Public Watchdog.org

Former D-207 Board President Ed Mueller: Profile In Courage

11.02.18

For all you readers who haven’t yet voted, this coming Tuesday (November 6) is when the rubber meets the road on the Maine Twp. H.S. Dist. 207 referendum.

That’s the one where Supt. Ken “Sno-Job” Wallace and his 7 Dwarfs (the 7-member D-207 Board of education) want us to vote to enable them to borrow $195 Million – at a total repayment cost, with interest, of approximately $300 Million – and spend that $195 Million plus another $45 Million of cash on hand to do a laundry list of projects on all three schools.

In our 08.24.2018 post and our 08.31.2018 post we wrote about how this grand tax/borrow/spend plan is, basically, a scam by Snow-Job and the Dwarfs to stampede us taxpayers into giving them hundreds of millions without any itemization of the costs of any of the individual projects, or even on a per-school basis, and no prioritization – because they don’t want us taxpayers distinguishing between what is actually needed and what is merely wanted, or between what is grossly neglected maintenance/repair and what amounts to new fluff.

And don’t forget how Snow-Job and the Dwarfs have wasted $115,000 of our tax dollars to hire 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 bombard us with their slick videos, misleading surveys and misleading FAQs, all for the purpose of bamboozling a majority of D-207 voters into voting for this boondoggle.

Meanwhile, during Wallace’s 9-year tenure as superintendent, the rankings of our schools have dropped to the point where U.S. News & World Reports did not even rank Maine South in either 2017 or 2018 because it is so underperforming its demographic profile.

But this referendum isn’t really about money: It’s about honesty and trust. Or, in the case of Snow-Job and the Dwarfs, their dishonesty and untrustworthiness, both of which – along with their gross incompetence and lack of transparency – should  disqualify them from any stewardship of both our children’s education and our money.

For example, do you know that as of June 30 of this year, D-207’s own budget document shows that Snow-Job and the Dwarfs had stockpiled over $126 Million of reserve funds, and that it is projecting to end the current school year next June 30 with $120.5 Million of reserves?

That’s right: Even though folks like Kelly Przekota have complained about the schools “falling down faster than London Bridge” and having to buy her teacher-husband a plastic bin with latches to protect his coat and laptop from cockroaches, and even though the ubiquitous Kathy (Panattoni) Meade has warned parents to purchase gas masks for their kids who use Maine South pool because of chlorine gas buildup, and even though Ashley Hawkes pleads for a roof that doesn’t leak, Snow-Job and the Dwarfs have intentionally, callously and dishonestly ignored those and many other sub-par conditions – and refused to make necessary repairs and replacements – despite accumulating and sitting on over $120 MILLION in reserve funds, $45 Million of which they are throwing into the boondoggle pot!

Why?

Because if Snow-Job and the Dwarfs had actually done the maintenance, repairs and replacement needed to remedy such problems, they wouldn’t have all those scary photos and videos – compliments of the $115,000 propaganda squad – that they’ve been using to hoodwink the stupid, the gullible and the profligate into supporting the referendum.

But don’t take our word for it. Instead, read what former 3-term (12 years – from May 2001 to April 2013) D-207 Board member and 3-time D-207 Board president, Edward Mueller, courageously wrote in his letter to the editor of the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate published in yesterday’s on-line edition, which is reprinted here with Mr. Mueller’s permission:

Letter: Past school board president opposed to Maine Township District 207 referendum

As a former member of the Maine Township High School District Board of Education for three terms (almost 12 years) and president for three terms (three years), I would like to go on record as opposed to the referendum.

My experience on the board that runs the three Maine Township high schools makes it clear that vast sums of taxpayer money are squandered. The supposed “tax caps” enacted by the Illinois legislature have become floors. During my last few years on the board, I opposed methodical, rote tax hikes designed to maximize tax revenue under the caps without regard to need, and almost invariably was a minority of one in doing so. My efforts to pass tax rebates were voted down while I was on the board (the reasons for increasing taxes and then rebating a portion thereof are complex, related to the above-mentioned “tax cap” legislation).

