District 300 School Board Defeats Conflict of Interest Policy

It must be the silly season.

The Huntley School District 158 Board of Education has decided to allow convicted felons bid on contracts like the hurry up, rush, rush one for snow removal.

And Carpentersville District 300’s board has decided that the appearance of conflict of interest is, well, no problem. You can find reports of the in the Daily Herald’s

and Northwest Herald’s

Only the two newly-elected board members John Ryan, sponsor of the proposal, and Monica Clark, his running mate, voted for the language that would prohibit companies who contributed $5,000 to district tax hike committees from doing business with the school district for two years.

Read some of the comments from Daily Herald reporter Jameel Naqvi’s article:

“’This type of policy is hampering the business of the district,’ (Mary) Warren said, noting that the district already has issues receiving enough bids. ‘I think this is absolutely unnecessary.’

“Roeckner agreed.

“’We have never had this problem in our district,’ (Karen) Roeckner said. ‘I will still vote no.’

“Board President Joe Stevens echoed Warren’s and Roeckner’s concerns earlier Monday.

“’It’s fine for vendors to contribute to referendum campaigns,’ Stevens said. ‘I have not seen any evidence of “pay-to-play.”‘”

The Northwest Herald’s David Fitzgerald picked these gems up:

“’We hold ourselves to high standards, and we maintain our credibility by our actions,’ board member Mary Warren said.

“She added that the district’s current bidding process worked well and that campaign contributions all were open to the public for scrutiny.”

Fitzgerald then notes,

“The longest-sitting board members – Warren, Karen Roeckner, Anne Miller and President Joe Stevens – voted against the policy Monday night.”

I guess all the vendor contributions printed in McHenry County Blog (the ones Warren points out are “all open to the public for scrutiny”) here and here and here are just coincidences.

Not even a wink, wink, nod, nod.

And there should be no concern even though this school superintendent says soliciting vendors is a way to raise tax hike campaign money.

It’s not a very high percentage of the money District 300 vendors receive.

But it certainly doesn’t look pure and clean like schools want taxpayers to believe they are.

It rather resembles Governor Rod Blagojevich campaign fund raising, doesn’t it?

Local dailies have pointed to the $5,000 that long-time school architect Burnidge Cassell Associates contributed at the official beginning of tax hike committee Advance 300’s campaign to hike taxes in 2006.

The Daily Herald even editorialized in favor of Ryan’s proposal.

So far, however, neither the Northwest nor the Daily Herald has picked up on District 300’s architect’s bragging about raising $100,000 for a district tax hike committees in letter dated February 25, 2005.

Here’s what was in the application for further work:

”Personally raising in the range of
$100,000 plus
for different referendum committees.”

Whether impropriety or just bad judgment on the part of the vendor was involved in that 2005 request for “Architect Services for Life Safety Reporting,” it certainly smells.

Two of the board members who did not vote for the policy—Miller and Chris Stanton—indicated they had questions about enforcement. I believe Miller is an attorney and, in any event, a district willing to spend money keeping a citizen advisory board member from getting information expeditiously ought to be willing to spend some figuring out how to enforce conflict of interest language.

Maybe when September comes, the board will get more serious about an issue that helped defeat Board President Mary Fioretti.

= = = = =
The top photo is of Carpentersville School District 300 Board member John Ryan. Underneath is a shot of board members Mary Warren and Karen Roeckner. Board President Joe Stevens is to their right.

Below Stevens is board member Anne Miller.

It must be the silly season.

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