By Mark Wachtler
December 19, 2014. Glen Ellyn, IL. (ONN) They’ve been caught funneling tens of millions of dollars to themselves and defrauding taxpayers and students in the process. No, we’re not talking about the Chicago Democratic Machine. We’re talking about neighboring DuPage County. Even after being exposed by media outlets across the country, administrators and Board members at the taxpayer-funded College of DuPage refuse to admit wrongdoing. Now, they’ve gone so far as equating themselves with the victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
CoD Trustee Dianne McGuire (forefront in red) at the November Board meeting in which she equated herself with victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Image courtesy of RebelPundit.com.
For the Good of Illinois
Our friends at For the Good of Illinois have been exposing the corruption plaguing the College of DuPage for months. Their efforts even led to the State of Illinois cancelling a $20 million grant to the school this year due to seemingly endless accusations of financial mismanagement. For their part, school officials have refused FOIA requests, sealed government documents, made legally required roll call votes disappear, and conveniently lost much of the documentation detailing how, where and why millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent at the College.
The accusations of wrongdoing include; multi-million-dollar no-bid contracts to friends and business partners of County and school officials, millions in payments to College administrators, tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money spent on liquor and “five-day” parties, and millions of dollars inexplicably ending up in the bank accounts of school and government bureaucrats, their families or their businesses.
Lack of transparency
‘Over the past 16 months, the College of DuPage has paid more than $26 million without the Board of Trustees knowing specifically how the money was spent,’ a report from For the Good of Illinois recently exposed, ‘That’s because of a long-standing Board policy that allows administrators to pay bills of less than $15,000 without providing itemized reports.’
The problem, the authors note, comes when multiple invoices to single vendors are lumped together to create massive payments, undocumented and with little oversight. Those vendor payments, chopped up into smaller invoices to avoid scrutiny, are adding up to over $1 million per month at the College of DuPage. According to the CoD’s own financial filings, $18 million over the past fiscal year was paid out without the school Board’s review, something that is its primary responsibility.
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The taxpayer watchdog quoted the College of DuPage Board President Erin Birt regarding the policy loophole saying it’s, “not the inclination of the majority of the Board to change the Board’s policy.” Chicago Civic Federation President Laurence Msall disagreed.
“Although it may be technically allowed for individual payments of less than $15,000 to not be reviewed by the governing Board, if a pattern emerges whereby in a consistent manner payments in excess of $15,000 are being accumulated by one vendor…then the spirit of fiscal oversight and good government would require review by the full Board or certainly the audit committee,” he explained, “There is little harm in having the Board review or approve expenditures that end up representing a significant portion of the budget.”
For the Good of Illinois reached out to surrounding taxpayer-funded community colleges and found that each of them scrutinized individual payments rather than simply approve a non-itemized lump sum payment the way College of DuPage does. The schools included Elgin Community College, Harper College in Palatine, McHenry County College, Oakton Community College in Des Plaines and Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove.
Adam Andrzejewski, founder of For the Good of Illinois, collected and released all 21,730 payments by the College of DuPage between April 2013 and August 2014. Upon its public release, Andrzejewski remarked, “In Illinois, corruption hides in dark corners. At a minimum, elected Trustees have a duty to provide open, honest and transparent governance. CoD Trustees must start simply doing their job.”
What they found
As detailed in a recent report from Reboot Illinois, some of the scandals revolve around College of DuPage President Robert Breuder. Breuder is already being blamed for the college losing its $20 million state grant after his emails were leaked showing the school perpetrated a scheme to request tens of millions in taxpayer funding for allegedly much-needed expansion. But in the emails, the school President seems to admit there were no expansion plans and if they actually received the money, they’d find something to build later.
Now, the CoD admits there is no documentation or record of a Board vote on President Breuder’s $469,000 per year salary, as required by law. The report from Reboot Illinois explains, ‘In Illinois, without public votes, such addendums are invalid. Without the contract changes, CoD trustees may have paid Breuder without legal authority to do so - since 2012.’ For the Good of Illinois has since officially requested that the Lake County State’s Attorney and the Illinois Attorney General investigate President Breuder’s contract and the manner in which it came into being.
