On the eve of elections, campaigning for Local School Council fell to a new low as an anonymous autocall made an series of allegations against a sitting LSC member.
At about 8:00 p.m. this evening residents across Lincoln Square and Ravenswood received a call from an unidentified male voice claiming to deliver a, “Community warning for residents around Amundsen High School.” The call then made an array of charges against Amundsen LSC Community Representative Bill Helm, a member of the school’s LSC since 1996.
“It’s a clear attack on me,” Helm told Center Square Journal this evening. “It’s slanderous on my career that I spent working on behalf of students and the community. I’m absolutely appalled. It’s all false. It’s shameful.”
Ironically, when the call went out, Helm was at Amundsen High School for an LSC meeting devoted to selecting a replacement for outgoing principal Carlos Munoz. Helm’s cell phone has poor service in the school building, so he didn’t learn about the call until about an hour after it happened.
“I walk out [of the school] and my phone was on fire, I must have had 38 messages. Somebody’s over the top. This absolutely disgusting. It’s terrible. I give up my free time [to do this],” said Helm.
Helm has been in and out of the news in recent years as a prominent political supporter of former Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th) and as a leader of the 47th Ward Democratic Organization.
Tonight’s new LSC campaigning low might also be a result of intensified community interest in Amundsen High School. In past years it was difficult to find two people interested in running for the two LSC Community Representative slots. This year eight people are running for Amundsen Community Representative.
The autocall wrapped up with the erroneous request to, “Please vote Wednesday at Amundsen High School for anyone but corrupt political hack Billy Helm.”
LSC elections for high schools are on Thursday. Elementary school elections are on Wednesday.
If you know how, autocalls to large groups of people are relatively easy and inexpensive to make. This reporter, in a past career, maintained a web-based account that allows anyone to call tens of thousands of phone numbers a minute for pennies a piece. Calls are recorded by calling a special number and then a digital version of that number is used by a server based potentially anywhere in the United States. Autocall systems also allow the caller to designate what number shows up on caller ID, or even no number at all.