School trustee wants money for his lawsuit

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what

Oak Forest, IL

#1 Jun 23, 2010
I did have to edit a bit.
An obscure government body that seems to do little but cause problems for taxpayers appears poised today to hand one of its board members a $220,000 legal settlement.
That settlement would come from seven local school districts that are already struggling to retain teachers and balance their budgets.
A special session of the Bremen Township School Board has been called this evening to determine if one of its three trustees will be handed attorney fees plus damages as a settlement in a lawsuit he filed to gain his seat on the board. The board has not discussed the cost of the settlement in public, but at least two sources told me it was about $220,000.
The township school board hires a treasurer who invests about $200 million from seven school districts, six elementary and one high school, that are within the township. If the trustee is granted his award, it would likely come out of those districts' pockets.
In spring 2007, Joseph Bertrand Jr. won a 6-year term on the township school board. However, two outgoing trustees, including the one he was to replace, ruled that he was ineligible to take office.
Illinois law prohibits any two of the three township school trustees from representing the same school district, and Bertrand and Trustee Julienne W. Mallory, elected in 2005, both live in Prairie-Hills School District 144.
But Bertrand's attorney, Anthony Scariano Jr., argued that the law allows two trustees who live in the same school district to serve on the township school board if at least 90 percent of voters live in one school district that the trustees oversee.
Scariano contended in his lawsuit that Bertrand also resides in Bremen High School District 228, which represents 90 percent of the township.
A judge ultimately ordered that Bertrand be seated on the board, stating that the board lacked legal authority to declare the seat vacant.
According to several sources, at a June 7 township school board meeting, with only Bertrand and Mallory present, Mallory made a motion to pay the legal settlement resulting from Bertrand's lawsuit and Bertrand seconded the motion.
However, when it came time to vote on the motion, Mallory voted "yes" and Bertrand abstained. Scariano contends that Bertrand's vote actually counted as a "yes" and made the vote 2-0 in support of the settlement, which includes Scariano's legal fees.
The third member of the board, Michael Duggan, was not at that meeting.
It seems to me that given his personal benefit in the matter, Bertrand had a conflict of interest and should not have seconded the motion. But I do not have a legal degree.
Scariano said that because Bertrand was merely affirming the township board's offer of a settlement, he had no conflict of interest.
I don't know if Bertrand has his sights set on a future political career, but if he does, he should rethink sticking his hand in the pockets of taxpayers for legal fees and damages.
Someone's going to file a suit, claiming that Bertrand should not have voted on that motion to pay the settlement.
Several officials representing school districts in the township have told me they plan to voice their outrage over the settlement at today's meeting, which is at 7 p.m. at Tinley Park High School, 6111 W. 175th St., Tinley Park.
Besides districts 144 and 228, the Bremen Township school treasurer, Joseph McDonnell, manages funds for Forest Ridge District 142, Midlothian District 143, Posen-Robbins District 143 1 / 2 , Arbor Park District 145, Country Club Hills District 160 and the Southwest Cook County Cooperative for special education students.
Bertrand, 49, is the parks director for Hazel Crest and an adviser to the mayor there.
McDonnell, appointed under the previous township school board, is the only person with the authority to issue checks. He has an uneasy relationship, to say the least, with the new board.
The office is often confused with the township government, or school districts, but is independent of both.
WTF

Midlothian, IL

#2 Aug 12, 2012
I like to start at the beginning. Who doesn't want Bertrand seated? 228 seems to be the big dog in this fight, Gleason controls 228. They both (Gleason and Bertrand) control they're respective park districts. These park districts belong to associations, so I think they are aware of each other. So why doesn't Gleason want Bertrand on the board. Why is she willing to pay a legal firm hundreds of thousands of dollars to see this doesn't ever happen again. Even if it steals the right to vote from citizens that fought and died for this right to vote. Maybe because her son is a partner in the law firm who is sucking of the teet of the government to fund this political fight. Evelyn you should be ashamed of yourself.
puppetmaster

Oak Forest, IL

#3 Aug 13, 2012
Mr. Gross, you are an intelligent man stop letting others pull your strings.
WTF

Midlothian, IL

#4 Aug 13, 2012
Mrs. Gleason you should resign.
Interesting Issues

Evanston, IL

#5 Aug 13, 2012
This thread seems to have some personal issues going on here! Could we get the individuals out of the middle of this and really get back to the issue!

