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An historical footnote or an on-going problem?

Tuesday, Apr 1, 2014

* It would be nice to see what happened after 1991. Did MJM’s patronage influence wane? I kinda doubt it. Sun-Times

A new report by Gov. Pat Quinn’s transit task force came out swinging Monday at House Speaker Michael Madigan, accusing him of “in effect” deciding for years if some job candidates were hired at Metra.

The report — whose ethics recommendations were overseen by former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald — revealed that Metra kept three boxes of three-by-five-inch cards holding the names of more than 800 people referred for jobs, promotions or raises by “various political officials or persons influential with political parties.’’

Those boxes dated roughly from 1983 to 1991, but some job decisions involving Madigan went as far back as 1976, according to the report.

The records “reflected patronage hiring at Metra,’’ said the report, which outlined a series of reforms to address influence-peddling and enhance regional transit planning.

Madigan was among a host of individuals — including Metra and CTA board members as well as Cook County and legislative officials — who made job-related recommendations to Metra, the final report of the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force said.

But when it came to Madigan’s recommendations, the report noted, “in some cases, he did not recommend people to be hired — he in effect decided they were hired.’’

* Tribune

The report contains a long accounting of patronage abuse in Illinois, but the grand prize example is buried in footnote No. 107: One of Metra’s index cards refers to efforts to hire a prospect flagged as “high priority” by the speaker. The candidate’s phone was disconnected, so Metra sent a letter to his home and put a note in his file indicating that he would begin work “as soon as he calls and we can get him in for an interview, physical, etc.”

“It appears as if the hiring decision was made before the first interview,” the task force report observes.

Again, this is all from more than 20 years ago. It’s weird that this is all they can come up with.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


13 Comments
  1. - Ghost - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    Rutan I beleive was 1993. So this was when it was legal for the State and Govt entities to do patronage hiring.

    Next they will tells us tha alcohol was illegal during prohibition.


  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    –The report contains a long accounting of patronage abuse in Illinois, but the grand prize example is buried in footnote No. 107:–

    Talk about burying the lede, if it is indeed the “grand prize. ”

    Patronage in Illinois? Who knew?

    Madigan is like Moby Dick to these former prosecutors. They keep chasing him, even after they never got him on anything while they had the full resources of the national government at their disposal.


  3. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    Yawn…


  4. - Norseman - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    Ghost, Rutan made patronage hiring more difficult, but the ruling did not stop it. The exempt positions are easy for the powers that be to hire. Others require a little more effort to get to the recommended person.


  5. - Norseman - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    Word - Good analogy!


  6. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    “Moby Dick.” Al Capone did not go to jail for murder, bootlegging, and prostitution, but for tax evasion. If the Great White Whale gets harpooned, it will not be for patronage.


  7. - Steve Brown - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 12:10 pm:

    It is interesting to note that neither the Task Force members or ethics committee discussed the material in the foot note so there is little understanding of the origin or accuracy of this element of the report


  8. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    I suspect that next will be a startling revelation of gambling at Rick’s Cafe Americain


  9. - shore - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    Obama admin appointments have a system as do a lot of political appointments but there’s a really fine line.


  10. - ChicagoR - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    Seems like the definition of “slow news day”.


  11. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    It sounds like they moved to a spreadsheet.


  12. - fed up - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 3:08 pm:

    “The ethics reforms proposed in the report also took at slap at the RTA for hiring Madigan’s son-in-law, Jordan Matyas, as deputy executive director for $130,000 a year in February 2011 — at a time when rumors were surfacing that Madigan was “seeking to abolish the RTA.””

    That doesnt seem to be 20 years old. I also some strong defense of the hire on this very blog.


  13. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 3:11 pm:

    Patronage doesn’t bother me all that much. It’s how the world works, in both the public and private sectors. People recommend others for jobs and they get those jobs sometimes because of it.


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