Public Watchdog.org

D-207’s “Snow-Job” Wallace And His 7 Dwarfs Stack Deck Against Taxpayers

08.31.18

In our previous post we discussed how District 207 Supt. Ken “Snow-Job” Wallace and his 7 Dwarfs – Board members Aurora Austriaco, Paula Bessler, Teri Collins, Linda Coyle, Jin Lee, Carla Owen and Sean Sullivan – committed the District to spending $115,000 (or more) of our tax dollars on the public relations services of bond underwriter George K. Baum & Company (“Baum”), public relations pollster Public Opinion Strategies (“POS”) and focus group facilitator/manipulator Minding Your Business (“MYB”) to bamboozle us into approving a $135 million bond issue referendum in April 2019.

The tactics of those professional contract propagandists?

  1. Have the 7 Dwarfs create a loosey-goosey 40 to 65 member Citizen Task Force advisory group of alleged District residents “with varying viewpoints from across the district” – the backgrounds and actual “viewpoints” of whom D-207 claims not to know – and call it “community engagement” so that gullible residents won’t realize that the Task Force is nothing but a propaganda tool.
  2. Hold four meetings of those Task Force members – while failing to record the attendance (or lack thereof) – so that MYB could facilitate/manipulate them into recommending a $241 million infrastructure project funded by $195 million of bonded debt that would end up costing D-207 taxpayers almost $300 million to repay.
  3. Come up with a “Plan B” that requires only $135 million of bonded debt – and will cost only $200+ million to repay – as the kinder, gentler plan in case the $195/$300 million “Plan A” is rejected by the taxpayers.
  4. Have POS run a survey of slanted, factually-insufficient questions directed to 300 alleged District residents – because those alleged residents also have not been identified by Snow-Job and the 7 Dwarfs – that shows “strong” support for the $195 million referendum but support “bordering on overwhelming” for the $135 million referendum.
  5. Hold several community “reach out” sessions, ostensibly to showcase the infrastructure project’s features but, in reality, to identify and recruit likely supporters to staff a pro-referendum citizens political campaign (a la D-64’s “Yes/Yes” new Emerson campaign in 1997, and its “Strong Schools” funding campaign in 2007).
  6. Have the Dwarfs hire a high-priced new Director of Communications, Brett Clark, as the District’s in-house propagandist to help the outside hired-gun consultants bamboozle and/or stampede the taxpayers into voting for the referendum. Clark remains a “consultant” to the Consortium for Educational Change, a cabal of school administrators, school board members and teacher unions seemingly created and operated for the benefit of those special interests and to the detriment of the taxpayers.
  7. Have the Dwarfs put the $195 million bond issue referendum on the November 2018 ballot so it can be used to test the interest-group targeting and messaging of Baum, POS and MYB – safe in the knowledge that, even if the $195 million referendum loses in November, they have five months to modify and refine that targeting and messaging into a winning campaign for the “Plan B” $135 million bond referendum in the lower-turnout/easier-to-win April 2019 election.
  8. Have the Dwarfs approve a series of 15 dog-and-pony-show “school tours” of the three high schools (as described in the August 25, 2018 Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article, “Maine Township District 207 to host school tours leading up to November bond referendum”) that will likely highlight all the problems and “dangers” lurking in the existing buildings, while showcasing the shiny drawings of the planned improvements.

Meanwhile, whether orchestrated by the propagandists or just spontaneous silliness, several outspoken residents have started their own drumbeat for the project, primarily in comments on the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group FB page.

One of the more vocal is Kelly Przekota, perhaps because her husband works at Maine East. She claims that the Maine Twp. high schools “are falling down faster than London Bridge”; and that she had to buy her husband a plastic bin with latches to protect his coat and laptop case from…wait for it…the cockroaches.

Not to be left out of any public silliness is Park Ridge’s freeloader queen, Kathy (Panattoni) Meade, who used to run that FB page and is now warning its readers that parents should purchase gas masks for their kids who use the Maine South pool because of chlorine gas buildup.

But it was left to Ashley Hawkes to summarize the various gripes about what “our” high school kids need: “A roof that doesn’t leak. A pool that doesn’t poison. A cafeteria that can fit the class sizes. A building free of roaches. Nothing fancy.”

We agree.

And if we really don’t have those, then “Snow-Job” Wallace deserves to be fired; and the current 7 Dwarfs and their predecessor Dwarfs over the past decade or so deserve to be horse-whipped, figuratively speaking, for ignoring basic maintenance, repairs, renovations and improvements – presumably so that they could build up the $45 million slush fund that they now want to use as a kind of down-payment to go with the hundred million dollars plus of bonded debt for their new grand plan.

