Higher Learning Commission – The new hammer against Fraud and Abuse in Higher Education

United States (ECWd) –

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is set to meet with the College of DuPage Board of Trustees next month in an executive session.  We suspect that visit may be tied to the new policy on Fraud and Abuse adopted on an expedited basis by the HLC this past February, in addition to discussing the accreditation status for the college.

If the HLC identifies Fraud and Abuse at COD or any other institution they are tied to, they must report it to the US Dept of Education.

The Commission shall report suspected incidents of fraud and abuse to the U.S. Department of Education as outlined in its policy on the Relation with the U.S. Government.

This new policy applies to every college that utilizes the HLC accreditation process.  Prior to this policy, there was no reason for these institutions to be overly concerned as any Fraud and Abuse identified was handled internally or in the criminal courts and had no impact on their accreditation. Now, with this policy, confirmation of Fraud and Abuse carries potential accreditation concerns.

The adopted policy provides some context around fraud and abuse and sends a clear message that fraud and abuse is unacceptable and would constitute grounds for a finding that Core Component 2.A is not met.

In short, the new hammer on campus is We The People!  When you identify Fraud and Abuse, the reporting of it will trigger the HLC to act by their own policy.

The Commission will review such allegations through its complaint process or through other mechanisms provided for in Commission policy and practice.

An institution that has been determined through those processes to have engaged in fraud and abuse as outlined in this policy shall be considered to be in violation of Commission standards related to institutional integrity and may be found to be in violation of other Commission standards as well, and shall be subject to Commission sanctions or withdrawal of accreditation as outlined in those policies.

I think it’s a safe bet that the College of DuPage was the poster child for this action stemming from the events exposed during the Breuder era, although clearly not the only institution of higher learning in this country that had serious problems with Fraud and Abuse.

The downside to this policy is the impact it may have on an institution that is pro-active and dealing with Fraud and Abuse as we are seeing with the current Board of Trustees at COD.  It appears, regardless of the educational institution’s actions, the HLC is going to investigate and report accordingly. Where does that leave an institution that is continuing to identify Fraud and Abuse and dealing with it properly?

May we suggest COD get the soccer field ready as this ball is going to get kicked around quite a bit!

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COD Motions for Interlocutory Appeal v. Breuder –

DuPage Co., IL. (ECWd) –

On March 17, 2017, the College of DuPage filed a 9-page Motion to Certify For Interlocutory Appeal the denial of the College’s Motion to Dismiss on the basis that Dr. Breuder’s contract was void ab initio.

The core issues identified for appeal involve important issues of Illinois state law. Hopefully, the trial court will grant this motion and allow the US Court of Appeals to more fully analyze Illinois State statutes, Illinois Common Law and hopefully reverse those portions of the trial court ruling which were adverse to COD.

They asked the Court three questions:

  1. Whether, under Illinois law, a board of trustees can tie the hands of future boards to hire or fire an administrator;
  2. Whether, under Illinois law, a board of trustees can enter into an employment agreement requiring all board members’ presence at a termination hearing and a supermajority to vote to terminate: and
  3. Whether, under Illinois law, a Board can agree to extend an employment agreement based entirely on action taken in closed session.

We had already voiced our opinions on these questions long before any lawsuit was filed, and they are that:

  • Unless the legislature specifically permitted contracts extending beyond the board’s tenure, they cannot be valid. An example of Legislative permission is a Water District Director, who can contract for 5 years according to the Water District Code – there are others, but we will use this one.
  • Unless the Legislature specifically stated that all board members must be present and a supermajority vote required to terminate, the contract is invalid. An example of this is the Water District Code again, where the Legislature requires a unanimous vote of all board members to terminate a Director of a Water District.
  • Actions taken in closed session are voidable according to the Illinois Open Meetings Act and you cannot contract around the OMA’s requirements.

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Update: Lisle Woman Accused of Forging Petitions for Seat on College of DuPage Board of Trustees

DuPage Co., IL. (ECWd) –

Press Release

Contact Information: Media Coordinator: 630-407-8160

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lisle Woman Accused of Forging Petitions for Seat on COD Board of Trustees

      DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced today that Rafath Waheed, 61 (d.o.b. 7/21/1955) of 6193 Hickory Drive, Lisle, has been charged with submitting forged petitions to earn a seat on the College of DuPage (COD) Board of Trustees. On March 14, 2017, a $10,000 with 10% to apply arrest warrant was issued for Waheed. Last night, Waheed turned herself in to authorities and was released after posting the necessary $1,000, or 10%, of her $10,000 bond.

It is alleged prior to December 19, 2016, Waheed collected signatures on petitions for her to apply as a candidate for the COD Board of Trustees. It is further alleged that at some point in time, Waheed made photocopies of two completed signature portions of the petitions and then completed the candidate information by hand. It is further alleged that she then notarized those petitions as authentic. It is alleged that Waheed then filed these petitions, along with the originals, with the proper COD authorities. Her alleged scheme was uncovered during a hearing on an objection that was filed against her petitions.

“The bedrock of our entire system of government is free and fair elections,” Berlin said. “It is alleged that Mrs. Waheed, in an effort to win a seat on the COD Board of Trustees, attempted to circumvent one of the basic requirements for candidacy – filing petitions with the correct number of authentic signatures. I would like to thank investigator Jim Duffy as well as Assistant State’s Attorney Diane Michalak for their work on this case.”

In all, Waheed is charged with two counts of Forgery, two counts of Issuing a Forged Document and four counts of Perjury. All offenses are a Class 3 Felony.

Waheed’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 12, 2017, in front of Judge Liam Brennan.

Members of the public are reminded that this complaint contains only charges and is not proof of the defendant’s guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove her or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

DuPage County State’s Attorney Press Release (here)
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UPDATE:

We reported on this incident when it originally happened, to include posting a link to the video of the College of Dupage Electoral Board Hearing.

College of DuPage – Candidate admits photo-copying petitions-blames COD for her failure to comply with law

In the Electoral Board Hearing, Rafath Waheed blamed COD citing, obfuscation of the electoral process” on the part of COD as it relates to her not filing a statement of candidacy. You can see that statement at the 48:40 mark of this video.  For those not familiar with the meaning of the word obfuscation; “the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.” 

