Hinsdale’s revenge.


Hinsdale’s Richard Skoda.

While I have been focused on Tuesday’s results in Chicago, I have also kept an eye on my friends in HInsdale where there was a school board election.

Electing a school board is not something we in Chicago are allowed to do.

The legislature thinks we are too dumb or too foreign-born, speak too many languages, too Black or we don’t drink our tea with our pinkies out. Or something.

But the geniuses downstate won’t let us do it, even when 90% of the voters in Chicago in February said they want to.

Every other school district in the state gets an elected school board.

I must say that those folks don’t always pay close enough attention to these races. And, as I have repeatedly pointed out, this allows teacher-bashing wing-nuts, frequently funded by Koch brother money, to take control of local school boards due to very low turnout.

Tuesday it happened again in Park Ridge in District 64, where I used to teach.

It is  what happened in the past in Hinsdale District 86.

The board majority, headed by Richard Skoda, tried to provoke a strike.

They attacked parents, teachers and students who dared to disagree with them.

They hired as their campaign director a guy named Bob Bland who went to the media and called a senior at Hinsdale South at “tart” because she was handing out flyers for the opposition.

Bland wrote me and said he thought tarts were grandma’s baked goods.

This is what low turnouts for school board elections gets you.

But Tuesday there was a big turnout in Hinsdale and the wing-nuts who were running were all booted out. Skoda included.

Another one resigned.

It doesn’t mean everything in Hinsdale District 86 will be just fine.

For one thing, a lot of damage has been done. A lot of good teachers and staff have left and won’t be back.

President Skoda still sits on the board until his term expires soon.

His pal, Claudia Manley, was not up for election. She was the one who verbally assaulted Marissa Dupont, the Hinsdale senior who was handing out the flyers.

Still, Tuesday was Hinsdale’s revenge.

Hinsdale’s Queen of Hearts yells, “Off with their heads.”


Hinsdale District 86 board member Claudia Manley and her husband Noel Manley.

Have you been following the story of what the Tea Party members of the Hinsdale District 86 board of education have been up to? You can do a subject search down below if you have the time and interest.

Let’s just say it has been non-stop confrontation and chaos.

Perhaps it will will calm down after April 7th when the saner residents of Hinsdale will show up at the polls and throw the rascals out.

One of the rascals is Claudia Manley. She’s not up for re-election.

However she is the subject of a complaint by the parents of Hinsdale South senior and student council President Marissa Dupont who was handing flyers out in front of school for the opposition slate of board candidates.

Manley confronted Marissa and began to verbally assault the high school senior.

1,200 people have signed an online petition calling for Claudia Manley’s resignation from the board.

Bob Bland, a wealthy Hinsdale right-winger who is also campaign manager for the Tea Party incumbents, launched a media attack on Marissa calling her “a tart.”

Later he explained he thought it meant a grandma’s baked good.

Yes. That’s the level this has sunk to.

Now Claudia and her husband Noel Manley have filed a complaint against the district superintendent Bruce Law and other board members.

Law consulted with district attorneys and decided that Marissa was within her rights to hand out flyers, even in Hinsdale.

Manley and her husband decided otherwise.

The complaints state as the Manleys approached Hinsdale South March 12, they saw an adult they did not know and Marissa Dupont, a senior and president of the Hinsdale South Student Council, distributing campaign material supporting incumbent Planson, Kathleen Hirsman and Bill Carpenter.

Claudia Manley is chairman of the board’s Policy Committee and is therefore “highly knowledgeable of board policy and passionate about compliance issues,” Noel Manley’s complaint states. He and his wife agreed the activity is prohibited by board policies.

Well. As long as Noel and Claudia say it is prohibited. What the heck do the lawyers know?

The lesson I keep trying to teach here is that school board elections matter.

There is an attempt by right-wing, anti-public school funders like the Koch brothers throughout the state that are flying below the radar to capture school boards.

Stay at home on election day and they will.

