“Boss” Borrelli Making Sure Taxpayers Get Fooled Again


Last week the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate published an article (“District 64 board president: ‘Significant progress’ on negotiations with teachers,” July 19) consisting almost entirely of unfiltered propaganda from Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 about the interminable contract negotiations between D-64 (a/k/a the taxpayers) and the Park Ridge Education Association (the “PREA”), a/k/a, the teachers union. 

We’ve come to expect our local media serving as unquestioning conduits for whatever half-truths, misinformation and disinformation D-64 and Maine Twp. School District 207 disseminate in their quest to preserve their Teflon coatings. The next time the H-A or the Park Ridge Journal conducts any investigative reporting about either school district will be the first.

But we did get a kick out of the H-A article’s reporting Board president Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli’s proclamation that “significant progress” has occurred in the negotiations, especially given how those negotiations commenced way back on January 19 yet we’re barely a month before the expiration of the existing contract and the start of the new school year without a new contract.

It took the U.S. and North Vietnam around eight months just to agree on the shape of the bargaining table for their negotiations to end the Vietnam War, so by that pathetic benchmark these D-64 and PREA negotiators are crushing it. But by any reasonable standard, they’ve already been lapped at least twice by Team Escargot.

If D-64 and the PREA were making even half an effort, they would have met more than twice a month; and these negotiations would have been wrapped up in a couple of months. That would have given D-64 plenty of time to publish the proposed contract so that it could receive ample taxpayer scrutiny and public comment. Heck, there’s even a miniscule chance it could have been sent back for further negotiations over the more ridiculous provisions.

But among all the things on which the D-64 Board/Administration and the PREA march in lockstep, nothing surpasses their mutual dislike for public scrutiny – especially if that scrutiny reveals how irresponsibly and unaccountably the Board members are discharging their stewardship of the $70 million-plus the taxpayers give them each year.

It’s that mutual distaste for scrutiny which suggests the most likely explanation for such a glacial pace of negotiations, an explanation as nefarious as it is opaque to those on the outside of these secretive, closed-session negotiations: D-64 and the PREA have been colluding to intentionally delay the process in order to create a crisis.

By deliberately stalling the process of getting to “yes” until right before the current contract expires and school resumes, the D-64 Board and the PREA can cynically insist on lickety-split approval of whatever taxpayer-unfriendly deal they’ve cooked up – with no time left on the clock for the contract’s terms to be disclosed to the taxpayers and a meaningful opportunity given those taxpayers to question, comment on, and/or debate those terms prior to the Board’s approval of them.

It’s a strategy as clever as it is dishonest, a charade pretty much guaranteed to deceive and neuter the taxpayers while benefiting the PREA and covering – at least temporarily – the derrieres of the eight members of the D-64 negotiating team.

That way, Borrelli and his fellow bobble-heads won’t have to explain to taxpayers why they agreed to renew the current contract’s anti-transparent, anti-accountability (Article III, Section B(3)) – a provision which doesn’t expressly prohibit open-session negotiations but which uses just enough weasel-words (“Public releases must have prior mutual consent until either the Board or the PREA declares impasse…[after which] public releases or statements may be made without mutual consent provided the other party is given 48 hours’ advance notice.”) to encourage the PREA to file an unfair labor practice charge if D-64 actually tried to inform the taxpayers of the PREA’s demands and negotiating tactics.

It also means Borelli et al. will be tying the hands of the next D-64 contract negotiating team and once again keeping the taxpayers in the dark – just like Borrelli’s predecessor, John Heyde, did four years ago.

And it means the D-64 Board can approve the new contract without even showing it to the taxpayers, like Heyde and his Heydettes did four years ago.

That also means that Borrelli and the bobble-heads can renew the current contract’s “spike” provision that jacks up the salaries of near-retirement teachers by an additional 6% per year to fatten their pensions by tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars over their retirement– as Borrelli seemed to suggest in response to a question from resident Peter Karas at the July 18 Board meeting – with the taxpayers being none the wiser until the new contract has been approved and that spike provision has become a fait accompli.

