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Not surprisingly the News-Gazette has endorsed one of their own, incumbent Kristine Chalifoux, to serve on Champaign's Unit 4 School Board for a second term. The Unit 4 Candidate has made a substantial profit from School District funds over the four years she has held her position.
If voters compare her views before she announced her candidacy back in 2005,
and in 2006,
So, it might confuse voters as to why Incumbent Chalifoux has built her Board credentials on just the opposite after taking a seat as a Champaign Unit 4 Board Member.
At Thursday night's PTA candidate forum, a question was asked to all School Board contenders, “Have you or any member in your household ever had or currently has any contract with the school district Unit #4? If so, what was the contract for and the amount of the contract?“
Incumbent Chalifoux gave a resounding, “NO!” and qualified that denial with admitting though her husband's company had contracts with Unit# 4, neither of them were stakeholders or owned shares of that company so that doesn't really count as a Conflict of Interest.
Actually, Incumbent Chalifoux purposefully misled the citizens of Champaign with that denial not only about the position her husband holds in Facility Dynamics Engineering Corporation (FDE), the company receiving contracts from the school district, but failed to mention she was on the selection committee who reviewed the companies vying for the bid that selected Facility Dynamics Engineering Corporation (FDE). Incumbent Greg Novak, who sat on the Facility Planning committee that chose FDE, attempted to defend co-Incumbent Chalifoux when it was time for him to answer the question by adding, “If a member has a Conflict they would abstain from voting a contract approval.“
Well, in fairness to Incumbent Chalifoux, she did abstain through both years of contracts. Contracts that were awarded to her husband, Alan Chalifoux Principal Engineer at FDE, in the amount of $390,465 with additional “open pocket book“ for charges incurred by FDE as the project advances, things like lunch for the engineers working on site with no fixed amount or per diem, and other perks not normally awarded to vendors. However, simply “abstaining“ without full disclosure of why you are abstaining is a violation of the act itself. Incumbent Chalifoux did not state her reason for abstaining either year her husband's company was awarded his contract.
[See the Unit 4 School Board contract with FDE. The Scope of Services section is on FDE letterhead which lists Alan Chalifoux's contact information, and that section is signed by him.]
Facility Dynamics Engineering Corporation (FDE) is a questionable company whose most recent incarnation of incorporation was 2004 in the State of Texas. In the two states of incorporation (Texas and Maryland) FDE does not hold a certificate of “Good Standing“. The Corporate Office of FDE is located 6760 Alexander Bell Drive, Columbia, MD works much like a Mary Kay/ Amway/Shaklee type company in certain ways. FDE headquarters acts as the bank and insurer led by Jose Santos who also is an engineer. Santos cut his teeth by working the very profitable minority contracts network in the government sector around the Washington DC area. He got his FDE idea in 1989 and began to recruit engineers around the country, offering them the backing for a percentage of the profits. This works well for all parties. Principal Engineers at the local levels avoid ownership issues (like Conflicts of Interests) and Santos doesn't have to do the on-site work responsibility and only has to keep the Corporation in Good Standing and money available. The benefit to the local Principal Engineers is that they have the capital to start on the projects they negotiate. When a contractor begins work, they are using their own resources, short-term bank loans (if credit allows) to hire the work force needed and to sustain supplies and overhead costs associated with the project until funds are released by the person, group or institution that hired the Construction or Engineering firm/company. Those who can't afford the upfront capital and bonds to insure performance can start or not stall, simply can't compete for the larger contracts, or contracts of any kind. Santos acts as the banker/frontman in that regard.
As P.E. for FDE, Alan Chalifoux hires sub-contractors of various qualifications and specialties as needed, and solely by his own discretion. Alan Chalifoux pays all of the vendors and overhead and is solely accountable for that spending as well as any additional requests for funding said project.
Originally FDE recruited Larry Lister, an Engineer living in Urbana to have a satellite office and run the business for Champaign County and nearby counties but in Illinois engineers must be licensed by the State and Lister has no license to practice as an Engineer in Illinois so he then recruited his colleague, Alan Chalifoux who does hold an Illinois license as an Engineer. The two of them became friends back when they both worked for Construction Engineering Research Laboratories (CERL).
Incumbent Chalifoux and husband Alan have managed to place themselves on every facilities planning committee in each school their children attended in the Champaign Unit #4.
Once elected in 2007, Kristine Chalifoux immediately put herself on the Districtwide Facilities Planning committee and pushed for air conditioning for each school. Incumbent Chalifoux's husband's companies, ETA Engineers
and now Facility Dynamics Engineering (FDE) were built on electrical and mechanical engineering 'shoehorning' modern air conditioning, plumbing, smoke control...
Candidate Chalifoux was employed with Architectural Spectrum (ASD) during her first term on the Unit 4 School Board while her husband Alan Chalifoux managed his engineering company, ETA Engineers located 44 Main St. STE 402, Champaign, IL (incorporated June 7, 2000 and Dissolution December 13, 2006) [see the ETA Articles of Incorporation, showing Alan Chalifoux as incoporator]
Devonshire is an important player in Incumbent Chalifoux's portfolio and her working relationship and business associations may find another Conflict of Interest as our District moves into choosing a site for the New Central High School.
Here's why: in 1977 George T. Shapland and Thomas E. Harrington founded Devonshire Realty. That eventually became part of the Devonshire Group, which has architectural, engineering and title insurance businesses in addition to its real estate business. The company recently got out of the residential real estate business but continues to offer commercial real estate services.
Along the way, the Devonshire Group acquired both Architectural Spectrum (ADS) (Kristine Chalifoux), ETA Engineers (Alan Chalifoux) renaming it ETA Engineers of Illinois and made it a limited liability company, as well as owned Coldwell Banker Commercial Devonshire Realty, Associated Capital Mortgage, Associated Capital Title, HDC Engineering and Devonshire Randolph Engineering.
Shapland also has interests in Worden-Martin, is president of Shapland Management Co. and serves as a director of First Busey Corp. and sits on the board of directors for The News-Gazette Inc.
Incumbent Chalifoux's intimate connections with Shapland will explain how the News-Gazette endorsed all three candidates (Novak, Chalifoux and Grey) back in 2007 for their vocal opposition to renewing Superintendent Culvers contracts without more careful consideration for his work performance and all vowed not to follow in the footsteps of those decisions.
So naturally we weren't surprised when these same three candidates who are now incumbents and actually did approve renewing contract after contract and additional oversized benefits to an already overstuffed wallet the Superintendent was pocketing, that the News-Gazette didn't criticize or remind us of that little fact even when they wrote about the Superintendent trying to run out of town before the House of Cards crashed in around him.
Devonshire holdings are managed by Jeffrey Tock, a partner in “Harrington and Tock” law firm. It should be well noted this firm's areas of practice are: Civil Litigation, Condemnation and Eminent Domain, Construction Law, Real Estate Law, and Zoning, Planning & Land Use.
When you go to the polls on April 5th keep in mind that if you select Incumbent Kristine Chalifoux you are also giving Alan Chalifoux (FDE), George Shapland, and "Harrington and Tock" another opportunity to control where our tax dollars go and putting their point person in a position of power to keep that control and who will vigorously defend those bids and approval of.
An Incumbent who has consistently been the watchdog on companies not held by The Devonshire Group and who advocates for conservative fiscal spending solely with those few who have made a choice not to be absorbed into the power hoarding Corporation.
|Chalifoux 5-10-10 RegMtgMinutes.pdf||172.55 KB|
|Chalifoux board_minutes_2011-02-14.pdf||109.77 KB|