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Letters to the Editor

Letter: State’s attorney should follow up on NIU mismanagement

To the Editor:

I am writing to implore DeKalb County State's Attorney Rick Amato to convene an investigation into Northern Illinois University President Douglas D. Baker's hiring practices and his handling of internal controls.

The state's attorney should then file a public report of these issues within 90 days of starting the investigation. It is clear from a thorough reading of the Office of the Executive Inspector General's report that the question of intent is at the core of whether or not Baker violated the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.

There are additional state laws that the state's attorney can investigate that are not within the purview of the state investigation, such as fraud.

An example of where I believe intent can be seen is in the hiring of Ron Walters. From the inspector general's report, “the submitted invoices and travel reimbursement forms to NIU for his work on NIU projects, which characterized the work as consulting” although Walters was hired as an employee.

Additionally, Magaly Rodriguez, a consultant from Minnesota, also was hired by Baker at the University of Idaho. In a 2009 Associated Press article titled “"Faculty question expert's earnings”," it was stated that Rodriguez spent two weeks a month for $112,500 at the University of Idaho, hired in the same manner as Walters.

Then we find out from the inspector general report that Rodriguez was brought in as a similar employee” here. As you dig into the report, it is clear that the executive inspector general believes there might have been behavior that reaches to the level of intent, but their final conclusion is also clear that they only could go to gross negligence or “mismanagement”.

The state's attorney has significantly greater investigative powers, up to and including the convening of a grand jury, and should use them in this case.

I have been raising the alarm on the inside of NIU for more than two years. I asked to have a vote of no confidence in the Faculty Senate, which was tabled until the fall. It is time for these improper behaviors to stop and a message to future NIU administrators that the NIU family will not tolerate this type of behavior.

Michael Haji-Sheikh

Associate professor of electrical engineering


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