Archive for September 2012

I’ve been given the brush…

September 27, 2012
9/25/2012 10:00:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article
Riverside-Brookfield High School charity board gives critic the brush RB Educational Foundation won’t allow its check register to be examined

Hey — I have been brushed!  Oh well.  So it goes.  Please click over to the Landmark‘s article for its update.  More to come in this crazy and unnecessary saga…

RBHSEF’s False Draft August Meeting Minutes and My Suggested Substitute

September 21, 2012

Please see note at top of post below.  Thanks, c


August 15, 2012

Meeting Minutes

…   …   …   …

Visitor Comments:

Chris Robling had a lengthy, and forceful presentation of his views regarding the Foundation’s past bookkeeping practices. Of particular interest to Mr. Robling are the years 2003-2009 when the Foundation’s IRS 990 forms were erroneously filed as a 501(c)4 organization, rather than the 501(c)3 organization that it is. Mr. Robling has located the Foundation’s 990 filings on the IRS and Illinois Attorney General’s websites for the years in question, with the exception of the 990 for the fiscal year 2006/2007. Mr. Robling continues to look for the 06/07 990. Mr. Robling made a request of the RBEF Board for approval to look at the Foundation’s checkbook register during the years that the 990s were filed incorrectly, with the express intent of looking for contributions made to political organizations, referendum accounts, or family and friends.

[page break] 

Trustee Miezio and Trustee Newman responded to Mr. Robling’s requests, stating that the Foundation’s annual report, which lists all payments and receipts during fiscal year July 1 thru June 30 has been given to the school each year. However, the school has not kept those reports on record. Trustee Miezio will collect past annual reports and 990’s to give to Dr. Skinkis and RBHS to keep on file for any member of the community wishing to view them.

[End False Draft RBHSEF Minutes.]

[Start Robling Suggested Substitute:]

District 208 resident Chris Robling said he was appearing in person at the suggestion of Treasurer Miezio to make his request of the Board to view the RBHSEF check register from July 1, 2003 to the present.

Mr. Robling presented his findings from a review of seven RBHSEF IRS 990 submissions:

  • July 1, 2003 – June 30, 2004
  • 2004-2005
  • 2005-2006
  • 2006-2007
  • 2008-2009
  • 2009-2010 and
  • 2010-2011.

Mr. Robling referred to the discrepancy between RBHSEF’s founding and recent IRS status letter, which states the corporation is a 501(c)(3) organization, and the referenced 990s, each of which identified RBHSEF as a 501(c) (4).

Mr. Robling showed how the individual filings were consistent throughout in their presentation of RBHSEF as a “4” and not a “3,” by answering clusters of questions aimed at 501(c)(4)’s and ignoring other clusters aimed at 501(c)(3)’s, and not simply erroneous in one reply to one repeated IRS categorization question.

Mr. Robling also cited IRS instructions on the Form 990s about public disclosure, completeness and specificity via responses, the filings’ lack of responses to required questions, such as names of director/trustees, other governance questions, such as quorum, and RBHSEF’s consistent practice of reporting its grant-making activities as an “other” expense, while listing categories of activities without any dollar totals, and dollar expenditure totals without any link to grants.

Mr. Robling said activities of a 501(c)(4) generally include those of a 501(c)(3), but are considerably broader than those of a “3,” and reach areas not allowed for a “3.”

Mr. Robling said that, given the discrepancy between RBHSEF’s status, as a “3,” and its filings, as a “4,” and noting the significance of the distinction institutionally and with respect to community support, the easiest way to dispel confusion is to review the conduct of RBHSEF, as shown in its check register.

Mr. Robling said he was reasonable about how to do this.  He noted that RBHSEF officer comments from their April presentation to the District 208 board of education referring to privacy concerns regarding minor grant recipients were in conflict with the RBHSEF grant application, which makes public disclosure of grant receipt via television and the internet during the RBHSEF telethon a condition of application.

