their p.r. pros know that reminding Park Ridge homeowners about how much more they will be paying than their counterparts in neighboring D-207 communities “wouldn’t be prudent.”

But is this really about a choice between neglected schools or neglected sewers?

We think that depends, in no small part, on who the voters are.

Those of us who live in Park Ridge know that 100% of the money spent on local flood remediation would directly benefit Park Ridge residents. But because the D-207 projects will require allocating referendum funding to each of the District’s three high schools – the exact percentages of which we don’t know because Snow Job and the 7 Dwarfs apparently don’t want to tell us – it’s very possible that no more than 1/3 of the new referendum taxes contributed by Park Ridge taxpayers will directly benefit Park Ridge residents.

On the other hand, those Park Ridge residents who live in areas where flooding is not a regular or substantial problem, and/or who currently have kids in D-207 schools or have kids who will be attending those schools in the future, might prefer paying extra taxes for school improvements instead of flooding.

One way to find out whether Park Ridge taxpayers are willing to pay enough extra taxes to remedy both neglected schools and neglected sewers – or to find out whether those taxpayers prefer one of those sets of projects over the other – would be to have both referendums on the same ballot.

But because the City dragged its feet for months on making decisions about what to do with those 8 projects identified in the December 2017 study by the City’s long-time flooding consultant, Burke Engineering – or because, as Ms. Ryan suggests, the City had some understanding with D-207 about not pursuing a flooding referendum that might compete with the schools referendum – the City had no flooding remediation referendum question ready for placement on this November’s ballot.

That deprived Park Ridge taxpayers of a direct choice, this year, between neglected schools and neglected sewers – assuming, for the sake of this argument, that they aren’t willing to pay for both sets of projects.

So the only way for Park Ridge taxpayers to regain such a choice would be if: (a) the D-207 referendum loses in November; (b) D-207 comes back to the taxpayers with the same referendum question, or its smaller Plan B referendum question, on the April 2019 ballot; and (c) the City decides to respect its taxpayers and give them a vote on the whole $106+ million Burke enchillada by putting a funding referendum question on the April 2019 ballot.

Does the City Council have any desire to do all 8 of those flood remediation projects, and to do them over the next 5-10 years? Or is it fine with doing them over 20-40 years as funding from the Storm Water Utility trickles in?

If either of those two possibilities is the case, it’s way past time the Council said so – in public and in no uncertain terms.

Because even if the D-207 referendum fails in November and Snow Job and the 7 Dwarfs respond with another referendum in April 2019, if Ms. Ryan’s suspicions are correct, the Council will continue to wink-and-nod itself silly over these flood remediation projects rather than go for the gold, literally and figuratively, with its own referendum question this coming April.

But first things first.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Why Have City’s Flood Remediation Plans Stagnated?

09.10.18

Does the City of Park Ridge really care about dealing meaningfully with its flooding problems?

We’re beginning to have our doubts.

Last October we published a post about what was then the “new” Christopher B. Burke Engineering comprehensive flood remediation plan. It was designed to provide protection against those 100-year floods that we seem to get at least once or twice a year.

Burke published a more comprehensive version of that plan in December 2017. The price tag was $106 million for eight (8) “prioritized” areas, not counting the $10 Million or so of debt service expense if 20-year bonds were issued to finance the project. Part of that plan included a Storm Water Utility (“SWU”) fee – to be calculated by each property’s size and amount of rain-impervious surface area (e.g., the house’s footprint, concrete patios and concrete driveways) – that Burke suggested be set at $11 per Equivalent Residential Unit (“ERU”).

In that October post we encouraged the City Council to determine taxpayer support for the Burke plan by putting a $100 Million-plus bond issue to referendum on either the March 2018 or November 2018 ballot. And we voiced our concern that the Council – or at least those aldermen whose terms will be expiring next May – might choose to play “Springfield-style politics” and delay such a referendum (and any controversy that it might cause) until AFTER the April 2019 election.

Since then, what has the Council done to advance those prioritized projects or to give the taxpayers a referendum vote on a bond issue and/or the SRU?

As best as we can tell, nothing. Nada. Niente. Τίποτα. Nichts. Ничего. Zip.

Even though the Burke study provided a map that showed how approximately one-half of Park Ridge was “at risk” of sewer back-up from storms as small as a “1-year event (1.2” rain in 1 hour duration)” if residents don’t install their own on-site devices (like check valves and/or overhead sewers), it appears that the Council has been fiddling for the past year while Park Ridge has continued to flood from both sewer back-up and overland water.

Why the delay?

