Courts Force Disclosure of Tax Dollars Spent to Pass Northfield Township High School Referendum–$60,000 in 2006, Passed by 241 Votes

88,600 of these newsletter were printed. The Appellate Court ruled, “There is simply no evidence that these newsletters were exempted communications ‘made as part of a non-partisan activity designed to encourage individuals to vote or to register to vote.’”

Here is a press release explaining the successful conclusion–from a taxpayer’s point of view–of a suit to stop taxeating local governments from promoting their tax increase referendums.  Although it did not originate in McHenry County, it will affect school districts, for example, when they seek tax hikes.

C.O.S.T. & DISTRICT 225 SETTLE CAMPAIGN DISCLOSURE COMPLAINT

Citizens Organized to Save the Tax-cap opposed a 2006 $94 million bond referendum proposed by Glenbrook H. S. Dist 225. At the November 7, 2006, general election, out of 31,338 votes cast, the Referendum Question was approved by a margin of 216 votes.

COST filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections charging that Dist 225 had spent public funds for campaign mailers, and should register as a political committee and file disclosure of all election spending.

The ISBE dismissed COST’s Complaint. COST successfully appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court.

In May 2009, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the Board of Elections and unanimously ruled against the District, stating:

“Nothing in the statute (Election Code) suggests that it serves to absolutely exempt government entities from the disclosure requirements contained in the remainder of the Election Code.”

[Glenbrook High School] District 225 petitioned to the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn the Appellate Court, and the District was denied leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

COST’s Complaint was then remanded to the ISBE for Public Hearing on the charges.

As the Complaint sought transparency and disclosure of Dist 225’s referendum election spending of public funds and public resources, the parties have reached a settlement which contains that disclosure and provides that the District will publish that disclosure.

Settlement of the Complaint by District 225 and COST was approved by the State Board of Elections today.

Lawrence T. Miller, Chairman of COST said,

“Our objective in filing the Complaint, and in the appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court, was to establish that all districts using taxpayers’ money and resources for electioneering ought to be required to file spending reports just as any other group in an election campaign would.

“We think it is wrong for a government entity to spend taxpayers’ money to pass a referendum that half of those very same taxpayers opposed.”

“The School District discloses in this Settlement Agreement that they spent over $60,000 in district funds, property, and employees’ time in connection with the 2006 referendum. That’s nearly three times what the Political Committee (V.O.T.E.) supporting the Referendum spent,” said Miller.

Click on the image to see what Northfield Township High School District admitted spending on its 2006 bond referendum that barely passed.

The Settlement Proposal appears on the ISBE agenda for its August 24, 2012 meeting. The Settlement agreement, without exhibits, appears at pages 110 to 123 of the ISBE agenda.

http://www.elections.state.il.us/DocDisplay.aspx?Doc=Downloads/AboutTheBoard/PDF/08_24_12Agenda.pdf

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You can read the settlement here.

The Board of Education members at the time were Donna Rose Torf, Skip Shein, Wayne B. Berzon, Robert A. Boron, Steve G. Hammer, William Jeffrey and Elias Metsakis.

The COST complaint alleges “that since at least September of 2006 and through the November 7, 2006, election, the District carried out a planned campaign prepared by William Blair Co.”


Comments

Courts Force Disclosure of Tax Dollars Spent to Pass Northfield Township High School Referendum–$60,000 in 2006, Passed by 241 Votes — 2 Comments

  1. So all the district had to do was publicly disclose how much public money they spent on electioneering and what they spent it on?

    That doesn’t sound like much of a penalty.

    The tax hike still stands?

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