By Robert Breuder
College of DuPage trustees are expected to take another vote Wednesday on a controversial $762,000 buyout package for the school's president, which has prompted a government watchdog group to urge officials to reject the severance deal this time around.
The college's board voted 6-1 Thursday to accept the four-page agreement regarding the early retirement of President Robert Breuder. The deal calls for Breuder to be paid nearly three times his base salary when he retires on March 31, 2016 -- roughly three years before his existing contract was set to expire.
But the college announced Monday that it's holding a special meeting Wednesday night "to clarify a procedural motion to approve" the deal.
Several trustees and a college spokesman refused to elaborate on the reason for the new vote. But a government watchdog said he believes it's because Thursday's vote violated the state's Open Meetings Act.
Trustees failed to recite into the record the terms of Breuder's severance deal, according to Adam Andrzejewski, founder of the government finance watchdog group For The Good of Illinois and the transparency website OpenTheBooks.com.
"Not only was it negotiated in private, but the terms were not publicly disclosed ahead of the vote," Andrzejewski said.
Trustee Kathy Hamilton, who opposed the deal, asked board Chairman Erin Birt to read the severance agreement into the record at Thursday's meeting.
"She (Birt) refused," Andrzejewski said, adding the agreement was not released to the public until two hours after the meeting.
On Monday, Trustee Kim Savage declined to comment, referring specific questions to Birt.
Hamilton said she thinks last week's vote was done improperly.
"Dr. Breuder's contract wasn't read to the public," Hamilton said. "The public has a right to know what we're voting on. It's a disregard of the people who voted them into office."
Birt, however, defended the vote. She said what's happening Wednesday is "just a simple procedural thing" that the board needs to clarify.
"We approved the contract. It's still approved," she said. "But we're just doing it to comply with the Robert's Rules and to clarify a procedural motion during the meeting that upon further review we noticed."
Birt insisted that what's happening Wednesday has nothing to do with the agreement not being read aloud.
"We complied with the Open Meetings Act, providing sufficient information about Dr. Breuder's request to retire early," she said.
Regardless of the reason for the second vote, Andrzejewski is calling on residents to attend the special meeting to "filibuster this egregious pay and perquisite package."
"With hundreds of citizens weighing in with concerns," Andrzejewski said, "we hope the board comes to its senses and stops the nonsense."
In addition to paying Breuder a lump-sum payment of $762,868, the severance deal calls for the college to name its new Homeland Security Education Center after Breuder as long as he maintains "conduct that is not materially detrimental to the reputation of the board and/or the college."
Breuder, the college's president since January 2009, also will help the board in the search to find his replacement, according to the deal.
Last April, the 70-year-old expressed an interest in retiring in March 2016, according to the agreement proposal. He and the board spent nine months discussing the terms and conditions. On Jan. 20, he sent a formal letter to the board announcing his intent to retire.
Breuder is paid a base salary of $292,739, but with other benefits, he receives a total compensation package of $484,812.
The board's special meeting will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Student Services Center, Room SSC-2200, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn.
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