Originally published in the Huffington Post
The Fat Cats at College of DuPage (an Illinois Jr. College)
Gift bans be damned. It’s steaks, ribs, filet and crème brulee… for all.
In June, the College of DuPage (COD) lost a $20 million state construction grant because of corruption. In July, COD was exposed for paying up to $27,000 in fees and private membership dues at the presidents shooting club. In September, COD won a national “Golden Hammer” award for hiding $96 million in “Imprest” accounting payments that weren’t disclosed to the public or trustees. In October, COD was forced to publically acknowledge “possible fraud” in the radio station for possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Therefore, it’s mystifying to many that the Board of Trustees and Senior Management Team have instituted zero reform measures- only Vice Chairman Kathy Hamilton has battled for reform. But thanks to the information made available by the Edgar County Watchdogs, we are starting to gain insight into how the elected trustees and entire management/oversight structures at COD have “gamed the system for personal gain.”
It seems everybody who is somebody at COD is on the gravy train.
A few examples:
Consider the COD’s very own Five Days of Christmas party during which $9,254.63 in gifts, dinners, and alcohol flowed to COD senior managers and trustees.
Here are the details: during a five day period in December 2013, $9,254.63 was spent on a Christmas gift of steak and ribs to the Senior Management Team ($2,345.03), a Senior Management Team Holiday party wasted $3,572.40 including $1,553 in booze, a Holiday Board of Trustees dinner ($2,331.60) included $807 in booze, and a Board of Trustees “retreat” dinner squandered another $1,005.60. View all receipts here.
All this eating and drinking on the job occurred at the upscale French restaurant at COD, The Waterleaf. This restaurant sports a fully stocked wine cellar–with more than $192,000 of wine and wine accessories purchased over the past three years. The Waterleaf lost $560,000 in its first year of operation (2012) and losses for 2013 are not disclosed.
Another example of largesse: House Account #10 – COD President’s fund for eating and drinking.
President Robert Breuder has led the way in lavishing himself and others with fine food and drink. Using “House Acct #10,” Breuder has not only charged at least nine “board of trustee dinners” to the tune of $10,466.40, but he’s also been compensated for another $10,864.18 in meals and alcohol. During one evening, on November 6, 2013, Breuder even needed a bartender change of shift to accommodate the late night drinking (a bottle of Nautilus, two Miller Lites, a Honey Bourbon, Pomelo SBG, and three Diet Pepsis). And he’s even racked up 14 nights for $1,429.68 at the upscale campus hotel.
All of this, of course, has been funded by the hard working students and over-taxed property taxpayers of DuPage County. We know this because the college previously admitted that Dr. Breuder has never paid back a dime during his tenure as president.
This also happened after the board awarded the president a compensation package worth nearly $500,000 per year. After all, half a million dollars isn’t enough to satiate Breuder’s refined taste for other people’s money. And the sense of entitlement continues to build not just with Breuder but with the entire leadership structure of COD…
For the Senior Management Team and Board of Trustees, the litany of charges reads like an all-you-can-eat country club feast: crab cakes, gnocchi, scallops, Carpaccio, duck, salmon, bass, matelote, Bavarian cake, and porchetta. Before the October 17, 2013 board meeting, the Trustees feasted on filet mignon, pork chop, toffee pudding sorbets, bread pudding, salmon, potato puree, chicken mousse, French onion, vegetable strudel, halibut, duck breast, steak salad and more.
To acknowledge that there is a severe lack of accounting control at COD is an understatement. Corruption is a more appropriate term. Most of these food and alcohol charges flowed through the Imprest hidden payment scheme or other hidden accounting tricks at COD. These payments were deliberately hidden from the public and board meetings lacked basic transparency. Many payments violated the $75 statutory limit on gift bans, which is also board policy.
Thomas Glaser is the Treasurer at COD and previously held a similar position, Chief Financial Officer for Cook County in the administration of the legendary county boss John Stroger (1995-2007). At the last board meeting in October, Glaser pulled his 13 college accountants and put them behind the podium. For 40 minutes, they tried to say “we’re clean.”
But the facts tell another story. Taxpayers are outraged by this behavior and are calling for a house cleaning at COD