DuPage Co. (ECWd) -
I would first like to give thanks to the Reform Trustees at the College of Dupage. Your leadership is critical to fixing what is so terribly broken at COD, and although this article is yet another hit on the malfeasance at COD, it is not intended in any way to be a disparagement to those working so hard to right the ship.
I know many of you have sacrificed your hard earned tax dollars at College of DuPage, a/k/a the College of Deception/Destruction and Denial (COD). I have also admired your courage and dedication to rid the stink from the College. Some of you, bless your hearts, were even silly enough to believe that criminal charges would one day be filed against the bad apples at COD.
You may not see meaningful charges...not in our lifetimes. As fast as Zachary Fardon, the U.S. Attorney for Chicago, and Bob Berlin, the DuPage County Prosecutor, issued criminal grand jury subpoenas (see pages 13 & 16) to COD, COD appears to have simply hit the purge button and wiped its email system as clean as a new baby's behind. Cleaned and sanitized just like that.
At COD, there is no need to worry about that pesky obstruction of justice statute, such as 18 USC 1519, verbal or written admonitions from the College's General Counsel, or the Board of Trustee Policy Directive that ALL College records must be maintained and preserved in perpetuity until all litigation and appeals are resolved. At the College of DuPage, it is just a simple matter of delete/delete here, purge/purge there, you erase, I erase, everywhere a cover-up (sing to the tune of Old McDonald Farm for fun).
Wait one dog gone minute. How can you disparage COD, the College of Deception/Destruction/Denial in such a pejorative fashion? Especially when interim President Dr. Collins said the problems at COD were caused by the Chicago Tribune's inaccurate reporting. What proof do you watchdogs have?
Plenty - Let this graph of e-mail destruction sink in!
Certain College Senior Administrators simply wrote to the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State Local Records Commission (SLRC) and asked to wipe selective timelines of emails from their servers, among other things. The SLRC then can play dumb, tres dumb, just like Sergeant Schultz from the sitcom "Hogan's Heroes." Sorry, aging myself.
The SLRC then claims to Know Nothing/I Know Nothing about the criminal grand jury subpoenas issued to COD (and apparently hasn't read or heard of any investigations of COD by the State General Assembly, Auditor General, or the myriad of news stories saturating the airwaves about State and Federal criminal investigations at COD either). So, the SLRC gave the Green Light to COD to delete potentially incriminating emails, month after month, after month as well as other documents of interest. Come on, remember this is Illinois...what are friends for?
You must be joking, right? There is no way that this sleight of hand occurred, right under the noses of the U.S. Attorney, the F.B.I, State Criminal Prosecutors or members of the Illinois General Assembly or Auditor General who is doing a performance audit as we type? You must be making this stuff up, right?
Sorry to burst your bubble. You see, the SLRC issued a huge wad of super-secret forms called “Disposal Certificates”. These highly classified/top secret “Disposal Certificates”, which COD failed to produce when we asked for them in September of 2014, were never meant to see the light of day…….as far as COD was concerned.
What COD did give up was the standard Application for Authority to Dispose of Local Records, File #81-286.
Interesting they failed to produce the Application for Authority to Dispose of Local Records File #12-157 filed by Lynn Sypata in April of 2012. Which supersedes the #81-286 application in part. So once again, we prove COD was not complying with FOIA, as if that is any surprise.
Did they avoid providing the #12-157 application because it tied COD to control of Foundation records, or did they not want anyone to see the schedule for destruction of imprest records? We will never know but the fact is, COD failed to turn over File 12-157, but it gets much worse.
One VERY important document was missing from that #81-286 file COD provided, and had that one page been provided it would have turned COD upside down with cries of a cover up. Compare the COD issued Authority to Dispose of Local Records to the SLRC provided documents.
You say they look the same? Pay particular attention to page 14 of the SLRC provided record. I challenge you to find that same document in the COD provided record.
THIS January 4th, 2011 application to SLRC amends item #67 and now includes the destruction of e-mails older than one year......, then dispose of records no longer possessing any further administrative, fiscal, legal, and/or historical value, WAS NOT, I repeat, WAS NOT included in my FOIA request.
We suspect it was intentionally removed considering it was an e-mail provided in a FOIA response that first exposed the now famous $20 Million dollar Breuder email. It would also be consistent with past practice of not providing records that cast negatively on the operations at COD.
How on earth can COD explain that the Amended Request from 2011 to destroy emails campus-wide is missing from their documents but were in fact part of the record received from the State?
Coincidence or intentional cover up?
I say cover up because this document provided from the SLRC with attachments confirms COD was sent the information in July of 2014, two months prior to my FOIA for such records. The key document sent by the state is on page 4 of that document, however, the rest of those documents in that correspondence were withheld as well.