Mr. Robling said that District 208 staff had provided him with what appeared to be RBHSEF reports for 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, which itemize both the grant amount and the recipients, including RBHS students and staff.  Mr. Robling pointed out the more than 90 grants made by RBHSEF in the period, according to the documents, and the lack of any reflection of RBHSEF’s work in its 990s for the period.

Mr. Robling further noted that the very notion of “checks to minors,” as mentioned at the April presentation to the Board of Education by RBHSEF officers as a possible impediment to review of the check register, conflicted with the explicit language of the grant application, which states checks will be made payable to sponsoring organizations.  Mr. Robling said he could be amenable to a trusted third party, such as a retired judge, reviewing the check register.

Mr. Robling also reported that all of the 990s he had reviewed were on the website of the Illinois Attorney General, but that one, 2007-2008, was not linked to the IAG’s web page for RBHSEF.

Mr. Robling also requested a copy of RBHSEF’s 2006-2007 990.


[End Robling Suggested Substitute.]

RBHSEF Attempts to Doctor Minutes of Disclosure Request

September 21, 2012

I copied the landmark and the school board on this — and received results in a couple of hours,  after my 8-22 exchange, no one ever got back to me till the actual meeting, where they were going to approve the false minutes.  supporting docs to come.

dear joanne, mary and tony,

i would appreciate confirmation from all three of you of what joanne pledged wednesday evening – distribution to the RBHSEF board by today, friday, of the below 11:36 am 8-22-2012 email, with its two attachments, which are attached here as well.  please simply copy me on your forwarding of the email and its two attachments to your fellow RBHSEF directors.

the fact that the three of you admitted receiving and then ignored my timely reply to the incorrect draft – and were prepared to propose those incorrect draft minutes for a vote — is to me of a piece with your refusal to disclose your financial records for public review to resolve the contradiction between your filings and your apparent status.

this conduct raises either garden variety competency questions or intent questions.  it as well reflects the management issue that allowed 990s from at least 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 to be falsely executed, signed, filed with the internal revenue service and distributed to the community that funded your establishment via $8,000 from RBHS District 208 in april 1987, and which community has since sustained your very existence.

joanne said on wednesday evening, in front of me,  you, bob skolnik, jerry buttimer, and your board, that when appearing before the district 208 board on april 24, 2012, her invitation of questions about RBHSEF did not extend to the public.  i find it interesting that when i made similar reference to joanne’s invitation at the last RBHSEF board meeting, joanne did not refer to her discontinuous invitation, instead the the conversation proceeded as if on april 24 she had said to the board what she meant.

of course, as the video available here: plainly shows, joanne made no such limitation during her lengthy testimony that evening.  regardless, it is apparently on joanne’s recently stated, if not recalled, basis that she grounds her leadership of RBHSEF’s refusal to answer questions by disclosing records now.

after receiving this kind of treatment, on something as basic and fundamental as accuracy-of-minutes, i suggest joanne’s metaphorical “Unwelcome” mat, presaged by RBHSEF declaring “No Documents Available to the Public” on its 2010 IRS Form 990, signed by attorney david newman in his then-capacity as RBHSEF treasurer, is now quite visible, her prior inconsistent remarks to the board notwithstanding.

finally, i request review of any characterization of my wednesday evening remarks in draft minutes before they are circulated to your board.  i should think all of us wish to avoid further such entanglements.

thank you,

chris robling

From: Chris Robling
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:36 AM
To: ‘anthony miezio’
Cc: ‘Robert Skolnik’; Mary Somers; JoAnne Kosey
Subject: RE: Suggested minutes copy 8-22-12.doc

dear mary –

please refer to my note below to tony below in all particulars.  (the two named files have been attached to this email.)

thank you.


chris robling

From: anthony miezio []
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:28 AM
To: Chris Robling
Cc: ‘Robert Skolnik’; Mary Somers; JoAnne Kosey
Subject: RE: Suggested minutes copy 8-22-12.doc


Thanks for checking out the website. Any questions or concerns regarding the minutes can be directed to Mary Somers, the RBEF Secretary. I have cc’d her on this email for your convenience.

