Who is paying for all that “Yes” PR?

Have you noticed a strong “VOTE YES” campaign? 

Some of it is information from the district ($13,416.31 for the first two flyers) and some from a political organization –  District 200 Vote Yes to Work Together.

For the curious, this is what we have learned about their expenditures:

 

CUSD 200’s spending on PR for the Referendum

On September 26 I sent the following request:

Where in the budget has the board allocated funds for the expenses to pay for flyers, postage, town halls, etc. to alert citizens to the referendum?  Please provide me with all receipts for all of these expenditures and/or other documents to show the total being spent. Also provide documentation for when it was approved by the board.

On October 3 I received the following reply with an attached pdf containing a scan of the first two flyers and the invoices.

Your request is granted.  Please see attached.  The funds for the following expenses are paid out of the Education Fund:
Mailer #1 – $7599.28
Postage $3551.28
Printing $1515.82
Paper $1234.68
Wally’s Processing $1297.50

Mailer #2 – $5817.03
Postage $3356.67
Printing $75.46
Paper $1436.90
Wally’s Processing $948

That is a total of $13,416.31 from the district for the first two flyers.  There has since been one more flyer. A FAQ section on the district web site,  and a video staring Dr. Schuler. In addition to the money spent there is staff time.  The communications director, Erica Loiacono, receives a  $87,728 plus benefits.  Her position didn’t exist until 2010.

Note: the Education Fund obviously covers far more than “communications.”  The FOIA response did not answer that part of the request, so I sent another one on October 5”

Almost answered. “Where in the budget has the board allocated funds for the expenses” What line item covers the communications department and how much is allocated annually for PR?

when it was approved by the board.
I see referendum PR flyers were discussed at the Committee of the Whole, on September 26.  But, no board vote was taken to approve the expenditure.  Provide the policy that covers communications department expenditures.

October 15 he replied:

Here is the link to the CUSD 200 Board of Education Policy 4.60 that answers your question.   I wanted to make sure I got this to you so that you have the answers to your  FOIA request.

The key line in the policy is:

“Adoption of the annual budget authorizes the Superintendent or designee to purchase budgeted supplies, equipment, and services, provided that State law is followed. Purchases of items outside budget parameters require prior Board approval, except in an emergency.”

He still had not answered the most critical part of the question, so I sent another request.  Note: if funds were not budgeted for sending the referendum information (which by law must be neutral) then the superintendent and his designee do not have the authority to spend the money prior to board approval.

On October 15, I sent (to the FOIA officer with the board on copy-to):

Thank you for providing part of my FOIA request. I now have a copy of the policy that covers communications department expenditures & I know that $13416.31 was spent on the first two flyers. I also know it was approved by the board after the fact as part of bills payable in the consent agenda.

However, you still have not provided this item (third try):

Where in the budget has the board allocated funds for the expenses [referendum information]” What line item covers the communications department and how much is allocated annually for PR?

I want the dollar amount that was allocated in the budget for public relations.

Note: FOIA’s can request copies of documents or data from an on-line query.  I did not spot money allocated for the communications department in the budget as made available to the public for review.  It should be in a data that tracks budget vs.actual receipts and actual expenses.

 

VOTE “YES” Campaign

There also is a “District 200 Vote Yes to Work Together” political organization registered with the Illinois board of elections.

  • Chair – Barbara Intihar (former CUSD 200 board member 2001-2017)
  • Co-Chairperson – Summer King
  • Treasurer – Jeanne Huffer

They have done 2 Robo-calls, mailed one flyer, use social media, have a web site  https://www.d200workingtogether.com/  and we see yard signs popping up all over.

Checking the Illinois State Board of Elections, we found their D2 statement

d2 stm d200 work together PAC

As of 9/30/2018 their report lists:

  • TOTAL RECEIPTS               $2,565.00
  • TOTAL EXPENDITURES    $1,353.71

Note: the PAC has expended $1,250 to Wally’s Printing, plus the PAC received a  $200  in-kind contribution for printing from Wally’s Printing.  Since the flyer they sent arrived in October, we assume the cost of postage will show up in their next report.

