Prairie State College president to retire
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org January 17, 2013 2:00PM
A view of Prairie State College Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, at 202 S. Halsted St. in Chicago Heights. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 2:16PM
Prairie State College students still are on semester break, but it hasn’t been a quiet week at the Chicago Heights school.
College President Eric Radtke, whom college board chairman Jacqueline Agee said recommended her stepfather for an $80,000 job, announced his retirement Thursday but said his decision had nothing to do with that controversy. Agee’s stepfather, Leo Alexander, was appointed last month as the college’s assistant director of human resources.
Meanwhile, Wendell Mosby, a board member whose travel expenses last year were more than $2,000 higher than those of the next-highest trustee, called on taxpayers to “hold us more accountable” — even as he sought reimbursement for out-of-town expenses, including a dinner that included a $31 bowl of linguine, according to records obtained by the SouthtownStar.
When the board promoted Alexander last month, Agee did not vote on the matter but contended that she did not have a conflict of interest because she didn’t meet Alexander until she was 25.
“He’s not my stepfather,” she said. “He’s the man who married my mother. He didn’t raise me. I have no connection or loyalty to him.”
Agee did vote “yes” when Alexander originally was hired by the college in November 2011 to negotiate labor contracts. She said his hiring didn’t violate the college’s nepotism clause because Alexander was not a blood relative. Asked whether it violated the spirit of the rule, Agee said, “You can find the ‘spirit’ in anything.”
Agee, who is up for re-election in April, said Radtke recommended Alexander for the human resources position, which was not posted. Reached by phone Thursday, Radtke refused to say whether he had recommended Alexander.
“I’m going to say it once more, and then I’m going to end this conversation because I got to run: No comment,” Radtke said before hanging up the phone.
Radtke, Prairie State’s president since 2008, announced his retirement, effective Aug. 3. In a news release, he said it was “something that I have been planning for quite some time. I am retiring to spend more time with my family and to pursue personal interests.”
Mosby, who voted against promoting Alexander, said he hoped the board would be “prudent with taxpayer dollars” in the future.
“I hope the voters and the public start to hold us more accountable at the college and find out what we’re doing with taxpayer money,” said Mosby, whose uncle, Walter Mosby, is a Chicago Heights alderman.
Mosby was censured by the college board in December, in a 3 to 2 vote, for walking out of an October meeting, which left the board without a quorum and unable to vote to expand its nepotism policy. The policy then banned relatives of board members from being hired but that was changed in December to prohibit relatives of faculty and staff from being hired.
Mosby’s censure was done through an anonymous paper vote. Municipal lawyer Stewart Diamond said the board had the right to censure Mosby but should have voted publicly.
“As you know, government bodies don’t operate by passing notes,” Diamond said.
Agee said the board could revote on the censure at its Jan. 29 meeting.
Because of the censure, Mosby isn’t eligible to be reimbursed for travel expenses to conferences. Records show Mosby spent about $8,913 in 2012, the most by any PSC board member by more than $2,000.
“That’s where I learned to be a better trustee,” Mosby said of the conferences. “Absolutely, it’s money well spent.”
Mosby has launched a “censure fund” on his website (www.friendsofwendell.com), collecting donations to pay for 10 trustee-related trips he has planned for 2013, including multiple trips to Washington, D.C.
Mosby said he still is waiting for the board to reimburse him for expenses incurred during a trip to Boston in October, before his censure. Receipts obtained by the SouthtownStar for two of his meals list such items as a $31 bowl of linguine, $11 plate of fried shrimp and a $10 arugula salad.
Mosby said he dined with another trustee on each occasion and each paid their own way. Agee said she would need confirmation from the people Mosby ate with, or their receipts, to approve the expenditures. But Mosby said he wasn’t going to “press” his fellow diners to produce receipts from three months ago.
Mosby also said that while he opposed giving Alexander his new job, he had reasons to vote to hire him in November 2011.
“For one, to be friendly, one must show himself friends,” he said. “If I want someone to support something I want, why would I make such a big fuss when I need them for something later? I was just playing politics. That’s all it was.”