College of DuPage

College of DuPage – Did COD officials mislead IDFPR about Herricane Graphics?

DuPage Co. (ECWd) – 

In February of 2015, I shared information provided from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations regarding Herricane Graphics and the Architect contract she signed. After filing of my complaint I received this response:

“Yes…as I expected, the Design Complaint Committee dispositioned your complaint to be referred to our Prosecutions Dept, located in Chicago. The Committee had sufficient allegation evidence (you provided) to escalate this case to the Legal/Pros process. This should also serve notice to Herricane Graphics, as well as, College of DuPage

Having been unable to get a response from the state on the status of this complaint, further information was provided in a FOIA data dump last week, and we see serious problems on the horizon for COD and possibly Herricane Graphics.

After the complaint was filed with the state, and we exposed what was going on with this contract, this email was sent by Tom Glaser, former Treasurer.  The reason this very short email is of value is because it clearly indicates that the College of DuPage DID NOT KNOW if Herricane Graphics had a licensed architect in their employ.

—–Original Message—–
From: Glaser, Thomas <olasert@cod.edu>
To: Carla Burkhart <cabadvantage@
Sent: Sun, Jan 4, 2015 9:07 am
Subject: Question
Happy New Year!
Do you have a licensed architect in your employ?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G L TE smartphone

Fast forward to March 2015, and Carla Burkhart notifies Breuder, Glaser, Schmiedl, and the Board of Trustees of the formal complaint from the State and provides it to Tom Glaser, along with a copy of their response to the state.  Both of which we are still waiting on receiving from our FOIA.  (See copy of notification here)

Then in May, AFTER the election, we find that the IDFPR had a pending Rule to Show Cause in the case.   Upon knowledge of that pending Rule to Show Cause, the attorney for Herricane Graphics notifies Tom Glaser and Bruce Schmiedl with the following, of which I underlined key points.   Of interest in this notification is the fact it was not shared with Breuder or the Board of Trustees.  How convenient that it was kept from them, as well as the new legal counsel, which we have confirmed was the case.

“As you might be aware, I represent Carla Burkahrt and Herricane Graphics, Inc. I believe that Mrs. Burkhart has advised you that there is currently pending a Rule to Show Cause against her and Herricane Graphics with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations concerning the use of AIA contracts intended for architects by COD and Herricane Graphics relating to graphic design and sign installation agreements. The IDFPR is concerned that by virtue of the contracts as issue, Herricane Graphics and or Mrs. Burkhart somehow represented or asserted they were architects or the contracts otherwise called for the performance of architectural services. After reviewing the documents and meeting with the DIFPR, they are satisfied that the contracts did not involve architectural services, but need assurances that COD was aware that Herricane Graphcis and Mrs. Burkhart were not architects when the contracts were executed or otherwise. I understand this is in fact true, and that you have indicated a willingness to execute letters to that effect. By virtue of the letters, the Rule to Show Cause will be dismissed.

The email even contained a draft example of exactly what these requested letters need to say.  Simply reading the email from Glaser, above, sent in January, we know they DID NOT KNOW if Hurricane Graphics had an architect in their employ so any letter claiming they knew, flies in the face of the facts………but hey, it is COD.

Bruce Smiedl responds:
Mr. Feagans:
Do you have any documentation from the IDFPR wherein they requested the letter that you are requesting? Was it Mr. Fernandez that made the request during your meeting? Please let us know.
Thanks

Attorney for Herricane Responds:
Mr. Schmiedl:
The request was made informally by Mr. Fernandez as part of discussion to resolve the case. The IDFPR stands ready to dismiss the matter entirely provided we can show that COD was aware that Mrs. Burkhart and Herricane Graphics were not architects. He suggested letters from COD staff to demonstrate this to the IDFPR. If you want to contact Mr. Fernandez, he can be reached at 312-814-2960

If the State IDFPR was of the position they simply needed a letter from COD “STAFF” on the matter, then why didn’t the state contact COD themselves?  It appears to be very strange for the state to take this type of position and not communicate directly with the public body or the legal counsel for COD. I have left messages for Mr. Fernandez and have yet to get a call back.

Then later that afternoon, Carla Burkhart brings Catherine Brod into the mix with this email:

Cathy,
Here is the correspondence from Josh Feagans, my counsel on the matter. Matt Caruso has talked with him several times, but if there is ANY questions let me know. Thank you for addressing this.
Carla

Matt Caruso just happens to be a local attorney in Wheaton that is conversant in the law of negotiating American Institute of Architects general contracts and other related construction contracts and issues.

Then Catherine Brod responds to Carla inquiry:
Done. My Pleasure.
Cathy

Carla responds:
Cathy, Thank You.
Was this sent to Josh Feagans or Mr. Fernandez?
Carla

Catherin Brod responds:
Original to Mr. Fernandez, copy to Josh
C.

For starters, we are demanding a copy of this letter sent to IDFPR which apparently claims COD knew neither Burkhart nor Herricane Graphics was not an Architect.  We want to know who signed such a letter and under what authority as the Board of Trustees was never made aware of this document nor was the legal counsel for COD.

Why would the Foundation Director have anything to do with this situation?  The appearance is COD officials helped a Foundation board member out of a state investigation, and possibly did so by misleading the state of the facts, and all in secret from the Board of Trustees and legal counsel.

I can’t attest to what they knew about Burkhart and her status as an Architect, but it is very clear Tom Glaser DID NOT know if Hurricane graphics was an architect, so any letter claiming they knew they were not, would be completely false.

Did Glaser, Schmiedl, or Brod issue a letter speaking on behalf of COD and if so, under what authority.

Plenty of questions to be answered and rest assured we will get to the bottom of this and expose it all!

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COD-Shiny

2 replies »

  1. During the 1/28 Special Meeting Chair Mazzochi asked one of the Senior Admin about why the Architect contract was used. The Senior Admin stated it was used “to give the college greater protection”. My head was spinning as was Mazzochi’s. She then asked him if they did not use an Architect contract then wouldn’t the contract have to go out for a bid? The Senior Admin said no since Herricane Graphics was performing specialized services. Then Mazzochi said “they are only making signs – what is so critical & specialized”. Priceless.

  2. As an Illinois (Licensed) Professional Engineer, I have an opinion about this. After my own personal experience with dealing with Vermilion County issues, I believe the AIA contract document was used to make it much easier for Hurricane Graphics (Carla Burkhart) to receive a “no-bid” contract.
    Professional services (like licensed engineering/surveying/architecture services) are not awarded based on the “cheapest” survey or site design, but instead based upon qualifications and specialized experience.
    This same bad scenario played out in Vermilion County, where Gary Weinard and his enablers awarded a no-bid $637,000 contract to Bruce Harris and Associates for GIS services. Bill Donahue, Vermilion County Board’s attorney proclaimed that GIS work was “professional services.” He also said, “We talked to them on the phone, and they were VERY professional.”
    The Attorney General’s opinion about the definition of “professional services” needs to be released to the public so that unlicensed individuals will discontinue abusing the QBS (Qualifications-Based-Selection) process. Here’s a link where you can learn more: http://www.illinoisqbs.com/

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