Is School Caucus Sitting Out This Election?


For more than 50 years the General Caucus of School Districts 64 & 207 (the “Caucus”) has handpicked almost every person who has sat on the Board of District 64, and every “Park Ridge” member of the District 207 Board.  That’s because the Caucus has acted as a de facto political party that became commonly viewed as insuperable.   

Every two years the Caucus would emerge from the figurative mist, Brigadoon-like, to recruit, interview, approve and promote a slate of candidates, primarily for the Dist. 64 Board.  And as soon as that mission was accomplished, it vanished back into the mist for the next two years, unaccountable to the voters for all that occurred in the District. 

But as best as we can tell, “Brigadoon” has not emerged this year: No Gene Kelly, Van Johnson or Cyd Charisse; no Phil Eichman, Michael Callahan or Marianne Griebler. 

As of today, the Caucus’ website still has posted the “Process” for the April 17, 2009, School Board election; and it looks like the 2009 list of officers is also still up.  So unless the Caucus has been meeting in Star Chamber-like secrecy to do its handpicking and anointing, all signs point to a Caucus-less School Board election in April.  We think that’s a good thing.

What happened?  We don’t have a clue – and the silence is deafening. 

But we do know that this year there are more contested races – 7, for 4 seats – for the Dist. 64 Board  than at any time since 1997, when a 3-person slate challenged the Caucus’ slate.  Unsuccessfully.  

Since then, we can think of only two non-Caucus candidates who displayed the temerity even to have run against the Caucus slate in the past 6 elections, only one of whom was successful: Ted Smart, who withdrew from the 2007 race too late to have his name removed from the ballot, but went on to defeat Caucus candidate Shlomo Crandus in what some viewed as an anti-Semitic vote.

Five candidates are running for three 4-year terms, while 3 candidates are running for the 2-years remaining on the term of Russ Gentile, who resigned last year and was replaced by appointee Scott Zimmerman, who is seeking election to that seat.  Dan Collins has filed petitions for both a 4-year seat and the 2-year one, but was required to drop out of one by December 28; and we have yet to hear which one that is.

In previous posts (e.g., on 01/02/09, 01/16/09 and 04/02/09) we criticized the whole Caucus process for, among other things, discouraging contested races for the Dist. 64 Board.

If the Caucus truly is sitting this election out, it would appear that its sabbatical already has paid dividends by giving the voters more choices than they have had in more than a decade.

Now let’s hope both the candidates and the voters take this opportunity seriously. 

To read or post comments, click on title.

5 comments so far

Great news…now the next question is, which candidates are running because they want to bring more accountability to the school districts’ budgets, and — dare we say it — cut back? Budget increases seem to have become a way of life, and hence, so have tax increases. My guess is that if — IF — Quinn and Madigan succeed in raising our income taxes to 5.25%, then taxpayers may want the school districts to cut back.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good point. But to concede that budget and tax increases “seem to have become a way of life” is to give them an almost irresistable force-of-nature power they don’t deserve – and that effectively absolves the perpetrators of those increases from responsibility for them. We heartily disagree with that.

5th Ward:

John Heyde and Genie Taddeo have shown little to no leadership during their terms on the District 64 board, so re-elecdting them promises same old same old. I wonder what the others will campaign on.

I never understood the point of the Caucus just like I never understood the point of the Homeowners Party. Let anybody who wants to run for office run on their own merits, not with the backing of some organization that seems to be more of a name than anything else.


The Caucus, the Homwowners party and even the R and D parties all have one main thing in common. They are a crutch for an ignorant electorate. m Rather that really look at a candidate, the simply pull a lever for the “approved” candidate. SOmeone who votes a strait ticket rather than investigating all the candidates is just as bad.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve never seen nor heard about the “R” or the “D” way to repair a sewer, provide fire protection, perform street paving, etc. Nor did the old Homeowners Party express any proprietary views on those subjects, having turned into more of a social club than a political organization in the years after Marty Butler’s prime. That may explain why it croaked out in 2009 and turned the $15,000 remaining in its war chest over to a neo-Homeowners group calling itself “Citizens for non-partisan Local elections.”

We are unaware of those neo-HOs having participated in any local political activity since they organized and accepted the old HOs money, but perhaps they’re keeping their powder dry for 2013, when the mayor’s seat and 3 aldermanic seats will be up.

Of course you’ve heard of R and D ways to do civic infrastructure repairs. R way is give no-bid contracts to political supporters for an enormity of dollars above the actual value of the goods and services, and then when taxpayer or U.S. soldier lives are lost due to shoddyite practices, blame the victims.
D way is to hire incompetents on the taxpayer tab at nice salaries for life to supervise other incompetents at nice salaries for life, to do the job so slowly it needs redoing before it’s done the first time, and when the taxpayer complains, tell them elected officials and citizens should let the executives of the departments make all the decisions because “they’re the professionals.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: We disagree: that’s the way it’s been done by both the “R”s and the “D”s on the county, state and national levels, as well as in that den of special interests bordering us to the southeast. But we have yet to see that kind of patent “R” and “D” tomfoolery on the local level.

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