Archive for November 2012

Update on “The Next Four Years”

November 27, 2012


Since posting “The Next Four Years,” my September 2010 email to Jim Marciniak (below), several have asked what reply i received from Jim.  Answer: Jim never replied to me.  As it says, my email followed a 16-month silence, which has continued.  I should add that i never anticipated receiving a reply.

“The Next Four Years” a note to Jim Marciniak — 9/18/2010

November 26, 2012

1.jim marciniak has attacked two of the people who voted him president of the RB school board.  “Save RBHS from ‘destructive’ school board,” .  

2. two years ago, i wrote something very similar:  “Time for a change,”  

3. “Time for a change” was an expansion of a small item, on a Landmark article, at

“Posted: Friday, September 17, 2010,  Article comment by: chris robling,  I have said before and I repeat, being anti-teacher is wrong. Expecting their union to help us mistakes its purpose.

“An election beckons, same day as the referendum. The terms of the four board members who approved the contract and approved the $2 million red-ink budget are over. They must be replaced by members who are capable and ready to address this mess forthrightly and effectively.

“Once the fiscal course is righted, the academic rebirth underway with Dr Bonette and Mrs Bylsma will take us even higher than we are now.”

4. before that item was posted by the Landmark, i had the unfortunate duty of writing my one-time comrade, jim marciniak.  no fun, but i felt i owed him a calm explanation of why i would no longer support him for re-election.  i stand by every word . . .

Hi jim,

I take zero pleasure in writing this.

Last night I posted an item at the landmark that calls for you, sue, marianne and larry to be replaced in april [Note: The item immediately above]. I don’t know when it will appear, it is in their system.

Given our history of sharing cub and boy scouts, preservation commission and the citizens committee, and most of all as running mates in 2007, this is a very sad moment for me.  I do not suppose that you care at all, but still, I wanted to let you know myself, out of respect for what you, david, jerry and i started and our community’s need for comprehensive reform at 208.

Obviously we have been out of tune with each other since the moment you decided not to clean the augean stable with the fresh hands we provided in 2009.  You broke your word to me, and I think jerry and david, and you now wear the jacket for a parade of horribles and missed opportunities.  In selling SWiM out after they voted you president you made liars out of those of us who recruited them in reliance on your constancy.  For this I would appreciate an apology to me and an acknowledgement to SWiM.

That you pushed reform with a few of your actions is to your everlasting credit.  I thank you for these flashes, but they put into relief your mistakes.

For example, fingering baldermann’s deceit began an avalanche that ended his and charles flowers’ careers.  You performed a huge public service.  I salute you for dumping [(name of discharged RB staffer)], an odious and abusive hack who was the center of untold corruption.  But — by letting him stay an extra year you gave his minions time to consolidate and cover their tracks.

I also applaud you for cutting gobble’s belay line.  He richly deserved what he got and you were right to ignore his plea for mercy and promotion.  Thank you.

But your public promise of the drug-dealer investigation on 25 august 09 was a lie.  Worse, you ignored jerry’s written complaint.  Thereby you allowed larry and co. to make those of us holding 208 to its zero-tolerance policy into the problem.  Because of the drug dimension in a school, this sickened me then and it does now.

But beyond many such disappointments, your worst decision is the most recent.  How any public official in this recession could burn up 2.2 million tax dollars in a dice roll-referendum is beyond understanding.  It’s bad budgeting and gross insensitivity to the stretched finances of your constituents.  Jim, it’s not just me.  Check the five pages of nastygrams at the landmark site, including several from dedicated opponents of reform.  This cataclysmic misjudgment has already  isolated the board and the school from our community.  In so doing it impedes the progress larry started by calling david in and you continued by hiring pam.

All of this is worsened by your seeming association with a hare-brained and disingenuous union challenge, not to say affront, by which it understandably seeks to preserve advantages into the next contract and board term that you bestowed on it in the negotiations you botched as a freshman, under larry’s cunning tutelage.

Jim, I know you have spent a ton of time on this.  I appreciate that and i thank you for the countless hours and headaches.  I do not doubt your integrity.  So, I believe you think you have been doing the right thing all along.  Had you ever communicated, perhaps I would better understand why yo took some of your steps.  But even here you took a strange direction.  Your self-imposed isolation has done nothing to build public understanding, let alone support, for your RB program, whatever it is.

This has been particularly exasperating since you became president.  Not simply because you appeared to ignore the three men who voted you in, but because for months thereafter you allowed larry to serve as de facto board spokesman.  This vitiated your ascendence, denied the public a clear idea of who was in charge (or maybe not) and told a tale about you.

For the record, I think something very noxious was going on at RB under larry, jack, greg fronzo, otto and company.  It’s what you, mary jo, jerry and I discussed at klemm’s the morning we asked you to run with david and me.  I thought we agreed.  I thought you ran, as I did, to end that, and build up the best illinois HS of its size.

Instead, you wrapped yourself around their axle, were co-opted by compromise and became bizarrely concerned with their estimate of you — while they barely hid their contempt for you, your friends and your positions.

As a result, your service has been half of what I thought it could be.

Publicly I have always moderated my comments about your actions, even after your may 09 betrayal of SWiM.  When possible I have praised you for the good of the order and to keep attention on the slime and the rot.  I suppose I will continue to do so, I have no personal animus towards you at all.

But I am working to recruit first class candidates.  Should you decide to run, expect me to support them vigorously.

This community still deserves a board that is univocally commited to reform, e.g., best practices and exacting adherence to the highest standards of public secondary education.  At this point, I saddly conclude, you impede that.  You are now part of the problem we recruited you to help solve.  You need to be replaced.

All my best, c

5. As it happens, with no necessary connection to any of this, jim decided within the next several weeks to announce that he would not run for re-election: “RBHS president won’t run for re-election” 10/13/2010.  larry herbst, sue kleinmeyer and mariann leibrandt also decided not to run.



November 15, 2012

i think the waters here are very, very deep, as judge napolitano says…

the more facts revealed the better, and the sooner that is done, the better.

agency / bureau institutional strife is a fixed constant that was, i agree with judge napolitano, intensified by bush 43 steps, notwithstanding his familiarity with same via bush 41, etc.

those bush 43 post-9-11 steps are well under the bridge, except insofar as the strife must be factored into any recitation of these events (FBI SAs investigating a DCI) for the recitation to be fully descriptive.

that said, there are two key areas here:

(a) was the relationship underway before general pateaus’ DCI appointment ?  if so, then a lot, including what the judge reviews here, i.e. patraeus was compromised in some respects from the start.

(b) the other, which possibly is contained in the first: did gen. patraeus know about the more recent email investigation before his sept 15 testimony?  if general patraeus knew of the investigation (and it appears from other reports of summertime FBI interviews on the subject that he in fact did), and thus that his job was in the balance, and that his testimony might help him keep his job or lose it, then he was compromised in making those remarks.  iow, the system failed us and our DCI arrived at a place where we have paid a fortune to make sure no one is ever supposed to be.

please note (a) the DNI’s irrelevance here (subject for another note), and (b) gen. pataeus’ september testimony was public and tomorrow’s testimony is private, and (c) considerable unpacking of the 9-15 testimony is in order.

as the roumanians say, nu-mi place.

Ames School Wreckage — II and III

November 9, 2012

District 96 officials work hard to keep lid on

My post, after talk had turned to school board candidates…

Posted: Thursday, November 01, 2012
Article comment by: Chris Robling

If you can possibly take the immense amount of time to serve, and take the time to campaign, and you think Mary Ellen and the board royally messed up here, and you will not be drawn in to the internally-focused approach that has been the hallmark of d96 for the last eight or ten years, and is painfully shown here, then by all means please say so and run. Just promise you won’t drink the kool-ade [sic]. The place needs a house cleaning. Nancy Jensen is leaving, but Lisa Gaynor and Mary Ellen should be turned out of office. Please speak up, don’t hold back.

Far from ‘case closed’ at District 96 (editorial)

Posted: Friday, November 02, 2012
Article comment by: chris robling

Thank you, John Mathews, Concerned Community Member, “Meh” and most especially the Landmark.

