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Proviso Probe

Monday, July 02, 2007

D209 board of education declares Flowers' seat vacant

Today at 7 PM the Proviso Township High Schools Board of Education (District 209) board of education held a special meeting to declare the seat held by Charles Flowers, EdD, vacant.

The seat was declared vacant by a 5-1 vote. Board member Theresa Kelly voted “nay” and Flowers did not attend. Board member Dan Adams made the motion to declare Flowers' seat vacant. After a period of time when the board president was fishing for a second, the president said board member Robin Foreman seconded the motion, although her second was inaudible to the audience.

The meeting was held at Proviso Math and Science Academy. The meeting was sparsely attended. The meeting was announced on Friday, June 29, the day Flowers took the oath to be Cook County Regional Superintendent of Education. Flowers was elected to the four-year term on November , 2006. Induction as Regional Superintendent of Education happens on July 1 so turnover will happen while schools are on summer break.

I was one of two citizens to speak on the issue.

My position is that Flowers should have resigned. This would avoid the appearance of partisan politics and conflict of interest when Flowers exercises oversight of District 209. The board of education should not remove Flowers by declaring his seat vacant at this point. The district should seek guidance from the Cook County State's Attorney or Illinois Attorney General. If the state's attorney or AG says Flowers needs to resign then he'll presumably.

Instead the board majority had their political hack law firm write an opinion that cites case law and Illinois AG opinion but ultimately rests on a judgment call.

Arbdella Patterson also gave a statement to the board. She drew attention to the numerous conflicts-of-interest that either exist for board members or applied to past votes. Board member Reatha “Sue” Henry argued with Patterson during her public comment. Henry didn't like Patterson mentioning Henry voted (4-3 vote) to hire her daughter as a secretary. And Henry argued that it wasn't a conflict of interest for her to vote on her boss Eugene Moore to make $150,000+ per year as the district's insurance broker because she works for Moore in his capacity as Cook County Recorder of Deeds, not his insurance business.

Board president Emanuel “Chris” Welch didn't maintain order when Patterson was speaking. So, I figured if it was fair for Henry to interrupt Patterson, I could call out the attorney, Michael Del Galdo, of Giglio & Del Galdo on his BS.

Things Del Galdo said to the board:

  • Flowers was notified of the meeting at 6:28 PM on Friday. Although, as board member Robert Cox noted after the meeting Flowers had been aware of the issue for a long time. Cox had asked Flowers about it. Del Galdo said a lawyer—presumably from his firm—was at the swearing in ceremony to make it official that Flowers' seat could be declared vacant.
  • Del Galdo repeated the point a number of times that the legal opinion was based on “incompatability of office” not conflict of interest. This was mostly twisting words since the two ways the offices were incompatible came back to conflict of interest issues. Two offices are incompatible if one exercises supervision and control or if on apportions or distributes money to the other.
  • Del Galdo claimed—in response to my critique that the litigation connected to Flowers assuming duties as Regional Superintendent—that there would be no need to bill District 209 for legal services from this point forward because now the issue would be in the hands of the state's attorney and AG who have to rule on declaring Flowers' seat vacant now. Something tells me this is a lie. Del Galdo knows he and the board have created a situation that will probably require legal work. And the law firms aren't going to do the work for free. We'll see if Del Galdo keeps his word and stops billing for this issue from tonight forward.

Cox made a point that was somewhat dishonest. He said that if the board position remains vacant for 45 days then Flowers will appoint someone to fill the vacancy. I assume Cox realizes Welch didn't engineer declaring Flowers seat vacant the first working day of July just to let Flowers appoint his replacement.

Cox also expressed regret Flowers wasn't present to explain his explanation for whether holding both offices was “incompatible”.

Kelly started a speech opposing the motion to declare a vacancy. Welch tried to call the question for a vote, but Kelly wouldn't yield.

Some stuff happened after the meeting adjourned.

