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.



In Hinsdale, Tea Party takes an axe to their teachers.


Tea Party Hinsdale school board member Claudia Manley.

Hey folks. Keep an eye on those local school board elections.

Out in Chicago’s western suburbs the Tea Party extremists who were recently elected to the Hinsdale High School District 86 are in full battle mode over what should be normal contract bargaining.

Instead it has been turned into a holy war on the teachers union.

We’ve been following this story as a warning that low turnout for school board elections combined with Koch brothers money makes for a terrible mix for education.

The latest story has two major players, Rick Skoda and Claudia Manley. You know Rick Skoda already. He’s the one who wants to talk about Karen Lewis and the CTU instead of negotiate with teachers. As you know, Karen has other things on her mind than two high schools in Hinsdale.

Claudia Manley is a part of the new board majority in District 86. Her husband is Noel Manley, a local Republican operative.

When the Hinsdale Patch, a local internet news site, posted some news about District 86 negotiations, it got reposted on the Hinsdale teachers Facebook page. As often happens, some unrelated photo got posted with the story.

The Patch later explained and apologized.

On August 1, a story regarding the latest developments in teacher contract negotiations between the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association and Dist. 86 school board was posted on the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills, Darien and Burr Ridge Patch sites. The story, “Teachers: ‘Board Gave Us An Hour’ To Rescind Strike Vote,” was illustrated with the HHSTA union logo.

Unfortunately, when the teachers’ association posted the story on its Facebook page, the image of an ax in a car dashboard appeared instead. This was an Internet glitch on Patch’s part, which was happening to Patch Facebook pages across the country.

The ax image did appear on a Massachusetts Patch story about an ax falling off a truck and crashing through a woman’s car windshield.

Some readers, when seeing the image of an ax with the story link on the HHSTA Facebook page, construed it as an editorial statement made by the teachers. The teachers’ association DID NOT intentionally post this image to make a statement.

Patch apologizes to the HHSTA, the Dist. 86 Board of Education and to our readers for any alarm this image may have caused and we accept full responsibility for the glitch. ~ Lorraine Swanson, Editor

But Manley, Skoda and local Tea Party Republicans seized on the internet glitch and began an email chain accusing the teachers of posting the axe as a threat to Claudia and the rest of the board.


From: Noel Manley [mailto:noel.manley@sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2014 7:19 AM
To: ‘Noel Manley’
Subject: District 86 Update – Unfortunate Facebook Posting by the Union

Below is an image from and link to the Hinsdale High School Teachers’ Association’s Facebook page. Unhappily there is a photo of automobile with an ax through the window. Immediate reaction from the union has been that it was a mistake to place it on its page. However, what is disturbing are the comments endorsing and suggesting what should be done with the Board. It is disappointing and outrageous that this is type of behavior is directed at our Board from its highly compensated education professionals. Please go to the page as soon as possible to view the image and review the comments and the ‘likes’ this matter has illicited. Oddly enough as of the writing of this email the posting is still on the site.

Then there was this from Tea Party Republican Committeewoman Elaine Zannis.

From: Elaine Zannis <e.zannis@comcast.net>
To: Elaine Zannis <e.zannis@comcast.net>
Sent: Monday, August 4, 2014 7:59 AM
Subject: District 86 Update – Board Meeting – August 4, 2014 – Hinsdale South High School

This is a very important meeting for Hinsdale Central’s School Board.

They are in the process of union negotiations – is it becoming very difficult! The union is going to BUS IN agitators & hecklers to intimidate the school board. We worked very hard to elect INDEPENDENT MINDED BOARD MEMBERS that would not be manipulated by unions. They need our support.

If you have time — PLEASE ATTEND. You don’t have to comment, you don’t have to be vocal —- JUST BE THERE — and watch —-. The meeting starts at 7. I will be there are 6:45. Please forward this email —-

Thank You!

Elaine Zannis
York Township, Precinct 119

Bus in agitators?

Who and from where?

Anarchists from Clarendon Hills.

In Hinsdale this is what Tea Party democracy looks like.


“Hey, Fred,” a teacher friend writes. “Ever hear of a school board holding a press conference that denied access to other board members from attending it? Too funny, but that just happened in Hinsdale. No parents, teachers or even other school board members were allowed to attend their Tea Party.”

The Hinsdale High School Teachers Association, which is engaged in tough negotiations with the local board, reports on their Facebook page:

Did you know that Mr. Skoda and Mr. Corcoran held a press conference this morning and denied access to all parents, taxpayers, teachers, community members, and even a FELLOW ELECTED BOARD MEMBER?

Does this seem transparent? Or is it just another example of Mr. Skoda and his board putting politics ahead of what is best for the district?

Of course, this is the same bunch of Koch brother wannabes that suggested CTU President Karen Lewis was somehow an issue in the negotiations.

I have been suggesting all along that the Hinsdale situation is what happens when local school board elections are ignored and Tea Party union haters get elected as a result of Tea Party funding and low turnout.

Events in Hinsdale are not a one off.

It is a growing phenomenon throughout Illinois and should serve as a warning to those who support public education.


Tea-baggers and teachers.

Yesterday’s tea party events were a bust. In New York, three set-aside areas put up for the tax day event weren’t needed as there were barely enough loonies to fill up one. Here in Chicago, the turn-out was in the hundreds. In Washington, several thousand showed up, which isn’t even as many people as  The Mall has on a normal day. If this is what the Republicans are counting on to return them to power, I say go for it.

But the power of mass protest was visible yesterday. Thousands of teachers, parents and students pushed back on the Jeb Bush legacy of Florida’s Senate Bill 6, and as a result, Republican governor Charlie Crist vetoed the bill. By taking this action, he took a stand, not only against the prevailing tide in the GOP, but against the so-called Democratic Reformers in the Obama Department of Education and Arne Duncan.

Mark it as a good day for teachers and students.

And a bad day for teabaggers.