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July 20, 2024

College of DuPage – Glaser & O'Rourke – Grant riddled with problems

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On July 9, 2015

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –
In yet another data dump of documents last night from the College of DuPage,  it is becoming ever so clear that Thomas Glaser, VP & Treasure at COD has some serious explaining to do, as does an attorney claiming to be working on a grant on behalf of COD.  To date, James O’Rourke has not responded to my email request for information.
I covered numerous problems with the M.R. Bauer Foundation Grant project which utilized COD as a funneling mechanism to ensure James O’Rourke received money with a claim he was performing grant obligations laid out in an RFP.   The first exposure of this operation was June, 3rd, 2015 in this article, and more exposure in this article the following day.
The problems are so numerous that we will expose them in a series of articles to keep the focus narrowed to key points.
I was first tipped off about this charade in early May of 2015.  I submitted my first FOIA for records on 5/20/2015.   As recent as June 25th, 2015, the board packet for the COD Board meeting contained a report for the current status of operational public and private grants to the College.  During that presentation, the subject of the M.R. Bauer Foundation Grant became a topic of concern for Catherine M. Brod, Vice President –Development.
She was unable to answer a single question pertaining to what this particular grant was for and finally defaulted to Breuder being the one possibly approving Thomas Glaser to handle it, which she admitted is not part of his duties.
The very report provided to the board showed a new grant from M.R. Bauer Foundation that won’t terminate until November of 2015.  That very claim is in direct conflict with a letter dated May 10th, 2015 from James O’Rourke who terminated the grant agreement.

“I am seeking the termination of this grant and a refund to Bauer of unexpended funds (approximately $38,000) due to the change in direction of the COD, as well as the desire of my office to continue serving as a positive catalyst and to avoid any possible distraction to Cook County, where I proudly served most of my adult life.”

For starters, why did this appear as a current grant project when in fact it had been terminated May 10th of 2015?  (Click here for his termination letter dated May 10th)
Another question is how can O’Rourke terminate this agreement, when in fact the contract signed only outlines COD can terminate the agreement?  (O’Rourke-COD Contract signed by Glaser)
The claim for termination is another whopper.  “Due to the change in direction of College of DuPage”?  What change would that be?  To date no one is able to find a single bit of work product produced, and those who should know of any change in direction at COD have no knowledge of such a change or any work from this grant project.  Mr. O’Rourke’s statements should raise some eyebrows because it is one that cannot be validated by anyone at COD, which leads to a question of what is the real reason for him terminating a no bid contract bringing him $200.00 an hour?
O’Rourke rambles on and makes another very strange statement: “This experience has taught me to value outcome over process.” 
Outcome over process?  Is that the same as “the ends justify the means”? Does that imply that when the process violates the law it is OK provided you get the outcome you want?
As if those points are not odd enough, another claim made is even more concerning.  “I expect that the assistance of COD will have provided lasting value to Cook County.”
How can there be any lasting value to Cook County when in fact there was no assistance provided by COD.  There was no work product produced, no research submitted, no analysis of anything at all, in spite of a claim a single student was paid to assist.  COD has no records to support they provided any assistance so it is impossible for this statement to have any truth, which leads to yet another question, why make such a claim when there is no evidence to support it?
I also asked for work product on this 2nd scheme.  It too came up short with zero work product in spite of the fact the very illegal contract Mr. O’Rourke signed in November of 2014 stated this as part of the Work Product clause.

“All documents, including reports and all other work products produced by Contractor under this Agreement shall become and remain the property of College of DuPage. The Contractor shall submit any document, publication, brochure, electronic media etc., which was developed for College of DuPage under this Agreement to the College for copyright or trademark by the College.”

And for those getting all worked up about me calling it an illegal contract, rest assured it was illegal because only the Board of Trustees have the power to authorize a contract with an attorney and the minutes surrounding the signing date of that contract are void of any mention of an authorization being provided.
It is clear by the language in the contract there will be a work product that points to documents, including reports, and he even agrees to submit any document, publication, brochure, electronic media etc to the college for copyright or trademark by the college.  Amazingly, no work product has ever been produced.
In fact, O’Rourke’s termination letter provides cover for the lack of work product with this statement.

“This bias and the desire to effect positive change have historically proven successful tools. It is for these reasons, that it was decided to render informal verbal reports periodically to Bauer and COD.”

$81,000.00 in Grants and all there is to show for it is “informal verbal reports”?

Am I the only one that sees a real problem with that claim?
Based on all the inconsistencies we are finding, the May 10th, 2015 letter may in fact be a back-dated letter intended to provide cover for the lack of any work product by Mr. O’Rourke.  That rational is based on the following details.
Mr. O’Rourke sent Thomas Glaser an email 17 days after his May 10th termination letter.   (Click here for May 27th Email from O’Rourke to Glaser) Language in that letter points to a conflict for a project that claimed to be terminated.  The letter clearly states:

  • “I thought it appropriate that I update you on my progress regarding this project.”
  • “The involvement of COD as fiscal agent plays a critical role by virtue of being outside Cook County and thus  unaligned with any particular office in Cook County.”
  • “The success of the Coordinating Council is the model for this grant”
  • “I expect to report again after my meeting to make any adjustment necessary regarding this project”

First year law student questions:

  1. Why update COD on a grant project that you terminated?
  2. Why reference the involvement of COD as the fiscal agent when in fact he already terminated the relationship which means they are NOT the fiscal agent?
  3. Why point to the model of this grant when in fact the grant is terminated?
  4. And lastly, how on earth can you have necessary adjustments regarding this project when in fact the grant agreement was terminated?

His comments from the May 27th e-mail point to a grant project that is still under way which directly conflicts with his May 10th letter terminating the grant agreement.
Additional updates to follow.


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