Have a great day, Tony

From: Chris Robling []
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:06 AM
To: anthony miezio
Cc: Robert Skolnik
Subject: Suggested minutes copy 8-22-12.doc

dear tony,

i respectfully request that the attached (“Suggested minutes copy”) be substituted for the paragraph immediately following “Visitor Comments” in the attached proposed minutes (“RBEF8-15-12Reg-1 MeetingMinutes-p (2)”), which I find incomplete, misleading, self-serving, condescending and worst of all, inaccurate in key respects.

it is particularly distressing to see the phrase, “with the express intent of looking for contributions made to political organizations, referendum accounts, or family and friends,” since i did not say that.  the statement is false and therefore misleading.

further, given the lengthy list of discrepancies and apparent inaccuracies in the subject RBHSEF 990s that i recited to the board, i insist that some good-faith effort at depicting same be spread upon your institutional records to reflect accurately the contents of the 990s, their deficiencies, my request of RBHSEF and the decision RBHSEF ultimately makes on that request.

the proposed record of these minutes condescendingly minimizes, personalizes and trivializes the management, compliance, disclosure and governance issues i brought to RBHSEF in good faith.  not only do i doubt that is how they would be taken by a regulatory authority, i suggest that this overt attempt to cover the trail may itself be seen as indicative of an institutional predilection to conceal that which is rightly – and legally – subject to public disclosure.

understanding the first draft of meeting minutes to be only that, and the secretary’s admitted distraction to meet other pressing and important obligations, i look forward to speedy acceptance of my suggested recapitulation or another equally substantial and reflective of what physically happened at the meeting.

thank you, as always, for your volunteer service in general and your efforts in regard to this particular matter especially.   while i do not mean to be a bother, i will pursue the matter until satisfactorily resolved, and would vastly prefer prompt conclusion to any other scenario.





Statement to the RBHSEF board, Wed., Sept. 19, 2012

September 20, 2012

(In anticipation of a unanimous turn-down by RBHSEF to my check register access request, i prepared the following, and got most of it out in what was a spirited back-and-forth with the board that will not disclose all…)

Remarks for RBHSEF Board

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thanks for having me back, my statement is very short.

First, I asked for the 2007 — 990, and the check register between July 2003 and June 2011.

I have now received the 2007 – 990.  So tonight I refresh my request for the check register, and add to that a copy of the original by-laws.

Second, about the 990 – it shows all of the prior shortcomings, discussed last time in detail:

    • filed as a 501 c4 – with all of the question-response routes of a “4”, and none of a “3”
    • no disclosure of officers, quorum, numbers of grants, amounts of grants, subject areas, grant-making procedures, auditing, preparation, etc.
    • but most importantly, the 2007 filing, includes a $49,000 inflow that does not make sense on the face of the document.  RBHSEF recognized this, and directed readers to “Attachment 1.”  I thumbed to Attachment 1, and found — there is no Attachment 1.

Since I was here last, the Riverside Brookfield Landmark reported that RBHSEF conditioned access to its records on a prior agreement that the paper report only on a Foundation-selected topic.

Understandably – and appropriately — RB Landmark declined.

For my part, I took the RBHSEF attempt at prior restraint to indicate it thinks something in its check register is not ready for public disclosure.  Why else would it try to condition access?

This is simply unacceptable for publicly-founded institution that is responsible to the community.

I have been told you will take a vote tonight.  You may meet the disclosure standard, you may not.  You may say yes to me, you may not.

Regardless what you say to me, it changes not at all your obligation to disclose to the high school, the attorney general’s office, the internal revenue service, a judge or – most of all – the community whose school board and $8,000 in April 1987 brought this institution into existence.