Is the Hinsdale board now investigating high school senior Marissa Dupont


The Chicago Tribune editorial board praised Hinsdale South senior Marissa Dupont.

We hope the members of the Hinsdale South Class of 2015 will learn from the example of their student council president — not from the adults who tried to silence her.

Who tried to silence Marissa?

Hinsdale Tea Party District 86 board member Claudia Manley.

Manley verbally assaulted Marissa who was handing out flyers for opposition board candidates outside a school event.

Bob Bland, a wealthy funder and campaign manager for the incumbent board members who are up for election on April 7th went to the internet and the media and labeled Marissa “a tart.”

He later claimed he meant it in the Shakespearean sense. Or a baked treat.

This would all be somewhat funny if not for three things.

Marissa Dupont, a student, was verbally assaulted by a sitting board member.

Students are now forbidden from handing out anything during or after school. Even in front of the school.

District 86 Superintendent Bruce Law has hired an investigator.

The investigator will look only at whether board policy regarding on-campus behavior by an individual was violated, Law said Monday.

An individual?

What individual? If the individual whose bad behavior is being investigated is board member Claudia Manley then why not say so?

I’m concerned it might be Hinsdale senior Marissa Dupont who is being investigated.

“Obviously the complicating factor here is the parent also happens to be a board member and the board is my employer, so I am in a very difficult situation,” Law said at Monday night’s board meeting.

The person Law is talking about is Claudia Manley.

When Claudia Manley assaulted Marissa Dupont she wasn’t acting as a Hinsdale parent. She was acting as a board member.

If the board is paying for this investigation  then it isn’t independent. The investigator is working for the board. It is the board investigating itself.

This is what I see:

A right-wing board member verbally assaulted a student who was legally handing out flyers for an election.

Then the Hinsdale board invented new policies that violate students constitutional rights of free speech.

Then the Hinsdale superintendent hires a firm to investigate whether an unnamed individual violated school district policy.

I smell a rat.

The individual being investigated may be Hinsdale senior Marissa Dupont for all we know.

Man. Politics in the City ain’t nothin’ compared to this stuff.

I can’t resist posting this comment about the Tribune and Hinsdale senior Marissa Dupont.

robert mccormick

Chicago Tribune Editorial Board:

Learn from Fred!

Although this unfair mistreatment of a student took place as far back as the beginning of March, the Trib Board is only now catching up to the story and the verbal abuse to an interested and involved senior girl by a narrow-focused Board of Education member.

In fact, the injurious Tea Party presence on the Board at Hinsdale South has been an issue Klonsky has been covering some time now. I once remarked to Fred that his investigative journalist department had one more staff member than all of the Chicago Tribune…and within the editorial, the Trib refers to all those “online…trolls” that spoke/wrote about the issue with M. DuPont.

In fact, we can probably assume it was Fred’s investigative staff that tipped off the Trib. Well done, Fred.


A Troller


Dear A Troller,

The facts of the matter are that my investigative department are the dozens of parents, teachers and students who have sent me links, news items and insider stuff.

I started out covering the story because it seemed like a poster child for what happens when people don’t pay attention to school board elections at a time when Tea Party groups and funders like the Koch brothers are trying to capture control of these boards across the state and country.

We in Chicago are trying to get the right to even elect our own school board.

And when that battle is won we then must make sure that good people get elected.

And while we fight for that right to elect our school board, we also have to make sure that Mayor Garcia chooses a new board that respects teachers, students and neighborhoods.

At first Hinsdale was a story about a small group of teacher union bashers who were trying to bully the union into accepting a poor contract.

That evolved into a story about a small group that was trying to bully a community.

And a senior class president.

On April 7th I’m hoping I won’t have to write anymore about it.

– Fred

Chicago Trib editorial: Learn from Marissa.


– From the Chicago Tribune editorial:

The crowd that packed the cafeteria that night cheered when Dupont stepped to the microphone and said, “I’m Marissa.”

Manley’s chair was empty. The other board members didn’t act on Dupont’s request.

