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Appointments have consequences

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

* I thought secret police arrest reports were only for dictatorships.

Who woulda thunk that Gov. Pat Quinn’s handpicked State Police Director would want to continue this goofy policy

Turn the records over. That’s what Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office has told Acting Illinois State Police director Jonathon Monken, who has refused to release reports chronicling the drunken driving arrest of Springfield parks director Michael Stratton.

Monken on Tuesday morning told The State Journal-Register, which asked for the reports, that he believes releasing the documents might even be a crime.

But a senior aide to Madigan late in the day informed Monken via letter that the reports are public records that must be released. And in an interview, another Madigan aide characterized the state police’s position as “absurd.” Click here to see a PDF of the letter.

Releasing police reports is a crime? Strange. The last time I checked, Stratton wasn’t a candidate for rendition. Besides, those days are supposed to be over.

* And check out how the goo-goos in the Quinn administration have reacted

Jay Stewart, senior counsel to the governor, who called for open government while director of the Better Government Association, has not responded to interview requests. Katherine Ridgway, Quinn spokesman, has not responded to several requests asking whether the governor believes the records should be released.

On Tuesday, Ridgway said the governor’s office would have more information “later” regarding the record request and the attorney general’s opinion that the documents must be released.

On Wednesday, Ridgway did not respond to queries about what the governor’s staff has told Monken, including the question of whether the governor’s staff believes the records should be released.

Ridgway said she would get back to a reporter, but did not call back before close of business Wednesday.

Stewart was at the forefront of pushing for open records for years. And now he’s mum? Jay… buddy… what the heck are you doing?

* The SJ-R grazed the heart of the problem in its editorial today…

In the case of a public records request for Springfield Park District director Mike Stratton’s arrest report, we fear Monken is being led astray by the old bulls at the agency who want to defend the status quo at any cost. It’s time for Gov. Pat Quinn, a longtime proponent of open government, to step in and remind the ISP who is in charge.

This is what happens when you appoint a 29-year-old with zero experience to run the Illinois State Police. He has to go out of his way not to offend the old bulls. And this records thing won’t be the end of it, either. They’re obviously leading him around by the nose.

Heckuva job, Patty.

* Semi-related…

* IEA all for due process, but only for teachers: Former history teacher and state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, called the union”s stand hypocritical. “The great thing that the IEA has done for teachers is bring in due process. When I became a teacher in 1963, you could be fired for any reason. The IEA changed that by advocating for members. I guess they are all for due process when it involves one of their members — but not when it is someone like Mr. Bauman,” he said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Bill - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 10:57 am:

    ==Jay Stewart, senior counsel to the governor,==
    This state is in big,BIG trouble.

  2. - Third Generation Chicago Native - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:03 am:

    Jay Stewart has certainly done an about face.

  3. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:03 am:

    That’s why you need the strongest open records laws. Even the goo-goo-gooiest reformer, once they have the power, will suddenly see some wisdom in holding back. The view from the inside will do that to you.

  4. - joe - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:05 am:

    Rich what is a goo-goo for Quinn? Do YOU know anyone who is a goo-goo for team Madigan?

  5. - You Go Boy - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:06 am:

    Reformers always run the risk of exposing their own hypocricy - or by living up to the standard expoused, find themselves facing the mob they once incited. “Hoist by his own petard” - as Billy Boy Shakespeare said.

  6. - Dan S, a Voter and Cubs fan - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:14 am:

    Why is the ISP protecting a political hack like Director DUI? Does it have top do with his last name?

  7. - thursdays are better than mondays - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:29 am:

    I actually was impressed by Monken’s interview on NPR last week. I think I like him. He obviously needs a better Gen. Counsel though who would advise him to release the records!

