Stupid, Dishonest And Irresponsible Is No Way To Run A School District


Over the course of our many years of writing about local government, we’ve often used the terms “stupid,” “dishonest” and “irresponsible” to describe various ideas, actions and people. To the best of our knowledge, however, we have never used all three to describe one idea, action or person.

Today we get to plow new ground.

Our jumping-off point is an article in this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate titled “District 64 approves $2.2 million roof repair plan”   (March 8), which superficially addresses some of the ways D-64’s architect of record, FGM Architects, and its construction management firm, Nicholas and Associates, are planning to generate some fat fees for themselves by selling all sorts of construction projects to such a bovine School Board and Administration that the members would follow a cow with a bell around its neck.

That’s because this School Board, like its predecessors, seems to lack the thing that D-64 brags about teaching its students: critical thinking.

That lack of critical thinking is why the Board members so quickly and so unthinkingly said “Yes!” when the architects, the District’s “security” consultants – to whom everything is a security threat, just like to a hammer everything is a nail – and our local constabulary recommended $6.9 million of “secured vestibules” that really won’t protect the students, faculty and administrators from any kid, any parent, or any visitor from strolling in with one or more knives or guns under their clothing or in their backpacks.

Nor will they protect the assembled multitude from some suicide vest-wearing terrorist, if that’s your preferred bogey-man du jour.

Which is why we criticized such stupid and dishonest expenditures in our posts of 11.10.15 and 11.23.15.

But such criticism didn’t deter the herd mentality of this Board – or deter Board president Tony Borrelli from making such hollow-as-a-drum proclamations of competence and fiscal responsibility as his latest canard: “We’re doing our job by flipping over every rock and looking at every alternative.”

That’s just plain nonsense, of course, and probably dishonest to boot.

This Board and administration would need Google Maps and a GPS system just to find the rocks worth flipping. And then they wouldn’t flip them for fear that they’d find even more evidence and arguments against their stupid not-really-secured vestibule concept that, without metal detectors, won’t be able to screen for and detect guns, knives and the ball bearings that tend to be the shrapnel of choice for explosive-vest bombers.

But where the stupid and the dishonest meet up with the irresponsible is demonstrated by a quote from Board member Tom Sotos, in response to a suggestion by Board member Vickie Lee to get new bids for the highest-cost secured vestibule at Lincoln Middle School, thereby likely delaying that project beyond the completion dates for the other schools’ secured vestibules.

“I don’t want to go to bed at night and say, “I voted not to approve that one school’ and then something happens at that school.”


If Sotos envisions not being able to go to bed with one school out of seven not having a not-really-secured vestibule, how the heck is he sleeping even a wink RIGHT NOW – knowing that NONE of those schools currently has a truly secured vestibule?

The answer: He’s sleeping just fine, thank you, because this whole secured-vestibule brouhaha is nothing more than a charade.

For months now Sotos and the Board have been grandly wringing their hands with Kabuki-style consternation and woe, while telling anyone who will listen about how terribly vulnerable the District’s students are under the schools current security systems. Hence the unequivocal, non-negotiable, absolute “need” to spend almost $7 million on not-really-secured vestibules that won’t keep a student, parent, visitor or disgruntled employee from bringing in lethal weaponry.

That’s almost SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS for continuing non-security. And, based on the H-A article, only Board member Mark Eggemann had enough sense to propose holding off on the not-really-secured vestibules in order to “get the community more involved and get their feedback on whether they want to spend $6.9 million” on not-really-secured vestibules.

Hey, folks! There’s still plenty of time left to put a $6.9 million not-really-secured vestibules referendum question on the November ballot.

Meanwhile, however, Sotos and those same Board members and administrators seem fine and dandy with leaving the kids completely at the mercy of every fanatic and whack-job imaginable for however many more months it will take until the not-really-secured vestibules are constructed. According to the H-A story, the Board couldn’t reach a consensus on “temporary security” at the schools, whatever form that might take.

But $7 million for not-really-secured vestibules is more of a “Look, there goes Elvis!” distraction from the more problematic stagnation, if not decline, in the objectively measurable performance of the District’s students. And it also allows FGM architects and other construction-related vendors to pocket a lot more of the taxpayers’ money on brick and mortar, their forte.

The simple truth is that the threat of such catastrophic violence is no more measurably real today than it was six months ago, or six years ago; or that it will be six months or six years from now. That’s just panic peddling and fear-mongering by a variety of folks who either are shilling for one special interest or another, or who inexplicably believe their own nonsense.

If the threat were real and significant, any responsible Board members and administrators would have insisted on the posting of armed security guards at the entrance to EVERY D-64 school, where they would remain until the not-really-secured vestibules were completed.

That there aren’t proves three very important points about this D-64 Board and administration:

They are stupid. They are dishonest. And they are irresponsible.

To read or post comments, click on title.

13 comments so far

Salt your previous “stump house” post will probably get more comments than this excellent one. Ten years ago the actually bad movie Idiocracy came out. The synopsis is that an man of average intelligence gets frozen and thawed 500 year later to find society has devolved and he is now considered a genius. Sadly all one has to do is attend a school board meeting to feel like a genius, what a clown show.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sadly, your references to “Idiocracy” and “clown show” are not far off. At the end of the day it’s all “There goes Elvis!” to keep a majority of taxpayers from noticing how mediocre the educational performance is for all the money being spent.