The documents COD produced for my FOIA gave zero permission to destroy e-mails, thus no need for our investigation to worry about those records going missing...or any need to ramp up certain aspects of our investigation, or so we thought!
Can you imagine the headlines had the evidence of an email purge going on at COD been exposed when we asked for the records? Nope, can’t give up that information because it can get very, very messy when a branch of State government authorizes the deletion of possibly relevant and incriminating emails when criminal grand jury subpoenas were previously served on COD, not to mention those pesky federal Obstruction of Justice Statutes, etc. Nope, don’t give up those records subject to FOIA. Deny, Deny, Deny!
But that is why COD's email cupboards may be so bare....with a little help from the LRC and failure by COD to provide ALL the records in a FOIA response, no one knew what was really going on. As soon as 54 separate "Disposal Certificates" landed on COD's doorstep, it appears the Breuder email destruction plan went into over-drive. This is the Illinois Way. The timeline on the requests and approvals to destroy emails alone is an eye popper! More on that later.
The only consolation prize in this circus event is we have not been able to confirm if in fact COD followed through with the actual destruction.
So with the email servers at COD possibly wiped as clean as a baby's behind, what can our federal and state criminal prosecutors possibly do? With potentially incriminating evidence possibly destroyed, it seems more likely that no charges will ever be brought against the bad apples at COD....because the cupboards may have been stripped bare……with a little assistance from the State Local Records Commission. Nope, you can't make this stuff up!
Of interest in this massive data dump we received from the Local Records Commission last week may not be so apparent to those just now jumping on board with the events at COD, but for us, the following record destruction application amendments sent in July of 2014 set off alarm bells.
- Basic Nursing Assistant Applications – Of interest because nursing students have sued the college.
- Class Registration Forms – Of interest in light of the enrollment claims being made by COD.
- Suburban Law Enforcement Agency (SLEA) Program Registration records – Of interest because the ICCB and HLC have found serious improper activity as it relates to SLEA and the issuance of more credit than approved.
Or the Lynn Sypata record destruction request that was approved in 2011 which consisted of four years of Radio Station Audits and other Radio Station records. You know, the same year Elmhurst College informed COD of Valente’s criminal conviction for theft. Now, after destroying key audit records, COD informs the authorities of a $400,000.00 theft by former Radio Engineer John Valenta, the convicted criminal who stole from Elmhurst College. I wonder if his defense lawyers have any clue what may have been in those destroyed audit records. We don’t know the conclusion of the audit records or whether they may have exonerated Valente, or if they may have implicated other parties, but we must ask, could these destroyed records actually hurt the State’s case against Valente? – We’ll never know.
Considering the investigative report prepared for COD by the prominent Chicago law firm Williams Montgomery & John LTD was void of any mention of destroyed Radio Station records, is this a case where COD concealed key information to their own legal investigators? Did they do the same thing to the DuPage County Prosecutors?
The same destruction request documents also outlined 12 different SLEA documents for 2005-2007. You know, that entity that got so much scrutiny from us pesky bloggers, Chicago Tribune, Illinois Community College Board, and the Higher Learning Commission. Nothing to see, all normal business, wink wink, nod nod.
There may be nothing at all to these request to destroy records, and we may never really know, but we must ask, why now when pressure is being applied to COD from the citizens who are demanding answers? Was this a methodical process to remove potential evidence to those very issues being dealt with in the courts, ICCB, and the HLC?
How about the recent Chicago Tribune lawsuit against the COD Foundation. You know, the one that they just won a ruling in the DuPage courts that the Foundation records were subject to FOIA.
Well of course they are.
Lynn Sypata in April of 2012 submits a records destruction request. What records does she inform the state of that need a determination for disposal? Surely nothing but the College of DuPage records right? WRONG! She actually lists COD Foundation records and seeks a disposal approval for records belonging to an entity that claimed to be totally separate from the College of DuPage. I guess the Foundation didn’t get that memo.
- FOUNDATION FINANCIAL REPORTS – 1999 – Destruction Disposition Approved
Or we can look at the “Application for Authority to Dispose of Local Records” - File #81-286 and see even more evidence that COD was, in fact, controlling the COD Foundation documents to include establishing destruction permission. How interesting to find that the State Agency, the gatekeeper of public records, actually approved a public body to dispose of records supposedly owned by a private 501C3 Corporation. Nope, nothing to see here, this is Illinois.
- 1967 Foundation Financial Reports-(Audit) Destruction disposition approved June 1981
- 1967 Meeting Minutes (College of DuPage Foundation) Destruction disposition Approved June 1981
- 1973 Foundation Files - Destruction disposition Approved June 1981
- 1973 COD Foundation (Small Loan Agreements) Destruction disposition Approved June 1981
Small loan agreements? Is making small “loans” a part of what the COD Foundation offers? One can only wonder what interest rate those are and under and what lending rules they operate under. Never mind, nothing to see there.
