No Bid? No Problem For Borrelli-Led D-64 Board


Back in early May we published a post about the Board and Administration of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 having entered into what appears to have been a series of NO-BID contracts worth multi-millions of dollars with vendor Arbor Management for hot lunches at Emerson and Lincoln middle schools.

And it appears as if those deals were cut in closed-session meetings that have become par for the course with the “meet the not-so-new boss (Tony Borrelli), same as the old boss (John Heyde)” Board.

So it should come as no surprise that tonight’s Board agenda has as an action item the Board’s vote on approving a new, more expansive NO BID deal with Arbor Management to provide hot lunches to the District’s five elementary schools.

In that May 3 post we noted how the District’s previous under-the-radar, no-bid deals with Arbor suggested the kind of kinkiness that characterized the no-bid deals that got former CPS supt. Barbara Byrd-Bennett indicted. Preventing that kind of kinkiness, albeit on a smaller scaled than Byrd-Bennett’s $23 million kickback scam, is exactly why no-bid contracts are required by public bodies in all but a few limited situations – food vendor contracts not being one of them to our knowledge.

So we found it curious, to say the least, that the “recommendation” memo ostensibly authored by Supt. Laurie Heinz and Financial Czarina Luann Kolstad – “ostensibly” because propaganda minister Bernadette Tramm’s fingerprints are usually all over this kind of disinformation – makes special mention (at page 2, item 3) of “advocacy for the status quo” (i.e., no District-wide hot lunch program) by one school’s “PTO leadership team” where the owner of a PTO lunch vendor is a family of a current student in that school.

That sound you hear is the pot calling the kettle black.

Ironically, the very next item on that page (No. 4) seems to be Heinz’s and Kolstad’s alibi for not going out to bid on these expanded lunch services: Arbor “are [sic] already the food service vendor of record for District 64” and, therefore, “they [sic] would not require a formal bid process.”

We don’t know when or how Arbor became “the food service vendor of record,” or if that is even a lawful designation.

And, frankly, it sounds like the same kind of dishonest hooey Heinz, Kolstad and Borrelli spouted about the Illinois Open Meetings Act back when they were advocating for the creation of two new D-64 Board committees – a “Finance Committee” and a “Building & Sites Committee,” which we wrote about in our 02.17.16 post – on which resident Joan Sandrik blew the whistle, ultimately resulting in that misguided plan being quietly dropped even though Borrelli and his dwarfs were all set to buy into it hook, line and sinker.

So just consider tonight’s vote on the NO BID hot lunch vendor deal as SSDD: Same [Stuff] Different Day. And just like the IOMA-violating committee plan, this NO BID hot lunch deal also comes without any legal opinion that endorses what appears to be an illegal deal that breaches the public trust. Again.

So we can’t wait to see which of Borrelli’s dwarfs join him in this latest abuse of power, and what kind of alibis they will come up with to justify their rubber-stamping of this perversion. Odds-on favorites in that category are Zimmerman, Lee and Johnson, whose heads start bobbling the moment they walk into a Board meeting room and rarely ever stop.

The only real question is whether, in following Borrelli, they sing “Hi ho” or simply “moo.”

To read or post comments, click on title.

9 comments so far

I cannot see how D64 can give out this kind of contract without competitive bidding. And you are right: this is like the illegal way it was going to organize and operate those two new committees without public meetings.

I’m afraid I know the answer to this question but what is wrong with those school board members?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not certain, but one place to start when trying to figure out what’s wrong with those D-64 Board members is the fact that most of them have children in the District – so they are/may be more willing than most to spare no expense on the education of their own kids. They also appear to lack any kind of objective standards and metrics for evaluating educational quality and administrative quality. And they seem to have a pathological desire to please the “educators” rather than demand that the “educators” please them (as surrogates for the taxpayers).

No bid should be a big problem for them. How do they get away with this?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nobody beefs loudly enough and consistently enough to shame them into doing their jobs rather than pandering to the special interests in D-64 education, starting with the administrators and teachers.

The newspaper says that they delayed expanding the hot lunch program to the grade schools. Is that good or bad, or does it matter?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Even just delaying another bid-dollar, NO-BID contract is a good thing, if for no other reason than the last thing D-64 needs is another arguably kinked-up sweetheart deal.

