Northwest Herald Criticizes Junior College Board Free Speech Restrictions – 1

When I had my computer replaced, the beginnings of a story on the Northwest Herald’s cautioning of the McHenry County College Board restrictions on the First Amendment got forgotten.

You may remember that MCC Board President George Lowe got quite disturbed at

1- my taking flash (and apparently other) pictures of board members in their dimly lit board room


2-my informing him that he did not have the power to limit photography all by himself. (Specifically, I told him he would have to pass a resolution.)

Needless to say, what Lowe is really upset about is my blowing the whistle on the board’s trying to sneak through a baseball stadium without any public discussion.

You may remember that McHenry County Blog broke the story on Sunday, March 12, 2007.

There had been no mention of a baseball stadium at MCC anywhere else before then.

The MCC Board had been discussing the idea since at least September 2006, but dared not share the possibility with the public.

No public involvement.

The board gave away the store to Mark Houser’s Equity One when MCC President Walt Packard signed an incredible $70,000 document on September 27, 2006. It promised,

”At the completion of the feasibility study and independent review, if the College elects to proceed with the project, the College will contract with EquityOne or it’s (sic) assigns to develop the project on the College’s behalf.

Forget about bidding out or even seeking alternative vendors for significant parts of the baseball stadium and building addition work.

The MCC board even agreed to pay Houser $400,000 more to Houser to, it seems to me, make certain the public would never find out the details of the no-bid spending.

And, no competition would be considered…even from a Harvard group with private financing.

Houser’s buddy and business associate, baseball promoter Pete Heitman, would get that 20 year plum.

And the board was not even smart enough to require that the names of the minor league baseball team investors be revealed to the public.

Or maybe they deliberately didn’t want the taxpayers to know.

After all, knowing those names might go a long way toward explaining the board’s stubborn support of the scheme.

The baseball stadium idea is so far off the educational mission as to have cost the college a million dollar contribution from Crystal Laker and former teacher Geraldine Cowlin.

That money was to go for scholarships for students who could not afford to attend MCC.

Many of use marvel at school referendum rhetoric from tax hike supporters couched in

“It’s for the children.”

In MCC’s case, I wish I could hear such rhetoric from the board majority.

How can a scheme that has cost “the children” $1 million in scholarship money be “for the children?”

Sorry for the digression, but every time I think about the board’s scheme to pick our pockets with its baseball stadium scheme, my blood pressure goes up.

Guess this article is too long already. I’ll continue it tomorrow and finally get to the Northwest Herald editorial.

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At the top is a photo of McHenry County College Board President George Lowe. Three images of the McHenry County Blog story that first revealed that MCC was planning a baseball stadium are on the upper right. Next is the picture of a smiling Mark Houser from EquityOne leaving the board room, obviously in a very good mood. Below the rendering of the privately financed minor league baseball stadium planned for Harvard is a photo of MCC’s favored baseball promoter Pete Heitman.

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