Public Watchdog.org

Silence On D-207’s POS Likely Means No November Referendum

07.19.18

Back on May 30, 2018, we published a post about the “Public Opinion Survey” (the “POS”) in support of the massive $240.7 million boondoggle/scam/“con job” being run by the Maine Township High School District 207 School Board and Administration, against the D-207 taxpayers.

The last day for responding to that survey was reportedly May 18, yet as we publish this post more than two months later we have neither seen nor heard any of the results of that POS.

As we wrote back then, the answers to the POS would almost certainly be used to: (a) guide the D-207 Board’s spinmeisters in crafting their elevator pitch to prospective referendum voters; and (b) help that Board decide when to hold the referendum vote, which we predicted would most likely be in April 2019 – when the turnout is expected to be much smaller (and, therefore, more easily manipulated by the Board’s spinmeisters and sycophants) than the turnout for this November’s election.

FYI: Because of the difference in turnout, passing a local referendum in any of the last four mayoral election years could have been done with no more than 4,510 votes, while doing so in any of the corresponding November elections would have required at least 7,001 votes. And because the April 2019 ballot won’t even include a Park Ridge mayoral race, the turnout is almost certain to be even less than in mayoral election years.

That’s why we suggested back on May 30 that despite the District’s holding a bunch of “community engagement meetings” (i.e., propaganda sessions) about the project, the Board would delay disclosing the POS results or acting on them until it blew the August 20, 2018 deadline by which the District could put the necessary funding referendum question on the November ballot.

As we are now 2/3 through the 3-month referendum window (from May 18 to August 20) with only deafening silence from D-207 about the POS results or a referendum question for the November ballot, it looks like our prediction is coming true – compliments of Supt. Ken Wallace, who has proven himself much more of a politician than an educator or administrator by not only keeping his job but getting salary increases, even as the ranking of the District’s flagship school, Maine South, has plummeted while Maine East’s and Maine West’s rankings have risen only in consideration of their increasingly minority and/or low income student bodies.

And compliments of clueless and/or dishonest School Board members Sean Sullivan, Carla Owen, Jin Lee, Paula Besler, Teri Collins, Aurora Austriaco and Linda Coyle, all of whom appear to believe that the best way to represent their constituents is the “Mushroom Policy”: Keep those constituents in the dark and covered with manure. Hence, the minutes of those May, June and July Board meetings make no mention of drafting or passing one or more referendum questions for the November ballot.

We take a measure of pride in the fact that we never endorsed the first six listed above, or most of their predecessors whose mismanagement of D-207 contributed substantially to the quasi-criminal neglect of the District’s buildings and grounds for at least the past decade.

We did endorse Coyle, however, calling her a “star by far” in 04.03.2017 post based on what we saw of her service on the Park Ridge P&Z Commission and on the D-207 Community Advisory Council; and based on her support of our late mayor Dave Schmidt and his H.I.T.A. platform. We were confident she had the intelligence and the spine to break free from the bovine herd-think that has been the hallmark of the D-207 Board since at least the time Sullivan first sullied the D-207 Board room with his presence back in 2007.

In our post of 05.08.2018, we gave Coyle and Austriaco a half-pass for their under-performance as Board members, on the basis of their having just completed their “honeymoon” year. At the same time we called them out and encouraged them to “demand that D-207 taxpayers get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about everything D-207.”

Since then, however, neither Coyle nor Austriaco has done anything to shed more light on the POS results or on the $240.7 million boondoggle; or to push the Board to put a funding referendum question on the November 2018 ballot.

And because there’s only one more Board meeting – on August 6 – between now and the August 20 deadline for putting such a referendum question on the November ballot, the handwriting (albeit more like vulgar graffiti) is now on the wall.

It seems like the Boards of D-207 and Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 are engaged in a race-to-the-bottom of incompetent, secretive, disingenuous and/or outright dishonest government that not only extorts their respective taxpayers but, also, deprives their respective students of an education commensurate with all those tax dollars being extorted.

And by kicking the referendum can down the road from the much larger-turnout November election to the much smaller-turnout April 2019 election, D-207’s sad-sack Board has taken the lead in that perverse match race.

At least for the time being.

To read or post comments, click on title.

11 comments so far

I filled out one of those POSs and it really was a POS. I blasted them on almost every question because the questions were so bad, which I’m sure they intended because they gave the District maximum spin power.

On your recommendation I voted for Ms. Coyle and share your disappointment with both her and Ms. Austriaco. It makes me wonder whether these school boards have a way of scooping out board members’ brains or replacing them with seed pods, body-snatchers style.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We started to fill out our POS before becoming disgusted and throwing it away, so we admire your tolerance and/or tenacity.

We still hold out hope that Ms. Coyle will (and maybe even Ms. Austriaco) might step up and actually do her job, but we haven’t even seen a flicker of independent, non-bovine thought from either of them. But when the brains of that outfit seems to be a semi-socialist like Carla Owen, backed by perpetual pleasers like Paula Besler and Teri Collins – to say nothing of lost causes Sean Sullivan and Jin Lee – it’s not looking good.

When I compare the two local school boards I want to take an Ambien bath because the members have been so bad for so long. At D-64, not one of them except Biagi has been worth a pinch of salt for at least the past 25 years. And the same can be said for D-207, except it doesn’t even have a Biagi.

Once people realize are schools are as crappy (for the price) as they are, watch property values start dropping. But by then, Wallace will have retired and Heinz will have fled for even greener pastures.

One would think that after two months d-207 would at least provide the results of the POS. They could just have scanned in the pages of each completed survey and let us read through them. But when they go through so much effort to do the survey but then go dark with the results, something smells. And, like a dead fish, it smells from the head (Wallace and Board) down.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Frankly, we expect top bureaucrats like Wallace (and Heinz at D-64) to play these games, but that’s why we have elected officials who are supposed to hold Wallace accountable. So when those officials are asleep at the wheel, or go native, we get what we are getting.

The school board members’ seemingly utter contempt for the taxpayers is what bothers me more than anything, even more than the years of neglect and mismanagement that got D-207 to this point of $240 million of repairs, or the declining rankings (which bother me more than the buildings, kind of).

They at least should have the decency to simply and directly tell us to go to hell, and then accept whatever fall-out that comes with that. Instead they just ignore us like we don’t exist.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “We” don’t exist, only our money does. And if they didn’t have to go to referendum to fund this boondoggle, they wouldn’t even let us vote on it.

How many times do I hear Park Ridge people complaining about how bad Illinois state government is, yet they don’t know (and, therefore, don’t say) jack about how bad our local branches of government are. As Pogo once said: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yep, primarily because we elect “pleasers” to local office whose main goal is to make certain people happy using other people’s money while not making things better.

Just want to remind you PD that many of these “pleasers” received your endorsement.

The perfect example is Thillens at a state level. I cannot recall a time that he has not received your endorsement and yet you would categorize him as a pleaser…..so?? What are we to do??

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, they did, even if only because they were the lesser of two evils.

Unfortunately, too many of them too easily became intoxicated by the ability to please some people by spending other people’s (i.e., the taxpayers’) money. And Thillens has been a pleaser not only while running for state office but also while serving on the Park Board.

All we can do is encourage better people to run, get them elected, and let them know when they are going astray and selling out the taxpayers they are supposed to be representing.

Anon on 07.22.18 11:14 am makes a good point about Thillens, who I assume is part of a Park Board majority that recently made an offer on that Shibley Oaks property according to a string on a Park Ridge Concerned HOmeowners Group FB page.

PW endorsed all of them except for Cindy Grau, who ironically is the one who posted a comment that the Park District offered the Shibley Oaks owner something like $1.1 million. What’s the story?

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we said in response to Anon’s comment, sometimes picking a candidate in a local race is like choosing congestive heart failure over brain cancer; and sometimes it’s a blind faith pick of potential over proven incompetence and/or corruption.

I have to believe that Park Ridge is getting close to a tipping point of being an attractive place to live for the price. The demands of the users (you call them “freeloaders”) are outpacing the ability of the taxpayers to fund them.

On a purely anecdotal basis I am seeing people moving here from Chicago or crappier surrounding suburbs shortly before their kids are starting our d64 schools with the plan of moving out once their kids graduate from Maine South. Meanwhile, seniors who used to cover a lot of those school costs even though they no longer have kids in the schools are starting to move out of their houses because the taxes make Park Ridge a poor value for them, and young families are moving in to do use the schools and then move out. This is a recipe for disaster but none of our elected officials especially on the school boards and the park board seem to understand this.

Thanks for fighting this fight and writing this blog, but I think the Park Ridge we’ve known and loved for many decades is taking on water and will soon sink.

EDITOR’S NOTE: When we reach a critical mass of residents whose philosophy of government is how much in services they can suck out of it for the minimum price paid in – Helloooooo, Kathy (Panattoni) Meade and friends! – the Good Ship Park Ridge very well may slip beneath the waves, un-mourned by those many freeloaders who punched all those holes in the hold and by the clueless “pleaser” politicians who enabled it in order to get their heads patted and their tummies rubbed.

A part of the problem is picking or even finding the right candidate. Look at the Distirct 55 race. This should be VERY winnable for the R’s and yet MM continues to hold the seat. While I appreciate Marilyn Smolenski throwing her hat in the ring, this will bring the gun issue front and center which, it seems to me, is not a debate the R’s win in a Chicago suburban district.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The 55th was gerrymandered effective in 2013 (based on the 2010 census results) to remove a big chunk of Park Ridge that would have been more hospitable to a Republican candidate, which gave Moylan a decisive edge over Susan Sweeney in the 2014 race even though the data suggests that she would have won had the old map been in place that had helped a RINO like Rosemary Mulligan keep getting elected.

But that’s what you get with Dem control of the General Assembly and the governor’s office (Quinn was still governor back then).

The “gun issue” is a red herring that will only be effective if Smolenski lets herself be defined by it.

Why are you so obsessed about Kathy Meade? This last Editor’s Note seems totally gratuitous, so what’s the point?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not “obsessed” with KPM. It’s just that she’s the No. 1 poster child for so many of the things that are wrong with government in Illinois, most notably her “What’s in it for me?” and “How do I take out more than I put in?” attitudes that are shared by a number of her fellow travelers on her Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group FB page.

PD:

It is a red herring…..TO YOU!! But you would vote for a cardboard cut out so long as it was republican. Sorry but to expand beyond PD voters, which is what the R’s need to do if they are ever going to win the 55th, having a candidate who waves the red flag on the gun issue is a bad idea.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The only political group we dislike more than Illinois Republicans is Illinois Democrats, and that’s pretty much a photo finish.

That being said, we’re in favor of almost any candidate who isn’t one of the incompetent and/or corrupt clowns in Springfield – like Marty Moylan – who continue to pile into Mike Madigan’s Dem. clown car.

And any voter who wouldn’t support a candidate clearly better than Madigan stooge Moylan – like Smolenski – because of the gun issue deserves the sinking-into-bankruptcy Dem-controlled state government we currently have.



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