Change At D-64, No Change At City Hall


Monday night, the Park Ridge-Niles Elementary School District 64 Board did the unimaginable: it elected first-term member Tony Borrelli as its president over the hand-picked choice of immediate past president John Heyde, Scott Zimmerman.

Borrelli, joined by fellow-first termer Dan Collins and newly-elected Vicki Lee and Dathan Paterno, prevailed over Zimmerman, Heyde and newly-elected Terry Cameron, who ran on a “ticket” with Zimmerman.   And, just like that, the prospect of unprecedented transparency and accountability from an historically opaque and irresponsible governing body is in the air.

Borrelli has been the only D-64 Board member in the past two years – or the past twenty years, for that matter – who has dared to vote against the across-the-board, non merit-based pay raises for both D-64’s teachers and administrators.  For those who haven’t been paying attention, or who missed our 06.06.11 post, those pay raises are what helped push D-64’s average teacher and administrator salaries above those in places like Winnetka, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Wilmette, Bannockburn, Lake Forest, Deerfield, Arlington Heights, Northbrook/Glenview, Western Springs and Lake Bluff.

But there’s no guarantee that prospect will become a reality.

First off, the fact that Borrelli could garner four votes for president doesn’t mean he can count on those same votes on other issues.  Collins has spent the past two years hiding from his own shadow, so whether his vote for Borrelli signals his acquisition of a spine remains to be seen.  Lee will have to show she is bringing more to the table than her Carpenter PTO fundraising ability.  And Paterno will have to fend off wackos demanding to know whether he believes that God is a white-bearded heterosexual male who created the world in, literally, seven days.

Moreover, if those four dare do anything to suggest that they don’t believe D-64 exists primarily for the benefit of teachers and administrators, they likely will be assailed and undermined not only by their fellow Board members but by the PREA and the highly-paid administrators.

Nevertheless, at least there’s new hope that business as usual at 164 South Prospect might be coming to a welcome end.

While Borrelli was being elected, however, Park Ridge Mayor Dave Schmidt was being over-ridden.  Or, more accurately, his two vetoes on Monday night’s agenda were being over-ridden as the last official acts of the 2011-13 City Council.

First up was Schmidt’s veto of the new Public Works employees’ contract, which Acting City Mgr. Shawn Hamilton botched by ignoring the express directive from the Mayor and the Council that it be “neutral” – i.e., that any wage increases would be offset with other concessions – and negotiating a deal that will cost $75,000 of fresh cash.  Unfazed by Hamilton’s quasi-insubordination and the new contract’s arbitrary, non merit-based raises that other City employees can now use to justify future increases of their own, on March 25th the Council blithely voted 5-1 (Knight dissenting, Sweeney MIA) to approve that contract.

Monday night, City Atty. Everett “Buzz” Hill responded to a softball question from Ald. Jim Smith (3rd) by indicating that he would not be surprised if the union filed an unfair labor practice (“ULP”) charge should the Council not over-ride Schmidt’s veto and finalize the contract.   Hill did not opine on whether he thought such a charge would be successful, but Knight pointed out that if the City’s disapproval of any contract negotiated by City staff can conceivably be a ULP, then the City will need to change the way it negotiates its labor contracts.

Without further ado, the Council over-rode Schmidt’s veto by a vote of 6-1 (Knight dissenting).  And the spiral of arbitrary, performance-unrelated raises continues.

Then came the Council’s vote on Schmidt’s veto of the $389,500 “Phase II” of the police station renovation/expansion, which it over-rode by another 6-1 vote (Knight dissenting).  Although Schmidt and Knight both spoke against that expenditure, it was left to Ald. Marc Mazzuca (6th) to ask the only Council questions about Phase II – two marshmallows that went like this:

Mazzuca: “First, do you believe that Phase II would be helpful to your department in creating a more efficient and professional police force, that it’s a good investment for your department?”

Kaminski: “Yes I do.”

Mazzuca: “How do you think [Phase I] is going, and are we still on track to get our money’s worth on Phase I.”

Kaminski: “I think so.”

