College of DuPage (ECWd) –
Several situations occurred during the December 2014 College of DuPage Board of Trustees meeting that point to the possibility that Chairman Birt is allowing the COD attorneys to call the shots in the name of the College, potentially putting the college in the position of having to defend their attorney’s actions in court.
The Chairman of the board is the person that is in charge of all meetings and responsible for the actions of their attorney.
In a request for review filed with the Illinois Attorney General on previous meetings, one complaint was that the Board of Trustees held their meetings in a room too small to accommodate the public that wished to attend, and that at least half of the 30 seats available were always reserved by the College in advance. The attorney for the college, in their response to the Attorney General (here), stated that they were aware of the law and that should they be provided with advanced notice that more people would be in attendance than than the meeting room could accommodate, and the notice included a request to view the meeting live instead of by video, that they would certainly comply with the law and move the meeting to an area large enough to accommodate those wishing to attend. Additionally, the same attorney stated as fact that there were 30 seats available for the general public and those seats were on a first come, first served basis (the picture in this article shows their version of “first come first served). This did come from a different law firm, but it would be inconceivable to think they were not aware of what the other was doing.
Judging from the letter I received the morning of the December meeting (here), there were at least four individuals who sent a request (read my letter here) to the board and its attorney requesting a larger room, and requesting they view the meeting live instead of by video. These requests also stated that a large group of people would be in attendance that would greatly overwhelm the existing meeting room. Watch my comments to the board on this subject in this article. The reply to those requests, sent by the COD attorney, said the exact opposite of what they had just written to the Attorney General.
Chairman Birt either was not aware of the requests, which is hard to believe since I sent mine to all board members, the college president, the college attorney, and the college FOIA officer, or she deliberately allowed their attorney to decide what the board was or was not going to do. Judging from their communications with the AG, this attorney knowingly and willfully made a decision to violate the law in the name of the College, and Chairman Birt allowed it to happen.
Is she not aware that she is in charge of the meeting, subject to an override by a majority of the board? Attorneys have absolutely no authority in meetings, but Birt continues to allow this to happen. The same has happened in previous meetings where their attorney attempted to keep a trustee from speaking on a subject claiming it could put the college in a legally defensive posture, while failing to realize that comment from trustees and the public during meetings have absolute privilege and as such cannot incur any liability.
In this article (click here), I explained what happened when the College tried to dictate a new meaning to the term “media”. The Board attorney, Mr. Respicio F. Vasquez of Franczek Radelet P.C., knows the requirements, yet he was allowed an attempt to intimidate and threaten police action to try and redefine the meaning of media to suit his opinion. He knows what the requirements are, because he has been on the State Board of Education, has been the State Superintendent of Education, and is currently a Special Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Illinois Attorney General and had previously served as an Assistant Attorney General for two years. So, yes, he KNOWS the requirements, but chose to ignore them.
On a different subject, but still concerning the College of DuPage and the no-bid issues we have been revealing, this same attorney in 2010 presented a “Steer Clear of Bidding Predicaments” session, and in 2011 presented an “Avoid Surprises: Comply with Purchasing Mandates” session at the Illinois Association of School Board Officials (IASBO) Annual Conference. Did he forget everything he was teaching to others?