Public Watchdog.org

Biagi Invites Censure, Gets No Takers

10.05.17

At the Park Ridge City Council meeting on March 3, 2008, then-Park Ridge mayor Howard Frimark took the unprecedented step of “condemning” then-1st Ward ald. Dave Schmidt for publicly disclosing the contents of two memos about topics discussed in closed session that should have been discussed in open session.

Since history tends to repeat itself, you might want to read about that buffoonery – which led to Schmidt’s adoption of “H.I.T.A.” (Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability) as the centerpiece of his successful 2009 mayoral campaign – in our posts of March 5, 2008 and March 19, 2008.

We were reminded of Frimark’s condemnation of Schmidt as we watched the video (from the 2:51:20 mark continuing through the 3:16:33 mark) of the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 School Board’s September 25, 2017 meeting at which president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli ripped into Board vice-president Rick Biagi for the latter’s response to our 09.18.17 post – which we published in our 09.21.17 post and which Biagi also posted on his own D-64 Facebook page in response to e-mails he claims to have received from other constituents.

Borrelli branded Biagi’s response “malicious and disrespectful…self-aggrandizement,” and took particular issue with Biagi’s reference to “the Borrelli Doctrine” used by “a blogger” – presumably this blog’s editor, who used that term to describe Borrelli’s philosophy of government revealed by his own words: “We have to trust Dr. Heinz that she is being fiscally careful with our money.”

Wasn’t that the philosophy of the Lincoln-Way High School District 210 school board prior to the indictment of former supt. Larry Wyllie for wire fraud and embezzlement?

SIDEBAR: We’re not suggesting D-64 Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz is committing any indictable acts. But any elected steward of a unit of government and the taxpayers’ money, such as Borrelli, has his head in the sand – or in another warm dark place – if he simply trusts but does not verify.

Instead of waiting for Borrelli to propose some action against him, however, Biagi went on the offensive and pointedly invited Borrelli and the rest of the Board to censure him if they disapproved of his explanation of his vote, or of his blogging/Facebooking in general.

Borrelli immediately started backpeddling, and kept backpeddling even after Biagi read his entire response into the record for the benefit of Board member Larry Ryles, who was not aware of it.

Not only did no Board member accept Biagi’s censure invitation, but Ryles noted how “very eloquent” Biagi’s explanation was. Ryles also questioned why Borrelli was so offended by the term “Borrelli Doctrine,” given that Ryles had heard it back when he was campaigning for the Board prior to last April’s election.

We thought we had coined that term, but we’ll offer a Watchdog bark-out to whoever beat us to it – if only because Borrelli needs to be held accountable for his six years of: (a) perpetuating D-64’s Star Chamber proceedings; (b) two negotiated-in-secret PREA contracts providing non merit-based raises exceeding the CPI; (c) three negotiated-in-secret extensions of Heinz’s contract, with raises; and (d) in-house rave reviews of D-64 schools even as they remain MIA from virtually every Top 100 rating/ranking of Chicago-area public elementary/middle schools, and even as the rating/ranking of Maine South – populated substantially by D-64 graduates – continues to slide.

But we digress.

We still believe Biagi and the rest of the D-64 Board effectively rewarded Heinz and finance czarina Luann Kolstad for their typical intransigence and lack of transparency – in this instance, by almost two months of failing to provide data to support those administrator raises despite Biagi’s admittedly throwing a “public tantrum” and having “pitched a fit over three separate board meetings” about such a lack of data.

Transparency is not something over which elected officials should have to bargain with highly-paid administrators: It should be expected as the sine qua non of any issue those administrators bring before those officials. And if it isn’t provided it should be demanded – with the clear message that, if it has to be demanded again, somebody will need to update their resume.

That being said, however, Biagi has shown once again that in less than six months on the D-64 Board he has caused more transparency and accountability than President “Who’s The Boss?” has mustered in his six years there.

Whether Biagi can build a consistent majority of allies (or followers) on that Board remains to be seen. We also are mindful of how service on our two local school boards has the uncanny ability to turn even ostensibly well-meaning reformers into zombie-like pawns of the teachers’ unions, domineering administrators, and an established network of consultants and vendors whose manipulation tactics seem positively K Street’s.

But if D-64 is going to turn around and start providing top-shelf educational quality and achievement for the top-shelf money it spends, it will need the H.I.T.A. of Rick Biagi.

And a few more like him.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Biagi Explains, Defends Vote For Heinz’s $75K In Administrator Raises

09.21.17

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today we are posting what was submitted by D-64 Board vice-president Rick Biagi as a comment to our 09.18.17 post and Update.

While we disagree with him on some key points, we respect this effort to apprise his constituents of the reasons behind his vote for Supt. Heinz’s $75,000 of raises for District administrators. We also appreciate his persistence in trying to bring H.I.T.A. to a Star Chamber-like unit of government that has been bereft of it for decades.

                 _____________________________________

I don’t expect a pat on the back for what transpired the other evening but I would like to provide a bit more detail than the Trib gave – if I still disappointed everyone after hearing me out, then I’m prepared to take my lumps.

Prior to the public tantrum I threw at a Board meeting several weeks ago, Dr. Heinz was poised to receive a $75,000 bucket of money to apportion out to 19 principals and assistant principals, at her sole discretion, without any oversight whatsoever. Had I not pitched a fit over three separate Board meetings, the vote would’ve been 6-1 or 5-2 at best, to hand her the cash. In the end, I would’ve stood on principle and your and my $75k would’ve been spent with absolutely no transparency or accountability.

Until I loudly complained, there was no comparable data for the public to see, there was no detail regarding how these administrators’ performance was being objectively evaluated, and there was no explanation whatsoever for how the money was to be apportioned…it was just Borrelli Doctrine on full display…”sometimes, we just need to trust our Superintendent”.

Let’s talk facts for a moment – as a result of my cajoling and insistence, Dr. Heinz publicly detailed the formal process by which administrators are, in fact, reviewed. The State requires her to place these folks into one of four buckets – 1) unsatisfactory, 2) needs improvement, 3) proficient, and 4) distinguished. Dr. Heinz went on record to state that anyone falling into the first two buckets will not have their contract renewed with the District…the other two buckets contain people whom she wants to see grow and to be retained. Dr. Heinz went on to publicly explain the rubric she uses to review the performance of the administrators and how they are placed into one of these four buckets.

