GLEN ELLYN, IL. (ECWd) -
Amid the vote of no confidence from the College of DuPage Faculty Association, and the rising tide of public outcry about the policies and actions of the College of DuPage Board of Trustees and COD President Dr. Breuder, Breuder jumped up on his soapbox and penned a letter in his weekly "Letter from the President" which read more like a six year old whining because his mommy wouldn't buy him every toy on the shelf. Just think, this is the guy who is in charge of an institution the size of COD. Could he be feeling the heat of transparency?
He should be proud of himself for using public funds, public time, and public property to embarrass and discredit the college in this way.
His special note starts off talking about the Daily Herald article (here) where he leaves out the most important pieces of that article hoping you won't take the time to read it. What Breuder fails to tell you is that the Daily Herald mentions the "why" in the increase of FOIA requests. Some of the reasons include information that was previously available immediately, the public bodies are now requiring a FOIA request be submitted in order to increase the numbers of requests, this is for accounting purposes and to create a sense of increasing requests.
The most important item Breuder left out when talking about the Daily Herald piece is that they specifically addressed the attitude of some public officials. Stating that some public officials think of these records as : "They're my records, and I'm not going to give you my records". This is the very attitude on display by Breuder in his letter, and the Board during meetings.
Before I continue, it is important for everyone to know that it does not require the services of an attorney to comply with Freedom of Information Act Requests, it does not take an attorney to respond to an Attorney General request for review either. Public bodies make that decision, and it is generally made when they are trying to hide embarrassing records from the public and from news media. I have found that those with nothing to hide do not pay an attorney to process FOIA requests.
From experience, here is the six step FOIA process every public body has used:
- Initially respond according to law - if you have nothing to hide this is the step where you remain.
- When you want to hide what is requested, make improper redactions or provide incomplete responses hoping nobody will notice.
- Hire an attorney because this might scare the requester away, and besides, you can use this expense for publicity later.
- Fabricate and exaggerate the actual costs of replying to FOIA requests
- Play the victim card by tell the public you are being harassed and feel threatened and it is costing you thousands and thousands of dollars to comply - but make sure you don't tell the public this is all because you are trying to hide embarrassing records.
- Continue to play the victim card, say you have nothing to hide, but in the end you resign in shame because the truth eventually comes around to haunt you. (Steps 3 thru 6 all include "attack the requester" as a critical component)
Number of requests received
Breuder continues by saying that in 9 months they have received 66 requests for information - that calculates out to about 7 requests per month. Is he really concerned with 7 requests per month? I don't think so, because he later talks about 26 coming from people he believes is connected with "Open the Books" (think back to six-step FOIA process above). I have to ask why he would care who submitted the request or who he thinks are connected with any groups or not. Does that matter? It only matters when you are trying to hide embarrassing information from the public.
Now Breuder quickly moves to step number 5 of the six-step process. He talks about the hundreds of hours of staff time used, and then states that "they continue their assault" and "inundate us with requests and presentations at meetings" ( showing his contempt for the Open Meetings Act) and even goes so far as to "enjoin the Office of the State's Attorney General" insinuating there was something wrong with following the law by asking the Attorney General to intervene. He further states that ONE alleged non-compliance by the College was dismissed - I hate to break the bad news to him, but that request is being review once again because I notified the AG's office that they had violated the FOI Act within their own determination and they agreed the decision was incorrect.
Frivolous FOIA requests
Since Breuder claims 26 requests are "connected" to Open the Books (without any factual data to back up the claim), he continues his whining by stating they filed "more than two dozen frivolous FOIA requests". I guess any request is frivolous in his mind, I mean, those are his records and who the hell do people think they are asking for his records... Notice he uses a foggy figure that he can never substantiate with facts when talking about the cost of the requests (Step 4).
Breuder continues with Step 5 by once again calling FOIA request "frivolous" and claiming "harassment" and "character assassinations" and "intimidation" and "relentless harassment".
Finally Breuder issues his own veiled threat by claiming they may need to seek protection under the law against FOIA requests in the future - I say good luck with that one, it will never succeed!
It appears Mr. "Born to Lead" Breuder is feeling the heat and can hear the stampede of step number 6 quickly approaching... his entire letter is filled with the stinch of his contempt for the very people that he is supposed to serve; the Public. (click here for the letter)