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September 30, 2022

College of DuPage – Erin Birt responsible for legal “Fee Fest” –

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On May 17, 2015

DuPage Co. (ECWd)

Could a new mug shot be coming?

The release of the Res Publica invoice now shines light on many serious concerns with former Chairman Erin Birt as well as the rest of those involved with what appears to be a clear case of misapplication of funds once again.

One note of interest, as referenced in the last US Bank article, was the involvement of Jordan Matyas– Son-in-law of House Speaker Mike Madigan, (Senior Consultant for Res Publica Group!) (First coverage of this in US Bank part 7).

The billing on the invoices reflect Mr. Matyas was responsible for the highest billing of all those involved costing the taxpayers over $18,000.00 for his services.

Erin Birt ran a close second with approximately $10,000 in billing tied directly to her. Of serous concern is the fact many of these charges occurred prior to the board’s approval of the PR firm on March 20th.  All indications are this was nothing but a “Fee Fest” for those involved.

During the most recent COD special meeting, Trustee McGuire reported that Erin Birt was the only trustee that knew of the hiring of this PR firm.  Considering her name is plastered throughout the billing invoice, she was deeply involved in it and kept that from the rest of the board.

I find that to be extremely hypocritical of her considering the comments she directed at Chairman Hamilton during a recent meeting. Birt was upset that an item on the agenda, open to the public, was the hiring of a law firm that had represented Ms. Hamilton in the past.  Amazing how Birt can attack the open process, all while being directly involved in secret discussions with a PR firm that is charging thousands on the backs of the taxpayers and never sharing that fact with any board members until long after the work was done.

The idea has been raised in the past that the Foundation and the College operate as one big intertwined operation; no separation or demarcation at all.  Oh how true this turns out to be!

The Res Publica Invoice entries of 3/2, 3/3, and 3/12 highlight that premise loud and clear. These invoice entries all focus on developing favorable and positive PR for the FOUNDATION, yet it is the College’s lawyer, the College’s President, the College’s former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Erin Birt, and the College’s money, paying for strategy to defend and improve the image of the Foundation. The Chicago Tribune could make a lot of hay with that argument in their FOIA suit.

Since the College President works for the College, the College’s lawyer works for the College, and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is the top public official for the College, and taxpayer dollars allocated to the College are at stake here and should be used exclusively for the College and not the foundation, another argument that comes to mind is that the actions of these college employees to help the Foundation is ultra vires.

Bottom line, if these issues were so important to the Foundation then the Foundation should pay these particular invoice entries…not the College. Or if you prefer the Ultra Vires theory, then College of DuPage might want to consider asking Dr. Breuder and Erin Birt to pay certain of these costs themselves.

What really mucks my analysis up though is the fact that the BOT approved this effort of Res Publica on an after-the-fact basis. But I would submit that if the original act was ultra vires, then no amount of subsequent BOT approval on this topic is legit either.  As we have said in the past, you can’t un-rob a bank!

Additional misapplication of funds is Birt’s use of a PR firm to be involved in responding to FOIA requests.  There is nothing in any statute that authorizes public funds to be used for a PR firm to review or be involved in a request for public records.  It is clear these people were doing all they could to manipulate the process and keep things secret from the public.

I would love to know, as I am sure the public would, how is it that a PR firm is calling council to discuss Board “votes” three days before there are any votes taken?  Who was really running things at that point?  (See billing for 3/16/2015)

I think the most interesting issue now disclosed is the once “blurred lines” between COD and the Foundation are no longer blurred.  That coupled with the ultra vires argument, these official have some explaining to do and I argue some money to pay back to the college. I believe those issues have the most merit and significance, and on those points, I think the new BOT is doing a very impressive job to right the ship at COD.

[gview file=”https://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Res-Publica-Invoice.pdf” save=”1″]

ErinBirt2015

Video Screenshot Erin Birt – COD

 

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9 Comments
  • ECWDogs
    Posted at 13:22h, 17 May

    College of DuPage – Erin Birt responsible for legal “Fee Fest” – http://t.co/ToI7Lo4UEI

  • aylwinforbes
    Posted at 13:31h, 17 May

    College of DuPage – Erin Birt responsible for legal “Fee Fest” – http://t.co/alpdAYCbdn via @ECWDogs Amazing how quick you can spend $50 K

  • Bob Hazard
    Posted at 13:43h, 17 May

    I have a question: do you know if the Foundation is paying rent to CoD? They have an extensive office suite on the first floor of the Berg Instructional Building.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 16:04h, 17 May

      NO. They are not paying rent.

  • Danni Smith
    Posted at 00:32h, 18 May

    Considering the stupidity and hubris of erin brit, perhaps if she had been simply a “stay at home housewife” as she sniped those words at Kathy Hamilton MBA, CPA, the new Board of Trustees President, brit would have been a little brighter, perhaps. Doubtful.

  • DuPageLiberty
    Posted at 07:21h, 18 May

    RT @aylwinforbes: College of DuPage – Erin Birt responsible for legal “Fee Fest” – http://t.co/alpdAYCbdn via @ECWDogs Amazing how quick yo…

  • SuperAbe2014
    Posted at 07:23h, 18 May

    RT @aylwinforbes: College of DuPage – Erin Birt responsible for legal “Fee Fest” – http://t.co/alpdAYCbdn via @ECWDogs Amazing how quick yo…

  • Danni Smith
    Posted at 10:43h, 18 May

    erin brit is responsible for the $106,000. attorney fees and costs because these are services purchased by her, not the College or the Board. Advisory to all those at or considering the use of the law firm FranczekRadelet, note these observations: What specific documentation did they have that generated an invoice to College of DuPage? What experience background does this firm have with College Boards, or Education Law?; How was it that the necessity of Board approval for the hiring of this firm for the billed work was either, not known, ignored, or considered insignificant?; This financial obligation is between erin brit and the law firm. The College of DuPage has no legal and financial obligation to pay this invoice. The firm should work out a payment plan with brit. It is not collectible as the proper entity(ties) are not parties to this contract. It is no different than my purchase of a new roof on my neighbor’s home, and without my neighbor’s knowledge. The firm is a fancy address and no knowledge, not even knowing whether they had to check out payment responsibility. DON”T PAY< CoD, YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE, AND THAT'S US, THE TAXPAYER-OUR VOTE FOR ERIN GAVE HER ONLY THE POWERS AS GOVERNED BY THE POLICY. (think eb plannin' on gettin' a little on the side?) And by the by, consider the skill and knowledge, or lack of it per erin brit: pure greed, hubris, stupidity-girl in big trouble and she doesn't even know anything about contract law!

  • Concerned
    Posted at 14:45h, 20 May

    Say what you want about Erin but the brand new chair that you all chose, isnt any better, nor are her supporters. She drilled the student trustee for having an office open for student questions. Not a month later, she created her own office. In just several hours she took over a space that was used for students to create a brand new office for herself, refurnished and repainted the whole thing on tax payer dime. What about the students?? Do ANY of the new board members care about the students??? They havent said that yet! Mazzochi, the vice chair, isnt any better! She uses the board meetings as court room practice. Come on…!! are you one with the school or are you one AGAINST the school and all staff?

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