The role of the Board, in this case, is to insure that the Superintendent is evaluating these folks with objective criteria and following her methodology in a fair and consistent manner, rather than evaluating people arbitrarily and rewarding the sycophants while condemning her detractors. In my opinion, Dr. Heinz established, publicly, that she is, in fact, conducting objective performance appraisals of these folks.

So, with that established in my mind, the remaining question centered on the validity of the “comparable” data. Rather than take an average of all school districts in northern Cook County, as Dr. Heinz wanted to do, I complained loudly enough that she changed course and relied on the 5 “comparable” districts that the Board had previously identified during the last PREA negotiation. The Board, at the time, took into account such things as EAV, student population, number of low-income and ESL students, among others. Are these districts truly comparable to D64? I have absolutely no idea – there, I said it – I’m not sure. But, the alternatives I had in front of me were: 1) accept the northern Cook County average, 2) come up with my own list of comparable districts, 3) hire a consultant who knows far more than the Board to come up with a list of comparable districts, at a great expense to the taxpayers, or 4) go with the 5 districts that the previous Board identified after much consternation. Again, I have no clue whether these five districts are truly comparable – and my guess is that if we asked 10 “experts” to opine on it, we would get ten different answers.

In the end, it was through my leadership that the Board unanimously approved a structure which requires that Dr. Heinz publicly disclose the rubric for her performance evaluations and then allocates $57,000 amongst 19 people, BASED ON THEIR PERFORMANCE (with the average coming in at around 2.6%). At my request, we also gave Dr. Heinz $18,000 to use for a handful of administrators that had been hired long ago, far under market levels, and who remain under their peers in pay (based on years of service, performance, etc.).

I run a law firm for a living and I know, all too well, the difficulty in finding, grooming and retaining good talent. While it doesn’t all boil down to money, certainly workplace environment, challenging projects and pleasant colleagues all play a role – but, most of the time money is the motivating factor in most employee’s decisions to stay or go. Paying my staff appropriately for the job they perform proves to them that I value their work and that they are a appreciated and important part of my team, without whom I would not be able to serve my clients. I suspect that Dr. Heinz looks at her staff in much the same way.

If you watch the video from this Monday evening, you will see me sitting there, head in hands, for a good part of the “pay raise” discussion. I wasn’t doing it for show or to look like I was some pompous blowhard who was thoughtfully weighing the facts before handing down my judgment…instead, I was truly torn. I had previously demanded data for the public to see, which would make the whole process transparent and hold Dr. Heinz and her staff accountable. I didn’t get everything I asked for, but they came pretty close. I was uncomfortable with the notion of not giving these folks a pay raise – I’ve seen many of these administrators in action and, in my opinion, most are doing a very good job of running their respective schools and managing a bevy of teachers. I personally don’t think that we can equate test scores with administrator performance – in my opinion, take it for what it’s worth, I think that student success, test scores and the like, are affected almost solely by Dr. Heinz, her Superintendent of Curriculum, and the teachers who carry out their orders. Again, in my opinion, the administrators are more like managers of large institutions – they have budgets to meet, people to manage, and facilities to oversee – all on a micro, rather than macro level…and, in my opinion, most of these folks are doing a pretty good job of it.

So, after that longwinded explanation, if you still feel I failed the taxpayers of the District and didn’t score a victory for HITA, then I’m willing to accept the blame and the criticism. Thanks for hearing me out.

Richard “Rick” Biagi

Vice-President

Park Ridge-Niles School District 64

Tribune Editorial Shows Folly Of The “Borrelli Doctrine” (Updated)

09.18.17

In our last post we reported how Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli attempted to defend Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz from criticism over her slush fund by insisting: “We have to trust Dr. Heinz that she is being fiscally careful with our money.”

From here on out we will refer to that bit of abject cluelessness as the “Borrelli Doctrine.”

And if you want an example of what can happen when school boards, or any other public governing bodies, subscribe to the Borrelli Doctrine, you need look no further than last Thursday’s (09.14.17) Chicago Tribune editorial titled: “How unique was Lincoln-Way? And where was the school board?”

That editorial addressed the indictment of former Lincoln-Way High School District 210 Lawrence Wyllie on federal fraud and embezzlement charges. Wyllie is accused of surreptitiously pocketing $85,000, and of fraudulently inflating the district’s financial outlook that resulted in the district’s undertaking of an additional $7 million of debt – even though none of that debt appears to have wound up in his pocket.

But the $50,000 he put into a dog training school, the $368,148 infusion into his annuity account, and the $30,000 of charges on his district credit card – all of which were approved by the Lincoln-Way school board members – caused the Trib’s editorial board to ask whether those board members were “daydreaming” or “asleep for the three-year period” when they voted their approval of those expenditures.

We’ll quote the most salient part of the Trib editorial verbatim:

Being a member of a village or school board shouldn’t just be an ego trip — it requires serving as firewall to the kind of alleged mismanagement that, in Lincoln-Way’s case, got the affluent district on the state’s financial watch list.

There’s also a crucial lesson here for taxpayers. It’s their money that’s getting pocketed in these scandals, their kids’ education that’s at stake, and their votes that can make all the difference between a school board member who cares and one who couldn’t care less.

Too often, suburban municipal and school district elections amount to popularity contests that steer clear of assessing a candidate’s acumen for sound governance and skeptical oversight. All too often, voters blindly check the familiar ballot names of incumbents. Or they pick a name that simply has a nice ring to it. Or, specifically in school board races, they rely on endorsements from the local teachers union, which has reasons to want friends on the board.

Ah, yes, the board.

Maybe when prosecutors and defense attorneys finish telling their stories, all of us will know the answer to a question with implications larger than Lincoln-Way: Where was the school board?

That editorial dealt with the indictment of Supt. Wyllie, but it could also serve as an indictment of the Borrelli Doctrine that encourages the bobbleheaded rubber-stamping of which we’ve been so critical over the past decade that this blog has been regularly posting about local government, its occasional successes, and its many failings.

The see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil approach to school board service has been the standard operating procedure not only at D-64 but also at D-207 for as long as one can remember, but Borrelli deserves the dubious distinction of being the namesake of the Borrelli Doctrine because he actually articulated it publicly.

For that, we thank him.

