Public Watchdog.org

IL AG Spanks Maine Twp.’s Morask, Jones And Gialamas

05.25.18

It wasn’t until January 24 of this year that we published our first-ever post about Maine Township government. Since then, we’ve published several more, on 02.08.2018, 02.13.2018, 04.02.2018, and on 04.24.2018.

Why did we ignore this backwater unit of local government for so long? Because the area it serves is primarily outside Park Ridge, the unofficial boundary of this blog’s focus. And because its budget is barely more than the Park Ridge Library’s.

But when the voters elected a bi-partisan group of Trustees – Dave Carrabotta (R), Claire McKenzie (D) and Susan Sweeney (R), whom we have labeled “The Reformers” – our curiosity overwhelmed our common sense. Soon we found ourselves ensnared by the institutionalized bad government administered by Supervisor Laura Morask and her puppet-Trustee Kim Jones; the non-Assessor Susan Moylan-Krey; Clerk Peter Gialamas, Road (& Track) Superintendent Wally Kazmierczak and various others drawing public paychecks from a unit of government time forgot.

This post is about a recent decision by the Public Access Bureau of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office that Morask, Jones and Gialamas “did not follow the proper procedure for approving the destruction of a closed session verbatim recording during its November 28, 2017 meeting.”

The Cliff’s Notes version of this goat rodeo is that on November 28, 2017 Morask – rarely right but never in doubt – insisted that The Reformers must abstain from the vote on destroying the verbatim audio recording of the March 22, 2016 closed session meeting because they weren’t trustees back in March 2016; and that Gialamas got to vote because he (along with Morask and Jones) was a trustee back then.

The Reformers had been trustees for only six months at that point and clearly weren’t yet ready for prime time: Even though Carrabotta and McKenzie are attorneys, and Sweeney has been active in local government for quite a while, they meekly acceded to Morask’s demand that they abstain.

Meanwhile, Gialamas – who should have known better and probably did – went along with the charade and became the ostensible third vote in what purported to be the majority of Trustees needed to authorize the destruction of the verbatim recording of those March 22, 2016 closed-session proceedings.

The Attorney General’s Office, however, disagreed.

“Accordingly, this office concludes that the Board violated OMA by destroying the recording without three of the five Board members affirmatively voting to approve the motion to authorize the destruction of the recording.”

Because the recording already had been destroyed, however, whatever evidence of dreaming or scheming it may have contained has been lost to the ages.

Since that time, The Reformers appear to have raised their games sufficiently to challenge Morask’s attempts at iron-fisted rule. Hopefully they have learned from this episode – and from Morask’s and Moylan-Krey’s secret appeal of The Reformers’ refusal to certify that the non-Assessor position requires the 1,000 hours of work annually to qualify it for a public pension – to just say “No!” to everything Morask says or proposes, at least until they can independently verify that it’s true and accurate.

And speaking of truth and accuracy, this post would not be complete without our giving a giant PublicWatchdog bark-out to the real hero of this situation: Kirk Allen, one (along with John Kraft) of the Edgar County Watchdogs who submitted the Request for Review of Morask’s/Jones’/Gialamas’ IOMA violation to the Illinois AG’s office.

Even though they are based down in Edgar County (located along the Indiana border south of Danville IL and just west of Terre Haute IN), those two retirees appear to be kicking butt and taking names well beyond their county’s borders, including investigating – along with OpenTheBooks.com’s Adam Andrzejewski – the since-discredited and fired College of DuPage president Robert Breuder; and looking into the mismanagement of the Algonquin Township Road District.

Changing Illinois’ culture of mismanagement, waste and corruption isn’t going to happen overnight, nor in a sweeping broad-brush manner. It will take a lot of people chipping away at the local level, electing and appointing officials committed to H.I.T.A. (Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability) and rejecting those who are not.

But it can be done.

And the Edgar County Watchdogs just showed Morask, Jones and Gialamas how.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Park District’s “Green Space” Fund: The Slush Beneath Our Feet?

05.23.18

In our 04.03.2017 post we endorsed the candidacy of Harmony Harrington – along with candidates Jim Janak, Rob Leach and Jim O’Donnell – for election to the Park Ridge Park District Board of Commissioners. One reason for that endorsement was her professed support of referendums “for major capital projects outside [the District’s] current means.”

Since then we have applauded – in our 07.07.2017, 08.16.2017 and 11.07.2017 posts – several of the things she and her colleagues have done, or refused to do, while in office.

So when Ms. Harrington proposes that the Park District create a “Green Space Acquisition Fund” for the tail-wagging-the-dog purpose of buying land for parks should land become available, we have to wonder what the heck she’s thinking – because building up a pool of money for green space acquisition is a bad solution looking for a non-existent problem.

Unfortunately, the most plausible explanation for her off-the-reservation proposal is that she is trying to create a “slush fund” to provide an ongoing “current means” for the District to fund land (i.e., “capital”) purchases without having to get taxpayer approval via referendum. In other words, the slush fund becomes a convenient way to end-run her pro-referendum campaign position.

Harrington’s proposal comes at the same time a bunch of vocal folks are pressuring the District to spend as much as $2.3 million (or maybe less, if one believes there’s a lower appraisal that the District continues to hide from the taxpayers for unknown and/or specious reasons ) to purchase a tiny 3/4 acre parcel of land along Busse Hwy. in a business-zoned district that they call “Shibley Oaks.” They say they want to save the old oak trees on the property and to have their own neighborhood park in which their kids can make snow forts in the winter.

$2.3 million sounds like a boatload of wampum for several old oak trees and snow forts.

Could it be that Harrington’s idea is shameless pandering to that Shibley Oaks constituency? Such a suspicion draws support from a May 8, 2018 article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Park Ridge park commissioner seeks creation of ‘green space’ fund to buy future land”) which reports that Harrington cited the interest in the Shibley Oaks purchase as one indication that residents of Park Ridge desire more green space.

No, Harmony, it indicates nothing more than that, at most, 700+ residents of Park Ridge – out of the Park District’s approximately 24,000 voters and 37,000 residents – were willing to sign a petition asking the District to buy that property using tax dollars confiscated almost entirely from their fellow taxpayers who may or may not want their money spent that way.

As we noted in our post critical of the Park Board’s secret Shibley Oaks discussions, the District doesn’t need a readily available slush fund in order to buy available land, or even land that’s not technically “available”: The District has the right of eminent domain and can acquire any property it wants at its fair market value via condemnation should the owner not want to sell it voluntarily. And the District can tie the exercise of that condemnation power to taxpayer approval via a referendum.

