Public Watchdog.org

Taxpayers: Prepare To Be Screwed The “D-64 Way” Monday Night (Updated)

09.10.16

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass has often written about the secretive, unaccountable and corrupt manner in which Chicago city government, in all its various forms, does business as usual. Kass has branded it the “Chicago Way” – which, when spoken correctly, requires approximately the same distasteful inflection as “child molester.”

Roughly two weeks ago the Board and Administration of Park Ridge-Niles School Dist. 64 announced that it had reached a tentative agreement-in-principle with the Park Ridge Education Association (the “PREA”) that was being presented to the PREA membership for ratification. Once it was ratified by PREA membership, the D-64 Board would vote to approve it.

But according to a Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article (“’Tentative’ contract reached for District 64 teachers, board president says,” 08.23.16), School Board approval of that agreement would occur without the District’s taxpayers getting a chance to see, read, and comment on it in advance of the vote.

That kind of opacity and outright contempt for the taxpayers is what has become institutionalized as the “D-64 Way.”

In case you don’t quite appreciate the absurdity and arrogance of the D-64 Board’s operating in this fashion, permit us to lay it out for you.

The PREA negotiating team reached the tentative agreement-in-principle that its members (the D-64 teachers) – presumably after being given an opportunity to read the agreement – get to vote on. And for all we know, they’ve already done so.

On the other hand, the D-64 negotiating team led by Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and his ventriloquist, Supt. Laurie Heinz, reached that same tentative agreement-in-principle at the same time. But unlike the D-64 teachers, the District’s constituent taxpayers who will be bound to pay for that contract over the next four years aren’t even going to get to see, much less read, it before the D-64 Board votes to bind those constituent taxpayers for the next four years.

Does that sound honest, transparent and accountable? Or even sane? No, but that’s the D-64 Way.

We can find nothing in the current contract (which controlled the negotiations that produced the new contract) or in state law that requires the terms of the new tentative agreement-in-principle to be kept secret from the taxpayers once it has been released for PREA teacher ratification. Even “Boss” Borrelli admitted as much in that H-A article, noting only that the District’s “practice” supported keeping the terms of the new contract secret from the taxpayers.

That’s Borrelli’s story – most likely written for him by the District’s propaganda minister, Bernadette Tramm – and he’s sticking to it. Because that’s the D-64 Way.

But the real reason for keeping the new contract a secret from the taxpayers is that publishing it in advance of any Board vote on it substantially increases the likelihood that suspicious and/or irate taxpayers might show up at that D-64 Board meeting and ask some tough questions about the contract, and about the “Boss” and his Board that cut that deal.

Tough questions are considered “no bueno” by the “Boss,” his ventriloquist, and their lemmings on the Board…because answering tough questions and the hard-edged comments that often accompany them is not the D-64 Way.

So with the agenda for this Monday night’s “special” Board meeting stating that there will be yet another closed-session starting at 6:00 p.m. during which “collective negotiating matters between the District and its employees or their representatives…“ will be discussed, we can’t help but suspect that such a discussion might be the prelude to a vote to approve the new contract once the Board emerges from that closed session.

Especially with the PREA Governing Board conveniently scheduled to meet from 4:00 t0 6:00 p.m. that same afternoon, presumably to formally authorize the results of the ratification vote that already should have taken place.

If you think that the Illinois Open Meetings Act (“IOMA”) notice requirements for such meetings prevents such a vote, think again.

IOMA requires the posting of a meeting agenda 48 hours in advance of the meeting. The D-64 Board, therefore, has already met that requirement. And even though the agenda doesn’t expressly provide for a contract vote, the Board could still come out of closed session and vote to approve the contract. That’s because Section 2.02(a) of IOMA is written with sufficient ambiguity that enemies of transparency and accountability – i.e., a majority of the D-64 Board members – can claim that a contract approval vote is “germane to a subject on the agenda”: the collective bargaining item on the closed-session portion of that agenda.

Making up quasi-legal, or legal but dishonest, ways to fleece the taxpayers while keeping them in the dark is the D-64 Way.

And don’t think for a New York minute that the malefactors on that Board won’t do it, even if one or more (but not a majority) of them makes a grand-but-dishonest (or dishonest-but-grand?) gesture of voting against that contract – like Borrelli did four years ago – purely as political opportunism. Such theatrics are easy when they know in advance, from the earlier closed-session discussion, that their vote is meaningless because the contract already has Board majority support.

So don’t be surprised if that’s the way it goes down Monday night, with the “Boss,” the lemmings and Heinz praising the unseen contract as a masterpiece of collective bargaining, farsightedness and fairness to everybody.

Even if those of us paying the bill have no choice but to take their word for it.

Because that’s the D-64 Way.

UPDATE (09.12.16): Now that the Board packet for tonight’s (09.12.16) meeting has been published we note that the “Upcoming Meetings and Topics” section shows that “Ratification of PREA/Board Agreement” is scheduled for the September 26 meeting at Roosevelt School.

