Back in May, during a heated board meeting, board member , which has a contract with Bloom.
Drake countered that his sister owned the company, not he, and he felt Rossi was targeting him because he is a young black man from Ford Heights in a position of power.
Because of the speculation and reader comments on Patch, Drake recently decided to talk more about his connection to the company, which belonged to his father, the Rev. Willie Drake, until his October 2006 passing.
"I'm just ready to move forward and put all this behind me," Drake said. “I am not the owner of DLM. I drove buses for them and I worked for them, but not anymore. That’s my sister’s company."
Drake's sister, Madelyn, supported his claims, taking offense to the questions being raised about her brother.
“Right now, he’s not there,” Madelyn said. “He doesn't own it. He was around my dad a lot. I go to him for advice. I look at him as a mentor.”
The company, now based in South Chicago Heights, also has contracts with Ford Heights District 169, Chicago Heights District 170 and Steger District 194, according to Madelyn.
Drake recently gave up his seat as board president at District 169. His reasoning: "I was just ready to move on."
But here's where the ownership question gets confusing. The Illinois Secretary of State website allows the public to search the corporation filings of state businesses. The report for DLM School Bus Line (attached as a document to this story) lists Shaquita Johnson of Ford Heights as the company's president, and Madelyn Drake as the secretary.
Henry Drake said Johnson is also a relative, but Madelyn is the actual owner of the company.
Drake said there was a time when he owned part of the company, but that was long before he was an elected official.
“I may have owned a percentage back in ’89 or ’90,” he said.
Asked to provide documentation proving he sold his share of the company, Drake said he could not.
"No. My father did all that when (he) was still living," he said.
If Henry Drake has income coming in from DLM, that may be a violation of the Code of Conduct for District 206 School Board Members, which states:
I shall avoid any conflict of interest of the appearance of impropriety which could result from my position, and shall not use my board membership for personal gain or publicity.
Here's what Section 10-9 of the Illinois School Code says about the matter:
A board member shall not be interested, either directly or indirectly, in his or her own name, or in the name of another person, in any contract, work, or business of the school district, or in any sales or purchases of the school district.
Although, the code says there are certain exceptions to the rule:
Certain contracts may be given to a board member or his or her business if the contract is $1000 or less, or in certain limited situations provided disclosure procedures are followed and the board member owns less than 7.5% of the business. Also, if the materials, labor, or merchandise are not available from any other source, the contract may be let to a board member provided the total amount in any one year does not exceed $5000.
According to the Manta listing for DLM, the company employs 10 to 19 people and has an annual revenue of $1 million to $2.5 million.
While social networking sites are far from authoritative sources of information, Manta's "about us" page states that it collects company profile information "by third-party publishers through multiple sources, including public company financials and trade records; public records such as business registrations and government registries, and direct phone calls to businesses. When a company profile is marked as claimed, the data has been provided by a representative of the company."
Michael DeBartolo, the attorney for District 206, said as far as he knows, Henry Drake is in the clear.
Asked if Drake owned any part of DLM, DeBartolo said, "My understanding is no. He did submit documentation that demonstrates he has no financial ties to the company. He does not receive income from DLM."
So, if Drake is not making money from his sister's company, what does he do for a living? The board president says he is currently unemployed.
Despite conflicting reports regarding his connection to the bus company, Drake said he finds the timing of all these questions odd.
“I’ve been on the school board for seven years, this is the first time it’s come up,” he said. “I do what’s right."
Henry Drake has asked the public one simple question: "What does it look like to you?"
Read the attached documents and let us know what you think. Does Henry Drake have too many ties to DLM, or were Rossi's questions unfair and unwarranted?