Editorial: Hamilton's departure may not set stage for COD harmony
So. The College of DuPage spring lasted all of one day.
On Monday, the morning after Kathy Hamilton's abrupt and unexplained resignation from the fractured COD board, many of the remaining board members were saying all the right and warmhearted things.
"We have a college to take care of here," said Trustee Charles Bernstein, elected last April with Hamilton's support. "I think we will come together."
Trustee Frank Napolitano, another member of that faction, expressed optimism that "after an open and transparent process to consider a potential new board member (to replace Hamilton), we will be able to come to a consensus."
Vice Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi reached out late Sunday to trustees on what until now had been the minority opposition and had what one of them, Trustee Dianne McGuire, characterized as a "cordial and informative" phone conversation.
So the for-the-record mood Monday was that Hamilton's departure might usher in a new atmosphere of harmony and teamwork on a board that had been polarized in a 4-3 split since April (and a 6-1 split for at least a year prior to that).
Then, on Tuesday, reality struck.
McGuire and Trustee Erin Birt kept an appointment at COD to review unredacted legal bills under the watchful eye of a college administrator.
It should be noted that they have long maintained, with reasonable logic, that as board members, they should have access to the records without restriction.
With that as the backdrop, at some point Tuesday, they decided to leave with copies of the documents, despite the recent college policy to the contrary.
What happened after that is not altogether clear, but there's no argument that matters flared up.
President Joseph Collins tried unsuccessfully to stop them.
Mazzochi at some point was called for advice. She, by McGuire's account, directed Collins to have the two arrested; by her account, she tried unsuccessfully to persuade them to find a compromise.
(It is unclear, by the way, how much authority Mazzochi has to independently tell Collins to do anything.)
Whatever exactly happened, no one disputes that things got ugly.
The timing for a confrontation couldn't have been more unfortunate.
It illustrates dramatically the challenge this board, now split 3-3, is going to have doing anything, much less agreeing on the replacement trustee who almost assuredly will determine which side wields the power at COD.
Is there a consensus candidate who can walk between both camps? We hope so but lack confidence.
The board has 60 days to reach agreement on that new trustee or the appointment falls to the Illinois Community College Board.
We can already hear the lobbying efforts revving up the engines for that one.
For more than a year, artillery politics has been a way of life at COD. Isn't it time for it to end?