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Reform and renewal

Thursday, Jan 31, 2013

* Not good

The Illinois Department of Corrections filled a high-ranking prison administrator’s position with a man who had political clout but whose qualifications fell far short of the agency’s own job-description requirements, a state investigation has found.

The Illinois Executive Ethics Commission, in a report released Wednesday, did not name the administrator or the prison where he works. But it indicated he had prior experience only in teaching theater, as an assistant manager at a “movie store,” and managing an office for his father’s political campaign. The report did not name the father.

The agency’s description for the job cited the need for extensive educational and practical experience in criminology, penal administration and prison supervision. Corrections Director S.A. “Tony” Godinez, who is named in the report, acknowledged that the job required the ability to run the entire prison in an emergency.

The commission recommended that Gov. Pat Quinn’s office “take appropriate action” in the case of the employee because he wasn’t qualified. But one of Quinn’s lawyers responded that a review of the employee’s status showed that he “has achieved the requisite education and employment experience” for the job.

It’s the second time in less than three months that Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza has found hiring violations in in the Quinn administration. Meza reported in November that he found 10 violations of hiring law at the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The report is here.

* Meanwhile

The state’s top ethics watchdog Wednesday accused a campaign consultant for state Sen. Napoleon Harris of misusing family leave time from his state job so he could do legislative campaign work.

State Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza recommended that University Park resident Curtis Thompson be barred from future state employment because of his alleged actions.

“Mr. Thompson sought [family] leave on a fraudulent basis, submitted a false [family leave] form and attempted to cover up his fraudulent activity by stating that he had resigned,” Meza’s report said.

Thompson, a one-time $66,612-a-year administrator at the Department of Central Management Services, obtained family leave time from the agency in January 2012 ostensibly to care for his terminally ill father in Alabama, Meza alleged.

But instead, the report said, Thompson did political work for parts of three months, leading up to the March 20, 2012 Democratic primary where Harris prevailed in a three-way race in the 15th Senate District.

Meza’s report does not explicitly name Harris as the legislative candidate for whom Thompson worked while on family leave from the state, and an aide to Meza would neither confirm nor deny Harris was the candidate.

That report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


29 Comments
  1. - Ann - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 10:12 am:

    I gather there’s an i.d. Background story here. http://www.qconline.com/archives/qco/display.php?id=561956


  2. - SO IL M - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 10:19 am:

    Wow. Whoda thunk it

    The bad thing is that it took this long just to come up with one. DOC, and most other Dept.’s are filled all the way to the very top in the same manner.
    But hey, Quinn is really a good guy, and not at all like Blago, right?


  3. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 10:32 am:

    Wow! The Inspector General is saying (that the law says) that an administration cannot hire whoever it wishes in double-exempt positions. That is a huge leap from Rutan.

    An administration takes a risk when it hires unqualified people in exempt positions, but all do at least sometimes. That’s one of the reasons we have elections. If an administration wants to hire unqualified people in all 2000-some Rutan exempt positions, they should be able to do so. That’s the record they then have to run on. Jesus!


  4. - cassandra - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 10:38 am:

    I was thinking the same thing as as So. Il. Plus ca change…but, it’s Illinois after all.


  5. - state worker - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 10:48 am:

    I was expecting someone really unqualified. But, for the assistant warden of programs, he was pretty qualified. There are a lot of AWPs who have never led or organized anything. He seems alright.


  6. - walkinfool - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 11:08 am:

    Every time I think we might make progress in this state, I get a splash of reality in the face.

    Let’s just make it illegal for any state worker to work on any state-level campaign, regardless of their leave status. That’d shake some things up.

    (Of course, it would probably be unconstitutional in some way.)


  7. - Original Rambler - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 11:48 am:

    Double exempt jobs CAN have restrictions. For example, can’t hire anyone into a job which requires a law degree or other specialized skill set forth in the position description, double exempt or not.


  8. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 11:55 am:

    OK, so “state worker” says it’s no big deal. Mr Schnorf didn’t seem so sanguine about it, tho. What are we to make of all this?

    BTW - was this person the ONLY person “qualified” for the position? Is this the best use of limited state funds?


  9. - Leave a Light on George - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 12:04 pm:

    =Wow! The Inspector General is saying (that the law says) that an administration cannot hire whoever it wishes in double-exempt positions. That is a huge leap from Rutan.=

    That’s not what the IG’s report says.