But that’s not as convenient to special interests – like the Shibley Oaks crowd – that disingenuously claim they speak for the majority of residents but who never seem to want to let those taxpayers actually speak for themselves through their referendum votes.

That got us thinking about an alternative to Harrington’s slush fund, at least as it applies to the postage-stamp Shibley Oaks parcel: Let 400 of those 700+ petition signers pony up $5,000 each to purchase that parcel, assuming that the owner would be willing to part with it for $300K less than its $2.3 million list price (We’d bet a crisp new $1 bill that the owner would).

Once The 400 buy Shibley Oaks, they can donate it to the Park District under certain contractual terms and conditions, such as:

(a) The 400 get naming rights to the new park, if they want them;

(b) they get their names on a bronze plaque affixed to a granite marker, if they want it;

(c) they get a priority for things like picnicking, snow fort making, squirrel watching and tree hugging; and

(d) should any of those oaks die or get struck by lightning, they get priority rights to the lumber.

Who knows, maybe there’s a wood-worker dad among The 400 who could produce a collection of “Wonderboy” bats from that lumber, either for the baseball/softball-playing children of The 400 or to sell on e-bay.

And if 700 petition-signers contribute equal shares, the cost per petitioner drops from $5,000 to a bargain-basement $2,860. At that price they could put the contributions on their Mastercards or Visas and earn some travel miles.

That’s all it would take to save the Shibley Oaks.

No slush fund to be squandered by this Board or its successors. No annoying referendum to prove that the 700+ petition signers don’t represent anything close to a majority of taxpayers. No muss, no fuss. Just a bunch of public-spirited citizens putting their own money where their mouths are.

If Frank Capra were alive he just might make a movie about it.

But don’t hold your breath.

To read or post comments, click on title.

D-64 SRO Duties And Responsibilities: When’s A Cop’s Not A Cop?

05.21.18

We apologize for the eleventh-hour nature of this post, but on the agenda for tonight’s meeting of the School Board for Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 (7:00 p.m. at Emerson Middle School) is a discussion of the “Mission Statement” and the “Intergovernmental Agreements” (the “IGA”s) for the proposed School Resource Officer (“SRO”) pilot program.

In classic Queen of Hearts fashion (“Sentence first–verdict afterward.” ), D-64 drafted the IGAs before it had approved (or even drafted?) the Mission Statement on which the IGAs were ostensibly to be based. But for a District overseen by a Board led by Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and administered by Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz, that kind of bass-ackwards approach is one of D-64’s lesser mistakes.

We’ve reviewed the drafts of those documents and have several questions, one of the more important ones of which requires a scenario such as the following: The SRO sees one Lincoln or Emerson student hand another one what looks like a bag of pot (or a handgun, if you prefer) which the recipient immediately places in his/her locker before locking it and walking away.

What can the SRO do?

As we read Paragraph 7 of the D-64/City of Park Ridge IGA, the SRO’s duties are strictly limited to those listed on Exhibit C, which expressly purports to be an “exhaustive” explanation of the SRO’s duties. Among the things it appears the SRO cannot do under Paragraph 7 and Exhibit C, however, are: (1) question either student about what the SRO saw; and (2) ask the locker-holder to open the locker – at least not unless and until the SRO first obtains the school principal’s consent and direction, “absent exigent circumstances.”

Is a bag of pot, or a handgun, sitting in a locked student locker an “exigent circumstance[ ]”? We don’t see that term defined in the IGA, so we assume it would be given its customary and ordinary meaning, which Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines as: “requiring immediate aid or action · exigent circumstances.”

And, taking it one step further, Exhibit C states that “absent exigent circumstances,” conduct such as one student’s transferring pot or a handgun to another who locks it in his /her locker, is not to be considered a “criminal law issue[ ]” but, instead, a “school discipline issue[ ] to be solely handled by School officials.”

Given Supt. Laurie Heinz’s repeated insistence that Lincoln’s and Emerson’s discipline issues are no different than those of schools in other suburban districts (per a 02.22.2018 Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article), we have to wonder just what kind of police-like conduct by the SRO – toward the pot (or the handgun) or toward the students involved with them – would the principals who kow-tow to Heinz consent to or direct.

If one wants to read Exhibit C literally – because, of course, it’s meant to be “exhaustive” in circumscribing what SROs can and cannot do – we see nothing that would authorize the SRO to actually defend students, teachers and administrators from the actions of an active-shooter student.

As if to play directly into Heinz’s “move along, nothing to see here” approach to discipline issues, as well as into Chief Kaminski’s approach to getting an extra officer or two on his Department’s payroll by having D-64’s taxpayers picking up part of the tab, check out the anti-transparency/anti-accountability provision in Exhibit C that requires the SRO to keep “an activity log documenting his/her education, resource and security activities” – BUT which the District will receive only “upon request”; and a summary of which the District “may, at its option,” share with the taxpayers.

Or not.

If this SRO program were totally legit, the SRO’s activity log would be sent to the District and published on the District’s website (with student names, if any, redacted for privacy reasons) on a weekly basis, so that parents of Lincoln and Emerson students, along with the taxpayers who are footing the bill for this seeming boondoggle, would know what the SROs are doing on an almost real-time basis.

But you can bet that kind of transparency and accountability for this half-baked (i.e., four hour/day, 2 day/week) initiative is the absolute last thing either Heinz or Kaminski want, which is why Borrelli and his Board bobbleheads won’t insist upon it; and which is why the District’s attorneys who want to remain in that role will gin-up an excuse on which Borrelli, Heinz and the Bobbleheads can fall back.

Because that’s the way things are done at D-64. And that’s why the serious business of education is taking a back seat to all this faux-security.

To read or post comments, click on title.

D-207’s Building Plan: Con Job Or Incompetent Management? (Part II) (Updated)

05.08.18

In yesterday’s post we questioned whether Maine Township High School District 207’s new District-wide construction project might be the product of an outright dishonest scam-a-rama by Supt. Ken Wallace and the D-207 School Board.

Today we’re going to explore the slightly more benign possibility that Wallace and the Board aren’t scammers and schemers but, instead, merely incompetent mopes who couldn’t manage their way out of a wet paper bag, yet are being entrusted each year with over $145 million of taxpayer money to educate our high school students.

And apparently not doing a very good job of it.

Let’s start with a question: What kind of incompetent leadership and/or management could have neglected the infrastructure of the District’s three high school buildings to the point where so much of it apparently has to be replaced or upgraded?

