The question of whether it is a conflict of interest for Power Wellness to be paid $50,000 to determine if a health club should be built at McHenry County College which Power Wellness might end up operating surfaced at Tuesday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
The impetus was a call from an unnamed Chicago Tribune reporter to Ron Parrish, the Board’s designated representative on a committee considering that idea, as well as two other related ones:
- Health education
- Clinical services center
Concerning how to finance the project, Parrish said, “Frankly, Vicki and I are on opposite ends of how we’re going to do it.”
Parrish did not enunciate his financing preference.
Parrish praised the two Northwest Herald articles the Sunday and Monday before last.
He called the “report well balanced.”
Most of the information seems to have come from MCC President Vicki Smith, MCC Board President Mary Miller and Parish’s having visited the Northwest Herald at its offices.
A discussion followed about whether there was a conflict of interest existed in the hiring of Power Wellness to do a feasibility study.
“Are you comfortable with that?” Parrish asked.
“I’ve only found good reports about Power Wellness[but] they might be soliciting proposals which they might be [competing] against.
Cynthia Kisser asked if there were other potential partners which were as good.
“[If so,] at that pint we’d have to have some other resource to help us evaluate [the proposals].
“I think that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross.
“We’re not in a conflict yet. It’s more their conflict than ours.”
“Right now we haven’t hired a partner,” President Miller observed. “For now I don’t see any conflict.”
“I’m prepared to step forward and stop it,” Parrish said.
At that point there was a chorus of “Oh no’s.”
Chairing the Committee of the Whole meeting was Dennis Adams who observed, “Right now we’re all nodding up and down.”
Summing up the attitude of most members, Carol Larson said, “I don’t know [that] the board has a concern right now. I don’t think anyone’s having a problem.
And to Parrish, “I know you do.”
“I do,” Parrish affirmed.
He then talked about a letter from “a concerned citizen.”
“I’ve only seen negative comments.”
“Are the letters you get signed?” Larson asked.
Yes,” replied Parrish.
“I get comments [that are] positive, but I don’t have it in writing,” the Alden Township resident observed.
Addressing one complaint was Kisser.
“We are not seeking to become a four-year institution,” she said referring to “a well written letter.”
Then Parrish moved into the question of public perception.
“I believe public perception is just as important as reality.”
“What are we doing to correct the record?” Adams asked, referring to what I think was a letter to the NWH which contained what he characterized as “misinformation.”
“It’s in print,” he stated, perhaps inadvertently showing the power of letters to the editor read by “everybody in this county.”
He referred to a “public relations lie, wrong data, wrong class utilization data. What do we do about that?”
“Maybe Dr. Smith could address those in her column,” Miller suggested.
“Building a fitness center is so far from the truth. That’s not the truth and it not [just] a fitness center,” pointing out that it would be used to train people for jobs.
And of the three additions being considered, Kisser said, “The fitness center may not be there.”
Parrish observed that it was being explored because “there’s a funding mechanism.”
“It’s not like we’re going to be competing with HealthBridge,” Miller said.
Kisser mentioned physical therapy as a use for the fitness center.
In answer to the question of what the college was going to do to counter the bad publicity, Smith told the Trustees, “We do have a communications plan.”
She said, “They have FOIed [filed Freedom of Information request) and drawn their own conclusions [which] don’t have much relationship to what the data says.”
The 2012 Labor Report was referenced which shows health careers going up through 2015.
“What can we use besides the newspaper?” someone asked.
Parrish said, “Pushing forward a $42 million building–that, as I see it, is not on the table.
“We are looking to justify that.”
The new Vice President of Institutional Advancement Laura Brown gave some areas where she and her staff were “looking at what else we can do creatively.”
The internet was specifically referenced.