DeKalb Co. (ECWd) -
Previously, we had debated whether NIU’s President Doug Baker actually hired his good friend Ron Walters as an employee or a consultant as found in this article. Arguments were made for both sides, however, it might be best to just hear it from the horse’s mouth as written in this email from Walters to another of their mutual friends, Dr. Wally Pfeiffer:
“I was well received, although Doug has already gotten some flack for hiring his buddy right off the bat to come in under some lucrative consulting contract that wasn’t put out for bid.”
The wording in Walters’ email seems to indicate that he and Baker apparently knew the difference between consultant and employee; and further confirms that he (Walters) was hired as a consultant and not an employee. Walters also confirms that both Baker and he knew, at least at some point, that Walters’ employment violated state rules by ignoring the State’s open bid requirements.
At some point. Did Baker learn of the requirements after he hired Walters? Note the date of Walters’ email: July 2, 2013. Baker’s presidency officially began July 1, 2013. Therefore, this email seems to indicate that Baker was aware of the State rules on procurement and bidding requirements by the time that he hired Walters, but chose to ignore them.
However, it does not end there. Walters did not simply acknowledge the cronyism (“hiring his buddy”) and the violation of state procurement rules (“lucrative consulting contract that wasn’t put out to bid”); he also expressed the thought that public awareness of these violations would only slightly slow their (Baker’s and his) plans:
“He [Baker] has been warned that – this is Illinois politics – and it will come out under someone’s freedom of information act request within a few weeks. That hasn’t stopped him from bringing me in and cutting me lose [sic], but he does have to be a bit cautious.”
Blame Illinois politics and those darn people who have the audacity to FOIA for information on public activity!
This “have to be a bit cautious” may have slowed the immediate overt activity by this pair, but it did not slow the future plans:
“So I brought your name up and think it could happen a little further down the road, but he doesn’t have an appetite for bringing on another at this early point.”
Of course, this ‘appetite’ was not eliminated, simply postponed for nine months. As reported by us earlier, the recipient of this email, Wally Pfeiffer, was signed to a no-bid contract in the amount of $19,999.99 (using the obvious ploy of one cent under the open bid requirement threshold) officially effective March 31, 2014. And when Pfeiffer billed for over the contractual limit, he, like Walters, was put on the payroll register in another blatant violation of procurement rules, outlined in this article.
This email makes it appear that President Baker knowingly and then repeatedly violated state procurement rules to hire his buddies at least from Day 2. And he continued to do so for other friends who wished to climb on the state gravy train at the expense of the Illinois taxpayers. All done despite Baker’s repeated claims of an “ethically inspired leadership”.
But ultimately we again have to ask, where are the Board of Trustees in this? This President is still at the helm of NIU. So what has the Board done to correct these problems? Very early in Baker’s tenure, there was a public outcry that condemned Baker’s questionable activities; but the Trustees have not publicly responded. This lack of public action by the BoT is starting to raise questions regarding the individual Trustees’ own ethics and motives. It is the Board’s fiduciary duty to both the University AND to the State to ensure that rules and laws are followed. If any of the Trustees cannot or will not perform this duty, it may be time for them to step down or for the Governor to replace them!
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