School board elections

 Sorry about the delay. Checking my visitor stats, 120 of you have already been here no doubt looking for the latest and you probably already now know that two challengers won.

The incumbents who won are Debra Strauss and Lynn Davis. The challengers who won are George Brandt and Susan Kenley-Rupnow. Kenley-Rupnow was the top vote-getter.

The way I see it: When an incumbent loses and a challenger is the top voter-getter, voters are starting to look for change.

The Daily Herald says:

District 211 victors face challenges.

The latest round of contention between the administration and teachers union is over a recent energy contract the district agreed to.

The union said the contract with the Illinois Energy Consortium should be rescinded, claiming it violates Illinois School Code.

Of course, there are plenty of folks in the District who aren’t particularly pro-union or connected to the union who are asking the same questions.

I’m thinking that Bill Lloyd might be feeling a little less lonely this morning. He writes:

Election Day 1: The Future Begins.

District 15 results are chronicled here with quite a big old dose of Daily Herald snark.


At the new website devoted to keeping an eye on the Illinois Energy Consortium and its no-bid business model, please read the FAQs.

Is this what we want in District 211?

District 211 has paid and is continuing to pay an expensive legal firm to defend its “right” to spend your money on electricty and natural gas without getting competitive bids. You can see the fruits of that legal expenditure here, along with the smashing replies of the plaintiff.

What on God’s green earth could the school board have been thinking?

Finally, I invite you to absorb the eloquent brief filed by Tarsitano last week in response to the legal brief (the one you paid for) of District 211.

The opening paragraph:

This is a case about no-bid vendor contracts. These vendor contracts involve an expenditure of at least $9.5 million of taxpayer funds. They contain no prices, pricing methodology or price escalation protection. These vendor contracts literally obligate the defendant school district to pay whatever amount the vendor in its sole discretion decides to charge. Tarsitano requests a declaration that the District’s no-bid vendor contracts are unlawful as having not been publicly bid under the School Code. The District’s response is to ask this Court to create and extend statutory protection from competition for one of its vendors.

Yes, we live in a school district where your school board and your school board superintendent are using your tax dollars to pay attorneys to argue a case before a judge which, if they win, will mean that your school board will be able to buy electricity and natural gas without having to get competitive bids.

Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote.

I asked for input on any campaign activity you all had run into and lo and behold, I got an email this morning with a fairly complete report on the Quinn-Varnek-Neal campaign signs being taken down, apparently in an organized fashion, over the weekend.

This link is to a first-hand report in words and pictures from someone who must be close to the Quinn-Varnek-Neal campaign, but I don’t know who wrote it.

If you wrote it and you’re reading this, and you don’t want it posted, email me and I’ll take it down.

In a post about Tuesday’s elections, valiant District 211 school board member Bill Lloyd asks if we have the courage to embrace change.

On the other hand we have the opportunity to succumb to fear of change and fall back on the old and tired passive model of school governance – a model that relegates the school board to the role of a rote approver of administration requests. It was this model that pushed both District 211 and District 15 to the brink of financial ruin and insolvency.

Bill’s post gives the inside story on the connections between candidates and slates.

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Who are you voting for? And why? The comments box is open, or you can email me.

In response to my note below asking for first-hand reports about school board election news, what I’m hearing the most about are allegations of sign theft. This pertains to the District 15 race. It’s in an email making the rounds Sunday afternoon:

There have literally been hundreds of signs stolen in the last 24 hours, often replaced by “Chapman/Bokor/Ekeberg” signs.

A report has evidently been filed with the police department.

District 15 candidate websites:


Lisa Neal.

Mary Vanek.

Sue Quinn.

The school board race seems much more lively for the District 15 candidates than for the District 211 candidates but by today, everyone’s feeling a little nervous.

What are you hearing? Any candidates knock on your door? Anyone drop off flyers? How much action is there at the end of this race? Email me! As always, I respect your privacy and confidentiality.

When you consider how much money both Districts have in their annual budget and how important it is, it’s surprising to me that these electoral contests aren’t viewed as more significant by more members of the community.

I do think there is a growing sense that we need a change in District 211–combined with some sadness that the realization didn’t really start to hit home until it was too late to make a great deal of difference in this month’s election.

Thank you so much to a reader for providing me with an inside report on a key meeting held in District 211 union HQ last Thursday, April 5 to discuss what the lawsuit against District 211 for entering into a no-bid contract for electricity means to the union.

Hosted by union leader John Braglia, the meeting was attended by about 25 union reps, four members of the Illinois House, two members of the Illinois Senate and three candidates for the District 211 school board. None of the school board incumbents who are running for re-election attended.

There as invited guests were Todd Rowden and Timothy Binetti. They are the attorneys in charge of the lawsuit brought by Bill Tarsitano against D211 for its no-bid energy contract.

State Rep. Suzanne Bassi was there and, we hear, was given an earful for her advocacy of an insane piece of proposed state legislation that would exempt school districts from having to look at competitive price bids for electricity and natural gas.

State Rep. Paul D. Froehlich, a Republican from Schaumburg, was also there. Rep. Froehlich has a website here.

According to the report we’ve been given, Rep. Froehlich crisply and authoritatively interjected “this doesn’t pass the smell test” as he listened to a description of the process by which District 211 entered into the now-infamous no-bid energy contract.

Suzanne Bassi must not see it the same way, since she has refrained from publicly disassociating herself from the absurd HB 261.

We hear that a young firebrand at the meeting denounced Bassi as a “mouthpiece for the superintendents”.

We also hear that Bassi is closely associated with District 211 school board president Debra Strauss, who is fighting to retain her position of influence on the school board. Besides being the chair of the D211 school board, Strauss also chairs lobbying firm Ed-Red, which is known to be lobbying in favor of HB 261 with your tax dollars.

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