Public Watchdog.org

Our Only Endorsement For D-64 Board: Gareth Kennedy

04.01.19

We apologize for the lateness of this post, but we spent much of last week dealing with technical problems on the site, and the past 3 days reading, analyzing and cross-referencing all the campaign materials, websites and Facebook pages of the two candidates for the vacant 2-year seat, Gareth Kennedy and Rebecca Little; and of the five candidates for the three vacant 4-year seats, Steve Blindauer, Sal Galati, Lisa Page, Denise Pearl and Carol Sales (We eliminated Athan “Tom” Sotos from contention in our previous post).

We also read, analyzed and cross-referenced their answers to the SPED-parents’ and Go Green questionnaires. And we listened to the 1 hour, 41 minute audio recording of the Action Ridge candidates’ forum…twice, as well as those portions of the SPED-parents’ forum surreptitiously recorded by an attendee.

Frankly, it was stultifying to the point of physical pain.

Most of the candidates’ spiels were virtually indistinguishable from the others’: How many times, and in how many different ways, can candidates say “better communication,” “rebuilding trust,” “professional development,” “student focus,” “innovation” and “socio-emotional learning” (or “SEL”) without sounding like a bunch of parrots? And on those rare occasions when someone actually said the word “taxpayer,” it was usually as a throw-in merely to round out the full complement of “stakeholders.”

But we soldiered through, and here are the conclusions we drew:

The 4-year seats.

There’s an old political axiom that “yard signs don’t vote.” And that’s absolutely correct.

But yard signs say something very important about a candidate’s legitimacy and commitment: That he/she is proud enough and serious enough about his/her candidacy to promote it in the most visible way; and that he/she has gone to the expense and effort of convincing other residents to publicly identify themselves with his/her candidacy, also in the most visible way.

Both Galati and Page showed up at forums. They both answered questionnaires. And they both have websites/FB pages. That’s commendable, and some day that might be enough. But today is not that day.

That leaves Blindauer, Pearl and Sales.

As readers of this blog know, this editor favors private-sector unions but is a conscientious objector when it comes to public-sector ones – for the same reasons articulated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (“All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.”) and, years later, by the first president of the AFL-CIO, George Meany (“It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”). We wrote about the major problems of public-sector unions in our Labor Day posts of 09.01.2013 and 09.07.2015.

Back in 2011 this blog endorsed three candidates for the Park Ridge Park Board – Mel Thillens (can you believe it!), Mary Wynn Ryan (can you freakin’ believe it!) and Jim O’Brien – primarily because they were running against a slate of “union lackeys” endorsed by the same union (the SEIU) that represented Park District employees with whom they would be bargaining, ostensibly on the taxpayers’ behalf, if elected to the Board.

Three years later, in our 12.05.2015 post, we applauded then-Mayor Dave Schmidt and the City Council for standing up to Operating Engineers Local 150, their inflatable rats, their “Veto Schmidt” signs, and their unprecedented (in Park Ridge, at least) $1,000 contribution to the campaign of Schmidt’s opponent.

And two years ago, we heartily endorsed two of the candidates running against a de facto slate of husbands of D-64 teachers whom we dubbed the “3 Hubbies” because, had they been elected, they could not be trusted to bargain for the taxpayers and against their and their Park Ridge Education Association (“PREA,” the teachers union)-member wives’ joint economic interests.

This year, the Park Ridge Teacher Assistant Association (“PRTAA”) has endorsed Blindauer, Pearl and Sales for the 4-year seats. Unions, not unlike businesses, rarely endorse candidates unless they believe those candidates, if elected, will be soft touches when it comes to doing favors. And with a new PRTAA contract coming up for negotiation, the PRTAA’s endorsement makes no bones about “want[ing] to negotiate our next contract with [Board] members we feel respects [sic] us and value what we do for the students” – according to the endorsement posted on the campaign FB page of 2-year candidate Rebecca Little, also endorsed by the PRTAA.

That’s reason enough in our book to just say “no” to those PRTAA pawns. And, most likely, PREA pawns.

The 2-year seat.

