A bond sale for $10 million for life safety repairs at the three Proviso Township high schools hit an icy patch at the school board meeting Feb. 10 when Dan Adams, president of the school board, told the Financial Oversight Panel he “wasn’t comfortable” with the board’s hiring of one law firm to represent the district and the insurance underwriters.
But fellow board member Kevin McDermott said Adams’s complaints were really a ploy to get billing on the matter for the district’s law firm, Del Galdo Law Group, LLC.
The disagreement started when Adams pointed out Chapman and Cutler, LLP, selected by the district’s Financial Oversight Panel was representing the district as bond counsel and also being hired as lawyers for the bond’s underwriters.
The district’s Chief Finance Officer Todd Drafall said the district’s most recent bond in 2008 had five different law firms representing every step of the process. Financial Oversight Panel Board President Craig Schiller said most districts found they could keep costs down by only having one lawyer.
But Adams was concerned Chapman and Cutler would be on both sides of the negotiation.
“Who’s looking out for the district?” Adams asked. He complained he had only found out the situation hours earlier. “There’s a lack of trust here,” he said. “What else haven’t they told us?”
But McDermott told the audience Adams was posturing to get some of the legal work for Del Galdo.
Chapman and Cutler lawyer Erin Bartholmy quickly offered to pull out from the job of representing the underwriter, and a representative for Mesirow Financial said the financial advisor company would eat the cost of their own underwriter’s counsel.
Members of the FOP asked why materials had even been sent to Del Galdo, since they were not the law firm working on the bond.
Board member Theresa Kelly asked if the matter was so serious why Adams hadn’t called other board members about it.
“Del Galdo called you, but why didn’t you call me?” she said.
FOP Chair Schilling talked Adams and Brian Cross out of delaying the bond issue vote for two weeks, by suggesting Del Galdo be hired to review the documents –as long as it was done in a timely manner.
Drafall has told the board they need to stick to a timely schedule to get the best prices from contractors making repairs at Proviso East, Proviso West and Proviso Math and Science Academy.