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.
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 began the meeting by asking for the controversial item–the extension of Smith’s contract–be postponed until the Thursday after next.
“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.
Zielinski urged Board members to act in a more business-like manner.
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.”
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 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!”
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.”
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.”
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.)
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.”