Deep Corruption: Hiring scandal reveals stench of Illinois government

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Deep Corruption: Hiring scandal reveals stench of Illinois government

[cap­tion id=“attachment_97141” align=“alignright” width=“251”] IDOT facil­ity, North­field, IL[/caption]

By John Ruberry

You’ve heard of “Deep State,” right? If you haven’t, it’s the pow­er­ful yet anony­mous cadre of senior bureau­crats within the fed­eral gov­ern­ment who are toil­ing to under­mine Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump. They are “the swamp” Trump wants to drain.

In Illi­nois, where I live, we have Deep Corruption.

Last week in my own blog I reported on Deep Cor­rup­tion when for­mer Chicago Pub­lic Schools CEO Bar­bara Byrd Ben­nett received a 4 ½ year prison sen­tence for wire fraud for her role in a bribery scheme with a for­mer employer, a con­trac­tor. Her old boss there likely engi­neered her hir­ing as the boss of CPS.

In 2014 as Illi­nois’ finan­cial sit­u­a­tion was clearly dire – it has got­ten worse since then–a polit­i­cal hir­ing scan­dal broke at the Illi­nois Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion. Over 200 unqual­i­fied peo­ple were hired as “staff assis­tants.” The title sounds inno­cent enough, but staff assis­tants in Illi­nois gov­ern­ment are sup­posed to be policy-​making posts, which makes those posi­tions exempt from anti-​patronage rules. Most of these so-​called pol­icy mak­ers were hired dur­ing the six-​year term of so-​called reformer Pat Quinn, then the Demo­c­ra­tic gov­er­nor of Illi­nois. But can­di­dates with back­grounds such as man­ag­ing an ice cream store, lay­ing bricks, and work­ing for the Demo­c­ra­tic Party were hired as staff assis­tants at IDOT. Well, these hires were diverse that’s for sure. Once on the state pay­roll, nat­u­rally these unqual­i­fied employ­ees were given duties that matched their mod­est skill set. Many of them now hold new titles and are exempt from being dis­charged – except for extreme indis­cre­tions – because of union rules.

Mean­while, Illi­nois has the worst credit rat­ing and the worst-​funded pub­lic pen­sion sys­tem of the fifty states. It cur­rently has $11 bil­lion in unpaid bills.

But under Quinn money was avail­able to place polit­i­cal cronies on the state payroll.

Last week a court-​ordered mon­i­tor issued her report on the polit­i­cal hir­ing scan­dal, or what should be called the Hack Pol Job Fair. The unqual­i­fied can­di­dates of course had one thing in com­mon: con­nec­tions, often fam­ily ties, to a Demo­c­ra­tic politician.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_59155” align=“alignleft” width=“244”] Rauner: Shake Up Spring­field, Bring Back Illinois[/caption]

Fed up Illi­nois vot­ers threw Quinn, out of office in 2014, replac­ing him with Repub­li­can Bruce Rauner, who elim­i­nated the staff assis­tant job clas­si­fi­ca­tion but has been largely stymied in his attempt to “Bring Back Illi­nois” and “Shake Up Spring­field” by state House Speaker Michael Madi­gan, who is also chair­man of the Illi­nois Demo­c­ra­tic Party.

Seven staff assis­tants with Madi­gan ties were hired by IDOT.

Chicago talk radio host and one­time guber­na­to­r­ial can­di­date Dan Proft likes to say “Illi­nois isn’t bro­ken – it’s fixed.” True, very true.

Quinn’s office was the clear­ing house for the IDOT job scan­dal and this episode should finally destroy his unde­served rep­u­ta­tion as a reformer. In 1996 a promi­nent Illi­nois Demo­c­ra­tic politi­cian accused Quinn of being a ghost pay­roller for the Dan Walker admin­is­tra­tion. You prob­a­bly never heard of Walker, but he’s one of those Illi­nois gov­er­nors who later served time in fed­eral prison. Pub­lic pen­sioner Quinn now says he’s work­ing on end­ing ger­ry­man­der­ing in Illi­nois, yet he approved the cur­rent dis­grace­ful ger­ry­man­dered map that cre­ated super­ma­jori­ties for the Democ­rats in the Gen­eral Assembly.

Who was that politi­cian who called Quinn a ghost-​payroller? It was US Sen. Dick Durbin. And the senior sen­a­tor from Illi­nois’ office tried to get “Can­di­date 5″ a job “with var­i­ous state agen­cies.” And after pres­sure from Durbin’s office, “Staff Assis­tant 47″ was hired at IDOT.