So we’ll take that at face value. For now.

Meanwhile, at least a few citizens appear to have taken it upon themselves to have FOIAed the District for the contract, term sheets, and other documents. Not surprisingly, they’ve been stonewalled with the excuse that the language of the PREA tentative agreement is “still being reviewed and edited by the PREA negotiating team and the District’s legal counsel before it can be finalized for approval and signatures” and, therefore, the agreement is exempt from FOIA disclosure under exception 7(1)(p).

We’ve also heard that some teachers have copies of the tentative agreement, but we don’t know whether those are rank-and-file PREA member-teachers or members of the PREA negotiating team.

But the bottom line here remains the same: As Borrelli acknowledged to the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate, no legal restriction prevents the District’s disclosure of the tentative agreement-in-principle, on the District’s past practice. And the FOIA exception to disclosure invoked by the District in rejecting taxpayers’ requests for copies of the contract is a voluntary one, not a mandatory one. Which means D-64 could produce that agreement if it wanted to.

It just doesn’t want to…because “Boss” Borrelli and his lemmings don’t want the scrutiny, the questions and the comments those contract terms would likely generate, at least not until AFTER the Board approves that contract and there’s nothing the taxpayers can do about it.

Whether it’s stupidity, corruption, or something else, the taxpayers of this community deserve better.

To read or post comments, click on title.

14 comments so far

At Monday’s meeting will the Board invite comments from D64 taxpayers who won’t have been given the opportunity to read the new contract? And then will they castigate those taxpayers for making uninformed comments?

EDITOR’S NOTE: What the D-64 Board will do remains to be seen. All we’re sure of is that whatever it does will be devoid of Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability.

Sadly we know more about what is going on with the CTU negotiations than with our own district’s negotiations.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because at least the CPS and CTU folks are honest enough to admit that their dealmaking is all brazen power politics – while “Boss,” the lemmings, and Heinz want us to believe that D-64/PREA is actually good government.

These board members aren’t worth spit.

If the City Council did this you’d have 50 people at the next meeting complaining about a lack of transparency. But the schools do it and nobody says a thing.

Borrelli is the worst, but the rest of aren’t any better.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The teachers unions (like PREA) have done a masterful job of controlling the narrative: if you are for honesty, transparency and accountability in public education, you are branded “anti-teacher” and “anti-children.”

And we’ve got too many parents who are delighted to be getting $30K or more (as much as double that) of “free” education paid for by their fellow taxpayers, even if the educational quality and value are declining.

Borrelli and Eggemann were your endorsements, Dog, so it looks like you got snookered by both of them (and by Borrelli twice). You must be feeling a little stupid right about now. I know I would be.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the search for people who are committed to Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability in local government we have to make choices. Sometimes you have an easy choice, like Mayor Dave v. Frimark or Mayor Dave v. Ryles. Other times you have Borrelli v. Bublitz and Sotos, or congestive heart failure v. brain cancer.

Or Hillary v. Trump.

Its devoid of:

Transparency, explanations, rightousness, resourcefulness, integrity, believability, learning (standards), evolving….or its T.e.r.r.i.b.l.e. for short.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s definitely “T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E.” Mind if we borrow that in future posts?

Regarding your update: There’s no point in showing up for tonight’s meeting because the teachers’ contract isn’t on the agenda?

Regarding your original post: There’s no point in showing up for the 9/26 meeting because the Board already plans to vote 7-0 in favor?

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s ALWAYS a point to showing up at a D-64 Board meeting (or any meeting, for that matter, including our sleepy Library Board meetings), FWT: the more people that show up who aren’t the stereotypical sheep bleating “four legs good, two legs better” whenever the “Boss” or his ventriloquist, Heinz, cues them, the less likely it is that “Boss” and his lemming Board members will try to get away with all of their wink-and-nod, Star Chamber-style proceedings.

So the more taxpayers who show up tonight and ask why they can’t see the current draft tentative agreement-in-principle – since the “Boss” has admitted there’s no legal impediment in publishing it – and then challenge the b.s. answer(s) and explanation(s) they’ll get, the more likely it is that the ace reporters from our local newspapers will have to write about it. And THAT might start raising questions in the minds of more of their readers as to what kind of expensive, unproductive kinkiness is masquerading as D-64 governance.

From 9:04am….please feel free to use the acronym T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks.

What happened last night? Did they vote on the contract? Did they publish the contract?

EDITOR’S NOTE: They neither published nor voted. It’s all still a deep dark secret intended to give the “Boss,” the lemmings, Heinz, Kolstad and the PREA as much political cover for as long as possible – until after the Board approves it and can then simply refuse to answer questions about it because it will be a done deal that can’t be changed.