As for all those cockroaches, we don’t need a $100 million+ bond issue: A call to Orkin will do.

To read or post comments, click on title.

6 comments so far

I don’t know any of the three women whose comments you refer to. Most of the people who comment on the Concerned Homeowners FB page are ultraliberals who want more government and don’t care what it costs, so I’m not sure how credible they are.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t, either. But if they are credible, Wallace should be fired and the current Board members should resign for incompetence or intentional neglect of the school buildings.

How could D-207 build up such a multi-million dollar slush fund other than by cutting back on maintenance and repair? Wallace and the current Board should be held strictly responsible for this, although we know they won’t be because teachers and administrators are Teflon coated no matter how badly they perform and how greedy they tend to be.

The P.O.S. phone survey results, if representative of the D-207 electorate as a whole (and I doubt that 300 people are), has set the stage for “tribal” politics at their worst. Dems v. Republicans, young v. old, women v. men, parents with D-207 students v. those without. And I would bet that the citizens’ committee that is formed to campaign for the referendum will use that data and play that tribalism to the max.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly. Creating a database of information that supporters of the referendum can use for pro-referendum campaigning was exactly why our dishonest Superintendent and our clueless and/or dishonest Board members blew $115,000 of our tax dollars on all this public relations and political campaign stuff.

Why does the district need 195 or even 135 million when it has over 100 million in the bank as is? Maybe spend down the savings before jacking up taxes?

EDITOR’S NOTE: IF D-207 has “over 100 million in the bank as is,” it’s because Wallace and the Board accumulated an extra $50 million as a slush fund so that it could use that – along with the $195 million or $135 million of bonded debt – for the boondoggle project and still have the $50 million “reserve” (which is between 1/3 and 1/2 of the District’s annual budget) recommended by all those school funding “experts.”

But we’d prefer a referendum on the bonded debt to any non-referendum “spend[ing] down the savings,” given how irresponsible and dishonest Wallace and his boards (current and past) have been. At least a referendum gives the voters a voice that the rubber-stamp board members don’t provide.

Wallace has a back up plan in case the tax payers do not want to support his plan. Infrastructure will continue to deteriorate, but Wallace will cry poor. In turn he will have to make cuts. First he will need to cut staff. Teachers will be let go. You can say that the teachers are to blame for falling standards, but do teacher in the district have any real say in what they teach? Before we blame, we should best engage. Talk to those who work in Wallace’s kingdom. Referendum pass or fail, the reign of King Kenny will go on until a school board with real backbone is elected; a school board that will challenge King Kenny’s fuzzy logic is what is called for.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, Bunky, but teachers ARE to blame every bit as much as the administrators who are supposed to manage and support them – just like soldiers in battle are to blame when they drop their weapons, turn tail and run; or when they surrender without firing a shot.

There currently isn’t one – NOT ONE – School Board member “with real backbone,” or even some decent cartilage. And that’s been the case at D-207 for at least the past 15-20 years, not coincidentally corresponding to the slip sliding away of the District’s rankings/ratings notwithstanding its reportedly paying some of the highest teacher and administrator compensation in the Chicagoland area.

Why not cut wasteful spending first? Each of the three Maine schools have four vice-principles. Think about that for a second…. What other district in the area have four vice-principles? The district spends over $500,000 just on it vice-principles alone. Add in the three principles and you are approaching the million dollar mark, just for front office administrators. Then you have department chairs. Now King Kenny has gotten rid of some of the chairs by making them lead teachers, but more cuts need to be made. Districts 214 and 211 have one chair to run several departments. IE science and math have one chair serving the two departments. Too much $$ spent on administration. A minimum of $700,000 per school just for department chairs….. This says nothing the other administrators at the district office. Ask yourself this, if King Kenny and all of the district administrators minus the deans, did not come to work for a month, would the district shut down? Me thinks not…

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Why not cut wasteful spending first?” Because one person’s “waste” is another’s “necessity” or “enrichment” – especially when those characteristics are defined by “Snow-Job” Wallace and rubber-stamped by his 7 Dwarfs school board.

From what we’ve observed at D-207 for the past decade or so, if Snow-Job “and all of the district administrators minus the deans, did not come to work for a month,” we suspect performance would improve – so long as the teachers really are as competent as they claim to be, and also didn’t act like unionized mice preferring to play while the cats are away.



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