Thursday, October 30, 2014

EDITORIAL BY THE CORRUPTION BUSTERS STAFF



We applaud the good judgment expressed by Mayor Wayne Motley to appeal to Governor Quinn's intervention via objective & even tempered mediator, Gery Chico, to bring an escalating situation back to center. 

Chico is a seasoned attorney with a long history of public service, having led the Chicago Public Schools through some very tentative times. Click here to view his experience. It is no coincidence that Paul Vallas is now seeking public office. (We offer no partisan position but simply an observation on commitment to personal service for the electorate). To be fair, in private practice Gery billed out at rates comparable to Anthony Ficarelli and obtained contracts from government agencies. So, the right guy in the right place. He was interviewed yesterday and quipped "I am not leaving until this is done!" And, he kept his word.

The foundation of our American system of advocacy places a buffer between contentious parties. Every citizen has the right to counsel, even if there is financial hardship to hire an expensive attorney.

Passion, ego, stubbornness and a full range of emotions cloud the process to protect one's position yet be open to compromise.

The Illinois School Board of Education (ISBE) is mandated by the Illinois Legislature and signed into law by the Governor of Illinois. (105ILCS5) Here is downloadable link of the Act.

Under ISBE, there is a Code of Ethics for Illinois Educators.

ISBE trumps local school board operation by being a direct provider of funds, has the power and statutory authority to remove professional staff under turnaround and can directly take over control of any school district that is not financially stable.

We offer suggestions to Illinois Legislators to amend the current statute, expand ISBE's oversight of local School Districts and extend checks and balances related to elected Board Members, who are required to take training and are certified by ISBE.

Click here to download the certifications currently held by the individual WPS60 Board Members.

1. The Code of Ethics needs to be extended to school board members to insure proper decorum and respect to taxpayers, students, teachers and Administrators. These elected officials are in the public eye and need to provide examples of good citizenship, as well as leadership.


2. School boards need to be placed under the purview of an Inspector General's Office to insure that the public has a channel for reporting improprieties and a bureau to investigate outside the Administration of the Districts.


3. Elected officials should be required, as part of the ISBE certification, to pass with proficiency an examination related to acumen in understanding a complex budget that is typically comprised of taxpayer dollars in the hundreds of millions. The exam should also cover School policy, Oversight of Accountability of Administrators regarding their fiduciary duties and a system to provide teeth to the grievance process that is currently not independent. 


4. The union has the right to file grievances, Administrators typically drag their feet addressing these grievances and there is no independent appeal process in the event of an impasse. For example, the Illinois Insurance Licensure Director oversees the appeal process when insurance companies deny medical procedures or medications. ISBE could provide management of a similar system.


5. School board members need to be subject to impeachment and recall for cause including gross abuse of their duties as elected officials and mismanagement of taxpayer funds. Any School Board member convicted of a misdemeanor or felony shall be immediately removed their position. Any board member under indictment for a crime shall be suspended from their board position until full disposition of the case.


6. School districts must carry Errors and Omissions insurance to indemnify the taxpayers against gross mismanagement and attorney's fees should be borne personally and not at district expense.


7. During a strike, in accord with the Affordable Care Act, school boards are barred from suspending/terminating healthcare coverage, resulting in potential reckless endangerment or death. All members in the plan comprise a single class of covered employees with the only distinction being the differential in premium between single and dependent coverage.


8. During a strike, if teacher's pay is suspended, all administrator pay in the district is also suspended until a collective bargaining agreement can be ratified by the union members and affirmed by the School Board.


9. School Districts are subject to independent audit of budget including revenues and expenditures upon petition of 500 verified residents within the district.


In the light of the events of the last month in Waukegan, we call upon Senator Terry Link and Rep. Rita Mayfield, in concert with legislative leadership to draft legislation that will strengthen protection of taxpayer assets and insure professional behaviour on the part of elected School Board members.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014



Anita Hanna, Waukegan Public School Dist. 60 Board President

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Phone: 847-780-6045


ANITA HANNA’S LEGACY OF ABUSE OF POWER FOR PERSONAL GAIN AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE

The legacy of Illinois elected officials abusing their authority and wasting taxpayer monies now extends to local school board government in Waukegan.

The Annual Budget for WPS60 is $162 Million based upon revenues from local property taxes, federal and state allocations. For Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 the surplus amount reported is approximately $25 Million. The average income level in Waukegan is $49,000 and every student in the district qualifies for subsidized hot meals provided at taxpayer expense.

