By Justin Kmitch
A DuPage County judge ruled that the College of DuPage board must find a bigger room to accommodate the people expected to attend tonight's meeting affirming the $762,000 retirement deal for college President Robert Breuder.
Judge Bonnie Wheaton ruled Wednesday morning that the college's board room, which normally seats 30 people, is too small.
"Under the circumstances, the present set up of the board room is not sufficient to comply with the Open Meetings Act," Wheaton said.
Attorneys for the college and a watchdog group that filed a lawsuit a day earlier agreed that the meeting would be held at 7 p.m. in the Living Room, an adjacent room that holds several hundred people, at the college's Glen Ellyn campus.
College attorney Kenneth Florey opposed the group's attempt to force the meeting to be moved, He called the tactics an attempt to "shut down the College of DuPage."
Timothy Elliott, attorney for the group, argued the small boardroom's setup created a "lot of problems," even with the availability of two overflow rooms that each seat 80 additional people.
"It's important for everyone to be in the room," Elliott said. "The people need to see what the board is doing and the board needs to see what the people are doing."
Following the decision, Florey said the college will move equipment to the Living Room to record tonight's meeting.
"The agreement provides the access the judge required without inconveniencing the public," he said.
Breuder attended the hearing but declined to comment on the ruling or the subject of tonight's meeting.
"I'm going to a meeting tonight," Breuder said outside the courtroom. "That's it."
The suit was filed by For the Good of Illinois founder Adam Andrzejewski and John Kraft and Kirk Allen of the Edgar County Watchdogs. They claimed the college board approved Breuder's severance package without "providing the required notice to the public, and without any meaningful opportunity for the public to participate in the meeting."
The college's board last Thursday voted 6-1 to approve the agreement, in which Breuder will be receiving nearly three times his base salary when he retires on March 31, 2016, about three years earlier than his existing contract's expiration date.
The suit further alleged the board did not release prior to last week's meeting a copy of the proposed addendum to Breuder's contract. It also states the board refused then to give details about the agreement to the public.
"The board's actions were a slap in the face to the principles of open government and transparency that are embodied in the Open Meetings Act," the complaint stated.
The lawsuit alleged the college board violated the Open Meetings Act by not posting an agenda that "adequately" described the addendum to Breuder's contract, by holding the board meeting in an "inconvenient" place, and by refusing to let the public know what was up for discussion.
The COD board is scheduled to meet tonight to vote again on the Breuder pact. All college officials have said about the vote is that it is "to clarify a procedural motion to approve" the agreement.
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