We don’t know. But we have to wonder if former 6th Ward ald. Mary Wynn Ryan might be onto something with her suggestion, in a couple of comments on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group FB page, that there’s a “gentleman’s agreement with the school district [207] not to put a competing ‘ask’ on the ballot in Nov. or April.” She goes on to “suspect a sewer referendum will not be offered while the [D-207] school referendum is in play,” analogizing Park Ridge voters being given a choice between school renovations and flood remediation to “poor folk, choosing between [sic] heat, rent, groceries and medicine.”

Ryan is an unabashed fan of big government and unrestrained tax/borrow/spending who views referendums the way most people view root canal surgery: To be avoided at all costs unless absolutely necessary. While on the Park Ridge Park District Board in December 2012 she helped engineer the District’s $7 million non-referendum bond issue for the second-rate Centennial water park so that there would be no water park referendum competing for the taxpayers’ votes with the District’s $13 million bond issue referendum for the Prospect Park project on the April 2013 ballot.

So if there’s some kind of “deal” by the City  and D-207 to let the latter get first crack at the taxpayers’ pocketbooks, she might be someone likely to know about it.

Although we can find no evidence of any overt “deal,” that doesn’t preclude an informal wink-and-nod understanding between various aldermen and their corresponding D-207 Board members. And that kind of understanding could explain why the Council has done nothing during the past year to put the Burke priority projects to a referendum vote, or to adopt the proposed $11 per ERU or some other rate.

Even all that Labor Day weekend flooding – along with articles in last week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Talks planned on stormwater utility fee, future capital projects following Labor Day flooding in Park Ridge,” Sept. 5) and Park Ridge Journal (“Park Ridge Hit Hard By Storms,” Sept. 5), and a rash of social media postings about the City’s inaction on flood control – appears to have done nothing more than motivate Ald. Marc Mazzuca (6th) to schedule a discussion of funding projects solely with SWU fees at the Council’s September 24 meeting.

Why is all of this disingenuous and/or just plain screwed up?

How about because Burke’s proposed $11 per Equivalent Residential Unit (“ERU”) is projected to yield a mere $2.4 million of revenue annually. That’s not nearly enough to get those 8 identified projects done on anything more than a snail’s pace timetable.

Are all you folks whose basements flooded on Labor Day, or will flood during the next big rain or the next one after that, willing to wait until 2058 for just those 8 priority flood control projects to be completed through funding with SWU fees?

With the November 2018 ballot referendum deadline already blown because the Council members sat with their thumbs up their kazoos for the past year, the next opportunity the City will have to get objectively-measurable taxpayer support for a $100 million-plus bond issue via referendum will be April 2019, when Alds. Moran (1st), Wilkening (3rd), Melidosian (5th) and Joyce (7th) presumably will be running to retain their seats around The Horseshoe.

And if we’re right about D-207’s master plan of using the November 2018 referendum as a type of stalking horse for a smaller, gentler Plan B referendum question on the lower-turnout, easier-to-win April 2019 ballot, the Council might very well let D-207 have another unchallenged shot at the taxpayers if its November boondoggle fails.

Will the Council respect the taxpayers enough to put a $100 million-plus anti-flooding funding referendum on the April 2019 ballot so those 8 projects might get done within the next decade instead of the next four decades? That would appear to be a no-lose proposition given that, even if that referendum were to fail, the Council could go forward with its current 40-year SWU-funded plan.

Or will the Council continue to kick the flooding can farther down the road, either to give D-207’s bigger bonding referendum questions first dibs on the taxpayers’ pocketbooks, or because it just doesn’t care that much about flooding…but isn’t willing to say so?

To read or post comments, click on title.

D-207’s “Snow-Job” Wallace And His 7 Dwarfs Stack Deck Against Taxpayers

08.31.18

In our previous post we discussed how District 207 Supt. Ken “Snow-Job” Wallace and his 7 Dwarfs – Board members Aurora Austriaco, Paula Bessler, Teri Collins, Linda Coyle, Jin Lee, Carla Owen and Sean Sullivan – committed the District to spending $115,000 (or more) of our tax dollars on the public relations services of bond underwriter George K. Baum & Company (“Baum”), public relations pollster Public Opinion Strategies (“POS”) and focus group facilitator/manipulator Minding Your Business (“MYB”) to bamboozle us into approving a $135 million bond issue referendum in April 2019.

The tactics of those professional contract propagandists?