An on-going investigation by CORRUPTION BUSTERS         (http://corruptionbusters24x7x365.blogspot.com
into the calculated diversion of monies earmarked for direct education syphoned off to sole source contracts awarded to friends and family by the administration of Dr. Donaldo Batiste and Mary Lamping and the featherbedding of administrative staff with high ticket annual compensation and benefits in cahoots with the elected school board led by President Anita Hanna has been uncovered via a series of information requests obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

Illustrations of waste of taxpayer funds includes:
  • ·   Sole source award to attorney Anthony Ficarelli at Hinshaw & Culbertson for $50,000 for outside legal fees billed at $275 per hour with no cap as Chief Negotiator for the district in collective bargaining with the Teacher’s Union while employing Thomas Morris (currently Of Counsel at Hinshaw) as General Counsel at an annual salary of $235,000.


  • ·   Sole source award to Leila Eames, Batiste crony from New Orleans for consulting to train WPS60 Principals. For 2013 and 2014 the contracts total $79,000.


  • ·  Increase of Administrative Staff in consecutive years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 ranging from $11.7 Million now up to $13.9 Million (not including increases in benefits and pensions that will place a heavier burden on Illinois taxpayers already strained by climbing pension payments calculated on the last four years of service).

New information obtained related to Anita Hanna reveal abuse of her elected office by approaching the Waukegan Township soliciting taxpayer funds as “donations” to her family business, Black Student’s Parents Organization that she claims to have started in 1983

A search with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office shows no corporate filing for this entity. A search of the Illinois Attorney General’s records and the Internal Revenue Service filings for non-profit 501C3 status reveals no registration of this entity.

The Illinois Compiled Statutes 760ILCS 55/ Charitable Trust Act specifies Trust and Fiduciary Duties for Organizations and Individuals holding property for or solicited for charitable purposes. There are registration requirements and on-going filing requirements for compliance.

Hanna is in violation of this statute for failing to register.

We have written documentation authored by Hanna directed to Waukegan Township Supervisor Patricia Jones, soliciting funds dated May 19, 2013 stating “The BSPO is submitting this request for financial support for 3 youth Counselors. I propose 8 weeks of salary at minimum wage ($8.25) for 6.5 hours per day, which total $6435 for the duration of camp.”

Waukegan Township authorized the disbursement of $2,500 on June 17, 2013 via check no. 22735. We have not been able to confirm if this expenditure was approved by the board or at the discretion of Patricia Jones nor the nature of any personal relationship between said individuals or other Township officials. 

On April 13, 2014 Hanna again solicited the Waukegan Township advising that “All proceeds are deposited in the organization’s account and used  exclusively for the children. Previous funding has come from private donations, parents and my own finances.

Again, without due diligence to determine if BSPO was registered as a 501C3 charity, with an IRS EIN, Waukegan Township provided an additional $2,500 donation via check no. 23708 dated April 25, 2014. The Township failed to request financial statements or proof of use of the funds as solicited by Hanna. Without being a properly registered charity, obtaining this information through public channels or via FOIA was not an option.  

Note that the endorsement on the back of the check reads "Black Diamond" and not Black Student's Parent Organization. The account at Great Lakes Credit Union is redacted so it is unclear if this is a second account held by Hanna. 

The express purpose of soliciting funds in 2014 from Waukegan Township was for the day camp, not the Black Diamond awards. "The Community Summer Day Camp is requesting financial support to (de)fray cost of, a bi-weekly summer wage for four young adults" again specifically earmarked for payroll. 

It appears that Hanna converted those funds to other purposes not promised to the Township.

Hanna simply expected the Township to “trust her”. They were surely aware of her position as Board member at WPS60 when she solicited funds. Perhaps she parlayed her personal relationship with Jones or other Township employees to first approach them in 2013?

Again, at this time we have no additional information as to who authorized this expenditure or whether it received board approval.

The May 19, 2013 solicitation letter also advises that “The camp begins June 10 thru August 2 at the Webster Middle School. At this time, the Waukegan Public Schools provides the facility free of charge to BSPO.”

This is curious. It is not the regular practice of WPS60 to provide its facilities to private businesses, especially at no charge. Any business seeking to use the facilities would be required to make an application, provide at a minimum a Certificate of Insurance indicating a minimum $1 Million for Liability coverage.  These entities would also need to display evidence of Financial Responsibility. The next step would be for WPS60 authorized personal to enter into a site use contract and obtain either administrative and/or board approval. So, who approved the use of the facility by Hanna’s day camp? Who granted her free rent? 

The use of the facility provided a personal benefit to Hanna as an in-kind quid pro quo at least a market value of free rent.

Hanna used her position as Board President to obtain a sweetheart deal for her family business for use of the school not available to any other citizen of Waukegan or local businesses. This is surely discriminatory in nature and smacks of favoritism towards her by the public entity that she controls. 

It is certainly an abuse of her power and exceeds her authority as an elected official.

