Triton admins who got raises also trustee campaign donors

College accreditators complain contributions raise 'concerns'


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By Jean Lotus


Triton College administrators who had their salary bumped up at the March 25 board meeting made campaign contributions to the "Friends of Mark Stephens" campaign fund for the board president, as well as a new PAC for other trustees, the Review has found. 

Five of the eight administrators, including College President Patricia Granados, donated thousands in total to Stephens' campaign fund and the campaign funds of other trustees. 

At the March board meeting, Granados was given a 27-percent raise in two installments to $312,000 per year, making her the highest-paid community college chief executive in the state of Illinois, according to the Illinois Community College Board.

In the recent election in May 2013, administrators who got raises donated thousands to "Trustees for Quality Education at Triton College" — a slate political action committee for Triton trustees Diane M. Viverito, Thomas Gary and Vanessa Moritz. Moritz serves as Forest Park's village clerk.

Sean Sullivan, vice president of business services at Triton, is the biggest spender on campaign donations. Sullivan has donated more than $6,600 to Mark Stephens' campaign funds since 2001 and pitched in $1,000 to the trustee PAC last May. He got a $33,000 raise in two installments from the board at the March meeting. 

Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Douglas Olson's pay went up by more than $32,000. He donated $1,000 to the trustee slate in May 2013 and has donated $4,300 to Stephens since 2008. Granados has donated between $200 and 500 to Stephens's campaign every year since 2004. She also threw in $500 to the PAC in May. Granados got a raise of more than $67,000, or 27.4 percent. That amount will not be paid in full, because Granados is retiring in December.

Associate Vice President of Facilities John Lambrecht got a raise of almost $16,000. Lambrecht has pitched in $2,200 to Friends of Mark Stephens since 2007. He also was generous to the trustee PAC, giving $1,000. 

Quincy Martin III, associate vice president of student affairs, was a recent arrival to the donor's club. He donated $250 to Friends of Mark Stephens in September 2013. The board gave Martin a $24,000 raise.

Triton Board Chairman Mark Stephens said he did not pay attention to who donated to his campaign.

"I don't know who donates to my campaign. I never look at my [Illinois campaign contribution] D-2s," Stephens said "My treasurer takes care of it. We have one fundraiser where we go to the rooftops at Wrigley Field and watch a game."

"I don't know who gives and I don't care who gives," Stephens added. "To say there's any connection [of donations to administrator raises] is ridiculous." 

Moritz did not respond to emails and a phone call for comment by press time.

Campaign donations from administrators raised a red flag in October for college accreditators who evaluated Triton last fall.  Accreditators from the Higher Learning Commission complained that administrators were donating money to the board president's campaign. 

Their report noted, "several members of the institution's senior leadership have made contributions to the elections campaigns of both the chair and vice-chair of the board." As a results Triton's accreditation report contains areas that state, "core component is met with concerns." 

Stephens defended his administrators, saying they had worked without pay raises during the 2002-03 and 2009-10 school years. 

"They also took two furlough days without pay," Stephens said. 

He pointed out that teachers in the union had negotiated raises every year.

"The salary structure for administrators was too low. The whole pay scale was too low," Stephens said. "We don't want [College of DuPage] or Oakton [Community College] stealing away our talented people, which has happened in the past.

"We have a lot of hardworking folks who are good people and earn every nickel they get."

Stephens defended his financial management of Triton.  

"We've held the line on taxes better than any other public body in the area over last 20 years," he said. "I'd vote yes [for the raises] again in a heartbeat, because [they] were the right thing for Triton."

