Editorial: Release COD recordings of Breuder buyout talks

  • More than 300 people attended a special meeting to address the severance package awarded College of DuPage President Robert Breuder.

      More than 300 people attended a special meeting to address the severance package awarded College of DuPage President Robert Breuder. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 5/7/2015 12:32 PM

The seemingly endless fires of controversy surrounding operations at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn have engulfed the institution and the community for months, and there's no doubt that the controversies have many facets.

But the match that set it all ablaze, most would agree, was the board's approval on Jan. 23 of a $762,000 early-retirement package for COD President Robert Breuder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That 6-1 vote -- with only Kathy Hamilton, then the vice chairwoman, opposing -- so outraged the public that it set off unrelenting waves of protest that swept a Hamilton-endorsed slate of board candidates into office last month.

Have other controversies followed? To be sure. But the upheaval was made all but certain by that vote on the retirement package and by another 6-1 vote on Jan. 29 to re-approve the package after allegations of violations of the Open Meeting Act jeopardized the validity of the original action.

An angry public turned out en masse to decry the agreement. Several state legislators denounced it. A dozen candidates filed to run for the three COD board seats up for election and almost all criticized the package.

Meanwhile, as we asked in an editorial on the subject on Feb. 1, why did the COD board give Breuder a buyout?

There seemed to be no sensible explanation then. And there's been scant more explanation since.

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At first, it was described as a retirement. Then, it was described as a buyout. Supposedly most of the board members were happy with Breuder. But then it was said that some of the board members were unhappy with him because of a faculty no-confidence vote last fall. Complicating it even further, critics of Hamilton said that while she voted against the buyout in public, she supported one behind closed doors; for her part, Hamilton says that's a mis-characterization of the position she took.

Who said what when? Where did the idea of a buyout originate and how was the compensation determined? Did Breuder want to stay or did he want to go?

It's time to answer these questions.

All executive session meetings of the board are audio recorded. There is no law that says those recordings must remain secret. In fact, the law requires the board to review them periodically to decide whether they should be made public. The board has the power to release them.

We say, release them!

We asked Hamilton during an editorial board conversation in March whether she would agree to their release. She said, "I don't see why not."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hamilton is now the chairwoman of the board, and she and her majority faction have vowed transparency in taking the college in a new direction.

Release the recordings of the Jan. 23 executive session. Release those as well as the recordings of portions of any other executive sessions related to the buyout. And release any correspondence related to the buyout discussion, too.

By law, we acknowledge, the board has the power to withhold these recordings. But by law, it also has the power to release them.

For the good of the college, release them.

To respect the public, release them.

In the name of transparency, release them.

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