COD trustees, it’s time to go
Six members of the College of DuPage board of trustees have failed the students, parents and taxpayers who relied on them and their — is this word too generous? — judgment.
These trustees failed when they forked over more than $750,000 to shove President Robert Breuder out the door in a hush-hush deal that they refused to explain. They decided it was easier to soak taxpayers, who now will foot the bill for the trustees’ mismanagement, than to make their case openly for Breuder’s golden parachute. If, that is, they have a case.
These trustees failed when they censured board Vice Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton last summer because she “publicly embarrassed her fellow elected board members and the college administration.”
Hamilton’s offense? She asked questions about how the school was raising and spending huge sums on expansion projects. She wanted answers, in public. The board’s response: Sit down and shut up.
The trustees failed when they didn’t stop paying a campus radio station engineer who billed the college from his private company — even after he was convicted of using that business to steal from another college.
They failed when they agreed to name a building after the president they can’t wait to see disappear.
So it has come to this:
Board Chairwoman Erin Birt, co-Vice Chairman Joseph Wozniak, Dianne McGuire, Kim Savage, Nancy Svoboda, Allison O’Donnell, it’s time to resign. Your actions have tarnished the college you once sought to serve.
We’re not alone in our resignation call. A standing-room crowd of 400 people crammed Wednesday night’s board meeting to protest the Breuder buyout. Many demanded that board members resign. State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said: “What you have done as a board contributes to the bad reputation that Illinois has for corruption.”
Hamilton, the only “no” vote on the Breuder package and the only member who we think should continue to serve, recently coined this disgraced board’s unofficial motto: “Taxpayers do not count. Insiders do.”
That’s what Hamilton said after the board engineered Breuder’s buyout. She’s right. And the six board members who approved this payoff are wrong. Trustees of a public institution are accountable for its finances and its future. Accountability demands consequences for … those who fail.
We don’t know whether a mass resignation will happen — or will happen as fast as we’d hope, which is today.
Fortunately, however, voters soon can start firing these failed trustees. Three seats on the COD board are up for election April 7. Two incumbents, Savage and Svoboda, are running for re-election. A third, O’Donnell, isn’t seeking another term.
Many citizens were outraged by the actions of this board even before a whiff of the Breuder buyout emerged. A dozen candidates are vying to fill these three seats.
Hamilton, the sole trustee who has taken on the majority, has recruited three challengers who will be on the ballot. It looks like there are other good candidates as well, people who would change the culture on this board.
In 2009, this page ran a similar headline — “Time to Go” — over an editorial that explained why University of Illinois trustees had to resign in the aftermath of a scandal over clouted admissions.
The trustees “were either complicit, compliant or clueless,” we said then. “The university needs a fresh start without them.” Pressure came from many quarters, including then-Gov. Pat Quinn, and some of the trustees did the honorable thing and resigned.
Today, a different college and a different set of trustees. But the same verdict.