Public Watchdog.org

D-64 Board And Adminstration Already Electioneering For April (Corrected)

10.13.12

Although he isn’t publicly admitting it, Park Ridge-Niles Elementary School District 64 Supt. Philip Bender is scared.  So are School Board president John Heyde and several other D-64 Board members.  And so is the Park Ridge Education Association, commonly known as the PREA or the teachers union.

Why?

Because last month School Board members Anthony Borrelli and Eric Uhlig did the unthinkable: they voted against the new PREA contract negotiated in secret closed sessions by Heyde and fellow Board member Pat Fioretto, as we discussed in our post “Taxpayers Just Dairy Cattle To D-64 Board, Administration (09.27.12).  Based on memory and the limited research we were able to do, those dissenting votes against the new teachers’ contract appear to have been the first of their kind in at least 20 years.

Dissenting votes scare public officials, who count on unanimity in the decision-making process to maintain the appearance of “consensus” that lulls the public into complacency and apathy.  The bureaucrats, elected officials and union folks know that the taxpayers are far less likely to question the wisdom of a unanimous vote than a vote with even one dissenter, much less two.  Conversely, taxpayers who know and respect dissenters like Borrelli and/or Uhlig are more likely to doubt the wisdom of something those two voted against.

Keeping the public in the dark is the main reason union contracts are negotiated in secret closed sessions that shield the union’s shameless demands and the District’s spineless concessions from public view and comment.  We understand that Heyde and Fioretto made sure that the secrecy requirement contained in the previous contract was included in the new contract – although we haven’t been able to confirm that yet because we can’t seem to find the actual contract posted anywhere on the District’s website. 

Just consider that more of D-64’s hide-in-plain-sight strategy, directed by D-64’s current minister of disinformation, Bernadette Tramm.

The D-64 “leadership” and PREA are so afraid of the independent thought that Borrelli’s and Uhlig’s dissenting votes represent that they took what we believe is the unprecedented step of running a “coffee and informal conversation” at District headquarters this past Thursday (10.11.12) night so that Heyde and friends could stage a dog-and-pony show on the “A-B-C’s of School Board Service” – billed by Supt. Bender as a way for anybody considering running for the Board in April “to hear first-hand about what it’s like to contribute to local public education in this significant way.”

Puh-leeze!  As if any competent person seriously considering a run for the D-64 Board doesn’t already have some idea of what they’re getting into. 

Four full-term (four-year) seats are in play on April 9, 2013 – those of current Board members Fioretto, Uhlig, Sharon Lawson and Scott Zimmerman.  Assuming Borrelli maintains his independent, pro-taxpayer stance, and should Uhlig be re-elected and do likewise, the election of only 2 more like-minded Board members would create a full-blown Nightmare on Prospect Avenue for Bender, Heyde and the PREA.

Hence, the unprecedented “coffee and informal conversation.”  Can the re-awakening of the recently dormant Brigadoon-like General Caucus of School Districts 64 and 207 be far behind?

Because neither of our D-64 “stringers” were able to attend Thursday night’s “coffee and informal conversation,” we don’t have any first-hand report on what actually transpired.  And because it wasn’t an official D-64 meeting, we doubt there will be a video of the session – even though a legitimate “A-B-C’s of School Board Service” would be the kind of informational video that a transparent D-64 could be expected to feature prominently on the District’s website… right next to that new teachers union contract, of course.

But our suspicious nature leads us to speculate that the “informal conversation” was intended to be a preliminary screening process by which Bender, Heyde, et al. could size up any prospective Board candidates in attendance to determine which of them are the kind of go-along-to-get-along folks who traditionally have occupied the big chairs at D-64 and rubber-stamped whatever the PREA and its administration allies cooked up.

In other words: not troublemakers like Tony Borrelli or Eric Uhlig.

