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Proviso Probe

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

District 89 discusses issuing bond for working cash

On Monday, October 1, at 5:00 PM, the District 89 (Maywood and Melrose Park elementary schools) board of education held a special meeting to discuss district finances.

After a presentation by a representative from UBS, the board informally agreed to move ahead with issuing a working cash bond. The UBS woman portrayed the money as not quite essential, but helpful to keep the district's cash reserves sufficient that an emergency wouldn't cause checks to bounce. UBS is a financial services company that will be paid for processing the district's bond.

Because financial services fall under the exception of “professional services” the district will not be required to seek bids for the work on letting the bond. UBS employees have given generously to Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Also, the district is on course toward needing to go to the taxpayers for a referendum for either academic year 08-09 or 09-10. The speaking board members expressed frustration that the district overspends various sub-district budgets before the board of education becomes aware.

There were only three people in the audience: Arbdella Patterson, a former school board candidate, Willie Mack, of the regional superintendent's office, and me.

After the meeing I spoke to Grady Rivers, president of the board of education, about Sandra Berryhill, who has been nominated to the board. The district contends that Regional Superintendent of Education Charles Flowers missed the deadline for nominating a candidate. See Proviso Insider.

As I understand it Flowers made two claims about District 89's handling of the vacancy. One, the district failed to meet it's obligation of notifying the regional superintendent of the vacancy withing the five days required by law. Also, the notificaation was misleading or ambiguous as to the effective date of the vacancy.

I asked Rivers how he justified spending money on legal bills contesting the nomination of Berryhill when the district is nominally trying to cut unnecessary expenses. Rivers responded that it was Flowers who was forcing litigation and legal wrangling on the matter.

The curious thing about Rivers' behavior is that after I thought we were finished discussing the matter Rivers came back to re-open the discussion, twice. Largely, he restated his position. In the third encounter, I asked Rivers if Flowers was right and District 89 missed its deadline for notifying the Regional Superintendent of Education about the vacancy within five days, would he allow Berryhill to be seated. Rivers stated that if this determination was made legally then he would accept it. I think Rivers answer makes it clear he intends to fight Berryhill joining the board of education by all legal means at his disposal. No amount of tranfering money from eduction to legal bills is too much to keep Flowers' nominee off the board.

Presumably, either the board's attorney, Emanuel “Chris” Welch (of Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman), or a firm designated by him will make money fighting to keep the seventh seat on the board of education vacant.

Also, board member Ric Cervone has been indicted for corruption. There is currently a 3-3 split on the board on some matters. Cervone is due to be tried in February, 2008. Rivers may figure that once Cervone is convicted, the Rivers-Neely-Cooper block will have a 3-2 advantage and be able to control the appointment of the new board member. With Berryhill on the board there could be a 3-3 deadlock creating a situation where Flowers would appoint Cervone's replacement too.

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