We expect that doctrine to be on display again this evening when the Board is scheduled to take up, once again, the approval of Heinz’s slush fund, now that she has provided the “data” and what passes in her world as an “analysis” of how D-64 administrators’ pay stacks up against certain allegedly “comparable” districts.

If you’re interested in that discussion, however, don’t plan on showing up at the Jefferson School Multipurpose Room until 9:00 p.m., because that’s when that part of tonight’s festivities are scheduled to kick off. That will be 2.5 hours into the proceedings, presumably after the Board members have already been sufficiently pounded down and fatigued by a “Facilities” presentation and, therefore, less inclined to aggressively spar with Heinz and Finance Czarina Luann Kolstad over their attempted justifications for the slush-funded administrator raises which can be found at pages 79 through 89 of the Report, starting with the somewhat confusing explanation that these raises are based on “comparable” districts rather than being “market adjustments.”

Not surprisingly, Heinz and Kolstad have chosen to work with the average “comparable” salaries rather than the medians of those salaries, the better to more easily skew the results using the outlier salaries of the most highly-paid individuals; e.g., two of Glenview’s three elementary principals are reportedly making $161K and $148K, respectively, (although no “years of service” are shown for them) compared to D-64’s highest one of six, who is knocking down a paltry $133K.

But guess what? Heinz and Kolstad don’t even include their calculations of the averages they came up with, so even that defective measure can’t be independently verified.

According to the Borrelli Doctrine, however, the Board – and the taxpayers they represent – should just trust Heinz, Kolstad and their numbers despite the numerous unexplained anomalies, such as a D-64 middle school Assistant Principal with 20 years of service making $107K while another D-64 Assistant Principal (with unidentified years of service) is making $117K.

Looking at all the numbers individually rather than by average, however, suggests that D-64 salaries are already pretty competitive. So why the increases?

Is D-64 losing its administrators to other districts? Is Heinz having trouble recruiting that 5-year Assistant Supt. Curriculum (“ASC”) from Glenview making $177K who won’t come to D-64 because the current 5-year ASC is getting only $155K? If so, why doesn’t Heinz recruit the 4-year ASC from Deerfield making only $108K, or the 4-year ASC from Libertyville making only $147K?

We don’t know.

But the real problem is that this “analysis” looks like a half-baked apples-to-oranges-to-grapes-to-cantaloupes effort – with incomplete (e.g., years of service) and anomalous data – thrown together by Heinz and Kolstad just to make it look like they have responded to Board concerns expressed at the August 28 meeting, so that they can push an already-weary Board to just say “Yes!” to slush tonight.

It looks like garbage in. The question remains whether it will result in garbage out.

Updated 09.20.17.  The result is “garbage out”: The D-64 Board voted unanimously to approve $75,000 that Heinz will distribute to 19 administrators – $57K based on performance evaluations, $18K as “market adjustments” in relation to 5 allegedly “comparable” districts, all of which appear to be performing at significantly better academic levels than D-64.

We have yet to watch the meeting video – because it’s still not posted on the D-64 site – but our stringers in attendance report that both Heinz and Kolstad, in the face of questioning by Biagi and fellow Board members Larry Ryles and Tom Sotos, responded with a barrage of purported “data” that had not previously been furnished to the Board members or posted on the District’s website for review by the taxpayers.

Unfortunately, rather than responding to that ambush by tabling the discussion until all that new “data” could be digested and evaluated, the Board caved.

Over two centuries ago Sun Tzu observed: “Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move.”

Once again, Heinz and Kolstad proved Sun Tzu correct. By keeping all that apparently decisive information secret until the 11th hour before dumping it on the over-matched Board and goading it into a premature vote, they won another battle of the public purse.

This time it was only $75K. But emboldened by knowledge of this Board’s weakness, you can bet Heinz and Kolstad will employ the same tactics to shoot for a whole lot more next time.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Can D-64 Board Melt Heinz’s Slush?

09.14.17

Recently we wrote about the roughly $33,000 that Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 would be spending the remainder of this budget year to put a modern-day “Officer Friendly” in Lincoln and Emerson Middle Schools from 8 to 10 hours per week – for what appears to be palliative reasons, at best.

Today we write about the latest boondoggle from D-64 Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz: A $70,000 slush fund so that Heinz can give raises to subordinate administrators of her choosing.

As reported by the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“District 64 holds off on superintendent’s request for pay hikes to administrators,” Sept. 5), at the August 28th Board meeting Heinz insisted the money was needed to bring those administrators up to “market” rates, presumably to keep them from jumping to higher-paying jobs in other districts. The 2.62% average bump that $70,000 of slush give to the administrators just happens to approximate the 2.60% bump D-64 teachers are scheduled to get this school year.

Don’t you just love these kinds of coincidences?

How many of you taxpayers are getting a 2.60% raise this year for doing the same job you did last year? For that matter, how many of you: (a) work for employers who can’t pick up and move to another state or another country; (b) never have to travel more than a few miles to your job; and (c) have defined benefit pension plans that dwarf the equivalent Social Security benefits, include annual COLAs, are guaranteed by the constitution of the State of Illinois, and that you can start receiving by age 60, if not earlier?

If you work in the highly-competitive private sector, we’re guessing darn few of you. In the non-competitive public sector, it’s the rule rather than the exception.

We suggest that you watch the discussion of Heinz’s slush fund on the meeting video, starting at the 3:35:18 mark and running for slightly more than an hour. If you do, you’ll hear Borrelli say things like: “If you get a 2% raise when the CPI is 2.5, you’ve lost money in reality because you’re not keeping up with the CPI.”

In other words, Borrelli and Heinz want D-64 taxpayers to foot the bill for annual raises for administrators NOT because those administrators are working harder or better but, instead, simply so this special class of public employees doesn’t have to suffer the pinch of inflation like the rest of us do.

When was the last time you heard the directors or officers of a private-sector employer demean a 2% raise that way – assuming they were giving out raises at all?

Not surprisingly, Heinz mocks the idea of performance-based raises: “There are no schools in this area that do merit-based increases [because] that is not a productive way to encourage collaboration.”

Let that be a lesson to all you non-collaborative private-sector workers who bust your humps to earn your merit-based raises!