In addition to blaming the school for her non-compliance, she admitted under oath to being the one who copied petitions and then signed them and had them notarized affirming they were original signatures, which they were not, just as we said in our first article on this.

57:25 of the video is where the information comes to light regarding the copies of petitions being submitted.  The candidate first claims she DID not photocopy them and then when questioned further admits she did and that no one else was given her papers.

After about 30 minutes of creating  excuses and eventually admitting to things she did – made copies of signatures and turned them in, she reads a prepared statement which was her withdrawal from the race. You can watch that starting at the 1:19:04 mark of the video.
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College of DuPage makes history- SLEA Director approved by ILETSB

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

For the first time in the history of COD, the SLEA Director has been approved by the ILETSB. 

We first reported on the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy at the College of Dupage (COD) as it related to issuing credit hours to academy cadets two years ago.  That issue later became the primary focus of the Higher Learning Commission who later placed COD on Probation as it relates to their accreditation. Our reporting on HLC’s findings can be found here.

Our question for over a year has been, who is in charge and have they been approved. As in, who is the Director of SLEA and have they ever been approved as required by law?  We were unable to get any such approval records from COD even though they had just recently hired a new Director.  Initially, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) was also unable to produce any such approvals, even though they are the agency tasked with the obligation of approving all the Directors in our State’s Police Academies.  What was most disturbing was the fact the ILETSB had never approved any Directors and they informed us “we have never done that”.

After writing numerous articles about the ILETSB’s failure in performing their obligations, we once again asked for approval records for the newly hired COD SLEA Director.

Clearly, our FOIA, that pointed to the appropriate Administrative Code, is what forced the ILETSB Executive Director to comply with the law. This is yet another example of how the Freedom of Information Act is a law that is not just about getting copies of records but can trigger a government agency to do the job they are paid to do.   By asking for records that pertain to a public body’s obligations, it brings their statutory obligations to the forefront.

Our first example of this fact was exposed in this article in which our FOIA triggered the same agency, ILETSB, to fulfill their obligations as it related to County Sheriff’s training obligations.

We are pleased to see that the ILETSB finally performed their obligations and provided the mandated approval for the newly hired COD SLEA Director Raymon Cordell.

We have asked for the same approvals for all other Police Academy Directors and hope that those approvals have finally been taken care of.  If they have not, it’s time for resignations at that agency.

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COD Foundation Attorney attacked Chicago Tribune during Appellate Court hearing with false claim about ECWd –

Northern Illinois University (NIU) – (ECWd) –

In what should have been his time for rebuttal statements, the College of DuPage Foundation attorney spent a considerable amount of time verbally attacking the Chicago Tribune and the downstate “Muckrakers of the farm fields,” the Edgar County Watchdogs, before being reminded by the Court that he might not be spending his time appropriately.

We attended the Appellate Court Oral Testimony of the Tribune’s appeal from the DuPage Circuit Court in a Freedom Of Information Act suit where the Chicago Tribune is trying to obtain a copy of the Subpoena served in reference to the COD Foundation, Chicago Tribune v. College of DuPage and College of DuPage Foundation.

http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/1076.mp3

Some of the key points focused on by the Court was the status of the employees of the foundation/COD and the arrangement between COD and the foundation for office space. COD Foundation kept claiming it was nothing more than an in-kind donation from the college to the foundation, where no funds changed hands for lease of office space.

To us, it appeared this case centers around the relationship between the COD employees and foundation “employees”, and the college and the foundation in relation to use of office space. All salaries and benefits are paid by the college – even when those employees are allegedly conducting foundation business.

On rebuttal, at about the 52:30 mark in the audio, the foundation attorney thought it was a good idea to attack the Chicago Tribune and its news gathering abilities while falsely claiming the Tribune had “outsourced its investigation to a group of internet bloggers” (referring to Edgar County Watchdogs) and further complained that the Tribune wrote about us and described us as “the Muckrakers of farm fields” – yes, they did write about us on the front page of their Sunday, March 2, 2015, Print Edition.

He also quoted Assistant State’s Attorney Donahue, from Vermilion County, who had been the subject of quite a few of our articles on the Wind Farm issue in Vermilion County and the illegal gifting of several acres of public property to a private individual without receiving any compensation for it. Donahue was quoted by the Tribune as saying “if you are not for them, then you are a criminal” – which in the case of many public bodies, including the Vermilion County Board at the time, was the case with the illegal gifting of the public real estate without any compensation to the taxpayers. The COD Foundation Attorney failed to share that little tidbit during his temper tantrum.  The Illinois Supreme Court sees it as illegal, but somehow in Vermilion County, it is not (according to ASA Donahue and his “opinion”).

Enjoy the audio – it is worth listening to.
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College of DuPage – Breuder claim of tortious interference by board members in their individual capacity denied –

DuPage Col. (ECWd) –

The Federal Courts acted on motions in the Robert Breuder civil case against the College of Dupage today and issued a Motion Order found here.

The College of DuPage Motion to Dismiss counts I, II, and IV  was denied, however, the Individual Motion to Dismiss was granted in part and denied in part.

“Plaintiffs claim for tortious interference with contract (Count V) is dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiffs claim for defamation stemming from statements made by Individual Defendants at Board meetings (in Count VI) and Plaintiffs conspiracy claim stemming from Individual Defendants involvement in tortious interference with contract and defamation relating to statements made at Board meetings (in Count III) are also dismissed with prejudice.

Those particular items could be significant from a negotiating standpoint in the event of any settlement discussions.  Those particular dismissals weakened Breuder’s negotiating power.  Breuder has basically been given the boot out the door on his claim of tortious interference with his contract, as it was dismissed with prejudice, in relation to the defendants in their individual capacity.  It appears all of Count V was dismissed, along with significant elements of Counts III and IV.

A status hearing for this case has been scheduled for March 30th, 2017 at 9:00 AM

 




College of DuPage officials subpoenaed – Radio Engineer trial to begin

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

Almost two years to the day of being charged, former College of DuPage Radio Engineer John Valenta will finally stand before the criminal courts to answer felony criminal charges of theft.  The trial is set for February 28th, 2017 and will begin at 10 am.