I know certain of the sitting board members and I believe that the proposal to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on unneeded physical improvements is an attempt to create a personal legacy, which is utterly divorced from actual need. When I was president, I spearheaded a comprehensive review of the physical conditions of the three schools, which utterly belies the current proposals for more taxpayer money. And please, please don’t believe that the cost will be “only” $350 per household per year. That is an average, based no doubt on fuzzy math, and is not what most people will really owe, if the past is prologue.

I urge the voters to vote no on the proposed referendum. And, voters next April should take a close look at the board members who have routinely approved unnecessary tax increases that make District 207 teachers the highest paid of almost 900 districts/schools in the state of Illinois.

Ed Mueller

Past president

Maine Township 207 Board of Education

_________________________

For the past 9 years Snow-Job and the 7 Dwarfs (and their predecessors) have intentionally, callously and irresponsibly neglected the District’s physical infrastructure despite having multi-millions of our tax dollars that could have addressed virtually every actual building NEED. They did so in order to manufacture all these alleged school building “crises.”

And like those folks in Washington D.C. who dishonestly pack 100s of disparate and expensive projects and programs into one bill that nobody can read or understand, and that they can pass without us taxpayers being any the wiser, Snow-Job and the Dwarfs – with the aid of their $115,000 propagandists – have done the very same kind of thing by rolling all these projects into one referendum question.

By voting “yes” you are endorsing incompetent, dishonest, irresponsible, non-transparent and ultimately wasteful government.

GFL with that.

To read or post comments, click on title.

11 comments so far

Outstanding post by both you and Mr. Mueller. You both nailed why it’s not as much about money as it is about H.I.T.A. Thank you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you.

Excellent post, PubDog, but there is one thing missing. Why would Sno-Job and the Dwarfs sit on all of this cash rather than use to for improvements. The answer, most likely, is that they have been busy giving away the farm every four years to the teacher’s union for fear of a strike so, they hoarded cash, and neglected the infrastructure. This is a common theme that is seen in many school district.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Depending on what bureaucrat, bond rating organization or investment banker you talk to, D-207 has a “reserves” target of 35%-50% of annual operating expenses. That means D-207 is substantially over that.

What we suspect is that they may actually intend to use all the referendum money to do all the things they neglected and all the shiny new whiz-bang stuff they want – knowing that they’ll still have plenty of reserve funds to cover increases in teacher and administrator salaries without having to use any of the referendum funding for that purpose.

What bothers me is that none of the projects is identified as a priority maintenance, priority repair, non-priority either, or improvement, and there are no prices for each. And they’ve been sitting on all these millions that they could have used to do much of the work they are borrowing money to do.

I can understand a bureaucrat like Wallace being dishonest, but when our elected school board members are either dishonest or rubber stamps I feel betrayed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Board members truly are just Dwarfs: Way over their skis, primarily big-government types who haven’t seen a spending proposal they can’t blindly support – especially if it’s recommended by Snow-Job.

I just posted my last blog of the season (https://207referendum.blogspot.com/). I say the season because even if D207 looses, they’ll be back next Spring.

Anyway, I wholeheartedly referred this post to my readers. Mr. Mueller’s insight into D207 added weight to my own belief that D207’s Administration is expensive, untrustworthy and incompetent. All of it, Owen lead Board and all, must be replaced.

There is a great deal of work to do in 2019.

Well done counselor!

Starbucks on me.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Via con Dios, Kenneth.

I guess better late than never applies but I wish his courage would have guided him to bring this up weeks or months ago rather than a few days before the election (or too late for those who voted early). If people have busy weekends planned and don’t subscribe to or visit the HA they may go to the voting booth without even knowing this information.

Beyond that, this leaves no opportunity for a discussion of his accusations or any defense by admin or the board.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The vast majority of voters will vote on Tuesday, so it’s in plenty of time.

Snow-Job and the 7 Dwarfs have had several months to make their b.s. sales pitches, through their $115K propagandists. That’s more than enough of an advantage for them.

How can you make such accusations about D-207’s superintendent and board being “incompetent, dishonest, irresponsible, non-transparent and ultimately wasteful”? I have met most of those people and they want to do what’s right for our community. All you do is complain.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If letting three high schools get run down while they sit on $120 MILLION is doing “what’s right for our community,” you’re absolutely right.

I am in complete agreement with you on the subject but you fail to mention how Wallace and his gang are using the safety of the kids and schools as a PAWN to scare people to vote for this thing. They have the money on hand RIGHT NOW to secure the buildings.

