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posted: 11/6/2011 6:00 AM

Public deserves Grayslake school board member's resignation

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Daily Herald Editorial Board

We generally don't think of school board members or those running for the school board as politicians. And certainly, many may not be masters of every nuance of election law. Fair-minded people can grant them some leeway here.

But to be clear -- to anyone holding or running for office in the suburbs, no matter how obscure the office might be and no matter how far removed from party politics -- we expect everyone to conduct themselves with integrity. That's a reasonable expectation any citizen would have.

When they fail that simple ethical standard, they lose any allowance of leeway.

Such is the case with Susan Facklam, a school board member in Grayslake Elementary District 46, who violated state election law by handing out $5 restaurant coupons to two people she registered to vote last spring.

It is a breach of public trust so cynical the transgression cannot be condoned.

We believe her only proper course is to resign her seat. She also owes district residents an apology and an explanation of her actions.

The Lake County State's Attorney's office has decided not to prosecute her, citing the lack of a broader pattern of illegal payments.

But authorities pulled no punches in scolding her for her actions in a letter sent to her in August and obtained by the Daily Herald two weeks ago.

Facklam already has resigned as a deputy registrar and last week, the school board voted to censure her -- nearly three months after the letter was sent because she never informed the board about it, according to one of her colleagues.

That's enough damage to make her ineffective on a board that already has seen plenty of controversy in recent years.

It's the board's second censure of an elected official since March when Michael Carbone was publicly scolded for inappropriately seeking personnel information. We didn't call for his resignation because while the accusation was unseemly, he had not committed a felony, as in this case.

But our concern goes deeper than a prosecutorial tongue-lashing and board censure.

It lies in one of the emails prosecutors examined. It was sent by Facklam to former board President Mary Garcia before the April election in which they were candidates.

"Don't let them turn us in; gifts to register to vote is probably illegal!"

That wording is clear: She knew or at least suspected that what she was doing was legally wrong.

Chief Deputy State's Attorney Daniel Jasica said Facklam violated a section of election code prohibiting any person from knowingly giving, lending or promising to provide money or other valuable consideration to influence someone to register to vote. It is a Class 4 felony.

To put it simpler terms: It's conduct that can't be tolerated.