In past years under previous school boards, Heinz’s blind-pig funding requests were heartily endorsed by Borrelli and rubber-stamped by his fellow bobble-heads with nary a question or whimper. But back in July when Heinz first brought up this slush fund bearing a $75,000 price tag, Board vice-president Rick Biagi – elected just this past April – refused to buy Heinz’s and the District’s alleged financial guru Luann Kolstad’s representations about administrative pay “targets” based on “comparable” school districts, and the “bumps” needed to hit those “targets.” He actually demanded the underlying data.

Data? Heinz and Kolstad don’ nidd no steenkink data!

As with most of Illinois’ dysfunctional local governmental units, glorified bureaucrats like Heinz and Kolstad rule by a perverse kind of Divine Right – like English kings, pre-Magna Carta. And if they rely on any data at all for their decisions, they never voluntarily share it for fear that the few competent and diligent elected officials overseeing them, or motivated taxpayers who are underwriting their follies, will realize that the bureaucrats’ edicts and fiats are factually suspect, if not totally baseless.

So even the most benign taxpayer inquiries and criticisms are regularly met with the witheringly defiant tagline: “IT’S FOR THE KIDS!”

By the August 28 Board meeting the imperious Heinz still had not provided Biagi and the rest of the Board with the data requested a month earlier. Nevertheless, she seemed to be expecting a rubber-stamping of her $70,000 of slush until Biagi let her know at least one Board member would not go gently into that dark night – no matter what his fellow Board members wanted to do.

Rather than join in Biagi’s insistence on getting the data that allegedly supports Heinz’s bald-faced conclusion that her administrators were underpaid by “market” standards, Borrelli (at the 4:41:26 mark of the video) predictably leapt to her defense:

“So I think what it comes down to is trust: We have to trust Dr. Heinz that she is being fiscally careful with our money.”

“Trust, but verify” obviously is a foreign concept to Borrelli, especially when it comes to Heinz.

Fortunately, new Board member Fred Sanchez and, amazingly, even “Tilted Kilt Tommy” Sotos provided enough support for Biagi that, with Larry Ryles MIA, Borrelli and Heinz realized they didn’t have the four votes they needed. So action on the $70,000 and another $43,000 of slush (for about 25 non-union staff members) was deferred to this coming Monday (Sept. 18).

Before the D-64 Board votes to give one more dime of CPI-based raises or embarks on Heinz’s/Kolstad’s grand plan to push those allegedly underpaid administrators up to whatever “market” salaries are in comparable districts, however, we hope that Biagi, Sanchez and Sotos – and at least one more member of the Board, in order to create a majority – force open-session debates on the following policy questions:

  • Why should D-64 taxpayers have to provide District employees with inflation/CPI-based raises?

 

  • How many administrators (or teachers, for that matter) have left D-64 for the same or an equivalent position in another district over the past five years for money reasons – or for ANY reason?

 

  • If these administrators have been so “underpaid” for so long why hasn’t there been an exodus of them from D-64?

 

  • What specific criteria were used to identify the five “comparable” districts as “comparable” for determining the newly-sacred “market” for administrators in which D-64 allegedly competes?

 

  • Why is Kolstad trying to use “average” administrative salaries – which can be skewed by outlier numbers – from those comparable districts instead of median salaries?

Frankly, we don’t expect these policy questions to get resolved, or even addressed, before Heinz and Kolstad bend a  majority of the Board to their wills and walk away with their slushies, even if they have to give their solemn assurances – wink wink, nod nod – that they will “dive deeper into the data” before next year’s slush season.

But maybe, just maybe, this slush fund discussion is a sign that some real reform is starting to get traction at D-64. After all, hope does spring eternal.

At D-64, unfortunately, hope pressure is dangerously low.

To read or post comments, click on title.

School District 64: Not-Really-Secured Vestibules Meet “Officer Krupke”

08.31.17

“Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke,

You gotta understand,

It’s just our bringin’ up-ke

That gets us out of hand.

Our mothers all are junkies,

Our fathers all are drunks.

Golly Moses, natcherly we’re punks!”

If you’re over 21 and have received a proper education you should instantly recognize Stephen Sondheim’s opening lyrics of “Gee, Officer Krupke” from the iconic musical “West Side Story.”

Park Ridge isn’t the upper west side of New York City of the mid-1950s. And, mirabile dictu, The Ridge isn’t poverty-stricken, or dominated by two rival street gangs of “punks” whose mothers are junkies and whose fathers are drunks.

So why, exactly, did the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board vote unanimously at this past Monday night’s meeting to approve a “pilot program” at both of the District’s middle schools that will have a uniformed “school resource officer” (“SRO”) stationed at each school, but only part-time?

According to a story in this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“School resource officers to be stationed part-time at District 64 middle schools,” August 29), a rotating “core group of Park Ridge police officers” will spend up to 8 hours per week at Lincoln, while one “dedicated school resource officer from the Niles Police Department” will be stationed at Emerson for “four hours per day for two and a half days per week” – which we assume means 10 hours per week. That’s 8-10 hours out of the roughly 35 school hours per week.

Can you say “tokenism”? How about “charade”?

The cost of this “pilot program”: A measly $32,950. That’s not even a blip on the D-64 $70 million-plus radar, although the H-A article pointed out that the per-hour cost for the Park Ridge officers is reportedly “roughly $65 per hour” but only “$46.02 per hour” for the Niles officer, a $19 per hour delta.

And even though the H-A article reports that the idea of these school resource officers wasn’t proposed to Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and his fellow Board members by Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz and her staff until July 17 – approximately one week after a Lincoln student and one from Maine South posted on social media a threat to use a gun at Maine South during summer school – D-64 officials insist that the “pilot program” is not related to that incident.

The real reason for this “pilot program”: That’s a little less clear, other than that its main purpose appears to be (according to the H-A article) “building positive relationships between students and the local police departments” in order to restore “the trust that has been destroyed over the years” between D-64 youth and the police.

The article also quotes Niles Police Cmdr. Robert Tornabene’s description 0f the SRO’s role as “a teacher and a counselor to students” who will “deal primarily with bullying issues and internet safety.”

What if that bullying occurs during the 25-27 hours per week the SROs won’t be at their posts? Nobody’s saying.

But it gets even better.

If an Emerson or Lincoln student engages in certain criminal behavior at the school – like, oh, say, dropping a bag of drugs in the hallway in front of an SRO – the SRO apparently won’t be allowed to do his/her police duty. Instead, he/she will act “like a staff member at the school…[and] not arrest someone for having something at school,” according to Cmdr. Tornabene.

