Depending who you talk to, last week's appointment of David Seiffert to the Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board was either a thoughtful decision to tap a highly qualified candidate or a contrived, political move designed to maintain majority control.
From the timing of former board member Mark Bloom's resignation to a lack of discussion over the 14 candidates who applied for his seat, board members Tim Millar and Sue Quinn say something's fishy.
"If we had an actual discussion and came to reasonable conclusion, I could live with that. But we didn't," Millar said. "This was all about control."
Bloom resigned from the board Jan. 14, citing the travel requirements of a new job that forced him to miss two of the previous three board meetings.
But Millar believes the timing of Bloom's resignation "was very suspect." Had Bloom resigned just seven days earlier his seat would have gone up for election April 5 instead of being filled by appointment.
That would leave Seiffert and five others running in the April election vying for three 4-year terms and the remaining two years on Bloom's term.
The timing of Bloom's resignation also means Board President Gerald Chapman or member James Ekeberg could retain a spot on the board should either lose his re-election bid. If Seiffert wins a 4-year term in April, Bloom's seat would again be filled by appointment, and Chapman or Ekeberg could be chosen.
Bloom, however, said he didn't decide to step down until he missed the Jan. 12 board meeting. He informally told the entire board and Superintendent Scott Thompson of his decision the following day, then tendered a resignation letter Jan. 14.
"Everybody is going to think and speculate on things, but Mr. Millar and Sue are going to have to understand things are going to occur that are not necessarily the result of some conspiracy," said Bloom, a friend of Seiffert who encouraged him to run.
Quinn voted against Seiffert's appointment in part because he'll get to serve on the board even if the community doesn't vote for him April 5.
"This thwarts the public will, but it is typical of the type of behavior you can expect to continue if Dr. Chapman and Dr. Ekeberg are re-elected," Quinn said.
In addition to the timing, Millar is upset about the lack of discussion over the applicants who the board interviewed last week. He said less than five minutes passed from the time the last interview finished to the time of the board's vote.
He believes several applicants were more qualified than Seiffert, including a former Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board member, an Illinois PTA board member, a village of Palatine architect and a member of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
Chapman disputes Millar's recollection of the timing, but said anything else that occurred during the board's closed session last week is confidential.
He reiterated Seiffert's background, which includes two years as District 15 Educational Foundation president, Jane Addams School PTA vice president and member of the Palatine Plan Commission.
Board members Rich Bokor and Peggy Babcock, who both voted for Seiffert, said discussion took place throughout the roughly six-hour interview process. They also noted that board members had 48 hours to review applications, which asked candidates several questions about qualifications and philosophies.
Bokor said he admires Seiffert's commitment as the only applicant who stepped up to run in the election.
"By the time the process was done, my mind was pretty made up," Bokor said.