Voting One’s Self-Interest Is Not “Integrity” (And A COLA Is Not A Raise?)


Our post about the 3 Hubbies running for the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board garnered some decent attention from commenters on this blog. But it also got a number of commenters from Matt Coyne’s posting a link on a couple of the local Facebook pages: Chris Buckely’s “Park Ridge Citizens Online” and Kathy (f/k/a Panattoni) Meade’s “Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group.”

Three comments from the Concerned Homeowners page deserve special mention because they illustrate how seemingly intelligent residents can be painfully superficial, or simply clueless, when it comes to local elective office and local politics. Or maybe they’re simply campaigning for their preferred candidates and superficial or clueless is the best they can do.

We’ll start with local real estate broker William Cline, who admitted in his Concerned Homeowners comment to being “pretty fed up with crap like this” – clearly referring to our post about the 3 Hubbies’ conflicts of interest in running for offices where, if they win, they will be able to vote on raising their wives’ salaries and benefits (and, indirectly, their wives’ constitutionally-guaranteed pensions) when the current contract expires in 2020. And while waiting to vote on that new 2020 contract they can vote on other issues that also might benefit their wives.

Cline also termed as “crap” our questioning the 3 Hubbies’ integrity “without mentioning a single issue.”

Apparently Cline can’t grasp the concept that running for a public office where you get to vote on your wife’s salary for the next four years IS “a single issue” – one that just happens to raise a significant question about the candidates’ integrity.

Fortunately, our post provoked one of the 3 Hubby candidates, “Norm!” Dziedzic, to respond on his own campaign Facebook page by giving us (and Cline) yet another “issue” that shows the inherent problem with him and the other two Hubbies (Bublitz and Schaab) running for the D-64 Board. According to “Norm!”:

“I will also openly and honestly say that I don’t believe a cost of living increase is a raise.”

Now that’s an interesting thought. If it’s not a “raise,” “Norm!”, what do you call it when an extra 1.5% to 3.25% of your wife’s $107,579 annual salary (that’s between $1,614 to $3,496 of extra cash) shows up in her pay envelope, unrelated to her performance or her 8-month work year?

A tip? Walking around money? A bribe? Or just “Ka-ching, ka-ching, baby!”?

Neither Mrs. Bublitz nor Mrs. Schaab will pick up quite as much from their non-merit COLAs, since they reportedly make a mere $92,802 and a paltry $89,411, respectively, for their 8-month work years.

And those COLA raises require no extra hours or effort, which is why Cline’s defense of the 3 Hubbies’ conflicts of interest by suggesting they could improve their household incomes more by “working a little extra with the spare time they would have by not running,” reveals just how clueless he is.

Unfortunately, we can’t say anything better about Hulting’s “there are much easier ways to make some extra bucks that [sic] giving hours of time and effort on a school board,” and Holmes-Hamilton’s referring to school board service as being “an unpaid long term volunteer position” that “takes countless hours away from family and work”

The time commitment for those offices is not some closely guarded secret, nor is the fact that there is no salary or stipend for that service. And nobody is forced to run for those offices against their will.

So if you don’t want the long hours and no pay, the solution is simple: Don’t run! And if you do run and win, don’t whine about all the reading, or the long hours, or the lack of pay.

As someone who ran and won hotly-contested elections for the unpaid Park Ridge Park District Board in 1997 and 2001 and who faithfully attended lengthy Board meetings and various other District events for 8 straight years without complaint, I can say without a moment’s hesitation or reservation that serving one’s constituents by holding public office is an honor and privilege – not some kind of chore or forced labor.

And that’s the way it should be viewed by every candidate for elective office who is fit to hold that office.

The bottom line is that the 3 Hubbies’ marital status, standing alone, calls into question their integrity by putting themselves – and their constituents – in a no-win position: Either the 3 Hubbies will vote their wives’ (and their households’) economic self-interests, or they will recuse themselves and thereby deprive their constituents of whatever knowledge and other value they allegedly might bring to the Board.

As the estimable Samuel Johnson once observed: “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, but knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”

From their candidacies it appears that the 3 Hubbies have a distinct preference for dangerous and dreadful. And from the tone of their comments it appears that Cline, Hulting and Holmes-Hamilton concur.

Presumably they’re hoping a majority of Park Ridge voters do, too.

Robert J. Trizna

Editor & Publisher

To read or post comments, click on title.

11 comments so far

Thank you, Norm Dziedzic, for explaining the thinking you and your fellow Hubbies want to bring to the d64 board.

These 3 Hubbies, and the 3 commentators, do not understand the “I” in H.I.T.A., although they probably do not understand the H, the T or the A, either.

Eisenhower said that “the supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible.” So what the hubbies may have learned about education from their wives is meaningless when compared to their clear economic conflicts of interest.

This should be a no-brainer for anybody who cares about H.I.T.A.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, it should be. But there are some folks out their – Cindy Grau and Kathy (f/k/a Panettoni) Meade come to mind – who view H.I.T.A. as some “conservative” conspiracy, which speaks volumes about their view of local government.

How offensive that Bnonymous proposes to judge someone’s, or more specifically my husband’s, integrity based on one Facebook comment. Perhaps Bnonymous should take the H.I.T.A. principles more to heart instead of hiding behind anonymity and commenting on a blog post.

Cline’s point was that we have heard, again and again and again, that three of the D64 candidates are the spouses of District employees. There are other issues out there. Can we please hear where the candidates stand on those issues? Since Cline posted his comment, some of those stances have been brought to light through the various community forums.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bnonymous can speak for him/herself, but this blog has made it crystal clear that NOTHING is more important than character; and that’s spelled H.I.T.A.