Gee, Marc, did you really think that Chief K was going to say “No”?  And if he had, were you ready with another withering inquiry – something along the lines of: “Chief, are you really sure you want to give that kind of answer?”

Mind you, Mazzuca is the kind of guy who, armed with an MBA from the University of Chicago, can spend an hour drilling down into a potato chip – a trait he demonstrated with his one-man water meter crusade and, later during Monday night’s meeting, what seemed like an eternity questioning Police Pension Board re-nominee Tom Ahlbeck.  So lobbing his Stay Pufts at Kaminski seems like just a feeble attempt to add a sliver of legitimacy to his vote.  He might as well have been sitting on Chief K’s knee, hoping nobody could see the Chief’s lips moving.

And the rest of the aldermen?  Silent as sphinxes.

The tally for the evening: more City employees get arbitrary raises unrelated to performance, and almost $400,000 more will be spent on the cop shop without remedying the allegedly health-threatening mold infestation.

Change?  Not this time around.

To read or post comments, click on title.

26 comments so far

It’s “stay puft” not “sta-puffs”. I love marshmallows, and Ghostbusters.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks for the correction.

Local politics sometimes (often?) seems like human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria. Other times, just the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants. Go figure.

If people who question Paterno’s agenda are wackos then I guess I’m certifiable. But I’m also willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope he’ll focus improving the execution of D64’s mission of delivering high quality education.

Ditto, 5/9 @ 12:39 PM. I’ve seen some Swiftboating in my day, but calling people “wackos” because they question the true, dyed-in-the-wool wackos really takes the cake. If you think the Forcible Faux Family Values disciples aren’t right here in Park Ridge and that they don’t have an agenda to infiltrate the innocuous civics and science classes we pay too much for, you are out to lunch, bigtime. But as long as we keep an eye out to thwart Paterno and his ilk tinkering with curricula, I, too, hope he and Borrelli can start a new trend that links accountability, results and money.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Swiftboating”? What happened to “John Bircher” and “creationist”?

By “curricula” are you referring to that course of study that has produced such outstanding ISAT results at the D-64 level and/or contributed to the performance decline at Maine South?

I have a crazy idea: instead of speculating and/or questioning Dr. Paterno’s agenda, why don’t you contact him DIRECTLY and ask him whether his agenda includes coercing teachers (whether it be teaching Creationism or denying the existence of dinosaurs), slashing District employees’ pay, replacing the Pledge of Allegiance with the Ten Commandments, or whatever other catastrophic rumors are swirling around the neighborhood.

I have a hunch he will answer you directly and forthrightly. If he doesn’t, let him have it. If he answers you, guess what: he will be ACCOUNTABLE for his word: something that would be welcome from the District 64 Board.

I’ve gone to great lengths to secure his top secret D64 Board e-mail:

EDITOR’S NOTE: Be careful about using the “A”-word around D-64 folks.

Dr. Paterno:

First of all, thank you in advance for your service to PR and the District. The fact is that being a board member is a service position with many meetings and a large time committment. I also agree that people need to take a breath as you have not voted or gone on the record at a meeting on any issue to this point. For people to somehow think they are going to agree with every position you or any other elected official takes is simply not possible.

That said, I think you are smart enough to understand that some to the tweets you have authored are, at least by many peoples standards, out there. By some folks standards they are way out there.

For example, I am not sure most people would agree that….”Barack Hussein Obama is an evil force trying to destroy our country”. While I am probably not what you would call a pure liberal, I think they would be offended (and I think most people would disagre) that there is a liberal tactic to force kids into public school by making the economy weak enough that both parents MUST work full-time. I will not paste them here, but I also think when you are making a point about Democrats supporting Obama “100%” many might find it a bit much to reference “having sex with both his daughters”, or “gasing millions of Jews”.

You are 100% correct about speculation. Alas that is what often happens on line and in the world of blogs and twitter. This seems to be a world that you are happy to participate in. It also seems like some of your tweets involve your own brand of speculation. Just as you speculate about Obama or Democrats, people will read your tweets and speculate about you.

You will notice in this post that I have not ever even touched on how I feel (agree or disagree) with your tweets. You have every right to have such feelings about any person and express them via twitter. All I am saying is that when you make statements like that you are going to get a reation. Some might argue that you are doing it to get that reaction. After all, your guy Beck has made a boat load of money by doing just that.