There are now 3 elected officials on this board and some additional appointed officials to this board, I am not sure whay there would not be a discussion in open session about this settlement. Originally I would believe that any discussion about a litigation would be discussed in executive session or sessions. So now is it coming to completion of a settlement? If so then there should be an open discussion about what this authority is doing and if it is to make a settlement to this Board Member and paying legal fees, it is a waste of taxpayers money! It also takes money out of the education process for these school districts. As a legal matter, is this authority covered by an insurance policy that would handle this type of lawsuit? If not and the current governing body is getting ready to hand over a settlement, then the only losers here are the taxpayers and the children.

As a point of reference, most school organizations have done qway with this type of Finance office and handled the process themselves. In Bremen Township, they have continued to use this organization as their provider of fund investments and Treasurer handles all those investments and is the only authirity to sign checks, that has not changed. Since the previous board members tried a typical Bremen/Illinois tactic to unseat a winning challenger, are they financially responsible for these funds or were they bonded by the participating school groups? Which then makes any settlement the responsibility of those districts, ultimately the Taxpayers! Mr. Scariano is no fool and has a big background in Municipal and School Law, so for him to take this case in the first place would make me believe there is some validity to the case!

Forget the Gleason/Gross debate - the real debate is how could a former sitting body, exclude someone elected at a new election?

If the standing law firm counselled these folks to do that - that law firm should be fired! Those former board members should be held responsible financially and the school districts should move on to something new! If the board memebers were bonded by all the school districts involved, then the kids and taxpayers will be the losers!
Shaky Memory

Oak Forest, IL

#6 Aug 19, 2012
Don't know if I will remember this all correctly as it was a while ago. The sitting board members or at least one or two didn't want to seat one because they thought the area he represented on the board was already represented. What authority did they have to do this? I don't know. I think they were trying to get some court to decide that. Eventually he was seated. Things got crazy everyone filing suits. I believe the lawyers quit because advice wasn't being followed. I don't think this is an issue anymore.
BGA

Midlothian, IL

#7 Sep 17, 2012
Andy Frain

Midlothian, IL

#8 Sep 17, 2012
why do I keep seeing the same names in these stories???

http://www.suntimes.com/news/15150882-418/ass...
Bbs

Midlothian, IL

#9 Sep 19, 2012
So now it appears the good people of Bremen Township are going to pay off Szabo's legal bills...

http://brementts.org/uploads/AgendaSpecial091...

That decision was made by a vote of the three persons on the board of trustees who had served prior to the election and still held office. Two trustees voted against Bertrand, and one abstained. One of the votes against Bertrand was cast by Dennis McGlynn, who lost to Bertrand in a close race for a six-year term on the board.
McGlynn and Ron Szabo, who cast the other vote to keep Bertrand off the board, argued that a state law makes Bertrand ineligible. The law says that two township school trustees cannot live in the same school district. Bertrand lives in the same elementary district as board member Julienne Mallory.
Mallory abstained from voting on Bertrand's fate, saying she wasn't sure if ousting Bertrand was legal.
Indeed, the same law cited by McGlynn and Szabo also states that two trustees who live in the same district can serve together if at least 90 percent of the voters live in one school district within the township. Bremen Community High School District 228 falls into that category, which seems to favor Bertrand getting a seat on the board.
baffled

Oak Forest, IL

#10 Sep 30, 2012
Can you explain this a little better? I don't know that I understand. Once it said they can't serve together, then they can? So they can't serve the same school, but can serve the township if the community that makes up the township uses a school that 90% of them use? Sorry. I just don't get it. Isn't one of the Rich high schools in this township too?
Bbs wrote:
So now it appears the good people of Bremen Township are going to pay off Szabo's legal bills...
http://brementts.org/uploads/AgendaSpecial091...

Indeed, the same law cited by McGlynn and Szabo also states that two trustees who live in the same district can serve together if at least 90 percent of the voters live in one school district within the township. Bremen Community High School District 228 falls into that category, which seems to favor Bertrand getting a seat on the board.
Bbs

Midlothian, IL

#11 Oct 1, 2012
That's why Bertrand had to go to court, to get his rightfully elected seat that Szabo and company denied him. The judge commented on the poorly worded law but did give him his seat. Apparently D228 is a sore loser and decided to overturn the election. Watching their actions it is quite apparent their interests are not the peoples. The good news is they are up for election in April and we can vote for new blood.

