Accountant Bernstein wants to clean up COD board
DPJ: What compelled you to run for the College of DuPage Board of Trustees?
Bernstein: I was compelled to run due to a series of accounting scandals and questionable spending by President Breuder that became known summer, 2014. And, I thought censuring Kathy Hamilton [who is not up for reelection] was a disgrace to the college.
DPJ: You have never held, or run, for an elective office. What makes you qualified to serve?
Bernstein: I understand accounting and information systems, it’s all I did for 25 years. I feel my previous professional experience qualifies me to hold this office.
DPJ: You offered to volunteer to run for this typically un-controversial office before the accounting / spending scandal blew up. Now you’re in the middle of the most intense campaign of the cycle. Did you expect this? What is your reaction?
Bernstein: I was not expecting this election to explode as it had, the awareness peeked after I joined the race. I think it’s a healthy sign when the community gets outraged over something like this.
DPJ: If elected, what would you do to avoid a repeat of COD’s alleged accounting practices?
Bernstein: We need a series of audits. Erin Birt and Breuder blocked the Illinois Auditor General from auditing the school’s books. Instead, they hired a public relations firm. We need forensic audits.
DPJ: What is your opinion of the board members running for re-election under whose watch these scandals occurred?
Bernstein: Subtracting Hamilton, they have repeatedly voted against oversight. They are an integral part of the problem. They voted 6-1 for the president’s golden parachute; they voted 6-1 vote to authorize $30 million for a teaching and learning center without any kind of analysis. I absolutely do not think the incumbents, subtracting Hamilton, should be reelected. I fully support my slate: myself, (Frank) Napolitano and (Deanne) Mazzochi.
DPJ: What is your position of naming the Homeland Security Building after Breuder?
Bernstein: I think it’s an appalling idea. If elected I would vigorously seek legal options for a name change.
DPJ: If elected, what would you do in order to restore trust back to the board of trustees?
Bernstein: I think there’s only one course, that is it has to be the election of a complete clean slate, subtracting Hamilton. We need a majority to make change. Even if one of the other candidates is reelected, it’s not clear if we’ll have the reform zeal we need to get things done.
DPJ: If elected, would you take steps to rescind Breuder’s severance package?
Bernstein: Absolutely. I believe we know enough already about Breuder’s decisions and performance that we could seriously, and should consider, terminating his employment for cause, which would rescind any severance.
DPJ: Several candidates said they do not want Breuder to participate in the search for his replacement, do you?
Bernstein: I think it would be a big mistake for him to have any say in his replacement.
DPJ: Do you support anyone at this time for Breuder’s replacement?
Bernstein: No. We would have to carry out a comprehensive search. I think we would have a board committee, bring in knowledgeable educators, and get faculty input. It might be advantageous to hire an outside search firm.
DPJ: What is your opinion of the College of DuPage Foundation Board?
Bernstein: That body is just another instance of a total breakdown in COD board of trustee oversight. I’m not a lawyer so I cannot speak to the legality of what they’ve done, but I do feel 100 percent confident in saying its actions were unethical: bad management, bad policy and bad ethics.
Name: Charles Bernstein
Education: Bachelors of Political Science, 1969, University of Illinois, Circle Campus; Masters, Business, University of Illinois, Urbana, 1978; CPA, 1979, University of Illinois, Urbana
Children: Shira, Galia, Eitan
Grandchildren: Kaitlyn, Michael, Elle, Jack
Employer: Retired, former director of database products
Military Service: US Army, 1970-1971, Specialist 4th Class, honorable discharged