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pauls from Chicago  

Posted: September 19th, 2014 2:35 AM

The administration at Triton from top to bottom is a corrupt bureaucracy. Look through the Facebook accounts of some admins.(Quincy, Doug, Sujith as an example) Majority of the administrators are long time buddies of each other (even childhood friends). After one gets a senior position, he just recruits all his buddies to build a job safety circle around him and to avoid getting scrutinized from questions that come from the student body (the students have nowhere to go to have their voice heard

paul from Chicago  

Posted: September 19th, 2014 2:28 AM

The entire administration at Triton from top to bottom is corrupt. Look through their Facebook accounts.(Quincy, Doug, Sujith as an example) Majority of the administrators are long time buddies of each other (even childhood friends). After one got a senior position, he just recruits all his buddies to build a job safety circle around him and to avoid getting scrutinized from any questions that come with student concerns (the students have no where to go to have their voice heard)


Posted: July 3rd, 2014 8:43 PM

I invite the public to attend a Triton College Board meeting and see how arrogant and ignorant Stephens is in action. Some talented administrators have left the college in frustration, but a number have also been forced out for demanding change or accountability. This applies to faculty as well. It saddens me to realize how corrupt my workplace is. We have many passionate and talented teachers and students who are working hard to better themselves. A change in leadership is needed!

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 8:02 PM

Exactly, compare cod. Mark Stephens spent $69,000 in 1992 to win a seat on the Triton board, with considerable help from Leyden township political machine. Why does anyone spend that kind of money- and raise and spend hundreds of thousand of dollars more over the years- for a non-paging position? Idealism? Bunk.

compare cod  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 7:41 PM

For College of DuPage, the President and positions right below on the org chart: President gave $500 in 2000 supporting a bond issue. VP for Development gave $400 in 2000 and $500 in 2008 to the same group. The Auditor gave to various candidates unrelated to CoD. VP of Marketing has a common name but I didn't see any related to CoD trustees. Current Board Chair Birt spent $5600 on ads and signs, all from group called Taxpayers for Excellence in Education. Sans digging this looks reasonable.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 7:34 PM

@ Peter. My first draft was even crankier :) but, again, directed at readers - of which there are many. We cannot evict the grifters if folks don't vote. I hope it enhances your useful, enthusiastic message - persuasion is key. FPers pay over 10x more taxes to keep Proviso HS's grifters going than Triton's. Notably, in the last election FP voters kept the same group out of our grade schools. I'm with you.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 6:40 PM

By the way, Sean Sullivan, the Triton Business VP who basically runs things there, who got a 20 percent pay hike, is also president of the D207 Maine High School board. Please, someone ask him when the last time was he approved such large pay hikes for D207 administrators. But don't hold your breath waiting for an answer.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 6:36 PM

Peter, feel free to contact Jean Lotus at the Review and get my email address. I'm happy to sit down and talk with you regarding facts and figures, the history, and whatever else I have that can help. This clown Stephens has been there almost 24 years, and all he's done is yammer like an idiot as enrollment and the quality of education declined. While rewarding his and Ron Serpico's hack cronies.

Peter Derwin from Brookfield, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 6:30 PM

Sharon, your points about encouraging others to register to vote and to vote, and especially about sacrificing time and money to support better candidates are well-taken. I've participated in bringing down political parasites before, and I think it's first necessary to further expose their, what I believe to be, self-serving ploys and financial avarice to as many constituent taxpayers as possible. Augmenting the continued focus of The Review and Landmark, there are other media and organizations that can help. I think of both the Tribune's and Sun-Time's focuses on Chicago State University, and I wonder what these papers could turn up focusing on Triton? There are bull dog, pro-taxpayer organizations that I think will have a field day with Triton. I am in the midst of making contacts and soliciting support. One big advantage that I believe we have is Mr. Stephens himself or rather, what I perceive to be, his arrogantly callous, and, how shall I put it, "poorly thought-out" statements that are reminiscent to me of the process of elicitation of salivation from Pavlov's dog. Frankly, I look forward to further remarks from him because I think that, in making them, he increases the likelihood of further buttressing a case against himself. It's time for him and his cronies to go, and for our hard-earned monies to either stay in our pockets or to be judiciously and wisely spent at Triton.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 6:28 PM

This list reads as follows: The Township - # of Voters who voted / # of registered voters --- Proviso- 21,953/84,646; -- Leyden - 12,122 / 43,817; -- Oak Park- 6,244/ 36,122; -- Norwood Pk- 3,695 / 12,898; -- Riverside- 4,305 / 10,608; -- River Forest- 2,763 / 7,667 --- That means only 51,982 of 195,858 registered voters bothered to vote. So there are around 143,876 voters who bothered to register but didn't vote. At least in the Triton election. Oak Park's turn out was worst, by the way.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 5:49 PM

Is everyone reading this registered to vote, and intending to vote in each election? Have you persuaded family & friends to register to vote? Have you sacrificed time and/or money to support realistic/alternative candidates? Cause that's the ballgame.


