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Latest Flowers shenanigans not surprising
It's well past time for embattled schools chief to go

Sunday, September 27, 2009
by SouthtownStar editorial staff

The issue: Mired in debt, targeted by state legislators and the county board and subject of a criminal probe, Cook County Suburban Regional Schools Supt. Charles Flowers decided recently to bring on two new administrators.

We say: This is outrageous. It's just the latest in a long line of outrageous choices by Flowers, who should resign and answer questions about his alleged financial mismanagement of public money.

It's almost not possible for regional schools chief Charles Flowers to shock us anymore. For months, SouthtownStar reporter Duaa Eldeib has investigated the regional office of education's finances, uncovering allegations that have led to a probe by the Cook County state's attorney, a grand jury and the state board of education. The Cook County Board and some in the state Legislature have called for his office to be eliminated.

Our stories have detailed accusations that Flowers has misused office credit cards, bullied employees and failed to carry out even the very modest responsibilities of his office.

Also, we've revealed how Flowers has driven the office approximately $1 million into debt, which has forced him to lay off some workers and even miss payroll at least twice.

In the meantime he's padded the office roster with friends, his sisters and his nephews.

The newest addition to the troubled ROE office is new Assistant Supt. Anthony Epah, who will be paid $77,426 a year. He replaces Cynthia Broughton, the former assistant superintendent, who retired the day before investigators raided the regional schools office and Flowers' home as part of the criminal probe. But Broughton wasn't gone long. She's returned to the regional schools office, this time as an interim deputy regional superintendent. For that she's paid $42,600 for a 120-day stint. This is on top of her $10,537 a month pension.

This is ridiculous. First, considering the black cloud of suspicion hanging over Flowers, what educator in his right mind would take a job at the ROE? We don't know for sure because Epah, like Flowers himself, refuses to speak with us.

And secondly, why should taxpayers fund Broughton's new temporary job while simultaneously paying her a generous pension?

It's well past time for Flowers to resign. Likewise, it's overdue for authorities to hold him accountable for his actions.

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