The real question you face tonight is, when will you disclose?

Thank you.  I look forward to your vote.


Eric Zorn’s “Change of Subject” Chicago Tribune Blog…

September 18, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Rhubarb Patch: A tough discussion about ‘hard truths’ in the presidential race

Lots of fun over at the Trbune going back-and-forth with friend Eric Zorn.  Please click through…

Dodd-Frank Implementation and the November Election

September 13, 2012

Schiff Hardin LLP

Jayne Thompson & Associates


The American College of Investment Counsel

September 12, 2012

The Political Landscape and Regulatory Reform:

The Potential Impact of the 2012 Elections

Opening remarks of Chris Robling

Principal, Jayne Thompson & Associates


A friend who works for a Congressional banking committee observed today that politics and business have very different timetables.

Business has some latitude to plan 36 or 60 months ahead, whereas politics is a process of managing expected net value on almost a real-time basis.

And into this mix we thrust the bureaucracy, which moves at its own pace, usually glacial.

Asked to discuss the Lame Duck Session today, this participant says, ask me the day after the November election.

Asked about Spring 2013, the answer is – “Ask me after the Lame Duck.”

So today I want to reference different categories – or approaches – in an evolving environment — and then move to some political scenarios that might help us describe alternatives, if not predict outcomes.

To give away the ending, I underline the conclusion that this period calls on all who must work with its products to pay very close attention, and this period calls on all who would influence its results to gather as closely as they possibly can to the appropriate loci of activity.


For the sake of this conversation, I suggest that about Dodd-Frank, there are two types of people: those who supported the original measure and those who opposed it.

Layering on top of that, there are those who think it should be “Repealed and Replaced” and those who think a series of internally-consistent corrections will tune it to where it should be.  Generally, those who support at the margin a “Fine Tuning”, or a tiny bit more regulation to get a “Right Result”, supported its passage.  Those who, instead, think the next best step to take in any regulatory scheme is to rely on marketplace competition, opposed the bill.

BUT THAT WAS TWO YEARS AGO.  We are two years down a very complex track, so even opponents then must to some extent live with – today.


Today’s environment: Senator Levin is investigating JP Morgan’s whale.  Peregrine.  MF Global.  Even Barclays and LIBOR.  Two years of D-F cuts both ways: “It isn’t really finished” and “What has it done?”  All of these events must then be seen against the negative economic situation and growing widespread concerns about restoring growth.


All of us understand the scenarios:  Obama or Romney, Senate stays Democrat or flips, and House stays Republican.  Those work to four, but really only three:

Obama – Dem Senate – Gopper House → Status quo

Obama – GOP Senate – Goper House → Finer disagreements

Romney — Dem Senate – Gopper House → Finer disagreements

Romney — Gopper Senate – Gopper House → Big changes

Let me hasten to note that the independence of some of the agencies involved, including the board member replacement schedule, makes them distinct from some of the partisan results.  They remain something of a constant.


For reasons that I hope will come out in the conversation, I think all of this boils down to two alternatives:

First, mind-numbing, endless fine-tuning.  This could go on for the rest of our careers.

Second, a massive halt — with ad-hoc developments from there.

Here is what I mean:

If Democrats are ascendant, then fine-tuning will continue for years – until the next systemic crisis.

If Republicans are ascendant, then a Reaganesque Halt, probably repealing a few marquee provisions, followed by piecemeal revisions, is likely — until the next systemic crisis.

Finally, on this day of the German Constitutional Court’s decision allowing the ECB to open its liquidity window, allow me to observe the next systemic crisis might originate in the most obscure of places.

As to when, I paraphrase  the 1949 hit tune, with words from noted banking expert Herb Magidson, “Enjoy Yourself, It’s [quite possibly] Later Than You Think.”




Dems Too Small to Answer Big Issues

September 11, 2012

Thanks to for running a note of mine on the Charlotte gathering: