DuPage Co. (ECWd)-
We have seen it with numerous public bodies, and it appears the College of DuPage is no different. Chairman Erin Birt may be carrying the title of Chairman, however, it is clear the attorneys are in charge.
Contrary to what COD told the Attorney General regarding moving the Board meeting to a larger room, the attorney for COD has once again refused such requests from the public and Chairman Birt sits silent.
Both myself and John Kraft submitted notification to COD that a large number of people will be attending. Specifically I informed COD president and the Board of the following:
"Consider this a formal request to the COD Board members.
I am notifying you that we expect a substantial number of people will be attending the January 22nd Board meeting. (50-75 people)
I am requesting the meeting be held in a room that is sufficient to allow everyone the ability to watch the meeting live in the same room."
Today I received the attorney's response which contained lies and a denial to accommodate the request.
"Dear Mr. Allen, You have requested that the College move the location of its upcoming Board meeting to a larger room for the January 22, 2015 meeting. Please be advised that the College will continue to hold its meetings in the College’s Board Room. The Board Room is specifically set up for board meeting purposes and has comfortable and adequate space for the general public. The Board meeting also will be broadcast with state of the art technology in comfortable and convenient rooms adjacent to and near the Board Room which are open and available to the public. The seating capacity for the main Board Room is 30 and the overflow rooms have additional seating capacities for up to 200 people. All seating is general seating, on a first-come first seated basis.
Should you have any questions, please contact me.
It is clear now that two meetings in a row Erin Birt has done nothing to address the citizen's interest in viewing the meetings live, but more importantly, she has stayed silent while their law firm lies and racks up more legal costs. Chairman Birt now owns this!
The attorney's claim that the seating in the board room, which is a whopping 30 seats, is a first come first seated basis. That is a blatant lie! Of those 30 seats, half of them regularly have "reserved" signs on them which means they are not a first-come first seated basis. He also claims all seating is general seating however that too is a lie. An entire row near the front of the seating is also reserved for media, of which COD has again not responded to our request for a seat at that table.
A Law firms main priority is billable hours. That is what they are in business for and what better way to have a revolving cash cow than a Board of Trustees who don't know the law, are to lazy to read the law, and simply default to their high dollar lawyer who they "think" is going to steer them down the right road.
News Flash to Chairman Birt!
The lawyers are going to push the envelope in every fashion they can to ensure more legal opinions are needed! We have seen this for years with public bodies and actions always speak louder than words!
I can't count the number of times we have proven attorneys wrong, all while the boards blindly follow the attorney's lead.
Chairman Birt, the law firm representing this board has clearly overstepped their representation and you have allowed it. As an attorney yourself, one would have expected you to understand the citizens have rights as well.
The game being played that puts more money in the pocket of the law firm?
"Certainly, if the college had adequate advanced notice that large crowd greatly overwhelming the board room was planning to attend a meeting, and that the planned attendees preferred to see the meeting live instead of by broadcast, the college would make appropriate arrangements to move to a larger space. This is what is required by the Gerwin decision and the College takes no issue with this requirement." (Click here for COD notice to the Attorney General)
Reading their words to the AG it would appear on the surface our request complied with what they referenced however wordsmiths changes everything! You have to understand how lawyers manipulate things.
- "Adequate advanced notice" - They don't define it so any request is denied and if anyone wants to sue them over it they simply claim the notice was not adequate.
- "Large crowd" overwhelming the board room - What is considered a "large crowed"? They fail to put any number to that so once again, they get a pass if anyone sues them over this.
- "Overwhelming the board room" - Again, define "overwhelming" the board room?
Our request provided the basic information that the common person would understand to be needed based on the law firm's words to the Attorney General, however, once again Chairman Birt has ignored the citizens and allowed their attorney to intervene and rack up more billable hours.
It is apparent that their intentions are not to seek what is in the best interest of the public for the January 22nd, 2015 meeting. I informed them of yet another official notice pertaining to the Regular COD Trustee meeting for February.
Specifically, "I am providing you adequate notice that a large crowd that will greatly overwhelm the board room is planning to attend the February Regular COD Trustee meeting and that those planning on attending (planned attendees) preferred to see the meeting live instead of by broadcast.
If this request is not sufficient for you or COD to make such an accommodation please provide the specific criteria needed for that to happen."
It will be telling to find out what the legal bills have risen to because of the Chairman's inability to think for herself, and instead allow the lawyer to tell them how things are going to be. She has allowed this public body to be nothing more than a puppet to their billable hours.
Our FOIA law suit is a perfect example of how the lawyer got it wrong again, and now the citizens are the ones who pay the price, all while those billable hours keep racking up!
Chairman Birt, you should resign along with your sidekick Breuder!