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.