DuPage Co. (ECWd) –
In yet another clear act of defiance against the will of the public, Erin Birt walked down the path laid before her by the board attorney, and once again violated the Open Meetings Act.
This time with a deliberate, in your face attitude, as it was clear she wanted to provide the disgraced COD President with one of the largest golden parachute payoffs in the history of Illinois, totaling $762,867.77. Even after another trustee asked if they should read the soon to be voted on contract addenda into the record, Chairman Birt refused.
Congratulations to Erin Birt for once again bringing embarrassment to the College of DuPage for her inability to even follow the most basic law she is bound to, which by the way is a criminal offense!
But please don’t take our word for it!
Right from the Open Meetings Act!
Section 1 – (5 ILCS 120/1) (from Ch. 102, par. 41)
Sec. 1. Policy. It is the public policy of this State that public bodies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business and that the people have a right to be informed as to the conduct of their business. In order that the people shall be informed, the General Assembly finds and declares that it is the intent of this Act to ensure that the actions of public bodies be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
Chairman Birt admits during the meeting they have been working on the President’s Contract Addenda for 9 months. however. that work was not conducted openly during any public meeting in the last 9 months. Nine months of secret deliberations violates the very policy of the OMA!
Section 2(e) Final Action. No final action may be taken at a closed meeting. Final action shall be preceded by a public recital of the nature of the matter being considered and other information that will inform the public of the business being conducted.
Erin Birt did not at any time provided a recital of the nature of the matter being considered nor provide other information that would inform the public of the business being conducted.
District 186 had a very similar matter that also involved a lump sum pay off to the Superintendent, and they even provided a copy of the contract being voted on, and the Attorney General ruled they violated the OMA! (Click here for the law firms overview of the AG opinion)
“The board presented evidence that the separation agreement was identified by the board prior to the vote and that the item was included on the board’s agenda. However, the board did not publicly discuss the specific terms of the agreement (including a substantial lump sum payment to the Superintendent) at the meeting. However, the school board had provided a copy of the agreement on its website along with the agenda of the meeting and so the board took the position that this combination of published agenda and public recital were sufficient to inform the public of the matter being considered.”
“The PAC rejected this argument concluding that any OMA requirements related to publication of an agenda before a meeting (under Section 2.02) had nothing to do the Section 2(e) provisions governing public recital during the meeting. The PAC concluded that the Section 2(e) requirement must mean that the public body is required to give an oral explanation of “the significance of its action” to any of the public who attend the meeting before it takes action. The PAC reasoned that the OMA’s Section 2.02 agenda publication requirements must give the public enough information to decide if they want to attend a meeting while the section 2(e) public recital requirements are different and are intended to ensure that the public body provides enough information to inform those who do attend the meeting of what business is being conducted. According to the PAC “the public must be informed of the key terms of a proposed public contract or agreement.”
Erin Birt’s effort to shove a $762,867.77 obligation down the throats of COD residents was done without any public recital as mandated by law. This action must be overturned in the courts.
Once that is completed the matter should be turned over to the State’s Attorney for criminal prosecution of the board members that supported this illegal act!