Public Watchdog.org

Three Shameless D-64 Candidates Fail “Caesar’s Wife” Standard Of Integrity

03.07.17

The ancient historian Plutarch, in his Life of Julius Caesar, related how Caesar divorced his wife Pompeia solely because of rumors of her adulterous behavior – believing that her standard of conduct should be such that it not be susceptible to even the mere suspicion of untoward behavior.

That is the origin of the “Caesar’s Wife” proverb of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.

Unfortunately, that proverb appears wasted on three of the seven candidates for the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 school board: Greg Bublitz, Norm Dziedzic, Jr. and Michael Schaab. We’ll call them the “3 Hubbies.”

Each one of them has a wife who is a teacher at D-64 and, therefore, presumably a member of the ironically-named Park Ridge Education Association – a teachers union whose only education-related purpose is to put more money and benefits in the pockets of D-64 teachers while minimizing teacher accountability for student achievement.

If all three of them are elected, they will represent 3 of the 4 votes needed to approve the next PREA sweetheart contract in 2020. In other words, the 3 Hubbies will be in a position to vote on a contract that will increase their respective household incomes by thousands of dollars – while likely raising their respective property taxes only a few hundred dollars.

On Wall Street, that’s what is called an “arbitrage”: a risk-free investment opportunity based on the differential between cost and gain.

They also will represent 3 of the 4 votes needed for any other D-64 Board action addressing such important issues and policies as teacher discipline, accountability, work hours, scheduling and other matters where their decisions could directly benefit their wives and, indirectly, themselves.

In a December 23, 2016 article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“3 school board candidates married to District 64 teachers”), the chairwoman of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys Executive Committee warned that while, in her non-binding opinion, it is not an outright conflict of interest for the spouse of a teacher to sit on the board of the spouse’s school district, it is advisable – but not required – that they abstain from voting on such issues as contracts.

Advisable, but not required.

According to the H-A article, Bublitz said that his “first inclination would be to recuse [himself],” suggesting that recusal would be his “commitment.”

That’s an unenforceable “commitment” that Bublitz can ignore with virtual impunity if he chooses not to stand for re-election in 2021 – like the four current Board members (Vicki Lee, Bob Johnson, Scott Zimmerman and the Screeching Dathan Paterno) who rubber-stamped the latest secretly negotiated, secretly discussed four-year sweetheart PREA contract and are walking away from it without a care in the world.

Schaab reportedly said he “probably would have to recuse [himself],” although he wasn’t ready to offer even Bublitz’s unenforceable “commitment.”

And Dziedzic – whose “Norm” campaign signs either are borrowing from the “Cher” school of first-name branding, or seeking the nostalgia vote in harkening back to the t.v. show “Cheers” – isn’t even pretending that he might recuse himself, relying on the non-binding opinion that there is no legal conflict of interest.

Back in Caesar’s time, and not all that long ago in this country, the appearance of impropriety of a husband or wife running for a public office where they could put public money directly into their spouse’s pocket – and, thereby, indirectly into their own – would be enough to discourage people of integrity from seeking such positions. Unless, of course their name was “Boss” Daley and they were shameless enough to steer millions of dollars of government insurance contracts to their kids while blithely excusing such unethical behavior with: “If a man can’t put his arms around his sons and help them, then what’s the world coming to?

Since the 3 Hubbies are obviously shameless and apparently lacking in Caesar’s Wife-style integrity, their candidacies present D-64 voters with the following questions:

  1. Can they be trusted to actually recuse themselves from the PREA negotiations and voting on a new contract for their wives three years from now?
  2. Do they bring anything to the D-64 Board of sufficient value as to over-ride the substantial risk that they’ll vote their wives’/their own pocketbooks – before riding off into the sunset in May, 2021, with no accountability to the taxpayers?
  3. Does it make any sense to elect candidates who either will negotiate and vote on their wives’ salaries and benefits, or will recuse themselves and thereby deprive their constituents of the unbiased representation they deserve?

Fortunately, there are four other candidates – Rick Biagi, Larry Ryles, Fred Sanchez and Eastman Tiu – for the four D-64 Board vacancies, and none of them are afflicted with either the same conflicts (de facto if not de jure) or the same Caesar’s Wife-style impropriety that’s infecting the 3 Hubbies’ candidacies.

