Bambenek appointed to Champaign school board

Bambenek appointed to Champaign school board

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school board has selected an author, activist and computer-security expert as its newest member.

Following a 35-minute closed session, the school board unanimously appointed John Bambenek to serve until the next school board election in 2015.

Bambenek, a visiting lecturer in computer science at the University of Illinois, said he was thrilled to get the opportunity to serve the district.

“I have always been interested in educational policy in discussions in the General Assembly and to a much less extent in Congress,” he said. “As someone who also has a commitment to transparency, I will help ensure the community has the confidence that decisions are made in the most fiscally responsible and upright manner to ensure an outstanding education for the students of Unit 4.”

Bambenek, of 715 Erin Drive, Champaign, said there is no public policy matter that is more important than education and raising the next generation.

“There is nothing more important than making sure the next generation is able to take our place in society,” he said. “They will be the ones running the world.”

Bambenek emerged from a field of six candidates for the position. The other applicants were Azark Cobbs, G. David Frye, Chuck Jackson, Mike Somers and Jonathan Westfield.

Champaign school board President Laurie Bonnett said the decision was difficult to make, and she encouraged the other five candidates to run for the board in 2015.

The open seat became available when board member Scott MacAdam stepped down from his position in January.

This was Bambenek’s second attempt to join the school board. He also ran for the board in 2007.

Bambenek joins the board at a time when the school district is considering putting a question on the November ballot to increase property taxes in order to build a new Central High School and make improvements at other schools.

The Champaign man has experience in making a new building for a school become a reality, having been involved with a project in East Africa.

“I have a charity that is active in Tanzania that built a dormitory for a boarding school, so I have been active, in a very small way, with education in Africa,” he said. “There are large swaths of humanity that don’t have access to education.”

He said he also has experience working on campaigns at both the state and local levels.

“There are some things that can be done to smooth over potential rough waters to get a referendum passed,” he said.

While helping to get the ballot question approved is one priority, Bambenek said the board must also focus on the curriculum and maintaining the spirit of the consent decree.

“The consent decree happened because of legitimate issues of some people were unaddressed,” he said. “There are still concerns on racial equity in the schools.
“You can’t make all the people happy all the time, but make sure that when decisions are made that everybody is heard and their views have been taken into account.”

Bambenek said he wants to encourage parents to be involved with their children’s education.

“As a school board member, parental involvement is important,” he said.

Bambenek also stressed support for the teachers who are educating the children of the district.

“We need to make sure the teachers have the resources they need and the support they need,” he said. “If I were building education from scratch, ultimately the primary decisions would come down to parents and teachers. Those two classes of people are the ones who drive educational achievement more than any other.”

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GOP Dance Party wrote on February 13, 2014 at 10:02 pm



spangwurfelt wrote on February 20, 2014 at 10:02 am

Champaign voters rejected wingnut Bambi and got him anyway. Such a deal!

I hope he doesn't take his board seat with the assumption that he has any significant mainstream public approval. It's hard to overstate what a wackabird he is, and Champaign knows it.

cjwinla wrote on February 13, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Another Champaign wanna be Country Club Republican crying cause their candidate favorite Nudo didn't get a free pass. How long do you hold onto this stuff?  Move on he did Nudo a favor.

Glad to see an independent R who thinks substantively selected to be on the Board. As an African American who has collaborated with Bambenek on community initiatives in the past I can assure the community John is not racist. He will listen to our concerns as his comments indicate and he's not controlled by the GOP local leadership which is great for the AA community of Champaign. 


Political Observer wrote on February 14, 2014 at 3:02 am

This is truly unbelievable!  Long-time dirty-trickster and far-right-wing smear artist John Christian Bambenek has just been all over the local news scene (Wednesday) with his immature, sophomoric stunt of spouting fake legalese in an effort to smear and overshadow the news conference where Naomi Jakobsson and Laurel Prussing had just endorsed Sam Rosenberg...and then on Thursday night the Champaign School Board turns around and *rewards* the Ron-Paul-Supporting, Tea-Party-Member Bambenek by choosing him (over 5 presumably sane candidates)  to fill a vacancy??!!  

Ya gotta be kidding me!!!  What, if anything, were the members of the school board thinking???!...Or smoking???!