  8. - Wake up - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:31 am:

    When will people look at the core issue. The police didn’t HIDE his arrest and they didn’t HIDE the report. They are refusing to disclose the BAC, a matter of evidence. Police are not supposed to provide evidentiary material(i.e, confessions, statements, etc) to the media to prevent potential jurors from being swayed and thus a change of venue. It’s also to allow for the person to receive a fair trial but then the media has never worried too much about that one. If the police were actually trying to protect this guy, they wouldn’t have released the information after the arrest. Finally, it’s not Monken who is saying he can’t release it, it’s the police lawyers. So, who’s right? The police lawyers or Madigan? Perhaps the law needs to be changed but let’s focus on the fact the police are making a legal arguement and Madigan disagrees. Who’s right? Do you think matters of evidence that can preclude a fair trial should be released to the public/potential jurors?

  9. - Objective Dem - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:37 am:

    The problem is Monken will be burned by the old guard on this issue. So then when they give him good advice, he won’t trust them and get burned again. Its what happens when you appoint someone without appropriate experience.

  10. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:38 am:

    ===Do you think matters of evidence that can preclude a fair trial should be released to the public/potential jurors? ===

    They don’t call it the 1st Amendment for nothing.

  11. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:38 am:

    Cmon people, how about a little knowledge here before we jump to conclusions about Jay Stewart. The only thing we know is he hasn’t returned a reporter’s phone call. We have no idea if he’s inside arguing for the release of that report or not. In fact we know nothing, but it’s nice of everyone to assume he’s instantly become a hypocrite.

    Give me a break.

  12. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:45 am:

    It ain’t just one call.

  13. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:50 am:

    Rich, you know what people deal with on the inside. What would you like him to do if he disagrees with this decision? Resign? Seems a bit extreme.

  14. - Ms Port Belly Mushroom - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:50 am:

    To Wake Up–You are being disingenous to suggest attorneys make these decisions in a vacuum. If they wanted a reason to release the BAC they could find it–especially if the guy was no-tell motel vagrant. As you know–or should know–this case will never get to a jury–if they’re smart–so this isn’t about a jury pool. This is about figuring out a way to either get the guy off or mitigate his punishment–quietly, down the road, with as few eyes as possible. That’s why there is all this blowback. Stratton, his “sponsors”, ISP and those who would like this to go away are PO’d because the story is staying alive.

    The irony is that if they would just release the information, they might get their wish.

  15. - Anonymous45 - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:51 am:

    of course this has to do with the fact that the last name of the perp is Stratton…quite the public name in Springpatch…very embarassing…on all sides of the issue…

  16. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:54 am:

    CC, I’m sick of the excuses from administration people. I heard them bemoan their tough situations for years under Ryan and Blagojevich. Oh, woe is me.


    If you take the job, you accept the consequences.

  17. - siriusly - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:08 pm:

    I am so with you on that 11:54 comment Rich. Every single one of those Good Government and Good Policy types are now actually in the seat of power and are doing the same exact things that Blago did.

    The Republicans can argue with Obama’s policies, but they can’t say that he isn’t following through on his promise to reverse course top to bottom. But here in Illinois, Governor Quinn and his heard of same-doers are banging their chests over this reform commission, yet when it comes to actually governing they aren’t reforming a thing so far.

    Not opening records. Finger pointing and chest pounding at the legislature about the Reform Commission, not sitting down and working with them on it. Keeping many of the same Blago policy and budget people in place. . . .

    Very disappointing to me.

  18. - Ms Port Belly Mushroom - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:15 pm:

    I have to agree that if you’re the chief counsel to the Governor and you can’t make the agency heads and their top staff implement the letter and spirit of your top objectives–especially when it comes to disclosure–you may as well throw in the towel.

    After all, it’s not like they’re being asked to squeeze a preferred ISP computer contract through some competitive bidding loophole. We’d probably never even know the difficulty involved in making that decision.

  19. - ILPundit - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:21 pm:

    Quinn stated on the record during an interview with the SJR editorial board that these records would be released — and he said it in the context of defending the Monken appointment.