James Martner, COD internal auditor and Daniel Bindert, station manager with WDCB Radio Station at COD have been subpoenaed along with several other people according to documents obtained from the courts today.

We will do our best to report on what happens during the trial.

For those who are wondering if and when anyone else at the College of DuPage may be charged as it relates to all the unauthorized spending that took place under the Breuder era, we can only report that the investigations that started back in February of 2015 are still underway by both the Federal Government and the DuPage County States Attorney’s office.  We can only pray that they finalize their work as soon as possible and bring charges to those involved in Official Misconduct and other criminal conduct.

The subpoenas can be viewed below.

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PLA briefs filed with the Illinois Supreme Court – (Citizen Participation Act)

Illinois (ECWd)-

Multiple Prayer for Leave to Appeal (PLA) briefs were filed yesterday with the Illinois Supreme Court stemming from the scandals exposed at the College of DuPage. The PLAs come after the Circuit Court denied motions to dismiss these cases under the Citizen Participation Act and the Appellate Court’s minute order denying (without briefing or argument) the Petition for Leave to Appeal.

The Edgar County Watchdogs, Kirk Allen, Adam Andrezejewski, and Clair Ball filed their PLA briefs of which below are a few of the key points from the briefs.

  • Pursuant to Rule 315(a), the questions presented involve important First Amendment considerations—namely, whether journalists may report on politicians engaging in favorable transactions with their friends, and label this behavior as “pay to play”, without having to prove that the subject politicians were engaged in criminal behavior.
  • Pursuant to Rule 315(a), the circuit court’s erroneous holding—that “in Illinois…saying ‘pay to play’… [is] implying criminal conduct” (R. C00403 at110:11-19)—severely misinterpreted Illinois law on “innocent construction”. Review is essential because the law on “innocent construction” necessarily implicates important considerations of First Amendment jurisprudence.
  • Pursuant to Rule 315(a), a conflict exists between the decisions rendered below regarding “innocent construction” and a long line of cases holding the opposite, as set forth herein. In effect, the courts’ rulings below erroneously rendered the phrase “pay to play” off-limits for use by journalists. Moreover, the trial court’s invocation of Illinois’ long history of political corruption as a rationale to forbid the use of the phrase “pay to play” is illogical, as the fact-based use of that term by journalists and others may expose further corruption.
  • Pursuant to Rule 315(a), a conflict exists between the decision rendered below and McDonnell v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2355 (2016) which confirms that, irrespective of its unsavory nature, “pay to play” in American politics is not always illegal, and therefore, the term cannot serve as the basis for a defamation
    action;
  • Pursuant to Rule 315(a), there is a need for the Supreme Court to exercise its supervisory authority, because the Second District issued a merits-based affirmance of the trial court’s denial of the Watchdogs’ CPA motion, without briefing, argument or apparent analysis.
  • Pursuant to Rule 315(a), there is a need for the Supreme Court to exercise its supervisory authority, because, respectfully, the decisions of the trial and appellate courts have failed to give due consideration to the Illinois legislature’s determination that “the constitutional rights of citizens and organizations to be involved and participate freely in the process of government must be encouraged and safeguarded with great diligence.”
  • Pursuant to Rule 315(a), the judgment sought to be reviewed is expressly contemplated as an enumerated basis for an interlocutory appeal.
  • Pursuant to Rule 315(a), there is conflict of law between Stein v. Krislov, 2013 IL App (1st) 113806, ¶ 19 (a lawsuit filed just before the expiration of the statute of limitations is evidence of a plaintiff’s retaliatory intent) and Goral v. Kulys, 2014 IL App (1st) 133236, ¶ 55 (“[t]he relatively close proximity between the posting of defendant’s articles and plaintiff’s suit suggests that it was retaliatory”)
  • More specifically, by maintaining an artificial distinction between “actually true” statements and substantially true statements, the Circuit Court here and the Appellate Courts have turned the First Amendment on its head, placing a burden on CPA movants in conflict with the standards laid out in this Court’s seminal decision in Troman v. Wood and the United States Supreme Court’s defamation jurisprudence in Gertz and Hepps.

All three briefs can be downloaded or viewed below.

Download (PDF, 963KB)

Download (PDF, 934KB)

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College of DuPage – Board Examiner finds 49 signatures that should be stricken; validates only 37.

DuPage Co. (ECWd)

The College of DuPage Electoral Board requested a Board Examiner to review signatures on petitions objected to, that were submitted by candidate Husna T. Ghani.

The examiners’ findings appear to be very clear and convincing.

“That in the opinion of the Examiner forty-nine (49) of those signatures should be stricken for the reason set forth on Exhibit A and the corresponding Objections.”

“That in the opinion of the Examiner the Petition sheets contain thirty-seven (37) valid signatures.”

The next hearing on this matter is scheduled for Tuesday of this week, January 17, 2016, at 1 pm.

The full report can be viewed below.

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College of DuPage – Candidate admits photo-copying petitions-blames COD for her failure to comply with law

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

In a rather interesting attempt to cast blame for noncompliance of specific election records, Rafath Waheed blamed COD citing, obfuscation of the electoral process” on the part of COD as it relates to her not filing a statement of candidacy. You can see that statement at the 48:40 mark of this video.  For those not familiar with the meaning of the word obfuscation; “the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.” 

It should be noted that the College of DuPage had nothing to do with making the electoral process nor is it their duty to provide guidance and direction on such matters.   The guidance and direction come from the law, established by the legislature.  The fact that this person chose to blame COD for failing to comply with the law is yet another reason she has no business as a public official.

In addition to blaming the school for her non-compliance, she admitted under oath to being the one who copied petitions and then signed them and had them notarized affirming they were original signatures, which they were not, just as we said in our first article on this.

57:25 of the video is where the information comes to light regarding the copies of petitions being submitted.  The candidate first claims she DID not photocopy them and then when questioned further admits she did and that no one else was given her papers.

Candidate“They are the carbon copy of that, but did I do it?  “NO, it happen by mistake.”

Electoral Board“Did you make the carbon copy or did someone make it for you”

Candidate“I made it myself, I didn’t give any of my paper to anybody.”