That leaves it up to you D-64 voters to decide whether you are content with the prospect of the 3 Hubbies selling out the D-64 taxpayers to put extra cash in their wives’ (and their joint?) bank accounts, and/or selling out the D-64 students in order to further reduce the already minimal accountability of the PREA teachers for our underperforming schools.

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23 comments so far

There is one other concerning angle to this – the Board appoints two elected members to sit on the negotiating team when the PREA collective bargaining agreement is up for renegotiation in three years. This team arguably has apparent authority to negotiate in good faith on behalf of the Board. Assuming two or three of them are elected, what is stopping them from being the two appointees to the negotiating team and actually sitting in the room with the PREA negotiating on behalf of the taxpayers? Answer – nothing at all.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s exactly correct.

Great post on a problem that we shouldn’t have but for these 3 candidates trying to game the system. As for your 3 questions, the answers of all thinking voters should be: No, no and no.

But looking at whom the voters have elected to the D64 board in the past, “thinking” may be a high bar to clear.

It’s really rich that you would try to lecture about integrity and appearances of impropriety consudering who now occupies our White House and the new weekend annex in Florida. It’s your brand of conservatism — cloaked in the faux noble pretense of caring about the taxpayers — that’s responsible for the rise of Trump. Get off your high horse, your words mean nothing especially when it comes to education and your party’s agenda to dismantle public schools. While you pretend to care about whether a school board member is married to a teacher, special needs students are about to lose their rights to equal access to a education. In the words of your esteemed leader, SAD!

EDITOR’S NOTE: More typical “There goes Elvis!” misdirection by you, MWR. But riddle us this: Exactly what relevance does the pinstriped Oompa Loompa in the White House have to the 3 Hubbies voting on non merit-based raises, benefit increases and better working conditions for their D-64 PREA teacher/wives?

And other than voting to give their wives those non merit-based raises, better benefits and better working conditions, please explain what exactly the 3 Hubbies – or any D-64 Board member, for that matter – will be able to do to prevent the feds from cutting fed funding to state or local education, whether for special ed or any other programs?

How silly of you.

“Shameless” is the right label to slap on these three guys. THis reminds me of the dads who would volunteer to coach kids baseball so that they could make sure their own kids got to pitch.

First PREA gets our school board mopes to agree to secret negotiations. Then PREA gets our school board mopes to keep the terms of the contract secret until after the mopes approve it. Now PREA is trying to put 3 of its lackeys on the school board to make sure the board remains populated by a majority of mopes.

Shouldn’t there be a conflict of interest policy that is either at the State level or Federal level that prohibits this type of problem?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not at the federal level, because this is a state issue.

At the state level…sure there should be a COI policy. But there’s no way in hell the Madiganocrats controlling Springfield will ever approve a COI policy that might reduce the influence of the Madiganocrat-supporting PREA/IEA-affiliated teachers such as by preventing their spouses from getting on school boards and selling out the taxpayers.

I wholeheartedly endorse Rick Biagi for District 64 School Board.

Looking forward to learning more about the other candidates who aren’t married to the District. My vote for them isn’t guaranteed, however. I’d like to know how they intend to manage the District 64 budget, which is all that really matters because the budget is hard evidence of the District’s priorities — and their cost to taxpayers.

Biagi has demonstrated that he always has the taxpayers in mind and holds bureaucrats accountable. He won’t be charmed by Dr. Heinz. I’d love to be able to say the same about Ryles, Tiu and Sanchez, but I just don’t know them yet.

3 Hubbies on D-64 board = foxes guarding hen house.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly!

Even without any sinister intent, I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of people think their spouse, in any line of work, deserves more compensation for the work they do. When that decision is supposed to be made by an impartial board, representing the entire voting body, and paid for with tax money, it should disqualify spouses from running to be on that board.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Agreed. But spouses with Caesar’s Wife-style integrity shouldn’t need to be disqualified: they should disqualify themselves.

Mr ‘Dog, your post is the hottest topic on both the Park Ridge Citizens Online and Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners FB pages!

I’m glad to see this blog getting more recognition for its consistently informed, consistently thoughtful and consistently provocative treatment of Park Ridge issues not available elsewhere.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks, sincerely.

Unfortunately, the competition in this categaory isn’t all that formidable.