Dupont says she was disappointed by the board’s response but heartened by the crowd. “I’m surrounded by people who support me,” she says.

Will anything come of it? The district’s administration is investigating the matter. The school board is re-evaluating its policy on distributing materials on campus. In the meantime, it’s no longer allowed. The election is less than two weeks away.

What are the young adults who are being educated in District 86 supposed to make of all of this? We hope their teachers are helping them to weigh this disheartening drama against all those classroom lessons about democracy, free speech and representative government.

It’s the students, after all, who have the greatest stake in the outcome of this election. The school board ought to welcome their participation wholeheartedly.

We hope the members of the Hinsdale South Class of 2015 will learn from the example of their student council president — not from the adults who tried to silence her.

Read the entire editorial here.


Hinsdale District 86 community pack meeting demanding Tea Party heads to roll.


Hinsdale South senior Marissa Dupont was bulllied by Tea Party board member Claudia Manley.

From the Chicago Tribune:

A packed cafeteria at Hinsdale Central cheered speakers Monday who blasted Hinsdale High School District 86 Board member Claudia Manley and calling on board President Richard Skoda to fire his campaign manager.

The comment came more than a week after a Hinsdale South student Marissa Dupont was handing out campaign literature for a slate opposed to Skoda and Manley, who is not up for re-election. Dupont has said Manley harassed her the outside the high school before a play both March 12 and 13. An online story about the incident has prompted hundreds of comments, many critical of Dupont.

Dupont, who is president of the Student Council at South, said 1,200 people have signed an online petition she started about a week ago, which calls for Manley to resign.

She asked if a teacher who treated a student the way she said Manley treated her, “would they continue to work for this district?”

Manley was not in attendance at the board meeting and has not responded to requests for her side of the story.

Skoda asked the audience not to make judgments or criticize individuals by name during their public comments. He also said it’s not the board’s responsibility to discipline or investigate its members and said “to indict people without due process is unAmerican.”

The audience had no qualms about naming names, calling for Skoda to fire his campaign manager, Robert Bland, who called Dupont names, such as tart, in online comments.

Michael and Paula Dupont, Marissa’s parents, stepped forward, too, to call for Manley to resign.

Read more here.


Hinsdale tonight. A regular tea party of shady characters.


Hinsdale’s Richard Skoda.

– By The Hinsdale Observer. The Hinsdale Observer has been involved in issues involving Hinsdale schools for many years.

In suburban Hinsdale School District 86, Richard Skoda’s “Friends for Hinsdale 86” slate is running to keep their Tea Party school board majority intact. Tonight’s board meeting has been moved to Hinsdale Central’s cafeteria to accommodate the large number of people expected, many of whom until recently may have be unaware who Skoda’s “friends” are:

Joe Walsh:

Walsh is a former congressman, member of the Tea Party Caucus, and is best known for his explosive temper and pension for being a dead-beat dad. He currently hosts a Right-Wing talk show on AM radio that was pulled off the air for using racial slurs. Walsh has given Skoda’s slate his enthusiastic endorsement, featured them on his radio show, and promoted a $30 to enter fund raiser for them that coincidentally fell on the same date as the open to the public community-wide forum for all school board candidates in the area.

Bob Bland:

Bland donated $10,000 to Skoda’s bid for re-election for school board. A vocal Tea Party supporter, Bland has seven kids, none of which he’s sent to D86 schools. Based on this experience, he says the teachers union is ruining the Hinsdale schools while simultaneously claiming to “love teachers” – even though the union in District 86 is made up of all teachers. He loves teachers so much, he believes the district should cut their salary and benefits by 50%. He was recently caught cyber bullying a student, calling Hinsdale South’s senior student body president “uppity” and “the tart Marissa” and other Tea Party dog-whistle terms repeatedly. After defiantly stating “No apology coming. Not now. Not ever.” intense blow-back to Skoda’s slate led him to “decide” an apology for his “poor choice of words” was in order.