To, “Parent,” “Pathetic,” “Parent too,” etc…. Not even a nice try. When you say you support someone and you won’t
disclose your identity, it rings hollow, not true. I use my name so I am accountable for what I say. If you hide, you are not accountable, just like you one or several people think it’s OK for Colleen not to be accountable for what she did.

I spoke with Colleen Lieggi on Wednesday morning last week. I have nothing against her personally. But the facts are what they are. In this case, no one with whom I speak (except Colleen herself, and I guess Jon Lamberson, with whom I spoke, too) believes a word from Colleen, Jon, Mary Ellen or D96. When you hide, you tend to confirm those suspicions.

The Board blew this one. The voters will replace the Board. But first, two points:

1. If Mary Ellen does not act to rectify this mess NOW, then we should demand her resignation. “NOW” means now: special meeting before the next board meeting, firing Colleen for cause, installing an interim, taking steps on a
search, the whole deal.

2. This Board should not decide on a successor to Lamberson. It has lost public confidence. The next superintendent is too important for this group to hire. It should work to bequeath solid choices to the new board, four members of which will be newly elected.

thanks, c

The Wreckage at Ames School, Riverside — I

November 9, 2012

“District 96 reversed itself on firing teacher after abuse allegations determined as unfounded”

It is an awful story and sad for all.  My comment:

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Article comment by: Chris Robling

Let’s get this straight:

According to this article, Colleen Lieegi has falsely reported child sex abuse involving her
ex-husband, a D96 teacher and neighbors.

Lieggi hired a D96 teacher to babysit her kids. The teacher performed D96 work in the principal’s home on one
of her children, while babysitting. Upon an unwelcome result, Lieggi reported child sex abuse involving the teacher. She then attempted a retaliatory firing against the teacher.

This went through our superintendent, who issued a formal D96 document to the effect. But in time that document was withdrawn and superseded by a D96 pledge to pay according to the teacher contract and to pay
the teacher’s attorney.

Our Board president, Mary Ellen Meindl, looks at this and says, “My concern is if any of this is a personnel issue relating to District 96 and, no, it is not.”


Not surprising, since Ms. Meindl has thrown the shredder switch three times after legally receiving
the police reports of the errant principal.

As for the neighbors, they were out of town when the child sex abuse that Lieggi ‘mandatorily reported’ was
supposed to have taken pace.

And as for the ex-spouse, he has been given a clean slate by investigators.

The Board is protecting the principal who made false reports. ‘”Her job is in no jeopardy,” said school board President
Mary Ellen Meindl.’

The Board has profoundly failed the community and all D96 parents. It should ask itself, “if we were interviewing Colleen Lieggi and we knew of these false reports and other judgment errors, would we hire her?”

If a Board member answers “yes,” then he or she is unfit to serve.

Ames principal Colleen Lieggi either is a stone cold liar or needs intensive counseling. Hiding behind her mandatory reporter status and blaming her children indicate very serious needs, the treatment of which is incompatible
with her position, responsibilities and judgment of her office.

I do not have a child in her care, but if I did I would insist she step down or the child be transferred. Lieggi’s actions are irreconcilable with the discretion over children that goes with her position. Her babysitting arrangement alone
implicates her managerial and institutional leadership. The false reports implicate her stability.

The D96 Board has failed the parents it represents, it must return to the topic and end Lieggi’s association with our

Monday before the election, two views, WGN-TV and WBEZ-FM

November 9, 2012

On Monday, November 5, at 8:30 a.m. i appeared as republican analyst on WGN-TV’s WGN Morning News with my democrat buddy, Marj Halperin.

As of today, this clip and the following clip seem like years ago:

Here is the WGN-TV clip:

From WGN i drove over to WBEZ on Navy Pier to appear with guest host Jason Marck and democrat analyst Dave Lundy

Here’s a link to that discussion for your reference:



One for the record books—

November 9, 2012

Here is a link to Tuesday, November 6 Election Night’s “Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg” broadcast, on which i was honored to participate with Professor Rosenberg, Professor Charles Lipson of the University of Chicago and former Chicago Tribune managing editor — and University of Notre Dame visiting professor — Dick Ciccone:,0,646136.mp3file