Or, alternatively: What kind of incompetent leadership and/or management didn’t budget enough money over the past nine (9) years for regular infrastructure maintenance, repair, renovation or replacement so that it all arguably has come due at once?

That inquiry begins with Wallace, who became superintendent in 2009. As superintendent he is basically the District’s CEO, which means that his fingerprints are all over – or should be all over – every inch of mismanagement and neglect that has led to this situation.

Although the District brags in its “Facts” propaganda sheet and its April “Facilities Planning Update” propaganda brochure that “in just the past five years” it has spent “$33.6 million…to address building repairs and upgrades,” that dollar amount clearly hasn’t been close to enough, even as millions of dollars were being socked away into “reserves” (i.e., the D-207 slush fund) in order to reduce the amount of bonded debt the District needs/wants voters to approve.

If Wallace were a competent CEO – and the School Board members tasked with holding him accountable were competent stewards of the taxpayers’ money and the students’ education – he would have been doing more “repairs and upgrades” from the time he became superintendent. And if sufficient funds weren’t available, he would have said so in no uncertain terms…and asked for a funding referendum (or two) to address those problems before they grew to $240.7 million.

But that would have subjected Wallace, his fellow administrators, the School Board members, and the teachers to unwanted scrutiny. So, instead, he and they stuck band-aids on the problems, or neglected them entirely until they have reached today’s pseudo-crisis proportions.

For that, we’ll call him D-207 Taxpayers’ Public Enemy No. 1.

But if Wallace is D-207 Taxpayers’ Public Enemy No. 1, D-207 Taxpayers’ Public Enemy No. 2 must be Board member Sean O’Brien Sullivan, first elected way back in 2007.

From checking Sullivan’s record for the past 11 years we have to conclude that his next good idea for either the education of D-207’s students or the management of the taxpayers’ money will be his first. He has rubber-stamped so many things at D-207 that he must be on his third or fourth ink pad.

Carla Owen and Jin Lee have been on the Board since 2013, so they also must “wear the jacket” for this debacle because they knew, or reasonably should have known, that the $33.6 million of band-aids, rubber bands and paper clips wasn’t nearly enough for the past five years. At the very least they should have asked tough questions and demanded credible answers about maintenance, repairs, renovation and replacement of the District’s infrastructure, but they didn’t. The same goes for Paula Besler and Teri Collins – the former appointed to the Board in April 2014 before being elected in 2015, the latter having been elected in 2015.

Representing the taxpayers is not rocket science so long as the elected official has a functioning brain, a stiff spine, and a sense of public service which is loftier than merely having one’s head patted and tummy rubbed.

Which pretty much might explain why the tenures of Owen, Lee, Besler and Collins have been failures so far.

The only two current Board members who arguably have plausible deniability are Aurora Austriaco and Linda Coyle, both of whom have just completed their first year “honeymoon period” on the Board. With the honeymoon over, however, these two experienced litigators need to start doing a whole lot less rubber-stamping and a whole lot more cross-examining of Wallace and his subordinates on virtually everything they propose.

And as reputed proponents of the late Mayor Dave Schmidt’s H.I.T.A. (“Honesty. Integrity. Transparency. Accountability”) philosophy of government, the time has come for Austriaco and Coyle to demand that D-207 taxpayers get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about everything D-207 – not the cock-eyed propaganda distributed by Wallace, et al. – like Schmidt would have demanded were he still alive and in their shoes.

You’ve got the ability, ladies: Don’t let yourselves get steamrolled by the Kool-Aid drinking rubber-stampers that surround you.

Unfortunately, lost in all this recent brick-and-mortar talk is the greatest failing of Wallace, his fellow administrators, and the School Board members past and present: The decline in the measurable educational achievement of the District’s students, especially those at flagship Maine South.

Wallace and his hucksters continue to bombard us with vacuous edu-babble about “flexible learning spaces that leverage instructional technology, enhance current teaching methods and promote collaboration.” If this were a “Seinfeld” episode, that kind of empty rhetoric would be met with dismissive choruses of “Yada, yada, yada.” And yawns.

According to the latest Niche.com report, “Park Ridge” high schools (meaning Maine South, Maine East and Maine West) ranked 64th, behind communities like Buffalo Grove (5th), Northbrook (7th), Wilmette (12th), Glenview (15th), Western Springs (22nd), Oak Park (32nd), Elmhurst (38th), Evanston (41st), Morton Grove (42nd), Palatine (45th), Arlington Heights (48th), Lincolnwood (51st), Rolling Meadows (52nd), Highland Park (57th), Mount Prospect (59th) and even Niles (61st).

That same Niche.com ranking places Maine South, by itself, as the 48th best public high school in Illinois.

Before anybody breaks out the Dom Perignon (or even the Martinelli Sparkling Cider) over that 48th-place ranking, it might help to know that back in 2009 – when Wallace took over as D-207 superintendent – the Chicago Tribune ranked Maine South as the 12th best high school in the state while the Sun-Times ranked it 13th, something we noted in our 10.30 2009 post

In 2012 (after the Tribune apparently stopped doing the rankings), U.S. News & World Report ranked Maine South as the 29th best public high school in Illinois, which we wrote about in our 04.01.2013 post. But by 2016, that ranking had plunged to 45th, a fact we bemoaned in our 04.22.2016 post. Worse yet, only 40.8% of its seniors were deemed to be “college ready” – based on (a) the percentage of seniors who took at least one AP class, and (b) how well those students performed on the AP tests.

And last year, Maine South was “unranked” by U.S. News & World – with only 44.6% of seniors deemed “college ready.”

Niche.com’s 48th-place ranking of Maine South is further qualified by its reporting that student reading proficiency is only 49% and math proficiency is a dismal-sounding 28%.

What’s happening, Supt. Wallace? What’s happening, School Board members?

Whenever another chapter in the decline and fall of Maine South High School has been published, what have we heard from Wallace and the Board – both the current members and the others who have come and gone since 2009, such as Joann Braam, Eldon Burk, Mary Childers, Eric Lays, Margaret McGrath, Ed Mueller and Donna Pellar?

*Crickets*

Now, we don’t claim these ratings/rankings are gospel, nor are we suggesting they be treated as such. One can probably find flaws in every one of their methodologies. But Wallace and the Board haven’t produced any ratings/rankings that place Maine South among the elite Illinois public high schools, a category that includes many otherwise comparable suburban Chicago communities, many of which have lower school property taxes than D-207’s and Park Ridge-Niles School District 64’s.