So, on one hand, she denies making copies of the petitions and then does an 180-degree turn and admits she made them

What is disturbing with this situation is the fact this person, under oath, has admitted to photocopying petition sheets.  Sheets that were then separately notarized under oath and affirmation as originals.

After about 30 minutes of hearing this person create excuses and eventually admitting to things she did, made copies of signatures and turned them in, she reads a prepared statement which was her withdrawal from the race. You can watch that starting at the 1:19:04 mark of the video.

Was this whole event staged in an attempt to claim this was an attack on Muslims?  Let’s not forget the claim by one of the Democrats during public comment being an insinuation the objections were based on religion.  How ironic, both of the candidates being objected to have the most basic of items deficient in their papers.  Two candidates that in one case claims to be an Administrator and the other has an MBA and Masters in Education.  How do such educated people make these kinds of mistakes? Or was this well planned out for a much different purpose? Time will tell.

Now we will have to wait and see how the COD Electoral Board handles this matter as it is clear this person provided documents, signed under oath, that were in violation of the law.  We encourage them to turn this matter over to the authorities for a criminal investigation.  We can only pray the State’s Attorney upholds and enforces our election laws as it relates and prosecutes those who are found to have committed fraud and or forgery in that process.

 

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College of DuPage – Candidate cites Social Justice Journal to support her legal position

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

During the petition objection hearing last Tuesday at the College of DuPage, the Electoral Board offered one of the candidates and opposing counsel the opportunity to prepare a legal brief that would point to case law on the matter before the board.  Specifically, the board is addressing the petitions filed by Husna Ghani and the lack of page numbers on her petitions.

It appears Ms. Ghani was not in the same hearing as I was.  In her response to the board’s request, she states certain things that did not take place during the hearing and instead of providing legal cases to support her position that not numbering her petition pages is not a fatal error, she cites language from a Social Justice Journal.

“The argument by the Objector states again that the candidate did not specify the term of candidacy for which the elected board term of the office was sought. At the hearing on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, this objection was in fact overruled because the original receipt stating the name of the office sought and the two year term was given by the office of the Electoral Board and was presented to the Electoral Board at the hearing and was duly noted and accepted by all parties.”

A review of the video from that meeting reflects, contrary to her claim of fact, nothing was overruled.  It appears she is taking the position that since the board was presented something and placed the information into the record, doing so constitutes an acceptance of her position and a silent overruling of the objection presented.

“A reasonable person will agree that failing to number an eight page document does not compromise the integrity of this election. As argued in the DePaul Journal of Social Justice, Spring 2013″

I read the document she points to and no such statement is argued but don’t take my word, read it for yourself Word search it and you will find very quickly that what this candidate has done is draw a conclusion from an agency’s opinion.  In addition, her comment implies that our higher courts are not reasonable people since they have ruled contrary to her position.  That is troubling for a person wanting to lead a higher education institution.

I am not sure what a Social Justice Journal has to do with case law but rest assured, the higher courts have been consistent and reasonable on the matter of page numbering.  More importantly, what she refers to as a DePaul Journal of Social Justice argument, turns out it is not even written by the DePaul Journal of Social Justice.   They published a paper written by the Citizens Advocacy Center and you can view that document, as published in the DePaul Journal of Social Justice, Spring 2013 at this link.

Even more disturbing is a statement in the document she refers to; “As quasi-judicial bodies, electoral boards have the authority to hear sworn witnesses, formally accept evidence, issue subpoenas, and render decisions based on law and fact.” (see page 6)

Illinois law is clear on quasi-judicial bodies and an electoral board is not one.  As outlined in the open meetings act; “Quasi-adjudicative body” means an administrative body charged by law or ordinance with the responsibility to conduct hearings, receive evidence or testimony and make determinations based thereon, but does not include local electoral boards when such bodies are considering petition challenges.”

May we suggest searching case law and election law to make your argument as it appears the Social Justice Journal contains outdated material when it comes to electoral boards

“However, in the hearing on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, the Objector was allowed to edit paperwork that was already previously submitted.”

The objector pointed out scrivener’s error in the filing and the board took note of that error.  At no time during the hearing that we attended did we see, nor did the video capture, the objector being allowed to edit paperwork.

“The two-year term seat is being sought by two individuals. If one name is withdrawn, due to a technical oversight, then there would only be one person running for that office. In this case, it would not be a true “running for office” but instead would be an uncontested election. Therefore this would result in an automatic placement without the procedural of a true democratic process.”

She refers to her fatal errors, not numbering her pages and not identifying the term of office she is seeking, as a technical oversight. May we suggest she read her Social Justic Journal again?

“The signature sheets must be bound securely and numbered consecutively.” (See page 12)

“Some of the provisions in the Election Code have been interpreted to be clear requirements for which wholesale disregard will defeat a nomination or petition for referendum.” (See page 18)

The courts have deemed not numbering ANY pages a fatal error, not a technical oversight.  She also implies that if an elected position is not contested it somehow means the person who is on the ballot is not actually “running for office”.  She then implies such an uncontested seat is obtained without the “procedural of a true democratic process”.  

We suggest Ms. Ghani read our Federalist papers, our Constitution, Illinois Election Law, and case law on the subject at hand.  Doing so will provide a wealth of knowledge about this great country which is a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy.

She closes her 4-page letter with an interesting statement in the last paragraph;

“Therefore I humbly request that you consider these facts when rendering your decision.”

Facts? I’m not sure what “facts” she is referring to but a few things are clear, she did not provide the case law sought by the Electoral Board.

During this particular hearing a local democrat raised the question as to why the only objections were those of two Muslim women and insinuated there was a lack of transparency at the College of DuPage. (See 13:24 mark of the video)  Not sure what transparency has to do with members of their party getting on the ballot but it does lead me to a question of my own.

How is it that the Democrats managed to gather enough signatures for a white male, Dan Markwell, but not enough for the two Muslim women?  DuPage Democrat Chair Robert Peickert notarized all of the petitions for Ghani and apparently provided no input on the importance of her numbering her pages.  The other candidate who withdrew claimed to have the assistance of a Democrat County Board member.  May I suggest these people look within for their failings as it relates to proper election documents instead of trying to insinuate the objections were based on religion.