Posted: April 16th, 2014 4:41 PM

This whole thing makes me sick, absolutely sick. How disgusting.

Peter Derwin from Brookfield, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 2:33 PM

Thank you, Bill. Far from being dissuaded, I'm even more committed to offering formidable resistance to Stephens and his "crew". I appreciate that the Forest Park Review and Landmark have begun focusing on them, and I am in the process of getting other Chicago media, some very large, to do so as well. The "good ole boy" politics and cronyism that taxpayers ignorantly support can be excised or significantly reduced by educating the taxpayers, I believe. Times are way too tough for many of us taxpayers to squander money on a in-crowd that laps it up like thirsty dogs lap up water, and that provides us with, what I perceive to be, marginal, if any, benefits.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 1:11 PM

Btw, Peter, I don't post these figures to try to dissuade you from organizing against the corruption in Triton. I just want to make it clear exactly what you're going up against. These people have political and fiscal reasons to fight back. And they will, with everything they have. And that's a lot. This is about patronage, not the students or teachers, and they'll pull out all the stops if challenged. ---Good luck. I'll happily donate money and my knowledge to your effort against these cretins.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 12:47 PM

Mark Stephens' 2009 totals show he would have won a board seat solely with votes from Leyden and Proviso Townships, a total of 15,353. That was enough to beat third place finisher Marie Caronti of River Grove. Of the remaining four townships (Lyons has like three pcts in the Triton district) Stephens came first in Riverside with 1,376, first in Norwood Park with 1,296, fourth in Oak Park with 1,230 and third in River Forest with 642. --- Voter turnout, by the way, was around 20-24 percent.

Peter Derwin from Brookfield, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 11:45 AM

The fact that he has that base and those resources makes me want to kick him out of office even more, and I can tell you that my view is shared by about 18 people that I've spoken to thus far about him (and I haven't yet made a major effort to connect with others on this issue). All of us are mad as hell, and I do believe that the base that opposes him will become increasingly stronger and larger once his arrogant and, frankly, in my opinion, stupid shenanigans are widely publicized. I, personally, will be additionally gratified to pick up future editions of Triton's newsletter without his mug prominently displayed on them.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 11:07 AM

Yes, Peter. The simple answer is yes. He's that arrogant. He doesn't care, because the voters probably can't touch him. He has his base in Leyden Township. and it will require a very large uprising of voters in the other 20 or 24 communities to overcome his political advantage, money and boots on the ground political organization.

Peter Derwin from Brookfield  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 10:27 AM

"I don't know who gives and I don't care who gives," Stephens added. "To say there's any connection [of donations to administrator raises] is ridiculous." Is the guy for real? Is he so arrogant or does he think that members of the public are so clueless or unconcerned that he can just spew such stuff and no one will question him? He doesn't know that his own Triton College administrators are contributing significant amounts? Sure he knows. At a minimum, he knows because such contributions were cited in an outside review of Triton. He doesn't care? Give me a break. I'm thinking that this guy is his worst enemy. He's up for re-election in 2015. What does he do? He gives over-the-top pay raises to administrators in 2014. He makes what seems to me to be inane and disingenuous comments about his lack of knowledge about contributors and contributions in 2014. His moves and statements are all wonderful material that can and will be used to defeat him in his run for office in 2015. We just need to disseminate this information, and I don't care how strong his machine is: when enough people are insulted and fed-up, the machine can't stand up to it.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 15th, 2014 10:15 PM

"We don't want [College of DuPage] or Oakton [Community College] stealing away our talented people, which has happened in the past." A simple challenge to Mark Stephens: Name those administrators who left for better pay, and when it happened. While you're at it, consider the real possibility that the people that left were sick of working in the politically corrupt environment you helped create. It's just amazing listening to Stephens, who thinks the rest of the world is like Rosemont.

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