Meanwhile, all we’ve heard from the Maine Teachers Association (D-207’s teachers union) is a variation on the theme of: “Our teachers are great, give us more money.” And neither Wallace nor the Board members past and present have had the smarts to demand “Prove it!” Or the spines to say “No!”

Are we being harsh? You’re darn right we are!

But we’re talking about D-207’s plan to spend one-quarter of a BILLION dollars – or, more accurately, ONE-THIRD OF A BILLION dollars when you figure in the estimated $105 million of interest on the $195 million of bonded debt – that will suck up a whopping $300 million tax dollars over the next 20 years, with no significant guaranteed or even objectively-measurable improvement in student performance as an acceptable return on investment (“ROI”).

That’s just about as incompetent as D-207 can get before it crosses the border into con-job territory.

Assuming it’s not there already.

Update 05.10.2018. The 2018 U.S. News & World Reports “Best High Schools” rankings are out and Maine South is once again “unranked.” And although Maine East is ranked 46th, that’s down from last year’s 37th. But, mirabile dictu, Maine West is…wait for it…27th!

If you are flummoxed by those rankings, we encourage you to read our posts of 05.08.2017 and 05.19.2017 in which we discuss the U.S. News ranking system and criteria. They won’t get you all the way to where you should want to be on this issue, but it’s more than you’ll get out of D-207, if history is any guide.

The bottom line, however, appears to be that Maine South is under-performing based on its demographics: 15% minority students, 8% economically disadvantaged. Compare that to Maine East’s 54% minorities and 46% economically disadvantaged, and Maine West’s 53% and 39%.

We can’t wait to hear Supt. Wallace’s or D-207 propagandist Dave Beery’s attempts at explaining these rankings, or how they will try to spin these results to fit nicely into their $240.7 million (really $300 million) “Moving Maine Forward” narrative.

To read or post comments, click on title.

 

D-207’s Building Plan: Con Job Or Incompetent Management? (Part I)

05.07.18

The legendary newspaper publisher and philanthropist Joseph Pulitzer once said: “There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.”

We are reminded of those words every time we read or hear about anything related to Maine Twp. School District 207’s proposed school building renovations and improvements.

For those of you who might not be on the District’s mailing list, or who might have tossed the recent mailings about the proposals in the trash without reading them, the two-page “Facts” sheet can be found HERE; and the six-page “Facilities Planning Update” for April 2018 can be found HERE.

The “Facts” sheet lists a total of 33 bullet-pointed, line-item categories of work to be performed for $240.7 million. The “Facilities Planning Update” is much more comprehensive and, unlike the “Facts” sheet, it identifies the $240.7 million project as “Plan A,” along with a $135 million “Plan B” version. In typical politician/bureaucrat fashion, however, no dollar figures are attached to any of the work identified in either mailing.

That lack of such pricing (i.e., “secrecy”) is the first sign a con job is afoot.

We have to assume that Wallace already has those line-item figures. Otherwise, both Plan A’s and Plan B’s boxcar numbers would have had to have sprung fully-formed from Wallace’s cranium like Athena springing from Zeus’ head.

Barring such mythological feats, those totals must be aggregations of numerous smaller itemized costs already known to Wallace, his administrators, and the D-207 Board. So why aren’t they being shared with the taxpayers?

The answer is simple: Providing line-item costs would enable taxpayers to ask informed, meaningful and difficult questions at the “community meetings” – D-207’s equivalent of time-share condo sales pitches – when what they want is for the taxpayers to chug the Kool-Aid while ooh-ing and ahh-ing with wide-eyed wonderment at the shiny-object plans and renderings.

Providing line-item costs also could create dissension among the three groups of residents serviced by each of the District’s three schools, especially if spending for each of the three schools is not roughly equal. Dissension usually leads to disgruntlement, and disgruntlement usually leads to less support of the plan at the polls.

Another sign that Wallace and the D-207 Board are “on the con” and running a shell game with us taxpayers as their marks is their failure to disclose how much interest will be paid on either the $195 million of bonds for Plan A, or the $135 million of bonds for Plan B. A recent Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article (“Residents hear proposed building changes for Maine South, district-wide referendum plan,” May 3) suggests that Plan A’s $195 million of bonds would cost a whopping $105 million of interest over the expected 20-year term of those bonds, while applying the H-A’s methodology produces roughly $70 million in interest expense for Plan B.

Why would Wallace and the Board want to keep those figures secret?

Because the resultant “macro” $300 million and $205 million totals are a whole lot harder to sell than the “micro” numbers – e.g., how much more in RE taxes will be assessed against median-value homes – Wallace et al. are using to seduce the taxpayers. If “$91.02 per $100,000 of a home’s market value…or about $7.59 per month” sounds a lot like the “for only pennies a day” pitch of certain t.v. infomercial hucksters, you’re starting to catch on to D-207’s game.

We wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Wallace has been watching old Ron Popeil commercials.

Wallace claims the projects are all about “[i]mproving safety and security” through constructing new entrances “to prevent visitors from entering the buildings before being cleared by school personnel.”

As we’ve pointed out in our 11.23.201503.29.2016,  07.21.2017  and 02.21.2018 posts about the folly of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64’s not-really-secure vestibules (with or without SROs), however, unless you run visitors and students alike through metal detectors, any claim to substantially greater “security” is a sham bordering on a fraud. Or, in the spirit of this post, a con job.

Wallace claims another major focus of both Plan A and Plan B is “[r]eplacing outdated plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems.”

That’s politician/bureaucrat-speak for “we’ve neglected those systems for years because we used the money for other stuff.” Other stuff like teacher and administrator raises, and building up that $122 million slush fund (a/k/a, “reserves”) so that Wallace and the Board can draw down a whopping $45.7 million for this project while still keeping those reserves in line with the District’s policy of 50% of the annual operating budget which, most recently, was approximately $145 million.

We will pay a crisp $1 bill to any reader who can find the D-207 Board meeting minutes in which the Board expressly authorized Wallace to build up that slush fund to around 38% above the District’s policy; and for what reason.

How much of the $240.7 million or $180.7 million is going for that neglected infrastructure versus “improvements”? We can’t tell because…wait for it…Wallace and his rubber-stamp Board members haven’t given us those line-item category costs. Keeping those costs secret enables Wallace and the Board to keep the taxpayers in the dark, thereby allowing the District to control the “message” and the debate.

Which for this project, in case you missed it on both the “Facts” and the “Facilities Planning Update,” is: “Moving Maine Forward.”

