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Community Alert ! Champaign School Board Member Kerris Lee

Here are some informative and entertaining community alerts from North End Breakfast Club activist Craig Walker.

From: Craig Walker
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2015 14:58:17 -0500
Subject: Community Alert ! Champaign School Board Member Kerris Lee

As the previous Alert outlined below, School Board member Kerris Lee has advocated for Dodds Park as the only viable alternative to Interstate Drive. The Board and Administration support this policy and in fact the Superintendent has stated that if the referendum is successful they District will revisit Dodds with the Park District. On Sunday John Foreman Publisher of the News Gazette wrote an editorial agreeing with Kerris and the Board that Dodds Park is the best site for the new high school. And let there be no doubt we need a new high school was his main point. It doesn't take much insight to see the value of a new high school next to Parkland College and the potential for a top tier education complex allowing students to take advantage of the vocational and educational resources at Parkland. Its a win win all the way around right ? Well not so fast...Joe Petry is President of the Park District Board. He has previously ruled out Dodds as an alternative. This is what was in the NG article on January 7th : "I would have really liked to have seen Dodds Park brought back to the table. I think it presents an excellent opportunity," board member Kerris Lee said during Monday night's special meeting. And what does the head of the family for whom the park is named think of the idea? Don't ask. "There is absolutely nothing that will change my mind, not even naming the school after my father," Newt Dodds said Tuesday. "I'm not interested in any part of it, or carrying on a conversation about it. "I'm not going to tear up a perfectly good park and place a school on it when that's not what it was meant for, especially when there's a school right next door." (Centennial High School is just a two-mile trip from Dodds). The park, purchased in 1969 for $298,495, is named for D.C. "Pick" Dodds, Newt's father, who was a Champaign parks commissioner from 1930-71 and was the first president of the city's park district. "I've spent 40 years on the park board myself," Newt Dodds said. "I don't think I can make myself any clearer. I'm not interested." Neither is the park board he served on from 1975-2013, says current President Joe Petry, whose term ends in April. Now this is a clear cut example of class privilege that is a naked abuse of power. Newt Dodds ( Marci Dodds dad by the way) doesn't own Dodds Park. Taxpayer money paid for that park. But hey, Newt is a Country Clubber and since he said no his fellow Country Clubber Joe Petry is obedient and refuses to allow Dodds to be considered much less support it. Let us not forget Joe Petry is our community's worse nightmare. Now there is a Citizens petition drive to force the debate onto the Park District. Momentum is growing stronger by the hour for Dodds Park. Best case scenario is the referendum passes, Petry loses, Kerris and Jamar remain on the school Board, and the new Park Board votes on an agreement with School District for Dodds Park as the new high school site. The link to the petition is : This is our kids future at stake. If you are able please sign the petition and attend the School Board meetings ( there is one tonight at 6pm) and support the Board and Administration as they try to bring a new high school to our community now. Petry and his allies will do everything they can to keep our kids in trailers and substandard facilities, but you the people can speak up and speak loudly and prevent this evil intent from succeeding. Have a Blessed Week !

Subject: Re: Community Alert ! Don Gerard and Joe Petry ally attack African American School Board members
Sent: February 6, 2015 at 2:42:06 PM CST
From: Craig Walker