P.S.  This is a good link for showing Bambenek's love for Ron Paul, Glen Beck and John-Birch-Society-Type Tea Parties:

Political Observer wrote on February 14, 2014 at 3:02 am

And, of course, here's some required reading if you'd like to see what a national laughing-stock Bambenek has made out of himself:


asparagus wrote on February 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Your intolerance of differing views is very strongly stated. And yet, it is still just your ideologically driven opinion, and no more convincing or right than Mr. Bambenek's.

Please collect your shattered argument and try again.



Political Observer wrote on February 17, 2014 at 1:02 am

I've never been wounded by Brittany Spears
I've never been harmed by Broccoli Spears
But my argument's "Shattered"
By the Spears of "Asparagus!"
I can hardly hold back all the tears!...


My, such a devastating post to completely "shatter" my argument, Mr. "Asparagus!"  (By the way, is it OK if I call you, "Gus?")  You certainly must be "out standing in your field," as they say.

You seem to be one of a very few people, Gus, who want more evidence that John Bambenek is both a local and a national laughingstock.  Heck, there's a lot of evidence that Bambi seems to like making a complete fool out of himself, and that he's even prouder the bigger the stage and the greater the humiliation he receives, so I'm sure he'd probably welcome the greater acclaim, as well...

Political Observer wrote on February 17, 2014 at 1:02 am

So, away we go!  There certainly are many more things about Bambi that we can all enjoy a good laugh about!

In fact, locally, Big Deb's House has had 3 heavily-commented discussion threads, where commenters have been just fawning over Bambi:

Political Observer wrote on February 17, 2014 at 2:02 am

As for the national scene, you might try copying and pasting the following phrase into the search inquiry box of your favorite search engine:

"John Bambenek"

and take a look at some of the 180+ search results you get.  Here's one of the typical ones:

This article deals with Bambi's 2007 complaint to the FEC:

"Today I filed an Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint against Kos Media, LLC., better known as I allege that they operate as a political committee and are therefore subject to FEC rules.'

Here are short excerpts of what 3 **conservative** websites had to say about Bambi's complaint:


    InstaPundit: "this is a terrible idea".

    NRO's The Corner: "an outrage against the First Amendment that every conservative should fight vigorously."

    RedState: "Let's be clear, not only is Bambanek woefully uninformed about the law (didn't we go over this for a whole freaking YEAR?) and its application on the internet, he's even less capable of grasping the concept (and frankly, value) of free speech on the web.... This complaint is a sorry attempt to use government institutions to silence opponents. I'm almost grateful Bambanek apparently slept from March 2005 through the Summer of 2006, because the stunt has zero chance of success."


So get on the bus, Gus...We don't need to discuss much!
Just click a few links...And set your mind free!

"Fifty Ways to Trim Your Right Wing"

Political Observer wrote on February 17, 2014 at 2:02 am

Of course, just to show how "balanced" I'll try to be here, "Asparagus,"  I'll include one more link, that might be just about where your ideas have taken root...

This is a link to an editorial from the News-Gazette, endorsing Bambi as one of the 4 candidates they really, really like for the school board, back in the Spring of 2007:


"It is crucial, therefore, for voters to choose hard-working, dedicated, community-minded people to serve on the school board, particularly as Champaign faces a host of major issues and decisions on everything from getting out from under a federal consent decree to planning and building new schools to replacing longtime administrators."

"For those reasons, we endorse Greg Novak, Susan Grey, Kristine Chalifoux and John Bambenek for election to the school board. All four, we believe, are committed to rebuilding the school district for the long run in terms of regaining the public trust, ensuring that all students are encouraged to excel in a safe and comfortable environment and that school administrators are challenged as much as teachers and students."

The editorial goes on, to add:

"Bambenek has indicated an all-too-rare interest in thoroughly reading reports and plans and analyzing issues."

"The No. 1 challenge facing the school district, nearly all of the candidates told us in a surprising admission, is not the consent decree but is in restoring the public's trust. For a number of reasons, including last year's failed bond issue referendum, concerns over a revolving door of principals and administrators, the controversial decision earlier this year to extend Superintendent Arthur Culver's contract and the lack of enrollment growth in the school district even as the city's population climbs, there is obvious displeasure with the direction of the school district. All four of these candidates have pledged to strive to regain that trust and to ensure that administrators work as hard toward that goal as they want students to work in the classroom."