For more info on this as it played out sometime ago Google "Bertrand Szabo Bremen Southtown"
baffled

Oak Forest, IL

#12 Oct 3, 2012
I have googled some of this and from what I understand you are partly correct and partly incorrect. The previous trustees didn't seat him, then the courts said they couldn't do it. From what I can find, it wasn't that 228 opposed this, it opposed him making himself a nice profit for the previous trustees doing this. I can't find anything that says 228 wanted the election overturned.
Bbs wrote:
That's why Bertrand had to go to court, to get his rightfully elected seat that Szabo and company denied him. The judge commented on the poorly worded law but did give him his seat. Apparently D228 is a sore loser and decided to overturn the election. Watching their actions it is quite apparent their interests are not the peoples. The good news is they are up for election in April and we can vote for new blood.
For more info on this as it played out sometime ago Google "Bertrand Szabo Bremen Southtown"
BGA

Midlothian, IL

#13 Oct 4, 2012
I did find a southtown story that says he was awarded his seat by a judge.

re:http://southtownstar.suntim es.com/news/kadner/2827383-452 /bertrand-board-attorney-distr icts-legal.html

http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/news/kadner...

Bremewn CHSD 228 is the biggest school by far in the district, they run the trustees office.

Why did Bremen CHSD spend hundreds of thousands of dollars (approx.$400k) to change the law so the people no longer have a vote on this???
http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/opinions/gu...

He wouldn't have filed a lawsuit if they didn't have Szabo object... Sure he's !@#$% but they all are. So now we pay for all of it...

http://brementts.org/uploads/AgendaQuarterly2...
baffled

Oak Forest, IL

#14 Oct 4, 2012
You are correct, the judge said they didn't have the right to not seat him. I don't see how you say 228 runs this office though. How did they spend money to change the law? I thought the legislature changed the law. From what I read, they spent money so that he didn't write himself a big fact check. Seems like all the rest of the schools involved would have had to have been on board with this change, since they are all represented on the new board. Even says so in the link you provided. There is also a lot of information regarding District 142 being a big player in this. The superintendent even submitting some things to the paper.
BGA

Midlothian, IL

#15 Oct 5, 2012
They paid their favorite lawyers to write legislation with Maggie Crotty sponsoring it. This money came out of D228 budget and was approved by the board. The law suit was D228 and 142 V. Bertrand. He wasn't paying himself, he was seeking payment for his lawyers some who had previously represented D228. All these lawyers charge over $200 an hour and are laughing all the way to the bank.

This business may have cost us over $1Million.

http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/news/kadner...

http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/opinions/gu...

http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/news/986112...

Notice D228 President is now Township President that's no accident.

Also keep in mind the Superintendent serves at the pleasure of the board.

http://www.brementts.org/uploads/MinutesAppro...

In Jan 2012 we paid the lawyers over $12,000.00, most of it preparing for the coup on the 6th of Jan. On Jan. 4,5,6 alone we paid about $5,000.00.
BGA

Midlothian, IL

#16 Oct 5, 2012
More links:

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1N1-13369747D43F0...

http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/news/kadner...

This is what 228 spent on legal fees last year.

ANNUAL STATEMENT OF AFFAIRS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING
June 30, 2011
(Section 10-17 of the School Code)

SRAGA HAUSER, LLC 229,501.42
Baffled

Oak Forest, IL

#17 Oct 9, 2012
Let's see $5000 vs $200,000. Doesn't seem like a bad investment. But I wonder why the other schools didn't put something in the pot. So according to you the other districts didn't want to do this? Maybe 228 needs to go after these other districts. I would think this is the way it should have been set up from the beginning. It is the schools' money after all they should have all contributed. I am not going to look it up, but I recall Kadner or someone writing an article saying that Kevin McCarthy sponsored the bill and that all the districts wanted this to happen.
BGA wrote:
More links:
http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1N1-13369747D43F0...
http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/news/kadner...
This is what 228 spent on legal fees last year.
ANNUAL STATEMENT OF AFFAIRS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING
June 30, 2011
(Section 10-17 of the School Code)
SRAGA HAUSER, LLC 229,501.42
R Money

Midlothian, IL

#18 Oct 9, 2012
That's $5 grand for prepping for one meeting on the takeover alone. This is still going on. They spent over $70,000 on keeping Bertrand from getting his $220.000. It was on the Bremen Trustees minutes agenda for Sept. to approve a reduced amount along with Szabo's bills paid through the BTTS. About $139k plus $22k. You really should lookup all the facts if you want to know the truth.
Board Games

Milano, Italy

#19 Oct 12, 2012
Old Business

Midlothian, IL

#20 Aug 13, 2013
And in the end the people in power in this township pay their buddies bills, and the BTTS board minutes tell us what they are all about , right coach...

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