Three Shameless D-64 Candidates Fail “Caesar’s Wife” Standard Of Integrity


The ancient historian Plutarch, in his Life of Julius Caesar, related how Caesar divorced his wife Pompeia solely because of rumors of her adulterous behavior – believing that her standard of conduct should be such that it not be susceptible to even the mere suspicion of untoward behavior.

That is the origin of the “Caesar’s Wife” proverb of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.

Unfortunately, that proverb appears wasted on three of the seven candidates for the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 school board: Greg Bublitz, Norm Dziedzic, Jr. and Michael Schaab. We’ll call them the “3 Hubbies.”

Each one of them has a wife who is a teacher at D-64 and, therefore, presumably a member of the ironically-named Park Ridge Education Association – a teachers union whose only education-related purpose is to put more money and benefits in the pockets of D-64 teachers while minimizing teacher accountability for student achievement.

If all three of them are elected, they will represent 3 of the 4 votes needed to approve the next PREA sweetheart contract in 2020. In other words, the 3 Hubbies will be in a position to vote on a contract that will increase their respective household incomes by thousands of dollars – while likely raising their respective property taxes only a few hundred dollars.

On Wall Street, that’s what is called an “arbitrage”: a risk-free investment opportunity based on the differential between cost and gain.

They also will represent 3 of the 4 votes needed for any other D-64 Board action addressing such important issues and policies as teacher discipline, accountability, work hours, scheduling and other matters where their decisions could directly benefit their wives and, indirectly, themselves.

In a December 23, 2016 article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“3 school board candidates married to District 64 teachers”), the chairwoman of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys Executive Committee warned that while, in her non-binding opinion, it is not an outright conflict of interest for the spouse of a teacher to sit on the board of the spouse’s school district, it is advisable – but not required – that they abstain from voting on such issues as contracts.

Advisable, but not required.

According to the H-A article, Bublitz said that his “first inclination would be to recuse [himself],” suggesting that recusal would be his “commitment.”

That’s an unenforceable “commitment” that Bublitz can ignore with virtual impunity if he chooses not to stand for re-election in 2021 – like the four current Board members (Vicki Lee, Bob Johnson, Scott Zimmerman and the Screeching Dathan Paterno) who rubber-stamped the latest secretly negotiated, secretly discussed four-year sweetheart PREA contract and are walking away from it without a care in the world.

Schaab reportedly said he “probably would have to recuse [himself],” although he wasn’t ready to offer even Bublitz’s unenforceable “commitment.”

And Dziedzic – whose “Norm” campaign signs either are borrowing from the “Cher” school of first-name branding, or seeking the nostalgia vote in harkening back to the t.v. show “Cheers” – isn’t even pretending that he might recuse himself, relying on the non-binding opinion that there is no legal conflict of interest.

Back in Caesar’s time, and not all that long ago in this country, the appearance of impropriety of a husband or wife running for a public office where they could put public money directly into their spouse’s pocket – and, thereby, indirectly into their own – would be enough to discourage people of integrity from seeking such positions. Unless, of course their name was “Boss” Daley and they were shameless enough to steer millions of dollars of government insurance contracts to their kids while blithely excusing such unethical behavior with: “If a man can’t put his arms around his sons and help them, then what’s the world coming to?

Since the 3 Hubbies are obviously shameless and apparently lacking in Caesar’s Wife-style integrity, their candidacies present D-64 voters with the following questions:

  1. Can they be trusted to actually recuse themselves from the PREA negotiations and voting on a new contract for their wives three years from now?
  2. Do they bring anything to the D-64 Board of sufficient value as to over-ride the substantial risk that they’ll vote their wives’/their own pocketbooks – before riding off into the sunset in May, 2021, with no accountability to the taxpayers?
  3. Does it make any sense to elect candidates who either will negotiate and vote on their wives’ salaries and benefits, or will recuse themselves and thereby deprive their constituents of the unbiased representation they deserve?

Fortunately, there are four other candidates – Rick Biagi, Larry Ryles, Fred Sanchez and Eastman Tiu – for the four D-64 Board vacancies, and none of them are afflicted with either the same conflicts (de facto if not de jure) or the same Caesar’s Wife-style impropriety that’s infecting the 3 Hubbies’ candidacies.

That leaves it up to you D-64 voters to decide whether you are content with the prospect of the 3 Hubbies selling out the D-64 taxpayers to put extra cash in their wives’ (and their joint?) bank accounts, and/or selling out the D-64 students in order to further reduce the already minimal accountability of the PREA teachers for our underperforming schools.

To read or post comments, click on title.