The D64 meeting video is not yet posted (the City Council meeting video from the same night is already posted, by the way) so I can’t see for myself whether anybody raised the issue of the no-bid contract that Arbor got for the middle school hot lunches that was going to be extended to the grade schools but now isn’t for reasons also not clear from the Herald Advocate article.

But “there will be pizza!” Big whoop.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “There will be pizza!” is typical of the shallowness of the Herald-Advocate’s reporting on D-64 and D-207.

Why is there going to be a one year wait for a hot lunch program in the grade k-5 schools? I filled out a survey saying how needed a program like this is and so did many other parents at Field. Arbor already has the contract at Emerson, and my son loves the food service there.

I don’t even understand Mr. Sotos’ comments in the Advocate article. That makes me worry whether some school board members are affected by stupid arguments like the ones you made in this and other posts on the subject.

Why don’t you move to DesPlanes?

EDITOR’S NOTE: “DesPlanes” [sic] lacks a symphony orchestra.

The fact that your son “loves the food service” at Emerson apparently makes a NO-BID contract a no-brainer decision…at least for no-brain residents.

You don’t have to worry about this D-64 Board being “affected” by any arguments we make. Borrelli has publicly insisted that he never reads this blog, and the rest of his dwarfs – except, perhaps, for the dwarf we’ve nicknamed “Silly Drivel” – are unlikely to read, much less be “affected”, by it.

But one thing we have in common: We have no idea what Sotos was trying to say – although we’ll reserve judgment until D-64 posts the meeting video and we can judge for ourselves whether Sotos was just blubbering or whether there was some context for the statements quoted in the H-A article that gives them meaning.

I am tired of critics like you ripping our public schools when from what I hear you didn’t send your own kids there. True?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t see the relevance of that argument, but FYI:

From 1991 through 2012 when any of my 4 sons were in either elementary or high school, Sons Nos. 1 & 2 got $77K of D-64 education and $8 of D-207 education, while Sons Nos. 3 & 4 got none of either.

Total public education benefits: $85,000. Total property taxes paid to D-64 & D-207 from 1991 through 2012: $178,000.

$178,000 of taxes paid less $85,000 of benefits received = $93,000 net donation.

Additional savings to taxpayers from unused D-64 and D-207 expenses due to private education: $289,000.

You’re welcome.

“Looking ahead, the Board also directed administration to competitively bid daily food service to begin with the 2017-18 school year for all five elementary schools as well as our two middle schools. The goal would be to provide uniform menus, availability and pricing across all schools, and at the elementary level to eliminate dependence on volunteers and further enhance food safety and quality. This competitive bidding process will be conducted during the upcoming fall/winter. More information will be shared as it becomes available.

Thank you for your interest and support as we work together to expand the opportunities for families to provide their children with a safe, high quality and nutritious hot lunch each day to support student learning.

For Your Children,
Dr. Laurie Heinz, Superintendent”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The foregoing is excerpted from an e-mail sent to “District 64 Elementary Families and Staff” earlier today (June 29).

We note how there is absolutely NO transparency or accountability by the D-64 Board or Administration for all these years – including the coming (2016-17) school year – for the NO-BID CONTRACTS that have netted Arbor millions of dollars for providing daily food service at our two middle schools.

Obviously, neither Ms. Heinz nor the D-64 Board is “For Our Taxpayers”…except when they are caught with their hands in the cookie jar and have no other choice.

I attended the PR schools system and everyone with the exception of Jr. High brought lunches from home.

Matter of fact there was a time in Dist. 64 when children were expected to go home for lunch and that was before my time.

Why is this an issue these days?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Parents don’t want to be bothered making lunches? Parents think they can get a better deal buying the lunches than making them?

The video is now posted. The discussion about hot lunches is long, much longer than that board spends on most educational matters and outcomes like standardized test scores. Kolstad (and, to a lesser extent, Heinz) seemed to be wedded to Arbor. It made me wonder what connections one or both of them may have either to the company or to the individual Arbor employee who it sounds like coordinates services to Emerson and Lincoln. BTW, Emerson and Lincoln will get at least one more year (2016-17) of no-bid Arbor services.

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