Thanks again for running for the board. I hope you are a part of making meaningful changes and improvments as the Distirct continues to evolve.


A serious post deserves a serious response.

You’re absolutely right in your perception that my Twitter activity is purposely histrionic, filled with hyperboles and pushing buttons. I often make my points in intense fashion. Absolutely, some of my tweets are “out there”, outlandish, even ridiculous.

At the same time, I am unabashedly conservative. I genuinely believe that Obama is a bad man and an even worse president. I genuinely believe that liberalism is destroying our nation. Those are not exaggerated sentiments.

But my position on the school board is an entirely different animal. Just like I don’t talk in church like I do while watching a Bears game, my goals and persona as a board member are and will continue to be markedly different than my presence/involvement in national politics.

I still invite you and any other respectful D64 resident or employee to ask me direct questions. I will give honest answers. I have nothing to hide and am deeply committed to personal transparency and accountability.

“At the same time, I am unabashedly conservative. I genuinely believe that Obama is a bad man and an even worse president. I genuinely believe that liberalism is destroying our nation. Those are not exaggerated sentiments.”

I appreciate your honesty, I guess, but I’m flabbergasted that you are willing to alienate a good 50% of your constituency with an admission like this. You claim you can be a different person depending on your audience — which I truly don’t get — but that’s hardly reassuring. In fact it seems to go directly against the commitment to “transparency” you claim to espouse.

In my opinion, it’s this left-right divisiveness, which you admit you are purposefully, histrionically fueling, is what is destroying our country. What kind of message does this send our kids, to just trash the POTUS like that, for example? You say you’re committed to “transparency and accountability” but what about civility?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Would you prefer a devil-worshipper, so long as he/she didn’t “just trash the POTUS like that”? Or an Octomom? How about an Ariel Castro? Or would you just prefer a cipher who expresses no opinions – is that the kind of “transparency” you’re looking for?

We always understood the Constitution as giving all of us the right to “trash the POTUS” – whether he be BHO, GWB, WJC, etc. – or any other public official when we think he/she is doing bad/wrong/stupid things. In fact, we’re pretty certain that’s what that First Amendment thing is all about.

As for “divisiveness” and “civility,” those words seem to be increasingly used by certain folks as substitutes for “disagreement” (unless it’s feckless and insipid disagreement) and “agreement,” respectively. By those standards, we’d say that D-64 has had far too little “divisiveness” and far too much “civility” – and far too many ciphers on its Board.

But, as with most issues like this, opinions vary.


Thanks for the reply. My purpose was not and is not to dabate the accuracy of your positions. As previously stated, you have every right to hold them. I will say that saying that the president is a “bad man” is a very subjective statement. Those on the far left, polar oppisited or where you are (the FAR right), would call Bush a bad man for their own subjective reasons.

I will also say that I find you choices of words and analogies on these various issues and tweets to be fascinating. It would seem to me that a person in your chosen field has a unique perspective on the negative power of words and how they affect people. Yet you go there anyway.

Lastly, while I appreciate your statement that your personal views or national involvement are different than your position on the school board (and I believe this division between the two is tenable) I think you should forgive a little skepticism and concern from some folks. The world of elected officials, local, state and national, is rife with folks who claimed that there personal beliefs would not affect their government role…..that is until they did.

Have a good weekend!

EDITOR’S NOTE: What ever happened to the old axiom: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”? Are we becoming a country of eggshell-thin skins and super-fragile egos? Has victimhood become a new aspiration, the better to accompany entitlements?

PWD @9:50. Please. Of course we have the right to trash the POTUS if we want. It just seems that, as a public figure on a non-partisan board, that exercising a little restraint might be prudent. And I wasn’t using the terms “divisiveness” and “civility” as code for anything else.

He could have said he disagreed with the President or didn’t support him but to use such hateful, hyperbolic rhetoric shows that Mr. Paterno has little interest in rational discussion.

