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Our View: Don’t rush vote at MCC

Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 3:25 p.m. CDT

The McHenry County College Board of Trustees is poised to vote tonight on extending MCC President Vicky Smith’s contract.

At issue is the timing of tonight’s special meeting and the perception that the lame-duck board is trying to award Smith a contract extension with as little fanfare as possible.

It is peculiar that an extension of Smith’s contract is being tackled at a special meeting a week after three new MCC trustees were elected, despite a possible May 1 deadline to vote on an extension. Carol Larson and Barbara Walters lost re-election bids. Dennis Adams chose not to seek re-election. Replacing them will be Chris Jenner, Molly Walsh and Tom Wilbeck.

Jenner, Walsh and Wilbeck have been outspoken against a $42 million expansion plan at MCC, a project that has been championed by Smith.

Generally, we oppose lame-duck boards making decisions that will affect a future board’s ability to govern. In this case, however, the current board is most qualified to assess Smith’s performance on the job. And an additional one-year extension does not severely limit the new board from governing as needed.

How the current board has gone about the process, however, leads to a number of questions.

There is a regular MCC trustees meeting scheduled for April 25. Why tackle a contract extension at a special meeting? Why post notification of that special meeting late on a Friday afternoon and without an opportunity for public comment on the agenda? Only on Sunday was the agenda revised to include public comment. MCC chalked that up to a clerical error.

Why not seek more time for the public to weigh in on the issue? MCC trustees should have let taxpayers know that a contract extension was on the table and sought public input on it before voting at the April 25 meeting, not at a hastily called special meeting.

It’s not too late. MCC should remove voting on a contract extension for Smith from tonight’s agenda and vote on it April 25 after sufficient public input.

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