College of DuPage (ECWd) -
In their continuing temper tantrums, the boycotting trustees, Diane McGuire - a retired teacher "on a fixed income", Erin Birt - an attorney who should know better, and Joe Wozniak, have decided to file a three-count lawsuit for access to certain information and records of the law firms representing the College of DuPage.
After learning of this suit, and prior to obtaining any of this documentation, Kirk and I discussed the issue of whether the attorneys were under any obligation to provide said records and if it would mean COD would incur a financial obligation - without knowledge and approval of a majority of the board of trustees. We came to the conclusion that the attorneys worked for the "board", meaning "a quorum of the board", and were under no obligation to act on the whims and wishes of individual trustees.
It reminded us of Dr. Joseph Collin's hissy fit a couple meetings ago (laugh at it here) where he insisted he did not have to act on anything, or even discuss anything, without at least a majority of the board present at the meeting. Sounds like Joe's chickens are coming home, and they aim to roost.
In this case, the board can only act as a board, or a majority of the board. Individual trustees cannot cause the college to incur debts without the approval of a majority of the board.
Since Chairman Hamilton's resignation, these three trustees have continued to violate public trust through their yet-unprosecuted felonious violations of the Illinois Criminal Code, Section 12-6 (a) (6) and Section 12-6 (a) (7) - read it here.
They have continued their collective action, through boycotting duly noticed meetings, and even boycotting two meetings they called and noticed. Thru these boycotted meetings they have withheld official action as public officials. If that is not intentional and willful, I do not know what is.
The opinion of ECWd is that all elected officials have a right to all information of the public body they are elected to. This includes closed session recordings and minutes from meetings that occurred prior to their taking office, and certainly includes all records used by the public body.
In this case, however, closed session recordings have already been released in violation of law, and according to the letters written to these three trustees, there is certainly a possibility of privileged information being intentionally released, or privileged information being used against the college by either these trustees or former COD employees.
A look at the lawsuit
Paragraphs 6, 7, and 8 are borderline untrue. How can you be acting in your elected role if you collectively boycott meetings?
Paragraph 13 admits they are "duty bound to fulfill the oath and obligations of their office". One has to wonder why they are violating their obligations to their office by continuing to bring about collective action against the COD community as a whole, and by withholding official action as a public official. They could easily attend meetings and refuse to vote on items they did not have "sufficient" documentation on if that is what they choose to do. Instead, these people are now filing this suit, in what we believe is a PR stunt to somehow justify their collective action thru nonattendance.
Basically, they are trying to circumvent the Community College Act through use of the court system to get their way, without exhausting other remedies - like showing up to a meeting and placing it on the agenda.
Statement of Acting Chairman Deanne Mazzochi in response to lawsuit:
Trustees Birt, McGuire and Wozniak have not appeared at seven consecutive Board meetings over the last two months. Now, rather than do their job, they have filed a frivolous lawsuit that will do nothing except needlessly cost the College more lost time and money. Attorneys from all three firms have always been available to each of them to answer their questions on any matter. These three Trustees have refused to work through normal channels. Any harm they complain of—and there isn’t any—would be self-inflicted.
Trustees Birt, McGuire and Wozniak are not lawfully permitted to take possession of, and subsequently release, the College’s or our attorneys’ documents to undisclosed third parties; compromise their confidentiality; or unilaterally waive attorney client privilege.
Their lawsuit’s demands also are so broad that they encompass the closed session recordings they recently refused to release to the DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin.
I note Trustees Birt, McGuire and Wozniak chose not to attach to their pleadings a copy of the letters they received in response to their demands from the law firms involved. We provide them now in the interests of transparency. (click here)
If these three Trustees cared about the College of DuPage, they would attend meetings and work cooperatively with other Board members and the College’s professionals. Instead, their only communications have been demands that come through lawyers or the press. If they want to discharge their duties, they should appear and engage, not file frivolous lawsuits.
I again urge Trustees Birt, McGuire and Wozniak to attend the next Board meeting so that we can resolve these issues and collaboratively work towards the betterment of College of DuPage.
We will keep updating this situation as information becomes available.
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