I reviewed all of the petitions turned in and although I found errors with others, I only wrote about those that had fatal errors.  I had no clue what their religion was as that is not listed on any of the documents, nor does it matter!

Below is the full response candidate Ghani has submitted regarding her petitions and the objections to them.

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College of DuPage – 2nd Petition Objector Confirmed

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

Lori Solyom of Lombard, Illinois, has filed petition objections at the College of DuPage against the same two candidates as the first objector we reported on in this story. 

It appears the same issues have been objected to as the previous objector, and all indications are candidate Waheed may want to get a good defense attorney as those records are extremely troubling and potentially evidence to a crime.

As I quoted before, “when in the course of hearing objections to nominating papers, evidence beyond specific objections comes to the electoral board’s attention, it cannot close its eyes and ears if evidence is relevant to the protection of the electoral process.” See Fortas v. Dixon, 122 Ill.App.3d 697, 462 N.E.2d 615, 78 Ill.Dec. 496 (1st Dist. 1984), at 618.

I encourage the College of DuPage Electoral Board to turn the Waheed candidate documents over to the State’s Attorney’s office for potential prosecution.

All that aside, it is troubling to see people attempt to become Trustees of a higher education system while they are unable to follow the most basic instructions required by law.  These are not the types of people that need to be leading our schools in my opinion.

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Two College of DuPage Trustee Candidate Petitions Challenged –

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

Husna Ghani and Rafath Waheed turned in petition packets for election to the Board of Trustees at the College of DuPage, however, both have had objections filed against them due to alleged fatal errors.  Those errors may subject them to removal from the ballot in a petition objection hearing.

Ed Franckowiak, of West Chicago, filed petition objections today and his findings outlined in his objection pertaining to Rafath Waheed may point to possible forgery.

Rafath Waheed turned in petitions with what appears to be photocopied petition documents (duplicates) that were sworn to separately and notarized.  In addition to those documents, Waheed failed to provide a Statement of Candidacy.

Husna Ghani failed to number the petition pages which constitutes a fatal error.

The packets turned in by Waheed and Ghani can be viewed here and here respectively.  When reviewing the petition documents of Waheed, we suggest you print pages 1-4 and hold page 4 in front of page 1 up to the light as well as page 3 in front of page 2.  It will become very clear that one is a copy of another with the exception of the lower portion.

What makes this a potentially a serious issue is the fact the portion below is being signed and sworn to that the signatures on the sheet were signed in their presence.  How is it possible to have a photocopied petition and claim you were present when those people signed?  Even more compelling evidence that these pages were photocopied and do not contain actual signatures is the fact page 3 has signatures done in Blue ink yet page 2, which contains an exact matching set of signatures as page 3, except they are in black and white.  The two pages appear to be two pages of signatures, however, are alleged to be photocopies of signed pages.

Is this potentially a case of forgery?

Sec. 17-3. Forgery.

    (a) A person commits forgery when, with intent to defraud, he or she knowingly:

      (1) makes a false document or alters any document to make it false and that document is apparently capable of defrauding another; or

       (2) issues or delivers such document knowing it to have been thus made or altered; or

        (3) possesses, with intent to issue or deliver, any such document knowing it to have been thus made or altered; or

        (4) unlawfully uses the digital signature, as defined in the Financial Institutions Electronic Documents and Digital Signature Act, of another; or

        (5) unlawfully uses the signature device of another to create an electronic signature of that other person, as those terms are defined in the Electronic Commerce Security Act.

Although the Election Hearing Board that is now triggered by the filing of an objection does not have the power to determine any potential criminality, we would encourage them to forward the records to the appropriate criminal investigative unit to further investigate this matter should they determine these are as we described above.  As pointed out in the objection: “when in the course of hearing objections to nominating papers, evidence beyond specific objections comes to the electoral board’s attention, it cannot close its eyes and ears if evidence is relevant to the protection of the electoral process.” See Fortas v. Dixon, 122 Ill.App.3d 697, 462 N.E.2d 615, 78 Ill.Dec. 496 (1st Dist. 1984), at 618.

We want to say thank you to Mr.  Franckowiak for his efforts of ensuring potential elected officials follow the law, which in this case appear to have not followed the election code as it pertains to their election packets turned in as Candidate(s) for College of DuPage Trustee.

You can review copies of the two objections filed by Franckowiak below.

Download (PDF, 115KB)

Download (PDF, 5.15MB)

 

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Video: WAND’s Doug Wolfe Reports On Citizen Watchdogs –

DECATUR, IL. (ECWd) –

WAND  I-TEAM Reporter, Doug Wolfe:

“As newspapers struggle to survive many no longer keep an eye on tax dollars and government corruption. Citizen watchdog groups, like the Edgar County Watchdogs, fill the void.”

Reporter: Doug Wolfe Aired: November 3, 2016. WAND TV – NBC

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeKTUtwLKx0&feature=youtu.be

The WAND noon news report for 11-4-2016 is located (here).




College of DuPage – $388,834.98 – Money well spent!

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

Reform is never easy nor as costly as some wanted to make people believe. The College of DuPage has been the centerpiece in the news cycles of the Chicago Suburbs for almost two years.  Finally, the released Performance Audit has validated many of the concerns raised by us and others and the behind the scenes documents are proving to be most interesting.

Of particular interest is the tally of time and cost associated with conducting the audit, which in April of 2015 the Reform Board approved the Performance Audit to be conducted.  During that meeting, Trustee Birt opined that she was told the cost could hit $850,000.00.   Trustee McGuire expressed concern of it hitting $400,000.00.

Trustee Burnstien’s comments during that meeting were almost spot on with his assessment that the expanded scope of the audit would not double the cited cost of $235,000.00.  I suggested the adding of two more years to the scope may increase that 50%. He only missed his mark by $36,000.  A clear indicator of his wisdom and business acumen on such matters, a value needed to reform this institution.

Turns out, as if anyone is surprised, Birt and McGuire were both wrong. The actual cost was $388,834.98 consisting of 6,535.3 hrs of work.  (See page 5 of 6 for the totals)

As the Reform board continues to make great strides towards reform and work towards being removed from the Probation status by the Higher Learning Commission, the legacy board continues to ignore facts laid out in the audit report.

