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  1. I served with Diana Moore on the Caucus, during the same time period. The Caucus enforces strict term limits to encourage broad participation, and like Diana, I no longer serve. Hundreds of Lake Forest residents have attended meetings until late in the night to select our school board and City nominees and board members. Most of them have the same recollection that I do. We are blessed by our neighbors. After almost every meeting, I would return home to my husband and sons and tell them we were lucky to live in a community where so many amazing individuals were willing to serve as engaged volunteers, bringing both their time and talents to bear on our most important issues. Did I agree with everything our boards and government do? Hardly. Do I respect them? Absolutely.

    Ms. Neubauer cites to minutes of the Caucus for the proposition that Mr. Simeck was asked who he would like as his boss. Please read the first link she cites. I think you will see that nothing of the sort was asked. (Perhaps you should question either her reading comprehension or her motives after you read her link.) Mr. Simeck suggested that the Caucus select people of integrity and those who could ask good questions. The Caucus’s general practice is to invite school board members and the Superintendent (and the Mayor and Alderman for City selections) to give the full 40 plus member Caucus an idea of the issues confronting both districts and the City. This informed decision making was also accompanied by work by a subcommittee over the prior Spring and Summer that interviewed every current and departing board member of both school boards to determine skill sets needed or other issues of leadership. Parent leaders in the school community were contacted for their views as well. From all of these contacts, a long list of names was generated and many people were contacted. Diana’s recollections as to the fulsome numbers comport with mine.

    During my time on the Caucus, all candidates were informed that if they were not selected, they were free to run as independent or non-slated candidates. In this election cycle, Pat Patt sought the Caucus nomination. Interestingly, the race at District 67 has none of the rancour or animosity that the District 115 has. Mr. Patt has run a candidacy based on ideas and experience, not negativity. I will leave it to the voters to decide why the District 115 race does not meet that standard of civil discourse. Instead, our students are pilloried and our volunteers vilified.

    Ms. Neubauer, who is a lawyer, should know that recusal is the typical remedy for conflicts, and her slate’s decision to label a candidate as guilty of criminal wrongdoing is sad and simply incorrect. I can say that the Caucus had as part of its application a question if candidates know of conflicts or contracts. People do not have perfect knowledge–and the Caucus does not have subpoena power. Dr. Nemickas is a fantastic candidate and I ask our community members if we would really want many other organizations other than Illinois Bone & Joint at the athletic competitions where Illinois law requires professional presence. Would they prefer an out of town practice which may not have admitting privileges to our local hospitals? The contract is extremely beneficial to our students’ safety, and is extremely financially advantageous at a cost basis. In any event, recusal is the typical remedy–not disqualification as Ms. Neubauer and her confederates suggest.

    I told candidates that the Caucus system was not a guarantee but simply a process to make certain that talented, qualified candidates stood for election. Of course, others are free to run, but as other writers have noted, in more than 25 years, there has never been a slate to run as “like minded” candidates to take majority control of the board. I can tell you that Mr. Finley’s notion of “Caucus orthodoxy” is puzzling. The only common belief I saw exhibited in my years was love of community. We had as many, if not more, ideas than we had people–and we did not cut off or limit debate, which explains those frequent late nights. No one is shut out of the process–Ms. Mienville was not slated in an earlier cycle and she was asked to join the Caucus, which she did, though her attendance was significantly less than perfect, a concern I have about her candidacy in addition to her lack of connection to our schools.

    The best predictor of future performance is past performance. So, if you wish to consider and read more nastiness for the next four years, vote for the Final Four. They will tell you of everything horrible, whether real or imagined. For sober, hard working and thoughtful leadership, I plan to vote for Nemickas, Davis, Moorman and Lane.

    Whatever your inclinations, I urge you to vote. It is a prized privilege, and one that can not be purchased. Your vote is as priceless as any billionaire’s, and your opinion and your students are as valued in this community.

  2. “The Caucus political orthodoxy?” You mean the non-partisan will of elected volunteers, voted by their neighbors to serve a three-year term to vet volunteers. It is far from any sort of “orthodoxy” as 48 different people can be. However, they do recognize extremism. You twisted my comments to suit your needs. We get where you are coming from and what you want to do to our school. My school. As an alum, I want my school to continue to produce well-educated, critical thinkers, who can spot the kind of tactics you are fond of using. Actually, the Caucus vetting is as important as ever, and those who spent their three years of service to their community know this. My term ended before all of this ruckus began. But I know the system works. I hope others will volunteer for this organization and discover it’s importance. Now more than ever. It’s why Lake Forest is a good place to live.

  3. I’m not sure when it was decided that citizens of Lake Forest needed anyone’s permission to throw their hats in the ring and run for office.

    Second, everyone knows that Caucus “vetting” for school board is completely agenda-driven. What is the agenda? Go along; get along, don’t make waves.

