COD trustees considering another boycott
Three College of DuPage trustees say they are considering boycotting the meeting they called for Thursday because they believe other trustees on the fiercely divided board have again interfered with their agenda.
After missing two meetings in less than a month -- including one they called last week -- trustees Dianne McGuire, Erin Birt and Joseph Wozniak scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday.
But the three other members of the six-member panel organized another special session that's scheduled to begin 30 minutes earlier.
The agenda for the earlier meeting organized by Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein has only one action item: a vote to give DuPage County prosecutors records they've requested of closed sessions dating back to 2014.
That move prompted McGuire to issue a written statement accusing Mazzochi of using the records request "as a justification to interfere with a special meeting that she simply does not want to go forward."
"Trustee Mazzochi resorted to her dirty political games to once again interfere with the right of three trustees to call a special meeting to address truly urgent issues facing the college," McGuire wrote.
The records prosecutors want are related to the board's decision nearly two years ago to renew the contract of former President Robert Breuder, who has since been fired.
A federal wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Breuder indicates that Birt, who was then chairwoman of the board, told him on March 7, 2014, that the majority of trustees had extended his contract through 2019.
The board met a day earlier in executive session, but there are no public records or notice of a vote being taken that night.
A month after getting the contract extension, Breuder in April 2014 expressed an interest in retiring in March 2016. He and the board then spent nine months discussing the terms and conditions of his planned departure.
In January 2015, the board approved a $762,868 buyout package for Breuder that sparked a firestorm of controversy and helped get Mazzochi, Napolitano and Bernstein elected last spring.
After conducting an internal investigation, the new board fired Breuder in October, which led him to file the lawsuit against Mazzochi, Napolitano, Bernstein and former COD Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton, who resigned last month for unspecified personal reasons.
On Wednesday, McGuire said the state's attorney's request for closed-session material from February and March 2014 "is not urgent."
"It pertains to actions occurring nearly two years ago and involving an employee who no longer works for the college," McGuire said.
She said the records request "could have been addressed in the ordinary course of business at a future meeting."
Mazzochi, however, said she believes the request from the state's attorney's office should be addressed as soon as possible.
"The state's attorney made a request," she said. "I don't think it's appropriate to delay our response to that request without good reason for doing so."
McGuire, Birt and Wozniak already have said they can't attend the board's regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 21.
So Mazzochi said she doesn't understand why the three trustees wouldn't attend Thursday night's sessions "because they're getting everything they wanted."
"Their entire agenda was published as is for the 7 p.m. meeting," Mazzochi said. "There is nothing that is hindering them from proceeding with their agenda at the time they wanted and the place they wanted."
Indeed, the agenda for the 6:30 p.m. meeting called by Mazzochi and her allies includes a provision stating that the meeting will recess if it's not completed before the 7 p.m. meeting.