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Proviso Probe

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Welch & Johnson should come clean

Yahoo (David Crary, AP):
NEW YORK - The American Red Cross ousted its president, Mark Everson, on Tuesday after learning that he had engaged in a "personal relationship" with a subordinate employee.

The woman was not identified, but I expect if she was the one in charge of the Red Cross' money that would have been part of the story.

When I asked Emanuel "Chris" Welch, president of Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education if he was dating Nikita Johnson, who was then the business manager and has since been promoted, Welch responded with, "I don't discuss my personal life with the media."

It's time for the board of education and Superintendent Robert Libka to ask the question of both of them. "Are you two dating?"

District 209 is a district with a history of crony politics in both jobs and contracting. The FBI is investigating the district for something.

Five of the seven board members are quite passive, letting themselves be bossed by Welch and political boss Eugene Moore (Brian Cross and Reatha "Sue" Henry work for Moore at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds). One of the passive board members, Robin Foreman, is Johnson's aunt. Foreman has been pushing for D209 to hire Johnson for years, going back to when Foreman was active with the boosters.

On top of that the district the superintendent, Libka, is very much a "go along, get along" kinda guy who avoids confrontation.

Libka and the board need to ask Welch and Johnson what's the story. There are rumors they are engaged. And they have been dating since summer 2006.

If they are involved, one of them should resign to remove the conflict of interest. Remember, being a school board member is an unpaid position that is supposed to be about serving the community.

If the president of the Red Cross had to resign because of a relationship with a Red Cross employee, it seems like Welch should resign if he's involved with the person overseeing all the money at the district.

This is especially true since it's likely that there are serious questions about how Johnson spent some of the money.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Richard Mayers running in the Green primary for IL-03

Richard Mayers, Berwyn, is running for Congress in the Green Party primary. The other candidate is Jerry Pohlen, a Berwyn library trustee.

Like Republican candidate Art Jones, Mayers holds views that are characterized as "white supremacist". Riverside/Brookfield (Bob Skolnik) has an article on Mayers.

From what I've heard, Mayers is probably more mentally ill than a figure that has the capability to build support for his ideology.

Rita Bogolub and Kevin O'Connor, the Proviso Green Party committeeman, are challenging Mayers nominating petitions. See Illinois State Board of Elections.

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D209 bullies support staff union; union leadership ducks fighting for its members

I only covered one aspect of Monday's meeting of the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education.

I didn't cover the lay-offs that are being discussed for the support staff union. There are about 200 D209 employees part of this union.

The unions members voted against accepting furloughs to protect jobs, so management came back and announced it will be cutting 26-30 positions.

The furlough plan called for union members accepting a 3.8% cut in salary with not cuts in benefits. But the staff reduction plan calls for cutting the work force by 13-15%. And cutting entire employees means cutting the expenses of health benefits too.

It seems like management is engaged in some amount of intimidation--take the salary cuts or else--and probably going to use the cuts to punish enemies and reward allies.

According the one member of the union, the union rep is saying the union won't fight management because the steward, Ida Chester, supports management's position.

Of course, people are saying Ida Chester has been bought off by management. But Ida Chester isn't really the issue.

When a union member pays union dues s/he is paying the salaries of the union president and the unions reps. The union members have a contract with their union. The union is obligated to fight for the members and enforce the collective bargaining agreement.

For the union to blame the shop steward is lame. Picture a traditional manufacturing union. If employee X doesn't get along with his/her shop steward, it's not like s/he's forfeited the protections of the collective bargaining agreement. Filing a grievance may go more smoothly if X has a good relationship with the steward, but X doesn't lose the right to file a grievance because s/he doesn't get along with the steward.

Here's what a friend in unions once told me. If you really want to get the attention of the president of your union, inform her/him that you plan to run against her/him in the next election.

And, if a D209 employee did run against the president of the various locals, s/he'd have a pretty strong case that the union wasn't making a serious effort to fight for the members at D209.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

hasn't eveyone found $6.5 million in an old coat pocket?

On Monday, November 19, the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education held its regular meeting.

Nikita Johnson, the assistant superintendent for money issues, reported the district has $6.5 million dollars in the bond and interest fund that has unknown origins.

