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No objection vs. petitions in Palos 118

No legal objection appeared to have been filed by this week’s deadline against the petitions forcing Palos School District 118’s planned $6.5 million borrowing onto the ballot as a referendum question on the November election ballot.

Chief proponent of the referendum John T. Donovan, of Palos Park, would be notified by certified mail of any objection to the petitions he filed on Dec. 28 with a representative of the board of education at the district’s administration building, 8800 W. 119th St., Palos Park.

A minimum of 1,654 signatures, or 10 percent, of registered voters residing in the school district are needed to place the district’s working cash bond issue on the 2016 presidential election ballot. Donovan said he filed 2,100 signatures, more than was needed to forestall any legal objection against the referendum petition.

Any legal objection to the petition for a referendum had to be filed within a period of five business days from the date that Donovan filed his petition sheets, by state law. That deadline expired by Tuesday.

The Cook County Clerk’s office had no record of an objection filed as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the deadline maintained by the school district.

A legal objection seeking to void the referendum would have been heard by the county officers electoral board, comprised of the county clerk or an assistant designated by the county clerk (as chairman), state’s attorney or an assistant state’s attorney designated by the state’s attorney and the circuit court clerk or an assistant designated by the circuit court clerk.

          Under the old law prior to 2013, a three-member local electoral board made up of school board members – president, secretary, and longest serving member – would have had jurisdiction over such a hearing. The Regional incorrectly cited the old law as the hearing process in a news story last week.

Although no legal challenge against the petitions was made, the school board still has until August 2016 to decide whether to move forward with placing the question on the November 2016 ballot, district Superintendent Anthony Scarsella, citing the district’s legal counsel, has said.

Without a legal objection to the petition for a referendum letting voters decide the bond issue, it will be up to the district’s board of education to decide the next step on how to proceed.

Donovan said he will be keeping an eye on the school board meetings’ agendas to see if and when the borrowing is brought up again for discussion. The school board can legally vote to cancel its bond issue and after a 60-day waiting period vote to again undertake the legal notice and public hearing process to vote a new intent to authorize the issuance of working cash fund bonds.

If need be, Donovan said Tuesday he is prepared to undertake a new petition gathering effort to place that bond issue on the ballot in “order to hold the district accountable to voters,” he said.

It will be up to the school board to determine how it will proceed, Scarsella said Tuesday.

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