Tuesday afternoon former Cook Country board member Tony Peraica and the anti-tax group Taxpayers United of Illinois filed a lawsuit in the chancery division of the Cook County Circuit Court against Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 and all seven members of the District 208 school board.
The suit alleged that District 208 engaged in illegal electioneering activity to advocate for yes votes in the April 5 tax rate referendum. The referendum was defeated with almost 77 percent of voters rejecting RB’s request for a tax rate increase.
The lawsuit asks for damages not to exceed $50,000 and asks that school board members be required to pay any damages that might be awarded out of their own individual funds.
Before filing the lawsuit on the eighth floor of the Daley Center in downtown Chicago Peraica and the leaders of Taxpayers United held a press conference on the seventh floor.
“The Riverside property tax increase referendum is the most blatant example of electioneering I’ve seen in over 30 years of fighting taxes here in Illinois,” said Jim Tobin, president of Taxpayers United.
Peraica, a Riverside resident, said he decided to join the lawsuit because no one else would step forward.
“I think this lawsuit here is an attempt — hopefully one of many to come — to try and hold these elected school board members accountable and send a strong message that they cannot engage in overt political activity for their own self interest at taxpayers expense,” Peraica said. “I’m proud to be part of this.”
The suit also asks for a preliminary injunction that would prevent the district and the school board members from using public funds to defend against the suit and to prevent the use of any public funds to promote yes votes on any future referendum.
The lawsuit also claims the school board intentionally used misleading language in the referendum to try and mislead voters as to the amount of the tax increase that was sought.
When informed of the lawsuit by the Landmark Tuesday afternoon District 208 Interim Superintendent David Bonnette said he had no comment.