Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)
* If the Metra cards have been anything, they have been an interesting compare/contrast.
It’s hard for me to imagine a time where patronage was so common that hard-copy records were actually kept…
The existence of the records was first disclosed in the report issued last month by the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force, appointed last summer by Gov. Pat Quinn to recommend improvements for Metra and the other transit agencies. The task force was created after ousted CEO Alex Clifford alleged that House Speaker Michael Madigan and other power brokers pressured him on issues ranging from hiring to contracts.
The cards date roughly from 1983 to 1991, and relate to people who were referred for jobs, promotions or raises by various public officials or others with political influence, the task force said. Some of those people got the jobs they were seeking and others did not, the task force said.
The index cards provide a quirky but incomplete history of hiring at Metra. Each card offers a partial snapshot of job candidates, what positions they were seeking or received and who was listed as their patron.
The jobs range from budget analyst to car cleaner, and the patrons were some of the most colorful characters in Chicago history. They include a host of now-convicted power brokers, from ex-Gov. George Ryan to former Chicago Ald. Ed Vrdolyak and former Metra board member Donald Udstuen. Among the other marquee political names were Madigan, former Gov. Jim Edgar, former Illinois Senate President James “Pate” Philip, ex-Mayor Jane Byrne and even the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon.
* Now if there is a suspicious hiring move or a salary bumps, it’s a headline…
Former Democratic state Rep. Karen Yarbrough has been Cook County’s recorder of deeds for little over a year.
But in that time, records show, Yarbrough has put one family member on the payroll and hired several people with political ties to her, as well as to her husband, former Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough.
Borrowing a legal argument crafted by Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, Yarbrough claims in court papers that the county ethics ordinance — which bars the hiring of family members — doesn’t apply to her as an independently elected office holder.
What’s more, when Cook County Inspector General Pat Blanchard looked into the hires, the employees and ranking staffers lied to investigators and refused to cooperate, Blanchard said in a blistering report released Wednesday.
I think “Don’t lie when they come talk to you” was a tip that came up more than once in yesterday’s Question of the Day.
* Who’s who of pols as job references on Metra clout cards
* Clout worked for some job-seekers, not all, at Metra
* Metra’s $2.4 million in non-union raises — here’s the list
* Claypool hires ex-county staffers with past ethics problems: Claypool named James D’Amico to help manage the CTA’s rail maintenance. Though D’Amico has no railroad experience, he is a longtime government worker who late last year left his county management post after the inspector general recommended he be fired for allegedly coercing government workers into donating to Todd Stroger’s campaign. D’Amico joined Gerald Nichols, a top executive under John Stroger, who is Claypool’s general manager of legislative affairs and government and community relations at the CTA. In 2006, Nichols was placed on paid suspension from his county job pending an internal investigation into hiring irregularities following an FBI search of county offices that did not result in any charges. Nichols remained suspended until he left the county later that year.
* D’Amico leaves one public job — and heads into another
* Herald-Review: Senate should pass public access bill
* Two Cook County employees get prison for bribery scheme