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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner's Shell Game and Shakedown of Children and Taxpayers of East Aurora School District

A shakedown and shell game to extract $3 million from children, families, taxpayers, classroom and education of East Aurora School District 131 is underway to stuff the funds into the pocket of Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner.

The City of Aurora wants to sell the Fred Rodgers Community Center on the near east side of Aurora, a no longer useful building that needs $7 million in upgrades, to the East Aurora School District for $3 million to host a magnet school.

The city purchased the building in 1995 for $400,000.

Stephanie Lulay reports:
Alderman Rick Lawrence, 4th Ward, asked why the city is not donating the property or subsidizing the School District purchase as it has with non-profits.  He said he didn't understand why the city was asking the district to pay for a building that "has no use to us."
...In 2010, the city sold a 1.1 acre parking lot next to the Fred Rodgers Center to Chicago-based non-profit One Hope United for $10 for the purpose of building an early childhood learning center.  The city also pledged $600,000 in federal block grant funds toward the project.

Lawrence added in a statement:

"The City of Aurora gives away tens of millions of taxdollars to every so-called nonprofit, developer, bar and restaurant group, but when it comes to our school district, he demands they pay ten times the value.  East Aurora School District 131 has the most depressed property values in Aurora.  Their tax base is almost nonexistent, the city has allowed overcrowding, blight and no economic development to offset the tax burden on those taxpayers, yet the Mayor wants to take money right out of the classrooms.  Anyone wonder why Aurora is in the condition it is?"

In fact, the city gives away money, property and land all the time.  Two examples are $5 million for the new Roundhouse owners and a couple million to Ballydoyle, an Irish bar.

Let's be clear...the mayor will give millions to a couple bars but take millions from children and classrooms?  Really?

Yes, really.

What about other giveaways?

Millions have been dumped on projects ranging from a $7 million bailout of the YWCA to millions for a temporary parking lot for Waubonsee College to failed projects such as Restaurant Row and Elks Club, aside from giveaways, grants to various nonprofits, such as Quad County Urban League.

And there's that massive project within the East Aurora School District itself...the infamous Shodeen project.

The mayor, Brian Caputo, the city's financial chief, and Bob O'Connor, Chairman of the finance committee, promised everyone the Shodeen project would start generating tax revenue for the benefit of the school district and 2009.

That was three years ago and no construction pending in the near or far future.  It currently sits as contaminated swamp land after about $10 million in taxpayer giveaways along with city property.

Aurora's party girl alderman Stephanie Kifowit, who previously trashed Weisner as "fiscally irresponsible" and now needs his help in her fraudulent-laced attempt to join the political mafia in a state rep race, tried to defend the mayor by saying the city wasn't taking funds from the school district other than funds designated for construction.

However, School District 131's chief financial officer confirmed that millions would come out of the general fund for education and only a small portion will come from construction funds.


The same school district that has been pushing tax increase referendums due to fiscal challenges, that says it has severe financial constraints, has many existing schools in need of massive repair and is currently telling teachers it cannot afford increases for a new contract, should simply take millions of taxdollars from classroom and children to put in the mayor's pocket because...?

...because that's how it works in Aurora and it's part of a shell game.

Nobody is bidding against the school district for the property.  It's going to cost them far more to upgrade it and it prevents the district from spending those same dollars on many other priorities.

So, why does the mayor need millions from the school district he's willing to take it from children and classrooms?

Part of the answer relates to an ongoing scheme and shell game with Waubonsee College.  The city gave away prime riverfront land for their new downtown campus, bought them a $7 million parking lot and now wants to take their old campus off their backs...for another $3 million.

Coincidence?  Not at all...this is Aurora, where everything that happens is just a "coincidence."

In fact, it's a shell game at taxpayer expense.  The mayor takes millions from children and classrooms of East Aurora, gives it to Waubonsee and the district will get some space in Waubonsee's property.