- 1988-1998 COD Foundation Audit Papers – Destruction approved November 2006
- 1988 Foundation Financial Reports - Destruction disposition approved November 2005
- 1993-1988 COD Foundation Audit Files- Destruction disposition approved November 2005
- 2000 COD Foundation Audit Files- Destruction disposition approved November 2005
- 1999-2010 – COD Foundation Financial Reports – Destruction Approved April 15, 2013
I wonder if the Chicago Tribune might have an interest in all these record destruction requests and approvals for COD Foundation records that clearly put COD in control of financial records on behalf of the Foundation. No, surely that won’t be of any interest to them.
Sadly for the Foundation, they argued they are separate from the College, when by all indications, even the State Local Records Commission appears to see their financial records, small loan records, and meeting minutes to be under the control of the College, thus subject to the Freedom of Information Act! Bummer for COD Foundation, Party for Chicago Tribune!
As this article exposes the record destruction practices of COD, we must raise the flag on one in particular, as the pattern of requests is very disturbing, if not eye-popping. We believe anyone can look at this pattern of destruction and see that things ramped up from 2013-2015 when compared to previous years. The pattern screams cover-up, but hey, as Trustee McGuire has said for over two years, there is nothing wrong at COD.
As you can see, the requests for destruction approval of emails raised to a level from 1-3 requests a year to as many as 20 requests in a single year.
Requests and approvals that continued even after Grand Jury Subpoenas were issued.
Requests and approvals that continued even after Resolution 15-430-4 was passed by the Board of Trustees ordering all documents to include emails be preserved.
Why are these particular requests so eye-popping? Look at the pattern before Breuder arrived on scene at COD. Such requests were basically nonexistent before 2012.
However looking at the time frame of destruction requests contained in these documents, it is clear a data purge was invoked by Breuder at COD. In 2010, an attempt was made to purge ALL emails that were 180 days old or older. The state DID NOT approve that request.
No problem. Regroup! Just like in FOIA. Narrow the request to a timeframe they will approve and then request the daylights out of them with the narrowed requests.
- 2008-2009 – Email Destruction Approved!
- Jan. 1, 2010 – June 301, 2010 – Email Destruction approved
- July 1, 2010 – September 30, 2010 – Email Destruction approved
- October 1, 2010 – December 2010 – Email Destruction approved
See how that works? Four requests to destroy and they can wipe out three years of emails.
Five more requests gave the approval to purge all emails up through May 31st, 2012. Wow, five years of emails gone with the stroke of a pen! What a plan!
These actions bring their request for destruction into April 2013 and they then are asking for destruction in 2-week windows of time. They follow that pattern asking for email destruction for emails that are basically 13 months old. Then presto! They have managed to wipe out another year, established a common pattern of requests that now are routine approvals at the state level, and what do you think happens?
February of 2014 they are getting approval to destroy records that are not even a year old! In fact, they hit a point where approvals were issued to destroy records that were 10 months old. Those approvals pushed the 60-day destruction window from the date of approval like no others. Clearly a failure of the Local Records Commission to catch on to what was happening because the routine request was just that. Nothing to see or be concerned about here. Submit, approve, submit, approve and the beat goes on.
And never mind what the instructions were from the state in 2011 as it related to email destruction, which was to Retain for one (1) year, then dispose of records no longer possessing any further administrative, fiscal, legal, and/or historical value. One year? Ten months? What’s a couple months out of compliance? No big deal, this is COD, home of the Waterleaf and besides, the SLRC approved it!
And that part about keeping the records not possessing any further administrative, fiscal, legal, and/or historical value, no problem, as once again we point out, McGuire assured us there is nothing wrong at COD so those pesky instructions have no meaning.
By May 6th, 2015, COD had received approval to destroy email records in entirety up to June 30th, 2014.
And for those that have any doubts that this was all part of the Breuder plan, a 13-month plan that was accelerated to actually be a 10-month plan. Read no further than the email quote below of the email to Breuder in May of 2014.
“Dr, Breuder, in the past, you’ve been interested in the performance of the email archive/purge process here at the College. I am being proactive in letting you know that we continue to operate on the thirteen-month schedule we established and that all operations are up to date.”
Oh well, all is fine at COD and the State of Illinois. The gatekeepers of our state records, the Local Records Commission, gave permission for the destruction of records in spite of all the safeguards in place at the state and federal level. Our Senior Administrators and College President worked their plan and now all is good at COD and the citizens, the media, and the prosecutors should all go back to sleep as there is nothing to see here, the cupboards are bare.
COD ain't got no stinkin records!
All the records obtained from the SLRC pertaining to the College of DuPage record destruction program can be found at the links below.
- 12-157 - 01
- 12-157 -02
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