MCC Board Follows Northwest Herald’s Advice, Kicks Vicky Smith’s Contract Renewal Down Road to Last Day in Office for Three Members

I wish I had managed to make it to the McHenry County College Board meeting earlier.

From what Woodstock Advocate blogger Gus Philpott said in the public comment section of the meeting, the room was packed with college employees when he arrived.

No room for ordinary taxpayers to sit.

The three rows in the MCC Board room were filled after the employees left.

The three rows in the MCC Board room were filled after the employees left.

Philpott gave thanks to President Vicky Smith for convincing them to leave.  I guess they went to an “overflow” area in the huge front hall nearby.   That’s where I saw a screen set up on the way out.

Cynthia Kisser

Cynthia Kisser

Cynthia Kisser began the meeting by asking for the controversial item–the extension of Smith’s contract–be postponed until the Thursday after next.

Ron Parrish

Ron Parrish

“I completely agree,” Ron Parrish replied.

That was also met with agreement from fellow Board members.

That’s the last day Carol Larson, Barbara Walters and Dennis Adams will be in office.  Larson and Walters lost the election; Adams retired.

It was not clear whether that postponement was until the last meeting of the outgoing Board or the first meeting of the reconstituted Board after Molly Walsh, Chris Jenner and Tom Wilbeck are sworn in.

Then, it was on to public comment.

“Thank you very much for coming,” Board President Mary Miller said before the first person, Grafton Township Assessor-elect Al Zielinski spoke.

Al Zielinski urged the Board to act in a "business-like" manner.

Al Zielinski urged the Board to act in a “business-like” manner.

Zielinski urged Board members to act in a more business-like manner.

Jane Collins asked the Board to "respect the results of the election."

Jane Collins asked the Board to “respect the results of the election.”

Philpott urged the Board to include that they were going to vote on a contract extension on the next agenda, if that were their intent.

Jane Collins, a fixture at MCC Board meetings, pointed out that if the “old Board” were to make the decision next week, “nothing has changed.”

She said that would be the same as saying, “We’re not going to respect the results of the election.”

“We don’t trust you to make informed decisions,” she continued.

Collins, it should be noted, was part of the group that put up signs supporting Molly Walsh, Chris Jenner and Tom Wilbeck.

Woodstock’s Molly Oakford said she “was here for the students.”

She urged the Board to show the “highest level of standards of excellence.”

Molly Oakford asks the Board to live up to "standards of excellence."

Molly Oakford asks the Board to live up to “standards of excellence.”

Referring to what was on the agenda, she asserted, “The process is wrong.  The process does not [meet] standards of excellence…

“This meeting should never have been held.  It’s shameful.  It’s railroading.

“I want to see our Board conduct itself in a standard of excellence.”

Former Board member George Lowe urged members to allow the new Board to make the decision.

Former Board member George Lowe urged members to allow the new Board to make the decision.

Former MCC Trustee George Lowe then weighed in.

“I think it behooves you to give them [the new trustees] a chance to vote on the contract.

“If not, it’s a gotcha!”

MCC Instructor James Gould said it wold be "anti-democratic" for the old Board to make the decision.

MCC Instructor James Gould said it wold be “anti-democratic” for the old Board to make the decision.

Philosophy and Ethics Instructor James Gould also expressed disapproval.  He thanked Larson for her 24 years of being a “faithful advocate for the employees” and urged Board members to think about the good reputation and image of the college.

He called the effort to act on extending Smith’s contract “anti-democratic and, in effect, subvert[ing] the will of the public.

“I ask that decision be made by the new Board.”

MCC Instructor Marla Garrison defended the Board.

MCC Instructor Marla Garrison defended the Board.

The only person speaking in favor of the old Board extending Smith’s contract was Biology Instructor Marla Garrison.

She told of the “erosion of confidence” during “the four years of rapid turnover administration.”

“I don’t believe lame ducks.  This Board is an active Board and was elected by the community regardless of what happens next.

“For the past two years, I’ve felt energized…the status quo was no more.”

Chris Jenner said the Board had seven weeks to act on the contract extension.

Chris Jenner said the Board had seven weeks to act on the contract extension.

New Board member Chris Jenner spoke next.

He pointed that he had talked to no Board members about Smith and that the Board had seven weeks to act on her contract.

“There seems to be ample time,” he said, asking the current Board to allow its successor to make the decision.