    In fact, back in 2013, Caucus “vetting” comprised of asking the Superintendent whom he wanted on the Board. Imagine being able to choose your own boss! And yet, the law directs Board members to act in the fiduciary interests of District residents, not the Administration. Did Caucus “vetters” forget that, back in 2013?

    In 2016, Caucus “vetting” resulted in their placing a person on the 2017 slate who filed an inaccurate Statement of Economic interest and who has an ownerhip interest in a company with a long-standing, no-bid, five-figure contract with LFHS, with additional income-producing referrals to his company flowing from it. His Caucus “vetted” slate-mates–the incumbents–welcomed him onto the Caucus slate with open arms, knowing of this contract because they voted to approve it. Talk about Chicago-style politics! And what does the Caucus do? Instead of apologizing to the community and urging this candidate to withdraw his candidacy, they and their factotums vilify the independent Final 4 who brought these dealings to light!

    It’s time to face facts: Caucus vetting doesn’t mean that much any more.

    Sources:
    http://nebula.wsimg.com/bdb3481ba6de3d3ef0b0f7a8c3072f5c?AccessKeyId=6CAF93516B9A96F7A0C3&disposition=0&alloworigin=1,%20see%20page%203 (page 3)

    http://www.lakeforestschools.org/uploaded/Lake_Forest_Schools/District_115/D115Section2.pdf

    • As someone who sat on the 2014 Caucus committee that was charged with finding candidates for our school boards, I would like to correct an inaccuracy.

      For the sake of clarity, please know the committee I served on commenced in the spring of 2014 for the 2015 election. The process, which is substantial, runs the course of almost a year. 2013 is referenced by Candidate Neubauer, but in fact the search aspect of the Caucus work for the 2013 election had been done in 2012, with only the campaign remaining for 2013. With her reference to the superintendent, I believe Neubauer is speaking of the 2014/2015 cycle.

      In 2014, an approach was taken to interview all individuals connected to running the districts, prior to interviewing interested candidates. This was begun in April of 2014. Superintendent Simeck was interviewed, as were all members of both boards, members of the various sub-committees, and various administrators, This process was extensive and thorough, and its purpose was to gather information. The committee sought to understand the boards and administration, both in strength and weakness, to be better prepared to search for school board candidates. Every individual interviewed was asked a set of fixed questions, to gather information and opinion. All answers were duly noted, and later presented to the full Caucus. No one individual, whether interviewee or committee member, had any sway or authority. The committee was comprised of 8 individuals from across the city; the Caucus is 43, also diverse; and the interviewees were perhaps 24 to 30 individuals (I no longer have my notes).

      This element of the search took place over a couple of months in the spring of 2014. Parallel to this gathering of information, a broad net was cast, seeking interested candidates for the school boards. Caucus members sent out bulk emails to their networks; ads were placed; school volunteers and staff were asked to forward names of any interested parties. Then, beginning in the summer of 2014, the interviewing of candidates began. Well over 100 individuals were approached, while many more contacted the Caucus themselves. Again, interviewees were asked a fixed set of questions, all answers were noted, and the culling commenced.

      Understand that Lake Forest and Lake Bluff are blessed with a plethora of engaged, thoughtful, intelligent individuals. Every effort was made to find the best candidates from this remarkably rich pool. As many others have written, the Caucus sought candidates with a breadth of experience, an open-mindedness to ideas, an ability to work within a group, and a lack of personal agenda. The individuals chosen by the full Caucus were those who best embodied these characteristics. There were many who did not make the final cut, who were terrific candidates. And as is the norm in the Caucus, those individuals were encouraged to volunteer in other ways. Fundamentally, the process was thorough and fair.

      I am no longer an elected representative of the Caucus, though as a registered voter I am still a member. I have no doubt that the candidates put forth by the Lake Forest Caucus (and Vote Lake Bluff) in this election cycle represent all that is best and good about our towns. I encourage everyone to vote, and further, to volunteer. Whether it is for the Caucus, the school boards, the City boards and commissions, or the many private charitable groups we have. They can all use your talents and support.

      Thank you.

  4. So you admit to locking out anyone who has ideas which don’t conform to you own political biases. That’s fine. It’s what all political parties do, but you can’t then say you represent the entire community because you just admitted you don’t.

    If you immediately label anyone who disagrees with you an “extremist”, then we can conclude that you don’t welcome diverse opinions. You have set up a situation where you put yourself above everyone else in the community, so what reason could there ever be to compromise with those extremists who have been deemed unworthy to participate in the public sphere by their moral superiors?

    The problem isn’t that we have a cabal of extremists in this town. The problem is that a large of chunk of the population is shut out of the process of educating their children by people like you who mock them and demonize them when they break from the Caucus political orthodoxy. This is what is tearing the town apart. It shouldn’t surprise you that the people you look down on are trying to have a say in their children’s education. They pay the same bills you do, and you have no right to lock them out.

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