That begs the question of whether, and in what direction, “Maine” has been moving since Wallace became superintendent in 2009. But “Moving Maine Forward,” even if it is disingenuous, admittedly sounds better than “Shifting Out Of Reverse” or “Overcoming Inertia.” So we’ll give the D-207 public relations folks a “Goebby” (in dishonor of Joseph Goebbels) for their shameless creativity.

This ends the “con job” portion of the discussion. In our next post we’ll address the “incompetent management” portion.

To read or post comments, click on title.

D-64 Doubles Down On Fake Security With Part-Time SROs

04.30.18

Last week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate reported that the Board of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 wants to damn the torpedoes and move full speed ahead on the construction of school building renovations masquerading as “security”; i.e., installing not-really-secured vestibules at Franklin, Carpenter and Field Elementary Schools, and at Emerson Middle School (“District 64 board agrees to speed up planned efforts to amp up security at four schools,” April 26).

The price: The Board and District administrators are hoping less than the $4.5 million estimated by FGM Architects in 2016.

That spending, like previous multi-million dollar spending on similar boondoggles at Lincoln and Washington, will be done without the District having to get taxpayer approval via referendum.

Why?

Because it appears that D-64 may have been overtaxing District taxpayers by millions of dollars over the past several years. Worse yet, it appears that D-64 also has been stealthily borrowing tens of millions of additional dollars in the form of “working cash bonds” and/or “debt certificates” – funding devices beloved by school boards and administrators because they permit millions of dollars of borrowing without taxpayer approval via referendum. We wrote about them in our 04.24.2017 post.

That overtaxing/borrowing has allowed the District to build up an almost $50 million (as of June 2016) slush fund, although the Board and D-64 administrators prefer to call it “reserves” because the latter term sounds so much more benign than the former.

But it’s still a slush fund that is enabling D-64 to get away with doing these half-baked/phony “security” projects without…wait for it…taxpayer approval via referendum.

Can you see the pattern developing here?

Frankly, it’s such masterful (albeit dishonest and cowardly) manipulation that it might qualify as an art form if not for the fact that it fleeces the taxpayers while the educational quality of the schools seemingly continues to decline – and may be contributing to Maine South’s academic decline as well.

Chalk that up to: (a) at least two decades of school boards with majorities of members who haven’t given a rat’s derriere about the taxpayers OR the students’ education, so long as they could keep the Park Ridge Education Association (the “PREA,” a/k/a the teachers union) happy; (b) overpaid administrators happy to spend Other People’s Money (“OPM”) on brick and mortar to distract gullible residents from the schools’ academic underperformance; and (c) financial consultants adept at enriching themselves at the taxpayers’ expense through underwriting, issuing and selling the District’s bonded debt.

And as we’ve noted in several prior posts, the “security” provided by these not-really-secured vestibules is illusory at best, a fraud at worst.

For starters, they will not prevent any student, or anyone appearing to be a student (can you say “Nikolas Cruz”?), from bringing in a semi-automatic weapon and ammo under his/her coat, or in his/her backpack. Nor will they prevent any wacky parent, vendor, or service provider from doing the same.

And once they are inside, who is going to stop them?

The SRO?

Not unless the shooter is considerate enough to plan his/her reign of terror during any of the 8 hours (in the average 35-hour school week) when the SRO will actually be in a building. And then only if the SRO does a better job than the one in Parkland, Florida, did.

Neither the not-really-secured vestibules nor the SRO will prevent a shooter from driving by the playground at recess and spraying AR-15 rounds into the crowd of playing kids; or prevent a shooter from sitting outside the main entrance of a school at day’s end, picking off emerging kids as if they were those little tin bears in a carnival shooting gallery.

But try telling that to the parents of kids at Emerson, Franklin, Carpenter and Field schools now that the District already has blown all that money on the not-really-secured vestibules at Lincoln and Washington; and plans to do the same at Roosevelt this summer.

And try telling that to D-64 Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz, as well as a majority of the pre-May 2017 board and a majority of the current Board.

Not only are Borrelli and Heinz all-in on the vestibules, but they appeared ready to compound that mistake by pushing through the SRO boondoggle at last Monday’s (April 23) meeting, which you can see and hear for yourself starting at the 21:30 mark of the meeting video – until Board member Fred Sanchez and Board vice-president Rick Biagi put the brakes on any such discussion.

Their reason?

The revised SRO Mission Statement (the original of which Sanchez, an attorney, drafted) and the redlined revisions of the proposed SRO Inter-Governmental Agreements between D-64 and the City of Park Ridge, and between D-64 and the Village of Niles were omitted from the Board’s meeting packet posted on the District’s website – allegedly for the benefit of residents wishing to inform themselves in advance of a meeting about what the Board will be up to at that meeting.

Biagi graciously tempered his criticism of that omission by stating that he was “not suggesting anyone did anything nefarious.” But listen to the dissembling of “Who’s The Boss?”, “I’m The Boss!” and Board member “Tilted Kilt Tommy” Sotos about how they should discuss the Mission Statement and the IGAs anyway, and you could draw the conclusion that the omissions – apparently in contravention of prior express directives by the Board to Heinz and Staff – may not have been “nefarious” but they most certainly were intentional.

After about 15 minutes of looking and sounding like kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar, Borrelli, Heinz and Sotos agreed to defer discussion of those documents until the next meeting. Then they attempted to beat a hasty retreat to the next agenda item.

They didn’t quite make it.

Resident Alice Dobrinsky commandeered the podium and started firing rhetorical shots at the Board and Heinz from which neither not-really-secured vestibules nor SROs could have shielded them.

For the record, we voiced some criticisms of Ms. Dobrinsky in our 01.29.2018 post and our 03.05.2018 post, which we stand by. But when someone whom we have criticized or disagreed with gets it right, we have no trouble giving him/her props for it. And Ms. Dobrinsky got this one as right as rain, starting with her first off-camera comments at 38:47 of the video which Borrelli tried to stonewall before realizing the Ms. Dobrinsky was not to be denied.

She pointed out in no-nonsense fashion how the Board and Administration have been consistently insisting that “many parents” support the SRO program, even though the District’s response to her FOIA request revealed that the District had received just one measly e-mail in support of that program. To Borrelli, Heinz and propaganda minister Bernadetter Tramm, “many” and “one” are synonyms.

She then asked two pointed questions about the SRO program: Will the Park Ridge officer assigned as the SRO at Lincoln receive SRO training; and will the SROs be disciplinarians or just facilitators of “socio-emotional learning”? Not surprisingly, Borrelli gave the questions the back of his hand, curtly responding: “This is not a situation for question and answer.”