Would that same standard apply if, instead of drugs, the dropped item was a Glock? Or a Bushmaster? Once again, nobody’s saying.

According to Supt. Heinz, however, school administrators would get first crack at any such “disciplinary issue” before it “reach[es] the police departments.” And both Tornabene and Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski acknowledged that SRO’s “would serve at the direction of the middle school administration while on duty at their respective schools.”

Does that mean that D-64, with the assistance of two different police departments, is instituting a program that basically requires an officer sworn to uphold and enforce our laws to refrain from doing his/her police duty but, instead, to delegate it – at least in the first instance – to an unsworn, untrained school administrator who may have the authority to tell the SRO what to do or not do?

Brilliant!

We can only hope that a lot of important details about this “pilot program” are missing from that H-A article, because from that account this sounds almost too stupid to be true. However, if you read the three-page memo about the program on the D-64 website (“Report” at pages 8-10), you won’t find anything that makes it sound any smarter.

Then again, for a District that is blowing millions of dollars on not-really-secured vestibules – which won’t prevent the entry of a kid with an Uzi in his North Face backpack, or a dad with a Glock in his Burberry trench coat pocket, or a mom with a 9mm Beretta Nano in her Gucci purse, or a delivery man wearing a suicide vest under his green windbreaker – putting cops in schools for a few hours a week while effectively neutralizing their police powers sounds like par for the course.

Or more like 18 holes of double and triple bogies.

To read or post comments, click on title.

Not-Really-Secured Vestibules No Match For 12-Year Olds With Guns

07.21.17

We’ve written several posts about what a stupid and money-wasting idea the “secured vestibules” for Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 schools are, including posts on 03.11.16, 03.29.16 and 04.04.16. The sad fact is that they are so stupid and ineffective that we took to calling them “not-really-secured” vestibules.

Which they are.

We also suggested that metal detectors and either police or security guards (off-duty police?) would be more effective and economical than those not-really-secured vestibules in dealing with any actual threats.

So we weren’t at all surprised to hear those not-really-secured vestibules talked up in response to the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the aftermath of the recent incident where one 12-year old Lincoln Middle School student, along with a 15-year old fellow knucklehead/delinquent, posted some kind of gun-related threat to Maine South summer school students on Snapchat.

It also came as no shock that D-64 Supt. Laurie Heinz, her puppet Board president Tony Borrelli, and a few School Board members reacted to this incident as if they had just woken up in the middle of a minefield without a minesweeper.

When a parent of Washington and Lincoln school students showed up at last Monday (July 17) night’s School Board meeting and beefed about the four-day delay in the District’s notification of D-64 parents about the incident, then asked what plans were in place to prevent school shootings, Borrelli jumped at the opportunity to assure the woman and everyone else that the Administration has been so concerned about security that it is installing those not-really-secured vestibules – thereby “increasing the security atmosphere in all of our buildings to prevent these kinds of horrible events should they occur,” according to an article in this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Parents concerned after learning District 64 student was accused in Maine South threat,” July 18).

Note that bit of Orwellian Doublespeak: “[T]o prevent these kinds of horrible events should they occur.” [Emphasis added.]

President Borrelli, your Freudian slip is showing.

Making sport of Borrelli’s shortcomings as School Board president is not a fun assignment, but it’s something that needs to be done – if only as an object lesson in the kind of bad government we tend to get when we keep electing open-minded, non-judgmental, glad-handing “pleasers” who immediately “go native” and become witting or unwitting dupes of the bureaucrats we are paying quite handsomely to blow smoke up our kilts and mislead us while positioning themselves for their next job.

Can you say non-resident carpetbagger Laurie Heinz? We knew you could.

That’s why it’s so easy for Heinz to lead Borrelli and certain other Board members around by the nose, getting them to blow around $1 MILLION per school for these not-really-secured vestibules that are so worthless that…wait for it…they couldn’t have stopped either that 12-year old or his 15-year old partner had they shown up at any D-64 school with guns and ammo in their backpacks.

As we’ve pointed out many times before, the lack of metal detectors effectively gives students, parents, teachers, vendors, service people, etc. carte blanche to walk into any D-64 school “strapped,” “packing,” “heeled,” “heavy,” “Roscoed,” or any of the myriad other terms for walking around with a gun.

Nor will those vestibules stop those same people from bringing in knives, grenades, or ball bearing-laden suicide vests.

And for anybody hell-bent on shooting schoolkids, all they need do is drive by the playgrounds at recess, or the main entrances when school lets out and the schools themselves create target-rich environments.

So what’s the point of the not-really-secured vestibules?

Giving the Board and the administrators an excuse for spending millions of taxpayer dollars to create a façade of top-shelf security that merely conceals the vulnerability.

Not unlike their spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars creating a façade of top-shelf educational quality.

To read or post comments, click on title.

“Impact Fees” Just More Snake Oil For The Masses

07.18.17

We rarely agree with anything Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board member Tom Sotos says or does when it comes to the D-64 schools. But when “Tilted Kilt” Tommy gets something right – or even half-right – it deserves some recognition.

As reported in a current Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article (“Study to address proposed Park Ridge development’s impact on District 64,” 07.11.17), during a recent D-64 Board discussion of the City of Park Ridge’s possible assessment of “impact fees” on proposed new residential development on the current Mr. K’s site on Higgins just east of Dee, Sotos correctly observed that such fees aren’t “going to solve our problems” of more residences being constructed and burdening the schools with students who cost far more to educate than whatever taxes are paid on their parents’ residences.

Where Sotos missed the boat, however, was with his observation that “[i]f we assess an impact fee on the 31 units considered for the Mr. K site, that impact fee won’t be enough to help us potentially work around our particular problem if all 31 units end up having children in them.”

He’s right, but in the same way that getting the right answer on a math problem is undermined when you have to show your work and, in so doing, you demonstrate that you really don’t understand the applicable math concept.

That’s because the taxes on that 31-unit development can’t even cover the cost of 16 students attending D-64 schools, much less the cost of 31 school kids.

Let’s assume, just for Schlitz and Googles, that each of those 31 residences will have total RE tax bills of $20,000 per year – an unrealistically high assumption, for sure, because that would make them some of the highest-taxed residential real estate in the City. But it makes the math a little easier.

