DuPage Co. (ECWd) -
Having reviewed more statutes than I care to think about, one thing is clear: You only have the power granted by law. If it is silent, you can't do it! We routinely find public bodies doing what ever they want when it comes to spending money, and more often than not they have no clue what the law says about such expenditures and it is evident that is the case with COD President Breuder on many fronts.
As we continue to expose wrong doing at COD we came across their recent Lobbying contract with one of their Foundation Member owned businesses. The language in the paperwork regarding that deal points to a "Legislative Agenda."
So my question as I sit in front of the computer racking my brain on this, is where in the Community College Act does it call for them to pursue a legislative agenda? I thought the funds for a college was for the purpose of Education? Is this another case of money being spent for Breuder's agenda in direct conflict with the law?
I understand that the Lobbying laws outline a unit of local government or school district may adopt an ordinance or resolution "regulating" lobbying activities with that unit of local government or school district and that it imposes requirements similar to those imposed in that act. I filed a FOIA for the referenced ordinance and/or resolution and will update when we get a response.
So COD contracts with one of their Foundation Board member ran businesses and pursues a legislative agenda, of which actually the legislative needs of a Community College are in the hands of the State Board and not the college President, board of trustees, or a lobbyist. In fact, 110 ILCS 805/2-10 places the legislative concerns of a Community College directly in the hands of the State Board, not the college itself!
Sec. 2-10. The State Board shall make a thorough, comprehensive and continuous study of the status of community college education, its problems, needs for improvement, and projected developments and shall make a detailed report thereof to the General Assembly not later than March 1 of each odd-numbered year and shall submit recommendations for such legislation as it deems necessary.
I filed one of those troubling FOIA request to COD for a copy of the "Legislative Agenda" and sure enough, COD has one, and it is troubling! (Click here for a copy of the Legislative Agenda)
The first thing that jumped out was the fact Breuder is still pursing the $20 Million dollars that former Governor Quin yanked out from under him. That being the case, it is clear in spite of all the evidence, it was nothing but a pure money grab on the backs of all the people of the state, he is continuing to focus on grabbing that money.
Breuder's Legislative plan:
- Help advance legislation that favorably impacts COD both at the state and federal level
- Identify opportunists and help COD leadership in participating on state level committees & task forces
- Arrange meetings with various members of the Governor’s Office, legislature, and agencies to develop and maintain relationships with public officials particular Senate and House leaders in order for COD to have a continued presence at the state level.
- Arrange meetings with various members of the Congress, agencies, and other public officials at the Federal level to advance COD initiatives.
Now unless I missed something in the Community College Act, I don't find anything that provides them the power to spend money on a legislative agenda. In fact, it would be inappropriate to spend tax payer money devoted for education on legislative matters as that was not the purpose in which they were collected and the legislative matters of the college are delegated to the state board.
He wants to participate on state level committees and task forces? Don't see that in the Community College Act either!
It would appear Breuder's ego is getting the best of him as he also thinks he needs to arrange meetings with various members of the Governor's office, as well as other agencies so he can develop and maintain relationships with public officials.
Once again, that is not the purpose of a Community College! It all sounds warm and fuzzy but for the life of me I do not find any statutory authority for him to expel community college funds so that he can build relationships. I wonder if this agenda is similar to the maintaining of good relationship with foundation board members as was the case with Herricane Graphics?
To top it off, he wants the same opportunity at the Federal Level.
I can only assume Breuder missed out on civics class. You see what he is trying to do is backwards as to how our system of government is set up. The statutes outline it is the State Board that is to handle legislative matters not Breuder or the board members.
The politicians are the ones that should be ensuring there is a relationship as they are the elected officials and if they want to get re-elected they depend on that support. Let them spend their money to keep things warm and fuzzy and let the State Board do their statutory mandated job, not Breuder and the Board.
I am well aware of what lobbyists do and what role they play and it appears to be a consensuses in this nation that special interest lobbying has created a real mess of things.
One thing I found interesting in reading the laws on Lobbying is the fact they are not allowed to accept or agree to accept compensation from a state agency for the purpose of lobbying legislative action. It would appear the legislature pulled a fast one though when this was written because they put this little clause in that section.
I say interesting because conveniently in just about every other statute, colleges and universities are considered State Agencies. Does it surprise anyone that the lobbying statute just happens to have a different definition of "State Agency" applied to it?
Think it's not political?
(30 ILCS 500/50 37)
Sec. 50 37. Prohibition of political contributions. "State agency" means and includes all boards, commissions, agencies, institutions, authorities, and bodies politic and corporate of the State, created by or in accordance with the Illinois Constitution or State statute, of the executive branch of State government and DOES include colleges, universities, public employee retirement systems, and institutions under the jurisdiction of the governing boards of the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Illinois State University, Eastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, Chicago State University, Governors State University, Northeastern Illinois University, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
It is evident that the lobbyist have carved out a nice little niche for themselves and ensured more opportunity to grab tax payer funds by simply having different definitions as to what a State Agency is. Sadly, too few are reading the law and applying it as it appears to be spelled out pretty well that a legislative agenda for a community college is the obligation of the State Board, not a taxpayer funded lobbyist.
A suggestion for all our legislators: Establish one definition for "State Agency" and apply it equally across the board!