There is some good news in regards to this scan­dal, besides its expo­sure. Hon­est Illi­nois state employ­ees alerted author­i­ties of these abuses.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_54680” align=“alignright” width=“206”] John “Lee” Ruberry of the Mag­nif­i­cent Seven[/caption]

And those were ille­gal abuses, I’d like to add. Who will be indicted for these crimes?

On per­sonal note, my mother passed away three weeks ago. As is nat­ural for some­one going through a parental loss, my thoughts have veered to the past of late. Years ago my mother told me about a con­ver­sa­tion she had with my father – he’s gone now too. My dad declared to my mom that his goal was to enter pol­i­tics, which of course meant Illi­nois pol­i­tics as they lived in Chicago. “That will never work out,” she explained to him. “You’re honest.”

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

IDOT facility, Northfield, IL

By John Ruberry

You’ve heard of “Deep State,” right? If you haven’t, it’s the powerful yet anonymous cadre of senior bureaucrats within the federal government who are toiling to undermine President Donald J. Trump. They are “the swamp” Trump wants to drain.

In Illinois, where I live, we have Deep Corruption.

Last week in my own blog I reported on Deep Corruption when former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett received a 4 ½ year prison sentence for wire fraud for her role in a bribery scheme with a former employer, a contractor. Her old boss there likely engineered her hiring as the boss of CPS.

In 2014 as Illinois’ financial situation was clearly dire–it has gotten worse since then–a political hiring scandal broke at the Illinois Department of Transportation. Over 200 unqualified people were hired as “staff assistants.” The title sounds innocent enough, but staff assistants in Illinois government are supposed to be policy-making posts, which makes those positions exempt from anti-patronage rules. Most of these so-called policy makers were hired during the six-year term of so-called reformer Pat Quinn, then the Democratic governor of Illinois. But candidates with backgrounds such as managing an ice cream store, laying bricks, and working for the Democratic Party were hired as staff assistants at IDOT. Well, these hires were diverse that’s for sure. Once on the state payroll, naturally these unqualified employees were given duties that matched their modest skill set. Many of them now hold new titles and are exempt from being discharged–except for extreme indiscretions–because of union rules.

Meanwhile, Illinois has the worst credit rating and the worst-funded public pension system of the fifty states. It currently has $11 billion in unpaid bills.

But under Quinn money was available to place political cronies on the state payroll.

Last week a court-ordered monitor issued her report on the political hiring scandal, or what should be called the Hack Pol Job Fair. The unqualified candidates of course had one thing in common: connections, often family ties, to a Democratic politician.

Rauner: Shake Up Springfield, Bring Back Illinois

Fed up Illinois voters threw Quinn, out of office in 2014, replacing him with Republican Bruce Rauner, who eliminated the staff assistant job classification but has been largely stymied in his attempt to “Bring Back Illinois” and “Shake Up Springfield” by state House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is also chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party.

Seven staff assistants with Madigan ties were hired by IDOT.

Chicago talk radio host and onetime gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft likes to say “Illinois isn’t broken–it’s fixed.” True, very true.

Quinn’s office was the clearing house for the IDOT job scandal and this episode should finally destroy his undeserved reputation as a reformer. In 1996 a prominent Illinois Democratic politician accused Quinn of being a ghost payroller for the Dan Walker administration. You probably never heard of Walker, but he’s one of those Illinois governors who later served time in federal prison. Public pensioner Quinn now says he’s working on ending gerrymandering in Illinois, yet he approved the current disgraceful gerrymandered map that created supermajorities for the Democrats in the General Assembly.

Who was that politician who called Quinn a ghost-payroller? It was US Sen. Dick Durbin. And the senior senator from Illinois’ office tried to get “Candidate 5” a job “with various state agencies.” And after pressure from Durbin’s office, “Staff Assistant 47” was hired at IDOT.

There is some good news in regards to this scandal, besides its exposure. Honest Illinois state employees alerted authorities of these abuses.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

And those were illegal abuses, I’d like to add. Who will be indicted for these crimes?

On personal note, my mother passed away three weeks ago. As is natural for someone going through a parental loss, my thoughts have veered to the past of late. Years ago my mother told me about a conversation she had with my father–he’s gone now too. My dad declared to my mom that his goal was to enter politics, which of course meant Illinois politics as they lived in Chicago. “That will never work out,” she explained to him. “You’re honest.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.