This one pits Rebecca Little against Gareth Kennedy. We could endorse Kennedy solely because of the union argument made above.

But there are other reasons as well.

Kennedy first came to our attention as one of the two runners-up (out of 8 applicants) for the appointment to fill the 5th Ward aldermanic vacancy after the death of Dan Knight in December 2016. When a few of the sitting aldermen criticized the citizens’ nominating committee’s recommendation process at the February 6, 2017 Council meeting at which Charlie Melidosian’s appointment was to be approved, Kennedy spoke up in defense not only of the process but also of the Melidosian recommendation itself.

That one incident showed us more character than most Park Ridge public office seekers ever display, especially when their personal ox is being publicly gored.

Undeterred, Kennedy sought and obtained appointment to the Library Board in June 2017, and has served there with distinction ever since.

Little, on the other hand, claims on her campaign Facebook page that she has “been attending D64 meetings for about a year and a half….” Yet when we reviewed the minutes of every D-64 Board meeting (regular and special) during all of 2018…SURPRISE!…we could find not one mention of her name or one shred of evidence of her attendance at even one such meeting. So if she actually was in attendance, she apparently contributed nothing  worthy of inclusion in the meeting minutes.

Or she was simply lying.

But what we found even more troubling about Little’s attitude toward our D-64 schools and Board service are her comments in response to Question 9 at the Action Ridge forum asking why non-parents of D-64 students should be concerned about who gets elected to the D-64 Board. Little’s response – from 1:12:18 to 1: 12:40 of the forum audio – focuses on leaving Park Ridge, presumably after she finishes taking out over $350,000 in “free” public education (3 kids for 21 combined school years @ $17,000/kid in current dollars) paid primarily by her fellow taxpayers between now and 2030:

“You have to care if you ever want to sell your house.” And “[i]f you ever want to leave, you have to care.”

Those brought laughs from the forum attendees, many/most of whom presumably share Little’s strategy of sucking out as much “free” stuff as possible (with Kathy Meade’s alibi that “we pay taxes!”) before leaving, not unlike swarms of locusts stripping fields of everything worth consuming before moving on.

Kennedy, following Little in answering that question, recognized that unchecked taxes can be detrimental; and that there must be “a balance between educational excellence and fiscal responsibility, and it’s a fine line” which “must be carefully walked.”

We’ll take a fine-line walker over a swarm of locusts any day.

Kennedy is heartily endorsed and deserves your vote.

But no matter what candidate(s) you favor, make it a point to go to the polls and vote.

To read or post comments, click on title.

3 comments so far

Tooooooo funny. For years now I have been listening to your analogy about an inoperable brain tumor versus heart disease (or what ever ailment you use) to defend the many, many, many endorsements that have gone completely off the tracks once the candidate takes office. I always took that to mean that in every election we have a responsibility to vote and that sometimes that involves picking from a pool where none fit our definition of perfect. In this post you encourage all of to go out an vote for one candidate to fill three positions. You seem to be violating your own rule.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t recall – but please remind us, if you can – where we actually endorsed an “inoperable brain tumor” (or its equivalent) oaver “heart disease” (or its equivalent). And while this may come as a shock to you, if you’re looking for perfection you won’t find anything close to it on a ballot.

We wrote: “But no matter what candidate(s) you favor, make it a point to go to the polls and vote.” How you come away with interpreting that as encouraging voters to select on candidate “to fill all three positions” is beyond us.

But FWIW, if not voting for the union lackeys (including Sotos) would cause those positions to remain vacant, THAT would be a better alternative than giving the PREA and the PRTAA a Board majority.

5th Ward Alderman?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Raspanti. But when the time comes, we’ll vote for Melidosian for sainthood.

Unfortunately we lost a chance to have someone on the board with strong financial credentials which have been and continue to be sorely needed to a journalist/blogger who did nothing more than ride another candidate’s coattails to a win. A real loss for the taxpayers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have over 20,000 registered voters in Park Ridge yet, as of 12:09 a.m. on April 3, 32 of 34 precincts are in and only 4,261 ballots cast. So the vast majority of “the taxpayers” basically didn’t give a rat’s derriere.



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