According to Johnson, staff has gone back ten years and cannot find the source of the money. Apparently, the bond and interest fund has stricter accountability than other funds. Accountability is to the penny and there isn't any possibility of adding or subtracting a little money at a time.

Th district speculates that a bond or interest payment was made out of another fund and therefore the $6.5 million can be transfered to the other fund.

IIRC, the district has eleven funds. And the district budget is about $70 million per year.

The idea that somehow $6.5 million was accidentally removed from a fund without someone noticing the money being gone seems highly improbable.

Anyway, the district is hiring an auditor to find the source of the $6.5 million.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chicago Reader profile on Art Jones

Art Jones is a Republican candidate for Congress in IL-03, the district currently represented by Dan Lipinski. His opponent in the Republican primary is Michael Hawkins. Ray Wardingley has dropped out.

Chicago Reader (Grant Pick) did a profile on Jones in 1994.
Jones's goal is political power by constitutional means. "The white race has got to do something, and fast," he says, "because unfortunately we're facing extinction if we sit back and do nothing." If politics fails the white power movement, he hints that matters could get rough: "If we can't get anywhere through the ballot box, we'll have to resort to the cartridge box."

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

nominating petition objections, IL-03

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections website, frequent candidate Ray Wardingley has withdrawn his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives in IL-03, the district currently represented by Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs).

Objections have been filed to the following candidates' nominating petitions in this race: Lipinski and both Green candidates Jerome Pohlen (Berwyn) and Richard Mayers (Berwyn).

Mayers filed the objections against Lipinski and Pohlen. Rita Bogolub and Kevin O'Connor filed the objections against Mayers. O'Connor and Bogolub are both Green candidates. O'Connor, of Westchester, is running for state representative against Rep. Bob Biggins (R) and to be the Green Committeeman of Proviso Township. Bogolub, of Berwyn, is running for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board.

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Rep. LaShawn K. Ford asks AG about Morton West students

On November 1, a group of Morton West students protested the Iraq War and military recruiters in their schools. Superintendent Ben Nowakowski suspended a large number of students and 25 are being consider for expulsion, according to one of the parents.

Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) represents part of Berwyn, the community served by Morton West. Ford has asked Attorney General Lisa Madigan if the Governor of Illinois has the power to pardon or grant commutations in public school disciplinary matters. See Prairie State Blue (Carl Nyberg).

[UPDATE: The district has announced it will not expel any students. See J. Sterling Morton District 201's website.]

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Monday, November 12, 2007

who's your civil rights organization?

Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos) compares the effective fund raising for the Jena 6 by an organization called Color of Change and contrasts it to the less effective work by the NAACP.

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Westchester family seeks audition on Jerry Springer

Suburban Life (Ellyn Ong Vea) reports on the prosecution of a Westchester woman who had sex with her 15 year old step son when she was 25.

The back story is that the woman married a 34-year old man when she was 18.

What rubs me the wrong way about the Suburban Life article is that it comes off sympathetic to the father cuckolded by his son.

Leaving aside the law, is it creepier that a 25-year old woman has sex with her 15-year old stepson? Or that a 34-year old man with children marries an 18-year old?

If society is going to untangle these "Jerry Springer Show" cases, shouldn't it be in family court, not criminal court? Does it help the child to incarcerate the mother? Doesn't the State's Attorney have some dogfighting case to prosecute or something? Isn't there some Black guy beat up by some out-of-control police department who needs to be prosecuted for resisting arrest?

BTW, when the family does go on Jerry Springer the show has to include Mark King, the pastor who has custody of the baby. It's not completely explicit, but the article reads like King was the one who married the 34-year old guy and the 18-year old girl.

"Pastor Mark, do you think your premarital counseling was effective? Knowing what you know now, would you have married these two?"

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I was in North Riverside this morning

On my way back from a demonstration/press conference at Morton West, I passed two things of note in North Riverside.

The VFW held its Veteran's Day ceremony. Most of these ceremonies are boiler plate. The person speaking on behalf of Village President Richard N. Scheck gave a whole speech about veterans sacrificing in the past tense. He didn't give even the slightest hint of acknowledgment that GIs are fighting and sacrificing at this moment.

To keep attendance from being pathetically low the North Riverside Police Department and Fire Department attended.

Members of the VFW and American Legion love to kvetch about how younger veterans don't join their clubs.