This is the same printer as the school district used.

 

 Update 10/19/2018 – FOIA Response.

Response received  October 19 at 8:47 AM.  It finally answered my original question

Your request is granted.  Please see the information below:

The estimated expenditures for the Communications departments are included, along with other departments, on row 69 of the “Estimated Disbursements/Expenditures” section of the District’s budget form posted on the District’s website.  Some of the accounts listed below are soley communication and others are budgets from multiple departments.  
 
The following is a breakdown of the amounts budgeted for the Communications department for FY19:
 
Function Object
Salaries  $  127,600.00 2630 100
Benefits  $    14,100.00 2630 200
Purchased Services  $    51,750.00 2630 300
Supplies  $    16,700.00 2630 400
Capital Outlay  $          750.00 2630 500
Other  $      5,500.00 2630 600
   $  216,400.00

 

Originally posted Oct. 16, 2018, updated October 19, 2018 

20 thoughts on “Who is paying for all that “Yes” PR?

  1. Who wrote the Complaint you filed to stop the Jefferson School plan? We know a retired software developer and substitute teacher didn’t write it.

    Who paid for the work to be done?

    Who paid Bruno Behrend to speak at a Board meeting recently to dispute the need for this Jefferson School plan? Why would a Highland Park resident, who doesn’t pay taxes here, come here to speak about this? What standing does he have to do so? Mr. Behrend and his organization, the Heartland Institute, seeks to dismantle public education to divert funding to alternate venues.

    Will you and your shadow group be covering the $610,000.00 taxpayer dollars (plus legal fees) to date wasted on your 1th hour hijacking of this process to fix the aged School? If you were so concerned about the plan and taxpayer money, why did you file at the 11th hour, not when the plan was announced last year? Didn’t save taxpayers.

    What about the $500,000.00 that is at risk that reflects the savings based on the bids vs the proposed budget for the new school? You action risked that as well.

    Unfortunately, we cant send FOIA requests to your bank and review your accounts or those of the Heartland Institute to determine who are the REAL interests you support and why.

    By the way…I buy my coffee at the same Dunkin Donuts as do some of the Board. I think I’ve even seen some Jefferson School teachers buying gas at the same station as I do sometimes…..want to investigate those conspiracies?

    Sorry….not everyone has Dan Proft right-wing media outlets, companies, and AI software to financially support their positions and provide media/advertising. I guess you’re just not accustomed to being challenged, so ANY money and effort spent opposing you MUST be another of your growing lists of conspiracies.

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    1. The suit was sworn-to and verified in the motion. Try to contest that.
      Another thing you cannot contest is your libelous writing. It’s sad, really. When we had little kids they were 100% of our attention. Last thing we would desire is stirring up a hornets nest. We have voted twice to say no. Live with it and focus on your kids.

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      1. Marty,

        A few things ARE clear: 1) You don’t know much about civil procedure, and 2) you don’t know much about Libel.

        As I have stated numerous times…..the previous 2 previous referenda failed to pass that would have required a tax increase. This did not mean that the Board could ignore the need to find a Jefferson resolution. It just means they couldn’t increase taxes to do it! They, therefore, devised a new plan, without a tax increase.

        The Board is REQUIRED by law to solve this problem to provide for the children in question.

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  2. You contested the school by filing a lawsuit and you’re complaining that the school is spending too much money on direct mail to speak about the upcoming referendum that was a result of you filing a lawsuit. The district didn’t take it to litigation because they’re not wanting to waste valuable tax dollars-kudos to the district for being fiscally responsible. This school is a valuable asset to our community and is what is best for our littlest of learners.

