Lake Central referendum opponent files election complaint about signs

2011-11-14T20:45:00Z 2012-03-31T21:10:40Z Lake Central referendum opponent files election complaint about signsBy Bill Dolan, (219) 662-5328
November 14, 2011 8:45 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | An opponent of the Lake Central School Corp. referendum is demanding Lake County election officials investigate whether school officials used public property and employees to wage their campaign for new school construction.

Richard J. Hucker, of Dyer, filed a complaint Monday before the county elections board claiming Lake Central Superintendent Larry Veracco and his supporters violated elections laws.

Veracco couldn't be reached Monday for comment.

Hucker claims pro-build referendum supporters removed his anti-build signs from Kolling Elementary School in St. John, one of dozens of Election Day polling places where the referendum was on the ballot.

Hucker said Monday, "The theft of signs and who ordered the theft of signs leads to the larger picture of the illegal methods utilized by the Lake Central School Corp."

He claims Veracco ordered the signs' removal and also authorized the school's pro-build campaign to use a trailer on school property as their headquarters.

Jim Wieser, an attorney for the elections board, said Monday the board may investigate the removal of election signs from a polling place but was unsure whether the board can take up the broader issue of the propriety of the district's overall campaign.

Voters in Dyer, St. John and Schererville approved the referendum, which gives school officials permission to raise taxes in those towns to finance a major renovation of Lake Central High School and build a new Protsman Elementary School in Dyer.

A group of anti-build supporters that includes Hucker asked St. John police on Election Day to investigate their signs' removal. Police said two political activists who removed the anti-school referendum signs claimed they were acting under Veracco's direction.

He said he isn't sure whether his complaint can overturn the result of the referendum, but he will ask the county prosecutor's office to press criminal charges.

"The cost of signs isn't the issue," Hucker said. "The issue is tracing it back to who is authorizing this misconduct. I just feel they should be held accountable for what they've done."

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