Pay To Play – District 300-Style

With all the state level Illinois corruption that can be linked to “pay-to-play” politics, you would think that Carpentersville School District 300’s board would leap to pass legislation that would eliminate that issue from future referendum campaigns.

McHenry County Blog and the Northwest Herald ran numerous articles (1st NW Herald article) about school district vendors contributing to Advance 300, District 300’s tax hike committee.

Here’s a couple of paragraphs from the NW Herald’s first article:

“Charles Burnidge of the Elgin-based Burnidge Cassell Architects, would be designing the new schools that a successful $185 million bond issue would allow. Burnidge said his campaign donation was not a conflict of interest.

“’If the developers who are benefiting from the schools, and myself, are not philanthropic, then that’s wrong,’ he said. ‘We all benefit from providing the best quality public education we can.’”

Everyone, of course, sees his role from his own vantage point.

When Algonquin’s John Ryan beat school board President Mary Fioretti, one of his issues was following in the footsteps of Cary Grade School District 26. In this neighboring school district, board member Chris Jenner led the way for school districts statewide with a similar ordinance.

Tonight, Ryan’s proposal is scheduled to come up for a vote.

And Sunday, attorney Nancy Zettler, proud liberal and the only public spokesman I have seen from the aforementioned tax hike committee and now “chair”sent an email opposing the idea. That email made it to my inbox. You can read it below:

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am writing in opposition to the so-called “Conflict of Interest” policy. As you know the policy is on the agenda for Monday night’s meeting.

This policy is not only unnecessary, it is offensive and an affront to those of us who worked and continue to work for the betterment of the district.

As we all know, a large portion of the responses gathered through the community survey reflect the perception of community members. Much of this perception does not reflect reality and much of this perception has been formed through the efforts of Jack Roeser who we all know has spent large amounts of money and time on mis-information campaigns falsely maligning the district. This so-called “conflict of interest” policy is just one more piece of mis-information sponsored and promoted by Mr. Roeser.

Recently John Ryan was quoted in the papers as claiming that during the ’06 referendum campaign that “pay-to-play” became “obvious”. Yet, he has not defined what he means by “pay-to-play” nor brought forth even one example of what he claims became “obvious” during the referenda campaign.

I have spoken to some who feel that this issue is silly; that in reality Mr. Ryan’s proposed policy will make no difference – so why not put it in place? They are right, the policy will make no real difference – to Advance 300. We will continue to be successful because of the people behind us – not because of a few thousand dollars. But they could not be more wrong with regard to the effect that approving this policy would have on the district itself.

As I mentioned above, there is no “pay-to-play” problem here in D300. Neither Ryan nor anyone else from Jack Roeser’s camp can define “pay-to-play” let alone put forth even one example of a vendor or contractor being awarded a contract simply because of donations to Advance 300 or any other entity covered by Ryan’s proposed policy. He can’t because it simply has not happened.

If you approve Ryan’s proposed policy you will in essence be agreeing that there is a problem with “pay-to-play” here where none exists. You will be feeding into Ryan’s baseless claims and will aid Jack Roeser in his campaign to discredit our district.

What actually did become “obvious” during the referenda campaign was that our district has suffered at the hands of Jack Roeser and his ilk for a very long time. We can no longer sit by and ignore Roeser’s baseless claims. We have come a long way in the past several years but to continue to progress to the excellent district that we can be, we need to take ownership of every aspect of the district, including our reputation. We must fight back when false accusations are made against us and make sure that the facts (good and bad) are publicly discussed every chance we get. We can no longer take the easy way out and ignore the false attacks. Mr. Roeser and his cronies have an agenda and its not a positive one. We must also have an agenda – to defend the district.

If there is a “pay-to-play” problem here in D300, by all means institute the policy. And if there is a problem let’s drag it out into the open and expose it. But, if there is no problem – don’t enact the policy. If you do, it will be thrown in your faces and our faces as proof that there is a problem when there is not.

It is time to start actively defending the reputation of this district.

If you won’t do that then who will?

Nancy Zettler
Chair, Advance 300

One does not have to Robert Novak to point out that Zettler’s committee has a conflict of interest in the issue.

After all, it and immediate successor committees accepted thousands upon thousands of dollars of contributions from District 300 vendors and more vendors and another vendor and at least one more vendor.

And, it’s a tried and true strategy for tax hikers.

It’s not that vendors contribute a large proportion of the money they get paid from District. It’s peanuts really. That’s because the vendors’ contracts are so large.

Here’s Zettler was quoted in that first NW. Herald article:

“We really need everybody to step up to the plate with big money so we can really drive our message home.”


Pay To Play – District 300-Style — 2 Comments

  1. I encourage anyone who took the time to read the letter by Ms. Zettler to perhaps ask her, or the district how much a certain “reprographic” company contributed to Advance 300. Then find out how many bids the district received on those “reporgraphic” services. Well, I’ll help here, there are no bids, none that the district and then-board members saw when their contract was approved. And how much is this “reprographic” company earning from this D300 contract, over $400,000. Pretty nice, huh?

  2. Cal, you and I both know that there is no pay-to-play in D300 and never has been.

    But if you really think that there is corruption in D300 then go to the State’s Attorney or the Attorney General with your “evidence”.

    And while you’re there ask them to investigate Mr. Ryan and his employer Clarke Mosquito for “pay-to-play” too.

    According to the Board of Election website, Clarke Mosquito has contributed tens of thousands of dollars over the past several years to candidates for local offices.

    Many of the municipalities that these candidates now represent have awarded lucrative contracts to Clarke. Per your definition – that’s pay-to-play, right?

    For instance, let’s look at the relationship between Clarke and your hometown, Crystal Lake.

    As you know, Aaron Shepley is CL’s mayor. After giving Mr. Shepley a donation for his successful campaign, Clarke Mosquito “won” the contract for killing mosquitos in CL.

    According to your definition it must be pay-to-play; yet where’s the outrage Cal?

    And since Mr. Ryan is Clarke’s only Illinois and Wisconsin sales rep, it stands to reason that he was at least aware and probably involved in this “inappropriate” behavior. Yet I don’t see him quitting or hear him publically calling Clarke and Crystal Lake out for the “pay-for-play”, do you?

    I wonder, why?

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