Board member Ed Corcoran said at Monday night’s District 86 Board of Education meeting he
believes colleague Kay Gallo should recuse herself from board actions involving Perkins + Will, the district’s architecture firm, because of a campaign donation made to Gallo’s slate of candidates in the spring.
Perkins + Will donated $1,250 to the "Building on Excellence" slate that include Dennis Brennan, Gallo, DeeDee Gorgol and Roseanne Rosenthal. It was received on April 2, one week before the April 9 election.
The donation can be found in this D-2 form submitted by Gallo's slate.
Corcoran said that donation creates “an inherent conflict of interest” for Gallo if she acts on items related to the district’s relationship with the engineering firm, but she saw it differently.
“People and companies have the right to donate their money the way they see fit,” Gallo said, noting she was happy to receive the support of Perkins + Will.
Gallo was the only "Building on Excellence" candidate elected in April. Victor Casini, Corcoran and Claudia Manley were the other three elected, all newcomers from the "Friends for District 86" slate.
Also discussed Monday was a $1,000 donation to Gallo's slate made by the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association (HHSTA), the District 86 teachers’ union.
Board member Richard Skoda said he turned down a campaign donation from the teachers’ union when he first ran for the board in 1995, as did board members Jennifer Planson and Michael Kuhn in 2011.
“It looks unseemly,” Skoda said of the accepted HHSTA donation.
Like she is about Perkins and Will’s donation, Gallo said she’s “quite pleased” the teachers’ union supported her slate. She said she has made votes in the past that have angered teachers and inferred that she will not be swayed by the donation.
“I vote the way I believe is right and proper and I will stand behind it,” Gallo said.
Manley, the board’s president, said she does not believe Gallo has acted improperly, but she said she believes candidates should act in a way that’s “above and beyond the appearance of impropriety.”
Manley directed acting Superintendent Bruce Law to bring back more information about if and how that standard is written in board policies.
Gallo said the Illinois Election Commission is the authority on whether a campaign donation should or should not be accepted, and it expressed no problems with the Perkins + Will and HHSTA donations.
Gallo said to Manley, “It doesn’t bother me what you’re saying because I know that the election commission is taking care of that.
“We could talk about appearances all day long. There’s plenty of smoke and mirrors going around and I’m not going to lower myself to start talking about those things.”
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