Thursday I wrote my praise of McHenry County College’s posting of the items in its board packet and the second Economics Research Associates’ rather feeble attempt to justify a baseball stadium.
It was a long overdue move toward transparency.
But, then, during that very night’s meeting the board majority—
George Lowe, Barbara alters, Carol Larsen and Mary Miller and student trustee Katie Claypool—
turned thumbs down on a proposal by Trustee Scott Summers to allow those with Freedom of Information requests rejected by the Freedom of Information officer,(which really means MCC President Walt Packard) and, then (again) on appeal to President Packard, to appeal to the college board before going to court.
During public comment time at Monday’s meeting, I praised the administration for posting the board packets so soon after a board consensus was reached on Monday. I also filed my first appeal of a Freedom of Information request denial.
When Mark Maguire, real estate agent Cindi McDonald and attorney Mark Saladin appeared before the college board in secret session, it was pretty obvious that something serious was being discussed.
A document was passed around, pictures of which were posted on McHenry County Blog.
When I got my denial, I wrote of how lacking in credibility it was.
After presenting my appeal to the board, Trustee Scott Summers revealed he had read the article in the above link and observed,
“There were materials and had we redacted them (we could have provided it to Mr. Skinner). I will pass them around.”
“Has that been completely redacted?” interjected Attorney Sandi Kerrick.
“This is about waiver of what we considered (confidential). We should have accurately reported that we had documents.”
Board member Barbara Walters looked at the mainly black lines on the paper and said that she could read the letters through the blacked out portions.
“When we’re in underlying negotiations, the document (is confidential),” Kerrick continued. “There is at least one confidential document. I think we should not (release it). They came here only under (its being) confidential…We can acknowledge there is at least one document.”
“The denial said there were no documents,” Summers pointed out.
“It is my understanding that the documents were collected and returned,” controller of MCC document releases Packard said.
”It was my understanding that we could keep the biography,” Summers replied.
“I have no documents in my possession,” Packard added. “(There are none) in the president’s office. I don’t believe the president’s office has these documents.”
As the one who made the request, I would point out that the location of any records concerning John Maguire, Cindi McDonald or Mark Saladin is irrelevant. A Freedom of Information request calls for a search of all records at the junior college, making Packard’s limited statement that had no documents in his office of marginal importance.
In tomorrow’s “MCC – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – Part 2” the junior college board has an opportunity to build upon the expansion of transparency by allowing the board to overrule the president’s Freedom of Information denials, but can’t bring themselves to take that teeny, tiny step forward in limiting President Packard’s power.
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In the top picture, McHenry County College Trustee Scott Summers speaks about how the college does possess at least one document requested in my Freedom of Information request about Cindi McDonald, John Maguire and Mark Saladin’s secret presentation to a previous board meeting. Trustee Barbara Walters can be seen in front of the American Flag used in the subsequent secret meeting with Maguire, et al, to block my view of McGuire’s power point presentation. Attorney Sandy Kerrick’s head is in the foreground. Saladin can be seen making his presentation at a previous secret meeting. John Maguire and Cindi McDonald sit beside him. The redacted biography of John Maguire can be seen and enlarged by clicking on it, as can all the pictures. Attorney Sandy Kerrick is seen to the left of the document. MCC President Walt Packard is in the next photograph.