Although there are still many issues to be resolved, such as issues with the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy and the State Law Enforcement Training Standards Board failure to ever approving a SLEA Director, progress is being made.

Stay tuned for a rolling production of articles on COD and the Reform efforts.

Download (PDF, 2.27MB)

 

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College of DuPage Trustee McGuire Agrees With Watchdogs –

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

In April of 2015, taxpayers sent a clear message to the legacy trustees at the College of DuPage.  One trustee, in particular, Dianne McGuire has once again shown the world that she has no interest in reforming the problems at the College of DuPage.  The fact of the matter is she may well be the biggest contributor to the challenges the clean slate reformers face in their efforts of fixing what is broken and ensuring Accreditation is recovered.

It is now clear; McGuire has one interest.  Take a position that is opposite of anything that is even remotely close to reform.  Grandstanding, dramatizing, and fabricating are the hallmarks of McGuire and we have clear evidence on video that we hope the HLC board will pay attention to as it is clear, McGuire is one of the primary problems with reforms at COD.

In November of 2014, we wrote about McGuire’s insistence that the College President was the ONLY employee the board of trustees had and can be found in this article. In that article, we took the position that all employees of the college were employees of the board, according to state law.

Then, in November of 2015, a year later, she confirms her position that the only employee of the board is the President, as was being described by then Interim President Collins.  McGuire is seen nodding like a bobble head doll in agreement with Collin’s disregard for the law by claiming the only employee the Board has is the President. You can view the bobble head in action beginning at the 2:03:45 mark of the video found at this link.  Clearly, she is in full agreement with Collins that the only employee of the board is the president, even though the law says otherwise.

These two examples provided are from McGuire pulling out all the stops in order to protect, defend, and justify the wrong doing of then President Breuder, and his administration, and fight against any reforms being attempted by the clean slate trustees, now known as the Reform Board. Her position is clear; the Board only has one employee!

After the Auditor General Audit of the College is released, one of the findings, in particular, was how the bidding of contracts was being handled.  Specifically, the auditor stated in the report, “We could not determine if bids were opened by a member or employee of the Board as required by the Illinois Public Community College Act.”

Remember, Dianne McGuire logic from 2014 and 2015 was that the board only has one employee, the President!

Keeping in mind McGuire has been against the Performance Audit from day one and is on the record the board only has one employee, what do you suppose her position is after the Auditor suggestion that COD Document the bidding process and ensuring a Board member or Board employee opens bids publicly?

In true McGuire drama fashion, in a clear effort to minimize the importance of the audit and discredit the findings, she now is taking the position that every employee of the college is an employee of the Board. This is a perfect example why reforms are so difficult.  When a trustee who is on a mission to discredit reforms at every turn by taking positions contrary to law and reform efforts and then takes a position 180 degrees out from her previous position in an attempt to find fault in the reformers initiated performance audit,  it becomes clear, McGuire is not about doing what is right for the College.

It is interesting and flattering that Diane McGuire has now taken the very same position that we took in 2014, our position remains the same.

Does this mean the Watchdogs are starting to reform Dianne McGuire?

 

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Lawsuit against COD attorneys brought by Erin Birt, Dianne McGuire, and Joe Wozniak has been Dismissed

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

In January of this year, we reported, as did the Chicago Tribune and Daily Herald, three College of DuPage (COD) Trustees filed a lawsuit against COD’s law firms seeking records applicable to COD related work.

At the time it was big news locally because of the boycotting of meetings by those who filed the suit.

Here we are nine months later, and I could not find a single story on the status of that lawsuit, so what was newsworthy before the primary is no longer newsworthy?  One can only wonder if this was an attempt to bring negative press for a particular county board candidate that happens to represent COD.  If so, it failed on multiple fronts.

The case was dismissed with prejudice September 15, 2016.  I guess those three trustees are not having a good month as not only was their lawsuit dismissed with prejudice but they now must face the music of the scathing Auditor General audit of COD that points out a laundry list of failings by the past Board and Administration.

Download (PDF, 248KB)

 

 




Auditor General Report on College of DuPage Released – WOW!

DuPage Co. (ECWd)-

The Auditor General has posted the Performance Audit performed at the College of DuPage that followed the actions taken by the new board in order to identify the failings of past President Robert Brueder and his Administration.

We will review the information and follow up with multiple articles in the near future but rest assured, a quick review validates what we have been pointing out for over two years.

You can review it below or download it.

Download (PDF, 6.05MB)

 




ICCB – Community Colleges to lose accreditation? Really?

Illinois (ECWd) –

Once again, let me begin by stating, “you can’t make this stuff up!”

A recent board meeting of the Illinois Community College Board pointed to problems they are facing due to the States budget matters, and some of those concerns may affect community colleges in this state and students in a big way.

For those not familiar with who the ICCB is, they are the oversite board for all community colleges in this state.  The same ones who required financial reimbursements from the College of DuPage after issues with the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy landed them on probation with the Higher Learning Commission.

Now we find that the ICCB will only be doing “desk” monitoring, as in they will no longer be traveling to the campuses of our state’s Community colleges. I have to ask, how do you monitor your community colleges from a desk in an office?

They also note that they are low on paper, out of postage, and light bulbs!  I wonder, how do you “desk” monitor our community colleges without light bulbs?

I digress!  If they have no light bulbs does that mean they saved money on their electric bill?  Such savings can surely pay for the postage they may need.  Could the paper problem be resolved by borrowing from another state agency that is not doing their job either?

Wait, are we really talking about paper, light bulbs and postage?

These state budget problems could have a direct impact on the College of DuPage who is currently on the Higher Learning Commission probation status for their accreditation as well as other community colleges.

According to the ICCB, “The HLC will be conducting their accreditation visits to the community colleges, which is a very expensive visit incurred by the community colleges. The outcome will leave most of the colleges as non-accredited due to the lack of funding by the state.” 

We are working on finding out why any of these community colleges are going to lose their accreditation and will update as soon as we can find anyone to go on the record on this matter.

See page 2 and 3 of the ICCB minutes for the applicable matters discussed in this article.