By "coincidence" the mayor's top campaign contributor, Cordogan Clark, is or will be the architect on all of these projects.  And, by "coincidence" the mayor's son works there.

Waubonsee's tax base includes cities and communities across Kane County, but thanks to the scheme, Aurora taxpayers are subsidizing the giveaways (and paying Waubonsee taxes at the same time).

East Aurora taxpayers will get a triple hit...funds that are needed for children, education and their existing buildings will need to still come from somewhere.

A teacher from East Aurora told us:

"if the school district has money to burn, they should put it in the classroom and our children instead of stuffing it into the mayor's pocket so he can wildly spend it on side deals.  The city gives away millions to a bar, but can't give a useless building for a magnet school that could potentially improve the community?  Where is everyone's priorities?"

Another taxpayer said:

"I'm tired of these shell games.  Mayor takes money from here, spends it there, gives it away, all at the same time saying we are doing well while the economic reality is there's no development and taxpayers are paying far more with increases and fees.  The City of Aurora should change it's name to Enron of Illinois."

The Aurora City Council will consider the shell game, proposal to extract millions and shakedown children, classrooms and taxpayers of East Aurora next Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 6pm.

***UPDATE Friday, June 8, 2012

Late Friday, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner declared war on education, taxpayers, schools and the children of the community and East Aurora, demanding the schools take money from classrooms and stuff $3 million into his pocket.  Weisner said he does not support helping the schools succeed, even though he gave away millions in land and consideration to Waubonsee College, which has a taxing body that includes many communities and doesn't serve portions of Aurora.

Aurora now has a critical choice on Tuesday...shakedown or support education?  Join the community to stand up for children and the future.  Click HERE for the Facebook event and details.

Note: Stephanie Lulay contributed to this report.


Anonymous said...

this is a terrible deal for East Aurora.

Anonymous said...

we gave millions to a couple bars but we want to take millions from the classroom. is the mayor drunk?

Anonymous said...

why does the mayor keep giving things to Waubonsee when they are supposed to be supported by their entire district?

Anonymous said...

The East Aurora School District is so overcrowded they needed another school. In talking with school officials they have no land to build on. It was a deal considering a school is 24million to build but the mayor should have given it to them.
Blame the party girl and no speak a the English Juany for standing up like Rick.

Anonymous said...

If the city said they are giving it the school Lawerence would say why are you giving it to them

Anonymous said...

This is the socialist way! Take from the groups with Tax dollars and distribute them to "his type" of groups...maybe obonzo will make him a czar!

Anonymous said...

Well I can understand why they need to pay for the building and I can understand that you can not build that type of building for 3million. Why are the east aurora schools overcrowded at all it is because the party girl and the 3other loser alderman on the east side do nothing. That is the greater problem I heard the east aurora schools ended up with more Jerico kids than West. Sad that the east side has alderman like Sheketta, Juany, Stefanie and Abby. Also Irvin and oconnor are graduates of that school district.

Anonymous said...

What did District 131 do to piss off the bearded leader?
The green Police Palace sits on land a major retailer had intended to build a store, not only creating jobs, but expanding the tax base which hopefully would have relieved some of the burden on home owners.
Quick Quiz, does the city of Aurora pay as much in property taxes as Wal-Mart would have?
For those a little slow, and deserving of a cushy position in this mayoral administration, the answer is no.
Where was the outrage when Shodeen a good friend to 44 East, and a deep pocketed campaign contributor offered District 131 a retaining pond in lieu of the cash contribution to schools required of developers. And speaking of Shodeen, now that he has bled the city for every penny he could get in up front cost, does any rational person really believe that particular project on Broadway will move forward.
Why is a park which will well exceed it's estimated cost under construction on prime river front property which could have generated tens of millions of dollars in property tax revenues.
What ever happened to the old Copley Hospital? Once purchased for a pittance by another friend of 44 East, it was promised to be returned to the tax roles, and be the bedrock for neighborhood revitalization. I guess the developer is laying low until everyone forgets his little role in the attempted sale of an Senate seat.
Yep. Seems District 131 made the s**t list.