  1. Have the 7 Dwarfs create a loosey-goosey 40 to 65 member Citizen Task Force advisory group of alleged District residents “with varying viewpoints from across the district” – the backgrounds and actual “viewpoints” of whom D-207 claims not to know – and call it “community engagement” so that gullible residents won’t realize that the Task Force is nothing but a propaganda tool.
  2. Hold four meetings of those Task Force members – while failing to record the attendance (or lack thereof) – so that MYB could facilitate/manipulate them into recommending a $241 million infrastructure project funded by $195 million of bonded debt that would end up costing D-207 taxpayers almost $300 million to repay.
  3. Come up with a “Plan B” that requires only $135 million of bonded debt – and will cost only $200+ million to repay – as the kinder, gentler plan in case the $195/$300 million “Plan A” is rejected by the taxpayers.
  4. Have POS run a survey of slanted, factually-insufficient questions directed to 300 alleged District residents – because those alleged residents also have not been identified by Snow-Job and the 7 Dwarfs – that shows “strong” support for the $195 million referendum but support “bordering on overwhelming” for the $135 million referendum.
  5. Hold several community “reach out” sessions, ostensibly to showcase the infrastructure project’s features but, in reality, to identify and recruit likely supporters to staff a pro-referendum citizens political campaign (a la D-64’s “Yes/Yes” new Emerson campaign in 1997, and its “Strong Schools” funding campaign in 2007).
  6. Have the Dwarfs hire a high-priced new Director of Communications, Brett Clark, as the District’s in-house propagandist to help the outside hired-gun consultants bamboozle and/or stampede the taxpayers into voting for the referendum. Clark remains a “consultant” to the Consortium for Educational Change, a cabal of school administrators, school board members and teacher unions seemingly created and operated for the benefit of those special interests and to the detriment of the taxpayers.
  7. Have the Dwarfs put the $195 million bond issue referendum on the November 2018 ballot so it can be used to test the interest-group targeting and messaging of Baum, POS and MYB – safe in the knowledge that, even if the $195 million referendum loses in November, they have five months to modify and refine that targeting and messaging into a winning campaign for the “Plan B” $135 million bond referendum in the lower-turnout/easier-to-win April 2019 election.
  8. Have the Dwarfs approve a series of 15 dog-and-pony-show “school tours” of the three high schools (as described in the August 25, 2018 Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article, “Maine Township District 207 to host school tours leading up to November bond referendum”) that will likely highlight all the problems and “dangers” lurking in the existing buildings, while showcasing the shiny drawings of the planned improvements.

Meanwhile, whether orchestrated by the propagandists or just spontaneous silliness, several outspoken residents have started their own drumbeat for the project, primarily in comments on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group FB page.

One of the more vocal is Kelly Przekota, perhaps because her husband works at Maine East. She claims that the Maine Twp. high schools “are falling down faster than London Bridge”; and that she had to buy her husband a plastic bin with latches to protect his coat and laptop case from…wait for it…the cockroaches.

Not to be left out of any public silliness is Park Ridge’s freeloader queen, Kathy (Panattoni) Meade, who used to run that FB page and is now warning its readers that parents should purchase gas masks for their kids who use the Maine South pool because of chlorine gas buildup.

But it was left to Ashley Hawkes to summarize the various gripes about what “our” high school kids need: “A roof that doesn’t leak. A pool that doesn’t poison. A cafeteria that can fit the class sizes. A building free of roaches. Nothing fancy.”

We agree.

And if we really don’t have those, then “Snow-Job” Wallace deserves to be fired; and the current 7 Dwarfs and their predecessor Dwarfs over the past decade or so deserve to be horse-whipped, figuratively speaking, for ignoring basic maintenance, repairs, renovations and improvements – presumably so that they could build up the $45 million slush fund that they now want to use as a kind of down-payment to go with the hundred million dollars plus of bonded debt for their new grand plan.

As for all those cockroaches, we don’t need a $100 million+ bond issue: A call to Orkin will do.

To read or post comments, click on title.

D-207’s Referendum “Strategy” Uses Tax Dollars To Bamboozle Taxpayers

08.24.18

Not all that many years ago, when one of our local governmental bodies decided it needed to raise or borrow a big chunk of money for some facility or project, its governing officials would commission architects and engineers to design and cost-out the project. Then the officials would vote to put a referendum question on the ballot.

Once that was done, those public officials would print up a couple versions of inexpensive “information sheets” that were relatively neutral and reasonably truthful, run a couple/three/four “public information” sessions” based on that same information, and then step back and let the voters decide.

That’s because something called the Election Interference Prohibition Act, 10 ILCS 5/9-25.1, provides:

“No public funds shall be used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposition…[but] shall not prohibit the use of public funds for dissemination of factual information relative to any proposition appearing on an election ballot….”

