COD Foundation director defends board members over no-bid contract claims

  • Officials of the College of DuPage Foundation fired back Friday at critics who say some foundation board members work for vendors that receive no-bid contracts at the school.

    Officials of the College of DuPage Foundation fired back Friday at critics who say some foundation board members work for vendors that receive no-bid contracts at the school. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Editor’s note: Due to the large number of candidates in the COD board race, we’re not always able to include all their positions in every election-related story we publish, but we encourage them to post comments at the end of this story to provide their views.

Claims that vendors for College of DuPage benefited from having employees sit on the school's foundation board are being dismissed as "unwarranted" and "untrue" by the executive director of the foundation.

Dan Bailey, one of the 12 candidates vying for three open seats on the COD board, is calling for the creation of a policy that would prevent College of DuPage Foundation members from receiving contracts with the Glen Ellyn-based community college. The College of DuPage Foundation raises money to increase educational and cultural opportunities for the college community.

To support his demand for a new policy, Bailey this week claimed that COD trustees have given "large non-disclosed, non-bid business" in recent years to foundation board members.

But one day after Bailey released his statement, foundation Executive Director Catherine Brod issued a statement of her own.

"In response to Mr. Bailey's unwarranted, untrue and misguided statements, the volunteers who serve on the board of the College of DuPage Foundation are respected leaders in our community who have agreed to act as goodwill ambassadors for our school while performing vital fundraising for our students' scholarships and programs," Brod said.

Brod said the foundation is separate and distinct from the COD board of trustees that oversees the college.

In his statement, Bailey named seven vendors with employees on the foundation board. The list included Wight and Co., Herricane Graphics and Power Construction.

Brod, however, said all the foundation members who are vendors for COD "have been performing their services long before joining the foundation."

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It's a point echoed by COD Trustee Kim Savage, who is seeking another 6-year term during the April 7 election.

"After coming to the college as a vendor, they are seeing all the great things that are going on with the college," Savage said. "They want to be part of that. They want to promote it. So they join the foundation board and then go out and become ambassadors for the college."

She said there are foundation board members who don't have any contracts with the college.

The other candidates in the COD board race are Claire Ball of Addison, Dave Carlin of Naperville, incumbent Nancy Svoboda of Downers Grove, Joseph M. Wozniak of Naperville, Matt Gambs of Naperville, Sandra Pihos of Glen Ellyn, Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst, Frank Napolitano of Bloomingdale, Roger Kempa of Darien and Charles Bernstein of Wheaton.

On Friday, Carlin said Bailey's statements "represent politics at its worst."

"For political gain, Dan is vilifying good people who have helped provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to College of DuPage students," Carlin said.

Svoboda said candidates should "do more research" before issuing news releases. "It is in no one's best interest to spread inaccuracies," she said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But on Friday, Bailey said foundation board members must respond by disclosing the invoices for the work their companies have done before and after their appointments to the foundation board.

"Until I see something concrete from them, I stand by my statements," Bailey said. "They need to tell me how my tax dollars are being spent."

Meanwhile, Savage is taking issue with Bailey's comment about vendors getting "non-bid business."

She said several candidates have alleged contracts with businesses associated with foundation board members are "suspect." She also said the existing COD board examined the issue back in December 2013.

"Since that discussion, the college has issued RFPs (requests for proposals) for professional services even though state law does not require it," Savage said. "These recent statements by some trustee candidates either reflect a lack of actual knowledge of the situation or are intentional attempts to mislead the public."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Still, Pihos said there should be a policy that defines who can serve on the foundation board so there can't be conflicts of interest.

"Perhaps they (foundation board members) have to make a choice of whether to do business with the college or be on the board," Pihos said. "At the very least, the foundation should generate a list of members who play this dual role."

Mazzochi said she's most troubled by what the COD board of trustees is doing with its contract power.

"After I'm on the board," Mazzochi said, "no one will be issuing any ... noncompetitive contracts to anyone, foundation board-related or otherwise."

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