I spoke next, pointing out I was the only one in the room who had been at the meeting called to form the college.  (Cal Skinner, Sr., called the meeting and served on the first board.)

Steve Willson said

Steve Willson said the Board faced “a test of integrity.”

I asked the members who would not be on the next Board to think of the harm they would do to the college’s reputation and their own if they acted on the contract extension before leaving office.

I also requested that the reports be made available to the public prior to the meeting.

Steve Wilson, just out of cataract surgery read a statement to the Board:

“This is a test, a test of integrity.

“A week ago 70% of the people who went to the polls voted AGAINST the incumbents.

“If Liddell, Kisser and Miller vote for this contract, it shows they have no respect for the voters and no respect for their new colleagues.

“And if Vicky Smith accepts a contract voted by this lame duck board, over the objection of the new trustees, it will prove she also has no respect for the new board, no integrity, and that she is simply looking for a big golden parachute on her way out the door, grabbing for a half million dollars of taxpayers’ money.”


Comments

MCC Board Follows Northwest Herald’s Advice, Kicks Vicky Smith’s Contract Renewal Down Road to Last Day in Office for Three Members — 9 Comments

  1. So, Grafton Township Assessor-elect Al Zielinski is now making public comments at MCC board meetings and asks MCC board members to act in a more business-like manner.

    I’m starting to wonder if his victory has gone to his head.

    Maybe Zielinski ought to practice what he preaches, and get his 1st quarter campaign disclosure reports filed and on-line (his 1st quarter report is still not on the State Board’s website, as of this morning). The report was due on Monday.

    And in contrast, his two Republican running mates, Pam Fender and Road Commissioner-elect Tom Poznanski, both filed their quarterlies ahead of the Monday deadline.

  2. Much thanks to you and the community members to came to the meeting to express their concerns.

    There are some on the inside who fear speaking their minds, which are more or less in sync with the sentiments of those residents who commented.

    I might suggest this as an alternative reason for several employees being present at the meeting (rather than ‘seat packing’ by admin or the Board).

    I am confident that many of those employees would gladly give up their seats for a community member because they would be happy to see them at the meeting.

    Please, keep attending and hold the college accountable for both responsible stewardship of your tax dollars and the sustainable, reasonable pursuit of its main goal: student success.

  3. Just wondering is something like a short term (3 month) contract extension is a possibility in order to allow the new board to get to know Vicky Smith and review her performance and accomplishments?

    Seems like the voters have really spoken about the current board and their accomplishments!

  4. #1. There is NOTHING in Vicky’s contract that requires board action now, by April 25, or by June 30. That is a falsehood. Kisser knows this. She’s an attorney.

    #2. Kisser’s argument that the new board doesn’t know enough to judge Vicky misses the point. We are talking about the CEO here, the President, not some line worker. The new board should extend Vicky’s contract IF they are happy with the direction she has given the college. That Vicky meets the old board’s standards is irrelevant.

    #3. All three new board members made clear they want the lame duck board to wait. Extending Vicky’s contract shows how much the lame duck board disrespects the new board members and the voters, 75% of whom voted AGAINST the incumbents one week ago. (I confirmed my numbers with the County Clerk; 30,649 votes cast and fewer than 8,000 for either incumbent.)

    Let us be clear: This is about a pay off for Vicky and nothing more.

    The lame duck board fears the new board won’t keep Vicky around.

    Extending Vicky’s contract until 6/30/15 — more than two years away – makes it necessary to shell out half a million taxpayer dollars to buy her out.

    The lame duck board doesn’t care — it’s not their money.

    If Vicky has ANY integrity, she will refuse the crown the lame duck board offers and give the new board a chance to make a decision.

    If she has NO integrity, she will prove it’s all about grabbing as much taxpayer money as possible by accepting the contract.

    If Vicky accepts the contract, I, personally, hope that the new board seeks to fire her for cause, including recommending consultants with clear conflicts of interest and overseeing falsified responses to FOIA requests.

  5. Al Zielinski hits the road for his public speaking engagements, eh?

    Act more business-like says the condescending assessor-in-waiting.

    What a joke!

  6. Stephen…you keep speaking truth to power and people like me will beg you to run next time!

  7. Bill Ottley was a professional.

    Doesn’t look like the same will be said about zeilinski.

    Remember , you will never have to appeal your assessment again.

    Zeilinski said so before being elected.

    The right man was in the office, he should still be in there.

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