Political friends, relatives, felons make best school job candidates

Cahokia Mayor Curtis McCall Jr.
Cahokia Mayor Curtis McCall Jr. BND file photo

Cahokia and East St. Louis kind of like to distance themselves from one another, thanks to a mixture of self-identity and racial history. But it looks like Cahokia leaders are learning from the well-oiled political jobs machine of their neighbor.

Cahokia School District 187’s board just hired four folks even though they are next to destitute with the delays in school funding. Four jobs were created over the objections of a former school board member, the teachers’ union president and parents.

Where did they have to go to find qualified staff? Well, at local village and township halls and right across the conference table, of course.

Cahokia Mayor Curtis McCall Jr. is now the district’s dean of students. The daughter of Alorton Mayor Joann Reed, Jarnia Reed, is benefits coordinator. Cahokia School Board Secretary Kimberly Combs is in charge of retention and recruitment, but at least the elected board member abstained from voting to hire herself. Former Cahokia trustee and convicted felon Trevon L. Tompkin is, get this, night watchman to stop theft and vandalism.

Tompkin is only 33, but has had 46 charges filed against him in St. Clair County. He was convicted of stealing votes in 2010 and was recently fired from his village job after he was charged with felony corruption for personal use of a village credit card.

Apparently the wisdom behind this hire was that “it takes a thief to catch a thief.”

The school board also filled an existing job with another felon, Patricia Cross-Hicks.

Teachers’ union president Leslie Harder was not a fan of adding staff during a school funding crisis.

“The union just believes that what money we do have at this time should be spent directly on services for our students and not creating new jobs at this time,” Harder said at the meeting where these hires were approved.

Most other folks are not a fan of hiring political friends and connected relatives. Maybe convicts deserve a second chance, but should they get a 47th chance on the public’s dime?

Poor lessons for our friends in Cahokia to learn from their peers.