Thank you for once again pointing out how worthless and ridiculously expensive these secured vestibules will be. I re-read your post from 11/23/15 and re-watched some of the meeting video embedded there, and I want to laugh and cry at the same time. RETA Security is exactly the “hammer” you are talking about. And if you watch the video starting at the 1:48 mark, they want to blow $7 million on vestibules while knowing they will be spending a minimum of $10 million to build new school rooms to accommodate full-day kindergarten.

The school board and Heinz act like seven million dollars is nothing. Wasting it on something like vestibules that won’t protect against shooters and bombers is nuts.

Mr. Trizna, how can you so hatefully attack District 64 for spending $7 million to secure the vestibules on seven schools when you want the Library to spend $2 million on a cosmetic renovation? Your hypocrisy is pathetic.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr./Ms. Anonymous, “stupid,” “dishonest” and “irresponsible” aren’t “hateful” terms, just descriptive.

I simply voted – as part of a unanimous Library Board – to ask some library-specialty architects to tell us what we could do to renovate the Library in order to make it more useful to more people in the community. And if the architects’ ideas are worthwhile, I intend to ask for a referendum to see whether the taxpayers think those ideas are worth $2 million or whatever price they come in at – unlike the D-64 Board who prefers to blow as much money as it can without going to referendum.

10:46 am-this $7,000,000 is not going to make these schools any safer. There are multiple entrance points into the schools-not just the main vestibule-which already have some form of security on them. Currently, a visitor needs to be buzzed in the locked door and show your ID to get in. All the other doors are locked-at least as I have experienced.

Any person hell bent on terrorizing a school will get in if they want to-new $7,000,000 vestibules or not. Or they can just wait until the kids are out on the playground. How will the schools protect the students and teachers when they are outside?

It appears the school board is merely spending $7,000,000 taxpayer dollars so they can say “at least we tried” IF (and its a big IF) something were to happen.

So, Mr. Trizna, are you saying that you will not support a $2 million Library renovation unless it is the subject of a referendum?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, because the 2014 Library referendum did not ask the taxpayers for money to use on building renovations other than a couple/few hundred thousand dollars of windoww repairs and lighting improvements.

$7 Million bucks to make Sotos sleep well at night????? Not one of those dollars will improve a facility, ‘invest’ for taxpayers in infrastructure, or most importantly EDUCATE a child.

What a scam!!!

There is no bubble for the kids. They go to recess. They walk to school.

This is an EXPENSIVE feel good for D64 parents and board members. Maybe the D64 board should stop meeting, it seems it costs us money every time they do.

EDITOR’S NOTE: There is no “bubble” for ANYBODY…and there never was.

If there are dangers of armed violence INSIDE THE SCHOOL BUILDINGS posed by kids, parents, teachers, etc. who might have access to a school, or terrorists who might storm the school, then doing nothing security-wise RIGHT NOW is supremely stupid, dishonest and/or irresponsible/reckless – as is building not-really-secured vestibules without metal detectors.

And if (note “IF”) this were (note “WERE”) the Land of Rahm (a/k/a Chicago), we’d throw in a suggestion that somebody is trying to do a whole lot of building work in order to put extra money in FGM’s (and other contractors’) pockets.

It is my understanding that the 7 million includes $155,027 for the Hendee ESC vestibule where there are no children and $412,898 for office reno at Emerson, the newest school in the district. I realize that is a small portion of the money needed, but what is the justification for these two items?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Christopher Harper Mercer/Umpqua Community College. Adam Lanza/Sandy Hook. Trenchcoat mafia/Columbine. Laurie Dann/Hubbard Woods Elementary. Charles Whitman/Univ. of Texas.


A referendum for library renovations. More evidence that politics are more important to you than what’s right for the library or the community. These games you play make a mockery of the role of library trustee.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More tough talk from an anonymous coward.

The biggest “mockery” that regularly occurs here in Park Ridge is of the taxpayers – by arrogant and cowardly elected and appointed officials, and by their special interest constituencies, all of whom insist that they know what the tapayers want and, therefore, don’t need to let those taxpayers actually say so via referendum.

If you really want to see “a mockery of the role of library trustee,” look no further than the pre-July 2014 Library Board majority, which neglected building maintenance and repair, embraced deficit spending, squandered tax dollars on stupid programs like Food For Fines, and irresponsibly shut down the Library on summer Sundays, just for starters.

“The biggest “mockery” that regularly occurs here in Park Ridge is of the taxpayers – by arrogant and cowardly elected and appointed officials, and by their special interest constituencies, all of whom insist that they know what the taxpayers want and, therefore, don’t need to let those taxpayers actually say so via referendum”.

Let’s all remember this quote and refer back to it when PD makes his typical endorsement of Thillens.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Too bad you don’t have the spine to identify yourself so that we can judge your support of Laura Murphy with equally jaded eyes.

Just pointing out a few facts.

1. Mel and the pool fit the above quote to a tee.

2. In a few months, prior to the November election, Mel will receive your endorsement.

Whether or not I support Murphy has does not change these facts in anyway.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Your obsession with Mel may be unhealthy.

Now, do you have anything to say about the $7 million not-really-secured vestibules?

HOw can seemingly sane people on the school board do something this dumb? Seven million dollars is real money and wasting it on something like these vestibules is crazy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Herd mentality. The tough part is figuring out whether Heinz or Kolstad is wearing the bell.


The vestibules?? I absolutely agree with your position. I think that people tend to try and grasp for this feeling that we have “security” that will never be there and parents tend to be less that rational when it comes to their kids.

It is kind of like building a wall along the border as if we can ever completely secure the border of the US.

By the way, it is not a Mel obsession. It is an obsession with pointing out your complete hypocrisy.

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