ForuM Letters to the Editor New liquor commissioner a fair shake?
Because our mayor has a liquor license, the Village must, by a new state law, hire a lawyer to be the town’s Liquor Commissioner (LQ) for a measly $150-$220/ hr. The position is to be filled by the Board of Trustees with the mayor recusing himself from the selection process because he has a liquor license. Some trustees voted to give village attorney Annunzio the task of setting up the search process. He narrowed the responses to four resumes and then touted one of them. Apparently the winning candidate came from a family that owned a restaurant that impressed Mr. Annunzio and may have tipped the scales in her favor. Now the Board of Trustees hired, and not unanimously, such an attorney based SOLELY on the recommendation of the village attorney, Mr. Annunzio. Trustee Palicki and I objected since it is extremely odd to hire someone for a sensitive position SOLELY on the suggestion of Mr.Annunzio. He told the media that “he did not directly advertise the job” but did so by “word of mouth”
(and we have no idea who heard his wonderful words). Trustees were not informed of his verbal activities, or to what groups he actually did “advertise,” or to what special ears absorbed his oral supplications. Our televised trustee meetings may not win any primetime viewing awards, but they do provide a convenient record of who said what and when. At our May 14th meeting Mr. Annunzio claimed (see and hear on our website at 22:20 minutes on that date) that he would advertise in the lawyers’ bar journal, local papers, and so forth. We believed him. He told us recently that lawyers, like himself, are held to higher ethical standards. So we believed him. But we never saw anything and he never sent us any such promised advertisements. The trustee excitement rose to great heights at the May 20 meeting: Ms. Matayas wanted a “physical interview” (44:25) and Mr. Alpogianis wanted an interview too (54:20). Mr. LoVerde (1:05) and Mrs. Palicki (1:07) encouraged advertisements and Mr. LoVerde wanted a solicitation letter (1:10). Mr. Annunzio informed us that attorneys must carry their own malpractice
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insurance. We expected him to verify such insurance. A candidate who was not selected complained that the “winner” didn’t have such insurance. Mr. Annunzio hadn’t checked! When we started the job search some months ago, I provided the board with a list of fifteen items which should be discussed with candidates, items pertaining to reporting procedures, documentation of visits, etc. - the kinds of things which guarantee proper business conduct. What happened? Nothing. Trustees never interviewed candidates, never saw any and yet were to make a decision about an important job merely by reading a resume and believing that Mr. Annunzio has some special insight into resume reading. Would this be done if we were seeking a chief of police, a fire chief, a village manager? We all know the answer. I never met Ms. Shain, nor would I know her if she walked up to me. I never heard of her and obviously nothing of her biography until the resume trustees received from the scrutinizing Mr. Annunzio. Board trustees never were given the opportunity to interview her and other applicants to find the right mix. A most peculiar situation given that the Trustees who voted for Ms. Shain have voiced so much support for “management” and “metrics.” The recent newspaper article noted that resume analyst Mr. Annunzio said “Shain’s connections to Banks had nothing to do with his choice for her.” Many of us asked: Who is Banks? Obviously Mr. Annunzio knew. Result: Banks is the recently former alderman and Democratic Committeeman of the 36th Ward. Banks served for years and years on the Cook County Democratic Central Committee with former Maine Township Democratic Committeeman (Mayor) Przybylo. Coincidence? Mr. Annunzio is quoted in the media as favoring her selection because “she is totally independent and understood the system.” Understood the system? What SYSTEM? He then is quoted as saying “I didn’t want to hire someone everybody knew.”Who’s everybody? Mr. Annunzio doesn’t know who I know let alone the other trustees. Odd. Mr. Annunzio was not empowered to hire anyone, just present candidates to the Board of Trustees. Common sense and common courtesy (to the candidates and to the trustees) would be to have
THE BUGLE AUGUST 23, 2013 candidates appear before the Board of Trustees (the people that actually do the hiring) for a question and answer session, the kind which sensitive positions require. Instead we are supposed to rely on the judgment of Mr. Annunzio. This process of hiring can lead to some serious problems. First, this kind of hiring will easily discourage future competent applicants from applying for positions in Niles, perhaps rightfully believing that they have no real chance for employment. It’s not fair to them. It’s highly unlikely anybody would apply for a job under these kinds of procedures. Second, it casts a shadow over current village employees and how they were selected and hired. It’s not fair to them.And it’s not fair to us. - Niles Trustee Chris Hanusiak
An update for the new school year Dear Parents, I hope that you enjoyed summer with your families and are excited to begin a new school year. I am writing to update you on several initiatives that we believe will better prepare our more than 2 million Illinois public school students to succeed and become contributing citizens. A few years ago, a group of governors and state school chiefs, including myself, began a grassroots effort to develop a common set of more rigorous learning standards for students in grades K-12, whether they lived in Illinois or Idaho. These new Common Core Learning Standards have been adopted by more than 40 states and set clear expectations for what we want our students to know and be able to do in math and English language arts. With these higher standards also comes the need to ensure students are performing at a higher level. Just as we raised the bar in 2010 by adopting more rigorous learning standards, we also raised the bar on the state’s annual standardized achievement tests (also known as ISATs) for students in grades 3-8 by increasing the performance expectations on the 2013 test. By raising performance expectations on the ISATs, we are seeing a drop in the 2013 test scores for elementary students and schools. This does not mean that students know less or that teachers don’t provide good instruction, but it does give us an earlier indication of where students perform in terms of
college and career readiness. Before this adjustment, the ISAT was not a good measure of college and career readiness; that important information wasn’t generated until students took a test in 11th grade called the Prairie State Achievement Exam (also known as the PSAE), which includes the ACT. This is far too late to know that a student will not be prepared for success after high school. We have observed this disconnect when comparing ISAT scores, which showed 82 percent of elementary students met or exceeded standards in 2012, with our PSAE scores, which showed only 51 percent of 11th graders met or exceeded standards that same year. Students did not fall behind when they left grade school, but they faced a higher bar. This year, all students, in grades 3-12, are being measured against the same bar. We know that it’s not easy to suddenly see a drop in your student’s or school’s scores but we also know our state has great teachers and leaders who are working hard every day to prepare your children for these new,higher expectations for learning. Several other states are taking similar measures. In the spring of 2014,elementary students will once again take the ISATs, with questions written to the Common Core.Then, in 201415,Illinois is preparing to distribute new online assessments that are being specifically developed to align with the Common Core.The new tests will demand students show more critical thinking, problem-solving and excellent writing skills. Students will be assessed at least twice within a year’s time span in order to better gauge progress and help their teachers identify specific areas of need and provide appropriate interventions to support student success. As we change the way we assess students, we are also improving the way we report those results to you.This year, Illinois will debut a simplified, more consumerfriendly 2013 school and district report card that offers facts such as extracurricular activities and school honors to showcase the unique qualities of our schools.We hope that the redesigned report card for schools, districts and the state will better inform and support community-wide discussions about educational opportunities in your local schools. Sincerely, Christopher A. Koch, Ed.D. State Superintendent of Education