Of those $20K tax bills, roughly $8K per residence would go to D-64 each year. But the cost-per-student in D-64 is around $16K annually, so do the math: 31 units @ $8K/unit of RE taxes = $248,000 of revenue to D-64. Divide that by $16K per student and the whole development starts swimming in red ink if only 16 of the 31 units have just one student living in them.

Even if the developer were forced to pay an $8,000 per unit “impact fee,” the resulting revenue would barely cover the cost of 16 school kids.

And only for one year!

Add any more D-64 school kids above that 16 threshold and the District’s taxpayers will no longer be swimming in red ink, they’ll be drowning in the stuff.

So why is the D-64 Board even discussing such impact fees?

Ignorance and political posturing.

It seems and sounds like many/most of the D-64 Board members and Staff don’t really understand impact fees and how, historically, they have been used almost exclusively to address infrastructure problems anticipated from new development; e.g., the cost of sewer and water service improvements needed to handle increased demands from the new development, or the widening of nearby streets to add turn lanes and traffic lights for access and traffic flow, etc. Because that kind of infrastructure has predictable costs and lengthy useful lives, a municipality can calculate a one-time impact fee that puts the new development on the same financial footing – cost wise – as more established neighboring areas, and at no additional cost to the taxpayers.

Not so with the highly variable and annually recurring expenses of educating elementary school kids.

And that doesn’t even address the question of whether it would be legal for the City to impose impact fees on developers in order to obtain City approval of their developments, but then turn those impact fees over to D-64 or D-207.

As for political posturing, some of our local politicians are realizing that merely sounding fiscally conservative can fool many Park Ridge residents who desperately want to believe that their elected representatives truly are looking out for the interests of the taxpayers as much as (or more than) for the interests of the tax users. Spouting anything that sounds like it might save those taxpayers money, therefore, becomes a valuable political tool, especially for those politicians who don’t believe one word of their spiel but don’t have the honesty and integrity to publicly admit that they are big-government tax/borrow/spenders.

That makes a term like “impact fees” a wonderful substitute for real knowledge, understanding and principles.

So expect to hear the shallow-thinkers toss that term around for at least a little while longer, if only to avoid addressing the much more difficult problem of figuring out whether, and how, Park Ridge draws the line on allowing more housing for more residents who will drain the taxpayers’ pocketbooks with more and more kids using increasingly expensive public education.

And that’s irrespective of how good or mediocre the quality of that education might actually be.

To read or post comments, click on title.

D-64 Bd. Member Sotos: Trizna Failed To Do My Job On WCBs

04.28.17

The following was submitted as a comment to our 04.24.17 post by Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board member Tom Sotos. We are choosing, instead, to print it here as a stand-alone “guest” post because it demonstrates the kind of irresponsible, anti-H.I.T.A., anti-taxpayer, unaccountable mindset that permeates the current rubber-D-64 Board under Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli, lead sock-puppet for Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz. 

Hopefully this Monday night will herald an end to D-64’s Star Chamber, anti-H.I.T.A. form of government with the exit of four compulsive rubber-stampers and the arrival of four new members who might not all be Heinz’s pawns.

_________________________

It’s a shame that Mr. Trizna, who obviously is well informed and educated in these matters, didn’t mobilize and follow the procedures to halt this vote.

Mr. Trizna knows full well how he could have been heard. He knows exactly what he could have done to lead a challenge to be the voice of the tax payers.

Yet, it appears that Mr. Trizna only cares to be a voice with no action.

Why, Mr. Trizna, did you wait until it was too late to speak up?

Why did you fail your followers and not inform them that they could have petitioned. Why didn’t you inform them and lead the charge?

You claim the board was secretive. Yet the board held multiple discussions surrounding this matter in open session over the course of several meetings.

I can’t blame the regular tax payer of PR for not sitting through these meetings or viewing them on line.

However, you sir, have proven that you will sit through many meeting videos to gather your information.

How is it possible that you didn’t care enough, when you could have made a “difference”?

Your readers, if upset with the board, should be more upset with you. You are the one they look to for information and guidance.

Either way. Thank [sic] guy for not using many insults in your recent article. It shows growth.

___________________________

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tilted Kilt Tommy:

You seem to be confused.

Back on May 4, 2015, only one of us raised his hand to “solemnly swear that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of member of the Board of Education…to the best of my ability”; and to “respect taxpayers’ interests by serving as a faithful protector of the school district’s assets.”

That was you.

I swore my oath to Park Ridge’s taxpayers and residents as a Library Board trustee, first in 2011 and again in 2014. And I take that oath as seriously as a heart attack.

But my civic duty, either as a LIbrary trustee or as the publisher of this blog, isn’t to do yours for you.

Although recounting how you have dishonored that oath and betrayed not only the taxpayers but, also, the students and parents of D-64 over your past two years on the Board could occupy the rest of this Note, I’ll confine my comments to your disrespect for D-64’s taxpayers’ interests in just the past month or so regarding non-referendum debt.

At the March 13 Board meeting, before casting your vote to issue $9.25 million of debt certificates, did you care enough about those taxpayers to ask, on the record, why the District should be borrowing $9.25 million (and running up an extra $2.5 million in interest charges on those certificates) as part of a $30 million borrowing plan – without going to referendum, even if just an advisory one?

No.

At that same March 13 meeting, before casting your vote to declare the Board’s intention to issue $20 million of working cash bonds (“WCB”s), did you care enough about the taxpayers to ask Finance Minister Luann Kolstad why her cover memorandum (at Appendix 7 of the Board’s meeting packet) didn’t explain the “backdoor referendum” process for those WCBs, the 30-day period within which citizens could circulate petitions to force a referendum on them, and how many signatures they would need?

No.

At that same March 13 meeting, did you care enough about the taxpayers to ask Kolstad to publicly explain the vital details of that WCB backdoor referendum petition process before you voted to start that process running?

No.

At any time prior to that March 13 meeting did you care enough about the taxpayers to propose a public hearing at which “the Board shall explain the reasons for the proposed bond issue and permit persons desiring to be heard an opportunity to present written or oral testimony…” before the March 13 meeting at which the vote to start the process was scheduled to be taken?

No.

Obviously, you didn’t care enough about either the “taxpayers’ interests” or your oath of office to make sure the taxpayers got that vital WCB information early enough so that they might have been able to do something with it.