Also the wording of the referendum is such that the average vote will think the money will just fall from the sky not come from them. The figures on the tax were distorted at the meetings. Using Zillow numbers is nonsense. Its cook county assessment numbers that matter and every third year they go up. Like next year and cook county is brutal. And RENTERS are not exempt on this thing because as property owners are hit up with higher taxes they get passed on to the renters, businesses and the like. It’s called “trickle down economics”

A comment was made they need a new field house because “SOMEONE” promised it back in the 60s. Also new locker rooms needed because there are pipes overhead and all new class room furniture because the kids just cant seem to learn anything in the desks they have. I could go on and on. This is the worst example of SPENDING GONE WILD that I have ever seen.

Thank you Ed Mueller.

It’s time people with your experience inside the beast tell us the truth about how the board and administrators are trying to buy their personal legacies with our money.

I have heard that Dean J. Patras is the citizen leader of the referendum marketing campaign. Is that true?

On the Concerned Homeowners FB page he says that referendum funds can’t be used for teachers’ salaries, but how are we ever going to be able to prove whether that ends up being true or not? He also says that the D207 administration’s management has earned us a AAA bond rating. Is that true? Finally, he says spending $35 million over the past 5 years hasn’t gotten us anywhere. But if they are sitting on $120 million they could have spent two or three times that. Why didin’t they?

This sounds like a poorly thought out plan without any transparency. I will be voting no.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have heard the same thing about Mr. Patras.

Your point about the teachers’ salaries and raises is spot-on. Moreover, by retaining $80+ MILLION of reserves (after they use $45 Million for the infrastructure boondoggle) D-207 will still have more than enough money with which to give teacher and administrator big raises. And one of the main reasons for the AAA bond rating – if that is true – is that they are sitting on $122 MILLION that can be used to make bond payments and thereby reduce risks to the bondholders.

How many of the maintenance, repair and improvement projects could have been done with $80 Million of that $122 Million? We don’t know, because Sno-Job and the 7 Dwarfs refuse to itemize the line-item project costs so that we could decide for ourselves whether we wanted to go all-in on the $240 million ($340 million with debt service) or demand a different boondoggle.

May be too late in the game but heres my beef. Wallace and his gang are sick in using the kids safety and school security as a fear factor pawn to get this thing passed. How low can they go. and the public is buying it hook line and sinker. According to the financial report of their own CFO there is tons of money on hand right now to secure those building. The vast amount of the money is being wasted on useless thrills and spills that have NOTHING to do with preparing kids for the future job market. I took all the tours and was at all the meetings. Ive talked with recent graduated students and retired teachers and all are in agreement wallace is GROSSLY over stating the facts. A good example is a field house that “SOMEONE” promised in the 60s and all new locker rooms because there are pipes overhead and all new classroom furniture because “THE KIDS ARE HAVING A DIFFICULT TIME LEARNING IN THE DESKS THEY HAVE”. They are also GROSSLY UNDERSTATING the cost to homeowners. Using Zillow estimates instead of Cook County assessment numbers and THATS what this tax is tied to. Its a tax on a ever increasing tax that goes up with assessed values. NOT zillow values. REMEMBER every third year we are reassessed and it NEVER goes down in cook county. Thats at least 6 more reassessments over the 20 years Even the wording on the ballot was sugar coated. It gives the impression the money will just fall from the sky. This whole thing is the scam of the century and needs to be put out with the trash.

If the Superintendent of D207 job performance was measured similar to corporate America then Supt Wallace would have lost his job years ago. A CEO in charge of a company that declines as D207 has under Supt Wallace’s “leadership” would have been fired not rewarded with raises and bonuses.

Now this incompetent superintendent and complicit board have given students a hybrid block schedule that was poorly conceived, planned for and implemented. Under this new schedule the school week has been shortened by an hour and fifteen minutes and there are 8 classes instead of 9. With the block schedule on Tuesdays and Wednesdays my child who is a senior has 4 hours and 15 minutes of free time in the middle of the day on Tuesdays.

So many other issues with this new schedule but for the school board to ask for $195 million when they are incapable of properly manage the finances and the education of our students is really inexcusable.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Snow-Job and the Dwarfs apparently don’t want taxpayers to consider: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” Luke 16:10 (King James Version).



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