Thursday, November 03, 2011

Peoria Taxpayers Nailed Again

Two federal lawsuits pending against Peoria Public School District #150 were recently settled for a total of $830,000 with the insurance companies bearing the brunt of the cost. #150 will pay $140,000.

On 10/15/11, the JS reported that a settlement agreement had been reached on a lawsuit against the district filed by 8 white employees in a case that appeared to be one of reverse discrimination. It will probably take an FOIA to find out how much this settlement cost the taxpayers.

Not included in the cost is the legal fees racked up by the school board plus the raise in premiums for liability insurance for years to come.

How many other lawsuits are pending against #150 that I suspect are coming from both past and present administrations? I do not know nor do I suspect all the board members know. I do know of one case that appears to be long and costly.

When I was a member of the Peoria County Board, we settled a lawsuit for over $300,000 (a BelWood incident)that was allegedly caused by a comment made by a board member who was on the board long before I was elected in 2000. When I asked how many lawsuits were pending against the County owned BelWood, the States Attorney's answer was, "there are always lawsuits against Belwood". But at the time, I was only aware of one. Board members are often kept in the dark about pending lawsuits, learning only of them when meeting to discuss how much money we agree to settle the case.

Some people think that people who have a lot of degrees are smarter than the rest of us. Unpaid or low paid or part time board members do not have the ability to hire the right people. While I understand that we are the most litigious society in history, we should be operating our public bodies with well-paid full-time qualified board members.

Cities the size of Peoria are operating in the early 1900's and the tort attorneys are aware. Thus saving money costs far more in the long-run but we have yet to take action to change the system.

Paying more for better talent USUALLY pays off.

No comments: