Balls of Steel

Last night was Theresa Minutillo's final meeting as a BoE Trustee, after serving out her second term on the Board. 

GA would like to thank Minutillo for her years of service.

Her impressive legacy of accomplishment includes founding Senior Prep Day at Hoboken High School; an event where members of the community meet with juniors and seniors to discuss resume writing, interview techniques, what to wear on an interview, or just chat about one's job-  to prepare our kids for the working world. It is one of the many ways Minutillo has volunteered her time for the children of our district.

But there's more: Minutillo is the founder of the Kids First coalition- the sole Reform member of the School Board when she was elected in 2006.    Here is composition of the 2006-2007 Hoboken School Board:
Carmelo Garcia  
Frances Kearns
Frank Raia
Theresa Burns
James Farina
Anthony Romano
 Jack Raslowsky (replaced with Wanda Alicea)
Magdelena Porrata
Theresa Minutillo

Until she was joined by Carrie Gilliard and Rose Marie Markle in 2007, Theresa was the lone opponent to the Old Guard sticky fingers in the School Board grab bag. (GA has done a  number of posts on the Old Guard abuses documented in the KPMG 2005-2006 audit of the Hoboken BoE- one of  my faves is the $500+K purchase order the BoE wrote payable to.... itself!)

Oink, oink!

It wasn't until 2009 when Kids First took the majority that they hired a new attorney and forced an audit of the 2008-2009 BoE.... which exposed rampant abuses, patronage jobs, and misappropriation of education money by the Old Guard administration. From the Jersey Journal on November 20, 2009:
Auditors released a scathing audit of the Hoboken Board of Education

Tuesday that cited more than two dozen irregularities , including the misuse of candy-sale funds, incorrect approval of overtime and the payment of administrators out of funds meant for instructors.

In a random sampling, auditors found two cases in which funds raised by students through candy sales and other activities were used to reimburse teachers for stolen iPods – to the tune of $400 each.

In addition, overtime was being improperly approved by consultants, instead of employees, auditor Dieter Lerch said at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

Auditors also found that stipends to several employees were either not approved by the board or did not have other necessary documentation. Sullivan said in most of those cases the work was likely being done, despite the lack of documentation, but that interim Superintendent Peter E. Carter said he would conduct a thorough investigation to make sure.
That audit and the sweeping Reform which have followed are the Kids First coalition legacy, and GA salutes Minutillo as its founding member.

Next, Minutillo gets big props from GA for standing up to bullies.

One in particular.

When Beth Mason's employee, Democratic Committeeman Matt Calicchio harassed Minutillo in the presence of her 5 year-old daughter at Wallace School in October 2011, she didn't back down.  No, Minutillo pursued a criminal complaint against Calicchio, and made no less than 8 trips to court including the June 7, 2012 trial at Union City Municipal Court.

Mason videographer, Tm Brendel (blue shirt) watches Minutillo on the witness stand

The goal of the 8 trips to court was to wear Minutillo down, to chip away at her resolve.

Didn't happen.

Nope.  On June 7 Calicchio showed up with his attorney Elise DiNardo,  a witness, Mason employee Tania Garcia, and Mason operatives Tim and Barry Brendel.   DiNardo then had most of Minutillo's supporters thrown out of court by telling the judge we were potential witnesses (GA was one).

Minutillo wasn't rattled.  And though Judge Sixto Macias determined that Calicchio's behavior wasn't actionable, he called him a "bully" and a "fool".

With Minutillo forcing the Mason operative to trial then the court transcript obtained by Da Horsey, Mason's House of Cards began to tumble.  And they haven't stopped since.

So this is my tribute to a gal with a steel pair and a whole lotta moxie.