    The fact that Monken can’t seem to make it happen is proof that this kid is too timid to rock the boat. And frankly, given his obscene lack of experience and preparation for this job — who can blame him?

    His nomination should be withdrawn, and Quinn should be embarrassed and humiliated for making such a monumentally stupid appointment.

  20. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:27 pm:

    joe, you sound just like the Blagojevich people…

    “Oh, me, oh, my, why are you always picking on the governor? Look! Over there! Madigan!!!”

    Your guy is in the top spot now. Deal with it.

  21. - Just Because - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:52 pm:

    Did any of you stop and think this might not be about stratton. They might be protecting the officer that made the arrest. There is nothing to the stratton story. He had an accident after work hours driving his own truck. Just like anyone else. There may not be a BAC report. If he refused all the field test and didnt go to the hospital then thats it (report over)I for one thing the ISP is correct in not releasing the reports. the publics best interest is not served here by the report, let it come out in court like it should.

  22. - Leave a light on George - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:54 pm:

    Police reports are a different matter than other government records. In theory, a person’s liberty could be at stake if convicted of DUI. I don’t believe you’ll find any credible police departments releasing what a defendant’s BAC was until the case has been adjudicated in some manner.

    That being said the ISP has hid behind any excuse they can to not release records of all sorts that should be. Lots of personnel matters, equipment issues, discipline and the like.

  23. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:55 pm:

    ===the publics best interest is not served here by the report===

    In a free society, an informed public is supposed to decide what’s in its own best interest.

  24. - Captain Flume - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:02 pm:

    An ‘informed’ public twice decided Rod Blagojevich was in its best interest. Kind of ironic.

    Speaking of irony, a couple weeks ago I referred to Mr. Bauman’s legislated termination as ironic. Rep. Black’s comment on the matter as hypocritical does add some more stink to that act. He’s right.

  25. - Unlinked - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:15 pm:

    Helloooo–since when do reporters get to inpune people simply for not returning a call (or three) in a day or so? Because I know reporters promptly and politely return every call they get within five minutes.

    No you say? Does that mean we get to pillory them–personally– for bias/malfeasance/hypocrisy?

    Sheesh. Give Jay a break until he proves unworthy of the benefit of the doubt. Let’s put the big media egos in check for once.

  26. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:18 pm:

    ===Give Jay a break until he proves unworthy of the benefit of the doubt.===

    How long has this been going on for crying out loud? The AG has already sent the ISP two letters demanding the documents be released.

    Y’all have no leg to stand on here.

  27. - HV in HP - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:25 pm:

    How about access to all the DUI arrests of Legislators in Springfield?

  28. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:26 pm:


    Nobody is saying “woe is me” nor arguing that Quinn has done an expeditious or complete job in cleaning house. I’m merely pointing out that we don’t know if Jay Stewart is the great internal champion for disclosure or the villain so it seems like we’re jumping the gun claiming he’s a bad guy here.

  29. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:27 pm:

    Jay is not a bad guy. But it’s time to get things out in the open. It’s past time.

    Also, I would disagree with this…

    ===Nobody is saying “woe is me”===

    Yes, they are.

  30. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:28 pm:

    ===How about access to all the DUI arrests of Legislators in Springfield?===

    The last one was fully reported and noted here on more than one occasion.

    Again, y’all are making some seriously dangerous mistakes here. Clean your own house, first.

  31. - Dan S, a Voter and Cubs fan - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:30 pm:

    Just Because - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:52 pm: SJ-R has reported that he failed the field sobriety test and on a portable breath test (not valid evidence?) he blew .115.

  32. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:35 pm:

    “Jay is not a bad guy. But it’s time to get things out in the open. It’s past time.”

    On that I’m in complete agreement. Also on the housecleaning.