Yeah, that's definitely the ticket!  What we really, really need is Bambenek -- a Bircher, a Ron Paul guy, a Glen Beck guy on the school board, a Tea Party guy who wants to shrink government until it's small enough to drown in the bathtub (as Grover Norquist once said) order to "restore the public's trust!"

That's definitely one of the funniest Bambi-related links of all!

johnny wrote on February 17, 2014 at 5:02 am

He at least doesn't sit around replying to himself all day.

Political Observer wrote on February 18, 2014 at 2:02 am

Come on. You're better than that.

ericbussell wrote on February 14, 2014 at 9:02 am

I remember the days when school board politics were boring and nobody paid attention.  

Glad to read John is not a racist.  :-)  

Political Observer wrote on February 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Full disclosure here:  For those who may not remember the "Smear Smythe Dirty Trick of 2012" or who are just recently starting to become aware of the political goings-on in Champaign County, it should be pointed out that the above poster, Eric Bussell, is (arguably) one of the three most active right-wing dirty tricksters in the County (along with County Clerk Gordy Hulten and the Champaign School Board's just-appointed tea party activist, John Bambenek).

Political Observer wrote on February 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Eric Bussell is a friend of Sgt. Hulten's, has acted as the Sarge's unofficial online spokesman at times, and even tried to buy Hulten's right-wing blog and cesspool when the Sarge ultimately had to dump it. 

Veteran observers of the political scene will remember that Hulten dumped his execrable blog after being warned to do so by a stern editorial in the News-Gazette. Subsequently, he pretended to transform himself into a "non-partisan" appointed member of the Champaign City Council who would definitely run for election to a regular chair on the council in the next election.  Naturally, the Sarge had no real intention to honor his promise, and was gone from the council in less than a year, using his appointment -- over 2 other more qualified candidates, who both seemed to be genuinely interested in the position-- as merely a stepping stone to his next  position as the newly-appointed Champaign County Clerk. 

Hultens' friends in the County Republican Party gave him this prized appointment after his long-time buddy and fellow Tim Johnson crony, Mark Shelden, had stepped aside to become Johnson's chief of staff... and after the Sarge had muscled out of the way the crying, heir-apparent John Farney, who had actually worked in the office for some time and saw himself as the best claimant to the desired coronation as County Clerk.  Sgt. Hulten publicly told the sobbing Farney at the (open-to-the-media) nomination meeting that he would help make Farney a soldier for the Republican party...and then later helped give Farney the Republican nomination for the County Auditor ballot spot in 2012, apparently as a consolation prize.

Such is how Republican Party politics work in Champaign County.

Political Observer wrote on February 17, 2014 at 12:02 am

Anyway, I'm surprised that I haven't seen any online comments here (or at BigDebsHouse) so far mentioning the possibility that John Bambenek might just be playing the "Stepping Stone" game that Sgt. Hulten played so profitably for himself.  Like Bambenek, Hulten hadn't ever been elected to public office, either, when he was appointed to his first position (on the Champaign City Council), and then shortly afterward to the County Clerk's office.  

Bambenek doesn't believe in government-run schools, likes the use of vouchers and charter schools to support private schools instead of public schools, and has vowed in his recent race against Mike Frerichs to lower taxes rather than raise them.  So if he isn't too immediately successful in undermining the health of the public school system from within, he may instead opt to use a short term on the Champaign School Board as a stepping stone to an appointed Republican county or state position that opens up somewhere through a fortunate resignation, just as his long-time friend and blogging colleague Sgt. Hulten did before him.

lga wrote on February 14, 2014 at 9:02 am

I am baffled. How did Mr. Banbenek convince the board he has any relevant or insightful perspective to bring to the board? 

He was educated in private, religious schools. His children attend a private, religious school. Has he ever stepped foot in one of our public schools? Does he have any idea of the day-to-day workings of a public school in our city?

I am OK with different perspectives, but I have a hard time believing Mr. Bambenek has any real perspective that applies to the realities of a public schooling. I think this was a huge mistake. I hope he proves me wrong.

spangwurfelt wrote on February 14, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Hard to overstate what a fringe guy this is. Champaign parents, be warned. Get ready for some serious wocka wocka from your schoolboard.

wayward wrote on February 14, 2014 at 1:02 pm
johnny wrote on February 14, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Come on.  You're better than that.

jammin wrote on February 14, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I remember when having children who "attend a private school" was enough to push a school board member out...this happened not so long ago with Ms. Alcantara.