Calling out Bnonymous’ – or any other commentor’s – anonymity is a fair point: We do it all the time with anonymous commenters. We also appreciate your defending your husband in your own name, although we wonder why he couldn’t do it himself.

As for where the candidates stand on issues, how did you like “Norm!” saying that COLA increases aren’t raises?

You have resorted to a new low- because people won’t post on your blog you do it for them!

The only bigger waste of time than trying to win an argument on Facebook is trying to make a point on your blog.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unlike FB where the Kathy (f/k/a Panettoni) Meades and other folks who need to maintain their filter bubbles by blocking certain commenters or pulling down whole posts or parts of strings when they don’t like what’s being said, we pretty much post everything that’s not clearly libelous – including your tripe. You’re welcome.

And we criticize stupidity and ignorance wherever we find it.

Mrs. Cline:

I post anonymously because I have business interests in Park Ridge that would likely be compromised by people like you and your husband. But I post as “Bnonymous” so that readers will know which comments come from the same person, unlike other anonymous commentators who try to act like different people.

I stick by my comments. A candidate’s commitment to H.I.T.A. is more important than his or her view on a particular issue.

All I need to know about a candidate is that he thinks a COLA of $1000 or more is not a raise. That shows just how far afield, and how removed from the real world, teachers and their families have gotten when they basically have no competition other than Catholic schools which would add several thousand dollars to the budget of families who are already paying taxes for our public schools.

When I started my working career, some time ago, a couple could not work for the same corporation. This was out of concern for the company closing and the whole family being out of work. This became modified over time to be that a spouse could not be supervised by the partner. Why should this rule be ignored by the school?

EDITOR’S NOTE: School districts don’t close, so that has never been a concern for teachers or their families.

And, technically, the School Board only “supervises” the superintendent – the only district they have authority to hire and fire.


You are concerned about a COLA amounting to $83 per month less taxes and other deductions? Really?

It’s possible for an individual to have good character without being framed by your favorite acronym. The issues are everything! The D64 board has been insensitive to the public demands for transparency, yet none of the board members have been teachers themselves, or closely connected to the teaching profession. Perhaps candidates who know, and or hear about the daily activities that take place at our schools will have some insight into appropriate improvements for our system moving forward? Im certain that Abraham Lincoln didn’t identify himself as a card carrying H.I.T.A. man, yet he performed his duties with honor. Until we see otherwise we have no reason to doubt the motives of any of these candidates.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Your certainty is puzzling, given that Lincoln was known as “Honest Abe”; and his quote – “In times like these men should utter nothing for which they would not be willingly responsible through time and in eternity” – demonstrates that he stood for “accountability.”

We also couldn’t find any record of Honest Abe running for an office where he’d be able to vote Mary Todd a raise.

By this logic, every property owner has a “conflict of interest” since they will presumably be voting on whether or not to raise their own property taxes.

There are zero spouses of teachers on the school board currently, and yet:

1) the school board just voted to borrow $8 million for carpeting and other upgrades;
2) the school board took the first step toward borrowing $30 million for additional capital improvements;
3) all schools are already at max capacity while condos sprout like dandelions;
4) our children spend nearly one hour less per day getting math and language instruction than other elementary kids;
5) 4 out of 10 children are unprepared to advance to the next grade level.

Seems to me that the non-teacher-spouses running the school district right now aren’t exactly doing a bang-up job. One non-teacher-spouse was recentedly — some would say belatedly — forced off the school board after turning our town into a national embarrassment.

Another current school board member failed to disclose he was party to a settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit involving more than a dozen former employees.

It is time for a change.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’ll get no argument from us that the current D-64 Board sucks. We’d be happy to see all seven of them be walking out the door this May.

But your “logic” that “every property owner has a ‘conflict of interest’ since they will presumably be voting on whether or not to raise their own property taxes” means that the 3 Hubbies actually have TWO conflicts – the one we all have that takes money out of our pockets, and their own special conflict that puts thousands of dollars in their wives’ (and, presumably, their oww households’) pockets.

A raise is a raise – whether it’s called “cost of living” or not is irrelevant. A higher gross salary is a raise, plain and simple.

Conflicts of interest are to be avoided at any cost. I’m willing to wager that many people who have no problem placing spouses of D64 employees on the D64 board complain loudly that Donald Trump has not divested himself of his business interests, or that he has his son-in-law and daughter serving as advisers. Either you accept conflicts of interest as being bad across the board, or you feel they are acceptable across the board – please just be consistent!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Just like a rose is a rose is a rose.

If conflicts of interest weren’t bad and to be avoided at any cost, none of the 3 Hubbies or their apologists would be talking about recusal. But recusal is normally used when an unanticipated conflict arises for someone already on the board or council: You don’t elect people with significant existing conflicts of interest with the hope, or even an expectation, that they will recuse themselves if elected.

Unless you’re down a few quarts of integrity but are hoping to sucker the voters into overlooking it.

Mr. Jackson:

I’m concerned about three new school board members giving out $1 million of raises so their wives can get their “$83 per month less taxes and other deductions.”

“The issues are everything” only when there are no questions about a candidate’s character and integrity. That can’t be said for the “3 Hubbies” because their very candidacies and the conflicts those candidacies present say otherwise.

By the time we “see otherwise” from these conflicted candidates it will be too late to do anything about it for another four years. That’s a risk no thinking taxpayer should want to take.

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