Not surprisingly, the Maine Township High School District 207 superintendent and Board members – not unlike the politicians who run other local governmental bodies in this “State of Corruption” – have figured what they believe to be a way around that ban: Spend public funds on data generation, polling and messaging under the guise of “community engagement” that can later be used by private citizens to campaign for the referendum. And, to help get away with such deceit, they make sure to lock in contracts to spend that money months before the referendum question is even approved for the ballot.

That’s what Supt. Ken Wallace and his accomplices on the D-207 Board did back at the January 8, 2018, meeting when a three-member majority du jour of Paula Bessler, Jin Lee and Carla Owen voted to approve three contracts for what they vaguely described as – SURPRISE! – “community engagement” services. Only Board member Sean Sullivan voted against it (Yes, that Sean Sullivan; and we’re as shocked as you are!), while members Aurora Austriaco, Teri Collins and Linda Coyle were conveniently MIA.

Because the D-207 Board – unlike the City, the Library, the Park District and even Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 – doesn’t publish its meeting packets, taxpayers had no details of these expenditures in advance of the meeting.

But if you watch Part I of the meeting video, from the 28:35 mark to the 30:18 mark, you will see and hear no meaningful discussion of the reasons for, or merits of, those contracts. Even dissenter Sullivan gave no reasons for his “no” vote, raising doubts about the reasons for, and the legitimacy of, his vote.

According to Item 9A of the minutes of that meeting, however, George K. Baum & Company (“Baum”) got the lion’s share of these public dollars, a $75,000 fee, presumably because a “privately held investment banking firm focused on municipal finance” has the most to gain from a $195 million bond issue. The other two recipients of what appears to have been a package deal were Public Opinion Strategies (“POS,” appropriately enough), hired to perform “Phone Surveys” for $19,500 (see Item 9B of the minutes); and something called Minding Your Business, which was hired to be a “Citizen Task Force Meeting Facilitator” (meaning “manipulator”) at a fee not to exceed $20,000 (see Item 9C of the minutes).

Those three contracts total a shade under $115,000, not counting the out-of-pocket and travel expenses the District agreed to pay Baum, per Paragraph 2 of Exhibit A to Baum’s “Professional Services Agreement”

Not surprisingly, Wallace et al. issued no press releases hailing those contracts and services – which may explain why we can’t find even one newspaper article about them by our Pulitzer Prize winning local reporters. Wallace and the Board obviously didn’t want taxpayers realizing that their tax dollars are being used to buy high-line professionals and a blueprint for a political campaign to win the District’s mega-bucks/mega-debt referendum.

Interestingly enough, Paragraph 1 D of Exhibit A to that Baum agreement contains the following language:

It is expressly understood and agreed that this Agreement does not intend, and is not under any circumstances to be construed as requiring [Baum] to perform or provide any services to or on behalf of [D-207] which may constitute advocacy for or against any future ballot measure campaign.

Why is that language included? Because Baum wants plausible deniability of any accusations – such as this blog’s – that Baum’s “community engagement” efforts are just front-loaded political research designed to give disingenuous public officials – “Hello, Ken Wallace and you D-207 Board members!” – a pre-packaged referendum-related political strategy and campaign initiatives that they can share with whatever group(s) of referendum supporters form up, or are already locked and loaded, thereby end-running (arguably) the Election Interference Prohibition Act.

Want proof?

Let’s start with the 37-page POS “Feasibility of a Ballot Measure” Survey of a whopping 300 likely voters conducted May 19-22, 2018” – two months before the Board voted to go to referendum in November – which can be found on the District’s website and, therefore, is readily accessible to the strongest referendum supporters that POS identifies, at Pages 5-11 of that Survey, as being: “Democrats,” “Independents,” “younger voters,” “women” and “parents.”

Besides targeting the referendum’s strongest supporters, the POS survey also polled what messages and arguments worked best, and worst – the results of which can be seen at Pages 27-35.

But the true “Bottom Line” can be found at Page 37 of the Survey, which calls support for the $195 million bond deal “strong” but labels support for the $135 million deal as “bordering on overwhelming” with, “[n]ot surprisingly, Democrats driv[ing] the support of both funding options.”

In other words, the D-207 Board’s sub rosa strategy that we hinted at in our previous post is to use the $195 million November, high-turnout referendum as basically a stalking horse for a $135 million April 2019, easier-to-win, low-turnout referendum.

That professional strategy cost us taxpayers $115,000, compliments of a dishonest Superintendent and an equally dishonest, or just mindlessly-complicit, D-207 Board that views us taxpayers as clueless dupes to be manipulated into voting for what appears to be the biggest borrowing in District history – in order to make up for almost a decade of Wallace’s (and several flights of Board members’) neglect of the District’s infrastructure.

And compliments of a local press that remains in a coma when it comes to reporting on such dishonesty and mopery.

