Edgar Co. (ECWd) –
The Daily Herald ran a story about the Millions being spent on attorneys by our school districts. They included a couple of quotes for the piece that we felt must be addressed as facts are important as is knowledge of misinformation.
“Adam Andrzejewski, founder of the government finance watchdog group For The Good of Illinois and the transparency website OpenTheBooks.com, said the biggest problem for taxpayers is how school districts use law firms.”
“Law firms aren’t often advising administrators or the school board what the law is. Instead, they are crafting opinions to support administrative positions and hold on to lucrative retainer agreements,” he said. “This is what we saw at College of DuPage.”
We could go on for hours giving examples of attorneys for public bodies giving opinions that are in fact crafted to support either Administrative positions or the Boards positions instead of the law. To save some time, look no further than the College of DuPage former attorney Respicio F. Vazquez, a Partner for Franczek Radelet Attorneys cited in the Daily Herald article. We chose COD as the example because that is what the Quote from Adam Andrzejewski’s comments pointed to as an example.
One law firm apparently took issue with Andrzejewski’s comment.
“But Jim Franczek, senior partner at his namesake firm, disputes Andrzejewski’s assertion.”
“Absolutely, positively and unequivocally, integrity is the biggest virtue we have,” he said. “We don’t offer opinions that acquiesce to the administration’s preconceived results.”
Oh really? How does that law firm’s Partner’s statement cross with the instruction by Respicio F. Vazquez, a Partner with Franczek Radelet Attorneys, to board members to raise their hands in closed session in order to identify a majority for action on a contract all while claiming they don’t want to vote in closed session? Vote in closed session article here.
“I don’t want a vote in a closed”, yet his next instruction to them was a complete contradiction. “so why don’t we just raise hands as to who would be willing to authorize the Chair to extend the contract”. That action was found to be a direct violation of law, and prosecuted by the DuPage County States Attorney. The College agreed it was a violation, thus they were found guilty of violating the Open Meetings Act, even though they simply followed legal counsel’s instructions. We all know the goal was to extend a contract so taking the action they took, at the advice of counsel, appears to, in fact, be providing a legal opinion that obtains the desired result, the law be damned.
This same attorney advised COD Board Trustee Dianne McGuire to delete emails on her COD email account. How is that “absolutely”, “positively”, and “unequivocally”, a sign of any integrity? Such advice directly conflicts with law and may even be advice that could end up leading to a criminal charge of destruction of public records if it was followed.
Reading the local paper only tells you what they want to tell you. When the whole story is not told the readers are not served and in fact become misinformed. Misinformation has become an art in Illinois when it comes to many attorneys and sadly, this article had to be written to point that out.
It would appear that once again, Adam Andrzejewski’s quote was spot on. Andrzejewski’s pattern of accurate reporting is known nationally and it may be good advice for those wishing to dispute his word to first do a little more homework.
For the Good of Illinois gets an A+ on this fact check event.
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