Ed Corcoran:

Corcoran donated $5,000 to Skoda’s slate for school board. He is the driving force behind the board majority’s Tea Party agenda, and spent $11,000+ of his own money in the previous school board election. He justified significant salary and benefit cuts during teacher contract negotiations by noting teachers should work in Hinsdale for “the prestige.” After over a year of negotiations, he noted in an email that it didn’t matter how many community members wanted him to settle negotiations, he wasn’t going to compromise with the teachers. During a facilities meeting discussing a remodel of lunch lines used by low-income students at Hinsdale South, he asked “Are the students of any one ethnicity or minority?” Then principal Brian Waterman aptly replied “I don’t think that is relevant…” Corcoran is still on the board. Waterman, along with almost every other top administrator in the district, has since resigned.

Richard Skoda:

Skoda has been on the D86 board on and off for 16 years. Previously he supported former board member Dianne Barrett who repeatedly sued the very school board she was a member of. An intelligent man, Skoda likes to say things that are technically correct, but he knows to be intentionally misleading such as quoting figures that are grossly inflated averages to make his point. Fact checking his statements has become a full time job made harder by his board’s “transparent” practice of denying even simple FOIA requests. He has presided over one of the most dysfunctional boards in the history of the district, spending more than $500,000 on legal fees this year alone, refusing to bargain in good faith with the districts now three employee unions, and pushing for for a zero-percent tax levy despite the advice against doing so of his own hand-picked highly paid “CFO.” He called the successful vote for the zero levy a “historic victory”. Skoda’s victory has led to a $1.7 million dollar budget deficit deficit and proposed cuts to student programs.

Claudia Manley:

Manley is a current member of the D86 majority and supports Skoda’s slate. She told recently unionized maintenance workers that requiring them to reapply for their jobs after 25+ years of dedicated service to the district was a way for them to better themselves. She led the charge to bring disciplinary action against teachers who “liked” a Facebook post critical of her board majority. She also believes it was her duty to bully a Hinsdale South student and senior class president to tears for expressing her first amendment rights by distributing campaign literature for candidates Manley doesn’t support. But Manley is certain there is a Board policy against this, even though the Superintendent and Board counsel have stated publicly she is not correct. In fact, she felt it so necessary to enforce this policy herself, she bullied this student publicly two days in a row to the point the police had to be involved.

Victor Casini:

Casini is a current member of the D86 majority and supports Skoda’s slate. Upon election, Casini ascended to president of the board thanks to the Skoda majority. He stepped down after three months noting he “misjudged” the amount of time required to do the job. He’s walked out of meetings during public comment after voting to delay public comments for hours. Along with Kay Gallo, he replaced Skoda and Corcoan as negotiators and voted to approve the teachers’ contract, breaking with Skoda’s majority to do so.

Greg Gershuny and Fred Cappetta:

Both Gershuny and Cappetta are running with Skoda. Neither has attended a board meeting. Neither will agree to be interviewed individually. Both attended the Walsh pay to enter fundraiser rather than the community candidate forum open to the public. Cappetta has a background in mortuary science and is an Oak Brook lawyer. He thinks that resume is enough to convince voters of his qualifications to join the Hinsdale board. Gurshuny is a commodities trader who says more civility is need at board meetings ironically as he campaigns with the biggest source of incivility on the board for years – Richard Skoda.



My apologies to Hinsdale’s Bob Bland. When he called a high school senior a “tart,” he was only quoting Shakespeare.


Bob Bland is the campaign manager for the teacher union-hating members of the Hinsdale school board.

He wrote a note of apology to this site and other internet sites for having called Hinsdale senior Marissa DuPont, among other things, “a tart.”

Marissa had the audacity to be a participant in the political process by handing out flyers for other candidates in front of school in a public space.

There she was verbally assaulted by board member Claudia Manley for whom Bland is the manager.

