REA political contributions and spouse is a teacher – conflict of interest?

The largest benefactor of this year’s political contributions from the Rockford Education Association’s (REA) Political Action Committee for Education, RPACE, was Laura J. Powers, the winner of the RSD205 board of education election in Subdistrict G.

Since the district was to have obtained $11.6M in concessions from the REA in contract negotiations to balance the 2012 shortfall in the budget, contributions of this size by a party to those negotiations raises questions as to a potential conflict of interest.

The RPACE contributions are perfectly legal, but still controversial to taxpayers and parents if reserves and/or further program cuts or reversal of school closings or a reduction in layoffs are used to make up the deficits, instead of REA concessions.

A further complication is the fact that Powers’ husband is a teacher in the district and a member of the teacher’s union that gave her $3,000 which was reported on March 4 and an additional $5,000 in campaign contributions reported on March 26.

The REA has thus far contributed $8,000 to one candidate and $8,000 more to two additional candidates for volunteer positions on the Rockford Board of Education?

The Schedule A-1 Reports to the State Board of Elections strictly followed the law that contributions over $1000 must be reported in five business days after receipt. Additional contributions and in kind services, which must also be reported, do not have to be filed with the state elections board until June 30, 2011. So the full extent of the RPACE contributions will not be known until then.

The Statement of Economic Interests which is filed with the Winnebago County Clerk states in the general directions that – “The interest (if constructively controlled by the person making the statement) of a spouse or any other party shall be considered the same as the interests of the person making the statement.”

The statement apparently exempts the person filing the statement from reporting income for professional services rendered (to the unit of local government in relation to which the person is required to file) but requires a list of each entity from which income exceeding $5,000 was received for professional services rendered during the preceeding calendar year by the person making the statement. But does it exempt the spouse’s name from being entered here? Powers entered N/A.

Is it a conflict of interest if the spouse of a member of the Board of Education is a teacher and receives a salary negotiated with that board of education and the board member is even covered under the health insurance plan of the spouse? The answer may surprise you in the next post.



  1. Hey Ted: Did you say anything when Earl Hernandez got hired by his wife who was Asst Supt? Do you see a problem with Earl’s pension triple-dipping? Or did you think it was okay when Dr. Thompson created a job for Martha Hayes’s husband? Do you have a problem with all the money that your allies (Syverson and Christensen) take from First Rockford?My point is I think you’re selective who you criticize. You only have a problem with teachers. When it comes to “your people”, you don’t mind so much.

    Regarding Laura Powers, This is old news and it was already reported on before the election. She’s already addressed the issue, you might not like her answer, and you obviously are bitter that she won. Sorry. But that’s how it goes in a democracy. Get over it. The people out on the South side of town didn’t have a problem with Powers being married to a teachers. Go to other districts and downstate especially~ its not uncommon for a Board member to have a spouse or a relative who is a teacher.

    I don’t always like everyone who wins elections either, and I don’t like all the special interest money that got them there. But when the people have spoken, I accept it. You should too.

  2. Ted, I understand your concern. However, look at the Winnebago County Board of which you are a member. How many county board members are realtors who sit on the zoning board. And then they vote on zoning issues during the county board meetings. That seems like a real conflict of interest also.

  3. Truth hurts

    With all due respect to pundit and big bopper, but have you forgotten what your mothers told you about TWO WRONGS DONT MAKE A RIGHT?

    Yes BOTH politcal parties involved in ALL types/areas in society do bad things and must be held accountable and punished.

    BUT both of you try to justify it (bopper outright said it and pundit implied it) because the other side did it and was not held accountable.

    To follow your logic just because the police can’t catch all shoplifters they should let X person go?

    As for the idea people “the people have spoken, I accept it. You should too” is also pure BS.

    One these issues seldom (if ever) get the attention from the media. Especially if the political party is favored.