But you certainly were smarmy enough to finally ask Kolstad at Monday night’s meeting – after the 30-day petition period had conveniently elapsed – the $64,000 Question (at the 13:50 mark of the meeting video):

“Can you explain what right the community had, and what the process is [for forcing a backdoor referendum by citizen petition]?”

How honest and transparent you pretended to be when you asked that, knowing the backdoor referendum process was at an end and that no annoying taxpayers would be challenging your backdoor borrow-and-spend plans.

You claim the Board “held multiple discussions surrounding this matter in open session over the course of several meetings” but I challenge you to produce minutes of any meeting held this year that even mention the terms “backdoor referendum,” “citizens’ petition” and “30-day petition period”?

Even on Monday night, in response to some solid questions by resident Moira Collins during the too-little-too-late “public hearing” (starting at the 9:12 mark of the meeting video and continuing to the 28:28 mark), when Borrelli and Kolstad referred to the WCBs as “non-referendum bonds” instead of “backdoor referendum bonds,” did you correct them?

No.

And when Ms. Collins, clearly perplexed by all the double-talk and arguably irrelevant chatter coming from Borrelli and Kolstad, asked (at the 13:13 mark of the meeting video) where she could find the information with which she was being bombarded – and was told by the District’s D.H. Blair bond lady that “It’s all on the Board video and Board minutes, you can just look over the last year at those” – did you suggest that respecting the “taxpayers’ interests” means something more than dismissively telling them to go look at a year’s worth of videos, minutes and Board packets?

No.

Instead, you asked: “How does using bonds differ from going to referendum?”

Seriously, Tilted Tommy?

Fortunately, starting this Monday, taxpayers will have two real attorneys on the Board who not only will be able to explain the difference between “using bonds” and a “referendum” but, also, are much more likely to take the oath they swear that night far more seriously, and honor it far more diligently, than you have. And, unlike you and your fellow pawns of Supt. Heinz, they will bring with them an uncompromising demand for a level of transparency that you and your cronies loathe.

Then we’ll see if you can demonstrate any “growth.”

Robert J. Trizna

Editor & Publisher

To read or post comments, click on title.

Is Tonight’s $20 Million Bond “Hearing” Another D-64 Charade?

04.24.17

For the past few years taxpayers of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 constantly have been told how D-64’s financial management has been so wonderful that the District won’t have to go to referendum this year, as was expected back in 2007 when the last D-64 funding referendum was passed.

So a recent article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“District 64 board members OK plans for $1.2M project at Lincoln Middle School,” 04.04.17) got our attention. Not because of the headline, even though wasting $1.2 million of taxpayer money on not-really-“secured” vestibules for yet another D-64 school is hardly sound fiscal management. Or effective “security,” for that matter.

What pinged our radar was tucked away in the last paragraph of that H-A article: School officials are holding a “public hearing” at tomorrow night’s School Board meeting regarding the Board’s “plan to sell $20.7 million worth of working cash bonds (“WCBs”), allegedly to fund “mandated health and life-safety repairs to district facilities” – which bonds reportedly will be issued “in stages over the course of several years.”

For those of you unfamiliar with school finance, the purpose of WCBs is pretty much what the name indicates: To provide short-term working cash to cover a district’s temporary cash flow needs or operating, deficits. It’s not to do long-term capital improvements, including those masquerading as “health and life-safety repairs.”

So why, pray tell, does D-64 need almost $21 million of short-term borrowing for “working cash”?

Didn’t D-64 Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli – after obtaining permission from Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz, of course – assure us just last Fall that (as quoted in a H-A article, “School board president: District 64 exceeding financial projections made prior to 2007 referendum,” Oct. 7, 2016) “the district is operating in the black and not operating within a deficit spending pattern”?

Didn’t financial guru Luann Kolstad proclaim – as reported in that same Oct. 7 article – that, as of June 2016, the district’s operating fund balance was $48.1 million, or 60 percent of annual operating expenses, which is twice the District’s 30% target and means D-64 already is sitting on $24 million more taxpayer dollars than they say they need?

Can you say “slush fund”?

What we didn’t know until reading the article in last week’s H-A (“District 64 projects include maintenance work, vestibule, library makeover,” April 18), however, is that at its March 13 meeting the D-64 Board voted to issue $9.25 million of “debt certificates” – thereby pushing the slush fund balance to over 70% of the District’s reserve target.

Why didn’t we know it?

Because this opaque School Board, with the able assistance of propaganda minister Bernadette Tramm, didn’t publicize it.

And our clueless local press apparently didn’t understand it or care enough about it to do its job: The first mention of “debt certificates” was in that April 4 H-A article, three weeks after the March 13 meeting at which the Board voted to issue them. And no “official” evidence of that vote appeared in print until last week, when the draft minutes of that March 13 meeting were finally posted on the District’s website as part of tonight’s Board meeting packet.

According to a fact sheet published by Stifel, a financial services firm that advises governmental bodies as well as businesses and individuals, debt certificates are a pricier type of financing that requires no voter approval or even a Bond Issue Notification Act (“BINA”) hearing. So it should come as no surprise that this secretive-bordering-on-dishonest D-64 Board would look to borrow $9+ million using debt instruments that don’t require taxpayer approval or even require a public hearing like tonight’s, which they are required to have for the issuance of WCBs.

And in typically deceitful D-64 Board fashion, the minutes of that March 13 meeting fail to mention the discussion during that meeting of the likelihood that the interest on those debt certificates will cost District taxpayers at least an additional $2.7 million of interest at the expected rate of 3.36% – something you would have to watch the meeting video (from the 51:36 mark to the 58:55 mark) to discover – thereby pushing the total cost of these debt certificates up to approximately $12 million over their 15 year life, paid off at the rate of $800,000 per year starting next fiscal year.

What is more problematic, however, is how this Board may have cheated D-64 taxpayers out of any opportunity to force a referendum on the WCBs.

That’s because the Board also voted on March 13 to declare its intention to issue the $20.75 million of WCBs. WCBs require a devious legal device known as a “Back Door Referendum” that puts the burden on the taxpayers to get petition signatures from 10% of the District’s 33,263 registered voters – or 3,326 – within 30 days of publication of a notice of that intention. Otherwise, no referendum need be held.

If you listen closely to the District’s bond advisor’s colloquy with Borrelli (at from the 1:00:08 mark to the 1:04:50 mark of the meeting video), you will hear her describe what sounds like a “plan” to publish the required BINA notice, which starts the 30-day back-door period running, immediately after the authorization vote.