Download (PDF, 408KB)

 




IMET Fallout Continues With Lawsuit Against USDA –

The Illinois Metropolitan Investment Fund ran into trouble a couple years ago when one of the funds they invested in fraudulently squandered the public funds. Initially, the estimate of recovery of funds was believed to be somewhere above 80%, but was later downgraded to 47.6% of the original value of the FFF investments in a February update.

IMET has only recovered around 5% of its losses incurred in this scheme so far.

In another twist, IMET and several banks filed suit on August 31, 2016, in Federal Court in Florida against the United States Department of Agriculture in an attempt at releasing the remainder of the funds. USDA says they did nothing wrong in their part of approving the applications in the process.

The alleged fraud involved phony loan documents, forged documents, fake USDA approval stamps, borrowers that did not exist, and others.

This suit complains of alleged:

  • Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program losses and that the USDA’s approval of a lender constituted a stamp of government approval making its purchase an attractive investment backed by the United States Government
  • First Farmer’s Financial (FFF) filed an application for USDA approval, but prior to filing developed a scheme to sell interest in fictitious government guaranteed loans – in short, they wanted the USDA approval to gain access to the market in order to sell fictitious loans
  • FFF sent false statements as part of their application and the USDA failed to investigate the accuracy of the statements
  • USDA approved the application without investigating and following its own regulations in the approval process
  • The total from plaintiff’s investments are $154,216,302.15 ( 154.2 million dollars )
  • After investing, it was learned that the collateralized loan guarantees were forged and none of the borrowers actually existed. They also learned the CPA who supposedly performed the audit did not exist
  • USDA’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s investments into the forged loans

Plaintiffs are seeking recovery of all their funds, including interest and fees/costs from the United States Government.

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Download (PDF, 488KB)

Other docs if you are interested in reading them include:




Cook County Record Reports On Our Appeal Of CPA Denial –

Cook County, IL. (ECWd) –

‘Watchdogs’ appeal DuPage judge’s OK of lawsuit over reporting of alleged ‘pay to play’ for COD contract

Jonathan Bilyk Aug. 31, 2016, 4:14pm


Journalists who help chronicle and expose corruption in Illinois governments have asked a state appeals court to step in, after a DuPage County judge refused to dismiss a $16 million defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who claims the men known as the Edgar County Watchdogs wrongly accused her of committing a crime when they wrote she engaged in “pay to play” and used an improper exemption to secure a no-bid contract from the College of DuPage – awarded the same day she joined the college’s fundraising foundation board.

Kirk Allen and his non-profit news organization, Edgar County Watchdogs Inc., have filed a petition with the Illinois Second District Appellate Court in Elgin, asking justices to toss the decision of DuPage County Circuit Judge Robert G. Kleeman, who denied their motion to dismiss the legal action brought against the Watchdogs by plaintiffs Carla Burkhart and her company, Herricane Graphics Inc., of west suburban West Chicago.

Continue reading at the Cook County Record (click here).

 




Ball Petitions to Appeal Denial of CPA Motion in Burkhart v. ECWI et al –

DuPage County, IL. (ECWd) –

Defendant Claire Ball has Petitioned the 2nd Appellate Court for leave to appeal pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court  Rule 306(a)(9) – from an order of the circuit court denying a motion to dispose under the Citizen Participation Act (735 ILCS 110/1 et seq.)“.

The petition comes from the final order of the circuit court denying a motion to dispose of the suit under the Citizen Participation Act (“CPA”).

In the Petition, she asked for a granting of the petition, to be allowed to file a brief in support of it, reverse the Circuit Court’s denial of the CPA, require the Circuit Court to grant her motion under the CPA, and other relief as justly entitled.

Read the petitions below:

Download (PDF, 4.71MB)




Andrzejewski Petitions to Appeal Denial of CPA Motion in Burkhart v. ECWI et al –

DuPage County, IL. (ECWd) –

Adam Andrzejewski has Petitioned the 2nd Appellate Court for leave to appeal pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court  Rule 306(a)(9) – from an order of the circuit court denying a motion to dispose under the Citizen Participation Act (735 ILCS 110/1 et seq.)“.

The petition comes from the final order of the circuit court denying a motion to dispose of the suit under the Citizen Participation Act (“CPA”).

In the Petition, he asked for a granting of the petition, to be allowed to file a brief in support of it, reverse the Circuit Court’s denial of the CPA, and other relief as justly entitled.

Read the petition(s) below:

Download (PDF, 1.65MB)

Download (PDF, 10.5MB)




Watchdogs Petition to Appeal Denial of CPA Motion in Burkhart v. ECWI et al –

DuPage County, IL. (ECWd) –

The Edgar County Watchdogs have Petitioned the 2nd Appellate Court for leave to appeal pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court  Rule 306(a)(9) – from an order of the circuit court denying a motion to dispose under the Citizen Participation Act (735 ILCS 110/1 et seq.)“.

The petition comes from the final order of the circuit court denying a motion to dispose of the suit under the Citizen Participation Act (“CPA”).

In the Petition, we asked for a granting of the petition, to be allowed to file a brief in support of it, reverse the Circuit Court, and require the Circuit Court to grant our CPA Motion.

Read the petition below:

Download (PDF, 5.95MB)




Press Release – State Representative David Olsen

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

Below is the Press Release issued by State Representative David Olsen.

Download (PDF, 17KB)

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State Representative David Olsen – It’s official

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

David Olsen of Downers Grove has been officially appointed to the vacant State Representative seat for the 81st District. Congratulations Representative Olsen.  That selection was determined today by DuPage County Chairman Brian Krajewski and Will County Chairman Kathy Havel.

Olsen is a Downers Grove Village Council member who was elected in 2013.  He was named as Mayor Pro Tem in 2015.  He was recently appointed to fill the vacancy at the College of DuPage left by the resignation of reformer trustee Kathy Hamilton.  A more detailed bio on Representative Olsen can be viewed at the Downers Grove website at  this link.

We understand he will resign his post at Downers Grove, however, will finish out his term at COD, which ends in April of 2017.

We hope that Mr. Olsen is able to inspire others in Springfield with his enthusiasm and commitment to representing the taxpayers of this state and bring change to the politics of corruption this state has become so familiar with.