So here is Bob Bland’s apology as he sent it to me and how I posted it:

My name is Robert Bland. I am campaign manager for the Gershuny, Cappetta and Skoda campaign. I have decided to publicly apologize to the Dupont family and my candidates for my inexcusably poor choice of words in several online exchanges regarding last week’s incident that involved a Hinsdale South student and a sitting District 86 board member. I have 7 children and have always taught them to apologize when warranted and so I am doing that here.

I also noted that Bland had earlier said, “No apology coming. Not now. Not ever.”

Today I received this note from Mr. Bland:

I refered (sic) to her words to board member Manley as tart. I’m 61 and always knew that word in literature to be disrespectful or uppity. Or a baked snack your grandmother would make. The word us (sic) used extensively in Shakespeare’s works. I was then reminded that there is a 3d and very bad defininition (sic) and once I realized that, I decided to apologize for my poor choice of words rather than argue which definition I mean. Ben Franklin: “Tart words make no friends; a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.” English literature is replete with this use of the word tart but I could see that my explanation would hold no weight. Once I realized the newer definition that has taken hold, I apologized. Should I expect my candidate’s opponents to believe me?

My apologies to Mr. Bland. When he called high school senior Marissa a tart, he only meant it in the Shakespearean sense.

Or a baked snack.

But certainly not the “newer” definition of tart.

I totally misinterpreted his meaning.

A baked snack. What a dope I was to think me meant the other kind of tart.

Mr. Bland also wrote me:

“I have been told that @getague is Bland.”
You were told wrong. This is not me. Has never been me.
You also attribute or infer that I wrote this: “In another comment high school senior Melissa is called an “attention whore.” That, too, was not me.
Will you correct or refine you statements?

Sure, Bob. If you say you were not @getague, I absolutely believe you. I mean you thought calling Marissa a baked snack was okay. Why wouldn’t I believe you about @getague.

By the way, what does that mean?

Is that supposed to be get a clue? Because it reads like get a goo.

Get a goo?

But anyway. That’s not you, so never mind.

Consider it corrected.

And if you deny calling Marissa an attention whore, I believe that too. Unless you meant it in the Shakespearean sense. In which case there was no need for you or me to apologize.

Although I don’t think the word whore is new.

I believe it was Shakespeare who said, “I must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words.”

But Mr. Bland didn’t actually call Marissa a whore. He only helped create the atmosphere where that seemed permissible.

No matter. Consider it corrected, Bob.

I do have a problem with Mr. Bland’s math.

I asked Mr. Bland to explain his claim that the average yearly salary for a Hinsdale teacher is $120,689 per teacher.

I used simple math, he said. The October press release and board meeting minutes announced a 2-year, $91 million pay package agreement. That’s $45,500,000.00 per year for 377 union teachers on a gross pay, all-in, basis. $45,500,000.00 divided by 377 comes to $120,689 per teacher on average.

Simple math indeed.

Check the salary schedule for Hinsdale District 86.

The starting salary is $52,000. The top salary for a 35-year veteran teacher is $127,000.

Given the spread of teachers around the salary schedule an average of $120,000 is curious. It certainly doesn’t tell you where the median salary is.

It’s all untrue, in fact.

Mr. Bland knows very well that you don’t get the average salary by dividing the total budget line by the number of teachers.

Perhaps he is using Common Core math.

But a teacher with a graduate degree, after working 35 years and earning $127,000?

A bargain!

To quote William Shakespeare, “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”


Tea Party board members’ campaign manager forced to walk back attack on Hinsdale senior.


This morning I received this message directly from Robert Bland, campaign manager for the Tea Party members of the Hinsdale District 86 board:

My name is Robert Bland. I am campaign manager for the Gershuny, Cappetta and Skoda campaign. I have decided to publicly apologize to the Dupont family and my candidates for my inexcusably poor choice of words in several online exchanges regarding last week’s incident that involved a Hinsdale South student and a sitting District 86 board member. I have 7 children and have always taught them to apologize when warranted and so I am doing that here.

-March 20, 2015.

Earlier Bland had declared, “No apology coming. Not now. Not ever.”

Why apologize to me?

I wasn’t the one he called a tart.