You can watch the Karas-Borrelli colloquy, and Supt. Laurie Heinz inviting Karas to e-mail her or finance guru Luann Kolstad his questions (so that the answers never make it into the public record?), from 6:20 to 14:30 of the meeting video.

You can also watch – from 3:58 to 6:15 of that same video – how Borrelli, Heinz and the rest of that assembled multitude fail to engage taxpayer and education advocate, Joan Sandrik, when she asks them to remove the closed-session bargaining provision from the new contract. Heinz didn’t even invite Sandrik to correspond by e-mail.

That’s the way the D-64 Board operates under “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli, much the same way it operated under the former “Boss” Heyde.

Which calls to mind a lyric from The Who’s rock anthem, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”:

“Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

Sadly, Borrelli has proved that painfully true.

And that taxpayers are getting fooled again.

To read or post comments, click on title.

6 comments so far

That’s quite a tale but you present it persuasively. I can’t come up with a better explanation of why it has taken over six months to get an agreement, or why they were only meeting twice a month.

Have you read D64 bd. member Sotos on the Concerned Homeowners FB page? He sounds like a pure politician promising everybody everything from the new contract. Hillary and Trump couldn’t do any worse.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We saw that, but what do you expect from someone whose election was supported by the PREA?

IT’s funny how you call Borrelli “Boss” when he’s not even the boss of himself. Heinz is the real boas, she just lets Borrelli think he is.

I publicly applaud Sotos for engaging in the Facebook group discussion. Admittedly, he doesn’t take any strong positions, but at least he’s there, which is far more than any other board member can say.

Maybe someone can answer more definitively a question Sotos couldn’t: When is/are the next board meeting(s) during which residents can ask questions about the D64 budget and teacher contract?

Four years ago I showed up at such a meeting, only because I learned of it the day before, and was the only resident to comment on the subject. The Board voted approval, hurriedly, the same night. Is that how it’s going to go this time? When can we comment, and how much time will be allowed for public review?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Agree as to Sotos’ engagement, but let’s not mistake activity for achievement here.

His comments, mostly in response to yours, were almost exclusively lame politician doublespeak (e.g., “fair compensation is a pay that is fair and equitable for the work being performed”; “healthy finances…means finances healthy enough to continue to run your business”); promises of everything to everybody (“I want…[a] contract that will help our district move forward and keep our schools good and propel us bact to great, while at the same time making sure we…keep cost at a min so as to not price our residence [sic] our of their own homes.”); and invitations to private off-the-record discussions (“Can discuss my view on [merit based pay and evaluations] in more detail with you in person, just not interested in going deeper on a post.”)

You were there for the contract approval four years ago and you’ve watched this current Board hide in closed session every chance it gets. How can you think a majority of THIS Board is going to do anything differently, much less better, than the last time?

Teaching in Park Ridge schools is nothing like teaching in the inner city. Just the other day former secretary of education Arne Duncan acknowledged that by saying that inner city teachers should be paid more than suburban teachers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: But Arne didn’t say any teachers are overpaid, nor did he say that they should be objectively evaluated and their pay based on those evaluations.

Steve Schildwachter it is my understanding, and I could be wrong, that the public will not have an opportunity to voice any concerns or comments regarding the PREA contract until after it has been approved by the board and the PREA. At that point, it’s a done deal so any comments are pretty much pointless. The only hope is that the board and the PREA reach an impasse in negotiations and at that point the secrets can be divulged.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re betting that it’s ALREADY a “done deal” so that no “impasse” will occur and the stampede to approval should begin shortly.

This is, once again, a classic Chicago-style rigged deal.

And they’re also busy rigging – in closed session, naturally – a better deal for Heinz that should be getting rubber-stamped around the same time as the PREA contract.

Our elected officials are treating us like mushrooms again just to make the PREA and its teachers happy with more money they don’t want us to know about until it’s too late to do anything about it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yeah, that’s pretty much the nutshell version.

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