I know this topic deserves serious discussion, but I can’t get past the image you conjured up with the “pin-striped Oompa Loompa” comment.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re just jealous because you didn’t come up with it.

Ed: I admit to that.

Given that the ‘pin striped Oompah Loompah’ in DC is the poster boy for conflict of interest, it is no surprise that local candidates would follow suit. Trump is leading by example, and this is predictable outcome at the local leveI. Why are people surprised?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t kid yourself: the 3 Hubbies’ conflicts of interest have nothing to do with Trump.

Here’s a good explanation of why public sector unions like the PREA suck, and how they are screwing this country: https://www.prageru.com/courses/political-science/do-big-unions-buy-politicians

We already have 7 pawns of the PREA packing the D64 Board, so why would we ever want to elect 3 more who actually can fill their pockets by their votes on the new contract in 2020?

It’s worse than you think. The hubbies will decide if their wives’ schools get picked for the next secured vestibule, playground, parking lot, landscaping deal or air conditioner. They also can have their wives influence the superintendent. And the hubbies will know exactly what PREA’s strategies are and play into it. Make no mistake – EVERY vote they take would be improper in some way because it will affect a policy, building or taxpayer funds. It’s not just the union contract. Shame on them.

Norm Dziedzic posted the following on his Facebook campaign page this morning:

Hi, Park Ridge-Niles, a friend told me that we have a dog with a blog here in town (I know, how does the keyboard work?) that has their kibble all in a bunch over me and some other candidates. So I checked it out at publicwatchdog.org – after all we are dog lovers here in the Dziedzic family with two pooches of our own.

It seems the watchdog thinks they know who I am but for the benefit of everyone reading this, I’m not afraid to say that I am Norman Dziedzic Jr. I am a candidate for the District 64 School Board and I am the husband of a dedicated District 64 teacher. I have also seen the entire District program as a parent of two fantastic kids who have attended Pre-K through 8th grade here and are now at Maine South HS (well-prepared by their parents and D64 and thriving I might add, as a proud dad).

There is an awesome picture of a German Shepherd on the top of the watchdog sight but after looking around a bit I fear this Fido has spent some time as an ASPCA poster pet on late-night TV. There is a lot of pent-up frustration and anger there which makes me feel sorry for …well, I’m not sure. The dog with a blog doesn’t even seem to have a name which is really sad. For a little less impersonal message, I’m going to address the blogger with the name Rex. Rex is an awesome dog name. It means king in Latin and is probably one of the titles Caesar had on his way to Emperor of Rome, which is strangely fitting for this article.

Rex, the first thing I want to share with you is that in our human elections, nobody is forced to vote for anyone. I know dogs have a genetic disposition to imprint on humans and maybe this is where your angst comes in. You may feel compelled to vote for me but rest assured, you do not have to vote for me, even in Cook County. (how do you hold a sharpie in a paw?)

Next – and this may be a stretch for canine thinking, Rex – is that there are actually humans who care about things other than money. Again, maybe hard for you to believe. Our dogs seem to spend most of their day eating, sleeping and begging for treats, which are kind of like their money. Not once have they thrown in a load of laundry or done some dishes while we are away working for their Purina so in that respect, they are pretty selfish but we love them anyway.

For the humans reading, this means that I am not running for this position to jack up teachers’ salaries and benefits. Rex, this means we feel my wife earns enough kibble for the work she does helping each new class of students learn and grow up to be well-rounded and the best people they can be. I will also openly and honestly say that I don’t believe a cost of living increase is a raise. So Rex, if you were our dog, when Costco raises the price of dog food by a few percent, rest assured you will get the same serving size you did before the increase because we think that is fair (even if you don’t pick up after yourself in the yard).

Rex, I want you and all your friends in the kennel to know that I do want accountability for the district albeit in more than the narrowly focused math and reading scores, which are quickly becoming the only benchmark that seems to matter and the only way some adults seem to be able to value education. For most of the 27 years that I have been figuratively married to District 64, we have been able to balance an academic education with the chance for our children to learn and grow on many other fronts that have prepared them for success later in life. I am always amazed and proud when I see how many of the kids who went through District 64 come back as adults to give their children the same experiences they had. That trust tells me we have not had a failing school district. I don’t believe it is failing now but I see a lot of pressures to abandon our rich, rigorous and innovative curriculum in favor of a simplified score or rank. I hope to keep this from happening.