    Second. Even if the people know about it and still vote for the person if they did illegal/ethical violations they should be held accountable. A VOTE is not a “resolve all responcibility” card.

    Or have we all forgotten the situation of Ryan, Blag, Nixon, along with many others.

  4. Crazyjoedevola

    It’s a conflict of interest for Powers to vote on any budget issues regarding pay and benefits for the teachers. She did say she would abstain from those votes. Let’s hold her to that promise.

  5. Getreal

    Interesting that RRstar still seeks to undermind the education that is left in Rockford, you are reporting on old news, get real and get with more important topics, like the community rebuilding itself after Sheffield and her cronies on the Board have destroyed the istrict, including a Top Grade School in the State not this piddly stuff

  6. Two comments. First, I agree with some of the comments above. They raise additional examples of the sleeze that has engulfed this state, county, and city. EVERYBODY has a personal agenda.

    Rockford, Winnebago county, and the state of Illinois are the sleeziest, most scum-bag ridden entities in the United States.

    Second, Ted, I just don’t think you get it. Conflict of Interest is something that affects conservatives only. Liberals are so “right-minded” that they would never succumb to special interests. Just ask Mike Madigan, or Pat Quinn. You can see an example of this in the Bigboppers comments. He seeks to minimize your opinion by pointing out where he feels you went astray.

  7. Ted Biondo

    Truth Hurts – welcome to the blog. What great comments! You are right on the money. I will not even have to respond to Big Bopper and pundit because you have said exactly what I was going to say but did a lot better job of doing it than I would have.

    Both of their comments were true but you can not justify conflict of interest by pointing out other conflict of interest examples. They are all wrong!

    The board of education deals with $404M of our tax dollars and and any conflicts are multiplied a million fold and the salaries and benefits are 80% of that budget!

    One more comment for Big Bopper. I only have so much time in a day and have to pick what I will comment on. You can do the other side, I have enough dealing with public employees that I can’t keep up.

    I also agree with CrazyJoe and will post my further research on this topic today, I hope. You may be surprised how fair I am on reporting everything I found – al least I hope you will.

  8. Ted Biondo

    Getreal – welcome to the blog. I am gettingreal for the taxpayers, parents and other constituents in the district. There are negotiations coming up this year which needs $11.6M in concessions, if the deficit is correct. If not, the concessions may be adjusted accordingly.

    If these consessions are not forthcoming, other programs could be cut which will truly undermine the remaining education in Rockford in Gifted and Montessori.

    I plan on doing an entire series on the labor contract in the Rockford school district and what are the facts about said contract and why we need to look for areas where improvements can be made – not only in the areas of salary, but pension benefits, unbelieveably low insurance premiums, contract language, etc.

    Nothing about the contract or negotiations will be done in the backroom of anonymity in the future without the pertinent facts being presented for all concerned taxpayers, constituents, parents, to see. I don’t consider any of this “piddly stuff.”

  9. Ted Biondo

    John thanks for pointing out to me the error of my ways. One must realize that when you are on the higher ground of political correctness, mere conservatives can not possibly understand the righteousness of their political motivation!

  10. Ted, on a school-related note, what do you think of this?

    Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.

    “Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?” the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.

    Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: “We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch!”

    Fernando waved his hand over the crowd and asked a visiting reporter: “Do you see the situation?”

    At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

    Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

    Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.

    At Little Village, most students must take the meals served in the cafeteria, or go hungry, or both. During a recent visit to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the garbage uneaten. Though CPS has improved the nutritional quality of its meals this year, it also has seen a drop-off in meal participation among students, many of whom say the food tastes bad.

    Read the rest at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-school-lunch-restrictions-041120110410,0,2614451,full.story

  11. Big Bopper

    I disagree but thats okay. In the future I look forward to reading Ted’s critiques of other levels of government and other “public servants” who are on the take and who have conflict of interest. I do respect and acknowledge that you are a watchdog who does his homework and you deal in facts. Why not join forces with WEE?

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