How convenient. How dishonest, How cowardly.

And how totally Borrelli/Heinz: Keep the taxpayers in the dark by not publishing the documents that the Board is planning to discuss. Lie about the public support for the SRO program and get caught in that lie by your own response to a resident’s FOIA request. Then arrogantly blow off that resident when confronted by her legitimate questions.

We’ll consider that another tenet of what we previously labeled the “Borrelli Doctrine” in 09.18.2017 post.

Admittedly it’s not as good as “We have to trust Dr. Heinz that she is being fiscally careful with our money.” But Borrelli still has another year before his term expires. Given his history of imperious cluelessness, we’re betting he’ll add a few more tenets to his doctrine before his valedictory.

As no less a wit than Mark Twain sagely observed back in 1897: “In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.”

D-64’s doubling down on the “not-really-secured” vestibules by adding part-time SROs is further proof that Twain was right.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Live From Maine Township Hall…It’s Tuesday Night!

04.24.18

On January 24 of this year we published our first ever post about Maine Township’s inept (or corrupt?) government, pointing out how three new Township trustees – Republicans Dave Carrabotta and Susan Sweeney, and Democrat Claire McKenzie – were attempting to reform Maine Township government since their election a year ago.

We labeled them “The Reformers” and published 3 more posts after that – on 02.08.2018, 02.13.2018 and 04.02.2018 – each one citing more ineptness (or corruption?) from a taxing body that pretty much institutionalized bad government over the past couple of decades.

Our favorite battle being fought by The Reformers so far is their war on pension benefits for Susan Moylan-Krey, the Maine Twp. non-Assessor with four “deputies” – each getting a salary, benefits and constitutionally-guaranteed pension – who don’t actually “assess” anything! Not assessing anything leaves Moylan-Krey free to be a full-time real estate broker with Century 21 Langos & Christian (according to that firm’s website), which makes her non-assessor gig with the Township more like moonlighting.

While we could write more about the non-assessor, today’s post is about Township Supervisor Laura Morask, who continues to try to run the Township Board with an iron fist despite controlling only two of the five votes: Hers and that of Trustee Kim Jones.

The most brazen example of that may have occurred at last Tuesday (April 17) night’s “special” Board meeting, where Morask attempted to anoint the Ancel Glink law firm as the successor to the Township’s longtime lackey…er, we mean attorney…Dan Dowd, who abruptly “retired” after it looked like he may have been helping Morask and Moylan-Krey screw with The Reformers by getting Moylan-Krey back on the pension track after she had been kicked off.

But first a little background.

Under state law Morask has the right to appoint the replacement Township attorney with the advice and consent of the Board. She made it known that she wanted Ancel Glink, irrespective of what The Reformers might think or whom they might prefer. But she still needs Board majority consent, and The Reformers represent that majority.

When Morask asked for a motion to appoint Ancel Glink (at the 6:05 mark of the meeting video), Sweeney jumped in with a motion to defer any vote in favor of more consideration of Ancel Glink and the Board’s other options; and Carrabotta promptly seconded it (at the 6:38 mark).

Amazingly (but not surprisingly), Morask ruled that motion out of order. Her reasoning:

“Because there’s a current motion pending that I was about to make.”

Yes, she actually said that…although not before oddly looking to her left (at the 6:44 mark) as if seeking assurances from some off-camera consiglieri. And, curiously enough, Clerk Peter Gialamas and Highway Commissioner Wally Kazmierczak also looked in that same direction at about that same time.

Was Tom Hagen in the house?

Morask didn’t get around to actually making her Ancel Glink motion until the 11:10 mark of the video, which was promptly and predictably seconded by Jones. But even though two Ancel Glink attorneys were present to accept Morask’s blessing – and bask in her gushing about how Ancel Glink is “the cream of the crop” and “the best” township attorneys in the business – a lengthy debate ensued about “best practices” versus Morask’s power of appointment.

Although Morask would not retreat from her insistence on her power to appoint, she ultimately agreed to continue the matter to the next Township Board meeting – which is TONIGHT, 7:30 p.m. at Township Hall,1700 Ballard Road, Park Ridge.

Morask’s anointing of Ancel Glink is back on the agenda, in case you’re wondering.

An RFP is the absolute best way to engage attorneys for ANY local governmental body. But we don’t know how quickly the Board will be able to conduct an RFP process, especially if Morask insists on retaining her power of appointment rather than going along with such a process.

But hiring a Township attorney, at least for the purpose of the Board’s appealing the kinked-up, secretive reinstatement of Moylan-Krey’s pension participation – engineered and/or concealed from The Reformers by Moylan-Krey, Morask and Dowd after The Reformers’ refused to certify that the non-assessor’s position requires at least 1,000 hours of work per year – needs to be done ASAP because the deadline for filing such an appeal is almost here.

That could mean another hot time in the ol’ Township Hall tonight – especially if Moylan-Krey reprises her rant from last Tuesday night’s meeting (from 1:03:21 to 1:06:28 of the video) in which she ripped The Reformers’ actions as “bullsh*t” occurring at “every friggin’ meeting,” then let loose with a John McEnroe-worthy “Are you serious?” before ending with an “I’m done” and an “I can’t come to meetings if there’s no attorney here.”

If you’re planning on attending we recommend popcorn and/or Junior Mints (“They’re refreshing!”). And maybe a Big Gulp to wash them down (but stay away from the Kool-Aid!).

Given her non-assessor status, Moylan-Krey’s presence at Board meetings would appear to be unnecessary, other than as a way for her to run up hours toward the 1,000 total she claims are needed to perform her non-assessor duties…AND to qualify for a pension for when she’s done non-assessing Township property.

If that’s the case, maybe it’s time for some addition by subtraction.

To read or post comments, click on title.

A New Library Director, If We Can Keep Her

04.10.18

Recently the Park Ridge Library Board of Trustees unanimously (Trustee Mike Reardon absent) approved the hiring of Heidi Smith as the new director of the Library. Smith is currently the assistant director of the Waukegan Public Library.

Smith, a Highland Park resident, will be paid $110,000 and receive health insurance and pension benefits.

She will assume her new position on April 16, relieving the three interim co-directors – Laura Scott, Anastasia Daskalos and Angela Berger – who have done an outstanding job holding down the fort since the sudden retirement last June of the Library’s long-time director, Janet Van De Carr, who was paid $140,000+.

The serendipity of Smith’s availability and selection is noteworthy for a few reasons.

