Updated: February 24, 2013 6:29AM
These are difficult days at Prairie State College, where political infighting on the college board has led to controversy, the college president leaving and allegations of questionable conduct — including nepotism, no-bid contract awards and trustees meddling in administrative matters.
The board chairman defends her stepfather getting top jobs, saying her vote in favor of him in 2011 did not violate the college’s nepotism rule because he’s not a blood relative. Curiously, in each case the job was not posted and no one else was interviewed.
College president Eric Radtke, 64, last week announced his retirement, effective Aug. 3, with two years left on a three-year contract — denying it had anything to do with the swirl of controversy or clashes with trustees.
We doubt that. A person doesn’t leave a $200,000 job a year after signing a new contract because he’s happy and content.
The final straw for Radtke might’ve been when college board chairman Jacqueline Agee threw him under the bus regarding last month’s hiring of her stepfather, Leo Alexander, for an $80,000 job as PSC’s assistant director of human resources. Agee said Radtke recommended Alexander for the post, but Radtke declined to confirm that to our reporter.
Agee did not vote on Alexander’s promotion, but she did support him in November 2011 when the board hired him to negotiate labor contracts. Agee, a lawyer, says she has no conflict of interest regarding Alexander, oddly contending that “he’s not my stepfather. He’s the man who married my mother. He didn’t raise me.”
Two of the seven board seats are up for election in April. Agee is seeking re-election, and five newcomers are running, four of whose candidacies are being legally challenged. If they end up off the ballot, voters won’t have a choice in the race.
That would be unfortunate. Seems to us that a shake-up might be just what Prairie State College’s dysfunctional board needs.