The discussion of hiring the firm continues.
Bernstein: I don’t understand the questioning. We have investigations to do and a lot that is unknown that we must make known. I would be all for going out to bid even though we don’t have to do it in several months time. But we need to move and we need to move now. We are talking about hiring this firm for 4 months.
Birt: I can see the urgency if we didn’t already have legal counsel. I have had bizarre interactions with this firm including a mistaken e-mail from another client that violated the confidentitality rights of another client. We need to worry about appearances.
Hamilton: You are repeating what you already said. Do you have something new to add, You are burdening people’s time.
Wozniak: I want to say one more thing.
??? I’m calling the question.
Napolitano: Second call for the question.
Calling the question requires a 2/3 vote.
This is to determine if we move to a vote.
Wozniak: The public is always on our back. Now you are doing the same thing you have been accusing us of doing.
We had law firm interviews right before this board meeting.
Mazzochi: What you are losing sight of is that this is a narrow hiring for issues where the BoT has a need to respond while under investigations. The Bot has outstanding investigations at issue. We are required to take some action now. One of the conerns we had is that if you want to talk about appearances…we can’t have the old attorneys whose judgment might be being questioned during the investigation serving as the attorney. This is dealing with a fairly narrow set of issues dealing with particular investigations. We have emergent issues that require a quick and appropriate response.
Birt: Are we hiring them as a litigation firm as well as a firm to conduct an internal investigation, which is what the next page on the agenda says.
Hamilton: We may need to move to closed session.
Motion to move to closed session?
Birt: Why are there two agenda items for the same firm to engage in two different services.
Legal Counsel: We will be on task as directed by the Chairman. One will be to conduct the internal investigation. Read that resolution. It is directed at ensuring that the law firm is cooperating with board, faculty and students. It is not two separate retentions. The second is a policy issue that means that all constituents.
Birt: There is a lot of work that went into this agenda. When did you do all this? We just got the agenda but it seems a lot of time has gone into it.
Calls for a vote retention Skylat, Roche and ???/
Student trustee: Abstains.
Birt, Wozniak and McGuire vote no.
Others vote yes.
Vote on internal investigation by this firm:
McGuire: How does this differ from what federal investigators are doing.
Hamilton: Federal investigators won’t share what they find.
McGuire: The state is backing off because of the federal involvement.
Hamilton: They do that.
McGuire: Why do we need an internal investigation.
Hamilton: Because we will have control over what we investigate. When the feds do it, they don’t tell you what they are investigating. We need to know. We can’t live in denial about what is going on at this college.
Birt: Won’t you be looking for a certain result?
Hamilton: It is an independent investigation.
Birt: It doesn’t seem like it will be very independent.
Hamilton: Think of it as if you were hiring an auditing firm. They have certain professional standards.
Birt: It will not be independent.
Hamilton: You keep saying that. Just because you keep repeating this doesn’t make it right.
Bernstein: You have a business on this campus that is losing half a million dollars. The federal investigation may not get to this for another year. But we need to get details on the operation of that business. We can’t wait. We need to do this in a timely manner. We are hemoraghin cash and we need to stop it.
Mazzochi: We have to do it because we are the elected BoT and we have an obligation to protect this institution. We are the oversight board. We are not just going to cede that to federal authorities. We need to get this accomplished within the next four months.
McGire: Do we know how much this is going to cost?
Mazzochi: We do have a cap in the resolution. They can’t just go out and spend, We will have to approve.
Hamilton calls for a vote:
Student Trustee abstains
Birt, McGuire, Wozniak no.
Suspension of all travel and entertainment reimbursements for trustees.
McGuire: ICC Act — reads section on reimbursement for trustees. I sought counsel on this issue today. Certain expenses for travel are required. Entertainment — what is that about? It has never been an issue? It is important for students to have the opportunity. Sometimes there is travel is Springfield, local communities, and even Washington DC. This is short-sighted and deprives new trustees of opportunities. We should reconsider.
Napolitano: When I was on the school board I did not expect reimbursement. I made choices about my own expenses. If I would have to go to DC I would probably do the course or the research on-line.
Mazzochi: I personally made a pledge during the campaign that I would not ask for any reimbursements. This is because of the history of trustees having expensive meals at Waterleaf. IT is not unreasonable to not ask the public for travel. We are talking about travel and entertainment. But this is not about not taking courses if that is necessary.
Hamilton: We have had travel this year. There is such a thing as a budget. We are suspending while we have a chance to look at our policies and our conduct. We are looking at whether or not we are going to Waterleaf to eat and drink. We are just suspending that right now. We are taking a look at everything. We are taking a look at this with the transition tea,/ I think that this is legitimate. I’m shocked that people aren’t embarrassed about spending money the way it has been spent. This is to give us some guidance . We are taking control of the situation and responding to a legitimate public concern.
Student Trustee Roark: I will need to travel twice a month to Springfield. I won’t be able to do this.
Hamilton: What do you do in Springfield?
Student Trustee: We talk about policies that are affecting community colleges.
Hamilton: This is a perfect example of an exception. This seems like a legitimate concern.