After Van De Carr retired, the Library Board hired John Keister – who runs a recruiting service for library bureaucrats – to find a new director. Keister promptly persuaded a majority of the Board (with the notable exceptions of Trustees Joe Egan, Char Foss-Eggemann and Mike Reardon) to run the search process in closed-session semi-secrecy, thereby producing two “finalists” that the taxpayers could finally be trusted to know.

One of those finalists, Jeannie Dilger, withdrew her name almost immediately after becoming a finalist in order to take the director position at the Palatine library, a position for which Keister was simultaneously recruiting her – reportedly without telling our Library Board. We wrote about that seeming lack of integrity on Keister’s part in our 12.15.17 and 12.26.17 posts.

And Keister’s other finalist, Aaron Skog, mysteriously withdrew his name almost immediately after a public meet-and-greet on November 27 of last year.

That commenced a round of hand-wringing from the likes of Go Green gadfly Amy Bartucci, who talks and acts like taxpayers exist for the government’s benefit; and who seems to consider public employment as the work of the angels, notwithstanding the good pay, job security and Cadillac constitutionally-guaranteed pensions that can be taken years earlier than the rest of us can collect our modest Social Security benefits. We wrote about Bartucci’s strange obsession with Library Board member meeting attendance in our 03.05.2018 post.

With Keister’s first flight of candidates having either crashed and burned or flown the coop, the Library Board authorized Keister to tender four new candidates from his stable of usual suspects.

Two of those, reportedly, were just plain unqualified non-starters who may have been thrown into the mix by Keister solely to create a plausible field of four candidates. And a third suspiciously pulled his name the moment he was designated a finalist – although the fact that he lived with his family way out in DeKalb suggests that he may have been little more than a stalking horse for the candidate whom Keister wanted the Library Board to accept: Ms. Smith.

This blog’s editor attended both the November 2017 meet-and-greet for Aaron Skog as well as the March 15 meet-and-greet for Ms. Smith, and Smith looked and sounded like a far better choice than Skog. So that’s a good thing for our Library.

But let’s not be naïve here.

The serendipity of Ms. Smith’s availability appears to have been the product of her being passed over for the top job in Waukegan in January, despite the strong endorsement of Waukegan mayor Sam Cunningham. Instead, the WPL board imported an Hispanic candidate, Selina Gomez-Beloz, from the Crown Point, Indiana library where she had served as director since 2014. Given that more than 50% of Waukegan’s population is Hispanic, with many having ESL needs, we can see how identity politics may have shaped the WPL board’s decision.

But we have to wonder whether the Park Ridge Library directorship is merely a resume-builder for Ms. Smith that Keister can use in a couple/few years to better market her to other libraries for another fee and even greater influence over the Chicagoland public library hiring market that he already seems to dominate.

In light of that possibility, we are reminded of when Benjamin Franklin was asked about what form of government was being proposed for the United States, and he answered: “A republic…if you can keep it.” His point was that a republic, although less factional than a democracy, was still a demanding form of self-government – the success of which would depend on an informed and committed electorate.

If Ms. Smith is accepting the directorship of our Library in order to position herself for her (and Keister’s) next move, the Library Board and we taxpayers need to be wary of any “new” Library programs and initiatives instituted by her more for their resume enhancement value than to meet the legitimate needs of our community. And the Library Board also needs to start thinking about ways to retain her, assuming she does a good enough job to deserve retention.

Because when you live in Highland Park, there are a number of public libraries requiring shorter commutes than the one to Park Ridge, starting with Deerfield, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Glenview, Winnetka, Wilmette, Buffalo Grove, Vernon Area and Indian Trails (Wheeling).

With that caveat, however, it looks like Ms. Smith has the potential for being a welcome breath of fresh air for a Library bureaucracy that had embraced a this-is-how-we’ve-always-done-it performance benchmark for much of the past decade, if not longer. And for that reason we encourage all Park Ridge residents – and especially Park Ridge Library users – to welcome Ms. Smith with open arms.

And with wide-open eyes.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Why The Park Board Should Adopt A Transparent Shibley Oaks Acquisition Process (Updated)

04.04.18

In a comment to our 03.26.2008 post (“Why Is The Park Board Discussing ‘Shibley Oaks’ In Closed Session?”), an anonymous reader asked:

“Is there never a place for closed sessions at the Park Board meeting? What about if they wanted to talk about negotiation tactics to acquire the land? What if they wanted to discuss a deal that is part City / part Park District for acquiring the land? What if they want to discuss maximum offering price that is lower than the $2.2 million; should that be none [sic] to the other side of the transaction? While I agree there is abuse of closed sessions, do you never see a reason for them?”

Because those questions demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of both closed sessions and the ability of the Park District to acquire land irrespective of the owner’s desire to sell it, we have decided to take this opportunity to address that misunderstanding in advance of tomorrow (April 5) night’s Park Board meeting for which the District’s acquisition of Shibley Oaks is an agenda item.

As we understand it, the Board will discuss – in open session for a change – whether there is a need, or even a significant want, for spending as much as $2.2 million of taxpayer money acquiring the Shibley Oaks property from its current owner. Given that the principal feature of that property appears to be nothing more than the 15 old oak trees situated on less than 1 acre of land in a commercially-zoned area along Busse Highway, the fundamental questions that need to be asked are:

(1) “Does the Park District’s mission include the acquisition of private property for the primary purpose of preserving that property’s nature and character”; and

(2) “Does the District need or want a park at Shibley Oaks?”

If you look at the District’s “Environmental Policy” the answer to question No. 1 may be: “Yes.” That leaves the Park Board to answer question No. 2

Assuming for the sake of argument that some reasonable justification can be made for the property’s acquisition by the District, what purpose would closed-session negotiations serve?

The Illinois Open Meetings Act (“IOMA”) expressly provides that: “(1) It is the intent of this Act to protect the citizen’s right to know; and (2) The provisions for exceptions to the open meetings requirements shall be strictly construed against closed meetings.” That’s why even the recognized exceptions to IOMA’s open-meeting mandate, such as discussions about the acquisition of land, are merely permissive rather than mandatory. In other words, unless some other non-IOMA statute requires non-public debate and deliberations by the Park Board, NO closed sessions are ever required.

According to the commentator, closed session discussions of “negotiation tactics” would enable the Park Board to deliberate and decide in secret on a maximum offering price and a negotiation plan (presumably starting with a lowball offer followed by a series of escalating offers and counter-offers) that might result in the property’s acquisition below the owner’s asking price.