Plus, from what we hear, none of the current Board members up for re-election this coming April – Zimmerman, Paterno, Lee and Johnson – will be running, so they’ve got no concerns about voter backlash. And the “Boss” is rumored to be on the glide path toward the end of his current term in 2019.

Which is why at least those five have no qualms about flipping off the taxpayers as they have been doing.

What is the penalty or potential liability to D64 or any individual board member if one or more of them published the tentative agreement? I have heard that it might be insignificant.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good question, one we have yet to hear any D-64 Board member ask in earnest, if at all.

As best as we can tell, the worst that could happen is that the PREA would file an unfair labor practice (“ULP”) charge with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board; that board could find against the District and order the District not to disclose the tentative agreement (that’s called closing the barn door after the horse has bolted); and that board could award the PREA its attorneys’ fees and costs – although from the sound of 115 ILCS 5/15 that would happen only if the District “has made allegations or denials without reasonable cause and found to be untrue or has engaged in frivolous litigation for the purpose of delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation.”

In other words, if the PREA beefed but the District didn’t lie or act frivolously, the practical consequences of a Board member telling the truth to the taxpayers and not participating in the Board/PREA cover-up would be NADA.

“…none of the current Board members up for re-election this coming April – Zimmerman, Paterno, Lee and Johnson – will be running, so they’ve got no concerns about voter backlash.”

Voter backlash, no. But perhaps the sneaking suspicion that when they’re seen around town, people are thinking, “THAT’S one of the people responsible for raising my property taxes so much”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We wish that were the case, but most people have the memories of fruit flies when it comes to this stuff. Think about all the former aldermen who still walk around town with impunity after sticking the taxpayers with tens of millions of dollars of TIF debt – because nobody remembers they were the perpetrators, and they sure aren’t taking any bows, at least not until it’s all paid off in another 10 years or so.

I saw portions of the agreement last night after my spouse came home from the union meeting where they revealed the new contract. It’s not been voted on yet, so it could be changed still and hopefully will, as the negotiating teams on both sides are clearly incompetent judging by this garbage contract. However I did rather enjoy picking out the basic math errors that were peppered throughout – I think maybe the people of Park Ridge need to splurge for a few calculators for the negotiating teams to help with their addition. Unbelievable.

I’m not going to go into too much detail now as I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to do so since it’s still potentially a work in progress, but suffice it to say that both the board and the union are continuing to reward the very oldest teachers among them, but this time they’re adding an interesting new twist by essentially instituting two salary schedules – one for current teachers that protects their interests, and a new salary schedule for first year teachers and all new teachers coming into the district in the future, that amazingly enough, features a big fat pay cut. That’s right, a pay cut…but only for new talent. Because the best way to attract the best and brightest new teachers to your district is to cut starting pay and instead reward all the tired old people. Brilliant strategy guys.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nothing would surprise us, given the yokels representing both sides – although, frankly, we only care about the taxpayers and the students, both of whom keep getting screwed by our box-of-rocks Board and unproductive admins.

But you can be sure one provision that won’t be changed is the secret negotiations next time around, too. Can’t let the public see and hear how the clowns turn dog food into sausage.

“Think about all the former aldermen who still walk around town with impunity after sticking the taxpayers with tens of millions of dollars of TIF debt – because nobody remembers they were the perpetrators, and they sure aren’t taking any bows, at least not until it’s all paid off in another 10 years or so.”

No — they DO get recognized in these silly country club/chamber of commerce events like “community stars” and that kind of b.s. Vanity fuels “community-mindedness” and the cost is OPM.

In all honesty, while this most applies to people like Frimark, the best modern example is Mel Thillens, builder of the monuments known as Centennial pool expansion and Prospect Park.

D64 board members doubtless enjoy the same veneration at PTA meetings and back-to-school nights.

Meanwhile, most of the fruit flies have no idea any of this is going on.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Your last point is the most problematic. But when you’ve got 2 kids in D-64 lapping up a combined $30K a year in educational cost while you’re paying $5K in taxes to D-64, that positive $25K delta doesn’t demand much of your attention.

“I’m not going to go into too much detail now as I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to do so since it’s still potentially a work in progress…”

Some of us had heard, via reliable sources, that the contract was DONE and would be voted upon this past week. The vote got delayed…combined with the above comment, IF reliable, means: the union sent it back with comments.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Taxpayers shouldn’t have to rely on rumors and speculation. These negotiations should occur in open sesssion so the taxpayers could see how arrogant and demanding the PREA reps are; and how bumbling and insipid the Board and administration negotiators are.

Watch the video from Monday night: Borrelli needed to read a speach likely written for him by propaganda minister Bernadette Tramm jjust to address public comments FROM TWO WEEKS AGO because he doesn’t have the chops to do it in real time. And in trying to spar with Ms. Reardon, Board member Sotos proved himself to be the windsock we thought him to be all along.



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