To read or post comments, click on title.

“Good News” From D-207? Yes…But, Then Again, Maybe Not

08.13.18

For the first time in a long while we have good news coming out of Maine Township High School District 207.

At last Monday (08.06.2018) night’s meeting, the D-207 School Board voted to place a referendum question on the November 6 ballot seeking voter approval of the District’s issuing $195 million of bonds – that will cost D-207 taxpayers $300 million to repay – to help fund the District’s $241 million facility improvement plan.

The approved referendum language:

Shall the Board of Education of Maine Township High School District Number 207, Cook County, Illinois, improve the sites of, build and equip additions to and alter, repair and equip existing buildings, including, without limitation, constructing security improvements, increasing accessibility to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, replacing electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems, renovating classrooms and labs, improving the Library Media Center and renovating special education spaces, and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $195,000,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?

By calling it “good news” we’re not saying such a mega-project is necessary or reasonable. As we’ve pointed out in our 05.07.2018 post and our 05.08.2018 post, Supt. Ken Wallace and every member of the D-207 Board since Wallace became superintendent in 2009 should be figuratively horse-whipped for letting the schools fall into the state of disrepair Wallace now claims they need $241 million to remedy.

That kind of mismanagement is, in a word, inexcusable. And as we’ve previously pointed out, that’s squarely on Wallace and Sean Sullivan, the only Board member whose tenure matches Wallace’s stint in the big chair.

If Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability (“H.I.T.A.”) meant anything to Wallace and all the current and past D-207 Board members (save for, perhaps, semi-newbies Aurora Austriaco and Linda Coyle) who spent the past 9 years neglecting the maintenance, repair and replacement of the infrastructure of the District’s three high schools, Wallace would tender his resignation; and members Carla Owen, Terry Collins, Paula Bessler, Jin Lee and Sean Sullivan would perp-walk out the door after him.

But to Wallace, et al. H.I.T.A. is a foreign language – and apparently more difficult to learn than Mandarin Chinese. Their preferred language is prevarication, often spoken with a shameless dialect. Which is why the feckless Board members will sigh and wring their hands while letting Wallace off the hook yet again for his continuing mediocrity.

In the face of that kind of unaccountability, we have to take our “good news” wherever we can find it.

In this case, that’s a referendum on this November’s ballot – if only because turnouts for November elections regularly are several thousand voters higher than for our local elections in April. And that’s just in the City of Park Ridge: It might mean as much as a ten thousand vote difference, or even higher, given the much larger D-207 boundaries.

More voters exercising their franchise always makes for better citizenship than a smaller turnout, no matter what the outcome. That’s because it’s well understood that the smaller the turnout, the easier it is for special interests to manipulate the process. Which is why the public officials seeking to pass a referendum always prefer an April election if they can finagle it.

Hence our bet that the D-207 Board would drag its heels until after the August 20 deadline for putting their referendum question on the November ballot – just like the Park Ridge Park District Board appears to be doing with a referendum on the uber-foolish purchase of the Shibley Oaks property.

Which is why the D-207 Board surprised us with its 6-1 vote to go to a November referendum – with the only dissent coming from, even more surprisingly, Sullivan.

Given Sullivan’s virtually spotless record of wrong-headed voting, his dissenting vote caused us to start wondering whether there might be something anti-H.I.T.A. about the Board’s November referendum decision that we might be missing.

So we checked out the 08.06.2018 meeting video and attempted to listen to Sullivan’s explanation of his dissent, which starts at the 43:40 mark and ends at the 45:50 mark. That was more difficult than one would expect because of a poor sound system, compounded by noise from what sounds like the air conditioning and the clacking of a few computer keyboards that rendered some of what he said inaudible.

As best as we can tell, however, Sullivan’s main beef with the November referendum question is that the cost is too high.

We can’t recall when, if ever, Sullivan balked at the high cost of anything at D-207, which is one of the oddities about this situation that suddenly causes us to suspect there may be another sub rosa strategy at play here, one that is anti-H.I.T.A. and which we’ll write about in our next post.

Meanwhile, we’ll leave you with a few hints about that other anti-H.I.T.A. strategy: (a) the D-207 Board already has a back-up, $135 million “Plan B” in the can; (b) the Board recently hired Brett Clark as its co-propaganda minister to work with current propagandist Dave Beery, reportedly until the latter retires in December; and (c) the possibility that Wallace and/or the D-207 Board clandestinely engaged a prominent public opinion research firm to drive this referendum.

All of which may just go to show how even “good news” can turn bad in the hands of Wallace and this D-207 Board.

To read or post comments, click on title.