No jack-of-all-trades here

Opinion

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As Superintendent Stan Fields and the District 209 board work to reduce the district's monumental deficit they might want to take a closer look at some of their well paid administrators.

Start with Kyle Hastings. Please.

As Proviso's director of auxiliary programs, Hastings was responsible for the debacle last summer in which more than 800 summer school students were foisted on the district's magnet school - and Forest Park police - for six weeks.

"We're very excited to hold summer school courses this year at the Proviso Math and Science Academy," Hastings is quoted as saying in the district's colorful and pricey news letter.

In all his excitement, however, Hastings didn't bother to inform Forest Park officials, who found out only after serious behavior problems cropped up and police were called to restore order.

Hastings later met with local law officials to request a police presence at the school. Hindsight's 20/20, as they say, but at $104,000 a year it's fair to expect Hastings to demonstrate more foresight.

Unfortunately, a look into Hastings' background shows that identifying possible problems is not his strong suit.

Hastings, who is the president of the board of trustees in Orland Hills, Ill., erred in making two crucial appointments to the Orland Hills Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, which disciplines, hires and fires police and firefighters.

In April, 2002, Anthony J. Mannini III, resigned after being indicted for allegedly possessing child pornography. Mannini, whose qualifications included being a cook at a grocery store, replaced Mark Demonte, a village public works employee who was convicted of a 1999 burglary.

As for his administrative acumen, several trustees who serve with Hastings on the Orland Hills board insist that it was Hastings' idea to issue debit cards to them. Several trustees rang up more than $10,000 in bar and restaurant tabs. Only after a newspaper shined a spotlight on the abuses did Hastings take action.

There's that 20/20 hindsight again.

There are also serious questions as to whether qualifications or clout helped Hastings land several government jobs. Since 1993 when he first got elected as president of Orland Hills (population 6,800) with a total of 778 votes, Hastings has accrued power, influence and most importantly, employment. Both law firms employed by Orland Hills - James R. Roche and Associates and Odelson & Sterk - are affiliated with Dist. 209. Roche and Associates employs D209 board President Chris Welch, and Odelson & Sterk are the district's lawyers.

Hastings is employed as a part-time village president, part-time liquor commissioner and a member of the state Democratic Central Committee.

Now add part-time PACE board member. Hastings was recently appointed to the PACE bus board, which oversees bus service in the Cook County suburbs, for which he'll be paid $10,000 a year to attend 10 meetings in northwest suburban Arlington Heights.

All of that on top of his lengthy daily commute from Orland Hills to Hillside and back.

Unless he's a master of time management or truly a jack-of-all-trades, Hastings' performance will suffer.

A few years back he resigned from a $48,000 a year job as a "business liaison" for Secretary of State Jesse White. Hastings supposedly marketed the office's business services. But the Daily Southtown contacted numerous chambers of commerce and reported that many of them had never heard of the services Hastings was supposedly marketing. He resigned and White quietly dropped the program.

If the folks in Orland Hills see fit to keep returning the likes of Kyle Hastings to office every four years, that's their business; likewise with his election by voters as Democratic State Committeeman for the 13th District.

But Hastings' conduct and competence in Proviso schools is our business and involves the well being of our town. If Hastings is faithfully performing his duties and working a full and honest day for his pay, fine. But if past is prologue and he isn't fulfilling his duties, he needs to make way for someone who will. After all, Hastings has shown he can always find another job.

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