In the event, he issues a press release we will publish it once we receive it.

UPDATE:

DuPage GOP issues Press Release on David Olsen Appointment.

Download (PDF, 107KB)

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Watchdogs and Co-Defendants prevail in Motions to Dismiss –

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

Today, DuPage County Judge Kleeman ruled on the standard 619 Motions to Dismiss the lawsuits brought by Carla Burkhart and Herricane Graphics against the Edgar County Watchdogs, Kirk Allen, Clair Ball, and Adam Andrzejewski.  The initial reporting on the lawsuit can be found in this article. 

The judge granted the Motions to Dismiss across the board on the standard 619 Motions to Dismiss and provided Plaintiff 35 days to file a new complaint should they choose to do so.   He denied the Citizen Participation Act motions to dismiss which would have awarded us and the other Defendants our costs and attorney fees.

Overall it was a great day for justice.

Below are the various filings in the case.  When we get the filings for Adam Andrzejewski we will include them below.

 

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Gov. Rauner signs Local Government Travel Expense Control Act –

SPRINGFIELD, IL. (ECWd) –

Today, Governor Rauner signed the Local Government Travel Expense Control Act (read it here) which is meant to scale back on the lavish expenses incurred by public officials under the guise of “official business”.

The LGTECA requires school districts, community college districts, and all non-home rule units of local government to provide by resolution or ordinance, the regulation of all travel, meal, and lodging expenses of officers and employees.

It also requires setting a minimum standard for documentation of expenses, and the maximum allowable reimbursement for travel, meal, and lodging. It places all travel documents as public records subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The Act also prohibits all approvals or payments for travel, meal, and lodging made on and after 180 days of the effective date of the Act unless a resolution or ordinance has been adopted.

Prohibits entertainment expenses.

We applaud the formation of the Local Government Travel Expense Control Act as a common sense measure that had unanimous approval in both the House and Senate.

Rep. David McSweeney was the Chief Sponsor in the House and Sen. Thomas Cullerton Chief Senate Sponsor.

Download (PDF, 53KB)


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College of DuPage – Was Breuder FOIA violation felony record concealment?

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

I would first like to begin with pointing out how much we appreciate the new leadership and their legal counsel at the College of DuPage.  Had it not been for them, this article may have never been written and we believe this one supports our allegation that former President Breuder and members of his Administration should be facing felony record concealment.

In 2014 I filed a Freedom of Information Act request to COD for all payments and membership documents pertaining to Breuder’s membership to Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation.   The attorney at the time was Ken Florey, who’s response failed to include the whole truth to the Attorney General Public Access Counselor (AGPAC), pertaining to the requested records.  It was clear certain records were not provided.

Today I received an additional response COD has provided to the AGPAC

Secondly, the facts laid out in the recent response proves COD, under the control of the past board and Robert Breuder, concealed public records that should have been provided under my FOIA request.

“The College has other Max McGraw-related records of dues paid and invoices from 2013 that were not produced in response to the July 11th FOIA request, but which have subsequently been produced in response to other FOIA requests. Jill Mosher, the College’s Supervisor of Accounts Payable, ran a search for records responsive to the July 11th FOIA request, attached hereto and incorporated herein as Exhibit 2, and Ms. Mosher sent those 29 pages of records to Ms. Mitchell. (Id., Ex. C thereto) Those records included a request for a check payable to Max McGraw in the amount of $2,500 for fiscal year 2013 membership dues and a purchase order for the $2,500 membership dues owed for fiscal year 2013. Those records were not produced to Mr. Allen.

“Ms. Mosher sent Ms. Mitchell 29 pages of documents.”

“Ms. Mitchell received Ms. Mosher’s July 17, 2014 email along with all 29 pages of attachments.”

“She forwarded the email she received from Ms. Mosher along with the 29 pages of records attached to that email to Monica Miller, secretary for the College’s then-President Dr. Robert Breuder.”

“At present, neither Ms. Miller nor Ms. Mitchell can recall any specific communications following the sending of that email. However, later that day, Ms. Mitchell forwarded 15 pages of redacted documents to the College’s outside counsel for review. Ms. Mitchell did not provide all 29 pages to outside counsel. Instead, she only forwarded 15 pages. Thus, 14 pages of documents were not forwarded to the College’s outside counsel.”

“At this time, Ms. Mitchell does not believe she was the one who culled the number of documents down from 29 to 15.”

“Dr. Breuder is no longer employed by the College and was not interviewed as part of this response. At this time, the College takes no position regarding the identity of the person(s) who made the decision(s) to withhold any or all of 14 documents.”

We once again ask the FBI and the State’s Attorney to investigate this matter as a case of record concealment and we believe the paper trail points to Breuder as the one who culled the records from disclosure.

Not convinced this was a case of record concealment?

“Documents responsive to part 3 of the July 11th FOIA request were likely to be kept by the Office of the President because President Breuder held the Max McGraw membership. As such, before July 25, 2014, Ms. Mitchell called the President’s Office and asked for any Max McGraw membership documents. The President’s Office informed her that it did not have Max McGraw membership documents. As a result of litigation subsequently filed by the Chicago Tribune, the College learned that the President’s Office did, in fact, have Max McGraw membership documents. Such membership documents were subsequently produced to the Chicago Tribune and Mr. Allen in the summer of 2015.”

Only after litigation filed by the Chicago Tribune did we learn that the President’s Office did, in fact, have Max McGraw membership documents, contrary to his previous claim he did not.  Those records were clearly concealed from me!

We ask that each and every applicable law enforcement entity and prosecutor enforce the law on these people and set the example to the rest of the people in this state.  Violate FOIA  by concealing records and you will be prosecuted!  That is the message that needs to be sent if there is ever going to be any hope of fixing this problem that is, in fact, statewide.

You can review the current COD legal response here:

Download (PDF, 14.23MB)

 

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BreuderScreenCap (WinCE)




DuPage County – Political dynasty crumbling?

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, an unofficial vote, was,in fact an official vote as the contemplated action happened without any public vote on the matter.

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.

Download (PDF, 71KB)

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Cronin Presentation1