Anonymous said...

6:58 you got your mayoral contributors mixed up. The retaining pond/drive-in fiasco was courtesy Bigelow. (And I don't think the district has even gotten the retaining pond yet, and the drive-in property is just a huge overgrown weed lot). The Broadway property was Shodeen, and of course won't ever be built but Shodeen got the city's money, so he doesn't care.

Anonymous said...

131 could never afford the WCC building downtown, so this way they get the whole Fred Rogers building AND prime office space downtown, courtesy of the mayor. I don't think 131 is on the s- list. I think they are making out like bandits. The students get nothing out of this but a couple of extra classrooms in a 100 year old building. This deal is all about better office space for 131 administrators. That's why they have no problem spending $3mm for the old ACC building.

Anonymous said...

If Rick doesn't like maybe he should have run for Mayor last time. Opps, I forgot, He did run for Mayor then dropped out in order to make sure he had enough time on the City Council to get health insurance when he leaves.

Anonymous said...

D131 is making out they are not as dumb as they look the kids get a old building that they call a stem school. See they are all about image. The office moves they save rent. The WCC becomes the new police palace for administrators and it my understanding the old service center starts making money with special needs kids sent to other districts. I heard that will bring in 2 million per year back to d131. Wait and see the real shell game will start in a couple of months.

See people don't get it East Aurora is the Only School District bring in dollars for Quad County now. That's the mayors girl. Here on the West Side we care and pulled out. They stayed and sided with Quad County. They did not care their kid was shot because Quad County did not know where the kid was.

The district will make out like fat rats toooo bad the Urban League kids will not.

Anonymous said...

No more games Tom Weisner.

Instead of taking $3 million from the children of our community, go find money to fund your bars and schemes elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

here's what actually happened. the mayor needs 3 million bucks for his other scheme with Waubonsee. He knows D131 is desperate for space, so he's fleecing them and shaking them down for the money. It's really that simple. Nobody is competing for this building. Nobody else wants it. There is no "market" for it. City gave the parking lot away for $10.

This IS a shakedown. East Aurora has already suffered enough from Weisner's mistakes from Bigelow/Hometown to the land for the police station to Shodeen. There's been NO economic development due to Weisner's INCOMPETENCE.

At the same time, there is overcrowding and a growing student population not because of massive new home construction in a district that has mostly the same number of homes, but due to the city's INCOMPETENCE dealing with density and other issues.

Weisner forced D131 to "agree" with the dumb Shodeen and drive-in theater fiasco.

D131 and, more importantly, TAXPAYERS WHO LIVE IN THE DISTRICT have lost millions due to decisions directly connected to Tom Weisner.

So, giving this useless building to the district where they will have to spend another $7 million just to fix seems like the LEAST we can do since they are not just using it for more space, but to actually have a magnet academy to improve education.

I'm tired of having the East Aurora School District have problems and poor results. I want to see it improve.

As a West grad, I hope we always win in sports, but when it comes to education for our children, we need to all succeed.

The mayor should shut up.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where the city came up with $3 million for this building. Once they sold the parking lot for $10, they killed the value of the building. Nobody would buy that for $3 million...doesn't matter if it has had $50 million of crap put into it, but if the city did such a great job with the building, why does it still need another $7 million in renovations for the school district?

Sounds to me this is a win-win for all taxpayers if we give the building to the school district. otherwise, it's just costing us maintenance and the school district can actually use it. If the district produces better education, we all benefit.

Give em the damn building Bearded Leader. I'm sure you can find $3 million from one of your other scams. Maybe you should ask your buddies at Ballydoyle, Cordogan or Wegman to cough up some of the millions you've directed to them.

Anonymous said...

What is the graduation rate at East High with its majority hispanic students? Less than 50% I am guessing?

Thank God I don't live there anymore.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right, and I apologize for my inaccuracy. There are so many well connected contributors screwing the the Aurora Taxpayer it's hard to keep track without a score card.