It seems to me that finding common ground — and discussing things calmly and rationally — is something that people have little time for these days. And that is truly a shame.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Puh-leeze! OF COURSE you were using those terms those ways, just like you’re now using “common ground” as a substitute for “compromise” – the kind of unprincipled half-a-loaf deal-making that brought this state all those wonderful grossly-underfunded pensions and (on a local level) the give-away-the-store Uptown TIF that let the developer walk away with its profits while the taxpayers are left holding the bag in a classic “privatize profits while socializing the expenses” way.

Maybe it’s just me, but I know how much my kids pick up on and hearing that the President of the country in which they are living is “a bad man” from a trusted adult would cause considerable worry.

I wonder what a child psychologist might say about how parents should address the vitriol and hate that seems so rampant these days. especially on the social media outlets that impressionable kids find so intriguing. Oh, wait.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have a blocker on all your home televisions to make sure your kids can’t access MSNBC when Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, et al. trash John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, et al.? Or do you only block FOX?

Seriously, if parents can’t figure out for themselves how to “address the vitriol and hate that seems [sic] so rampant these days,” they’re dolts. Or maybe dullards. Either way, no nanny-state this side of “1984” or “Harrison Bergeron” can help them.


If you find someone being at least a bit uncomfortable with a grown and educated man writing in a public form a tweet referencing the president having sex with his own daughters to be “egg-shell thin skinned”, feel free to count me in that group.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since we haven’t seen the “tweet” – and since you have so graciously spared us both its exact language AND its context – we aren’t about to opine on it.

But we’ve already counted you in the eggshell thin-skinned contingent, at least when one side of the political spectrum is being criticized.


Lovely game you play!! Just to be clear, my measure of what is appropriate is not based who I voted for. I actaully have voted for both R’s and D’s in my time. I feel that many things that were said about Bush and the war were compeltely overboard and offbase. The extreme example we are discussing on this thread happens to be a right winger. If the Dr. Paterno tweeted about McConnell with the rest of the comments the same I would find it equally “odd” and worthy of comment.

Related to MSNBC and FOX, the are opposite sides of the same coin. They do what they do to play to their “base” which is generally the extremes. They do it for ratings and to make money. I don’t watch either station for news. On any given issue I know what either will say without even turning on the TV. They are a waste of time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: How open-minded you are, voting for both Rs and Ds. We bet you even have one or two black friends.

As we’ve said before and we’ll say again: We don’t care what Paterno – or anybody else on the D-64 Board, for that matter – does in his/her private life. We only care what they do as Board members. But if he shows up at the ESC in a white sheet and hood, let us know.

I would be more inclined to give Mr. Paterno the benefit of the doubt regarding his plans for his role on the school board had he bothered to give any indication of what his vision is for the school district along with his very specific outlining of his political ideology.

And I’m surprised the moderator of this blog is willing to do so, considering his historical disdain for those who have no clear cut vision for governance. PWD, are you so determined to stand by your endorsement that you are blind to any red flags?

Paterno said, “my goals and persona as a board member are and will continue to be markedly different than my presence/involvement in national politics.” He eagerly provides specifics on the latter yet he says zero about what the former is.

I can only conclude that his “presence/involvement in national politics” is his main priority. And that is worrisome to this D64 taxpayer.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You obviously weren’t paying attention to the D-64 campaign. Paterno endorsed Ben Seib’s economic analysis of the D-64’s tax and spend trends, and he also made his positions known at the March 14 PREA candidates’ forum, to name two of the more visible vehicles for his communicating his “goals and persona as a board member.”

PWD you miss the point @11:25, I think. Are you saying that because the talking heads on Fox, MSNBC, et al, are spewing vitriol that it’s OK if one of our school members does? I’d like to think that we as parents and citizens should try to temper those biased sources with more thoughtful, rational discussion. Or at least stay out of the fray and focus on the business — in this case D64 — at hand.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, what we are saying is that we don’t buy the faux-outrage being expressed by the eggshell thin-skinned commentators.

But national politics isn’t synonymous with D-64 governance, which is why the race for the D-64 board is non-partisan. That doesn’t mean a candidate or board member can’t be a party partisan, or even a hyper-partisan. Nor should they have to “stay out of the fray” of partisan politics when they’re on their own time.

“Nor should they have to “stay out of the fray” of partisan politics when they’re on their own time.”

Agreed but since along with all his Obama and liberal bashing on Twitter he refers to the election of Dr. Borelli as President as a “Conservative Victory,” then I think it’s safe to say he’s brought his hyper-partisan agenda to the D-64 board.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course you would think that, presumably because you consider “Conservative” as synonymous with “Republican.” It’s not, even though the Democratic Party seems to have done a pretty good job of abandoning its “Blue Dogs.”

You talk about keeping your national political feelings seperate from your board position.
It seems to me you have a very interesting decision coming up in September.

Every year the sitting President has a national address directed to returning students that is traditionally broadcast at all public schools. It has always been broadcast at D64 schools.

Now you cannot honestly think that having this “evil force trying to destroy our country” address the students of D64 is a good idea…can you??

So are you going to bring this up at a board meeting?? Now that you are on the board are you going to be true to you convictions about this “bad man” and attempt to block the address to returning students?? If you don’t what does that say about your convictions?

Seems like it might not always be so easy to keep the two seperate.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We assume you are addressing this to Paterno, but we’ll take a crack at it just for grins.

Good man or bad man, he’s still The President. The office deserves proper respect separate and distinct from the individual.

For that reason, while we have no problem whatsoever with Paterno taking his blog/Twitter/etc. positions on the President and other political figures/issues, we would be extremely disappointed by Paterno’s attempting to block the broadcasting of that speech if, indeed, it traditionally has been broadcast at all D-64 schools.

“Good man or bad man, he’s still The President. The office deserves proper respect separate and distinct from the individual.”

Hear, hear. However, D64 must have gotten complaints from parents after Obama was first elected because after 2008 it began to offer an “alternate activity” for kids whose parents didn’t want their child exposed to a back to school message from their evil new President.

I cannot tell you how much that has made my blood boil, for exactly the reason quoted above. And I think it’s telling that prior to 2008 no parents demanded “alternate activities” for their children during the traditional back to school address.

Again, what kind of message are parents who demand this “alternate activity” sending to our kids by telling them they can’t even listen to something as innocuous as a back to school address from the man who was elected to our country’s highest office?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Frankly, D-64’s administrators – and its Board members, if they approved it – deserve to be (figuratively, not literally) horsewhipped for even providing “alternate activities” during that time. Any parents who don’t want their kids to hear that speech in the school can exercise their prerogative of keeping the kids home and burning a sick day.


I’m not certain, and don’t know where to get a definitive answer, but believe that prior to 2009 there was no Presidential address broadcast throughout the schools. My kids were surprised the first time it happened and wondered why they never got to listen to the prior President. I surmise that the generally liberal teachers and administrators would not take classroom time to allow anyone to listen to GWB.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Upon reading your comment we did a quick Google check and could not find mention of any prior presidents giveng annual back-to-school speeches. But just because no prior presidents did it doesn’t make Pres. Obama’s effort inherently political or objectionable. If a Republican ever again gets elected president and gives a back-to-school address that our teachers and administrators DON’T broadcast throughout the schools, THAT’s the time to beef.

@8:34. I also can’t recall whether GWB gave back to school addresses but I think it’s really unfair to say that the teachers and/or administrators would block One from him or any would-be Republican president. I’ve seen nothing but respect and neutrality from the teachers in regards to the elections and office of the President, pre and post Obama.

This past election, my seventh grader’s D64 social studies teacher devoted a lot of time to the election and wouldn’t even indicate who she was voting for, although she did finally admit it was Obama the day after the election. She did a great job helping the kids get engaged and in no way tried to influence their political persuasions. And when it came to the state of the union address, she had the kids watch and report on not just the POTUS’s address but both GOP responses as well. From what I can gather that was the approach of all the teachers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: By any chance would that teacher be at Emerson?

@12:58. Yes she is at Emerson. And now don’t know if I should expect a positive response or brace myself for an onslaught of scorn.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No need to brace yourself for anything because – assuming we’re talking about the same teacher – we have heard her praises sung from a variety of sources in town. And in view of that praise and the list of D-64 salaries we’ve seen, she would appear to be underpaid for the quality of teaching she reportedly delivers.