    It said that Corrections hired someone who did not meet the job requirements that they(Corrections) wrote.


  10. - Anyone Remember? - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 12:13 pm:

    Mr. Schnorf -

    The report references internal IDOC job requirements. And the individuals repeatedly state that this person would not have been hired in a maximum security prison.


  11. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    so the “pc” response is to eliminate position descriptions for double exempt positions?


  12. - state worker - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 1:00 pm:

    I was expecting a Jason Plummer type. I was glad to see that this background actually lines up with the job description.


  13. - carbaby - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    One thing that I learned last year when one of my close friends was being courted for 4 months for an Assistant Director position at a State agency. She was specifically told she needed to have a letter from a high ranking/highly esteemed Democrat that would be part of her application packet- in order to “seal the deal” so to speak and expedite the process.
    I’ve known many Deputy Directors and Assistant/SPSA’s as has my friend and this has never come up before- so we were a little taken aback.
    So I can see how this could happen for someone who is less than qualified but has the credentials and how the hiring practice is being implemented.


  14. - wondering - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 2:05 pm:

    Does PQ have a “clout list” like Rod’s? Is it subject to FOIA?


  15. - Dazed & Confused - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 2:25 pm:

    I thought names were made public after the IG’s report. Why is it redacted?

    Thanks to Ann for sharing the story with the person’s name.


  16. - Abe - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 2:38 pm:

    If this was the Blago Adminstration this story would be on the front page of the Tribune and Sun Times. But then the Quinn administration is different…right? There will be a similar story coming out of IDOT soon.


  17. - Leave a Light on George - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 3:12 pm:

    =so the “pc” response is to eliminate position descriptions for double exempt positions?=

    No, silly. You either write the description so loose that the preferred candidate qualifies or you (gasp! swallow hard!) find a preferred candidate who happens to be qualified.

    You used to work at CMS didn’t you? I would have thought you knew the way around such things. LOL


  18. - RetiredStateEmployee - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 3:33 pm:

    Why does the IG just pick on this one position. Many of these appointments have their resume on Linkedin and it is obvious they are political. There are a lot of these!


  19. - Fed up - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 3:39 pm:

    Well it used to be Quinn is honest but incompetent. Now we are starting to see he really isn’t all that honest either.


  20. - wow - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 3:42 pm:

    There are many more people out the in double exempt jobs that do not meet the necessary requirements.


  21. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 3:59 pm:

    Maybe the movie store he worked at had a prison movie section. Cool Hand Luke, etc. That would fully qualify him (assuming he watched the movies).


  22. - champaigndweller - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 5:16 pm:

    I guess prisons are a form of theater that would qualify this guy to run them?


  23. - Church Lady - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 6:22 pm:

    @ Fed up: What took you so long?


  24. - thelion - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 6:53 pm:

    There are three TA SPSA at DHS Bureau of Disability for a long time now. The two males do not meet qualifications so they are getting the experience while on temporary assignment.


  25. - tired - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 7:17 pm:

    The entire DOC upper mgmt is a joke starting with the Chief of Staff who has had state job after job after job because of his clout


  26. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 7:53 pm:

    State government got along for a long time without a single “Chief of Staff” outside the Governor’s Office. Now, everywhere from DHS to the Bureau of Pencils and Paperclips seems to have one, with an assistant or two apiece, all added under the Blago/Quinn “administration.”
    Someone should ask Papa Squeezy the big budget cutter to explain who these people are and what necessary duties they perform “for the people of the great Land of Lincoln, good and true.”


  27. - strobby - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 7:55 pm:

    Nothing here. I did over 30 years in DOC, this has been going on for years.


  28. - wow - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 8:52 pm:

    Yes strobby but it needs to stop. The OEIG is sending a message.


  29. - Road Dog - Friday, Feb 1, 13 @ 5:30 am:

    - Abe - Thursday, Jan 31, 13 @ 2:38 pm:

    If this was the Blago Adminstration this story would be on the front page of the Tribune and Sun Times. But then the Quinn administration is different…right? There will be a similar story coming out of IDOT soon.

    I am a IDOT retiree, it wouldn’t be tough to find 100 of these stories there, it’s full of them. They seemed to start showing up in 2003. Don’t get me wrong, there was that type in prior years but they didn’t have much say in critical decisions . Now they are in critical areas and are not up to the job.


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