Mostly local governments make reasonable choices when spending the hard-earned dollars of their taxpayers. We object at times to raises maybe a point or two rich by our measure. Sometimes a building project can be a bit grand.
But overall our experience is that local governments attempt to be responsible stewards of our precious resources.
That is why our report this week is so stunning and repugnant that for each of the past two years the Forest Park public elementary schools spent $18,000 to purchase a two-page ad in a slick football magazine targeting season ticket holders of the Chicago Bears.
Thirty-six thousand dollars fully wasted, flushed.
There is no rationale for spending this money in this way. There is no possible return, no possible benefit to the school district, to the village.
We spent some time paging through the virtual edition of this promotional magazine. It is packed with Bears minutiae — rosters, stats, schedules, a little nostalgia, glossy pictures, letters from the team president, general manager and head coach — all of whom the sports columnists in Chicago believe should be canned after Sunday’s humiliating loss to the Lions.
The target audience for the magazine are the wealthy and the obsessed who hold season tickets or maybe are on the waiting list for season tickets. How many Forest Parkers hold those tickets, are on that list? Not too many. How many Bears season ticket holders are contemplating moving to Forest Park to enroll their young kids in our grade schools? None is our best guess.
The Bears magazine is, as you’d expect, packed with ads for luxury cars, luxury sneakers, high-end alcohol. We did not see any other small public school districts buying ad spreads.
The superintendent said he was unaware of this expenditure and did nothing to defend it. He also prevented the two colleagues most likely involved in making this purchase from talking to the Review.
We’ve seen the invoices after we FOIA’d them. They are broken into more bite-sized chunks of $6,000 each, likely to call less attention to the spending.
The school board needs to ask tough questions and we expect public answers to just how this massive error in judgment could have taken place unquestioned for two straight years.