CORRECTION (10.16.12): D-64 Board president John Heyde posted a comment earlier today that pointed out an error in this post, specifically that a similar “coffee and informal conversation” was held back in October 2010, preliminary to the 2011 election.  We thank Mr. Heyde for that correction and apologize for the error.

To read or post comments, click on title.

19 comments so far

Why don’t you FOIA the new PREA/D64 Contract?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because we believe that would effectively continue to excuse D-64 officials from the transparency they owe ALL the taxpayers, not just those who file FOIA requests.

Out with Fioretto, Lawson and Zimmerman!

Now the question is: Who else will run?

Anyone…Anyone…Bueller?

This school year is barely underway but I can’t help but look ahead to 2012-13 and imagine that a strike is a distinct possibility.

As for the informational coffee, I think your take is cynical. They’ve been promoting this event for 6 weeks.

EDITOR’S NOTE: So what if “[t]hey’ve been promoting this event for 6 weeks”? And what’s your proof of the “6 weeks” – because the first published notice we saw of it was AFTER the September 24 meeting at which Borrelli and Uhlig registered their “no” votes to the PREA contract.

Thank you Tony Borrelli & Eric Uhlig for a great vote.

Open up the process – then taxpayers have no problem.

We need to back board members like this up, or not complain about taxation (Next up Maine Township Roads please!)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Without more Board members like Borrelli and Uhlig, business as usual by the PREA and its administrator allies will continue.

Dear Anon. at 12:05 pm: On what basis do you predict a strike during the current school year? Teachers more or less got what they wanted, a +3.6% annual raise for each of the next four years, plus some other goodies. Why should they strike?

Maybe the *administrators* will strike — that is, if the board has the guts to freeze their salaries and shrink this year’s overall budget instead of automatically growing it by the rate of inflation like they always do.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This Board doesn’t have “the guts” – or anything else – necessary to freeze salaries of any D-64 employee, or even to tie raises to any objective performance benchmarks.

Yo clarify my comment at 12:05. You implied that this coffee info event was created in reaction to the contract votes. But it had been planned prior to that. I hope, simply, to educate parents/residents and to attract new (but not necessarily blindly union sympathetic) faces.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We were not able to confirm that what you say is true. We did not see or hear about it until after the contract vote.

But even if what you say about the planning of the event were true, we see nothing good about this kind of informal-but-official recruiting/screening of prospective Board candidates.

Hi Bob – I don’t typically comment on your blog, but I thought I’d reach out and correct your misunderstanding of the nature of the coffee. This is the second time the District has held an informational coffee for people who think they may want to run for the board. We did the same thing two years ago, and most, if not all, of the new candidates who eventually ran for the board attended. The District advertises the coffee widely, including mentions in the Herald-Advocate and the Journal, prominent display on our website, and a couple of e-mails to anyone who has signed up for our e-mail list. We do a presentation on why one might want to run for the board, the duties of the board, and the nuts-and-bolts of how to file petitions and get on the ballot. It’s too bad that you were not able to make it. By the way, if you would ever like the check the accuracy of a post before you publish, please feel free to e-mail me (jheyde@d64board.org).

— John Heyde

EDITOR’S NOTE: John – welcome to the “comment” section of PublicWatchdog, and thank you for the corrections/supplemental information. We used it to find a TribLocal article from October 6, 2010 regarding a similar “coffee” and information session on October 28, 2010 for the 2011 D-64 election, and we already have added a correction to the post.

Thank you for the kind offer. In the spirit of reciprocity, we also invite you and any other D-64 Board members (or administrators, teachers, PREA reps, etc.) to submit comments any time you/they take issue with any of the information or opinions posted here. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

“Dear Anon. at 12:05 pm: On what basis do you predict a strike during the current school year? Teachers more or less got what they wanted, a +3.6% annual raise for each of the next four years, plus some other goodies. Why should they strike?”

