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College of DuPage – Contract Avoidance by PR Firm?

May 13, 2015   ·   4 Comments

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DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

Transparency has been the battle cry for some time by many and it appears the more the onion is pulled back the more stink permeating into the atmosphere.

A recent FOIA response obtained by John Kraft reflects numerous concerning issues at COD that will be exposed one article at a time.  One that jumped out at us is the communications between Randall Samborn of Levick, a Washington DC based PR firm, Tom Glaser, and Ken Florey, the attorney for COD.

  • Hi Tom, We are submitting this invoice for LEVICK’s initial work through last week pursuant to a discussion I had yesterday with Ken. Going forward, we will simply submit invoices for the board to approve and hold our initial retainer against our final bill. Please let me know if you have any questions or if we need to discuss.
    Thank you,
    Randy
  • Tom Glaser: I will need to look into that because we have already paid the retainer and with the current invoice we are right at the amount that would need to go to the Board for contract approval.
  • I understand. The thought was we should do this asap to get the invoice processed for the board and perhaps not have to present a contract.  I certainly want to be transparent for the board; however, going forward in light of new developments, we should probably also consider having LEVICK contract anew directly with Schiff (with COD responsible for paying the invoices) – in that case, we could revert to being paid against the initial retainer. Of course, we’ve had a spike in hours this week, so we are now much closer to exhausting the retainer, and have approximately $1,500 or less remaining to draw on.
    No rush to resolve this today and I suggested that Ken discuss the arrangement with Ron Safer when they meet.
    Thank you,
    Randy
  • “we are right at the amount that would need to go to the Board for contract approval”
  • “Perhaps not have to present a contract”
  • “consider having LEVICK contract anew directly with Schiff (with COD responsible for paying the invoices)”

(Click here for copies of the communications)

Considering no bid contracts has been at the forefront of so many issues at COD, why on earth would the PR firm who is supposed to be there to help improve the image of the college be alluding to avoiding a contract? Alluding with such detail as to provide a solution by becoming contracted under another already approved contracted law firm with COD.

What do you call it when you become a subcontractor for the purpose of not having to present a contract for the services?  Is that not a means of avoiding proper procurement?  Does the contracted entity have the authority to subcontract for the purpose of assisting the subcontractor to continue to get paid without going through the proper procurement channels?

Now there are valid reasons for a law firm to be the ones hiring a PR firm, one being attorney-client privilege, however, there is a fine line as to where that privilege starts and stops when public funds are being expelled.  There is an even finer line when it comes to purposely avoiding compliance with procurement laws and board policies.

Considering Ken Florey was involved in these communications, a bigger question is what advice did he provide them regarding this matter?

We do see that Samborn makes a claim of wanting to be transparent for the board, but that is followed with a method of avoiding having to present a contract to the board, yet have that very board pay the bill.  It reeks of impropriety.

It is high time for COD to evaluate the role of these PR firms and focus on the primary mission, which is Education.  All the other matters being investigated by law enforcement will take care of themselves in due time.

Transparency is the key to resolving all these matters and by all indications the new board is taking steps in that direction.  The special meeting called for Thursday of this week points to action of releasing privilege on matters that will ensure the public is being informed on what was going on under the dictatorial control of Breuder.

I think the best way to improve the image of COD is to be fully transparent on all matters possible which is always the first step in regaining the public’s trust.  I say all matters possible because there are matters that are best left untouched for now as to ensure the law enforcement agencies can do their job.  Nothing better for them them than to have key information to ask questions from and those answering not realizing what they already know!

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