  33. - Hank - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 2:02 pm:

    ***I don’t believe you’ll find any credible police departments releasing what a defendant’s BAC was until the case has been adjudicated in some manner****
    You must have missed the story about the Chicago cop recently accused of a DUI that killed two. They released everything about him including his address and underwear size

  34. - Just Observing - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 2:21 pm:

    Jay Stewart and the Better Government Association were/are half-hearted champions for reform anyways — well, according to what I figure.

    From what I gather, the BGA gives quotes to the media on things that others expose and do little investigations of their own.

  35. - Frank Booth - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 2:57 pm:

    maybe Jay and Marty Cohen could get together and between the two of them share the spine they once claimed to have before going to work for ‘the man.’

    Bob Barker would be please at how quickly these watchdogs had been neutered.

  36. - joe - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 3:59 pm:

    It was just a question, Rich. I notice that you didn’t answer, why not?

  37. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 4:01 pm:

    Yeah, Joe. A few of his former legal staffers come to mind.

  38. - for those of you who were not paying attention in civics class - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 4:52 pm:

    It is a Good Thing when law enforcement agencies release arrest information. That way, they cannot arrest you and hold you forever without a charge, while your frantic family goes crazy not knowing where you are. When they release information about the arrest, that is a Good Thing too. Because if they say, for example, that you are charged with killing someone in Detroit on July 6, 2008, people who saw you in St. Louis on that date can offer you an alibi. Or people who saw the actual crime take place can see your picture in the paper and say, “Hey, that’s not the guy.” Additionally, the public interest is served when arrest records are made public because victims then have the opportunity to say, “That is the person who robbed me, as well.”

    This is America. Our public servants are obliged, under law, to let us know what they are doing, and to whom. Sometimes this is embarrassing to people. But more often, it preserves our freedom.

    And it is just ridiculous to say that releasing a blood alcohol number could be injurious to the prosecution’s case. If that’s true, WHY DO ALL OTHER POLICE DEPARTMENTS ROUTINELY RELEASE THAT INFORMATION?

    Get a grip, re-read the Constitution, release the information, and move on.

  39. - sal-says - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 4:53 pm:

    How bleeping sad. Quinn’s had 30 years to prepare for this and now he all he can come up with is just ‘amateur hour’.

  40. - sal-says - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 5:06 pm:

    “Gov. Pat Quinn’s handpicked State Police Director…believes releasing the documents might even be a crime.”

    Isn’t it GREAT that an agency Director is so clueless about his job and the law he is supposed to uphold that he goes to a declaration like this? ‘Amateur hour’ revisited. Astounding…and scary.

  41. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 5:09 pm:

    I was a cops reporter for many years, all over Illinois. Here’s how it works:

    90% of the reports are routine. The reporter has set up some sort of routine with the coppers, and the reports are available for review, no questions asked.

    The other 10%?

    I’d say about 5% are Coppers Do Good Reports. For example,from my experience, a takedown of a robbery crew that knocked off a jewelry store and was caught at the airport. The coppers were happy to give the report, bring out the dicks for interviews, mug shots of the perps, the whole nine yards.

    The other 5%? Coppers Do Bad Reports. Those are where you put your reporting skills to work. For example, from experience: Coppers serve a search warrant on a drug house. Turns out, the snitch gave them the wrong house; they’re in the home of innocent citizens. While conducting the search, a rookie’s shotgun goes off accidentally in the basement, blowing a hole in the kitchen floor.

    That report, you’ll have to search for. Keep track of report numbers and times. Like anything else, your good sources will set you straight.

    It’s human nature. You give up the good information, you hide the bad. That’s why the laws have to be strong and unambiguous.

    The coppers can’t give you the good reports when they want, then hide the bad ones when they want.

  42. - envelop - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 7:01 pm:

    So why haven’t any of you astute and inside baseball political observers commented on the post by Dan S/Cub fan…don’t you find anything intersting about the Stratton last name? A long time, well connected Springfield legal and political name for sure.

  43. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 7:16 pm:

    BTW, the punch line to this story is they released the info.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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