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Is Bloom 206 President Henry Drake the Owner of DLM Bus Company?

Patch gets the answers from Drake, his sister, Bloom 206's attorney and state records.

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.

And Manta, a social networking site for small businesses, lists Henry Drake as the president of the company on its profile for DLM School Bus.

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?

Honest1 August 19, 2011 at 01:57 PM
"Asked to provide documentation proving he sold his share of the company, Drake said he could not. 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.' " What does that sound like to us? He's not telling the truth. If his lawyer has documentation that he's out of the company, why can't they produce it? I've seen the Manta web-site that states Henry as the president of the company, including its $1 million to $2.5 million dollar annual revenue. Don't forget that DLM does service Bloom High School at times, too! Gee, our high school board president is unemployed?! For how long? Since 1989 or 1990? What a joke!
M. Smith August 19, 2011 at 02:32 PM
He has been an active school board member over the course of seven years in both Ford Heights and Chicago Heights. There is a difference in the amount of accountability that is required of board members in Chicago Heights versus Ford Heights....the fact that Ford Heights receives little to no press coverage of the school district makes that very apparent. The school district's attorney said it looks like Drake is in the "clear"....of course he says that. Isn't this the same legal firm that was hired at a heated board meeting not that long ago? When you look over previous stories on the patch small pieces of evidence and truths fit together to form a very clear picture. A past comment on patch that I read this morning stated that Drake and his wife have cars with plates that read DLMBus on them. Do people really get personalized plates with a company name that they have absolutely no interest in? Seems odd to pay extra money to do that. I believe that Mr. Drake most likely does care about the kids of our district. However, I do not believe that he has been honest on the bussing issue and for that I believe he should be held accountable to some degree.
Mick August 19, 2011 at 03:13 PM
Why now? You never hired your wife until now. You just hired two friends of yours as janitors even though they were not needed and despite their being caught hiding in a room by their supervisor days before being hired. Aren't there people of unquestionable character looking for jobs? You threaten to beat up people who disagree with you. You won't allow administrators to bid transportation. You now tip the board to full control of the City of Chicago Heights who got in their law firm, their friends, and they will run it to the ground. People of Glenwood, Lynwood, Steger, So. Chicago Heights, Ford Heights, and Sauk Village will watch the City of Chicago Heights run their district to the ground. That's why now. You tip the balance. We know you own that bus company. Everyone at 206 says "Madelyn who?," because they have only worked with you. You have run amok in the three board meetings since you guys have taken control. That's why now. Not the answer you expected?
Joseph H. Hernandez August 19, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Drake's involvement with DLM are questionable at best, for the moment. Do we want to spend our time and resources to investigate this further? The question we should be asking is what progress have the schools been making in 7 (or more) years? ACT composite for the district is a 16.6. Graduation rate is higher than the state average but how many of these students are actually prepared for college for the job field? I understand it is no easy task. Therefore we really need to take our time to evaluate what policies are working and what policies are failing. Forcing kids to be in school and graduate solely to obtain funding is not effective. What is going on? What are the long term plans and how are they being actualized into strategy that will affect our students for the better? How are we holding the administration and board accountable? When I went there not too long ago the blame was always placed on the students. I think I need to start going to board meetings to listen in on what is getting done. Because from what I am reading in the news there is nothing but poor examples being set for our youth.
Charles Worthington August 19, 2011 at 09:06 PM
You say Mr Drake may have violated Section 10-9 of the Illinois School Code ? Any "Reasonable Person" would assert that he has in deed violated the Code. The bigger question; "What does the Illinos State Attorney General plan to do with this situation?" Mr Drake has demonstrated a genium lack of judgment, perhaps even as going so far as "bending the truth" to his benefit, his inablity to produce any documentation for his claims of "non-ownership of DLM", making threating remarks to other school officials that take an opposing view from his own, not to mention displaying a high level of nepotism towards hiring practices. Mr Drake is a poor example of acheivement, leadership and success from our African American community. As African Americans, we deserve and demand better!
Honest1 August 19, 2011 at 11:27 PM
Thank you, Mr. Worthington, for your post since Mr. Drake has tried to make these questions a racial issue when Mr. Rossi first asked about it. I'm just wondering, as a few of you may be as well, where is Winston? Nothing to say about this?
