GOP mishandled replacing Turelli
Updated: September 3, 2012 6:11AM
I was disappointed to read about the GOP mishandling of the recent appointment of a candidate to fill the vacancy for the Illinois State Representative District 58th position.
I have read what has been written about the appointment/selection process to replace Lake Forest’s Lauren Turelli and have come to realize that a) all politics is local and b) some things in the local Republican party will never change.
First, all politics is local...when Ms. Turelli chose to drop out of the race, the local party leaders conducted closed-door meetings to select a candidate to run for the open position. Dr. Mark Neerhof, who ran against Ms. Turelli in the March primary, and who was narrowly defeated, is an upstanding professional who clearly articulated his views and positions on key issues in open and public venues including: League of Women Voter Forums, Meet and Greets, Door to Door canvassing, among other venues. Bottom line: Dr. Neerhof has been vetted by the voters.
The local party leadership chose to disregard the primary results and hand pick their own candidate who, by the way, was Ms. Turelli’s campaign manager. The local party says they did this in the best interest of the district, but the district already spoke and they chose Dr. Neerhof in March. The party has hand-picked someone who now has to introduce himself to the district and November is only four months away. Selecting a candidate’s campaign manager to replace the candidate seems a bit unethical, but then again, this is politics and this is Illinois.
Which leads me to my next point...some things in the local party will never change. I am all too familiar with how the party tries to overrun a qualified candidate. It seems, in the local GOP, that good candidates must first run against the party in order to get on the ballot - I’ve seen this first hand in the past and, now again, in the District 58th State Representative race. Why is that? Does the Party not like a candidate who stands up for principle? Does the Party prefer a candidate who is malleable? I guess this is how things work and we are all supposed to just pull the lever for the GOP because the lever says GOP on it. Or, should we?
Dr. Neerhof ran a race where he welcomed questions and answered every single one of them - including calling voters, at their request, when they had a question or wanted to know more about him and his position on the issues. This is what I want in my representative and candidate; someone unafraid to meet with and talk with voters and answer the hard questions.
I’d guess that most voters would not approve of what the local GOP party has done to exclude Dr. Neerhof from having the chance to represent us. Can anyone say “write-in” candidate?
Aimee Messner, Lake Forest
Hard times demand tough stance in
For most residents of Lake Forest/Lake Bluff, checking the Lake Forest Community High School District 115 Board of Education website is not a priority. There have, however, been a couple edifying postings as of late concerning contract negotiations with the union representing the LFHS teachers.
Two sessions were held on June 17 and July 19 and involved a federal mediator engaged to assist the negotiations with the Lake Forest Education Union (LFEU) and the District 115 Board in reaching an agreement on a new contract for the 2012-2013 school year.
The proposal presented by the union at the July 19 meeting called for a three-year contract with an average annual increase in compensation (salary and benefits) of 6.7 percent.
The Board of Education’s proposal included a competitive average annual increase in compensation of 3.6 percent which is generous, particularly given our faltering economy. The Board of Education is additionally seeking an economic concession of minimal contributions from teachers enrolled in the HMO family plan. Currently the district pays 100 percent of their insurance coverage. The Board also wants to transition away from offering health care plans to new hires that would result in hefty taxes to the district due to the Affordable Health Care Act.
If the District 115 Board of Education and the LFEU, with the assistance of the outside mediator, cannot produce a mutually acceptable agreement before the new school year starts on Aug. 27, the Board should take a hard stance against the union if necessary to keep teachers’ salaries and benefits at a reasonable level considering these hard economic times.
1. Why should LFHS teachers as public employees have the total cost of their healthcare paid by Lake Forest and Lake Bluff taxpayers when private sector workers increasing are required to pay some of the cost for their health insurance premiums?
2. 132 out of 159 teachers employed in District 115 - 83 percent of its teachers - make at least $90,000, and this includes just salaries, not other perks.
3. A LFHS teacher retiring at age 55 at a $100,000 salary level has every chance of receiving a pension of $100,000 per year by the time he/she reaches what is considered retirement age for many individuals at age 65.
Insofar as teachers are public sector, taxpayer-paid employees, it would not seem too draconian should the District 115 Board insist on maintaining a wage and benefits freeze. It seems that the union’s balking at the 3.6 percent increase offered by the Board is looking the proverbial gift horse in the mouth and unconcerned about the taxpayers.
Teachers obviously play a very important role in Lake Forest District 115 and in our society in general; they most certainly deserve fair compensation. But just as the private sector has been forced to make difficult adjustments in compensation (especially in medical and pension benefits) to reflect the harsh economic times, our School Board must similarly make adjustment in fairness to the taxpayers of Lake Bluff and Lake Forest.
From the vantage point of this taxpayer and many others, it seems that “enough is enough.”
Nancy J. Thorner, Lake Bluff