Happy Friday Community members, It is important to note that the only current school board members up for election are Kerris Lee and Jamar Brown. Please read two mayoral candidates thoughts on their tenure : In today's News Gazette : "Gerard, the only Champaign Central graduate of the quartet, told the audience he didn't know how he would vote. But he also said he was "concerned" about the current school board. "As a taxpayer, if I'm brutally honest I'm a little concerned about our school board and some of the decisions that have been made and I'm a little nervous," he said. "I'm going to be looking closely at the candidates who are running." In the Friday January 30 News Gazette : "The proposed site the school board bought on the far north end of town is the main problem. Nothing more nothing less. Said Al Nudo( Chief Advisor to Joe Petry) .... We don't want the referendum to pass and we want a new school board ... " Now it is no surprise that Joe Petry and his allies are trying to remove Jamar and Kerris from the School Board. Joe Petry in his short campaign for mayor has missed the NAACP dinner, the ML King celebration, and pretty much is determined to try and bring a pro rich guy agenda to City Hall. Did you note Al Nudo's code reference to the site ? Far North End.... we all know that dog whistle. Petry and Nudo have no respect or relationship with the African American community of Champaign which is reflected in Petry's tenure at the Park District which includes no minority contractor utilization and out of 77 managers at the PD there are less than 4 people of color in those positions and Nudo's record in public office and business reflect zero utilization of African American firms or managers. Don Gerard was doing commercials with Jamar when he ran the first time, but now he is firing targeted verbal code shots at them in an effort to glom onto what he see as an anti school board coalition. This man has time and time again sold out our community and after we were the difference of votes that made him Mayor he too should be held strictly accountable for taking pot shots in the newspaper at Jamar and Kerris. MAYOR MATH I know Champaign election numbers like the back of my hand. I called Carol Ammons margin of victory on Twitter one week before the election and was off by a point. In this Mayor's race, with four candidates, it is impossible to win without votes from the African American community. Trust me when I say IMPOSSIBLE ! So first order of business is we must zero out those candidates that are participating in the effort to unseat Jamar and Kerris . Zero Black Vote. Petry is upfront with his efforts and Gerard with these comments here has demonstrated he is using the not so subtle approach. Let's not forget the referendum passed with over 80% of the black vote in November. Those are our kids sitting in trailers and a 70 year old broke down building and if the referendum doesn't pass it will likely be at least 5 years before it is brought back to the table. But Gerard and Petry don't care. Petry is protecting the business interests of his developer buddies who have money making ideas for the site, and Gerard is pandering to anyone trying to get a vote. Gerard held two fundraisers in the Q4 2014 and raised ZERO $$'s which is pretty hard even for an incompetent incumbent mayor. It is imperative as we move to defend our representation on the School Board, where by the way African American and Latino Kids are the majority, against the likes of "mighty white is right " Joe Petry and " Sell his soul for a vote" Don Gerard. I am encouraging you to shut the doors on Petry and Gerard, and tell them their actions against our representation on the Champaign School Board, makes them unwelcome in our community. #ZEROVOTEFROMOURCOMMUNITYFORGERARD&PETRY. Have a Blessed Weekend, Craig Walker

Sent: Tue, Feb 3, 2015 1:59 pm
Subject: Re: Community Alert !

From: Craig Walker

Champaign School Board Member Kerris Lee As the debate continues on the Unit 4 Referendum I thought it would be good for you to hear Board member Kerris Lee's response to those who are trying to defeat the referendum and take control of the school board. ( More on that later) : KERRIS LEE EMAIL RESPONSE : What we fail to mention in the location issue is the needs of the kids now. We are at 104% capacity and need a solution for our kids. Waiting at this capacity is just irresponsible (we all know that as adults) as we are not providing the best education for our kids with rooms that are over their capacity. We cannot expect educators to meet the needs of our kids when we do not even have the space to do so...that is just wrong. We would not run our companies or work in an environment like this so why would we allow it for our kids. Dodds is clearly the answer to this solution, but I have not heard the opposition put their resources towards Dodds nor speak about it. As for 2010 education...tell that to UIUC and all the other colleges across the nation that have this same mentality. Here is the reality... not all kids have internet access, are hungry, and their only meal that day is the one they receive from our school. So before we get too far ahead of the future disruptions of education, let us at least try to address the issues from the past that still plague us today. However, that is for another discussion. Besides, we have an example of this model of a high school that is close by a college, UNI, that works. I bet if we got together and put our assertions aside we would find Dodds to be a good solution. Instead we learn of plans months later through NG from the opposition of the other 3 sites described above. That is not working together. "Keep Central Central" talks about building a better community. Well it STARTS with this issue...not a location...our community starts with us working together. Not against each other. It is unfair to say the BOE has not been open. We have evaluated Country Fair, Spalding, (wanted Dodds). and some of us met many times to engaged the opposition to discuss proposed solutions and seeking to work together. I am sure you recall my reaching out to the group and the meetings that "Keep Central Central" held. Outside of that I have met with Petry, David, and Rector many times as well. Here is the truth of the matter...people that serve in the "Keep Central Central/KCC" have agreed that Dodds is a good location for the school. I know that you have David, Jon Rector, and Joe Petry. So since we have a closer consensus on would think the group would work together to make that happen. The BOE agrees with you and some of the people in KCC that Dodds is a good site. Perhaps, that would be a good plan to work on. I truly hope the KCC incorporates Dodds in their planning. I believe that we can look at ways to expand Dodds reach. (i.e. We do not have to just take away from Dodds. Perhaps, we can give to it and create a win-win. Sometimes the best deals are made when both sides don't get what they want.) Hope we all keep an open mind to the possibilities and stop pointing fingers and work toward a better community which = is meeting our kids needs first by working together and showing a great example of it! Ghandi said be the change you want to see in the world. Sincerely, Kerris

Citizens for New Central HS at Dodds: New Central HS at Dodds Park
We the people, living in Unit 4 School District and/or in the Champaign Park District areas, are asking that the Champaign Park District offer 37 acres of Dodds Park to build a high school to replace the aging Central High School. Dodds Park belongs to the taxpayers in Champaign. We are demanding that you take a reasonable offer of Dodds Park to the Champaign Unit 4 Board and Administration before the April 7th election date.
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