I’m glad you picked up on my Norm sign, Rex. Do you know how hard it is for a candidate to have a ‘Z’ or two in their last name? Probably not but I was told that good logo design should be simple and should grab attention. Maybe it would poll better with dogs if I put a picture of a squirrel on it somewhere. But knowing it piqued your interest anyway, I’m hoping humans will recognize and remember this sign, which I designed myself.

Just a few more things Rex. There is a candidate forum on March 14th at Roosevelt School at 7:00 PM where you can actually listen to real candidates talk about why they are running and what they believe. Since you mentioned Caesar, you should know he was killed by people, some he considered friends, because he was hoarding power, but not before cheating on his last wife with several women including Cleopatra. No appearance of impropriety in that …

Take Care Rex, may your kennel be warm and dry and your kibble and water bowls always full. Now please excuse me so I can go finish watching Moonstruck. We one-named candidates have to stick together.

I am Norman Dziedzic Jr. and I wrote this message.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not bad.

But to quote the original Norm: “It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and [he’s] wearing Milk Bone underwear” because of his conflict situation that will either have him voting to put more taxpayers’ money in his wife’s purse, or cheating his constituents of representation by abstaining/recusing. We’re guessing even his dogs would have more sense and integrity than to offer that choice to the voters.

Artistotle is credited with the quote: “Equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.” Nepotism such as school board members voting on enriching their wives, or improving their working conditions, interferes with fairness by giving undue advantage to someone who does not necessarily merit this treatment.

And because the D-64 Board does all their important stuff in covert closed session before emerging into their scripted dog and pony shows for public consumption, it also undermines transparency.

Norm says he doesn’t believe a cost of living increase is a raise. There’s the welfare mentality for you.

And it sounds like he’s giving his wife and her fellow teachers credit for whatever success their D64 students end up having in life. HOw’s that for the rooster taking credit for the dawn?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yep, public employees believe they’re entitled to the taxpayers ensuring the buying power of their public salaries, even though most of those taxpayers have no such protection themselves.

We’re waiting for a teacher to accept blame for their students who end up on unemployment or in jail. But we’re not holding our breath.

Wake up, lemmings! Read what Bublitz, Dziedzic and Schaab have said in the interview articles in the Advocate about D64 policies and you will see how those guys will be rubber stamps for Heinz and the PREA.

Are their positions on the issues based on their being married to D64 teaches making very nice checks thanks to us taxpayers, with guaranteed step and lane increases every year? Is the pope Catholic?

Discussions that this post has provoked both in the comments here but even more so on the Citizens and Homeowners FB pages got me thinking of Aesop’s fable about the Scorpion and the Frog, where the frog asks the scorpion why he stung him, dooming them both to drown, and the scorpion replies: “It’s my nature.”

We need to start putting more stock in the “natures” of our candidates. Are they honest, do they have a high degree of integrity, are they focused on what’s good for the whole community rather than just one or a few special interests? That applies to Maloney v. Fuksa, but it may apply even more to the D-64 board that has an abysmal record of no transparency, no accountability and very little honesty. So when three candidates can’t even grasp how bad it looks that they want the voters to put them in a position where they can give their wives raises (or else recuse themselves and not do the jobs they were elected to) we should be looking at, and wondering about, their “nature.”

This article runs through some legal opinions on the topic:

http://www.rrstar.com/article/20110412/BLOGS/304129842

This is in response to Norm. I agree that there are very good teachers in D64 and teachers are important and valuable to our children and society. Norm’s statement that he doesn’t consider a cost of living increase a raise, however, leads me to believe that he is going to be overly generous in spending taxpayer money to compensate teachers. As I understand it, teachers are entitled to three components of a raise that those in the private sector are not: 1) an increase for clocking another year of work; 2) a cost of living increase; and 3) another increase for pursuing more education. All of this is for a work “year” of 8-9 months with a guaranteed public pension–neither of which is enjoyed by those in the private sector. For most of society, compensation is based on performance and merit and is not guaranteed by tenure, cost of living or pursuing more education. The compensation structure for teachers incentivizes longevity and de-emphasizes rewarding the truly excellent performers. The benefits are extraordinary when compared to the private sector. The ordinary taxpayers of this town should not have to pay for the extraordinary gold-plated salaries and benefits of teachers. We need school board members who are independent of teachers and the teachers’ union. We need school board members with business backgrounds or perspectives beyond the insular world of the teacher and public pension system to represent the taxpayers of the town.