I had words with Del Galdo. I tried to ask him a question. He refused. He told me, “If you want to get treated like a professional you need to act like one.” Forgive me, Mr. Del Galdo, but I've seen how your kind act. There's no point in being polite and hoping for modest reforms of “half a loaf”. You are aligned with a political machine that's going to do what it wants. So, don't expect critics to be polite. When dealing with greedy political hacks, politeness is for chumps.

Welch and Pioneer Press reporter Chuck Fieldman had words. Fieldman is from the camp that thinks everybody involved with District 209 is tainted, if not equally tainted. Fieldman was trying to get Welch to comment on the story he's doing on the photocopier contract. See Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman). Welch was yelling at Fieldman, which is rare. Welch was a communications major at Northwestern. He's pretty good at presenting himself when he's on the top of his game. Welch refused to answer Fieldman's question and ended-up yelling across the room, “Your paper is nothing but a political rag. You can print that.”

Cox encouraged me to apply to be a school board member.

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  • Thanks Carl for an accurate account of the meeting.

    Also, I would like to mention that Welch was not aggressive in having the group of men who interrupted the June meeting escorted out.

    If Welch has the votes on the board, why is he acting so defensive? He should take a lesson from Manzo. When Manzo had the votes he did not wait around and bicker with reporters and members of the audience. He conducted the meeting, packed his stuff, answered a few questions, and went to his car. But comparing Welch to Manzo is comparing a tiger to a mole rat. Welch being mole rat of course.

    Maybe, Welch realizes that Rome is falling.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:02 AM, July 03, 2007  

  • Carl:

    Its unfortunate that this series of events has even happened. I'm not sure why someone who has been elected to a position such as Dr. Flowers did would even entertain the thought of maintaining a seat of a Board of Ed.

    I'm surprised that you think that he should wait until the State's Attorney or Attorney General says he needs to. C'mon - he should have known about the conflict of interest and decided which position was more important to him. This is common sense.

    By Anonymous Laughing at the Insanity, at 10:23 AM, July 03, 2007  

  • Kudo's to the Board of Education for taking appropriate action and declaring this seat vacant. It truly is a shame that Dr. Flowers did not resign ahead of time as this would have been the professional way to end his term.

    By Anonymous Taylor, at 11:27 AM, July 03, 2007  

  • old Proviso teacher sez:

    Carl, I agree with you 100%. Flowers should have resigned from the Proviso BOE on his own. But since he didn't (and since the Proviso BOE has nothing in its own by-laws to cover this situation), the Illinois AG should be the one to decide what should be done here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:55 PM, July 03, 2007  

  • Hey! Are there any lawyers out there? I just read that Charles took the oath of office as Cook county super on Friday, June 29. He apparently did not hide that fact. Is his oath LEGAL?? I know that most school administrators (Including the Cook County Super) start their terms with the new fiscal year -JULY 1! He chose to jump in early. It is too bad that he begins his term by disrespecting the laws that define his office. NOT a good beginning!! Maybe Charles needs a good lawyer - or at least a decent advisor!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:16 PM, July 03, 2007  

  • Does anyone really believe that any of the factions that vie for control of 209 really care about improving the education at 209? All they really fight about, it seems to this spectator of the last 40 years but especially the last 10 years, is whose campaign friends get contracts, whose relative and friends get the non-teaching jobs. As in Romeo and Juliet, I often think, "a plague on both of your houses." Meantime all the hullalboo about 209 and Regional Superindentent. Since the Regional Superindent does absolutely nothing except hire a few patronage employees as Martwick and Infellicio or whatever his name was, Flowers should have stayed at 209 so the two sides could keep a better watch on who is stealing more (and I do not mean the illegal but the political kind of stealing). Theresa Kelly is way overmatched on her own. As amy teacher or administrator who has dealt with the Regional Superintendent's office in the last 20+ years and they will tell you it basically does nothing except hire poitical cronies and renews our teaching credentials which is basically automatic. Abolish the office now!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:14 PM, July 04, 2007  

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