That would be a reasonable idea IF the acquisition process was your typical voluntary arm’s-length one between a private seller and a private buyer.

But the District’s acquisition of private property for a public purpose does not need to be a typical arm’s-length negotiation between a willing seller (i.e., the Shibley Oaks owner) and a willing buyer (i.e., the District). That’s because the District, like most other governmental bodies, has the legal authority under eminent domain laws to acquire the property for its fair market value (“FMV”) by the process of condemnation even if the owner doesn’t want to sell.

What does that mean from a practical standpoint?

Simply, that the Park District can call ALL the shots and, therefore, doesn’t need to hide its acquisition efforts and “negotiation tactics” in closed sessions.

Assuming the Park Board decides that buying the Shibley Oaks property makes sense, it should go about getting the property appraised (by a certified MAI appraiser) to determine its true FMV; i.e., the maximum price the District would have to pay for the property if it instituted a legal condemnation proceeding.

Once the Board has the FMV it can formulate an initial offer to the owner – presumably lower than the FMV and expressly conditioned on voter approval of its acquisition via a referendum question on this November’s ballot.

Assuming the PRPD’s initial offer is not accepted by the owner, the Board should then invite the owner to a special meeting convened for the sole purpose of “negotiating” – IN OPEN SESSION – a purchase price less than the FMV. That way, should the owner tender any counter-offers, the Board could discuss – IN OPEN SESSION – and vote on whether to accept or reject each of those counter-offers, and what amount the District might offer in response. Any such back-and-forth would occur in full view of the taxpayers who deserve to see just how competently the Board is negotiating on their behalf.

This process could continue until either the parties reach agreement – once again, subject to voter approval in November – or the “negotiations” reach the FMV, at which point both the owner and the taxpayers would know that the District can compel the property’s sale under eminent domain/condemnation. And so would any prospective private purchaser, thereby deterring such a purchaser from insinuating itself into the situation.

Of course, such a transparent process is nightmarish to the bureaucrats and elected officials who fear the taxpayers and loathe having any accountability to them – as well as to those folks who want the Shibley Oaks property for a park but rightly fear that its acquisition, even if approved by the Board, would never pass via referendum. All those folks would prefer a secretive process – much like the Roman Catholic College of Cardinals runs for electing a pope, where nobody on the outside knows jack until the white smoke starts pouring out of the Sistine Chapel’s chimney.

While that might work for picking the religious leader of the estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, it’s a perverted way of acquiring private property for a public purpose in a community of less than 40,000 residents where IOMA mandates the open and transparent process of government.

Unfortunately, opacity and unaccountability has been standard operating procedure not only here in Park Ridge but throughout Illinois, whose motto should probably be changed from “Land of Lincoln” to “Land of 7,000 Secretive Governmental Units.”

So we’ll be curious to see how many Park Board members can grasp the foregoing analysis and adopt a transparent, open-session acquisition process – assuming a majority of them can discern any kind of value to the District and its taxpayers from acquiring the Shibley Oaks property in the first place.

Updated 04.07.2018. According to yesterday’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate story about Thursday night’s Park Board meeting (“Referendum, grants suggested for buying Park Ridge land for park,” 04.06.2018), the Board already has an appraisal for the Shibley Oaks property.

That’s a good thing.

The H-A story doesn’t say whether the District has an MAI appraisal or just a half-baked “market analysis” some broker threw together – although Commissioner Rob Leach’s comment that the appraisal was higher than the property’s actual value because Uptown properties were used as comparables suggests the latter.

That’s disappointing. But even more disappointing is the Board’s refusal to publicly disclose the amount of the appraisal/market analysis, on the grounds that it’s “confidential.”

Why? What’s so “confidential” about it?

In a word: Nothing. Which is why this appears to be just more of the same kind of anti-transparent, unaccountable secrecy that had the Park Board inexplicably discussing Sibley Oaks in closed session over the past several months.

The taxpayers deserve better.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Good Riddance To Maine Twp. Attorney

04.02.18

If anyone wonders just how sclerotic and out-of-touch the Maine Township government establishment has become, look no farther than an article in this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Maine Township attorney resigns, citing ‘disagreement and controversy’ on divided board,” April 2), which reports that Dan Dowd has resigned as the Township’s attorney after more than 25 years in the position.

His alibi: He’s uncomfortable being “put in the middle” between the Board’s new majority – Trustees Dave Carrabotta, Claire McKenzie and Susan Sweeney, whom we have labeled “The Reformers” – and the Board’s old-line business-as-usual minority of Supervisor Laura Morask and Trustee Kim Jones.

In reality, Dowd is not “in the middle” of anything: He’s firmly in the corner of Morask, Jones, non-Assessor Susan Moylan-Krey, Clerk Peter Gialamas and Highway Commissioner Walter Kazmierczak; and he’s firmly opposed to The Reformers.

As reported in the H-A story, Dowd acknowledged he would be “uncomfortable” representing The Reformers’ majority in appealing a seemingly kinky deal cut by Morask and Moylan-Krey with the outgoing general counsel of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (“IMRF”) that granted a secret appeal by Moylan-Krey of The Reformers’ refusal to certify that her position requires at least 1,000 hours of work per year, thereby qualifying her for continued pension participation.

We wrote about that rancid situation in our 02.13.2018 post.

Fortunately, the new IMRF general counsel, upon being apprised of the secretive skullduggery, re-opened the process by which the Township can appeal the Moylan-Krey deal, via a majority vote of The Reformers.

That Dowd is pulling the pin on his Township gig is one thing. That he has been the Township’s attorney for more than 25 years – having been handed the position on a no-bid basis back in 1993 by then-Supervisor Mark Thompson and then-Trustees Carol Teschky and Jim Reilly, and having remained a Board majority lackey until The Reformers became the majority last May – is quite another.

With either Dowd’s advice or acquiescence, Morask has orchestrated Illinois Open Meetings Act (“IOMA”) violations for such boneheaded maneuvers as having Clerk Gialamas vote as a trustee on a motion to destroy a closed-session audio recording; and conducting Township bill review meetings without keeping official minutes. That would be unacceptable from a rookie municipal attorney.

The H-A reports that Morask has a candidate for Dowd’s replacement that she intends to present at the Board’s April 17 meeting.

Given her track record, anybody Morask suggests should be considered as radioactive as Polonium-210. Now is the time for The Reformers to demand the issuance of an RFP for Dowd’s replacement.

And if Morask resists, she should follow Dowd out the door.

To read or post comments, click on title.