Great post, but that leaves just 4 candidates and no real choice in the election. Too bad one is a total clown (Sanchez) who apparently created a powerpoint presentation for his SSA team to explain what he does all day (very Michael Scott like) after feedback meetings revealed criticism that he is never accessible because he spends his day and taxpayers’ money taking long lunches and even longer chocolate breaks. Definitely need to submit a freedom of information request to see this powerpoint!

EDITOR’S NOTE: There are plenty of choices: you can vote for the 3 Hubbies. You can vote for the other 4 guys. You can vote for only one, two, or three of the other guys. You can even blame Monica Wojnicki for her half-baked petition gathering and her failure to get enough valid signatures to get on the ballot, or not making good on her claim that she was going to run as a write-in.

But we find it interesting that you focus on what Mr. Sanchez allegedly does – without any corroborating documentation, of course – in his employment, yet you don’t seem to have any problem with “Tilted Kilt” Tommy Sotos and his “vagina” phobia.

I appreciate everyone’s views and this blog’s opportunity for people to have a conversation about issues that have an impact on our local government. That being said after reading the story and the following blog posts in response to the story I am overwhelmingly compelled to voice my small opinion today.

These 3 candidates are not only spouses of teachers within the district but also citizens who each can have an unique opinion on the issues. One issue that has been brought up is future contracts and pay with those educators and the consequential conflict of interest that is inherit in those decisions dealing with the shared income. While many here have pointed out while there is no set policy or law to deter the conflict, there is one way to eliminate that specific conflict or any other that might fall upon those elected board members; Recusal.

While this is a voluntary stance it is still a very powerful one that can easily eliminate the issue that these or any other board member could come across during their term. These candidate could easily remove themselves from the conflict, bringing integrity back to their position as public figures. A simply, non-binding verbal(or written) stance of those individuals with spouses that they would recuse themselves from any financial vote when it directly benefits their family’s income should be sufficient to the masses of citizens that would vote for them to hold these board positions.

Now, being that it would be a non-binding agreement they could easily do whatever they want once elected. But knowing their stance prior to their election, and holding them accountable for the actions after being presented with these conflicts is our job as the interested public, for good or for bad. Praise should be given to them for seeing integrity for what its worth and holding themselves to some sort of self standard. Equal ridicule for those that pledge recusal and walk back on their promise.

As a business owner for the past 15 years, I have meet hundreds if not thousands of employees, vendors, customers and public officials and 99.9% of their 1st interest is self interest. It is rare to find another human being who is completely selfless especially in cases that involves money, myself included. My number one priority is my family as is with most people. To say I can be completely unbiased about my wife and children is ridiculous. But there is a simple and profound way to be able to hold my self worth when decisions impact my number one priority, and that is recusal.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As a “voluntary stance” recusal is unenforceable and, therefore, totally unreliable. And because the vote on a new contract likely won’t come until September 2020, when the 3 Hubbies will have about 7 months left in their terms, they could vote to lock the taxpayers into a contract that will lock-in their own/their wives’ economic self-interest for the following four years and then walk away from the Board scot-free, with NO ACCOUNTABILITY WHATSOEVER – like the voluntarily-departing Bob Johnson, Vicki Lee, Dathan Paterno and Scott Zimmerman are doing after approving this latest contract; and like the voluntarily-departing John Heyde, Pat Fioretto and Sharon Lawson did after the 2012 contract.

And that doesn’t even address all the other non-economic issues (e.g., discipline, class size, etc.) that might come up which directly affect their teacher wives.

You also ignore how recusal deprives the taxpayers of their representatives, which is bad enough when it occurs for unforeseen reasons – and should be intolerable for candidates whose conflicts are already obvious.

Ironically, your concluding paragraph about your “number one priority” being your family’s interest makes the case against the likelihood of the 3 Hubbies recusing themselves, because your “number one priority” can be expected to dominate a subordinate interest such as recusal. And the number one priority for elected officials should be, first and foremost, the taxpayers whom they are elected to represent.



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