In addition, there was no provision for reimbursement to the district for custodial services; those expenses were borne by the taxpayers. Who at WPS60 authorized this agreement with Hanna? We are still investigating and will publish that information when received from WPS60 via FOIA.

Charitable Trusts are required to file an IRS990 annual return that discloses the finances of the charity, source and use of funds, as well as the identities of directors and employees. These filings are also archived with the Illinois Attorney General’s Charitable Trust department and available for public access.  

Waukegan Public Schools Foundation (EIN36-3444790) is a duly registered 501C3 established in 1986 now showing Dr. Donaldo Batiste as Registered Agent (since 5/1/2006).  As Board President, Hanna has oversight of this Foundation, and is not ignorant as to the requirement to file proper documentation with the regulatory agencies.

Anita Hanna has taken the position that she is above the law. Since 1983, Hanna has had ample time to properly register her entity with the appropriate authorities. Barring evidence to the contrary, Hanna is required to file Quarterly Payroll 941 Returns to both the State of Illinois and IRS for paying employee salaries, as represented in her solicitation.

She is also required to file Federal and State tax returns. Co-mingling business funds with personal funds is a breach of fiduciary.

Public records accessed on the Circuit Court of Lake County’s
portal indicate a pattern of lawsuits that indicate problems 
with Hanna’s personal finances, yet the taxpayers have entrusted her with custodial and fiduciary authority to manage a budget of $162 Million.


As WPS60 Board President, Hanna has a fiduciary duty as elected trustee to protect the assets of Waukegan taxpayers. Violating state and federal statutes is a breach of trust.

Immediate demand is made for Hanna to release to the public her business records, including bank account deposits and expenditures made at Great Lakes Credit Union, for the Black Student’s Parent Organization showing sources and use of funds that include taxpayer monies. 

The Illinois Attorney’s Office has been provided this information and has been asked to open an investigation of potential wrongdoing by an elected official.

Tom Morris, General Counsel, is also Ethics Officer for WPS60. In the interest of the public trust, Morris needs to determine if there were acts of civil or criminal wrongdoing by Hanna and should immediately commence investigating these matters. Morris must insure impartiality. In the event that he determines a conflict of interest, he should recuse himself and seek resources in City of Waukegan government who can be independent and impartial.

During these investigation, Hanna should be suspended from

making any financial decisions or rendering any votes for WPS60

funds.

-30-
EUREKA!!

NEWS FLASH: WAUKEGAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS  DISTRICT 60 SUPERINTENDENT DONALDO BATISTE DISCOVERS AVAILABLE FUNDS IN THE BUDGET!!




Considering the recurring protestations by hired gun Anthony Ficarelli that WPS only has 5 months reserves and not really a surplus we were surprised to learn today that Board members and Batiste are playing dress-up and enjoying rubber chicken dinners....

and you guessed it, fully funded by your taxpayer dollars.

Why a public school Board would need to make payments for attending dinners at charitable events is mind boggling. To boot, the charities or noble causes consistently look to WPS60 as Daddy Warbucks.

We just received this FOIA response regarding the practice of purchasing tables at these events.

Read it to yourself....

Donaldo and Anita, why not enjoy free meals at taxpayer expense while WPS60 students, who rely upon hot meals served in schools are used as your pawns in collective bargaining negotiations?

Careful, don't drip the gravy on your clothes!
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The good residents of Waukegan have not paid us even one penny, nor have we solicited compensation, to investigate improprieties by elected officials and government workers. We are not predator interlopers who have their hand on the cash register with every utterance or mercenary act. We are not native to your City. We do plead guilty to having an acute allergy to corruption. We appreciate your thanks and gratitude.


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Nuff, said.

Now, on to business and a teachable moment.....


THE ILLINOIS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT protects 13 Million residents from corrupt government. It was promulgated by the Illinois Legislature and signed into law by the Illinois Governor

A MESSAGE FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Lisa Madigan

Open and honest government is the cornerstone of American democracy, and it can only be achieved through the free exchange of information between the government and its citizens.

The Office of the Attorney General is committed to supporting and enforcing the principle of open government embodied in two important laws: The Freedom of Information
Act (5 ILCS 140) and the Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120). Both are critical tools in shining light on government action, and ultimately strengthening our democracy.

As Attorney General, I feel so strongly about the role these Acts play in our government, that, for the first time in Illinois history, I have established the position of Public Access
Counselor within my office. The Public Access Counselor will take an active role in assuring that public bodies understand the requirements of the laws and conduct their business openly and that the public has access to the governmental information to which they are entitled.

The Freedom of Information Act is a pro-disclosure law embedded in the fundamental principle that citizens have a right to access public documents of their government, while
balancing the government necessary ability to conduct the business of the people.