Anonymous said...

I spoke with John Augustine yesterday the districts finance person. I asked how did you come up with that price. He stated the school district had a bad real estate transaction in he past and I am assuming that was The Police Palace. So the Board put in a policy that states when any land is purchased they must do a appraisal. Since it was intergovernmental they set the
Price based on that.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like if they would have not had it appraised then they may have gotten a better deal. Government at work. I i I do feel the city is correct in selling it there are a number of school districts in city and even thought I think the One Hope United deal was flawed anyone can goto it not that anyone would.

Anonymous said...

Political dirt Aurora style. The honorable Rick Lawerance could care less about the east aurora schools. He wants the city to build a One Hope United on the West Side. He and his good buddy Dr Rydland who has ran the West Aurora schools out of money need a Preschool and are trying to get the tax payers to donate that. If East Aurora gets a building then they should as well. Heck why not stop at one build a Preschool for every school district. See Ricks kids also goto West and they are granted special favors by the good Doctor. That is why the Urban League was attacked by the good Dr. Certainty not for he good of the kids.
Rick also is dreaming of becoming Mayor again so he is now the white knight of east aurora.
Don't cave board

Anonymous said...

Don't Cave Board. Spend the $3,000,000.00. Be hero's waste the taxpayers money. Good for Aurora, keep lowering the bar.

Anonymous said...

Tommy maybe on his way to Texas about now. Wonder why.....Hmmmm Tony

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Anonymous said...

Since opelnline was all the answers how are they going to build a school that size for under 10 million. It is at least double to do that

Anonymous said...

How About Lowes on the west side...vacant and big enough? lets stars using some of these closed properties instead of letting the decay and go unused. Might even get a break on the price. Ready to go.

Anonymous said...

What a stupid statement Lowes is on the West Side. Since the East Sise is land locked and has no commercial development these properties are not just laying around. Last year East Aurora purchased a nursing home half it's size for 1.6. As a resident I will not pay any more taxes to support bad land deals that is why I keep my eye on them since the Walmart, Shodeen and Bigalow fiasco. The real question is why are they growing so much. I remember when they just finished expanding all the buildings. Augustine did verify that was done in 2004. I also asked Augustine if any buildings cold be expanded and he said no unless they tear down houses and housing that many students would be 20 to 30 million.
Call and get the facts. I am in full support of this finally a well though out plan

Anonymous said...

Since the East Sise is land locked and has no commercial development these properties are not just laying around

What do you call all those new Mexican strip malls that have sprung up one the east side. The is a newer one just East of McCarthy Park and the old Pancho Taco area was totally renovated and invigorated.

Maybe you meant no commercial development for Gringos, but there has been a lot of mom and pop stuff on the east side.

Anonymous said...

Aurora is loaded on the East Side with business that is only for Mexicans well I cheer on the district for looking for these types of properties they are not doing enought to stop the over population. Look at what the Mayor did for Jerico Circle the East side gained most of the kids who moved into foreclosed properties in Bigalow and other places. I questioned the District about this because two families from Jerico moved on my block alone. All they could tell me they gained 200 students from d129 that info took 4 weeks to get in April. The Mayors puppet Clayton Muhammed is on the task force you can only imagine how effective he is. Clayton is a racist who is more than happy to grow the Black population. Is us gringos who lose out only 500 white students attend East Aurora schools and if the Magnet School gives them a good schooling then I say it's about time at least it gives us choice. I don't care if we spend 100 million on it.

Anonymous said...

Someone here claimed the Urban League was "attacked" by 129. That is just intellectually dishonest. The numbers show that kids at QCUL were poorly supervised, frequently victimized by other students and were unsuccessful academically. When QCUL announced they wanted to start a new academy 129 offered full support. Taking care of their own BD kids in house is hardly an attack. Especially with everything QCUL has gained from 129. I think someone at QCUL is just scared that their incompetence may finally be coming back to haunt them.