I stand corrected. I should have said that I predict a possible strike the next time the contract comes up for a vote, which is indeed not next year.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A strike is an occupational hazard of any unionized employee and any employer of unionized personnel. But so long as the D-64 Board is comprised of its typical majority of invertebrates, the PREA will continue to have its way with them so no strike will be necessary; and D-64 taxpayers will continue to pay salaries and benefits substantially out of proportion to the objectively measurable performance of its students.

Thanks, Anon. I’m still hoping the school board stops automatically accepting their maximum allowable annual budget increase when they finalize the annual budget in December. Yes, some capital projects may have to wait. Yes, parents using after school care may have to pay for it. Yes — Yes! — administrators might have to wait for that salary increase. But it will all be OK because teachers got a +3.6% raise, it was “for the kids” so nothing else should matter.

Cue the rainbows and unicorns.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t forget the seashells and balloons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, “Turk,” but we’re not publishing your comment because not only do your unfounded allegations appear “totally irresponsible,” but none of them are relevant or (in our opinion) would disqualify the person for public office, even though we vigorously oppose his re-election.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Re your latest comments, Turk, we consider neither one of those “facts” (if true) relevant to that candidate’s fitness to hold office.

Scott Zimmerman and the rest of the incumbents have to go. He is an elitist snob, out of touch with the reality of change for the district. He claims to want to make a difference but what has he done?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t know about Mr. Zimmerman being “an elitist snob,” but that would be okay with us if his voting record wasn’t irresponsible and myopic.

Having had many dealings with Scott Zimmerman I assure you he is an elitist snob and I agree, totally myopic

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have anything substantive to say, or are you just going to continue to rant about Zimmerman.

As neighbors of Mr. Zimmerman we agree with the comments above. He is a snob. He claimed to wanted to make a difference in the community and ran for the school board the year his oldest started in the school system, having no knowledge about the challenges facing the district. It is time for him to go and let someone who truly has the concern and the experience of the challenges of the district serve. He is a snob of the highest order

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t believe being a “snob” disqualifies him for the D-64 Board. But his voting record and comments do suggest that he is making sure that no expense is being spared – irrespective of reasonableness or results – in educating the community’s children, of which his own would appear to be major beneficiaries. Go figure.

Just enjoying a night of playtime and cocktails with our good friends, couldn’t agree more that Scott Zimmerman has to go. He has done nothing to advance District 64, he said he wants to make difference but what has he done. As a business owner I am sickened by him, his only motive has been to set the amount of tax that Park Ridge District 64 voter have had to pay. How does that better the district? It just shows how he is in it for himself. DISGRACEFUL

EDITOR’S NOTE: How many cocktails?

Okay, you’re right: Zimmerman’s voting record sucks – if one subscribes to demanding value for the taxpayers’ dollars. On the other hand, if one thinks you can solve problems just by throwing boxcars of money at them with no accountability and no demand for objectively measurable results, he would appear to be your guy.

It has been brought to my attention that my and my husbands names were used by someone to make statements about Scott Zimmerman in the comments of this article. It was implied that I had ‘cocktails’ with the [name withheld] and we discussed Mr. Zimmerman. While I am neighbors of the [name withheld], my husband and I have never been out for cocktails with them.

We are also in full support of Scott Zimmerman for school board, and have never heard anything from our neighbors but praise for Scott. I find it amusing and sad that someone would stoop to this level.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are unaware of the name of the people to whom you refer ever being used in any comments on this blog. Accordingly, we have deleted those references in your comment.

The comment above mine was supposedly posted by the people I mentioned. The comment about that used my and my husbands name.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We apologize for that oversight. We have edited those comments to remove all names.

Thank you!

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re welcome.

We are Scott Zimmermans neighbors and have never posted anything to this blog (or any other) previous to this comment. Please remove the above post with our names attached to it. We are 100 percent in favor of Scott Zimmerman and have nothing but good things to say regarding him and his run for school board. Thank you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Already done.



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