Health Club, etc., Discussed at MCC Meeting

Steps outlined by Power Wellness in its first report to the McHenry County College Board.

Steps outlined by Power Wellness in its first report to the McHenry County College Board.

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:

  1. Health education
  2. 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.

Sunday's headline was "MCC claims need for expansion."

Sunday’s headline was “MCC claims need for expansion.”

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.

Monday's headline says, "MCC:No need to tap taxpayers."  This came just one day after a major Chicago Sun-Times expose featuring how 53% of the bonds from alternative revenue financing of a golf course in Lakewood  were paid with higher property taxes.

Monday’s headline says, “MCC: No need to tap taxpayers.” This came just one day after a major Chicago Tribune expose featuring how 53% of the bonds from alternative revenue bond financing of a golf course in Lakewood were paid with higher property taxes. Those bonds were sold without a referendum. The sub-headline reads, “College says it won’t go to referendum for proposed expansion.”

“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.

Ron Parrish

Ron Parrish

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.

Centegra's Crystal Lake HealthBridge.

Centegra’s Crystal Lake HealthBridge.

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.


Comments

Health Club, etc., Discussed at MCC Meeting — 4 Comments

  1. I have avoided this word up until now. No longer.

    MCC lies.

    Lying means knowing you are not telling the truth.

    MCC knows what they’re saying is wrong and they keep saying it.

    There was no feasibility study. To keep saying so is to lie.

    Feasibility studies require independent experts, emphasis on both words. Power Wellness is neither independent nor an expert.

    With regard to the first point, Power Wellness only got a second contract when it gave the thumbs up on its first contract, and may (!) want a contract to manage the health club MCC wants.

    learly Power Wellness is NOT independent.

    With regard to the second point, let us not forget that in addition to building a fancy new health club, MCC also wants to build 90,000 square feet of classroom space to expand their health sciences program.

    Power Wellness manages health clubs — glorified gymnasiums; they’re in charge of weights and towels.

    What expertise do they have in community college health sciences curricula?

    Absolutely none!

    And the proof is in the 26 slide PowerPoint sales presentation Power Wellness and MCC tried to pass off as a feasibility study.

    A true feasibility study would have discussed
    -declining elementary school enrollment (MCC’s future students),
    -the decline in health care employment in McHenry County (yes, declining according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics),
    -the existence of competing health sciences programs at neighboring community colleges,
    -the number of existing health clubs in McHenry County (20+ and a new one opened last week),
    -the fact that MCC currently uses its classrooms only 45% of the school day (and that doesn’t include Saturdays, when, inexplicably, they don’t offer classes).

    None of this was in the slide show.

    In fact, the slide show offers absolutely zero evidence.

    None.

    Look at it yourself.

    For these reasons, Power Wellness’s lack of independence and its demonstrated incompetence, no matter how much money MCC gives Power Wellness, they will never have a feasibility study.

  2. Thank you Stephen!!!

    I would also add the following:

    What will happen when the tax rates consume so much of personal income, people have to cut their own lawns?

    Clean their own homes?

    Walk their own dogs?

    Shovel their own sidewalk?

    Paint their own houses?

    How many of these “wellness” centers will be closed?

    If they are built with tax supported dollars they will remain open.

    If they remain privately owned they will likely become Thrift stores.

    If anyone still believes their tax rates will not increase, I ask the question: How else can we pay for all those Illinois Constitutional pensions?

    How else will we repay those from whom we are borrowing the money to support what we cannot afford?

  3. A public school district can’t build a new building financed by bonds without a referendum and a community college district shouldn’t be able to either.

    State legislation should be passed making that loophole illegal.

    Any community college board member who votes for such an expansion without referendum should be voted out of office.

  4. Maybe someone can FOIA the proposed estimated debt service for the bonds along with line item detail of the fees involved in issuing the bonds.

    - How many years is the proposed bond issuance for?
    - What’s the proposed principal and interest payment in each year?
    - Would the bonds be competitive bid or negotiated? They should be competitive bid so taxpayers get the best deal.

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