Not content with the financial destruction his policies have inflicted upon the district, D-80’s board president turns his sights on volunteer Lou Mezzano
You know the saying… no good deed goes unpunished.
In 2016, during the campaign to push their $60 million property tax increase, Superintendent Paul O’Malley passed around a bottle of dirty brown water that he claimed comes out of the sinks and drinking water fountains.
It was one of District 80 leadership’s many attempts at “pain points”, in their $60 million campaign of fear mongering.
When the time came to replace the drinking water fountains, parent Lou Mezzano, a licensed plumber, decided he would throw his bid in to do the labor work – for free. His only requirement was the District take care of any asbestos removal.
He proceeded to do the work, however the buildings and grounds supervisor Peadar Hurley didn’t want to open the walls, and so the work was not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.
At District 80’s September 18 2018 board meeting (of which we were not present), District 80 Board President Srbo Radisavljevic lambasted Mezzano for not making his work ADA compliant, questioning Mezzano’s integrity, and indicating that it was going to cost the district to fix it.
Documents obtained from the District show a quote from DeFranco Plumbing for nearly $2,850 to address the ADA compliance issues, plus an additional $2,350 contracting out bricklaying work, not including asbestos removal.
An examination of the ADA law in question appears to only require only 50% of the drinking water fountains to be ADA compliant, and / or one per floor, a fact Mezzano noted at the October meeting.
Even if we believed DeFranco Plumbing’s quote, the “cost” is moot as Mezzano offered to fix the issue on his own time, holding the district harmless of its own incompetence.
During the winter, Mezzano also fixed two water lines at Leigh School for free, saving the District $3,000 by his estimate.
Mezzano, when asked his opinion of the ADA compliance quote, questioned the cost, as well as why DeFranco Plumbing was being paid to subcontract the bricklaying work, when Hurley himself is a union bricklayer.
Defranco Plumbing’s $30,000 in plumbing bills
A deeper look into DeFranco Plumbing’s past work for District 80, however, shows some very questionable charges.
Defranco’s invoices are interesting reading for those inclined to scrutinize, but we’ll focus on two examples.
Defranco (and District 80) seem to think it’s OK to charge for 3 hours of labor to drive to get a part, rather than shipping the part and only charging for shipping.
Routing drain pipes does not require a licensed plumber, but District 80 paid many thousands of dollars to Defranco on multiple occasions to do so.
Doesn’t sound like a good use of the District’s limited funds. In fact it sounds like more of the sort of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars District 80 is known for.
Political hit job
We are long past expecting any sort of reform, or even a change in attitude from Radisavljevic and his like minded lackey, board vice president Pasquale Biondo.
But the attack on one of District 80’s volunteers is a new low, even by Radisavljevic’s standards.
Lou Mezzano, though, isn’t backing down. During the October 16 2018 board meeting (recording below), he countered with the facts, having kept communications between himself and Biondo showing indeed he did offer to fix the issue for free.
Even after being attacked by Radisavljevic/Biondo, Mezzano is still willing to do the remaining work at no cost, as long as the asbestos is cleaned up.
He’s even gone a step further, announcing he’s running for District 80 school board in 2019.
And that, readers, is the REAL reason for Radisavljevic’s attack on Mezzano: it’s politics.
Mezzano has expressed disapproval of the Radisavljevic/Biondo regime’s policies… as any reasonable person would.
He and four other like minded individuals are circulating petitions for next year’s District 80 board of education elections.
If Radisavljevic doesn’t win a seat next year (assuming he even runs, given his appalling record), he would want Biondo to continue his “legacy”, given the latter’s term ends in 2021.
This “legacy” is a huge, multi-year spending spree without a corresponding source of revenue, draining precious reserves, and the inevitable, destructive cuts in spending that must follow when the reserve runs out.
If Mezzano and a majority of those elected in April are sincere about change, they will surely strip Biondo of his position of Vice President… and the Radisavljevic/Biondo “legacy” would finally be over.
Board members discussed a plan to rent parts of the school buildings for $60 an hour. Concerns were expressed over building security and how $60 per hour would not cover the cost of required upgrades and security.
Radisavljevic seemed to be looking for a rubber stamp motion on this matter, but ultimately the dissension proved too great and they did not move forward, asking for more information before a decision is made.
The Norridge-Harwood Heights News ran a story about this portion of the meeting.