Here are the top two reasons:

1. If you give speeches like people don't exist, they probably aren't going to join your club.
2. Military personnel who get a charge out of marching and saluting are at best dorks, and more likely tools. People who get jazzed by parading the colors and standing and saluting at the right times are not fun to hang out with.

Also, the North Riverside Public Library has a big sign in front "closed until further notice".

I thought that was an odd way of saying closed for Veteran's Day, so I went up to the door. The sign taped in the window says the library is replacing shelves and doing other maintenance or housekeeping.

I'm somewhat skeptical of closing a library for upkeep short of major construction. If you show your residents can do without for blocks of time, it becomes easier to argue to cut the library budget.

But let's assume the work was a big enough project that the library did need to be closed. Shouldn't there be a target date for completion of the project?

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Sandra "Sandy" Cross has died

Sandra Cross is the wife of Brian Cross, a member of the board of education Proviso Township High Schools (District 209). The death notice below is reprinted from the Chicago Tribune.
Sandra M. "Sandy" Cross, nee Dingels, age 30, passed away suddenly surrounded by family and friends; loving and devoted wife of Brian; loving mother of newborn Kennedy Catherine; cherished daughter of Thomas and Sandra, nee Wojcik; dear sister of Tom and Sue (Chris) Padulo; fond daughter-in-law of Joe and Mary Ann Cross; niece of Carol McGowan, Jerry (Jassia) Wojcik and many other aunts and uncles as well as cousin of many. Active member of the Chicago Frozen Snappers Hockey Team, graduate of Elmhurst College and Co-Founder of Puck Cancer. Sandy lived a life dedicated to the loving and caring of others. She will be greatly missed by all who had the blessing of knowing her. Visitation Monday, 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Tuesday, 8:15 a.m. until time of funeral 9:15 a.m. at Gibbons Funeral Home, 134 South York Rd. (1/2 mile North of Saint Charles Rd.), Elmhurst. Mass of Christian burial 10 a.m. at Saint Domitilla Catholic Church, Hillside. Interment Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Kennedy Catherine Cross Trust Fund, c/o Chase Bank, 11211 Cermak Road, Westchester, IL 60154. For funeral information please call 630-832-0018.

Brian was really into being married, owning a home and starting a family. All deaths are painful, but it's easy to see how Sandy's death is especially tragic for Sandy and the rest of their families.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

local candidate filings

Federal government:

For U.S. Senator Richard Durbin is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Four Republicans filed to run:

IL-03 (in Proviso this includes Brookfield, North Riverside, La Grange Park and southern portions of Forest Park and Westchester)

IL-04 (in Proviso this district includes Stone Park and one or two Melrose Park precincts)

IL-05 (in Proviso this district includes Melrose Park and Northlake)

  • Danny Davis (D, Chicago, incumbent)
  • Robert Dallas (D, Oak Park)

State legislators are running unopposed for re-election unless otherwise noted

State Senate

11th Senate

21st Senate
  • A. Ghani (D, Oak Brook)
  • Dan Cronin (R, Elmhurst, incumbent)

Illinois House
21st Representative
  • Robert Molaro (D, Chicago, incumbent)
  • Charles Johnson (R, Chicago)
  • Rita Maniotis (Green, Berwyn)

78th Representative

Cook County

State's Attorney (Dick Devine is not running for re-election)
Seems like Clayton Harris, III, didn't file. Too bad. I liked him.

Recorder of Deeds


conflict of interest on school boards

Daily Herald (Bob Susnjara) reported Illinois Association of School Boards is lobbying to exclude students from being eligible to run for school boards because of "conflict of interest" issues.

I found the story linked from Capitol Fax Blog where Rich Miller asked readers for their opinions.

In April one high school student in Peoria was elected to the board of education. While I think that reducing conflict of interest in school politics is a good thing, I think IASB is behaving badly in this case.

If one added up all the conflict of interest problems in the whole state of Illinois that are caused by students serving on school boards, it would be far less of a problem than the conflict of interest issues at any one of a number of Proviso school districts.

IASB should quit wasting its energy on straw man problems. The fact that IASB can overlook serious problems and waste time on non-issues detracts from the credibility of the organization.

I made some comments at Capitol Fax Blog.

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