I-TEAM: NIU golden parachute angers lawmakers

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DeKalb, Ill (WAND) – While lawmakers are dealing with crumbling finances some are raising eyebrows over questionable spending at Northern Illinois University.  New legislation may even be passed to control the universities board of trustees after the exit of President Douglas Baker.

“Six hundred grand is just insane,” said State Representative Bill Mitchell, (R) Forsyth, speaking with WAND I-TEAM reporter Doug Wolfe about a $600,000 golden parachute for Baker.  “That’s a bonus for doing a bad job.  You can wonder why the citizens of this state are saying what the hell is the matter with the people that are running the state.”

Baker was cited in an Office of the Executive Inspector General report for the improper hiring of five consultants and the payment of $1 million over two years to those individuals.  The report ripped Baker saying he “mismanaged” NIU.  A claim Baker has denied.

Baker decided to submit his resignation in June and the board provided him with a controversial golden parachute as he leaves his job.  Baker is receiving $450,000 which is equal to one-year of his salary.  $137,500 to give up a tenured position in the college of business and another $30,000 to cover legal expenses.  The total to you as taxpayers is $617,500.

“We thought a few years ago we should pass some legislation trying to crack down on this so-called golden parachute nonsense.  But apparently not,” stated State Senator Chapin Rose, (R) Mahomet.  “So now we have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what we can put in to try to stop this once and for all.”

The Edgar County Watchdogs have been following spending at NIU for several years.

“How can you mismanage something and then the board gives you a massive payout like that?” asked Watchdog co-founder John Kraft.  His partner, Kirk Allen, has similar concerns.

“We need better laws that allow public bodies to terminate these employees for malfeasance,” Allen said.  “I think there is more than enough evidence to support termination with cause.  He shouldn’t be getting a single penny.”

Baker’s last day on the job was Friday, June 30th.  A lawsuit has been filed by a DeKalb woman seeking to vacate the deal claiming the board of trustees violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act in making the deal with Baker.

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