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    1. The lawsuit was uncontested because they knew they would lose. Fiscal responsibility is of secondary concern , at best. Importance factor one is payroll $$$ and workload reduction. If the “littlest learners” were job one, then why are they in a “janitors closet”? ( Per the mailing we received from 200workingtogether)
      Who decided to bisect the school from it’s playground with a parking lot? D200 did, not the parents. Its tough being a parent. D200 propounded upon us a headshrinking campaign to get our son out of edison and into jefferson because they declared he had “ADD”. We should have never went along with it. Just as you should not go along with D200’s current campaign of feel-good words.

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      1. The school is 60 years old and was built as an elementary school not as an early childhood center which is a state mandate that we need to provide for our children. In regards to the parking lot if you have ever been there on pick and drop off you would understand how backed up it gets. The new plans have this resolved. The lawsuit is a joke and the district didn’t want to waste tax payers dollars pursuing. The district has found a way to build a new Jefferson WITHOUT raising taxes. This is for our community and when you have a person who is not a fan of diversity (which has been documented) reporting on this and slapping the district with a lawsuit the day contracts were to be rewarded to start construction is just evil and calculating.

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      2. Actually Marty, I offered to defend the District at no charge..and I don’t take cases I can’t win.

        I don’t know how to address the logistical parts of your post as to how the building was built in 1958 when special education didn’t really exist except to say that why things were built the way they were…vs. how they are seen
        and used now is always a big issue. Ever drive the Eisenhower to the City? Whose stupid idea was the left-hand exits? 4 lanes to 3 in the middle of the major route? The Hillside strangler of 3 highways to 1? Traffic nightmares for decades! Made sense at the time I suppose based on budget and population. Not now. At Jefferson, they are using what they have as best as they are able. The current users didn’t “design” it that way.

        As far as your family, I wish that things had been better for you. Certainly, we need to always be advocating for our kids. But just because your son didn’t need the care in your opinion doesn’t mean others are undeserving or it is not worthwhile. No one forces any parent to have their child attend Jefferson, and the decision is always with the parents.

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  3. What is evil and calculating is when a group of individuals decide that the rule of law may be bent to their personal will at their personal whim.
    Consequences to citizens living within the rule of law, following rules, honoring debt obligations and not sneaking personal benefit into the equation do not seem to be addressed by those demanding that they get THEIR particular demands met, and met instantly, and without regard for the law.

    The consequences on families living on the margin are real, heartbreaking, and have grave impact on children. College savings are stolen to pay increased property taxes.

    The argument for disregarding the law in order to throw more PUBLIC money at this ‘problem’ lacks specificity.
    An equally potent argument may be:
    All the caring teachers employed in this district may stop paying union dues for a number of years in order to fund this particular choice of how to fund dealing with this particular definition of this perceived problem.

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    1. That is not what is happening here and it’s very sad that you feel this way. It sounds like you have other issues that you need to address that are not focused on the matter at hand. College Savings? We are speaking about an Early Childhood Center in which two-thirds of the children have special needs and you’re attacking the teachers union? We are agreeing to disagree. Have a nice day and to everyone else VOTE YES!

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    2. It’s an interesting conspiracy story Susan….just doesn’t have any relevant or applicable facts.

      As you are not a resident of this District, nor do you pay taxes here, what is your right to decide or opine upon how we make our decisions in that regard?

      As I have said before, I am happy to discuss this matter with anyone who has the standing to do so. My email and contact is posted on my website.

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  4. a few points…. one, the district is using the funds they would have otherwise used for other community mailers to share referendum information because you sued them. if they didn’t send mailers, you’d be mad about that too, because or lack of information or transparency….

    two, i am a proud member of the referendum steering committee. i am a volunteer, a parent, a life long d200 resident, an early intervention service coordinator, and an early childhood advocate. we are working our tails off to fund raise from members of the community who care about this project. shame on you for suggesting otherwise.

    our students and our community deserve a new jefferson once and for all, and our school board and superintendent deserve our respect for the work they do for our children.