Clearly, this is a politcal manouever on behalf of the school board to get the new "Central" high school referendum passed...Mr. Bambenek is probably seen as critical to paving the way for republican support for a tax increase. 


spangwurfelt wrote on February 14, 2014 at 3:02 pm

... by ending sex ed. And maybe that demonic Darrrrrrrwinism as well.

wayward wrote on February 14, 2014 at 5:02 pm
Political Observer wrote on February 18, 2014 at 2:02 am

As many others and I have pointed out in this discussion thread (and in numerous other places, as well), John Christian Bambenek makes a complete fool out of himself so often, and keeps repeating the same failed stunts so many times, that it's almost as though he craves the attention of making a debased spectacle of himself and is somehow reaching out for help from the local mental health authorities.  (Could it possiblly be the case that he's seen so many local and national television shows featuring perp walks of teachers and school authorities being led away in handcuffs that he sought appointment to the Champaign School Board just so he could eventually be taken out of one of the school board meetings in a straitjacket??!)

Anyway, I'm afraid that what we have here is yet another case of, "It's deja vu all over again," as Yogi Berra once quipped. Mr. Bambi is hoist upon his own petard, yet one more time, as we'll see when we take another look at his long and sordid past.

Many of you probably remember well Bambi's failed run against Mike Frerichs.  His 2012 "Bambi Frozen in the Headlights Campaign" was such a pathetic joke and waste of time and effort that he decided to try to smear Charlie Smyth with the same fake charges that he's now pretending to lodge against the participants in the Urbana Free Library press conference.

But wait a minute here.  Does anybody remember where Bambi launched his very own failed campaign against Mike Frerichs?  Certainly he must have announced it somehow, somewhere...right?  But where could that have possibly taken place?  Why is it likely that so very few people would remember where that seminal event was held?

Was it held in the ACES Library on the UI Campus, where Rodney Davis (illegally, according to BambiLogic) launched his re-election campaign last Fall, violating State of Illinois Ethics Laws that forbid misappropriating State of Illinois property?  No, it wasn't there.  (Annual ethics exams at the UI and online ethics guides make it clear that partisan political rallies aren't allowed on state property, and L'il Rodney's partisan political rally on state property was complete with signs, banners, t-shirts worn by his supporters ...and there were even partisan political endorsement speechs from local and state Republican officials to cap it off, including one from highly-partisan Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman, who must certainly have taken those afore-mentioned UI ethics exams every year that she was employed at the University...because they're required of all employees.)

Was it held on the hallowed front steps of Urbana High School, where Erika Harold (illegally, according to BambiLogic) misappropriated Urbana School District property for the partisan political purpose of announcing the beginning of her primary campaign against L'il Rodney?  No, it wasn't there, either...

So where the devil was it?  (Spoiler:  Get ready for the punch line...)

Actually, what Bambi apparently did back in June of 2011 was he got in his car and drove all the way over to Danville, so he could hold his announcement news conference in a pavillion at Danville's Douglas Park, as Tom Kacich wrote about here:

The funny thing is that when you check Bambi's online campaign records, there doesn't appear to be any record of a payment to the City of Danville for the rental of that pavilion!

So, you know what that means, fellow law-abiding citizens?

Our very own Legend in his Own Mind, Mr. Bambi, the Fake-Phoney-Baloney-Shyster, is apparently guilty of misappropriating City of Danville municipal property (the pavilion at Douglas Park), to illegally use it for the partisan political purpose of launching his failed 2012 Bambi Frozen-in-the-Headlights Campaign!

Like I said earlier...Hoist on his own petard!


OK, Roll Credits!...

For this month's performance, the role of Wile E. Coyote is being played by the right-wing smear artist more widely known as "Bambi, the Fake-Phoney-Baloney-Shyster"

All explosives for tonight's performance have been furnished by Acme, Inc.

All crackpot stunts have been performed by "Mr, Bambi" himself.  Please do not try these demented antics in your own community.

Legal assistance to Mr. "Bambi" has been provided through online videos furnished by Dewey, Cheatem and Howe.