July 16, 2016 · 5 Comments
DuPage Co. (ECWd) –
“They are a large, Irish-Catholic political family known for pooling their talents to win campaigns they’re not expected to”, says the Chicago Tribune referring to the Cronin family in this article. As far as talent in winning campaigns, one could argue that ability may be crumbling as the last two county board seats Chairman Cronin was banking to win were lost by a substantial margin in most people’s eyes. We also suspect any potential future victories for himself may fall short based on the treasure trove of information now available at the people’s fingertips.
The Tribune article claims the Cronin family is used to being compared to the Kennedy’s. Comparing Dan Cronin to Kennedy does have some validity. I think most would agree the common link is playing the taxpayer for the fool and capitalizing on the people’s laziness when it comes to holding them accountable.
In order to hold public officials accountable, you must first know the truth. You start by putting all the pieces of a puzzle together to better see the real picture. The challenge in putting together political puzzles is being able to actually find all the puzzle pieces as they have become masters at hiding them.
We have spent over two years exposing malfeasance at the College of DuPage and have done our best to follow up on every tip we received. One of the interesting tips we received dealt with Dan Cronin, current DuPage County Board Chairman. The tip was that COD hired him to do workers compensation claims on behalf of the college. We first covered this matter in this article, which confirmed he was in fact doing legal work on behalf of the college, but we still had some loose ends. I think we now have those last puzzle pieces to see the real picture and better understand how things operate in DuPage County.
As earlier reported, we did seek a comment from Chairman Cronin regarding his representation of the college on workman’s compensation claims which can be viewed in this article. Please note he never truly answered our question but did confirm, his “law firm has represented the consortium since 2008″. The response, knowing what we know now, was nothing short of political duck and cover. Cronin’s response no longer passes the smell test.
The COD Board of Trustees recently voted to release a large volume of closed session minutes. Currently available are minutes between February of 2000 and August of 2009. That is a lot of reading to do and so far, it’s clear those running COD had no problem violating the Open Meetings Act and taking action in closed session on a litany of matters.
I digress. What does all this have to do with Dan Cronin?
According to COD public records, Cronin’s law firm was in fact hired by a vote of the majority of the Board during closed session.
“The Board discussed the appointment of a law firm, Power & Cronin, Ltd. of Oak Brook to handle Workers’ Compensation claims. In a straw vote, Whitten stated she was unsure about making this change; Nowak wishes to stay with one law firm; the majority of the Board agreed to proceed with Power & Cronin.” (Closed session minutes now public)
This being the case one must ask, how did the board come to any knowledge that Power & Cronin was even seeking this business? Who put their name in the hat for such hiring? Cronin confirmed he started handling COD work in 2008 but failed to give any insight as to how that all went down, conveniently? His response led us to believe COD had nothing to do with it and it was all the insurance company. I think now we can say, based on his response, there is a whole lot more to this story.
Clearly, the board voted in closed session to proceed with Power & Cronin. Clearly, that happened, as his firm started representing COD in 2008. How convenient that Power & Cronin is named in a closed session setting to be hired with no mention of any other possible entities. Based on the record, two trustees, Whitten and Nowak, were not sure about making this change and in fact Nowak wanted to stay with one firm but makes no reference as to who was handling those cases at this time.
Of interest in this new development is the fact there was no action taken in a public setting for the hiring of Power & Cronin, yet we know in fact he was hired after the board voted in closed session to hire him. Why was this not done in open session? Why no RFP for the position. Who orchestrated the plan to have the insurance company hire him on behalf of COD? Was it done this way so that no direct financial paper trail pointed back to this political figure-head of Dupage County?
Of interest in this matter are DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin’s inaction and action on similar matters. In one case, Berlin advised that he would not take action on an OMA violation by COD because the board’s action occurred during an open, rather than a closed meeting (Dupage County State’s Attorney- see page 2).
However, Berlin did prosecute the OMA violations from 2014 stating in the complaint, “the showing of hands was nevertheless a vote resulting in a “final action” within the meaning of the Open Meetings Act since the BOARD OF TRUSTEES did not subsequently repeat the vote in an open session. Because the BOARD OF TRUSTEES took final action in closed session, it violated Section 2(e) of the Act.”
In the case of Power & Cronin, a “straw vote” was taken and the majority of the board agreed to proceed with the hiring of Power & Cronin. There was no subsequent repeat vote in open session in this case and Power & Cronin was in fact hired by the COD paid insurance company, so shouldn’t the same standard apply? What was called a straw vote, a
Now that the records reflect action was taken in closed session yet again by COD officials, we ask that DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin once again prosecute COD for Open Meetings Act violations and invalidate the very action taken, the hiring of Power & Cronin.
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By Kirk Allen
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