We have sunk farther as a culture than I ever thought possible if we are seriously giving somebody who accuses the president of incest a serious hearing on anything. If I crap on my rug in front of you but not on your rug, that makes it socially acceptable, right? Paterno is the only “genuinely bad man” in the room. I am far more frightened and disgusted than I was when this whole thread began. Paterno is a grotesque and the fact that any parent lets HIM in a closed room with any child is appalling.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yet another anonymous commentator who doesn’t seem to be able to distinguish between actions and mere words.

But beyond that deficiency, can you direct us to where that accusation of “incest” can be found?


To be clear and to be fair, the was no accusation. He was makeing a point about how forgiving the left or liberals or progressives (what ever word you want to use)are of the President. He essentially said they are so forgiving the would give the President a pass even if he…..this is where sex with his daughters and gasing the Jews came in.

His point was correct. Supporters a particular candidate (Rand D, Liberal, conservative, progressive….choose your words) tend to give those they support a pass and pationate Obama supporters are certainly guilty of this.

Where the wheels came off the bus, so to speak, is how he choose to make that point.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It seems that “[w]here the wheels came off the bus” was at the intersection of “Liberal” and “Paranoia” once certain folks realized Paterno was a “conservative” – at which point the factually questionable attempts at demonizing him commenced for reasons unrelated to anything he said or did concerning D-64.

“It seems that “[w]here the wheels came off the bus” was at the intersection of “Liberal” and “Paranoia” once certain folks realized Paterno was a “conservative” – at which point the factually questionable attempts at demonizing him commenced for reasons unrelated to anything he said or did concerning D-64.”

Not fair. Surely there are other “conservative” board members, as well as “liberal” ones. As far as I know, however, no one else is publicly fueling the fires of divisiveness and intolerance in such a provocative and borderline unhinged manner. A guy who has no problem making inflammatory statements shouldn’t be surprised when people raise concerns. Nor should his supporters.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again, we ask all you timid and terrified souls to please provide actual EXAMPLES of exactly what Paterno is purportedly writing and exactly where we can find it so that readers can judge for themselves just how “provocative” and “borderline unhinged” he is being.

As for his “fueling the fires of divisiveness and intolerance,” puh-leeze! Just because you call pointed disagreement with your own positions “divisive” doesn’t make it so.

He called the President “a bad man” right here. That’s not just pointed disagreement with those who believe Obama’s not a bad man, it’s divisive. Period.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s “divisive” just because you say it is? Once again, telling evidence of why you comment anonymously.

Of course it is not divisive just becuase he says so. He is offering his opinion.

That is what Dr. Paterno did when he tweeted that Obama was a bad man or that he is an “evil force trying to destroy our country”.

That is also what you do at this blog on a regular basis.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Why do you consider anonymous 05.13.13 @ 6:02 PM a “he” and not a “she”?

We give our opinions regularly, and we hope they are “divisive” – as in dividing the wheat from the chaff, the informed from the ignorant, the stupid from the intelligent, the thoughtful from the dense, the courageous from the cowardly, the ridiculous from the sublime, etc.

And even though we don’t always succeed, we intend to keep on trying.

PubDog, you are besmirching your rep by defending the indefensible. The ACLU painfully defended the Nazi march in Skokie despite the emotional anguish it caused because the first amendment trumps all. OK, OK. But even the ACLU would not have supported the Nazis reading Torah.

Being accountable to taxpayers is a pretty high level value to me, too; up there with the First. But I cannot believe we have to eat ground glass with every bite of nourishment. We can do better than Paterno and I hope, if nothing else, that his election will make others get involved.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Calling Frank Collin’s collection of misfits “Nazis” is like calling Park Ridge kids “gangstas” because they wear their ball caps sideways. Obviously you didn’t know the ACLU’s David Goldberger if you think he would have abandoned the “Nazis” exercise of their First Amendment rights just because they wanted to read the Torah.

Interesting that you would analogize opinions you disagree with to eating “ground glass.” But don’t let that stop you from holding yourself out as a real First Amendment proponent.

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