Not surprisingly, you won’t find that information in those meeting minutes, either. But they do report that, just like with the debt certificates, the $20 million WCB authorization passed unanimously – only with far less discussion.

Which means that if the District published its notice of intent on, let’s say, the Ides of March (03.15), the 30-day back-door period ran out on April 14; and the WCB authorization has become bullet-proof from referendum.

Which makes tonight’s “public hearing” on those WCBs a mere technical requirement that has been turned into just another meaningless charade by a D-64 Board whose members operate on the theory of “the taxpayers be damned.”

To read or post comments, click on title.

A Big Win For Yesterday’s Victors, An Even Bigger Win For H.I.T.A.

04.05.17

Eight years ago mayoral candidate Dave Schmidt sparked the flame of good government when he promised to bring H.I.T.A. – Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability – to a City administration that was bereft of those principles. He also pledged to put taxpayers first because there would be no City government without the taxes they provide.

Since then that flame has grown stronger and burned brighter, finally becoming a torch that illuminated the workings of City government through initiatives like televised meetings, the online posting of meeting materials in advance of meetings, and reducing closed sessions to the barest minimum.

Yesterday that torch was officially passed to a new generation of leaders with the election of Marty Maloney, a staunch Mayor Dave ally and an even stauncher proponent of H.I.T.A., as mayor of Park Ridge.

His election alone, by a margin of roughly 70% to 30%, would have been enough to keep Park Ridge on the H.I.T.A. path and moving forward in all other respects, especially because it was accompanied by the re-election of pro-H.I.T.A. aldermen Nick Milissis, Marc Mazzuca and Roger Shubert.

But that wasn’t the half of it.

The voters of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 made their voices heard with the election of vocal H.I.T.A. proponents Rick Biagi and Fred Sanchez to that Star Chamber Board which, by our unofficial tally, leads all units of Park Ridge local government in the number of closed sessions it holds, and in the obfuscation that comes with them. At the same time those voters just said “No!” to three candidates whose most notable – and controversial – qualification for office was that they all were married to D-64 teachers and shamelessly wanted to put themselves in the untenable position of voting on their wives’ raises and working conditions. Or recusing themselves, thereby effectively reducing the Board to the bare mininum of four members required to do business.

That was about as anti-H.I.T.A. as you could get, and the voters wisely rejected such shamelessness.

Over at the Park Ridge Park District, Harmony Harrington, Jim Janak, Rob Leach and Jim O’Donnell – although not espousing H.I.T.A. by name – advanced many of its principles in their successful campaigns to oust two decidedly non-H.I.T.A. incumbents and their two unofficial running mates.

The same can be said for successful Maine Twp. High School District 207 candidate Linda Coyle, who we understand was, ironically enough, a law school classmate of Mayor Dave’s.

All told, yesterday may have been the single greatest across-the-board good government day Park Ridge has had in decades – in no small measure because it was a victory, first and foremost, of principles instead of just personalities.

But make no mistake about it: Yesterday’s victories didn’t make everybody happy.

There are still residents, some of them very brazen and vocal, with special-interest axes to grind and a related lust for spending OPM (“Other People’s Money). These residents will continue to denigrate H.I.T.A. as a kind of code word for “conservative” (shudder) or “Republican” (double shudder) guys and gals.

That’s just sour grapes from folks who can’t accept the voters’ repudiation of the dishonest and failed tax, borrow and spend policies of local governments past and present.

So don’t be surprised if those naysayers try to demean yesterday’s results by decrying the “low turnout” – which was 28.29% for the mayoral race, down from the 34.87% of 2013. A similar decline in voters was also the case for the other races as well.

But it was the late Rev. Theodore Hesburgh who stated: “Voting is a civic sacrament.” So those who refused that sacrament deserve whatever damnation they may subsequently complain about as being visited on them by yesterday’s winners.

The H.I.T.A. revolution, while started by Schmidt and advanced by the aforementioned winners, hasn’t been the work of any one person, or even several people. Instead it has been the work of hundreds of Park Ridge citizens who initially believed that local government could be made better than it was, more cost-effective than it was, and more respectful of the taxpayers than it was. But where H.I.T.A. really gained traction was when those same people came to realize that making local government better in those aforementioned ways actually was an achievable goal.

Schmidt’s election in 2009 and his re-election by an even larger margin in 2013 proved that. So did the elections and re-elections of Alds. Maloney and Dan Knight in 2011 and 2015, respectively, as well as the election and/or re-election of Alds. Mazzuca, Moran, Milissis, Shubert and the other aldermen who served on the Council these past several years.

Now it’s time for Maloney and the rest of yesterday’s victors to emerge from the long H.I.T.A. shadow Schmidt created and start creating shadows of their own by walking their campaign talk.

And doing so in bright sunlight.

That will be most challenging for Biagi and Sanchez at D-64, where there is a longstanding anti-H.I.T.A. bias and culture, and where they likely will have to confront Board president (and closed-session aficionado) Tony “Who’s the Boss?” Borrelli and his puppetmaster, Supt. Laurie “I’m the Boss!” Heinz, right out of the gate. Whether Biagi and Sanchez can get any support from Board members Mark Eggemann and Tom Sotos – heretofore regular rubber-stampers of Borrelli’s closed-session motions and uber-secrecy about the PREA contract and Heinz’s contract extension – remains to be seen. So do the proclivities of newbies Larry Ryles and Eastman Tiu.

Over at D-207, Coyle will find herself surrounded by Board members afraid of their own shadows – and, therefore, possessed by a vampire-like fear of sunlight likely engendered by the desire to avoid any accountability for Maine South’s continuing and heretofore ignored decline in the rankings of Illinois high schools.

These local races, however, need to be viewed in the context of our state government which, over the past 40 years, seems to have grown as ethically bankrupt as it has grown financially bankrupt. That state of corruption won’t be reversed overnight.

But maybe, just maybe, the torch of good government passed last evening to these new Park Ridge leaders can also light the way for the officials of other communities to raise their games and adopt H.I.T.A. as the overarching principle of good government in their own communities – which can, in turn, start a grassroots turnaround statewide.

If so, it’s you voters who showed up yesterday to put your own imprints on local government – by means of the candidates you elected – who will deserve the credit.

Well done, voters!

To read or post comments, click on title.