Among other accused fraudulent spending uncovered by multiple Illinois watchdog groups this year, one included the now notorious taxpayer-funded ‘Five Days of Christmas’ party. After fighting the Freedom of Information Act request, the college provided documents showing that the school President, school Trustees and senior staff threw themselves a lavish $10,000 five-day party complete with liquor.
Adding insult to injury, one College of DuPage Trustee managed to insult every human being on Earth in her zeal to defend her and her fellow Trustees’ taxpayer-funded alcohol habits. When confronted with the frivolous spending, including thousands on booze, CoD Trustee Dianne McGuire defended the parties at last month’s Board meeting. McGuire called the watchdogs who filed the FOIA request for spending details, “the myriad of extremists, right wing ideologues and groups.” She then went on to equate herself, the school Board and Trustees with victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist,” McGuire publicly stated in what Reboot Illinois called an ‘unhinged tirade,’ “Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
For the Good of Illinois and its sister organization OpenTheBooks.com have demanded an apology and retraction from College of DuPage Trustee Dianne McGuire for calling them Nazi murderers for simply filing an FOIA request for spending details. The Board refused. According to the two groups’ co-founder Adam Andrzejewski, the college has also refused to reform its transparency and spending policies to bring them in line with other schools in the area.
A $192 million dollar national embarrassment
Showing just how tainted the officials at the College of DuPage are, Reboot Illinois reminds readers that the Washington Times just awarded the CoD its Golden Hammer Award. The condemning prize is used to put a national spotlight on the most egregious examples of local corruption around the country.
One of the most scandalous revelations discovered after the school was forced to turn over its past spending comes in the form of secret payments to the school’s Board members and the companies they own. Andrzejewski explains the complicated scam being perpetrated by College of DuPage officials in the above-linked Reboot Illinois report.
“It now appears CoD has a sophisticated pay-to-play scheme with Board members of its supporting community foundation,” he details, “Payments from CoD to CoD Foundation Board members or their affiliated companies total $192 million since 2010. Much of that funded sole-source or ‘professional services’ contracts which circumvented competitive bidding and was hidden through ‘Imprest’ payments. So, CoD’s sole-source, non-compete contracts just happen to go to CoD Foundation Board members and their companies with a portion gifted back to the Foundation.”
Board Vice Chair Kathy Hamilton - the lone ranger
The ongoing corruption scandal at the College of DuPage isn’t without its heroes however. Or, hero, in this case. The account from Reboot Illinois singled out one individual who has been fighting a lone battle against corruption at the school. ‘Board Vice Chairman Kathy Hamilton, the lone reformer, has called for President Breuder’s firing,’ the publication writes, ‘The union voted “no confidence” and we concur.’
For the Good of Illinois also cited Hamilton for her uphill fight and the retribution she’s had to endure since being the lone voice for transparency and an end to the corruption. The local grassroots watchdog wrote, ‘Hamilton has been at odds with the administration essentially since she was elected last year and was recently censured by the Board for “inappropriate conduct.”’
The group goes on to explain, ‘She said the censure was in retaliation for her speaking out against the college’s spending practices and claims the report the college provided Andrzejewski backs up her claims. She said the Board policy states that any checks of more than $15,000 “shall require individual approval by the board of trustees”. According to the report sent to Andrzejewski, 105 checks were cut to various vendors in excess of $15,000 without Board approval.’
So while the state has revoked funding for the scandal-plagued College of DuPage and national news outlets use the blatant corruption at the school as the butt of their jokes, the officials perpetrating the scams continue their secret and costly practices while the lone whistleblower is censured and called a Nazi. All we at the Illinois Herald can say is, welcome to Illinois.
For more information, visit For the Good of Illinois.
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