The post-Erwin fallout continues in WestChiTown as St Charles board member Jim Gaffney tries to distance himself from the now infamous "Erwin memo" that bears his signature.
His 'I didn't write it but I signed it' excuse is the lamest thing I've heard since Erwin's, 'I didn't present at the conference, but I signed off on it.'
What's next? 'I'm not the Queen of England, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night?'
One source close to district leadership in St Charles told KSN&C, in April, that several district personnel were aware of Erwin's efforts to pressure HR staff to add 85 sick days to her account starting in 2004 - a year early. Some have opined that such pressure may have played a role in the departure of a former HR chief in 2006.
The rumor was that after only a few weeks on the job, new HR director Tony Spahr started receiving significant pressure from Erwin - first orally - then, after he reviewed her contract, and refused to add the days - she gave him the memo Gaffney signed, and directed Spahr to add the days again.
Spahr sought legal advice and refused again. After that, Erwin told him that maybe he should start looking for work elsewhere - which he apparently did.
If the rumor is true - there ought to be a piece of paper out there - some kind of legal opinion from the board attorney Mike Duggan, written in mid February.
This from AMELIA FLOOD at the Kane County Chronicle:
ST. CHARLES – Former District 303 school board President Bobbie Raehl has taken to police and county prosecutors a memo – signed by board member James Gaffney – that she says shows “behind-the-scenes business.”
“Personally, I feel it’s attempted fraud and it’s a violation of the Open Meetings Act,” Raehl said.
Gaffney denies writing the one-sentence memo that states that the school board agreed in 2004 to award nearly a year in sick days to its then-superintendent.
“I didn’t write the memo,” Gaffney said during a recess of Monday night’s school board meeting. “I just signed it.”
The board later approved a contract amendment to give 340 sick days to then-Superintendent Barbara Erwin. But that action was taken during a 2005 closed-session vote that was found to be in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.
The memo that was signed by Gaffney, Raehl said, showed he was trying to act on behalf of the board.“He was saying it was the board’s intent, and it was not,” Raehl insisted.
Gaffney explained that “the human resources guy” faxed him the memo.
The district’s former human resources director, Tony Spahr, said the document was not faxed by his department. He said he first received it from Erwin in her office in February.“I don’t know how she obtained it,” Spahr said. “I’d never received anything like it.”
The memo consists of a single sentence: “This is to affirm that the Board of Education, agreed in 2004, as part of her employment contract to award her 340 sick days at 85 days a year.”
It is signed, “Jim Gaffney, past president.”
Raehl said she learned of the memo in March. She confronted Gaffney about it during an executive session April 9, Raehl reported, but he would not acknowledge the memo.
Gaffney said the memo would have been on his personal letterhead if he had written it.“If you look back at the record, everything is on my personal letterhead,” Gaffney said Monday. “If I had written it, ... it would’ve been better written.”
He did not return phone calls Tuesday for comment on Raehl’s accusations.
On Monday night, Gaffney was called upon by resident Jeff Blankenship to explain the memo.“Like a bicycle that’s broken, you have to fix what’s broken,” Blankenship said.
Blankenship also asked Gaffney and board President Kathy Hewell to resign amid the controversy involving a contract extension the board awarded to Erwin.“Mrs. Hewell, Mr. Gaffney, you aren’t helping this board,” Blankenship said. “If we’re going to do what’s best for our children, some people have to leave.”
Gaffney would not comment Monday on the calls for his resignation or those asking for an explanation of his actions.“Everybody’s got their own opinions,” Gaffney said.
Hewell could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Timeline of events
February 2007 -– Tony Spahr, the former head of human resources at the district, is given a memo signed by Jim Gaffney asking that Superintendent Barbara Erwin be given 340 sick days retroactively.
March – Board President Bobbi Raehl becomes aware of the memo through the board’s attorney, Mike Duggan.
April 9 – Raehl alleges she confronted Gaffney in executive session about the memo and that he did not acknowledge it.
July 2 – The Kane County Chronicle requests the memo under the Freedom of Information Act.
Aug. 9 – Raehl meets with lawyers in the civil division of the State’s Attorney’s Office to discuss the memo.
Aug. 13 – Raehl and others call for an explanation of the memo during citizen comments at the school board meeting. Gaffney informs a Chronicle reporter that he did not write the memo, only signed it and that it was faxed to him for his signature by District 303’s human resources department.
Aug. 14 – Tony Spahr says that the fax did not come from his department and that the first time he saw the memo was when he was given it by Erwin in February.
Photo by Travis Houghton at the Kane CountyChronicle.
Gaffney says "the Human resources guy" sent it to him. Bull.
Apart from the fact that Tony Spahr had no motivation to do so, it would have constituted an illegal act, and he had previously refused to grant her the days, despite being threatened with termination...WHERE ARE THE FAX MACHINE MARKINGS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE MEMO?
I don't know about your faxes...but mine all have a time stamps on them. Take a good look at the Chronicle's photo of the actual memo. No marks.
Did Gaffney mess up his story?
So who really wrote the memo? You can't rule out Gaffney. You can't rule out a couple of others either.