Joseph H. Hernandez August 20, 2011 at 02:26 AM
Honest1 is right. Drake was going to far when making it a race issue. So Mr. Worthington has brought up the bigger questions as to how is the Attorney General going to deal with the situation? What I would like to know is have any of us made a report to the Attorney General or though the proper channels? Just as any concerned member of the community I want problems resolved but what are we doing to resolve them?
Mick August 20, 2011 at 04:04 AM
The Unity Party used him and now he is going to pay dearly. He owns that bus company, abused his position, and the investigation is coming. Go to: (105 ILCS 5/10‑9) (from Ch. 122, par. 10‑9) Just copy and paste this site onto your browser: www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=010500050HArt%2E+10&ActID=1005&ChapterID=17&SeqStart=57400000&SeqEnd=80500000 Sec. 10‑9. Interest of board member in contracts F. the award of the contract would not cause the aggregate amount of all such contracts so awarded to the same person, firm, association, partnership, corporation or cooperative association in the same fiscal year to exceed $25,000. (g) Any school board member who violates this Section is guilty of a Class 4 felony and in addition thereto any office held by such person so convicted shall become vacant and shall be so declared as part of the judgment of the court. Another part of the Code states: Similarly, the board member should not use his or her position as a board member to influence the outcome of day-to-day decisions left in the administration’s hands. Use of such influence could be considered a breach of the board member’s fiduciary obligations to the school district. The next board meeting should be real interesting. Drake should have laid low, but he stormed on the scene by firing the schools attorneys, hiring his wife, hiring his friends... What is the role of the City of Chicago Heights in this mess?
Joseph H. Hernandez August 20, 2011 at 08:42 PM
Mick, Thanks for the link. Drake has put himself in a bad situation. We need to get this resolve so we can put our efforts and energy back into what is best for the schools. Drake obviously is not what our schools need. Very little progress in 7 years and then he pulls this stunt.
exheights August 24, 2011 at 03:03 AM
The reason I moved from the Heights years ago.....the fetid carcass has been picked almost clean by previous regimes and yet the jackals continue to look for carrion...this is dirty, Drake is dirty, most of the board is inbred and dirty. What a class act and model for your kids! Do any of you actually give a damn?
charlie July 25, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Well well, it seems peeps r interested in the pupils concerned. But naw sounds like theres some jealous peeps. Bcause who the hell care about comments like thee above? Peeps who wants to see the great henry go down. Dought it guys. Never will that happened. When any i mean any of the drakes speak peeps listens! The drakes have done a great deal for the school board and never can b ran better than honorable henry. City hall respects the drakes. And i dont think comments like u guys r ever gonna change things. U guys words dont mean a hill of beans when it comes to henry. Nobody can ever do a better job than henry!!!!! Stop hating and wanting to see peeps go down. And long as his dad ran that company and him at the time hes allowed to spend money on plates that repersent his dad and family name. So to all drake haters stop hating and attend to your own affairs.
Joseph H. Hernandez July 25, 2012 at 08:50 PM
If your grammar reflects the work that the "honorable henry" has bestowed upon our education system then, obviously, there is someone better out there. As Mr. Drake is a public servant his dealings with the school become our affairs. We have only asked for transparency regarding his relationship with DLM and the School District.
charlie July 26, 2012 at 04:49 AM
I guess chicago hts. Honor him he still president. Your feeling and thoughts toward henry is like a rat wondering for food. Henry will always b dlm even if hes not recieving a check, his dad made the path for all of his children including the intelligent and money bigballer shot caller henry. So quit hating your just a penny in his pocket! And if he had any wrong doing chgo hts would have been threw him out of office. Chgo hts. Not stupid neither is the great honorable henry, hater!
charlie July 26, 2012 at 05:21 AM
So so sad u that jealous bcause drake is so awesome in all he do for the heights. They no that at city hall thats y hes the negro in charge! Ur not. Your thoughts and feelings and putting your nose in henry affairs dont mean crap to him. Your thoughts r just like apenny in henrys pocket, dont mean nonthing. His dad left a legacy for his children and taught him to b the great man he is today. Thats y hes sitting on chgo hts. Throne and not you. If u wanna know his affairs noisy body go to a board meeting and ask him and tell him your concerns face to face. Coming on here expressing your concern is like a dirty tampon getting flushed down the toilet stool. Its not getting him removed if u wanna see that. Henry have plenty backing him. And thats including the hts. Bcause hes still in charge at thee end of the day.
Winston Wolf July 26, 2012 at 12:31 PM
This post was nearly a year ago... how do you feel now? None of your predictions came true.

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