    Like

  5. Answers to FAQs
    Regarding Referendum Activities
    Conducted by School Officials
    Revised September 2018
    Published by a Committee of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys 1
    ICSA publishes this guidance as part of its continuing effort to provide assistance to school leaders. The respons-
    es to the FAQs represent the combined thinking of committee members. Potential conflict questions may arise
    that are not addressed in this guidance. This guidance is published for informational purposes only, and is
    not a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice or a legal opinion on a specific question, you should
    consult a lawyer.
    1. School officials and employees usually want to support a referendum question that has been proposed
    by the school board. How does State law limit their referendum-related activity?
    Two laws significantly limit the scope of referendum-related activity in which school officials and school
    employees may engage: the Election Code’s interference prohibition (10 ILCS 5/9-25.1) and the State
    Officials and Employees Ethics Act (5 ILCS 430/).2

    The Election Code’s interference prohibition bars the expenditure of public funds to advocate votes for or
    against a referendum, but permits use of public funds to disseminate factual data. Questions 2 and 3 below
    address the Election Code’s interference prohibition.
    The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (Ethics Act) prohibits State employees and officials from engag-
    ing in certain political activities. It also requires local government units including school boards to adopt an
    ordinance or policy “no less restrictive” than the Act’s provisions. This means that the Ethics Act’s prohibitions
    apply to board members and employees, including its ban on engaging in political activity in certain situations.
    Questions 4 through 11 of this guidance address the Ethics Act.
    2. May the district spend money to publicize a referendum?
    Yes, provided district funds are not used to advocate for or against a referendum. The Election Code’s inter-
    ference prohibition states:
    No public funds shall be used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposi-
    tion, or be appropriated for political or campaign purposes to any candidate or political organization. This
    Section shall not prohibit the use of public funds for dissemination of factual information relative
    to any proposition appearing on an election ballot, or [inapplicable language omitted].
    This law allows school district resources to be used for brochures, web postings, and other communications
    that describe the proposition, but not to urge a yes or no vote. Communications using district resources
    should be factual and include relevant data, such as enrollment projections, comparisons with other districts,
    the status of current facilities or programs, and the district’s financial condition. These communications should
    ICSA Illinois Council of School Attorneys
    q 2921 Baker Drive l Springfield Illinois 62703-5929
    217/528-9688 l Fax 217/528-2831
    q One Imperial Place l 1 East 22nd Street, Suite 20 l Lombard, Illinois 60148-6120
    630/629-3776 l Fax 630/629-3940
    avoid language which connotes or may be construed as advocacy, such as, urge, save, shatter, ensure,
    break, and devastating.
    Violating this law is not a ground to invalidate or challenge the outcome of the vote on a referendum ques-
    tion.3 A first-time violator is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Second and any subsequent violations are
    Class A misdemeanors.

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    1. The district’s communications are facts and do not urge a “yes” or “no” vote therefore they are within their right to send out such a communication.

      From the pdf you posted: This law allows school district resources to be used for brochures, web postings, and other communications
      that describe the proposition, but not to urge a yes or no vote.

      Once again the reason they are doing this is because Mrs. Shaw sued the district. That’s why I personally find this post comical that the direct mail is being questioned. D200 working together is a separate group that can urge voters to VOTE YES.

      What do you want them to do-stay quiet? Who does that? Have you ever been to the school and taken a tour? Please go and see for yourself. This is what is best for our community and our littlest of learners and there will be NO TAX INCREASES.

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      1. I am glad the school district is letting everyone know there is a referendum. No question, that is legal. They do not explicitly recommend a “yes.” Is it implied? The reader can decide.
        How much was in the budget for this? Waiting for my FOIA to be answered. If there was a line item for communications to cover this, then all is well. If not, the board should have approved the spending prior to printing them.

