All it takes is one ripple in the ocean to create movement.
District 229 board member Robert Cruz is that ripple on the Southside of Chicago.
The district is in Cook County and includes the cities of Bridgeview, Chicago Ridge, Oak Lawn, and Hometown.
Mr. Cruz is the sole board member in District 229 to stand up to Governor Pritzker’s school mask mandates.
Cruz has put his Congressional ambitions to the side to help create local change in his community, yet he remains vilified by many who do not understand why he has taken on the challenge of taking control of our schools.
In an effort to make his community aware of the reasons behind his actions, today Mr. Cruz posted a press release to a local Facebook group.
The press release discussed the upcoming meeting tonight about the resolution to have him removed from the board.
The reason why the board wants him removed?
Because he filed a lawsuit against Governor Pritzker and is standing up to tyranny in Illinois.
“I am deeply saddened that our board president has decided to side with Governor Pritzker”
Upon posting to the local Facebook group Oak Lawn Talk of the Town, Cruz again became the punching bag for those acting out of fear.
Mr. Cruz brings up the question every parent and Illinoisian should be asking: Why is the Governor making decisions over what the people who run our school boards decide?
Furthermore, the representatives in the district, Bill Cunningham and Kelly Burke, have failed to do their job and listen to their constituents.
If so many Illinoisians want mask mandates, why haven’t these representatives created laws to implement the alleged ‘desired’ mandate?
The Oak Lawn Patch has more on Mr. Cruz’s advocacy:
Cruz was elected to the D229 school board in April 2021 and has since declared his candidacy in the upcoming Republican primary for the newly remapped Illinois 6th Congressional District. The D229 school board alleged that Cruz did not inform them of his plans to file a lawsuit against Gov. J.B. Pritzker and state school superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala last August, over a state mandate requiring face masks to be worn inside of school buildings during the pandemic. Cruz dropped his first lawsuit but refiled a second one in September, including the Dist. 229 school board as a defendant, in addition to the governor and state school superintendent. The second lawsuit was dismissed by a judge last month.
Cruz maintains his lawsuit was not about the state’s face mask mandate, but about Pritzker overreaching his authority.
“The lawsuit has been about retrieving local control as the Legislature has failed to pass laws, during this time of emergency, to guide the people of IL through this time,” Cruz said in a written statement prior to Wednesday’s meeting. “Instead we have allowed unchecked executive authority, by the office of the governor, to advance a one-size-fits-all approach.”
On the table at Wednesday’s special meeting are three resolutions to be considered by board members following a public hearing to be conducted by the D229 legal counsel, Burt Odelsen, including formally asking the regional school superintendent to removed Cruz from his elected seat or censureship.
The third option under consideration is to declare a vacancy in office, which does not require authorization from the regional superintendent. If approved by the board, Cruz would be removed from the school board under the Illinois School Code. An elected school board seat becomes vacant before the term expires if an elected official violates his or her official oath, is convicted of an “infamous crime,” or commits a violent crime against a child.
I was able to have a chat with Mr. Cruz this afternoon, and I can say from my personal interaction that he has the best interest of all citizens at heart.
When I asked him why we should unmask the kids, he pointed to the fact that it’s about local control first- who’s making the decisions is the first component (Pritzker).
But the second component is the kids struggling with their mental health. Mr. Cruz points to the increase in school fights not only in Oak Lawn but also Joliet and Proviso.
Sadly, at Proviso, they had to ask parents to come and monitor the hallways to stop the infighting.
In Illinois, mask mandates remain a hot topic for debate, despite the rise in mental health struggles in our students.
With such a polarizing topic, what is the solution?
Mr. Cruz gives one workable option- why can’t students just put the mask on to enter the building, and like a restaurant, take it off when seated?
Cruz states that he respects the anxiety of those who want to wear masks, but in the same token, hopes those people can understand the anxiety of those who do not want to wear masks.
When I asked if the masking is tied to the ESSER funds, he says it’s not, and ESSER money comes no matter what the boards decide.
It is actually the Illinois Department of Health that is issuing the guidance- coming from none other than Governor Pritzker.
In July, the health department said schools should decide on their own.
But Pritzer came back and said you’re going to do what I say, like a good tyrant.
So why is Pritzker doing this to students and not listening to Illinoisians?
The Chicago Way is alive and well with Pritzker in office.
For more background, check out my post on following the money, and Pritzker‘s ties to SHIELD testing and his capital investment firm.
Allegedly, Pritzker polled only 57% of Illinoisians when he made the decision to create the mask mandates.
If the majority of those polled said COVID-19 was their greatest concern, it appears Pritzker is the one politically motivated, not Cruz.
Pritzker, who has ambitions to be President someday, only seems to care to make mandates that will help garner votes
Cruz warns vaccine mandates are coming if we don’t stand up now and fight this government overreach.
He has one comment he wanted to leave us with before the meeting tonight:
This country has procedures in place, and especially during the time of an emergency, [they] should be enacted the most. When we throw away the procedure for fear it turns into a monarchy. And people out of fear will accept a monarchy without knowing it.
Because I fear all those who talk about me, who say I’m this that or the other. And [can] almost smell the fear coming off the screen. They are just afraid. I bet if we had a beer and weren’t talking about this we would probably get along.
Being a Star Wars nerd, he quoted Master Yoda: “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate leads to suffering.”
In the meantime, how can parents get involved to fix Oak Lawn and Cook County suburbs?
The most important is to find a candidate that reflects their values at the local and state level. Advocate for the person who can help change these rules.
However, Mr. Cruz urges parents to come out and express their opinions, even dissenting ones.
If we fix our local community, we can fix Illinois.
The meeting will be open to the public and will be held in the Performing Arts Center at Oak Lawn Community High School, 9400 Southwest Highway, starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12.
We will be providing updates to the story after tonight’s meeting.