COD board can't agree on agendas, posts two
Three College of DuPage trustees who complained about not having input in creating agendas didn't want other members of the bitterly divided board making changes to one they created for a special Thursday night meeting.
So the Glen Ellyn-based school took the unusual step Tuesday evening of posting two different agendas for the same meeting on the college's website.
The latest tussle for power on the board comes after the state's largest community college was put on two years' probation by the Higher Learning Commission for a variety of concerns, including the inability of board members to work together.
The first agenda for the meeting was compiled by trustees Dianne McGuire, Erin Birt and Joseph Wozniak, who previously complained about being cut out of the agenda-setting process. It calls for the board to reorganize in the wake of former Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton's Dec. 13 resignation.
When Hamilton stepped down, it left a hole on the board and eliminated the four-person majority that Hamilton and her allies -- Deanne Mazzochi, Charles Bernstein and Frank Napolitano -- had created after last spring's election.
McGuire, Birt and Wozniak also want to restart the search for a new college president to replace Robert Breuder, who was fired in October, and to revisit the continued employment of three attorneys. In addition, they want to reinstate COD's membership in the Illinois Community College Trustees Association.
Items concerning each of those issues are on the agenda they created without input from the other trustees.
The second agenda contains all the same items, but some are presented in a different order. It also contains additional items requested by Mazzochi, Bernstein and Napolitano.
For example, the expanded agenda includes a resolution to hire in-house counsel by July 1. The proposed hire would be supervised by the college president and report directly to the board.
The second agenda also calls for acting interim President Joseph Collins to report on efforts to hire an interim chief financial officer and comptroller to do work currently being done by an outside firm.
Mazzochi, Bernstein and Napolitano also would like the board to have a discussion about how it will pick Hamilton's replacement.
The board has until Feb. 11 to appoint a new trustee who would serve until the next consolidated election in April 2017 -- and likely wind up serving as the tiebreaking vote on many issues.
If the six remaining trustees can't agree on someone by the February deadline, the chairman of the Illinois Community College Board -- Lazaro Lopez -- will pick the new trustee.
The two agendas also differ when it comes to public comment. The expanded agenda calls for public comment at the start of the meeting. The agenda created by McGuire, Birt and Wozniak has public comment near the end.
"I think the public has the right to be heard, and it's appropriate to hear them early," Mazzochi said about moving public comment to the start of the meeting.
Which agenda the board follows Thursday remains to be seen.
But Mazzochi says she hopes McGuire, Birt and Wozniak will support the expanded agenda because it includes everything they listed in their own proposal.
"Three trustees identified a list of things they wanted on an agenda," Mazzochi said. "Three additional trustees identified additional things they wanted on an agenda. So we have an expansive, all-inclusive agenda so everyone gets to have their issues heard."
On Tuesday night, McGuire said she believed the added items "could have been considered at the next meeting." Still, she acknowledged the second agenda includes everything she, Birt and Wozniak wanted.
"I think it's sort of a compromise position," she said. "One has to wonder why this was done."
McGuire later released a written statement where she criticized the posting of the second agenda. She said it was an attempt by Mazzochi "to interfere with a legally organized special meeting."
Mazzochi said there are items on the first agenda that she personally disagrees with.
"But in the spirit of cooperation, they are all there (on the second agenda)," Mazzochi said. "And I think I was obligated to include them."
The agenda compiled by McGuire, Birt and Wozniak calls for the meeting to start at 7 p.m. in the Student Services Center at the college, 425 Fawell Blvd. But Mazzochi, Bernstein and Napolitano want the meeting to start at 6:45 p.m.