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      2. Pretty sure that the board comes across condescending and a bit of a bully in their communication in these instances.
        1. They state that they could have moved forward without a referendum but decided to put the issue to the voters. Why didn’t they? Because they knew they were afloat on a raft that was sinking. So they swam for whatever life raft they could find. They all sequestered to the back room and realized they were in a quagmire they couldn’t get out of. So…. let’s go back and try to save face and say that we decided to put this to the voters, and vilify Dupage County Watchdog in the process. It’s a win/win. Watchdog is made the villain for expiring savings. How about place the ownership exactly where it belongs? Our board needs to own this, not some outsider who is holding them accountable. My kids hated to be held accountable. Pretty sure the board is composed of adults. Time to put the big boy/girl pants on. You thought you could pull off this underhanded scheme and got busted for it before the community found out what you were doing. You blew it, stop passing the buck!
        2. “Staying true to our commitment of transparency” They share only what they want the community to know. If it works in their favor, we find out. If it doesn’t, let’s hide it. Care for an example? How about the total cost of this project exceeding $24mm. Where was this information provided in any of the district communications? I can’t find it anywhere other than this website. Shame on the school district and board for hiding this from concerned community members.
        3. “… we have placed a referendum question on the ballot in the upcoming election for you to give us direction on how you would like us to proceed.” Dismissive language if ever there was. OK, we don’t like what’s going on here so we give you one shot to tell us how you feel. Go to the ballot box. And since it’s an off year election, let’s hope for low voter turnout which will help us get this over the finish line. Not sure if the lawsuit moves forward again if this referendum were to pass. But the board has had it stuck in its collective craw that we must do this their way, and only their way. I know, I know, save yourself the keystrokes; you will tell me they studied about 8 different ways to solve this. And due to complete lack of transparency and trust with the board in prior referendums, I don’t believe we ever saw true independent analysis and cost estimates. Too much collusion and conflict of interest on this board.

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    2. If you have evidence a law has been broken, call the States Attorney. Otherwise, this is just more conspiracy mongering from people…mostly outsiders…that believe any action by the Board or individuals that have standing to advocate is somehow suspect.

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  6. As an attorney would surely know, States Atty has no investigation arm, no prosecution arm, and no enforcement arm to make school boards comply with school code.

    As I was informed when I have contacted States Atty, it is up to individual citizens to file lawsuits, as Ms, Shaw did, in order to attempt to enforce school board compliance with State law.

    When you would like to meet and explain our specific positions to one another in factual and specific language?

    Like

    1. That will come as news to the States Attorney.

      You quoted legislation that speaks to misdemeanor offenses. These are not civil, but criminal penalties.

      A lawsuit you can file, as filed by Ms. Shaw (but written on her behalf by someone else), is a civil remedy. It is merely an unproven allegation. If at the end, you prove your allegation with a preponderance of evidence then you may obtain relief as requested in your complaint as awarded by the trier of fact. But if they don’t believe you have a valid case for violation of the Election and Ethics codes, by all means, reach out to the group afraid to show their faces in that wrote Ms Shaw’s complaint re: Jefferson. Maybe they’ll do it for you also. Of Course, you lack standing as you don’t live in the District. Maybe someone will stand in for you.

      As I stated numerous times, I am willing to meet to discuss the Jefferson School issue with any District member who has standing to do so. Meaning, they live here, vote here, pay taxes here, etc. You have no standing, so its a waste of time. We already have enough outsiders being brought in disrupting our District with arguments that nonsequitur to the Jefferson issue, or just following a conspiracy mindset about everything…..everywhere.

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  7. It is good you understand that there is no governmental oversight or enforcement of school board violations of school code.

    Most people mistakenly believe that somebody somewhere is policing taxing bodies for taxation or debt in excess of statutory limits, or in violation of Fund purpose descriptions, for example.
    Because judicial review falls as the burden of private citizens, most violations of school code go unchallenged.

    Because policing the actions of taxing bodies is tedious and time consuming and rewarded only by character assassination from those whose profits are threatened, most violations of school code go unnoticed.
    Taxpayers should be grateful for any help from any quarter to uncover and defend against actions by taxing bodies which violate civil code.

    Like

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