The purpose of this Guide to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act is intended to be a helpful contribution in ensuring open and honest government in every corner of Illinois. The Office of the Attorney General is pleased to offer this revised guide to foster accountability of government to its citizens, which is the bedrock of a democratic society.

Corruption Busters applies professional investigative standards to obtaining written documentation, including but not limited to, letters, emails, faxes, communications, financial records, employee records, etc. under the protection of the Freedom of Information Act. Only written documentation may be provided by the responding agency; not hearsay, telephone conversations (unless recorded) or conjecture. 

No person is fully objective, hence the freedom to express one's perspective and subjective opinions are protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

We report on the veracity of the documents, rarely interjecting our editorial prerogative (unlike other traditional print publications or broadcast TV networks) unless illustrating a point that is not readily apparent to the reader or where clarity is needed to understand the information provided on the face of the documents.

We do not charge subscribers a fee; you are welcome not to read our blog. We have interested followers all across the US who are interested in eliminating corruption, sole source deals and the few elected and cronies who are in the game for personal gain. We appreciate their feedback and support.

Monday, October 27, 2014

FICARELLI JOINS A LONG LIST OF PIRATES AND PREDATORS WHO HAVE FOUND A MONEY GRAB SCHEME TO ENJOY PERSONAL GAIN BY BLEEDING THE TAXPAYERS WITH EGREGIOUS HOURLY FEES AND MURKY CONTRACTS

 
Chicago Public Schools spends millions of dollars on outside legal fees to politically connected law firms while laying off nearly 850 employees after closing 28 schools last week with more to follow.

According to FOIAs issued by Corruption Busters to CPS, over $2 Million was spent in just 8 months from October 2012 to May 2013.


Read the full story here....

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A LESSON IN ARITHMETIC FOR BATISTE & LAMPING AT WAUKEGAN DISTRICT 60

OK, from the tenor of your official communiques released to the media and the whispering in your ears by Ficarelli, we are fully aware of your posture and strategy to bust the Teacher's union.

The District's Disingenous Plan to resume food service dated 10/26/2014 by simply removing the picket lines from 6 schools for only two hours is simply wishful thinking. First a finger, then a whole hand. Nada. No deal.

Donaldo, we have a wonderful book that we suggest you read, Pinocchio that is about a wooden boy who yearns to become a real person. There is only one caveat. For each lie he tells, his nose grows. At this point, the tip of your nose is extending from Waukegan to the outskirts of New Orleans. Should we send a copy to your office or your residence?

Let's deal with a more tangible issue. According to ISBE there is a requirement to provide a calendar of 185 days, with a minimum of 176 school days. This is crucial to WPS60 as federal and state aid are provided based upon meeting that mandate. These conditions must be met on or before June 30, 2015.

Donaldo and Mary. Your dilatory tactics will soon backfire on you. You are getting close to reaching an immovable barrier. To date, there have been 29 days against the 185. That leaves 156 days to prevent the unrecoverable loss of sorely needed funding that you accounted for in your budget.

Count backwards from June 30 to all available days to squeeze in the 156. This is a word problem so be sure to show your work. Every day that you continue your obstinate behaviour counts against you. 

Look in the mirror. This requires no negotiation on the Union's behalf. This a simply a lesson from the Romans who employed a highly successful siege strategy to create an empire.

The clock is ticking.
IN THIS AGE OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND MANDATORY COMPLIANCE WITH SECURING HEATHCARE FOR ALL AMERICANS, WAUKEGAN DISTRICT 60 MALICIOUSLY CUTS OFF COVERAGE FOR TEACHERS & THEIR FAMILIES AS A TACTIC INSTIGATED BY ANTHONY FICARELLI

We propose that workers deprived of coverage admininstered under medical care self-insurance by WPS Trustees contemplate filing a class action lawsuit for reckless endangerment. 

Surely, jeopardizing critical medical care for folks suffering from cancer, autoimmune diseases and other life-threatening maladies increases additional stress and personal financial burden through this unilateral and malicious act. 

The named defendants facing personal liability would include all seven irresponsible elected officials on the WPS60 school board, Batiste and Lamping.  There is no defense for municipal tort immunity as these actions far exceed their authority for stewardship of the district.

Losing this suit will result in judgments being placed against their personal assets and wages. A quid pro quo that they certainly don't expect. Another instance of abusing the public trust. Direct consequences for their action and an experience that they have foisted upon teachers. "I have the power" pronunciations by Board members deserves immediate response by Waukegan residents.

Certainly there are qualified attorneys within the Waukegan community who would take on this legal representation on a Pro Bono basis. Step forward and show your indignation for action that is unwarranted. The sole purpose was to break the union and is unprecedented in collective bargaining history.